September 21: Flash Fiction Challenge

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.

September 22, 2016

september-21It’s 4 a.m. and the pitter-patter of rain  soaks the foot of my bed. It’s 4 a.m. and the Hub is outside in the dark, unfurling a crisp tarp to cover the flat roof of our trailer. It’s 4 a.m. and I want to send a grumbling text to the trailer’s previous owners who claimed it never leaked, yet covered up a damaged mattress with Febreeze — I know because the new moisture engages the odor-masker that I’m allergic to, thus sending me into spasms of coughing. It’s 4 a.m. and I’m not liking people much at this hour.

A short sleep on damp sheets beneath plastic bags that took me an hour to tape over the familiar leaking spots and my mood is not much improved. The Hub is certain it’s only one leak and not the entire roof. He scraped and resealed the seams back on the CDA River, but suspects he missed something around the bathroom ventilator. Once water finds a seep it travels the familiar weak spots and leaks in the old places. It’s a lot like hate. The emotion burns along familiar lines drawn and it’s unnerving the weak spots hate has found on a calendar day marked for International Peace.

One of my go-to living historians posted his Last Testament in case he one day gets mistaken as large black man for “one bad dude. I’m still mulling over a racist experience a friend had in the place I’m from. A family member brave enough to speak up as a police officer to say he has first-responder PTSD might lose his livelihood for being candid. In the US, we have gasoline in rivers, curfews on the homeless, bombs in city centers, a failed two-party system that spews fear rhetoric, and Native Americans taken down by attack dogs. And this is supposed to be a day of peace?

Then I see a quote online:

“Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do , Something you are, And something you give away” ~ John Lennon

I’m not going to make peace with my 4 a.m. attitude cooped up in 161-sqare feet of tarped trailer or find it on social media. It’s raining. The Hub has the day off and I suggest we go do something. For starters, let’s get coffee and then let’s go find a ghost town. Let’s not waste the day. We have Mars to explore and adventures to begin. Peace begins with a new lens, and I’m grabbing my camera.

At Park Place it’s too wet to sit out on the patio, and only five tables are inside. Our waitress asks if another party of two can join us at our four-top table. Sure! We learn the proper way to pronounce “Maury” with an Australian accent. Our new table companions have saved for years for their Zion country trip, and they’ve traveled from Sydney. We stay for extra cups of coffee just to extend the lively conversation. I’ve come to realize that those who travel here have curious and open minds — they want to experience the world. Everyone has a story, and I’m interested to learn each one. It’s mind-boggling to realize that millions of people a year visit Zion National Park.

Peace resides in sharing the lens by which we see the world. You might think Zion gets old with so many gawkers and hikers, but each person brings a lens and shares a fresh view with another. It’s like the collection of stories at Carrot Ranch — each one a different lens on the same subject. We are not the same. But we respect, embrace and share our differences.

Feeling a sense of global connectivity, we drive our truck across a girded steel bridge that spans the Virgin River and go looking for Grafton Cemetery and ghost town. We see a car with New Jersey plates and pass two men from the Middle East in a beautiful black sedan. We stop in passing and they ask about the road conditions. We say it’s muddy and tell them to stick to the high side and not attempt the cemetery in their car. I’m always curious about the draw others have to historic sites and we bond over western history. How absolutely Mars-ish this journey is for us all, each wanting to see a glimpse of a moment filled with awe.

The road posts a sign that it’s “impassable when wet” and we note the muddiness. I’ve mapped a journey from the ghost town through the buttes on a Scenic Byway a Smithsonian expedition once took in the 1880s. I tell the Hub, “It’s only 8 miles” to paved road that drops us into Hurricane (pronounced HUR-a-cun). We pass the car with Jersey plates and stop to ask if they are okay. It’s a young couple and the first incline looks too steep to them. “We don’t have roads like this back home,” the driver says with a nervous laugh. We make sure they get turned around and we continue to climb.

The rain is misting and falls in period sheets of drops. Clouds ghost the highest butte peaks and cliffs, washing out the vibrancy of red. We stop to take photos and I’m so excited to be walking among the hard-packed sand and stones I could see from the paved roads below. Great washes speak of torrential water, but this rain is gentle. The road seems perfectly passable and the Hub sets the 4WD in case we need it as we climb. My pocket is filling up with new rocks, and I’m surprised by the diversity of stones. This is an adventure — fellow world travelers, history, geology and a big road ahead.

This is where my husband wants to file for divorce.

I’m gripping the truck door with white knuckles as he shouts, “Eight miles! Only eight miles!” The dogs whimper and my heart races. I don’t dare say, “Yeah, Baby! This is 4-wheeling!” I grew up on mountain roads and learned to drive in a Willy’s Jeep on logging trails that would give anyone heart palpitations. I’ve ridden worse trails on horseback and love the sheer terror of a bad road. And this scenic byway is a bad road. The Hub is not impressed. He’s the one driving, and it takes every effort of control to keep the truck moving forward. If we stall, we are dead.

Bumping over slickrock (oh, that’s what the atlas meant, “beware of slickrock”) we slide dangerously close to the road’s edge and it’s getting difficult to determine what is rock and what is road. Finally we crest the ridge in triumph. The Hub throws it in park, and I get out, my legs shaking like leaves in the wind and my smile broad. We both catch our breath and walk to the rim to stare down at the world below. We survived.

Until we learn what is meant by “impassable when wet.” It’s not the sheer climb of 2,000 feet over rock and hard-packed sand, it’s the drive across the top of the butte in red clay. I’ve not experienced this before. Ah, that’s right, this is Mars. And Mars has red clay that gums up anything it comes in contact with. We hit several bad spots, then make it through. About the time the Hub is feeling like forgiving me this trip we hit a mountain of red clay. He says, “This is going to be fun,” with the sort of snarl a sergeant reserves for running with his troops to the front-line.

If Mars were a war, red clay is its ultimate weapon. We only make it half-way up the rise, spin out and back up. We get out and within seconds I’ve added two shoe sizes to my Keens with an aura of red sticky mud. The dogs gallop in it, kicking up clods of clay. The Hub heads up the hill to reconnoiter the road. I idly wonder if we’ll be stuck here until the rain subsides in another day and the clay bakes in the returning sun. Clouds slung across the buttes like veils move with the air flow.

Rocks direct my attention downward. A huge gully washes out the hillside to the right of the road.Where water has flowed with force, rocks pile. I begin sifting through the shiniest ones, thinking perhaps there’s jasper. According to an old rockhound habit, I place a stone in my mouth like a peppermint to clean off the gritty clay. It looks like jasper. I find sandstone, calcite and crystallized mica. My jeans are turning red with clay, and I skate with my shoes. The dogs return, and so does the Hub. If we can get momentum and go up to the left then switch to the right we might avoid the gully and the sink hole near the top. He doesn’t think we’ll make it.

We narrowly miss the gully by inches and we slide past the sink hole in terror, kicking up clay like mad potters. About the time the Hub expresses jubilation we skitter out of control and plant the back left wheel in the ditch. We are stuck. It takes him 15 minutes to shovel and I gather wood to place under tires. We get out only to get stuck again. This time both wheels are buried in the ditch. I ask about putting cordwood in the ditch ahead and he’s silent. Then he announces we are going for it. I’m praying the angels of heaven are pushing our backend and he’s swearing like the devil. It works, our yin and yang of fits and faith, and we actually climb the rest of the incline with two wheels ping-ponging in the ditch.

Flat road looks a relief but is no less treacherous. In the distance we can see the highway, but we continue to slide and spin like an elephant racing across ice. By the time we reach the highway we are both jubilant with survival, and covered in red clay. We take the steep grade down to Hurricane and find a car wash, blasting red clay from the truck and our shoes. The dogs finally curl up at ease. We head back to Virgin and decide to stop at the Fort for Billy the Kid burgers. I’m still bouncing on air from the adventure and greet the owners we are getting to know.

“You look happy today,” says the man behind the counter of turquoise jewelry.

“I’m learning about the area,” I reply.


“Like don’t drive over Smithsonian Butte on a rainy day.”

“You didn’t really drive up the butte did you?”

“Sure did.”

“And you returned to tell about it?”

“Oh, Honey, ” the cook says, coming out of the kitchen. “People drive off that mountain. Red clay! Don’t drive in red clay.”

About this time, the Hub enters and shoots me a frown. He adds, “Next time she wants to go 4-wheeling in the rain she gets to run the shovel.”

The cook clucks her tongue and goes back to fix our burgers. I try to clean up in the bathroom and run water over my pocket collection of rocks. When the cook comes to our table, I show her what I found. She calls them treasures then picks up the big piece of jasper. “Oh, nice. That’s what we call local agate,” she says. At the end of the trip, we were followed by a kestrel, the Hub’s favorite bird. The agate and kestrel, like the people we are getting to know, feel welcoming. No matter what lens we apply, there is something to be seen in each of us that is worthy.

Perhaps if we focus differently, we might actually achieve peace.

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September 21, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using a lens. It can be literal, like looking at the world through rose-colored lenses or the need for spectacles. Or you can treat the idea like a perspective, showing how one character might see the same action differently from another. Think locally, globally, culturally. Is there a common lens by which we can achieve peace?

Respond by September 27, 2016 to be included in the compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Putting Away the Portrait (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

After tea, Mary pulled down the portrait of Cobb. She knew Monroe watched her from across the room, but he said nothing. She walked to her bedroom and laid down the portrait on her bed. Visitors didn’t see her dead husband the way she did. She knew him to be strong-willed, but fair. He’d been sheriff most their married life. Just because he was not elected, he appointed himself adjudicator on the wild prairie. It kept his family safe. Her safe. His neighbors.

How could she see that it was Cobb who wouldn’t be safe? Shot like some outlaw.


Unwanted Find (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni turned the rock until she found its fit. An edge poked out between her thumb and forefinger. Sharp like a knife. Retrieving a hand-lens from her pocket, she examined the edge for signs of knapping. Most likely it was crafted as a hide-scraper. Before she could toss it, Ike and Michael returned from fishing the river.

“What you got there,” asked Ike.

“Just a chipping,” she said.

Ike plucked it from her hand. “Huh. Looks like a brain scooper.”

Danni would have smiled at the jest if Michael hadn’t been glowering at her. “Grave robber,” he mouthed, silently.


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  1. paulamoyer

    What a hellish experience, Charli. Here is my thought about lenses:

    Miracle Surgery

    By Paula Moyer

    The lens in Jean’s right eye was dying – she saw two stoplights even with the left eye covered. At 48, she was a young cataract patient, but for Jean, nearsighted since childhood, nothing was more predictable.

    One surgery day, Sam drove Jean to the hospital. In recovery, she looked like a pirate, jaunty with her patch. At home, she slept the afternoon away.

    That night, when Sam removed the patch, Jean looked at the clock across the room. All the numbers, both hands, crystal clear.

    “Oh, my.” Her only words.

    Old lens out, new corrective lens in. A miracle.

    • Norah

      Love that new lens giving clear sight. Well done, Paula.

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Norah. I used to write for ophthalmology publications and the challenge was not to go into medicalese and write about diopters and to use ordinary language (“two stoplights with the left eye covered” instead of “unilateral diplopia”) and stay within the 99-word count!

      • Norah

        You succeeded!

      • paulamoyer

        Thanks, Norah — good to know I succeeded on making surgery accessible!

    • jeanne229

      I’ve been praying for my cataracts to go for years! That’s the only way I’ll ever get rid of my specs. Loved the pirate image!

    • Charli Mills

      A terrific take on the lens prompt! I also enjoy learning about your process in taking familiar (to you) medical terms or procedures and creating common, understood descriptions. That is also a lens of sorts, one a writer uses, but rarely is the reader aware.

  2. paulamoyer

    Also, I’m loving the revision of “Miracle of Ducks” in the West.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Paula! That’s encouraging!

  3. Annecdotist

    Through the lens of my anxiety this was a pretty scary story, I can envisage it as a film that I’m watching through my fingers. Extremely glad you got back safely. But so sorry about those leakages again. Yuck and double yuck, no wonder you had to get away. In my teens my parents had a small caravan which we used for family holidays and I do recall it being extremely difficult to fix once it started to leak. So annoying when things were picking up for you again.
    I’ve used the lens of a traditional Hindu story about the god Ganesh to address different perspectives on what constitutes the world, and it’s here along with a book review which draws on different points of view to tell a story:
    The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
    And sorry my comment on your last challenge post didn’t register – I really thought I’d included it so thanks for putting in that extra work to find my flash. I’m making up for it by getting in early this week.

    • jeanne229

      Ganesh is a favorite god of mine: the Remover of Obstacles; perfect for Charli’s post this week! Curious to see what angle you have taken with him.

      • Charli Mills

        I will think of Ganesh next time I decide to adventure on red clay in the rain.

    • Charli Mills

      I doubt my husband will ever repeat that adventure! In dry weather, which is 300 days a year in our Mars region, those roads wouldn’t be as dangerous. The leaks really set us back, especially the day after I wrote this. Even our walls were running with water. Like your parents, we’ve learned that once those leaks develop they are hard to overcome. It does feel like a set-back for us, and this trip is a reprieve except for the being sick part. But better to be sick in a dry two-room suite with a magnificent bed and running hot water, though. Ah, you used a literary lens! How appropriate! I’m not sure what happened to your comment last week. Occasionally WordPress devours legitimate comments like spam. I did read your review and flash and thought it was a glitch of sorts. Thank you for persevering!

  4. gordon759

    As you will imagine, this prompt is too stimulating for me – I had to create at least two tales.

    “They’re here!”
    He looked out at the horizon and saw nothing, “Nonsense” he thought as he walked over to his excited colleague bending over the strange device, he looked through the little lens. There was a tiny ship – with the cross of Spain on its sails. Moving it he saw more, the Armada had arrived!
    Moments later the beacon was lit, within hours the English fleet was at sea.
    The Spanish thought they had the English trapped in Plymouth harbour – but at dawn the Royal Navy launched their first attack. The defeat of the Spanish Armada had begun.

    The first telescope was probably invented in the 1570’s by Leonard and Thomas Digges, but kept secret because of its military importance. I have placed one in the hands of one of the men keeping watch for the invading Spaniards in 1588.


    He carefully screwed the lens onto the simple wooden box. The sensitive paper was already inside. He gently placed it in front of the window and waited.
    Ten years earlier, on his honeymoon, he had tried to draw using a camera, and failed. But the lovely pictures on the screen were entrancing, he had thought there must be a way of capturing them – scientifically.
    Later, his daughter peered over his shoulder at the little picture of the window.
    “How did you draw that papa?” she asked.
    “I didn’t, light drew it.” He coined a word, “It’s a photograph.”

    This is completely true, William Henry Fox-Talbot worked for over ten years in trying to fix the images he saw in a Camera Obscura. In the 1830’s he succeeded, the first true photograph was taken of a window in his home at Laycock Abbey in Wiltshire.

    • jeanne229

      I love your short history lessons here. The prompt made me think of the great secular saint Baruch Spinoza who succumbed to a lung aliment at 44 from grinding lenses for a living. Happily he had produced his great works of Western philosophy by then.
      I also thought of William Herschel, who discovered Uranus and brought telescopes into the modern age. Just read the Age of Wonder in which he looms large. Amazing descriptions of just what it took to make those lenses.
      So thank you. Very much enjoyed your take on the prompt!

    • Charli Mills

      That only delights me! I get to learn twice as much from you, Gordon! Both these lenses have had tremendous impact, but it’s your way of making the history accessible through story-telling that gives us the clearest look.

  5. Pete


    The lens captures a death. Grainy footage, shaky, a crack of gunfire. The video is shared. Judged by the public. Two narratives develop. Sides are chosen.

    Good. Bad. Wrong. Right. Justice served. Justice sought. Book. Gun.

    The mirror captures a lens in hand. Pouty lips, a flash in the glass. The image is shared. Judged by the public. Two narratives develop. Sides are chosen.

    Ugly. Hot. Pig. Cute. Slut. Nice.

    The lens captures a crying mother. A headstone, trees brimming red and yellow in the distance. The image is shared. Heads shake in disbelief.

    Rest in Peace.

    • jeanne229

      Beautiful and haunting. I am humbled by your stepping up to the challenge and taking the prompt to this critical juncture in our history. Your flash raises important considerations about images and their uses today.

    • Charli Mills

      Wow, Pete. Great use of what the lens captures to reflect what mass media shows us and how divisive the dual lenses have become.

  6. Norah

    What an adventure, Charli. I agree with Anne. It reads like a movie scene, and a horrifying one. I am happy to have been reading about it rather than experiencing it. I would have died of fright. I’m sorry that you experienced it but pleased you found it exhilarating. Bad news about your leaks again too. Grr! 4 am is not a good time of day at the best of times.
    Your flash are great as usual. I remember mention of Cobb’s picture before I think. Each of us have a different perspective on each other. I see the friction again between Danni and Michael. It’s good that Ike’s there as an intermediary.
    I like the thought of a lens that helps us see what is worthy in each other.
    Lovely post.

    • Charli Mills

      It was a bit more adventure than I thought it would be! And I have escaped the leaks for now, although I’d rather be feeling productive than recovering. I keep thinking of that portrait of Cobb and coming back to something I’m trying to capture between Mary and her son. Thank you!

      • Norah

        I hope you have recovered and made your way back to productivity soon. I look forward to learning what you are grappling with as you try to capture the significance of Cobb’s portrait to Mary and her son. Another installment soon, I wonder?

      • Charli Mills

        I’ve been trying to identify the weapons Cobb is holding in the portrait. What’s significant is that Mary tucked away that portrait and the original which Monroe kept and shared, was cropped. An obscure 1960s newspaper article records its discovery in a trunk where a granddaughter claims Mary placed it after tea guests made her feel shamed for having it on her wall. Why, I wonder. I’m still grappling with it’s meaning (why it was hidden and why did Monroe crop the original). Within the next few posts, I’ll address it and open it up for ideas and feedback. So far, my historians have not been helpful. Yet I know the pose, weapons and their omission means something that relates to the original Rock Creek event. Maybe with the diversity of thinking here, you all can give me new ideas to consider!

  7. denmaniacs4


    Dobbs was feeling hurried, even though time had stood still.

    The twelve horsemen had circled Union City. Hank Taylor guessed they were probably tethered in a draw south of Union City.

    “What is keeping them?” Aggie asked.

    “Even a nest of snakes want to live,” Hank mused. “They’re taking all the time they need.”

    “Not a nest,” Dobbs said. “One twitching headless snake. Waiting for the head.”

    “Maybe,” said Hank.

    “No maybe about it. They’re waiting for Caldwell. He’s their brain. Without him telling them who to bite, they’re just a waiting mangle of gutless bone and poisoned flesh.”

    • Charli Mills

      Dobbs has the experience to see who the head of this snake is. Great tension building in the story as they all watch and wait for action.

  8. Sarah Brentyn

    Love both of these flash pieces. Well done! And happy to see you here after driving in the red clay in the rain. (At least the burgers were good?) I’m curious, because I love stones as you know, was it jasper or agate? They’re so different (at least here).

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sarah! I’ve always though of agate as “banded” or having inclusions (like moss agate) but I think it’s opacity that differentiates agate from jasper. The chunk is headed to Michigan for further analysis. Utah is evidently a great rockhounding state. And the burgers are so good! The buns are homemade and the cook makes her own ice cream, too. We like eating at the fort.

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you back at the ranch, Ruchira! It was definitely an eww moment when we got stuck. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, though. 🙂 I’m so thrilled you wrote about a lake shore I know! It makes me feel like we have stood on the same shoreline.

  9. Kerry E.B. Black

    Wow! Such great pieces.

    This is my interpretation of the theme. I didn’t reach a global or universal feel, but the experience changed my world for several days.

    Different Perspectives

    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    The doctor handed me a script. “The ophthalmologist in Monroeville is gentle.” I thanked her, cradling my six-year-old daughter’s hand, stretching a smile across my worry.

    She blinked up at me. “Do I need glasses, momma?”

    “We’ll see.”

    The ophthalmologist’s staff administered a drop in her trusting eye. She screamed against its burn, thrashing in the seat. Doctors asked for help restraining her flailing fifty pounds. Tests ended inconclusively, leading to more tests until the doctor and I sat with my girl.

    “I find nothing wrong with her.”

    I sunk with relief, but my girl cried. “I wanted glasses.”

    • jeanne229

      Oh what a great ending. I remember wanting glasses too when I was very young, admiring them on another classmate. But as soon as I got them, I realized I was trapped with them. And such insight into what mothers go through. I once had to hold my small son down while the doctor attempted to scrape a mole off his chin. How we wish we could take the pain for them…

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        You are too right!

    • Charli Mills

      I think you actually hit upon several universal truths: mothers worry and we all think we want want something not meant for us! Your flash builds tension and it’s so relieving to realize the girl simply wanted glasses. I agree with Jeanne’s reflection that once we get them, though, we are trapped.

    • Charli Mills

      I will have to leave that adventure in writing so as not to actually do it again!

    • Charli Mills

      Ed has clear vision, indeed!

  10. julespaige

    I can identify with Mary…when I was young I had to hide the photo of a loved one…
    As for Danni… there is always someone who doesn’t like what we are doing. I remember Ike, Danni’s partner? …but forget who Michael is in relationship to Danni.

    I’ve finally caught my breathe enough to pen:
    Off Script

    Odd how the new pair didn’t seem to be correct. It is always
    a trial at the optometrists to say which view is best when they
    are flipping those lenses in front of your face. But this new pair
    made a piece of typing paper look like a trapezoid. And the place
    that made the new spectacles didn’t want to redo the glasses,
    especially if the prescription wasn’t right. Sure enough there had
    been a ‘technical error.’ I knew I wasn’t going to get used to no
    matter how long I wore them. Three days had been too much!


    Link here:
    Off Script

    • Charli Mills

      That’s hard to be in a position of having to hide a photograph of someone. I came across a newspaper article about Mary having hid that portrait of Cobb in a trunk and a granddaughter was sifting through it and found the portrait. That was in the ’60s. I’m trying to figure out her motive for hiding it and the influence on her son. Ah–Ike and Danni are married and she’s an archeologist. Ike’s Army brother, Michael, is Native American, thus the tension between them. I’m glad you caught your breath and grabbed a pen! Your flash describes an unfortunate pair of glasses I once had and you’re right — three days is about all one can tolerate!

      • julespaige

        Charli, ‘They’ wanted me to wear them for two weeks. Most of the time I reverted to my badly scratched up pair that I was trying to replace before the old script ran out (two years was its’ limit) or nothing – I need them more for reading, line-less bi-focal. So I ended up having to go through the flip/flip go back, again. So I suppose the good thing was that my script which hadn’t changed got renewed for another two years. But it’s just a trial.

        Thanks for filling me on who is who. In my fiction section I have some extended series and the first notes before the links are ‘Who’s Who’ 🙂

        I had a local adventure recently – you can read about that here:
        escaping the heat

      • Charli Mills

        That’s a great idea, Jules — a Who’s Who section! Even with challenging lenses, you have great clarity. 🙂

  11. elliotttlyngreen

    Pictures of Rock n Roll disease

    (An ode to The Killjoys)

    By ElliottLyngreen

    Kinda want to test the science to thr other side of the lens.. just cuz He still leans, slumps against.. infintely; covered with sweat and mud as if it took everything.. to reach. Yes Eddie; we all backed it away.. Amongst stained arms..slumps..,..So cast in shadow. in its light. where it sooo hyperextended @simultaneous_reflections of that _string. Cut/finally the shades raised.. Yes. Tremendous curtains fling. Shredded, slumps, “thank you Eddie V.” That’s how it’d be. From this end, the bended lenses.. boomerang with fumes, images, that photograph, and the concert REACH!ed… Touched…  #heynanana_heythatssomething

    I hope you can see the link.

    • jeanne229

      Wow, you write from your gut Elliot. Great piece here, as I read it anyway, a “reflection” on photography and how close it can take you to reality. I felt that scene and just about smelled and touched it too.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Wow to you. Thank you Jeanne.. my my yes i try. I like that takes. Beyond defines it further than i attempted… than i was thinking.

    • Charli Mills

      Fantastic! Yes, the images come through (in both the link and the flash). I like how you bend the lens on this one.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Very! fun prompt. I wish i had more time (and words) to indulge in its complexity.. intriguing angle in my opinion. I enjoy photography both viewing and creating. I look forward to seeing these flashes. A-nother home run idea Charli.

      • Charli Mills

        I love the complexity of creativity, the challenge of taking it to long form and maintaining the various complex threads like a master Navajo weaver. Yet I also love the simplicity of taking complex and long form ideas and placing them in an elemental form. I appreciate what photography captures — life in a stillshot. I think of scenes like that, too. Thanks!

  12. jeanne229

    What an amazing adventure! I applaud you and am full of admiration for the Hub. Alas, I don’t know if it’s because he was born in New England or it is just something in his nature, but the Professor is a cautious man when it comes to topography. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of the time he wanted to turn back just because it started to rain on the winding highway to Bisbee (a gentrified old mining ghost town in the southeast of the state.) And you were rewarded! With views and agate (or is it jasper after all?) Will be back “in a flash”!
    Oh and loved this line: “Once water finds a seep it travels the familiar weak spots and leaks in the old places. It’s a lot like hate.” So profound my wrangling philosopher.
    And kudos too on the fine flashes. I have my own story of hiding a portrait too…

    • Charli Mills

      I can’t say the Hub was all that willing, but I’m grateful he could manage the drive. Oh, I’d love to see Brisbee! It was too muddy to explore Grafton, but it’s within a few miles of our RV park so I’m definitely going back on a drier day. As for the jasper/agate, it will go to Michigan for further analysis. Thank you! And I look forward to learning more of your hidden portrait.

  13. Charli Mills

    Loved reading all the flashes and comments! Part II to the adventure was flash flooding that arrived the next day and wreaked havoc with our trailer while we were out exploring another canyon (from a paved road). Part III was all the cleaning, drying and laundering we had to do Friday whilst feeling sick from sleeping in our wet tiny house on wheels. Part IV was driving 10 hours on Saturday to Tuscon for Todd’s week of training (I went to escape the damp trailer environment) and we both had fever chills and aches the entire drive (this is not recommended for partners or married couples). Part V was holing up sick in a large dry bed with feather pillows in a classy suite in Tucson (courtesy of Todd’s new company). I’m just now crawling out of my sick bed tonight to watch the debates (makes me want to crawl back into bed). We aren’t sure what we are going to do upon our return to the trailer next weekend — hire a professional to repair the roof and walls or try to upgrade. Just wanted to check in and let you know why I’ve been silent! I didn’t get washed away or stuck on a butte. 🙂 Thank you for all the terrific contributions! I’ll make individual comments tomorrow.

    • jeanne229

      Ahh you are almost within reach of me. Nice and dry down here. Hope you feel better and are drying out! Very scary about those flash floods by the way. You know about that, right? Every year someone gets washed away. Just doesn’t compute that water could get that violent when what we usually get is a trickle. Give me a holler if you come through Phoenix on the way back.

      • Charli Mills

        Flash floods, yes! That’s why I thought a soft misting rain was “okay.” for a drive on the buttes. Now I know about red clay! Oh, boy that water comes up so fast and swift! The Virgin River crested in a matter of hours. I look at the terrain and see water carvings everywhere, from long term erosion an violent episodes. I’ll let you know when we are heading back through on Saturday (not so sick this time).

  14. Norah

    Hi Charli. Here’s my response: It’s not what you see
    Thanks for the challenge.

    • Charli Mills

      A thoughtful look at children and education, Norah! Thank you!

      • Norah

        Thanks Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      It had been a while for me and reminded me how much I like four-wheelin’ (on dry ground). I’m still in semi-upright mode so I’m slow, crawling under the wire tonight!

  15. jeanne229

    And it’s not even midnight! Here is my flash, also at

    Two Eyes

    Father McHugh’s Irish brogue echoed through the vault. He was at the altar, the crucified Christ above him. I didn’t need to see him to know that.

    Light streamed through the stained glass windows, illuminating the dusty-rose walls of the nave. So soft. So pretty. I wondered what the inside of a cloud looked like.

    I looked towards the altar. Everything had looked newly sharp the day before, as if God had drawn lines around everything. Now Father was all fuzzy again. I squinted. I felt for the new glasses on my face.

    My fingers jammed into my nose. I’d forgotten them at home.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s an altered world with or without glasses! Great use of details and focus to describe the fuzzy lens. I laughed at the last line!

  16. A. E. Robson

    Talk about sliding in under the wire (I hope).

    It’s Merely Life
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Everyday there are happenings, visions and sightings that make us suck our breath in. They make us smile, laugh, say “Wow!”, cry and crumble to our knees in response to what we see. Not once, even when we go in search, do we expect to have anything give us the profound affect of what crosses our path. From the unexpected to the well placed, the view through the lens of a camera and the human eye jolts us into a thought provoking world of pondering and expressions. It’s not special. It’s not one of a kind. It’s merely life.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! You slid under…I’m still crawling and catching up! This is a lovely flash to hang all the lenses upon — those sights that take our breath away.

  17. Charli Mills

    Love the photo of you and your brother…the lens shows mischief!


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  4. It’s not what you see | Norah Colvin - […] Here is my response to Charli’s prompt to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using…
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