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April 27: Flash Fiction Challenge

April 27It’s a season.

Watching mason bees bob from flower head to flower head, I see the symbiotic relationship of life unfold beneath my seat in the grass. Life is full of the unexpected. Life is full. As a writer, we must drink it all in, the colors, scents, sounds and yes, even the stings.

Dandelions provide balm beneath a sky half torn between sunshine and clouds.

Thus I have felt torn between one place or another; one choice or another. And yet I write. Writing is an act, an empowering one. As lead buckaroo at Carrot Ranch I’m reminded what a community can do. Many thanks to the ranch hands posting guest posts; the Rough Writers carrying on in reading, writing and commenting, and the friends who show up to join in or read. I’ll be back next week. For now, I hand you over to Rough Writer, Anne Goodwin, who is about to take you all on a journey this week. Carry on!


Showing someone round: Carrot Ranch guest prompt 28th April by Anne Goodwin

Writers are especially curious about other people, always alert to the variety of ways in which a character reveals their quirks. If we’re lucky, we can stamp our personalities on the places in which we live. On that basis, who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to nose around someone else’s home, scrutinising their bookshelves, peeping into drawers?

How many of us believe, as does Hildy Good, the protagonist of Ann Leary’s novel The Good House, “I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist could after a year of sessions”? I’m surprised that, given their creative potential, she’s the only fictional estate agent I’ve encountered on the page. But I’ve given one minor role in my second novel, Underneath, currently undergoing its final edits, in which a house with a cellar is the setting for some disturbing goings-on.

The opening of stately homes to the public affords an opportunity to pry into the past in a way that can feel particularly personal. In the UK, visiting National trust properties is a popular weekend pastime – although I’m sure part of the attraction is the quality of the cakes. I live only a walk away from a fine Elizabethan mansion famous for its tapestries (although the nineteenth century workhouse an hour’s drive away feels a better fit with my assumed heritage). Any connection to a famous figure, however spurious, brings in the tourists. Last weekend, to mark the author’s bicentenary, I was helping out at the open weekend of North Lees Hall in the Peak District National Park, thought to be Charlotte Brontë’s inspiration for Mr Rochester’s house in Jane Eyre.

But back to our ordinary houses, is it as much fun to show prospective buyers around a home as it is to do the snooping? I guess it depends on the circumstances. When my then partner was working weekends, and in the process of selling his house to move in with me, I used to enjoy cycling over to his place to show someone around. But I’ve seen the other side of this in the trauma of a house for sale because the couple is getting a divorce. And, in different but equally painful circumstances, we’ve all felt for Chief Buckaroo, Charli Mills, having to suffer people looking around the rented home she doesn’t want to leave.

With so much on her plate right now, the Rough Writers have been rallying round to maintain the ranch routines. So I’m proud to follow Lisa Reiter and Norah Colvin into the ring with my own guest prompt. You’ve probably guessed it already, I’m inviting you to compose a 99-word flash on the theme of showing someone around a property. Who’s showing whom, and how do they feel about it? Is it a country house, a garden shed or something in between? Is it even a building or is it a piece of land or a virtual property like website or blog? Don’t let your imagination be constrained by four walls.

If you’re new here (and if so, you’re most welcome), you might want to check out the rules. If you’re a regular, you know the drill, post here by 3rd May 2016 to be included in next Wednesday’s compilation. Meanwhile, here’s where the idea took me:

The renter’s revenge by Anne Goodwin

Oops, should’ve warned you about that low beam. It’s not normally a problem, though one friend got concussion, but that was yonks ago.

Don’t worry about the damp in the spare room; it dries out completely in summer. Though I should mention my grandson developed asthma after sleeping there.

Oh, those? Yeah, for the rats; you stop thinking it’s cruel after a few sleepless nights with them scurrying through the loft.

Well, nice to meet you too, and sorry it’s not the kind of place you’re looking for. I hope nothing I said put you off.


  1. Deborah Lee says:

    Love the renter’s revenge! That must be so tempting, Charli.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Thanks, Deborah, I certainly had Charli in mind when I wrote my flash, and even considered calling it Charli’s Revenge, but I thought she would be far too moral to play that game!

    • Charli Mills says:

      The Hub is getting good at this and he sticks to facts — cheerfully chatting about the number of trains that lumber by daily, the future highway expansion and the real age of the house. Great flash Anne, made my day! Thank you for your help this week!

  2. Ack! I missed Norah’s ‘circles’! Well, perhaps I’ll incorporate one into this week’s theme. So nice to see you here, Anne. 🙂 And fantastic prompt.

  3. Norah says:

    Yes, Anne, great prompt. I’m sure if Charli thought such behaviour was to her benefit, she’d have tried it already. Love your flash. Devilishly humourous. “I hope it wasn’t something I said.” Yeah right. Sadly, while I’m sure these words were intentional, I know people who make similar statements without any awareness of the effects of their words. I’m looking forward to joining in.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Thanks, Norah, and I look forward to your contribution. I just hope I can keep up with the comments here as well as you and Lisa did. I’m reminded of Charli’s turquoise boots – and I think it was you who asked for the photograph – but those are some impressive shoes to step into!

    • Charli Mills says:

      This is in line with the Hub’s sense of humor. And he sticks to the facts so he’s speaking truth. I can’t help but honestly say I love the place.

      • Norah says:

        It makes me so sad just thinking about your leaving it. It’s nestled firmly in your heart.

  4. […] brings me to this weeks challenge… at   see link for info… invoked by special guest prompt [trying […]

  5. Hello Anne! Hello Charli! Hello Ranch!

    Fantastic writing. Writers also ask too many questions. But just One question; what does ‘yonks’ mean?

    I am precarious to be the first story… but thats me. Jumping the gun I poured my heart onto the virtual page and tried to introduce you around to my little world. Hope it does not bore or is a place you are not looking for…or do not want to see.

    Here is my participation for your prompt and this weeks invitation.

    • Forgot pictures. Wups. Now its ready.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Thanks for pitching in, Elliott, and congratulations on being the first! Enjoyed your pictures – it’s good to look at our worlds in all their different guises.
      Yonks means a long time, as in “ages ago”! It’s always fascinating connecting with English speakers around the world and coming up against words and terms in common usage in one country that are completely incomprehensible in another. Our use of language is yet another way of showing a person around our place.

      • I dont know about incomprehensible. i usually just plug in a definition that fits. I was close. But a good use of ‘slang’ can open up worlds. You grasp the feeling. I would rather read and write using ‘slang’ but its so unprofessional i hear. You can never tell these days, i thought maybe it was an autocorrect lol.

      • Annecdotist says:

        Actually, that you’re closer to the mark than you think – I rely on voice activated software which often mangles my words. Obviously I always check them over but howlers can sneak through when I’m in a hurry.
        As for slang, I think it can lend authenticity to the voice when used appropriately, but it’s a gamble. We don’t want to confuse readers.

      • Indeed we dont want to confuse. Its in attempt to educate or capture the story. I never aim to confuse but i do at times miss a very important word or grammar that just ruins everything. And currently working on something idk what its going to be but it utilizes code, like compter commands but no one seems to like it or understand it. I just dont hav a flair for simple. And too many sentences come out before the one i was intending to get to… i am forever editing.

      • Charli Mills says:

        It’s an interesting topic — slang, regional dialect, national differences between a so-called common language. I believe language is a living, breathing thing. I get Anne’s point about clarity, yet I also find Elliott’s pushing slang as something like creative code to be exhilarating. I’m puzzled by some words or phrases but find the discovery of clarity to be an experience.

      • I write 500 words to get a ‘howler’, anne. (may hav to steal that sometime. Its a great title maybe..) Standing alone, more effective than a long explanation, when the turn of a world with one word finds clarity… the confusion though, that is why i began writing. And the defining of a different perspective. I look for unusual terms. Anyways, i look forward to the writings from across the pond. Like wikepedia we could provide them as links…? Maybe 😊 thanks for the prompt. Another successful week of tremendous inspiration here.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hello Elliott! You are an unfolding mystery full of poetic views of hard angles and overlooked nature in unexpected places. I’m enjoying that I get to see your world unfold one flash fiction at a time.

      • Yea i want to rip open the curtain.. let the speakers hit the fan. I know its there. I am enjoying this group. Quite a difference these flashes; solid and direct. Everyone clearly knows what they want to tell, or show. They are so beneficial to literature itself. We will be heard.

  6. denmaniacs4 says:


    “Dobbs, fancy a drink?” the Banker asked.

    I was tempted and not a little thirsty.

    Outside, hyenas were on the prowl.

    “Why not,” I said.

    He found two glasses and poured us some whiskey.

    “Take a look out my window, Dobbs.”

    I stared through the dirty glass.

    The feverish daytime street had blackened into a shadowy tableau.

    Screams of drunken debauchery screeched in the air.

    Shots rang out.

    “THIS…this was MY town once. My people had a good life. A hard life, maybe, but they prospered. So did I.”

    “And now?” I asked.

    “Caldwell has sucked out our soul.”

    • Annecdotist says:

      Oh, that’s sad! Sometimes our communities change for the better, sometimes they deteriorate. You captured that decline and sense of betrayal so well in your flash. Thanks for responding so promptly to the prompt.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I was thinking the Banker was the Black Hat, but seems we have yet to meet the snake in this western. Great set up — pondering the drunker debauchery over a gentlemanly glass of whiskey. Like life, prosperity lies in the balance.

  7. Gulara says:

    Fabulous post, Anne! And an inspiring prompt! So inspiring that I’ve just written mine 🙂 Thank you very much!

  8. Sherri says:

    Ha! Great flash Anne, I’ll be back, I hope…blogging time continues on a go-slow. Love your prompt and the quote from The Good House and I agree, estate agents make for great writing fodder, across the board! I know the pain of selling a house because of divorce and of having to give up a home, rented and owned and it hurts deeply. Charli needs all the support we can give her during this time, thank you for giving her yours by taking the reins this week.
    Charli, just want to say to this: ‘As a writer, we must drink it all in, the colors, scents, sounds and yes, even the stings.’ Too true, too true <3

    • Annecdotist says:

      Look forward to reading your flash, Sherri.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Here’s to days of bee-dandies, full of life to give our words meaning! It’s difficult to walk through muck, but I realize there’s more gifts in doing so than a life time of muck avoidance. Thank you for your behind-the-scenes support and the beautiful card!<3

  9. Thanks to Anne for the great guest post and prompt.

    Here’s my contribution to this week’s challenge:

  10. […] Carrot Ranch prompt is on the theme of looking round a property of some kind. In exactly 99 words, here’s my […]

  11. Annecdotist says:

    Feels strange not having to come here to deposit my own flash, but so pleased /relieved that people are joining in. But I can invite you to a pictorial look around Rochester’s mansion on my blog if you’re interested
    I’m also musing on reclaiming pride.

  12. […] This flash fiction is also in response to the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

  13. Pete says:


    On a sunny Sunday just before two, the doors opened by way of the bank-owned key from the lock box.

    They came in pairs, poking around in closets and bedrooms, asking about square footage. A faint warmth clung to the living room. Notches and dates climbed the kitchen doorjamb. A tree house in the backyard and a faded Child Finder sticker on an upstairs window. Plenty of space, but no interest.

    At four, the realtor left her card on the counter and locked up. She thought paint might help. Anything to help the house let go of its family.

    • Annecdotist says:

      That’s great, Pete, another spooky one – and I love that last line.

    • Norah says:

      It almost feels like the house has consumed the family. You say plenty of space. Looks like there’s no space for anyone else though.

    • Annecdotist says:

      I like this even more now having just started reading a novel which fits this story perfectly!

    • Charli Mills says:

      A family that loves the house shows. Ah, thank you for this flash. It expresses so much, understanding the hardships of many, many families.

  14. My thought on the theme.

    Foggy Friend word count: 99
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Helen followed the frog as it hopped beneath plants not-yet grown into their foliage, fascinated by the little thing’s movements. New to walking, Helen toddled, entranced by her new friend. For its part, the amphibian seemed to wait until the child caught up, leading a merry tour about its home.
    Her lips formed rosebuds when it went afield. “Foggy.”
    Mud squelched around her Robeez, holding with greed.
    Helen tugged but freed only her foot. She left the shoe to continue after her willing quarry, a memento for a mother who should have kept better track of a darling girl.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Ha, a frog showing a child around, what a great take on the prompt! I love that phrase “new to walking”, telling us what we need to know about Helen’s age. But I hope her mother does catch up with her – the frog might be friendly but will she be happy feasting on slugs and grubs?

    • Norah says:

      Ooh, I fear for Helen. I don’t like the sound of “a memento for a mother who should have kept better track of a darling girl”. It is sad. How many tragedies occur when children are out of sight for such a short while. There was another toddler drowning here yesterday. The toddler wandered into a neighbour’s yard and drowned in their little garden pond. So tragic.

      • Oh, that is awful. Poor little souls.

      • Annecdotist says:

        You’re right, Norah, it can happen so quickly, even with the offspring of quite vigilant parents. You see, I thought the frog was so nice it would see her safely home, but that’s not the only way to read it!

      • Norah says:

        Your ending was much nicer than mine. i guess always having the responsibility for watching over the safety of children makes me interpret it this way. It would be interesting to know what Kerry intended.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Norah, I’m so sorry for your community’s loss! That is so tragic, and yes, it can happen so fast.

      • Norah says:

        Thanks, Charli. It was tragic. I’ve just re-read my comment and realised I may have indicated it was my neighbour. It wasn’t, but it is no less sad and tragic.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Curiosity of the innocent. At some point we grow up — to be the mother left with only the clue of a shoe, or the grown child with the memory of the foggy adventure we once had.

  15. […] This is a 99-word flash on the theme of showing someone around a property. Here is the prompt: ‘Who’s showing whom, and how do they feel about it? Is it a country house, a garden shed or something in between? Is it even a building or is it a piece of land or a virtual property like website or blog? Don’t let your imagination be constrained by four walls.’A big thank you to Anne Goodwin for the prompt. You can read more on Carrot Ranch website here. […]

  16. […] response to Anne’s prompt for Charli’s 99 word flash fiction  where she […]

  17. Ula says:

    I see my post got linked up already. So nice to see you taking the reigns this week, Anne. These last few prompts have helped me tremendously in getting through the A to Z challenge. Here’s this week’s flash:

  18. […] April 27: Flash Fiction Challenge 99-word flash on the theme of showing someone around a property. Who’s showing whom, and how do they feel about it? Is it a country house, a garden shed or something in between? Is it even a building or is it a piece of land or a virtual property like website or blog? Don’t let your imagination be constrained by four walls. […]

  19. julespaige says:

    I’m moving slow this week… wrote it but just posting today.

    Thanks Anne for helping out Charli! I hope you enjoy:

    Gotta Start Somewhere

    We decided to look for a small starter home before we
    married. And that is what we found. “Balloon Construction”
    means no insulation in the walls. Because at one time the
    over eighty year old bungalow on a “Postage Stamp”
    (very small) lot was heated by the coal stove in the basement.
    Heat rose up through the hollow walls.

    The two bedrooms were barely able to fit a double bed and
    a single dresser. Each bedroom had one closet that had been
    added on and took up precious floor space. For eighteen
    months we called that building our home.


    The post link is here:
    Gotta Start Somewhere

  20. A. E. Robson says:

    The things you share with your best friend. Wishes, Grief, Love and Secrets.

    Secret Room
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    “I don’t want to go in there? It’s old and decrepit.”

    “No it’s not. You’ll see!”

    Brandi grabbed her best friend’s hand and pulled her through the open doorway of the old house.

    “i’m not going up those stairs.”

    “You don’t have to. We’re going under them.”

    She opened the door. Reaching up on the beam for the flashlight she new was there. Brandi turned it on and opened a second door.

    “Oh Brandi! How did you find this room? Look at these old things. The toys. The books.”

    Brandi smiled. “We tell no one. It is our secret.”

  21. […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]

  22. […] Sugar and Snails, took over the reins from Charli Mills this week, prompting writers to compose a 99-word flash on the theme of showing someone around a property.  As usual the prompt allows for a variety of interpretations and Anne suggests that we not let out […]

  23. Norah says:

    Hi Anne and Charli. I’ve just managed to scrape in again. I got caught up in my imaginative play and almost forgot the time! Here’s a link to my contribution, New World
    You know it occurred to me that we first three flash explorers attempting to follow Charli’s lead are three of the four who met up in London in 2014. There’s only one missing (and he knows who he is). It’s a pretty nice feeling to be in such good company.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Yes, where is he? Especially as the deadline’s approaching (although I’ve no idea what time it is over at the real ranch). And it would have been so great if Charli could have joined us at that meet up in London. Could have shown her round the British library.

    • Charli Mills says:

      How lucky I am to have the four of you in this community! And the fourth already extended help, resolving Cobb’s scandal in North Carolina, although he’s welcome to guest post in the future. It is a nice feeling to be surrounded by such company of companions. Thank you, Norah!

      • Norah says:

        I remember your mentioning his help with that issue! How lucky we all were to find each other across the miles in this big web. How we did it, I’ll never know, but I’m pleased we did! SMAG! 🙂

  24. […] week at the Ranch, Anne Goodwin has taken the reins and has prompted us […]

  25. […] Carrot Ranch Communications April 27 flash fiction prompt: In 99 words, write a flash about showing someone around a property. […]

  26. […] You can’t help feeling nervous playing host at someone else’s ranch and I wondered whether my prompt on showing someone around would engage writers. It wasn’t until the responses began being posted that I realised there was […]

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