June 29: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

June 29, 2016

June 29Local lore claims they used to call the “girls of morning,” snakes. These are the women who sexually serviced the miners and loggers when the Silver Valley bustled with economic prosperity; when logs choked the broad Coeur D’Alene River and hard-rock miners extracted silver by the ton.

The prevalence of prostitutes in old west mining towns would suggest the service was a necessity.

Enaville, Idaho is no longer a town proper. It lacks a post office and no longer sees to the needs of loggers and miners. By 1954 the town’s old 1880s inn built of local timbers transitioned from a worker’s hotel to a sportsman’s bar and café. It is said that the new owners discovered a light switch upstairs to illuminate two bulbs in the skull of a bull mounted among elk and moose antlers outside in the apex of the building.

Red lights. The western invitation to red light service. Call girls. Soiled doves. Ladies of the evening. Girls of the morning. Whores. Snakes.

You can still see the bull skull on the tourist hot spot now known to foodies across the Inland Pacific Northwest as the Snake Pit. Unless you read the history inside, you might not even know this is Enaville. If you read history and absorb the wealth of memorabilia mounted throughout the timbered restaurant, you’ll find that those who came here over the years sought comforts of home – food, drink, stories, a place to sit, a place to warm up or cool down, companionship.

I had no idea I was headed to Enaville in my home on wheels. My camp trailer is something like a first flat, a place you need for shelter and sleep, yet a place you know is temporary. Like many first flats, this one is fraught with problems – the roof leaks, the lights don’t work and many previous breaks were hastily fixed with systems that baffle us. We have given up electricity and running water to have privacy and a semi-wilderness setting. A fair trade for the extra work it requires of us to meet daily needs.

Along a broad and rocky river, I’m re-writing my novel Miracle of Ducks. Day dreaming about my characters and plotting requires no electricity and flows with the river at my feet.  If I charge up my laptop at the Carnegie Library 20 miles away or during breakfast at the Snake Pit, I can get two hours of writing time on battery. My first two hours revealed a solution to my biggest revision concern – I can rewrite my story to add a new plot crisis and setting change. It seems daunting to take a finished and professionally edited novel manuscript and decide to change it all up. Crazy, right?

Yet it feels more and more sane each day, as does living homeless. What I miss most is a home office. A camp office hardly suffices and the time limits of officing in an old mining town are frustrating, but our camp home is free. Places to park our camp trailer average $20 a night – that’s over $600 a month. Our idea to travel and stay with friends or family is hindered by the repairs needed to the trailer, cost of gas and the appointments I have set up for Todd through the VA system. We have two today.

And when you are homeless, needs are expensive. Hot showers at RV resorts cost $5 or more. Drinking water and ice for fresh food is another $5 per day. If you eat out instead, meals add up quickly. But you have to buy gas, water or food to use a flushing toilet. Bathrooms are rarely “public.” And we Americans are griping about which genders use which stalls? Give me a break! A greater issue is that of restroom access to those who are not paying customers. In other words, if you are homeless, it will cost you to empty your internal plumbing no matter what gender you identify with.

My current situation begs the question – why do necessities feel like luxuries? I can see how a man working hard in the isolated wilderness with few comforts of home would have needed sexual companionship. And the women? They needed a secure bed, a chamber pot, food and human connection. Yes, they were exploited for their needs. And so were the men. The logging moguls and mining barons overworked and underpaid the men who needed work. Necessities are a blend of physical and psychological needs to create security and comfort.

However, my current situation feeds the flesh of my novel re-write. Let me share with you an analogy for revision from a brilliant academic writer. Writing is bones, muscles and flesh.

Bones build the story structure, the plot, the hero’s journey. That first draft is creating bones. When you finish, look at the bones first. Are you missing a femur or metatarsal? Do your bones need rearranging to fit the skeletal structure you intend? If you don’t get the bones right, nothing else you do will improve your story, no matter how brilliant your word choices or snappy your dialog.

Flesh is adding meat to the bones. Here’s where you let your brilliance and voice shine. You can give your bones curves or you can leave them spare. Flesh is your artistry. Flesh can be built up, reduced or re-appropriated. But your flesh will sag if your story doesn’t have good bones.

Skin is what we see, what catches the eye of the beholder. Yet, skin is where writers can spend too much time superficially on their novel. Grammar and spelling matters, but you need bones and flesh first. Have a healthy body and then work on healthy skin. And don’t worry about zits as you write. Think of those spots as adolescent growing annoyances. Once you have bones, flesh and skin, then you can treat the zits. Unless you are a confident dermatologist, take your manuscript to a professional editor.

Miracle of Ducks went through all phases, yet until this analogy, I agonized over how to change anything. It’s flesh work! Now I accept the scalpel, ready to cut and reform the story on its bones. Yes, I will need to make sure scars of such changes don’t show at the skin level and I’ll need my trusty Write Diva Editorial Dermatologist once again. But it will be worth the work. It will be a beauty!

One important change is that of setting. I worked on Miracle of Ducks while I lived in the Midwest and set it in my favorite Lake Superior fishing village. Then I returned to my native west. I also discovered that I have more to say about the west than the Midwest, and there’s a group for such writers – Women Write the West. By changing my setting, I can join that organization and not have to wait until I finish Rock Creek. I feel like my two novels now have a better point of connectivity despite being different genres. It’s a relief to me. And my character gets to experience a topic I can write personal essays about, thus bringing notice to me novel.

This is all worth the scalpel work.

And Rock Creek? The analogy makes me realize I’m still in the setting bones stage. I had a major breakthrough in November because of important historic research I discovered and thanks to Geoff Le Pard who explained possible explanation regarding a historic incident and court dispute. I have flesh, too, but I see where I have to straighten bones before I can stretch the flesh. That continues, too.

And flash fiction is a valuable tool in addition to being an interesting form. I hope you are benefiting from its use. Again, I’m struck by the diversity of applications and creative results week after week. Mobility might be challenged, but the ranch is open and will support writers in all quests to finish those creations we form from bones to flesh to skin. Thank you to all who ride here, as readers, commenters, riders and ranchers.

So what’s up with the luxury price on necessities? Why do I have to buy a coffee to wipe my…you get the idea…? Water? Really? I have to BUY drinking water? What happened to public bubblers? The VA will help “re-home” us in a transitional motel or shelter or apartment. It might take 90 days or two years. Thanks, but no thanks…I do have a rental September 1. But what if I didn’t? 90 days to get into a shelter? No wonder Deborah Lee’s character is camping in a vacant house!

And trying to find a job? It’s a full-time job trying to secure needs. Some homeless people buy a membership at a club just to shower. Some use warm water filched from gas station bathrooms in water jugs and go to a secluded area to bathe. And many agencies won’t help you without a “valid address”! And if you do have an income, as I do, well forget help! We found out the HUD Dash program meant to help homeless veterans takes qualifying for…I disqualify us as a paid writer, no matter that rent is 75 percent of what I make.  And renting has nothing to do with my ability to pay. I paid. Every month. I went without many comforts just to pay rent.

The problem is with those renting. The reason veterans can’t get housed when they do qualify for HUD Dash is because landlords won’t honor the qualifying letter. It’s a free market; they don’t have to rent to a qualifying homeless vet. With the growing Airbnb craze where any home owner can rent to the market of vacationers, rentals are diminishing and evictions are on the rise. Those who NEED security and elements of home (electricity, water, plumbing) are left outside because someone else can afford to take his family on vacation and pay triple the rates a long-term renter pays. Yet, Airbnb provides income for struggling homeowners, and I have friends and family who use this service to supplement their income in a difficult economy.

It’s so messed up, even I’m beginning to think I should elect Trump. But no, I won’t go so low. I’m not ignorant despite dirty nails. I love my friends and family – my love knows no gender, color, religion or even political stupidity. I love people. I just wish more Americans who were in power or had the power to help others loved people, too. Not just the ones they want to pass along privilege to.  White privilege? Oh, I could laugh and say bunk. But it exists, and even homeless, I’m more privileged than persons of color or on the margins of society.

Wake up, America, Land of the Free. Wake up World. People matter. If you cast aside your humanity for what privilege you have, you are no longer human. No matter your own situation, be kind to others, even to the jerks who vote carelessly or out of fear; even to those who cast the shadows of fear. Feed your enemy a sandwich; give him a free glass of water. Remind him than humanity is not a privilege and all humans have it until they deny it. Don’t let anyone dehumanize you. And write. It’s where your voice lives and your heart beats. Bleed upon that page and make a difference in your corner of the world.

June 29, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that explores human needs. Not all needs are basic. Why would others put a price on basic needs, like water? Or perhaps you want to explore why a person might develop a need in order to survive a situation (like a miner needing the companionship of a prostitute). Think about needs and not having access or being in control of them.

Respond by July 5, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Plucking Boyfriends Like Fruit by Charli Mills (from Rock Creek)

“Your boyfriend was looking for you,” Nancy Jane announced when she entered the new cookshack at Rock Creek.

Sarah paused in sweeping. “He’s not my boyfriend. I’m his accountant.”

Nancy Jane laughed and plucked a plum from the bowl on the table. “I meant the other one!”

“Mr. Hickok! He’s certainly not my boyfriend.” She caught the plum Nancy Jane tossed to her.

“Sit down, Sarah. Eat a piece of sweet fruit when you have the chance, and consider how your needs could be met by having lots of boyfriends. Accountant to one, friend to another. It’s called security.”


Conflicting Needs by Charli Mills (from Miracle of Ducks)

“Ike, I need you to stay home!” Danni clicked her heels across the kitchen linoleum to fetch her apron. Cook. She had to calm her mind and if she couldn’t disappear into a research basement, she’d pound dough for calzones.

“Look, Danni, they need me over there.” Ike leaned against the refrigerator.

Danni snorted, measuring flour. “They have trained soldiers.”

“That’s the problem, Danni, they need help with training. I can’t sit back and do nothing. We need the money.”

“Get a job, Ike! A normal job. One without bullets!”

“You don’t get it. I need to do this!”


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  1. elliotttlyngreen

    Your 3rd novel in progress… raw. I love this stuff. I, for one, cannot wait to read your first 2 novels. And i, for one, will be along for the ride as long as you want to go…. prayers and support; until i can afford some real help or assistance. Prayers and support Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      A re-do for the first! Many branding irons in the fire, nonetheless. Thanks for riding along! That is the real help and support — doesn’t get more real than riding along with others.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Wish i could hav joined the ranch many moons ago, but things happen when they do…. time to prepare the next flash! Thanks Charli

      • Charli Mills

        Glad to have you now!

  2. http://www.salpa58.wordpress.com

    By: Patricia Salamone

    The need to be loved starts in the womb. You are safe there, fed, given life. That need does not stop when you are born. It seems to me it is almost a part of our DNA.
    Children who do not get that love after they are born will constantly try to find it. As toddlers they might have frequent melt downs. As teens they will look for it outside the home.
    As adults they might marry a person who is totally wrong for them.
    They need to be taught to love themselves from the day they are born.

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yes! Love is truly the answer. Thanks for joining us again, Patricia!

    • http://www.salpa58.wordpress.com

      I do apologize for the miss spell should read NEED. I tried to correct it but could not. Again sorry…….

  3. C. Jai Ferry

    Just a btw: Women Writing the West defines the west very broadly (anything in North American west of the Mississippi River), and it’s a great group to be a part of. Very supportive.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you C.Jai! Are you a member? I’ve wanted to join but felt conflicted with my first novel on the eastern side of the Great Mississipp!

      • C. Jai Ferry

        I am a member — for several years now. Definitely a group I think you would enjoy!

  4. Deborah Lee

    YES to everything in this post! My family and I did find a new rental and we are now settled in, albeit with boxes of stuff still everywhere. But we will end up where we started, in a few years, with built-in increases in the rent. They don’t have to do it. It’s not like the mortgage is going up. But they can get it, from someone, if not us. We are paying around 60% of our income just for rent. What happens when the people needed to fill the low-end jobs simply can’t afford to live anywhere?

    And what you said about dental care being a sign of financial health – I’ve had that thought myself. I’m considering saving up for a run to Mexico to save all my teeth at once for a fraction of the price. Even teeth cleaning is a luxury for a large number of people, let alone bleaching or bridges.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Deborah I’m so relieved you found a place, but disheartened that it’s the same cycle. Our place in September is leased by an editor I work with at Sandpoint Magazine. She’s what we call, “good people.” The ranch is her husband’s and the mobile home belonged to his sister who died a few years ago. She raised and showed Arabians and they’ll let me have horses, too. It’s nothing fancy but it’s only $600 a month instead of $995 or the $1400 houses are going up to around here where anyone who has a regular job can’t afford. Not to mention, property managers are now starting to request proof that renters make 3X the amount of rent to qualify! Yet, poverty level is so low that the gap in between is left out in the cold…literally. Or in our case, the heat or rain. This makes me steam: “It’s not like the mortgage is going up.” Exactly! No one regulates what is charged nor do they make sure wage earners not up to teeth-brightening salaries are able to find affordable rents. Mexico! Where does one find out about that option? Might be an option for Todd. Hang in there Deborah and finish Jane Doe’s story. You have the personal essays to back up the kind of promotion that can find you a big publishing deal…that’s how women are breaking in to publishing.

      • Deborah Lee

        I learned about Mexico from my hubby. He got full dentures done in Los Algodones. He had to stay for three weeks while he healed and the plates were made. He stayed in a dive-y Super 8 and ate cheap (not that he felt like eating much anyway) right across the border in Yuma, Arizona. The whole thing, dental work plus the 3-week stay, cost him about half what the dental work would have cost in the U.S. You’re already set up for it with the trailer, although the heat is killer this time of year! You’d need passports now, too, not just driver’s licenses anymore.

      • Charli Mills

        Good to know! Thank you. We can go in a cooler season.

  5. Norah

    There is much to ruminate on in this post, as usual, Charli. I need time to think before responding. I’ll be back to comment and contribute a flash, but not in a flash! My thoughts are with you and the injustices and lack of respect you have to (as opposed to need to) suffer. Hugs from Australia. xx

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, thanks for all your support from Australia! It was uncanny that I got internet access at the very moment you posted your word doc. Gathering the stories helped me so much! Now I can go back to camp feeling rested in mind.

      • Norah

        I’m pleased to hear it Charli. Was glad to be of assistance. 🙂

  6. Annecdotist

    I’m glad your crazy situation is starting to feel more sane – and I’m sure there’ll be lots of frustrations that will stop it getting too sane: we really need to worry when we start adapting too much to the madness! But isn’t it so annoying when life is actually more expensive for the poor (even if they have a house and electricity are usually still have to pay for it on a metre at a higher rate, for example). Over here, too, we seem to have dispensed with water fountains (except for the ornamental kind) and public toilets (although in larger towns and cities you can use those in department stores without buying anything). As the rich get richer, we seem to be doing away with the basics of a civilised society.
    I don’t think it’s crazy to radically change your novel when it was already finished. I find that once I get an idea (or rather when I find an idea I get is a good one) about changing a piece, I’ve got to go with it, because I’ve already stopped believing in the previous version. And it’s great that this revision also gives you the bridge to Rock Creek and the community of Western writers. You’ll have lots of material for essays to promote both of these novels, and I’m also seeing an angle on how writing has saved your sanity.
    And so to another great prompt, expanding that concept of what gives us a psychological home. I’ve done a quickie about the need to connect through reading and friendship:

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yes, the writing has saved my sanity and continues to do so every day. It is so easy to slip into the circumstances, the social injustices, the despair. I can work out much of my emotions and redirect the ones that serve me best. I’ve discovered who supports, who doesn’t and focus on the support rather than lack of it. A cousin of Todd’s was a beta reader for Miracle of Ducks and has wanted me to publish it, now she’s excited for the changes and think it will better the story. Thank you for your support and encouragement. I like where the prompts are leading you!

  7. TanGental

    I’m excited by the changes, maybe because it helps me ignore the remaining awfulness. Anne out that so well; yes, when a new, good idea occurs you lose both faith and love in the old version and so must change it. And it is so much better when you do. Looking forward to reading it, Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Geoff! Had a great weekend of orchestrating new scenes. It’s as if life opened up and gave me some great details. Serendipitous, really. We came to the CDA River because it’s free camping and yet key elements of MOD followed and unfolded. I’m enjoying the rewriting process, though struggling with lack of electricity and connectivity — patience to let the scenes simmer!

      • TanGental

        As long as you keep holding whatever the latest thought is until you can download it!

  8. TanGental

    Sometimes, all you need is the air that you breathe

    ‘Is he homeless mum?’
    The man sat on stained cardboard.
    ‘Can we give him something?’
    ‘We shouldn’t, Penny. He may be an addict.’
    They studied the man. Mary started as Penny marched over and crouched down. The man raised his face. He nodded as Penny reached out; the man took her hand. Mary could see his was filthy, the nails ingrained with dirt. Penny, normally so fussy, didn’t flinch.
    When Penny returned she was crying.
    ‘That was so kind, Penny.’
    ‘He said he’s been there four days and I’m the first person to stop let alone speak to him.’

    • Annecdotist

      Really moving, Geoff. Four days of being ignored: yuck, but so typical

      • TanGental

        Sadly I dont know how many homeless at Crisis at Christmas say the one thing they all crave is to be treated with just a little dignity. The money is nice but the dignity is what is important.

      • Charli Mills

        When I was in Missoula in March, I kept running into the same homeless man. I smiled at him, first time I saw him on the street. After that I could see him looking at me, waiting to see if I’d smile again. It became a connection between us every time I walked to or fro the BinderCon workshop, meeting eyes and smiling. People want to feel human, recognized. I can understand how easy it is to slip into a dehumanized state. Yet, it’s just as easy for someone to pull another up.

    • Charli Mills

      Beautiful, Geoff and more people should reach beyond their fear to touch the downtrodden. It’s holy ground if there is such a thing. Powerful flash!

    • paulamoyer

      Stunning, Geoff. Well done, as always.

      • TanGental

        Glad it worked for you Paula

  9. julespaige

    There are so many ways one can go with this. I’ve got two in regards to emotional needs. I’ll get them posted tomorrow.

    It is very hard to understand why the people who need the most help are often not even given the basic needs. Especially those who have given valuable service to our country.

    Many private institutions rotate sleeping space in colder climates for the homeless because the other available facilities are so overcrowded, and often require the acceptance of some religious tenet.

    • Charli Mills

      I think I’m only beginning to see the tangle of issues related to homelessness. The fact that shelters are so overcrowded should spark a reaction. But I also see the lack of voice among those experiencing homelessness. And as writers, we know the power of voice. There’s a calling for Carrot Ranch in this. Write on, Jules.

  10. Kerry E.B. Black

    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    With her father’s harsh words, she slipped further into the private domicile she constructed within herself. She shored up the wall with bitter mortar wetted by unshed tears.
    She stepped onto the playground with jacks and a ball, hoping to lure companions, instead they lost the jacks and stole the ball. Trust dashed with abandonment, and she added height to her inner fortress.
    She spoke in parallels to her mother, her last refuge, but the woman misunderstood the message imparted by her child. Frightened of the emotionless girl, the mother failed to see the agony peeping through drying battlements.

    • Charli Mills

      Your flash is painful yet poignant. You build the wall brick by brick so we can see it’s construction and understand the girl.

  11. Kerry E.B. Black

    Reblogged this on Allusionary Assembly and commented:
    This is my response to Charli’s Carrot Ranch Challenge. 99 words about human need.

    However, I’m reblogging this in the hopes that you’ll please read Charli’s letter. I don’t understand how this can be happening in the land of the free, especially since its brave should have homes.

    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    With her father’s harsh words, she slipped further into the private domicile she constructed within herself. She shored up the wall with bitter mortar wetted by unshed tears.
    She stepped onto the playground with jacks and a ball, hoping to lure companions, instead they lost the jacks and stole the ball. Trust dashed with abandonment, and she added height to her inner fortress.
    She spoke in parallels to her mother, her last refuge, but the woman misunderstood the message imparted by her child. Frightened of the emotionless girl, the mother failed to see the agony peeping through drying battlements.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for re-blogging! Land of the free hasn’t been yet realized, yet outs a starting point and one thing we must have is freedom of voice. You speak up for those who don’t know they can.

  12. Sherri

    So that’s where the ‘Red Light District’ came from…I never knew. How nice those girls were called Snakes…not. I’m sure they would have given anything to have shed their skin but they had no choices. You make a heartfelt and powerful case for the dehuminising price paid for life’s necessities when they become available only to those who can afford them. Even water! I’m saddened to read that public water bubblers are disappearing. The gap between the haves and have-nots is getting wider and wider and it is so wrong. Yet, Charli, you bring us your heart and your spirit and you inspire us still even in the face of your many trials. I know the day will come when you’ll take all this and your voice will be heard! I am thrilled for you that you can join Women Write the West now and how beautiful MOD will be! I am so proud of you. And your flashes are powerful and raw. Flash fiction is wonderful! I hope to be back with mine… 🙂 <3

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, lovely analogy about snakes wanting to shed their skins. And really, we all can do that when we go through tough seasons. We are not stuck in this snake skin! Thank you, Sherri! And I look forward to your memoir you are focusing on. Flash when you can!?

      • Sherri

        Thanks Charli, I will cetainly flash as often as I can! 🙂 <3

  13. denmaniacs4


    As he dug into the hot flapjacks, sour-sweet with wild raspberry jam, Dobbs was overcome with memory.

    The two women, Merle Taylor, round, red-faced, warm to the eye, and Aggie Runacre, travelling companion, fleeting confidant, sat opposite, perhaps, he supposed, finding pleasure in his presence.

    Often, aside from his beast, the wilderness, stark, alive, dying, was his only constant companion.

    It was usually enough.

    You were only ever alone in the grave.

    A moment such as this harkened to those few golden mornings in Virginia, atop Statler’s Ridge, a beaten boy, angry, running, falling, resting, waiting for the sun.

    • Charli Mills

      This makes me think why people avoid moments of rest and contemplation. As a flash, this works well to give us deeper insights of Dobbs.

    • Charli Mills

      Go where the prompt leads, Larry!

  14. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    I’ve run short on time this week. I’ve just posted my contribution, The latest thingamajig http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-Kd.
    I wish you, your family and friends a wonderful 4th of July celebration. That is, I hope there are good things for you to celebrate as this new day dawns for you.
    Best wishes. Hugs. xx

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so delighted thinking at this moment, our feet are touching the same continent! Thank you, we had an appropriate 4th honoring miners who developed and died in Wallace. Thank you for posting! I’m having access challenges still, but doing my best and getting through!

      • Norah

        I’m having access challenges too and not as many opportunities for connecting as I thought I might. Will probably not make this week’s challenge, sadly.

      • Norah

        And it is amazing that we are on the same continent – only a 3 hour time difference! ????

  15. Paula Moyer

    Such pluck you have, Charli. Amazing to think of you coordinating a weekly Flash Fiction challenge and revising your novel (now a Western!) in the throes of all this.

    Here’s my entry — note that the child Solar Man has morphed into a girl.

    Bears of Love

    By Paula Moyer

    David’s move went well, Jean reminded herself. No arguments over furniture. The girls even helped him pack. Not bad – other than the bloody, jagged hole inside her, hidden from Hannah, 8, and Claire, 5 and lisping.

    Tonight, Jean survived amputation – without anesthesia. The limb of love – ripped.

    After sliding into bed, she heard breathing.

    Two tiny girl silhouettes were etched by alley streetlight.

    “Here, Mom,” Hannah whispered. She presented a yellow Care Bear, a favorite from her collection. Claire offered her panda.

    “Divorced … moms … need … bears.” Claire forced the ess sound.

    Jean swallowed.

    “Yes, we do.”

    • Charli Mills

      I feel split, Paula. Like I was somebody else before I left Elmira Pond. I’m fiercer, for better our worse. But I’m writing in camp, recharging my battery at breakfast, finding internet when I can and pushing Todd through the VA medical system. Great flash and I lives the morphing of Solar Man. I always think of your son as an incredible human who respects women and his gender. You resized him well.

      • paulamoyer

        Thank you, Charli. He is most admirable, but then, he married into admirable people, too. I certainly understand the split. You’d be crazy to think it was all peaches.

    • Annecdotist

      This is lovely, Paula, and that line about amputation pulled me up short. A really powerful analogy and so poignant the way she has to remind herself but it could have been worse with a more acrimonious separation.

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Anne — eventually the civil nature of things was enough for “Jean.” As you gathered, at this point, she is split and has to acknowledge that even a civil divorce is pretty crappy when it’s new, because the frame of reference isn’t other divorces but life with (adult) love versus life without it.

  16. julespaige

    Charli I am amazed that you can still produce such wonderful stories.
    And to redo a whole manuscript to get a new point across is mind boggling.

    I’m here finally. Wrote them but am finally posting:

    Idio ‘sink’ crazies

    Sibling should provide basic things to each other. Despite age
    and gender differences. Or distance once they ‘grow-up’. And
    yet It is so very easy to fall into the routine of only communicating
    or calling on birthdays and holidays.

    Support, encouragement, a listening ear; very valuable assets –
    Maybe even considered life skills. Yet some independent souls
    think taking and receiving are their due without giving.

    Plain Jane was the monkey in the middle. Neither of her siblings
    Seemed to respect her choices. So much for family.

    Plain Jane had to prioritize. Her husband and children had to
    come first.



    Electronics were supposed to make thing easier. Not true,
    Karen thought. The flip-phone she had didn’t support social
    media. Karen didn’t want to tied to who ‘liked’ what, when
    her own past didn’t matter.

    The basic needs of love weren’t being met. There wasn’t
    any trust. Honor had disappeared with distance when her
    Brother tried to run from his own demons to the west coast.
    He’d left Karen with the responsibility of their aging parents.
    That wasn’t fair.

    Jealousy was an ugly green monster kept alive by secrets
    and miscommunication. Not answering Ron when he called,
    kept them apart.


    The post link is here:
    Idio ‘sink’ crazies & Fulfillment?

    • Charli Mills

      Love these both, Jules! You might laugh to see me writing away on the pitch dark of camp, but writing I am! Connection, well, that’s as spotty as finding a shower.

    • Charli Mills

      Love these both, Jules! You might laugh to see me writing away on the pitch dark of camp, but writing I am! Connection, well, that’s as spotty as finding a shower.

    • Charli Mills

      Oops, doubled my reply to Jules. The risk of using my fingers on my phone! But terrific guest post, Anne. I read it from the CDA library, but didn’t get the chance to respond. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

  17. Al Lane

    I thought I’d come and join in this week. Hello everyone! Look forward to reading all of your stories 🙂


    Things have been tough since we arrived, but my people try not to make a fuss. I think that’s why we fit in so well, despite the green skin. And second heads.

    There have been some… misunderstandings… along the way. Apparently your dogs are not snack food. We learnt that lesson the hard way. Now, we keep our hungers hidden.

    Its’s the least we could do, after you took us in; gave us shelter.

    But you really have no idea how delicious you taste…

    I’m not asking for forgiveness.

    All I’m asking is that you respect my human needs.

    • Charli Mills

      Howdy Al! Welcome to Carrot Ranch! I laughed so hard, yet your flash is a terrific story about cultural misunderstandings. Usually I compile the stories by Tuesday, but I’m coping with accessibility to both electricity and wifi.

      • Al Lane

        Thanks Charli. I’m getting a little hooked on these 99 word stories now! 🙂

    • Annecdotist

      Welcome, Al, and what a fabulous first contribution – a really clever and entertaining take on the prompt.

      • Al Lane

        Thank you, that’s a very generous compliment 🙂

  18. elliotttlyngreen

    Well I kinda cheated Charli. Its 5 separate parts of 99 thats not even a story. I would have partialed them out week by week…. But I cannot look it over anymore. So, here It is my ‘war and peace’ of flash fiction. I hope the ranch enjoys.


    I dont really need to write, but cannot go without. Perhaps hobbies or outlets are basic human needs. To create, think, and improve. To connect. Or maybe it is nature. Or just for attention. Regardless, I enjoyed the prompt and I accept your challenge.

    I hope you are finding comfort and basic needs.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s awesome, Elliott! Not cheating; pushing the boundaries of creativity. For me, I’m realizing it’s intellectual connection. I met another wanderer and we talked the day away yesterday, and several times he said he just needed to connect to someone with intellect. Funny, because as I write about Sarah and Cobb, I feel their attraction had do more with intellect, which I think it’s often disregarded.Thanks for continuing to join in and push your own boundaries oh creativity.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Its taken for granted. Intellect. Writing is a mere glimpse, flash into the 1000 connections of persons we make everyday. A photograph. Of the shizzle that wriggles our boggles. Always a pleasure maam. I think i will develop this Chance. A guy who flips quarters so he wont get blamed for anything. Yes, I feeling like a rider. But you know how stories tell a phone. Well chances are, there’s boundaries?

  19. A. E. Robson

    Life throws us many curve balls to test our survival skills.

    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Banging and clanging came from the old log building. Heat waves bellowed through the door. The forge was working at capacity. Red hot coals embracing the cold steal. Hammer and anvil moulding the shape. Plunged into the water bucket. Steam hissing.

    The order had come in for wall hooks. All different lengths. Bent at one end to fit the wall brackets being made. A hook on the other end to hold cooking pots over an open fireplace.

    He had not always been this man. A leather aproned blacksmith with a black smudged face.

    ?Life deals odd twists to survive.


    • Charli Mills

      Ann, I love this flash! How timeless the message whether an old time blacksmith or a modern business person filling an order. Your description is sharp and creates a great visual. Live does through us hooks! Trying to fish with mine!

    • paulamoyer

      Very compelling story, Ann. Love the blacksmith.

  20. Charli Mills

    Today was spent at the Spokane VA where I had hoped to spend time at the Ranch. Instead I was getting Todd into every department I could and succeeded. I just kept pushing. The Doc verified that Todd’s knee is in a bad way and ordered him PT. He’s only had to wait 28 years for a VA doc to acknowledge it. But moving forward…I’ll be headed to Wallace tomorrow and will catch you all there!

    • Annecdotist

      Result! ; – )

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Deborah! I’m so glad you found the bones, flesh, skin analogy useful. It really set things in my mind fast as process goes. Thank you for another poignant flash.


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