September 14: 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.

September 14, 2016

Over yonder, where the cliffs diminish and pale in the slanting sun, is where we landed. How we left earth is a mystery. Perhaps it was a moonbeam we followed, thinking it to be a paved road or a path away from political pirates. Maybe some freak fission took place and our souls split to occupy multiple places at once. Like the passengers of Lost, I walk beyond the sand and enter a hatch to another place. I’m convinced I drove from Montana and ended up on Mars.

Montana I can explain clearly now.

Clarity crystallized upon saying goodbye. We said goodbye to new friends in Moses Lake and exchanged phone numbers with promises to meet up in other RV parks. We said goodbye to stuff in storage and I felt completely detached, wondering if this is how the pioneer women who crossed the desert felt upon dumping the hutch and china from the buckboard so the oxen might live another day of trudging sage and sand. We waved goodbye at Laughing Dog closed for remodeling and to Sandpoint friends who were not home. I stopped one last time along the Pack River Delta and whispered goodbye to Lake Pend Oreille and the pyramidal Monarch Mountains. I said goodbye to osprey though I think they left before me.

We parked our trailer on a street in Missoula, Montana and enjoyed porch-side hospitality with our daughter and her housemates. As an introvert, I said goodbye to Missoula Binders via email. Sadness began to flourish like a creeping vine in my heart. Then we traveled to Helena where I once graduated from College and bonded with my best friend. I did not want to say goodbye to her daughters, and I choked on tears as we neared. I had wanted to go to Kate’s grave, but wasn’t ready. M and I clung to one another in her doorway and we cried. Her children made us laugh. We went out to dinner  and prolonged the parting. Then I drove to E’s house, hugged her son, hugged her and we left to stay one last night in Missoula with Rock Climber.

Driving along the Clark Fork River the next day to Butte where we turned south and would drive down and away for another 800 miles in tandem, hub with the trailer and me with the dogs, I listened to the epic theme from Man From Snowy River over and over until I purged all tears.  I snapped photos of passing mountain ranges, broad valleys and big sky. I could not say goodbye to Montana. And that’s when it hit me — my heart is, always has been, here. I was born in a place, raised in another and have lived in 8 states, most in the western US. What defines the west, and western literature, is place. And my place, my center, my heart, is Montana.

It doesn’t matter where I reside or where I write, I’m from Montana and always will be. The clarity of that realization, the absorption of what is is to be a woman who writes the west, emptied my chest as if my heart fell out along side the road and waved me goodbye until I returned. I stopped crying, breathed deeply and felt…good. I felt settled. Now I was ready for adventure! To all who’ve spoke adventure over my reluctant transience and homelessness, now I welcome it! I’m from Montana damn it all and I can adventure where I please.

Mars? I didn’t expect that, but hey, my chest feels empty now, and I’m ready to fill up on what life brings next.

We followed the western edge of the Rocky Mountains south. By mid-afternoon we crossed over into Idaho again. The Hub called me on his cell phone. “Do you see those pale mountains to the left? Those aren’t clouds; those are the Tetons.” Those craggy peaks rise to an elevation of 13,000 feet and we could see Wyoming from Idaho. We stopped in the dark for the night just over the Idaho border and into Utah. We splurged on a motel room, and I actually missed my trailer. So did the Hub and the dogs. Who would have thought that square leaking beast on mismatched wheels would become home? With my heart beating in Montana, I was okay with living on wheels.

The next morning we headed south again, following the western edge of mountains like a guide. We stopped in Ogden, Utah to see Hub’s second cousin The Historian. He’s my idol, the family Black Sheep of his generation, a Vietnam Vet, and a former history professor. We’ve worked together on Mills genealogy in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and I owe most of my research skills to him.  Seeing him always shocks me — he looks more like the Hub than any other family member, just 30 years older. And they are two peas in a pod, two black sheep, two fellow veterans. I love watching them interact. The Historian takes us out for pie and coffee, then we follow him up a steep incline to his home and orchard where we piddle and water the dogs. He tells me to find a drinking friend in Utah and to return with her to visit him. Hub smiles.

South we go again. We pass Salt Lake City, Provo and Spanish Springs. That mountain range never leaves our left side. Valleys rise and dip, thriving cities give way to ranches and towns, and the sky remains similar to my beloved Big Sky. We continue and I’m surprised to find the terrain looks similar to southern Idaho, eastern Montana or northern Nevada. Maybe Utah won’t be so different after all. I simply don’t know what to expect, except I fear it will be hot and barren like Las Vegas, Nevada, which is only 120 miles away from St. George. At Cedar City, I can see red stain in the soil among the vast range of cedar trees. They are short and scrubby in comparison to the tall pines of northern Idaho.

Here we break down. The truck pulling our trailer dies, the engine won’t restart. At this point, I should mention the car has no air conditioning. Somehow, the compressor fell off, who knows where. The Hub suspects it was removed during repairs last fall after we hit a deer. Anyhow, it’s hot and I feel a tad frightened. We are at the mercy of heat and unknowns. The Hub thinks the truck overheated on the last mountain pass so we sit a while, listening to the panting of our dogs. It starts and we head to a shop in town. Turns out our gas filter was dirty and the heat exacerbated the problem. For forty bucks we get a new one installed and head out as the sun is setting. Relieved.

My phone is set to lead us to the only RV park with an opening for four nights. When the Hub got the Great News of his new job in St. George, Utah, I called every RV and camping park within an hour’s drive to find a place to park our trailer. They were all full, even the ones fellow RVers said not to go to. A possible ranch connection was all we had. The new Company was going to set us up in a hotel in St, George but not until Sunday night. The Hub, not wanting to be late for his first day of work, had us showing up four days early. While broke down, I called the best RV park in the region on a fluke of what if (after all, I write fiction and can imagine possibilities). Turns out they had a spot available for four nights due to the small stature of our trailer.

Before we get to St. George it is pitch black. We turn off the road to head to Zion River Resort and I ask Google for a dinner stop. Google directs us to the Stagecoach Grill. To a western writer, that’s a promising name. Inside, the decor emphasizes horses mixed with bold colors. The menu offers fresh food and ice water. Afterwards, I take the lead because I have the phone with our north star installed. Here’s where I think we detoured on a moonbeam, split  or fell down a hatch. I do recall feeling woozy, but the road had more curves than Sophia Loren. It felt as sultry, too. Night, yet still blanketed in warmth as if the sun had managed to stay the night. After winding up and down, left and right, my phone died. In a panic, I slowed down and at that moment the Zion River Resort — and no vacancy sign — appeared to the right.

The office was closed but a man with a gray mullet and bright pink shirt greeted us in a golf cart. He pulled up our reservation and we followed him to site #82. “Check in come morning,” he said, waving as he drove off in his cart without a sound. We plugged in the electricity, turned on the AC, watered the dogs and fell fast asleep. The next morning we woke up on Mars. I was not prepared for this red and white, of cliff faces, pinnacles and sandstone taller and larger than the mountain I left. The land is baked and a muddy red river runs through it, bordered with cottonwoods.

My first morning, I stood, staring at a 6,000 foot butte and cliff-face beyond my trailer door. The sun blazed hot, yet felt comforting. Lizards skittered away as I walked past a pool and court yard. Song birds flitted in green trees. Mars is pleasant, I thought. The first thing I saw walking into the office to check in was a large painted sign on faded barn wood that read, Buffalo Bill Cody and the Congress of Rough Riders. I smiled and knew I landed right where I was supposed to be. Let the amazing feats begin.

The hallmark of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show was the “amazing feats” of his Congress of Rough Riders. Here at Carrot Ranch, we play with flash fiction the way musicians jam. There’s no right or wrong to the prompt, but a constraint of 99 words. Here, writers can practice, show off, experiment with new tricks, explore story ideas, develop characters or plot, and have fun writing. If you are pressed for time, add a further constraint of time. You might be amazed at what you accomplish in 99 words. Just as I am amazed by my new home-scape.

September 14, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an amazing feat. What is the accomplishment and why is it amazing? Think small or go over-the-top large. Is it realistic or fantastically exaggerated? Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by September 20, 2016 to be included in the compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

The First Trick (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Bubbie sat, quivering. His brown eyes crossed to gaze at the biscuit perched on his snout. Nostrils flared, and thin drool hung from his lips. Danni backed away and the children in the clearing held still. No one spoke. Then Danni gave a command and Bubbie snatched the biscuit with his darting tongue. The children erupted into cheers.

Mrs.  Gunnerson held up her hand for silence and order returned to the fourth-grade field trip. “Listen up, children. Dr. Gordon and her archaeology dog will lead you to the park petroglyphs.”

Danni exhaled, grateful for the dog that was her ice-breaker.

###

When He Was Young and Innocent (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Hickok crossed his arms and drew his pistols, shooting the tossed sardine can. Nancy Jane howled with laughter, but Sarah frowned.

“Don’t you like my neat trick,” he asked, feigning hurt.

“I’m studying your grip,” said Sarah.

“Grip? What are y’all serious about now,” asked Nancy Jane.

“Why do you wear your guns backwards?”

Hickok returned each pistol to his red hip scarf, butts facing out. “It’s how I learned to cross draw. Fastest way to sling guns.”

Sarah nodded. “Ever shoot anyone?”

Hickok drew again, twirling the pistols. “Nah,” he said with a smile that reached his eyes.

###

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71 Comments

  1. Norah

    I’ve read and enjoyed, Charli. There were a few niggly omens along the way, but better ones when you arrived. I can’t believe you landed smack in the middle of the Rough Riders. That’s got to mean good things! I’m too tired tonight to respond to your beautiful words, especially about leaving your heart in Montana, but had to be the first to comment while I had the chance. Will be back later to comment more.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for hopping over to the ranch to be the first to comment, Norah! I think the southwest as a region is most iconic for western legends because most Hollywood westerns are filmed in the southwest, not where these legends lived in real life. However, Hickok did drive wagons on one of the early southwestern trails. Now I have to look that up in my books! It feels good that I left my heart in Montana, where it feels at home. Now I can wander and wonder at this strange, beautiful new place.

      • Norah

        How interesting that the movies are filmed in the southwest, rather than where they occurred. I guess it probably holds much of the scenery I would recognise. The contrast with your beloved Montana must be stark. No wonder you feel as if you have arrived on Mars, on another planet. I hope that not all will be unfamiliar. I wonder if, once you’ve had a chance to wander and wonder, will your heart decide to join you and feel joyous in the reunion.
        Saying goodbye sounds difficult, with places closed and friends not home. Like an empty wave – will they even realise I’m gone. I’m sure they will, as we did – gone but not forgotten. Hard to leave your children too, and Kate’s children. You love to fossick around in cemeteries for the stories they tell. You know Kate’s story. You can read it in your heart – no need to read it elsewhere.
        I love knowing that you listened to the theme from “The Man From Snowy River”, an Australian movie. I wouldn’t have thought of it being known over there. I’m pleased to know it helped you reach catharsis, and love the depth of self realisation in these words: “The clarity of that realization, the absorption of what is is to be a woman who writes the west, emptied my chest as if my heart fell out along side the road and waved me goodbye until I returned.”
        I pleased that it now leaves room for you to start thinking of new adventures.
        Your visit with the Historian sounds fun. After that you move into unknown territory, and have a number of small mishaps and misadventures. Thankfully, you survived them and found a moonbeam to show you the way to the RV park in the dark of night. Reminds me of another story about the last room in the inn. You have given me good vibes about this spot and a new beginning. I hope it all goes well.
        You’ve presented us with a contrast in flash as well – from a dog’s trick, to a gunslinger quick action. Sounds like Danni’s experienced in entertaining the children, and Hickok is well-practised with his guns. I like the smile of his response to Sarah’s question.

      • Charli Mills

        I think you would recognize scenery here from movies. It’s only 5 hours from Hollywood! And yes, “Man From Snowy River” is among my most cherished movies. I even know the poem! It’s good to leave my heart in Montana and this place will be a good fresh start for us. I like that I finally feel I’m “from” somewhere, and Montana is it. I have seen only one photograph of Hickok before the Civil War and he has such a spark in his eyes. After Rock Creek he became a sniper for the Union and all subsequent photos show haggard eyes. I believe he lost his spark and youth at Rock Creek.

      • jeanne229

        Ah yes, Westerns and the Southwest. I recognize many Arizona vistas in the films from that classic era. John Ford, for one, loved Monument Valley in northern Arizona. But it’s wryly amusing to watch Stagecoach, for example, and see the characters galloping and the coaches careening against the same backdrop over and over again. I believe that movie was also supposed to take place in Texas. At any rate, yes, spectacular vistas to be had!

      • Charli Mills

        Monument Valley is probably most iconic for westerns, thank you John Ford! That valley does go on forever in some movies. 😉

      • Norah

        Ha! I see that last reply of yours was a reply to you, rather than to me, which explains why I didn’t see it before this.
        I’m chuffed to know that you know “The Man from Snowy River” by heart, and that it is one of your favourite movies. A little bit of Australia in your heart, even if you left it in Montana! 🙂
        It’s sad to think that Hickok lost his spark it Rock Creek. I guess war will kill the spark in anyone’s eyes. Tragic.

      • Charli Mills

        Norah, I had coffee this morning with a couple from Sydney and felt my Australian heart expand!

  2. paulamoyer

    So glad you have arrived! What a cathartic goodbye to Montana. I’ll mull this prompt over and get back to you! And yes, it was great to see Radio Geek and Solar Man, Sister-Mom!

    • Charli Mills

      Howdy, Sister-Mom! Sounds like you had a fantastic time in Michigan, and how exciting to see Solar Man on stage. Yes, it was a cathartic goodbye. New place to explore. You should visit and warm your bones on the baked rocks! Feels good.

  3. paulamoyer

    OK, here it is. Just as “Nola” is the name Solar Man would have had as a girl, “Lydia Marie” is the name his older brother Lewis would have had.

    The Efforts of Three

    By Paula Moyer

    Still more pushing? Jean had no more to give. Fourteen hours of labor, pushing for two. No baby.

    Shift change. New nurse-midwife. New point of view.

    “OK. When you feel the contraction, push here.” The midwife, Mary Jo, put her hand on the place.

    A new wave came. “Yes! Here!” Mary Jo cheered her on. Next contraction, the midwife was in the bed, Jean’s foot on her ribcage to widen the pelvis. “I can feel the head.” She grabbed Jean’s hand to touch the wet lump emerging.

    Then the whole, crying baby.

    “Lydia Marie!” Jean crowed. “Come to Mama!”

    • Charli Mills

      One of the greatest amazing feats ever! Love the Girls’ names, too!

    • Norah

      That is a feat of endurance.

  4. jeanne229

    Ahh, to have the perspective at a gut level of one who falls from the far north into the martian landscape of the Southwest. I see it through new eyes through you. I hope those stark landscapes light a place in you the way stars spin in the dry night skies. I so look forward to more perceptions my Western comrade. And for now, thank you for this glorious line:
    “It doesn’t matter where I reside or where I write, I’m from Montana and always will be. The clarity of that realization, the absorption of what is is to be a woman who writes the west, emptied my chest as if my heart fell out along side the road and waved me goodbye until I returned.”

    • Charli Mills

      These stark landscapes are vistas of other-worldliness and so vast and colorful. They sweep me up into something I don’t yet know. You’ve been holding out on us, Southwestern Sister! Magical lands! Happy to share the wide space with you…and I may be in Tuscon Sept. 24-30. Todd has training and I wistfully said, “Wish I could go…” As for that line, I thank my heart and Montana. I might use it for an artist’s statement. 🙂

      • jeanne229

        Oh Charli! I guess you are in the western part of the state. On the eastern side is the Canyon Lands, which is spectacular. And of course there’s Bryce and Zion and so many other places. I am excited to hear more of your explorations and eager to see how you will do your justice to their beauty. And do let me know if you will be down in Tucson! That’s a great “little” city. Just two hours south of here. Coming. Going. Whatever. I’ll wave you hello until you arrive 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! I’m not even oriented to a direction yet, as Zion itself seems to spill wonder in every direction. I’ll let you know when we take the road trip to Tuscon!

  5. noelleg44

    Loved your moving (and moving) story. It really jangled some memories of when we moved from Cleveland to south of LA, although I didn’t feel sorry to leave Cleveland. The sense of adventure was there, though. Leaving California for Chicago was more similar – I hated moving from the west coast, but having been back several times I can see it was a wise decision.

    • Charli Mills

      Moving greater distances than across town does something to the soul. It’s taken me 20 moves to figure out my feelings of “where am I from?” I feel more open to the new adventure for the realization. Happy to jangle memories with you, Noelle. Thank you for being a part of this journey!

  6. denmaniacs4

    Hi Charli, things must be busy. I assume that you meant to date this as of today for next week…just guessing…

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Bill, and thank you! Something seemed off and I checked the dates with the days of the week…now I realize I’m a week behind. I really did land on Mars! Catching up, and correcting the dates! Thanks!

      • Deborah Lee

        Ha ha! I went to post and saw the original email and wondered how I’d lost a whole week. But now I am found. lol

      • Charli Mills

        It took me three times to get it right! 😀

  7. gordon759

    Misread at first, so here is my response to a phonetically different version of your challenge.

    The skull arrived on the wedding day, all through the ceremony he thought about it.
    Was it a primitive human? was it an ape? All agreed it was incredibly old and that more of the skeleton had to be found.
    In the quarry where it had been discovered, the manager pointed out the blocked cave and the search began. After several weeks fragments of bone were discovered, the palaeontologist was ecstatic.
    “What is it?” the manager asked, looking at the tiny scraps of bone.
    “The feet, the amazing feet.” He replied in delight, “It walked upright, it was human!”

    And that, oh best beloved was, more or less, how Australopithecus, mankind’s most primitive ancestor, was discovered.

    https://gordonlepard.wordpress.com/2016/09/15/amazing-feet-a-tale-of-discovery/

    • Charli Mills

      Fabulous, Gordon! I like your phonetic interpretation. And it aligns well with all my wrong dates in this post. 🙂 Your flash is full of the excitement of discovery, and that is an amazing feat of writing you possess.

    • jeanne229

      Love it. Oh so clever. And fascinating. Off to read your post now, Gordon.

  8. elliotttlyngreen

    Fantastic writing Charli.. THAT is how you get to MARS. What a pause and wonder that reminds me how writing should be = Fantastic.

    I dont know if this is a feat or not, but i think it is in there somewhere.

    Thanks!!!! God Bless

    By a Century by Elliott Lyngreen

    I NEVER REACHED Elsie Maxwell; and, in tragic places she neatly understood in uncurious browns and gross hair, in her plain tights she wore without needing explanation, which sent her a century ahead from such apathy I impressed by not expressing anything;

    In flashing glints through moments she excitedly, too peripherally, fast-forward, stung her psyche; excessive chattering; tilted me into preoccupation and distracted nerves split at the ends;

    I will never know Elsie Maxwell (save for thee age with the only available thoughts to surely think we would last 1000 years – that Elsie reached, before she was there).

    • Charli Mills

      Mars is experiencing technical difficulties, as if my wireless equipment skipped elsewhere like flashing glints of Elsie Maxwell. Great flash, Elliot — love the feeling of longevity expressed in momentary glints. I would count this as a feat with a beat. Thanks!

  9. denmaniacs4

    Options

    Dobbs made the calculations. He held a losing hand. To survive, he
    would need at least two sharpshooters. And quickly.

    Aggie Runacre was still at the Taylors.

    He made his case. “They will ravage the town. Men like these…”

    “Henry’s a crack shot,” Merle said. “Or so he tells me.”

    “Then fetch him,” Dobbs directed. “And he might know of one more man with a deadly eye…”

    “Man?” questioned Aggie.

    Dobbs and Merle looked at her. She had their attention. “I have my late brother’s Spencer Repeating rifle, Mr. Dobbs…and I’ve been known to shoot a snake or two.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, yes! You go, Aggie! I’m telling you — if historians paid more attention to how well women shoot, they might understand western history differently. So glad to see you take this amazing feat into account.

      • jeanne229

        Not to mention Annie Oakley of course 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        If there was one Annie Oakley in the spotlight there were others in her shadow!

  10. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Thank you for taking us on your journeys Charli. I say plural because not only did you describe the vistas you travelled through you also took us on that emotional journey of leaving and saying goodby and finding yourself at a new beginning. It has been an absolute roller coaster for you but what a joy it must have been when you came to the new knowledges about yourself and your sense of place. You have shown how important it is for all of us. Hopefully I will join in the 99 words this week, it is time I got out of the slump I am in.

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Made it – https://irenewaters19.com/2016/09/20/feats-99-word-flash-fiction/
      Your first flash reminds me of the prize that Jasper’s bakery owner posted for a dog that would rest a Jasper’s sausage roll on his head for 30 secs. I have tried training Muffin but so far no good. Bubbie could no doubt do it easily. Dogs really are good ice breakers as I’m sure you’ve found on your travels.
      As for Hickok, that’s a feat you probably wished he hadn’t mastered.

      • Charli Mills

        Funny, but the actual dog I once knew to master that trick was named Muffin! And yes, the dogs are ice breakers. We are finding that many Germans travel to Zion this time of year and they recognize the German engineering of our dogs. As for Hickok, I don’t think he ever intended to be a gun fighter, so much as he enjoyed trick shooting. Alas, he mastered it all too well and was known for such quick reflexes.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for pointing out the dual journey because it reminds me of how we map the hero’s journey — the action is one and the personal growth is the other. I’m glad to have discovered what place means to me and perhaps it will resonate with others or at least spark thought on the topic. So happy to have you moving out of your own slump!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I’m sure its sparked thought and you are right – the hero’s journey is a copy of our journey as humans although I guess we may take the part of hero or villain in our own story. I hope I am deslumping but until I am over the stress of this I feel I will be in an out for awhile to come.

      • Charli Mills

        Healing and moving are both stressful, especially together. It will come in waves and that’s okay. Hang in there!

  11. Sarah Brentyn

    Be careful. You’re making this sound adventurous. I’m excited for the stories you will invent and uncover along the way. What a powerful journey from Montana. ???? (I cannot believe that sign…)

    • Charli Mills

      I’m open to adventure, finally! My Montana journey clarified much for me. Thanks! <3
      Rough Riders!

      • jeanne229

        Just saw the rather cynical/comical film Buffalo Bill, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson from 1976, starring Paul Newman. Amusing revisionist look at the whole “circus.” Wonder what you would make of it.

      • Charli Mills

        I have not seen that one! I’ll have to watch it!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        NO way! There it is! That is FANTASTIC! Are you serious?! Ha! 🙂 <3

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Larry! It’s heading a more positive direction, for certain. Oh, Ed. He is a fictional feat all unto himself!

  12. Sharmishtha Basu

    we never forget our roots, especially if our hearts leave a piece there!

    Have a blessed life in new place!

    loved the stories.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Denise! Oh, a triumph that requires a steady focus on the goal!

  13. Norah

    Hi Charli, Here is a link to my response: One small step. http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-MX Thank you for the challenge. I enjoyed this one. As I usually do! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for stepping up to the challenge (so brightly, as you always do)!

    • jeanne229

      One small step..one major leap for a baby! Yay Norah. Loved this.

      • Norah

        Thank you, Jeanne. I appreciate your comments. 🙂

  14. A. E. Robson

    Navigating Thorns
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    What took you guys so long? You never listen to me. I told you to stay away from the wide open slopes. All the predators can see you. The gooseberry bush next door is the best way to travel. Takes a little longer navigating the spikes and thorns, but hey, it gets you up here without the worry of your life ending. Up here in God’s country. Where the sun shines and the nectar percolates from beneath the budding petals. The trip is gruelling, but so worth it when you make it to the top. Ant heaven. Peony buds.

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/navigating-thorns

    • Charli Mills

      A great description of life’s navigation with a voice of experience as a guide. Ah, the view is worth the climb! Love the take on the prompt!

    • jeanne229

      Very clever. You captured so well the amazing stamina and drive of ants and evoked the perfect image of their relentless march whatever the terrain.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sarrah! Thanks for joining in this week! Good to see you at the ranch!

      • Sarrah J. Woods

        Thanks, Charli! I’m glad I had the chance to join in this week. It always makes me happy to participate in your challenge!

  15. Angela

    Hi Writers, I’m a newbie!

  16. Deborah Lee

    Being off far from home-is-where-the-heart-is…I know it! I visited home in Fallon last month, for which I had been so horribly homesick, and while I realized that will always be my heart’s home, I also realized that the Puget Sound area has become my new home. I was glad to get back.

    I am so happy for you, in your new paradise. I love love love the desert. There’s always a new paradise! And I love the synchronicity of the Rough Riders!

    https://99monkeysblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/20/hat-trick-jane-doe-flash-fiction/

    • Charli Mills

      You know exactly that feeling of home-is-where-the-heart-is and the new area that feels like present home. Did you see any Mills in Fallon while visiting? So many, you can’t help but trip over them, ha, ha! I’m glad you got your infusion. You are right — there’s always a new paradise. Maybe the point of paradise lost is that me never stop seeking. Thanks!

  17. jeanne229

    No longer post this week but getting the flash in under the wire again.

    Niagara

    The rapids appeared along the side of the road, sidling swift and headlong into my consciousness. What had I expected: the Falls with no river?

    An hour earlier you sobbed in my arms. The world can be dark at twenty-four, but why bludgeon yourself with your mistakes?

    In the visitor center we read of Annie Taylor, who, in 1901, at sixty-three years of age, plunged over the Horseshoe Falls in a mattress-lined barrel clutching a heart-shaped pillow. She lived but failed to wreak material success.

    You see my sweet, it’s not the spectacle but the living that’s the feat.

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you sliding in under the wire! We are on southwestern time. 🙂 Oh, that last line! And Niagara Falls, the perfect set-up for spectacular feats and a valuable life lesson.

      • jeanne229

        I did consider that you would be in my same time zone now. Glory Be! Gives me that little extra edge.

    • Norah

      I agree with Charli, that last line is brilliant. Living is definitely a feat, and a feat worth living! What an interesting response.

    • julespaige

      Living in the present. A hard thing to do at times.
      Especially when so many say the past was better and the future hasn’t much hope. I am so ready for this political season to be over.

  18. Annecdotist

    Funny, I was pretty sure I’d commented on this – thanks for finding my flash and sorry for the extra trouble.

  19. Charli Mills

    That’s an amazing span of feats your Gran experienced. Reminds me of a Wisconsin cheese commercial. For centuries man thought the moon made of cheese. Then they landed. The moon was not made from cheese, and they’ve never been back.

  20. Charli Mills

    Like you, Jules, I love the natural feats!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. September 7: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Communications | Jeanne Belisle Lombardo - […] Source: September 7: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Communications […]
  2. A feat of endurance #carrotranch #flashfiction | TanGental - […] Mill’s prompt this week […]
  3. (nf) CR/ Metamorphosis (9.19) | Jules in Flashy Fiction - […] September 14: Flash Fiction Challenge September 14, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about…
  4. Feats: 99 Word Flash Fiction | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) - […] response to the prompt for Charli’s 99 word Flash fiction where she […]
  5. One small step | Norah Colvin - […] week at The Carrot Ranch Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a…
  6. Hat Trick (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) – 99 Monkeys - […] Carrot Ranch September 14 flash fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write about an amazing feat.…
  7. Toes in the sand | Norah Colvin - […] Of course, the beach is not the only place that sand can be found. There are the hot red…

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