Home on the Range

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 30, 2016

HomeHome is where the heart is. Home, sweet home. Hearth and home. Such sweet allocations we give to the idea of home. Yet home can trap and home remain elusive.

This week writers explored inside and out of what a home is. Some stories will connect and others will make you think. All serve to look at the concept of home from different perspectives.

The following is based on June 22, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about home.


New Home by Charli Mills (from Rock Creek)

“Blue skies of home!” Cobb swept arms outward and Sarah leaned back, soaking in every scudding white cloud she claimed.

They labored hard that summer. Sarah set up the books and store. At night Cobb fiddled for pioneers passing through, no matter how tired he was from constructing the bridge and outbuildings. He dug a new well and bought a second road ranch.

When Mary finally arrived with Cobb’s brother, all the children safe, including the new baby, Cobb greeted her with the same sweeping gesture and homage to the prairie sky.

Mary glowered. “Home’s what I left behind.”


Line Open, Nobody Listening by Charli Mills (from Miracle of Ducks)

“Look you son-of-a-bitch, just because you have an error in your system doesn’t make you right,” Danni yelled into the receiver of the phone, ignoring Michael’s silent indication to stop. No way. She was right and this bank jerk-off on the other end was wrong.

“Mrs. Gordon…”

“Dr. Gordon, to you, asshole!”

“If you continue this harassing language, I’ll hang up.”

“Oh, scary. If you continue your harassing foreclosure letters without correcting YOUR error I will hang you like a vigilante.”

“Enough, Danni,” Michael whispered harshly.

She slammed the receiver, screamed at the wall in frustration. “It’s my home!”


HOME AGAIN by Patricia Salamone

Home is not a physical place. Home is a feeling of belonging. It is the people that surround you.
It is the smell of cookies baking, or bread in the oven. It is the laughter you share when recalling the crazy things you did in your childhood. It is sharing secrets with your siblings that no one else will ever know. It is loving those around you and feeling that same love in return forever. It is remembering the hugs and kisses and love. Home is not a dwelling. Home is where your heart will always be.


Home by denmaniacs4

No matter how many times he slept rough, even livery-stable rough, Dobbs
was ever thankful that he was not burnished with the weight of place.

Childhood in Virginia had been a prison.

Houses were prisons, coffins that smothered you.

Nothing, not even hired strokes of softness and love, remedied the crushing feeling of being caged.

Still, as he sat in the Taylor’s kitchen, opposite a beaming Aggie Runacre, drinking a cup of coffee from a cracked china cup, waiting for Merle Taylor to fry up a fresh plate of flapjacks, he felt, for a moment, that he was home.


Home: A Project by Paula Moyer

Jean had moved so often that she had to imagine “homecoming.” Even her parents had moved after she was grown. The place where Jean visited them on holidays wasn’t “home”; it was just her parents’ house.

Jean imagined that homecoming was something restful, like the progression of chords at the end of a composition, until the resolution, the tonic “aah” at the end.

But this house where she and Sam lived? So cluttered that she had to balance a plate on her knee? Home was not rest. Home was work.

Jean laughed. “Welcome to reality,” she whispered. “Welcome home.”


Maybe by Sarah Brentyn

She never had a home.

Not as an infant, left in soiled diapers. Or as a child, drawing pictures on the dusty floor of her closet.

Not even when they took her to a real house with her own bedroom, a kitchen that had food in it, and two grownups who tucked her in at night.

She was broken.

Filled with so much shame she felt stuffed. Like a guilty scarecrow with clean clothes.

Maybe they rescued the wrong girl. Maybe if they had gotten her out when she was younger. Maybe then, she’d feel at home here.



Kitten Spring by Sarah J. Woods

She was a rare ginger female cat, gorgeous, sweet, and not more than a kitten herself when she appeared outside my house in March—starving and pregnant. No one claimed her. She scared our other pets, but we made her a little home in our sunroom. Soon they arrived: five mouse-like kittens.

They grew ever cuter as spring rolled on. It was difficult to find them all homes, but, miraculously, we did.

It’s June, and the mama is still with us—spayed now—and back to being a kitten herself, chasing cicadas during the day and fireflies at night.


On the Range by Kerry E.B. Black

Winds whipped tall grasses, a prairie dance set to a windy orchestra. Mac’s palomino stiffened, nostrils flaring.
Mac rubbed his horse’s trembling withers. “We’re almost there, you crazy old thing.”
The saddle groaned as he mounted and settled into leather worn to cradle him. His shoulders throbbed, yet Mac kept soldier-straight posture.
The horse’s ears pricked forward, and his strides lengthened.
“That’s right. You remember, don’t you?”
Blond mane lifted when he removed the bridle, revealing scars healed with Mac’s care. He uncinched the saddle and pad. He saluted. “The military thanks you. Now move, stallion. Your herd awaits.”


Home by Ula

(a fragment from my work-in-progress, Native Landscapes)

“I need to go home,” Milena said with such ease she surprised herself. Home, she thought, had she ever felt at home anywhere? She couldn’t get out of her parents’ house fast enough when she left for art school. She’d thought she’d feel free then, but was trapped in nightmares at night and her new apartment in what she’d considered the coolest neighborhood in Chicago never ended up feeling like home. But now, here in Krakow, she felt at home. Her apartment, though cramped and mostly unfurnished, felt like home. Maybe she’d even admit that she felt almost free.


Knight of Lost Fire by Elliott Lyn Green

A home is …. At a sloped drive on Amber Ct., everyone smells the lingering at some point; from rooms above, splitting, and to the garage beneath the grade… where –“actually developed this contraption that converts 12,470 Volts through a sort of trianglulated assemblage…”—“Oh, like a stealth shape?”—“Yeah!!”—“How interestingly Aaaawesome.”— wafting luxurious aroma –“Thanks!.. Anyway, it’s really just a steel tank with flimsy resin covered paper around aluminum coils that wind the current….,” Nevaro sinks through the oracle like falling heavy into a sheet wrapping air, “so it seems I have carefully….”— clasps inexorable rootless fire.


Recovery and Reclamation? by Jules Page

So many times Tammy thought she was home. Each time she
thought she was settled, her parents told her they were moving,
again! And some things didn’t move with them. Like the large doll,
or the metal dollhouse with the plastic furniture and the people
who couldn’t move.

Now she looked back over the last twenty five years of being in
the same place. The place where she’d raised her family. The
mortgage paid for and the grandchildren’s toys strewn about.

How could the magazines proclaim homes stayed neat and tidy?
Those homes must have never been lived in.


Home a Flash Fiction by Susan Zutautas

Struggling week by week, it was all that they could do to hang onto their home of twenty years. All the memories of this place, their children growing up here, their first home, soon to be on the market in order to recoup any equity that they had left in the house they called home.

Sad but yet excited to start a new chapter in their lives. Moving would be hard, downsizing even harder but it had to be done.

Home would be as always with each other. Home is where the heart is, home is where love grows.


College Comforts by Larry LaForge

Edna took in the surroundings, shaking her head in bewilderment. Ed stood speechless. Is this for real?

The tour of the new campus student housing facility left them wondering what college had become. Hardwood floors, high ceilings, crown moulding, gourmet dining, Jacuzzi tubs, climbing walls, swimming pools, sand volleyball courts.

Edna ran her fingers over the smooth granite countertop in one of the units. Ed stared at the lounge pool table.

“We plan to grow enrollment,” the college official proclaimed with a smile, “by making sure our students feel at home.”

“Home?” Edna blurted without thinking. “Home? Whose home?”


Welcome to our Home by Ann Edall-Robson

“Quite the house, you have here.”

Work dictated moving to a new area. An invite to meet the neighbours was not high on the priority list. But we went.

Curiosity would bring the neighbours to us. They would see our home. Belongings stored comfortably around each room. Books on tables. The smell of cookies baking. Jackets that didn’t quite make it to the closet.

There was no closed rooms with champagne coloured carpet. Kitchens with everything out of sight. Closets with clothes lined in perfect order.

They live in a house. We live in a home.

Welcoming neighbours. Anytime.


What next? by Geoff Le Pard

 ‘Mum, what does it mean? Are we going to leave?’

‘I don’t know, Penny. I didn’t think it would come to this.  We’ll just have to be stay calm. But don’t worry. It is not something you need to worry about.’

‘Mum, you said we’d stay, we’d be alright.’

‘Our landlords changed their minds. We have to leave.’

‘It’s not fair. It’s our home.’

‘No, it isn’t fair, but it’s a chance to do something different. We have each other. And our home is where we are, where are hearts are. That’s what makes us strong. We’ll be fine.’


At home on the tennis court? by Anne Goodwin
The sound cuts through him, severing the sinews anchoring him to the present tense. He scans the park for the source of that plaintive cry.
“Fifteen-love.” The nurse looks baffled he missed such an easy shot. “Okay?”
He tries to blink himself back to the man who pantomimes serenity and sanity. Who stomachs a world where families are savaged for speaking the wrong language. Where mothers close the door on babies who scream what they themselves cannot endure.
Instead of leaving the court to find and console the baby, he grips the racquet tighter and focuses on the ball.


The birth of Hope by Norah Colvin

Startled by the blueness of eyes and the intensity of unfamiliar feelings, she suddenly relaxed, as if finally, home.

She’d not known home before: not locked in a room with hunger the only companion; not shivering through winters, barefoot and coatless; not showered with harsh words and punishments.

She’d sought it elsewhere, mistaking attention for something more. When pregnancy ensued; he absconded. They kicked her out.

Somehow she’d found a place to endure the inconvenience. Once it was out, she’d be gone.

But now, feeling unexpectedly connected and purposeful, she glimpsed something different —a new start, lives entwined: home.


Black Magic by Sherri Matthews

“This car’s a piece of junk,” hissed Steve.

“Shhh…I told you it would be,” whispered Tina, hoping the owner hadn’t heard. “You tell him, I need to check on Sammy…”

“Dad, Mom, look, a kitten! Can we take him home with us, pleeeeeze……?”

“Looks like your little boy’s found a friend!”

Steve closed the hood of the car as he glanced at Sammy kneeling on the grass petting a tiny, black furball.

“Think we’ll have to pass on the car, sorry…”

“No problem. There’s something needing a home more than this old heap of rust. I’ll get a box…”


Home by Deborah Lee.
Jane looks around at her basement hidey-hole, as clean as she can get it. Her only furniture is an old coffee table rescued from the back yard.
Her house! She feels the longing in her marrow. The overflowing pantry, Grandma’s worn wing chairs, glass-fronted cupboards showing off tea sets. The housewarming roses by the front door.
All gone. Job, savings, house — all lost. All it takes is one bad thing, and then it all goes, like dominoes.
She burrows deeper in her sleeping bag. Home is where the heart is, they say, but that’s a long way gone.


No Place Like Home by C. Jai Ferry

Vicki pawed at the plastic bottle in her pocket while Scooby Doo ruh-rohed on TV. She picked up bowls of pink cereal milk, taking a slurp to wash down the pills before maneuvering through the labyrinth of gangly legs.

She stood over the sink. Fifteen minutes in a backseat and now she was a slave to three nine-year-olds. She’d been meant for a corporate business account and vibrant 401k, not snotty noses and mountains of sweaty clothes that out-stank rotting flesh.

She popped another pill before washing gooey leftovers from last night’s dishes. No place like home my ass.


Home for Carrotranch by Sharmishtha Basu

Home! A simple structure of cement, bricks and some other ingredients… sometimes it is mud instead of cement… but that is not what a home is!

A home is that place which fills your heart up with peace when you open its door. Once you bind your soul with one specific home then that bond never breaks.

Such was her case! She found her ultimate home, time took her away from there, the bridges crashed, snatching away any chances of return but she could not make any other house her home.

Even though some were much trendier than Home.


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  1. Norah

    A wonderful compilation of stories you’ve managed to rope in again this week, Charli. Well done. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for your help roping, Norah!

  2. Al Lane

    So many great stories! I keep meaning to join in too… maybe this week! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Join in Al! Thanks!

      • Al Lane

        I’m in now! 🙂

  3. Ula

    Some really moving pieces here. Home can be such a complicated thing.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, home had so many meanings and each one is deep. Great stories!

  4. noelleg44

    I perfect topic for stories and a great compilation. I can understand why you chose this subject! Hope you are doing well.

    • Charli Mills

      The resulting stories is always my favorite part. I’m adjusting and finding all kinds of inspiration as if the universe just opened up.

  5. noelleg44

    PS Stick a GoFund me link on every post, Charli. I can put something on my blog about it.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Noelle. I’ll work on getting something up.

  6. Sharmishtha Basu

    how do you join? by putting the story in your blog and leaving the link here? I will do that, hope that will work!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Shamishtha! I’m updating the Home on the Range to include your story. Thanks for contributing! Look for the Challenge posts each week and link up in the comments on that post. Yes, there are terrific writers here and you will enjoy their blogs, too. I look forward to reading yours.

  7. Sharmishtha Basu

    fantastic stories will check out the sites of the writers.


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