Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

May 16, 2016

ErosionWater on rock. Over and over, and the rock erodes to pebbles, sand. So it goes with repetition over time. Even cultures can rub against one another and change the original shoreline of tradition.

This week, writers pondered the idea of erosion and wrote a story in response. Some writers wrote two! A powerful force in nature and life might erode, but it can build big stories even in just 99 words.

The following is based on the May 11, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story, using the power of erosion.


Free to Go by Charli Mills

Gordon stood with hat in hand. Cobb sat and ignored the fidgeting young man.

“Cobb,” Gordon said and at his name, he rose, smiling.

“Gordon, sit. Mary, get Gordon a cup. See, quit calling me ‘Sir’ like some knight or slave-owner and I’ll respond.”

Gordon expelled his breath. “Yes, S…Cobb. Am I really free?”

“Nebraska Territory’s not a slave state. I pay you same wage I pay any hand. You bunk with the other hands.”

“But can I leave?”

Cobb leaned forward, holding the man’s worried gaze. “Gordon, you’re free to go, but remember, gold is a hard master.”


Always by Kerry E.B. Black

A doubt nagged Kim. “Why was he out late every Friday?” She pushed distrust into a corner and closed a door on negativity. She applied lipstick and powder and awaited his return.

When he dragged his briefcase over the threshold, she embraced him. “Welcome home, darling!” He pecked her on the cheek and slouched to his desk and more work without a word.

She studied her appearance in the cheval. Still thin. Not gray. No wrinkles. Yet he showed no interest.

After he slept, she snuck into his files and found among his notes, “I’ll love you always, Tracy.”


The Rock by Norah Colvin

The rock, promising permanence, beckoned: perfect for contemplating expanses beyond while pondering life and one’s significance. She sighed, and succumbed. The waves, licking repetitively at the base, soothed somehow; as if each grain of sand stolen from beneath her feet loosened her tension. Becoming one with the rhythm, her heart sang the melody as her mind slowed, releasing all thought. Feeling whole again, as solid as the rock, and with renewed strength, she prepared to face those who sought to erode her. Though tides would rearrange and redecorate, and often do their best to annihilate, they could not obliterate.


Immersed by Pete Fanning

The coffee groans. Hot water trickling through the grinds, into the pot as we slide past each other without words.

Her laugh used to tickle my back on its way up my scalp, where I would bury my face in the curve of her neck, finding my own little refuge from the world.

Now a river of silence slides between us. It drips through the ridges, into the folds of my brain, washing away the laughter and dulling her smile. I peek to her neck, and slowly wade into the waters of my own stubbornness.

Our river is rising.


Midnight Stroll by Bill Engelson

Dobbs left the banker staring out into the fractious night, warmed only by his whisky-deluded memories.

Shrill screams of grim bacchanalian excess echoed from Union City’s half dozen saloons.

Desolate drunks, the wounded warriors and wastrels, still warbled slurred songs, unintelligible dirges to wanton lives.

Dobbs shrugged off the temptation to walk amongst them once again, breath in their spirits-soaked fear, cry for them, with them.

“I have no stomach for that anymore,” he said to the mad moon.

Keeping to the shadows, he headed to Henry Taylor’s Livery and sleep.

The scabrous failings of lost men corroded him.


To See the World in a Grain of Sand by Gordon Le Pard

He looked at the strange pattern on the rock that had fallen from the cliff, then bent to make notes.
Hours later he returned to his wife, “I’m sorry I was so long.”

“I married you for better or worse, if the worse is you geologising whist I paint, I don’t mind. What did you find?”

“More evidence,” he pulled out his notebook. “Ripples, fossilised in rock. Which shows that sand, washed down into the sea has been compressed into rock, then lifted up and eroded yet again.”

“What does that mean?”

“That the earth is old, immeasurably old.”

Author’s Note: It was on his honeymoon in the Mediterranean that Sir Charles Lyell found the final evidence he needed, that the earth was incredibly old. His book The Principles of Geology, was very controversial.


The Origin of Ideas by Gordon Le Pard

“What do you think?”

“Well written, it’s full of interesting material, but his conclusions.”

“They will certainly provoke argument, they strike at centuries of study.”

“What will you do?”

“Nothing, for now, the matter will be fully discussed at the next meeting of the British Association.”

The professor paused, smiled and added.

“I am sending a copy to Charles, it is perfect reading for a long sea voyage.”

“Are you sure? He’s young and impressionable.”

“Oh I will advise him to learn from the observations and ignore the conclusions.”

It reached the Beagle just before she sailed, and then?

Author’s Note: Professor Adam Sedgewick, who profoundly disagreed with Lyell, recognised the importance of his book and sent a copy to his student Charles Darwin just as he was about to set sail on HMS Beagle, with the advice I mentioned. Darwin ignored the advice, and later acknowledged that The Principles of Geology was the inspiration for On the Origin of Species.


Cousin Fred Larry LaForge

“Your cousin Fred.” Ed stared at the rock formation. “It’s your cousin Fred.”

“What are you talking about?” Edna feigned protest, but she could see it too.

The huge rock, worn by wind and flowing water, oddly took the form of a man’s head. It lay in the riverbed, staring straight at them. An oversized bulge seemed like a nose sitting below two indentations that eerily resembled eye sockets. A crevice at the bottom appeared to be grinning at them.

Ed tilted his head to get a better view. Edna tried to look away, but couldn’t.

“Your cousin Fred.”


Water Management by Irene Waters

A week was all it took.   Monday they replaced her on the waterways biodiversity committee. Tuesday spilt coffee destroyed the water-table salinity report and her error had deleted the original on her computer. Wednesday her boss had words. Thursday she jammed the printer. Friday she worked whilst her office mates went to lunch. Saturday her fiancé called off the engagement. Sunday it rained but she’d forgotten to bring her files home to work on. Her confidence eroded she drank a bottle of wine.

Monday, rain unrelenting she ordered the opening of the spillway, creating mayhem with flooding and erosion.


Time’s Path by Ula Humienik

Maria looked at her face in the mirror and wondered how long some of those fissures and grooves had been there. Time can be so cruel, she thought. She didn’t like how others looked at and spoke to her.

She couldn’t understand why they didn’t see what she saw and felt to be true about herself. She felt no different than the 16-year-old girl at the debutante ball. She still enjoyed playing the guitar. She still could dance all night if she wanted.

But she couldn’t erase the paths time had painted on her face.


Future by Elliott Lyngreen

He keys mmmultiple commands, simultaneously memorizing indigestion of manual entries, mesmerizing, “Finally! Yes!” Reprogramming, sync through transferring terabits. I mean, I’m not working. But Nik…”Go-go”/es determining ratchets, unlatches my back, “auto-switch froze,” flips, straps ….amongst construed cranks, flex line, locks on, flips another switch, ifreon pipes in.. “charging you.” Herniated rusting, inside-out taste numb disinteg:::ngchhhkink:: mmmerrr\.. (“whooa hang in my Link”) —–whispers — too much to \\_search: C:to>cfd^if/then:%%retrieve¡password:fakeout. >select_ #justwindupandmakeitgo_exe. Ahhhh completing.. Peregrinations, instrumentally ….”sounds like dreams cast eh my dude, but”.. to further generations, “with me, Link?”–“emm Loading recordings. Playing…”…. always feeds flickering, fading.


Unloading the Toe by Pat Cummings

I realize I am lucky as I breathe dust. Only the edge of the landslide still raveling downhill had caught me.

My rucksack is just under the rubble. A quick tug on an exposed strap frees both it and a large rock. The rock goes bounding down the slope, triggering mini-slides in its wake. I slap the ruck to lose most of the dirt, and swing it onto my back.

Several steps down the trail, I remember I had my car keys in my hand, ready to use. Now they are somewhere under the tumbled earth.

Time to dig.


Mountain Grooming by Kate Spencer

“Damn it!” yelled Millie as she entered the coffee shop.

“What?” bellowed Bill from behind the counter.

“The blasting!”

“Can’t hear ya!” He pointed to the coffee maker with a quizzical look on his face.

Millie nodded – conversation out of the question.  The construction crews were still detonating their series of explosives. Apparently the mountainside needed a shave before the highway could be expanded.

“Thanks,” said Millie and grabbed her coffee.

A mammoth roar reverberated through the town.  The floor shook as Millie ran to the window.  She screamed – a huge dust cloud rolling menacingly towards her.


The Great Divide by Jules Paige

Distance caused further erosion. But there was erosion
long before the siblings got separate bedrooms. Because
teenage girls need privacy. And the favored child must
have requested such. They might have spent some time
together around the family dinner table. Well that was
when and if the elder were home. Gone every other week-
end to visit her friend. And on alternate weekends the friend
visited her. Every Friday and Saturday evening the younger
Sister babysat. So she was never in the way.

Now that they were at opposite coasts, the elder wanted
a relationship. Could it be possible?


Scars by Ann Edall-Robson

The ice has given way to the sound of running water. The creek chortles over rocks, mud-covered twigs and raw roots. Natural springs create mini gorges in the ground. Opening gashes in the land on their way to join with the creek.

The country thaws and the saturation spreads. A devastated landscape shows new signs of sloughing along the already scarred hills.

Mother Nature tests all she come in contact with. There is no arguing. There is not recourse. A beautiful woman who gives in to no one. What she wants she never asks for. She just takes.


Puppy Love by Jane Dougherty

I hate the pet section in the supermarket, the corner where frightened, sick babies curl up in glass tanks waiting to die. I hear the kid before I see him, dancing around his mother, tugging at her arm, screaming IwannaIwannaIwanna. They’re in front of the puppies. She’s shaking her head in a not very convincing way. I pass them again, on the way to the check out. The kid’s war dance is getting hysterical. She’s dithering, weary. I know how it will end, the only imponderable, how long before her patience cracks and she dumps it on the street.


The Insidiousness of Love by Geoff LePard

‘Oh Rupert, it’s me.’ Mary held the phone tight to her ear. ‘I thought you’d like to know Charlotte is fully recovered.’


Mary squeezed her eyes shut, willing him to speak but the silence echoed. ‘Would you like to come round for supper?’


‘This is really kind. You didn’t need to.’

Mary thought he looked like a naughty schoolboy; all he needed was a cap to turn in his hands. She smiled and hugged him. He tried to step back but she held on. ‘I’m sorry. I’ve been terribly mean.’

He smiled. ‘Worn you down, have I?’


Bird’s Nest by Sherri Matthews

Some call it an eyesore; others call it a nesting ground for starlings, to be protected at all costs.

Battered by decades of crashing, sea, its twisted, black-rusted frame forms an eerie coastline silhouette. Lit up once by thousands of pretty lights and summer-dressed children racing along the boardwalk, now it stands in barren shadow.

I remember the pier in its hey-day, playing the arcades with pocket money from my dad while laughing at his silly jokes. Then he moved away and spent his money on booze; his promises eroded like the pier’s remains.

But the starlings don’t mind.


Sunken by Anthony Amore

“It goes where it wants, water does,” he said. “It seeks the lowest of points and once there things will settle.”

I just nod, hands in my pockets overseeing his crouching beneath the porch.

“Yep,” he breathes heavy and mutters speaking through cobwebs. “Here’s the sag.”

I just nod some more.

“And.. here’s the rot.”


Slipping from beneath the porch, still crouching like some contracting Ninja, he taps the white aluminum gutter with the flat of his yellow pencil. “Here’s your culprit,” he adds, “Water starts the problem but the settling afterwards, well by then…”

“We’re sunk.”




You May Also Like…

To Leave a Leak Collection

To Leave a Leak Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to...

This Is Awkward Collection

This Is Awkward Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to...


  1. Norah

    It always amazes me the variety of responses to the prompt. What a collection these make. Thanks for compiling, especially in a less-than-perfect situation.

    • Charli Mills

      The diversity of responses is the icing on the cake each week. A little late to frost the cake but tasty nonetheless. Thanks, Norah!

      • Norah

        It’s never too late for frosting! 🙂

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading