Through the Lens

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 28, 2016

lensNo matter how many gather, each will look at the destination or event through an individual lens. The result is that each take is different, even slightly.

For a writer, a lens is a powerful tool by which to show a story. This week writers considered the lens to prompt 99-word stories. The ensuing snapshots and lenses are the result.

The following are based on September 21, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using a lens.


Flash Fiction #1 by Gordon Le Pard

“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.

Author’s Note: 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.


New Glasses by Larry LaForge

Ed sat at the small table. The youthful technician smiled from the other side. “Great choice,” she said while fitting the frame over Ed’s nose and around his ears. She made a few tweaks before removing it.

“Would you like glass, polycarbonate or high-index plastic lenses?”

Ed thought for a second, but the technician continued before he could speak.

“Of course, we strongly recommend anti-scratch, anti-reflective, and anti-UV coatings.”

Ed could hear a cash register ringing in his ears with each option.

The technician smiled again. “What are your preferences?”

Ed didn’t hesitate this time. “Let’s go with anti-expensive.”


Off Script by Jules Paige

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!


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.


Different Perspectives 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.”


Two Eyes by Jeanne Lombardo

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.


The Aftermath by Geoff Le Pard

‘How did it go?’

‘Interesting. In a Chinese sense.’

‘Really? How?’

‘I thought it would be awkward. But it was good.’

‘So you’re pleased you went?’

‘I think so. Funny really. You go to a funeral not expecting much yet all these ghosts appear.’

‘I suppose that’s what you get at a cemetery.’

‘Ha, I guess. Funny though, meeting old contacts. It’s like a mirror being held up. No, more like a magnifying glass, a lens. You think you know yourself but seeing old faces makes you see yourself differently. A different close up.’


‘And none the wiser.’


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.


The Whole World by Anne Goodwin

“Are you serious? Whoever’s first to circumnavigate the world gets everything?”

“If you both agree,” said the Sage.

My brother nodded. The crazy kid doesn’t even have a pilot’s licence. I like to win, but I’d rather it were more of a challenge.

After twenty-three hours, my eyes stung. Rubbing them, blinking, nothing changed the view: my brother with a gold medal swinging from his neck.

The Sage placed his hand on my shoulder. “You did well, but there are other ways of looking at the world.”

My brother waved. And went back to running circles round our parents.


The Shore of a Lake by Ruchira Khana

“Wow!” she exclaimed.

He made an “ugh” face as he continued to read his book on the shores of the Lake Tahoe.

“What!” she said irritatingly, “Did you even bother to give a second glance?”

He pulled down his shades partially and gave a brief look, “The water is muddy so why to give me the trouble!” he admitted.

“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Now if the beholder is a grumpy old man, beauty does not care to show her true self” she said while continuing to click the picture of the pebbles amidst the mud.


Flash Fiction #2 by Gordon Le Pard

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.”

Author’s Note: 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.


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


What You See by Norah Colvin

They saw him for what he wasn’t and what he lacked, not for what he was and what he could be. Their ill-fitting garments failed to clothe, and their unpalatable diet failed to nourish. If only they’d zoomed in upon his potential. Instead the wide-angled lens showed a panorama of disadvantage: an excuse for failure to fulfil his needs or enable his possibilities. A lens in proper focus may have seen a burning curiosity, a rich imagination, a wisdom older than time, and a heart in harmony with the universe. Instead they considered the negatives not worthy of development.


A Different Lens (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane is looking idly around the Metro stop when she sees it.

Here she stands with everyone else, scrolling on her phone, her second-hand boots and Patagonia windbreaker and messy updo indistinguishable from anyone else’s. No way to tell that the thirty-eight dollars in her wallet is her very last, that her bus card is low-income, that the tall Americano she’s sipping is her first such splurge in a month.

Amazing. She’s pulling it off, looking like everyone else, with their Starbucks apps and credit card bills.

How many of these people are, secretly, no different from her?


Captured by Pete Fanning

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.


Musings of a Photographer by Diana Nagai

People accuse photography is a trick. Artists use filters and perspective to alter reality. The results displaying distorted truths. People claim the human eye can see far more details and nuances than a camera’s lens.

But is the naked eye a myth? Don’t people use their own filters? Black, white. Atheist, Muslim. Female, male. Their own perspectives? Young, old. Mine, yours.

So, what is reality and can anyone ever really find truth?

Is the real trick to try someone else’s filter, to imagine another’s life perspective? If we don’t, are we left with only the negative?


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.


Three by Bill Engelson

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.”


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.



You May Also Like…

To Leave a Leak Collection

To Leave a Leak Collection

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

This Is Awkward Collection

This Is Awkward Collection

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


  1. ladyleemanila

    Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    through the lens tales 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for spreading our stories through the lens of your blog!

  2. noelleg44

    You pull out the best from these writers, Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      These writers have great feats tucked away in their saddlebags! Thanks, Noelle.

  3. Norah

    What a great collection; each writer with an individual way of looking at things.

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

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

Continue reading