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November 9: Flash Fiction Challenge

november-9It’s the end of the world as we know it. I’m standing in the ruins of an American farmhouse, staring at the abandoned photo of an immigrant ancestor. I leave the house in decay, the cattle in the field and expand my mind. I exchange an agrarian heritage for an urban lifestyle. I become the generation to bridge my buckaroo roots with the progression of a democratic nation through education. I’m the first person in my paternal line to earn a college degree. Two of my three grown children (and my son-in-law) all hold Masters Degrees.

Despite what I have learned through higher education, I know first hand “The Cult of Ignorance” Issac Asimov speaks of in a 1980 article:

“The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

I grew up in this anti-intellectualism, where I was told reading was lazy and books full of shit. When my grandfather ran cattle for a large ranch, he’d make fun of the owner for his worthless college education. One day the owner’s wife saw me riding and offered to teach me to post. I was thirsty to learn anything and everything. Watching the Fox Hunt Club come through the ranch on weekends, I was fascinated by how different they rode their horses. I readily accepted lessons.

Not only was I shamed and ridiculed when my grandfather found out, he yelled at owner’s wife to stay away from me. I learned that for some reason, we were different, that woman and I. It was more than how we rode. And secretly, I loved how she yelled back at the man who abused me, the man no one else in my family ever stood up to until my cousin confronted him some thirty years later.

Confrontation is battleground for me. It doesn’t induce fight or flight; it leads to paralysis and I avoid that at all costs. With my craving to learn, I rebelled, however, and hid to read. Throughout my childhood, I had many willing adults ready to feed my mind. Growing up, mentors appeared to direct me to read Greek Classics, to look for certain rocks, to pay attention to lessons found in different cultures. I was primed for intellectualism despite the pride my family of origin placed on their hard work being superior to knowledge. It was my rebellion from life as I knew it.

A sense of superiority masks a fear of inferiority. Generational incest occurs in families that feel powerless. The dynamic is one of power and control. Trump does not grab pussies because he’s crass; he does it to prove his power. A working man who grooms his own children and grandchildren for sexual gratification is not necessarily attracted to children, but to the power he can over them.

An even more sinister dynamic of incest is the one that involves women. It might be difficult to understand, but in this power dynamic, women feel safer protecting the abuser more so than the abused. Let that sink in a moment. This is a real thing. Women can be our own worst misogynists. The women are left to clean up, deny and redirect the flow of family stories. Generation. After. Generation.

I’m not trying to make you squirm. In fact, I feel angry when I feel the need to write about incest on a blog meant to prosper diversity in literature. Unfortunately it is part of my story and I’ve been triggered since the realization that my grandfather just won the presidency and my mother, grandmother and aunts are all yelling at me to behave, to quit being the rotten apple and calling me crazy. I can smell gaslighting as if it were leaking propane. Rotten eggs.

In my mind, Trump was never a valid candidate. He was not properly vetted and his popularity was showmanship over discourse. He found that vein of hard-working, disgruntled white Americans and played into their desire for power in a world that didn’t reward their ignorance. Instead of education, instead of seeking a growth mindset, this disconnected pocket of Americans united in a false sense of righting whatever powers they felt they were denied.

The losses are real, don’t get me wrong. Ranches, farms small-town businesses, factory jobs, steel-mill jobs, mining boom and bust cycles have plagued those who have come to America and worked hard for their slice of the pie. Instead of realizing they could better their situation through education, they clung to ignorance as a shield. And in this mess, as well as among the elite circles were power became a heady elixir, a rape culture unfolded.

The day Trump’s infamous sexual assault bragging on video was made public, women who had been sexually abused or assaulted have triggered. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), calls to their Hotline (1-800-656-4673).  What triggered me was not the “locker room banter” excuse, but the fact that countless white American women defended his words and actions as no big deal. This minimalizing and normalizing of sexual assault, especially in how it relates to power and control dynamic, is what did me in. I had to seek self-care.

Thus, what we are seeing in America is the dynamic of incest. A wealthy and powerful narcissist has agitated the ignorant and powerless white majority who feel entitled to more because they work hard to earn it. They don’t see themselves as bigots, racists or misogynists; they see themselves as frustrated, ignored, hard-working individuals who value God and want to not find new beginnings in endings. They are scared they are losing out to minorities, special interests and government as usual. Valid concerns. Yet they fail to see any harm in what they are doing or applauding. Ignorance does not think critically.

I’m not saying the percentage of white, uneducated, evangelical female voters are guilty of perpetuating generations of incest, but that they are participants in a similar dynamic. It doesn’t help that neither party listened to constituents and provided non-toxic opponents, or that we are deadlocked in division with a failed two-party system and fear voting third party.

To those who claim that the third party vote elected Trump, go look at the exit polls. I’m a registered third-party voter and I anguished over my vote, but in the end I voted for HER; the most qualified person for the office. If she is truly guilty of criminal wrong-doing, then let our justice prevail. If you protect one Amendment, you protect them all. And every citizen has the Constitutional right to due process.

I cannot let my voice be silent. I broke the silence of one dynamic and I can’t refrain from expressing what I’m seeing in this election. It’s my way and space for processing it all. To those who voted for Trump, I hope the hate rhetoric is just that — words — and we as a nation come to prevail in unity for all in action. That politics as usual needs a good overhaul, I don’t deny. But hate only breeds hate and fear is its fodder.

President Obama has set the stage for a peaceful transfer of power. My greatest hope is that we can all live up to that, and heal the dynamics that churn ignorance. Let us never fear, nor make elite, knowledge. It is for everyone. It teaches new perspectives and empathy. Let’s embrace diversity. Carrot Ranch is safe space for writers to practice craft, explore voice and model compassion. We grow together.

And write. Write like your soul needs the wind to pass through this season. Write like your brain might seize up if you don’t. Write like you need to leave a legacy. Write whimsy. Write rage. Write the light in and the dark out. Write. Open your mind, your creativity and we will rise above the chains of ignorance. Power is not what we need. Find your own empowerment. Unity is not in old power dynamics; it is found in diversity.

And the end? Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. It might be the end of the world as we know it, what comes next?

November 9, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pivots around an unexpected ending. If it’s the end of the world as we know it, what is the renewal? You can have history repeat itself. You can include dynamics that never change despite an ending. You can show a triumphant ending. A tragic one. A silly, “That’s all folks!

Respond by November 15, 2016 to be included in the compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Hickok’s Ending (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Sarah knew this was the end. She sat in her cabin, hands folded and quivering. Several times she stood to draw the curtain only to realize she already had. Twice now. When the scrape of boots thundered across the porch, Sarah startled like a sparrow in the willows. Hickok stood in the doorway. Had she forgotten to close the door? Or were his boots so loud, she failed to hear him enter.


“Why are your boots so loud,” is all she could think to say.

“It’s over. I done it. I’m riding to turn myself in on self-defense.”


Not Over Yet (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Christmas decorations sparkled from every corner of the cabin. Danni strung evergreens and LED lights across the porch eaves, and bedecked the pine she cut down. Ike would laugh at her waggling path where she’d harnessed three of the dogs to pull the tree home. He was finally coming home. Of course, Danni would act mad at first, chewing him out for his lack of calls while he travelled.  She barely heard the knock at the door, but the dogs barked, including Nana.

It wasn’t Ike. It was Sandwater Security on official business. Ike would not be coming home.



  1. Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    the end…

  2. Norah says:

    Oh God. Ike’s not coming home! How could you do that to us? At Christmas? I didn’t see that coming either; just like Sarah didn’t see Hickok.
    I’ve cried my way through your post, Charli. It’s truth is raw. So much you have written about, we don’t see coming. Sometimes the result is so bleak we struggle to find our way out and up. It will be interesting to see if America, after being ripped apart, can rally and pull together. It could take a long time for the hatefulness to be forgotten and the wounds to heal. I worry about the process, and for the people – all the people: the ignorant and the educated. The ignorant won’t know what hit them. The educated already know what to expect, but will have a hard time reconciling it and making it right. I don’t know what else to say. Thank you for sharing. I agree with everything you have said.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’ll take care of Ike. The title is “miracle” of Ducks, after all. But there’s a rough road fit Danni who has to confront loss and the acknowledge the need for community. So true…the ignorant don’t understand and the educated do. It’s why I want to encourage every child to be a reader! Together, though, we have to embark on unity.

      • Norah says:

        Thank you for taking care of Ike. And of Danni.
        Yes, we need every child to be a reader. And to be thinker – a critical thinker. They need to learn early to question motives and what lies behind the words and actions. Unity is a wonderful goal. Let’s work towards it – together!

      • Charli Mills says:

        We just lost a great American journalist yesterday, Gwen Ifil. She asks if its possible to be optimistic and a skeptic. Here’s my favorite quote from her.

        GWEN IFILL: “Cynics think that they know all the answers already, and then they stop listening.

        Skeptics always have more questions to ask, but we are willing to be persuaded to the honesty of an alternate point of view, even if we don’t share it.

        Is it possible to be skeptical and optimistic and ambitious, open, excited to possibility and willing to change the world as well? I think so.”

        I think so, too!

      • Norah says:

        I’m in agreement with you and Gwen Ifil! Thanks for sharing her quote.

      • Charli Mills says:

        She was warm and wise.

  3. […] November 9: Flash Fiction Challenge, Tale Weaver # 93 – November 10 – Never Give […]

    • Charli Mills says:

      The sobering reality ends the celebration. I think it’s going to take time for the double wide celebrations to wake up to it, though. As Norah said, the ignorant do not see what’s coming.

  4. Annecdotist says:

    What really made me cry in this extremely poignant post is that you voted for her! Knowing how hard it must have been for you, I want to thank you and others in a similar position for doing everything you could not to put a chump in the White House. I imagine you feel extra cheated in not feeling free to put your cross against a candidate whose policies you actually agreed with. Another thing that made me cry yesterday – apart from the actual result which, when I saw it first on Twitter, I thought was a joke – was a woman being interviewed as the Clinton non-victory party was breaking up, a doctor who had travelled with her daughters from Vermont so that they could be part of history: what the hell does she say to them now?

    Even having experienced exactly the same thing in the UK with Brexit, it was hard to believe this would happen. It seems that how politics operate today is that stupid people are allowed a protest vote, but there’s nowhere for thoughtful people to go. In 1997 I did not vote for new Labour (Tony Blair) because they were Conservative Lite, but now I’d probably be obliged, like you, to vote for the least nasty party with a chance of being elected.

    I also right now really feel for Michelle Obama – who occupied the ridiculous (surely to a feminist) position of First Lady with both humour and dignity – having to welcome the chump and his missus into her home today. You know when you move house that the next occupants will change the decor and undo many of your “improvements” – well I’m sure Obama didn’t go far enough (and couldn’t) but it’s tragic what this fellow will do.
    Interesting to see how other politicians around the world react. Of course they need to be very careful what they say, so it’s lovely to have this honest horrified response from Margaret Beckett

    I agree with you about the troubling anti-intellectualism that has promoted this man and others like him, as if it doesn’t matter that he lies and brags about sexual assault if he is perceived as challenging the “establishment” – and you’ve done a great job here in analysing that dynamic. How I look at things from a psychoanalytic perspective is that when we feel extremely powerless/paranoid/under attack, we do also experience rationality as a further attack, partly because it doesn’t furnish us with the black-and-white answers that are all our minds can cope with that state.

    To my shame, I didn’t really think properly that of course Trump’s comments on women will have triggered flashbacks/distress for those who have been abused because it’s repeating the dynamic of a person in power getting what he wants and others, male and female, colluding. That’s a very scary place to be and congratulations to you for speaking out.

    Regarding my own reactions to this series of shocking election and referendum results (as I wrote about in my post Homeless Inside ) it does also take me to a dark place of not being safe when the people in charge aren’t up to the job. For me, that’s not only about anti-intellectualism but also a lack of emotional literacy or failure to contain their own emotions, which we see in Trump and his ilk. This, as I imagine you can tell, is where most of my writing comes from, but I can’t actually write in that state of mind, so I very much admire that you can.

    Mmm, I came here to share and commiserate, and really didn’t want to ramble as I’ve done. It may well be that with Trump with his finger on the button the world will indeed end sooner than it would have done otherwise, but let’s all band together to keep the ranch going until it does.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Anne, Todd and I both appreciate your response as it adds dialog to our own as we try to find meaning and our way through these days. Regardless where one stands, the world is not the same place after November 8, 2016. We need to have thoughtful responses. My heart breaks for all the children this election has impacted — the girls thinking they were about to see a woman make history, the boys who might be confused by locker room talks, and all children of minorities who are experiencing open racism that overshadows bullying in scarier ways. Thank you for supporting the ranch until our last blast! <3

  5. I have found the most intelligent folks are the ones without a college education. The balance of street smarts and books smarts is rare; but In my profession the courses of education did not prepare these incoming drafts-persons for the work that is to be required of them. But, in my field at least, the more experienced one has in the field (of construction), the more hands-on they have experienced (as opposed to reading or listening to an educator), and physically contributed to “how things are built” —-the greater an understanding they have of what they are drawing/designing.

    One does need to go thru the system to be educated in this DYI time period. But i definietly goes a long way in the system itself. I think the ‘hands-on’ and ‘workforce’ majority of the actual physical land that America truly is… came forward in this election with a statement quite overlooked in what it takes to not only run this country but maintain it.

    I know WE want to move forward, but we cannot fastforward (unfortunately). The true earth is not instant. It takes damn hard work to erect the structures where these decisions are not only made, but learned. Who is willing to do that anymore.?? Well, I think there is still a vast majority. Thank God… And that is infinitely reassuring and desperately something we need to remain in the bloodlines and perspective of the history of this country.

    Cuz even those with a degree may not be proudly gazing out the 50th floor!!
    Regardless, Charli you make very great points. And I do not want to argue, but we are moving forward as a nation imo

    So, let’s Flash!!

    the End by Elliott Lyngreen

    It is thee enduring absence of faith which encumbers. Which changed such imperceptive adaptations; similar to the curved gunmetal swarming on ancestral earth. Hovered, surrounded, grim countenances across sub-railway small inhabited towns; down curbless sideroads and long-suffering unexplored drives form the atmosphere and once infinite expositions; slight, actually adjusting in slow centrifugal motion only keen to the sightless observers, thee overlooked visions of divinity… Now suspended, the torrent raised, smothers this perennial parade, and the uninformed simultaneous rows of edge to edge strangers (as they collapse together); perhaps no longer swelled in that umbrella of skepticism or aware… #cuzastheyfacethesuntheycastnoshadows

    Thanks for ragin – God Bless!!

    • Charli Mills says:

      I actually understand your the point you are making and I think we can also add to Asimov’s quote the reverse regarding elitism thinking it’s superior to ignorance. Both elitism and ignorance dim what we can learn and grow from education and experience. I did not mean to say education was the only path to knowledge. Opening our minds and hearts to a growth mindset rather than thinking one way, my way the way it’s always been is the only way. We do need to hear from one another and each day that passes, I deepen my thinking in regards to what we are experiencing. I appreciate alternative views because that’s the essence of literature — to develop empathy for another perspective, person or world. Yes, let’s flash! I’m glad to see you here, ragin!

      • Im not going to try to match wits with you Charli, thats for sure. Its a frustrating period. Its a really hyperextended depressing moment in this country; and does not need to be as horrible as it is or seems. Could intelligence be running away or getting ahead from reality?? Are we too smart for our own good? Nothing happened….. yet. Except what is being predicted.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Every time I think, that’s right — nothing has actually happened — there follows that heavy yet. The Trump phenomenon that was his campaign was successful in mobilizing those who feared or thought a certain way. His election also mobilizes a different set of anticipation from others. I wish I was a corporate sponsor from another planet sent to observe strategy, but living this moment is one unsettled. Nothing has happened. I’ll hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Ha! Now I’ve become a prepper from north Idaho. I might need to return and dig a bunker. Thanks for challenging my thinking, Elliott.

  6. […] This is my contribution to Charli’s 99 word (no more, no less) weekly flash fiction. You can read her original post here: November 9: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  7. denmaniacs4 says:

    For some reason, this prompt, this tale of mine captures my mood. All things end. All things begin again.


    Heat from Aggie’s Spenser blistered her hands. A fusillade of bullets plundered the air. Half of Caldwell’s raiders had fallen after the first sortie.

    The rest kept coming.

    A squander of lives.

    She glanced over to the rooftop opposite. Henry Taylor caught her eye, and nodded. He then levelled a volley, ending the miserable existence of two more marauders.

    She quickly looked below. Dobbs was covered in gun smoke.

    Behind him, a tall, hefty specter with flowing red hair appeared, yelled, “Times, up, Dobbs,” and fired.

    Clancy Dobbs fell to the dust.

    Aggie twirled, snapped off a lethal round.

  8. Annecdotist says:

    Left you an essay yesterday but it’s still saying “awaiting moderation” today, so this is a test piece to see if it’s me it doesn’t like or that I was claiming too much space.

  9. […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]

  10. An ending…

    Hugs across the miles, my friend. <3

  11. Thank you for the very apt prompt. It certainly resonates with the times. Here is my contribution.

  12. I send my hugs, too, Charli.

    Until the Bitter End
    A story of 99 words Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Candy grew into her name, sweet and eager to please.

    She was young when she married a widower and took his children into her heart. She lavished attention and care, sacrificing for her family and believing in happily-ever-after. No treats for herself. Instead, she provided trinkets to please them. She attended and applauded their school performances. She encouraged their every success.

    Neighbors whispered and pointed, accusing Candy of neglect and abuse. Her stepchildren portrayed her as negligent, and others somehow believed them.

    Candy grew bitter and withdrawn. When was she cast as the evil stepmother in the fairy tale?

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Kerry! <3 Your flash reflects how what is believed can be at odds with who one is. And it's impact is to question identity. A good take on the prompt!

  13. ellenbest24 says:

    *sniff* oh Charli *sniff* I am unsure which is more harrowing *wipes eyes*
    And as for Mr.T… no words. 😯😕😡

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Ellen. I think we are all searching for words. Some sniffling more than others. Actually, this makes me chuckle because I watched all three debates and was so distracted by Mr. T’s sniffing. I really hope he doesn’t take that habit with him to the White House! So, I’m laughing-crying which seems to be an improvement.

      • ellenbest24 says:

        As we found after Brexit, the vote was democratically held and it is still democracy even when it isn’t the result we personally wanted. On that basis we have to suck it and see. If everything happens for a reason… maybe we have a lesson to learn or good will out. 😇

  14. Pete says:

    Safe Space

    Kim liked to say that his palm matched her own, even if his hand did not. Darnell envied how his wife lived without fear. How her daring blue eyes took on lingering stares, at the park or out shopping.

    It was her idea to join the march against injustice. Palm in palm, the couple took to Tenth Street, where a college-age girl was handing out signs. The girl’s eyes lingered. Her sign read END RACISM. She spoke only to Darnell.

    “This protest is for people of color only.”

    Kim gasped, clutching her belly.

    A person of color was kicking.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Yay, Pete, lovely flash. I didn’t get the first line initially (despite having been in a relationship in which we compared hands in exactly the same way) but it opens the topic beautifully.
      That tension between safe spaces and the need for the more privileged to show their/our solidarity is difficult to negotiate.

    • Charli Mills says:

      A beautiful, brave flash! If we fight against racism, we have to stand up for all. Love this!

    • Brilliant Pete. Reverse racism is just as much a problem. Love your first line and your last.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I used to be more sensitive to reverse racism, thinking that those who’ve been oppressed have a right to be angry. But now I’m nipping it in the bud. I will do my best to understand all perspectives, but no racism. It doesn’t serve either side. We need to get beyond that. If as far as on group can get is to mirror the worst of another, I don’t call that successful liberation.

      • I agree Charli. We should all work to accepting all humans as just that. A person who has the same needs and desires as we ourselves do and one of those is respect.

    • Deborah Lee says:

      I love this.

  15. mrmacrum says:

    I read your original post the morning after the big disappointment of the previous night. I read your post but did not absorb the words. I was dazed, as if poleaxed with a big stick. I looked for my center, not by rehashing what had been and what might be, but by hiding as you did when you “hid to read”. Instead of reading, I lost myself in the act of creating some fiction. It didn’t matter if it was good, bad, or indifferent. I needed to get away, as far away as I could. Reading a good book or writing fiction does it for me every time. And now I have found some equilibrium again.

    So, I decided to re-read your initial post.

    My upbringing was quite different. My father was/is the smartest man I ever became close to. My family, direct and extended are chock full of doctors, lawyers, professors, blah, blah, blah. I was the first Macrum in the family going back 4 generations who not only did not finish college (22 credits shy), but made a conscious decision to follow my own path. I wasn’t anti-intellectual. I was just one pissed off young man who had grown up in a alcohol infused family. Naturally, I became a pariah and have lived the rest of my life outside the good graces of family near and far. I would not change a thing. It has been a helluva ride.

    Your points about anti-intellectualism are well taken. But after 45 years living in the blue collar world, I can sympathize with their take. There is often an air of snobbery that goes with knowing more than the next guy. I do not mean that in a mean way. Most folks who give off that vibe have no cluiew of what this country has become e they are. And the ones that do, well, I just want to slap them silly. Sadly, I don’t know how to bridge the gaps.

    I really just wanted to post a piece I wrote a few days prior to the election. It was a letter to the editor. Which editor, I can no longer remember. I don’t know if they even published it. It sums up my view what this country has become. ……

    Harsh unreasonable winds drive the stench of a people’s fear, turning their terror into anger as it sweeps through the land. It poisons everything it touches. Soap box heroes use vitriolic bellows to keep the nation’s bad temper racing towards a feverish and ill conceived conclusion.

    No one cares what effect being angry for anger’s sake will have on society once the winds of discontent have subsided. No one seems to care that being afraid is the fertile ground where failure is sown. And no longer is there any interest in pragmatic solutions, just irresponsible blame.

    The once vigorous and thriving pockets of common sense and sanity scattered here and there, have seen their bulwarks worn down into apathetic resignation. Fighting the good fight has turned into an exercise in futility.

    “What use is there to fight the tide?”, some ask.

    “Go with the flow”, others mumble. And everyone gives in to the hate and discontent that swirls around them.

    Meanwhile the malcontents of all sides blindly feed their own fires, dragging the rest of the great land down into their self inflicted miseries. Nobody will win. Everyone loses.

    When a citizenry begins feeding off their fears instead of their courage, the first casualties are their greatness, followed soon by their pride. It is indeed a sad thing when a great and proud people hate themselves so much, they are willing to allow fear to take over their lives.

    Later …………………………………….

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you for coming back and discussing this more fully. I think this is a time that calls for trying to understand different perspectives. There are dysfunctional dynamics among all groups and usually a battle for power and control is at the heart. We need to be reminded, as you have reminded me, we are a product of the light and dark sides of our nature and the environments that nurture us. Education is not without its ivory towers and exclusions. Wealth and success is not without its addictions and miseries. And perhaps what is needed right now is to hear each other out, to have empathy for other people’s experiences as well as trying to gain it. I’m honored that you would come back and share your fiction because that is also where I go, into the cave of my imagination, to produce stories by which we can process and understand. I stand by being thoughtful, and support others doing the same.

    • Annecdotist says:

      Yes, indeed, abuse can still happen among the educated, and intellectual analysis can sometimes be a way of not knowing / facing the truth. But education founded on critical thinking rather than accumulation of facts enables us to accommodate new and often contradictory information, which I guess a lot of us are having to do right now. If we think of our understanding as provisional, as the best we’ve got so far, which is the scientific approach, we can use our knowledge without undue arrogance.

      • Charli Mills says:

        That ability to critically think is crucial. We need to step outside our own worn paths, no matter our backgrounds. That’s why I always appreciate our compilations. Each perspective in different flash fictions makes me see the topic in different lights.

    • Deborah Lee says:

      Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I was never in doubt as to whom I’d vote for, but I can (mostly) see how both sides feel. I consider myself well-read and do possess a college degree, but I also lost everything in the Great Recession, so I’ve got one foot on each side of the fence. I’m left with trying to have faith that we will somehow pull together and make it all okay.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I stand across that chasm, too. In fact my son and I were having that conversation today. I have highly educated children, but they all acknowledge the humble blue collar roots we come from. We see both sides, too.

      • Annecdotist says:

        This brought me up short because I hate the notion that our wealth should dictate our values. But that in fact is the division that super capitalism promotes. In Britain, a wealthy woman (the former child star singer Charlotte Church) was ridiculed in the press for marching against austerity and in favour of higher taxation for the rich.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Super capitalism fosters exclusivity. To ridicule one who is wealthy but marching on behalf of those who are not is trying to use her place of power to help change the landscape. Where has our common ground disappeared to?

  16. […] Mills prompt this week […]

  17. […] Flash Fiction #08: […]

  18. In response to this week’s challenge:

    Sher Khan was a successful robber. How much wealth he and his 99 apprentices had amassed over the years is upto the imagination of greedy minds.

    One night, while robbing the house of the Inspector General’s secret mistress, a serendipitous mistake committed landed him in prison.

    But his pride and feeling of importance were unsurpassed by even plump tomatoes. While in prison, he made a call – not to a lawyer, though he could have hired the most expensive of black gowns.

    Following this call, the Inspector General was handed divorce papers and dragged to court for a lofty alimony.

  19. Hello everyone. Here’s my contribution to this week’s challenge:

  20. This is a post Charli I’m sad you have had to write but in your writing perhaps it will lead to understanding by some who were prepared to believe that the rhetoric was in order to win votes and not what will happen into the future. Perhaps they will understand that they have elected into your top job (and possibly the world’s) your Grandfather, a man who is unpredictable, leaving us all treading water, not knowing whether we are going to sink or swim. Unless we see this as the end of democracy (and it may well be) then we have to accept the elected choice and pray that his advisors will be good, that he will listen to them, and he somehow calms the hatred he has unleashed. Regarding his attitude to women, I doubt that will ever change only he now has a lot more power to any grabbing he may choose to do. I must stay positive and we must work towards a world that is tolerant. I read a quote the other day which may help all of us here on the ranch
    from Kathleen McArthur – i call it the art of hope:
    “At times it has all seemed too much to bear and it has been tempting to sell out and shift to some as yet unspoilt beach … But when despair has led to hopelessness, that state of mind has to be overcome with the therapy of painting and writing or escape into fiction. It is such a beautiful coast it deserves all the care we can give it.
    (Kathleen McArthur, 1989, Living on the coast)
    My Ending for this week

    • Charli Mills says:

      The theme from most news reporters this week is encouragement to give Trump a chance. Who he will disappoint most is yet to be unseen, but he can’t be one thing to those who elected him and another to those who didn’t. I do think his negative campaign was successful in agitating, but at what cost. Wonderful soothing words from Kathleen McArthur. I agree with her form of therapy. We’ll see how this all unfolds. We will remain hopeful yet vigilant. Thank you!

  21. […] Please see SPF for the ‘harbor’ photo. November 9: Flash Fiction Challenge November 9, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pivots around an […]

  22. julespaige says:

    Charli – endings are hard to fathom sometimes turning oneself in…or in the end not coming home right away. I did not see Ike not ever coming home…just not for this years holiday…, but then I read other comments and wondered.

    Anyway I wrote something I didn’t really care for and put it on the back burner… The second paragraph of this piece is an Abecedairan (which uses each letter of the alphabet to start the next word in the sentence (or other creative avenue it is used in.) I mashed up three other prompts and was able to add a last line for Carrot Ranch to bring it up to 99 words. Please see the link for all sorts of info on:

    Undermined Diamond? (which is the link)

    Undermined Diamond?

    Privet’s Farm, isolated from other farms sat exposed to the
    elements. How could Craig even think of bringing Grace to
    here, thought Albert?

    Albert boohooed Craig’s delicate effervescent fake ‘Grace’,
    heiress ingenue. Jiggling kinetically loose morals, not overtly
    protective quips registered sour.Tequila undermined vanity
    which xeroxed yesterday’s zeugmas.

    Albert would have to rescue Craig again. Grace, looking for
    a sugar-daddy,did not count on Craig having Albert to disrobe
    her so easily. Hopefully the tart would harbor no ill will when
    her sails were deflated.

    No albatross, like the Hesperus – Grace, with half-baked
    dreams, had lost her bearings.


  23. Joe Owens says:

    Hi Charli. I wanted to get this in before I hunch down over my keyboard to begin another week. Thanks for hosting this! Here is my “The End” surprise!

  24. Annecdotist says:

    Some great ones stacking up here. I’ve now posted my flash, Charli

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m looking forward to playing with how I order the compilation. Sometimes the order brings out sharp contracts or reveals threads that one writer starts and several other finish. Thank you for adding to the body!

  25. […] Carrot Ranch November 9 flash fiction challenge: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pivots around an unexpected ending. […]

  26. Deborah Lee says:

    I had an interesting conversation with my therapist (yep, issues, I’ve got ’em too, lol) and he pointed out that almost anyone who would aspire to be President has got at least a bit of narcissism in them – including President Obama, of whom I am mostly a fan. This administration – a lot more than usual, eh?

    I’m so sorry you’ve been triggered this way. I agree that this is a time to reflect carefully, to keep our minds open, to forge connections and understanding with others who view things differently than we do. And I absolutely agree that when we choose to ignore something in favor of a “bigger picture,” we are still condoning that something.

    Hooray for books, and bless the ones who led you to them and pushed them into your hands! My flash focused on learning a little bit too, and Jane gets a bit of a break this week:

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha! I think therapists across the globe must be active this past week and booked into the future! Good point about the narcissism. I also think in approaching literature to understand others, I seem to always begin with myself. That can be the brain on auto pilot. How we progress beyond the self is a mark of greater expression and growth. Obama, I’d say is wiser and more mature. Perhaps now elected, Trump will think more outwardly…it could happen! Reflection, more so than staying in a state of reaction, helps and books are the pause everyone needs!

    • Annecdotist says:

      I’m fascinated that your therapist would put Obama in the same category as Trump – maybe you should ask for a refund! Totally agree that people in powerful positions need a touch of narcissism – in fact, don’t we all, for example in having the temerity to put our words forward for us to read!
      You might both be interested in an article written by a therapist after Brexit (Susie Orbach is famous for the book Fat Is a Feminist Issue):

      • Deborah Lee says:

        Excellent read, thank you! And it’s a lot of what my shrink and I were talking about. And I think the major difference between Obama and Trump is that Obama wanted to lead, while Trump wants to control.

      • Charli Mills says:

        That’s insightful. Sadly, I think people are expecting a leader and are not prepared for one who sits upon gold chairs.

      • Annecdotist says:

        I think also Obama (and Clinton) have some concept of public service. I’m not sure Trump gets that at all.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Public service to Trump looks an awful lot like garnering public adoration. Michelle Obama continues her work with homeless veterans, and I have tons of respect for her, too.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Ha! Many are being polite and fair and asking for peaceful acceptance of the election. I find it ironic how America has slipped in to Politically Correct Mode regarding Trump when he was elected because he shattered political correctness! And thanks for sharing the article, Anne.

  27. Unexpected events can create a huge impact on going forward. Death is one of those events.

    The Legacy
    by Ann Edall-Robson

    He found her at the barn. He knew she would go to the one place she and the old man had called their second home. He stood in the open door watching his wife brush the sorrel horse. The old cow dog at her feet scrutinizing her every move.

    He could barely hear her as she talked to the animals. Her quiet voice mixed with sniffing. She leaned into the horses neck. Her shoulders shaking with grief over the unexpected loss of the man who had mentored her all her life. ​

    Together, her Grandfather’s legacy would be kept alive.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Your writing seems especially soothing this week, Ann, and I appreciate the grounding it presents. We are all rooted in our legacies, one way or another. It can be the hope of how we move forward with gifts from the past.

  28. A. E. Robson says:

    Unexpected events take us down roads we have no urge to travel. Having support and understanding makes the path easier to explore.

    The Legacy
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    He found her at the barn. He knew she would go to the one place she and the old man had called their second home. He stood in the open door watching his wife brush the sorrel horse. The old cow dog at her feet scrutinizing her every move.

    He could barely hear her as she talked to the animals. Her quiet voice mixed with sniffing. She leaned into the horses neck. Her shoulders shaking with grief over the unexpected loss of the man who had mentored her all her life. ​

    Together, her Grandfather’s legacy would be kept alive.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes, the unexpected is not always where we want to go and sometimes, as expressed in your flash, we find solace in the things that had once been whole and normal. We make a choice and carry on with it. I like the idea of legacy.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Ha, ha! I was thinking I had responded to you earlier. Silly Word Press glitch. I did! 🙂 Hope that comes as an unexpected but welcome surprise. Double duty this week!

  29. […] She challenged writers to “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that pivots around an unexpected ending.” […]

  30. Norah says:

    I’m in with a pretty princess cut out for a different ending: Thanks for the challenge. Looks like some interesting reading awaits. 🙂

  31. […] Written for the Carrot Ranch Communications prompt “Ending”. […]

  32. Drew Sheldon says:

    A little less dark this time. Still not light but a little less dark.

  33. Sherri says:

    Oh Charli, I am just so sorry I didn’t get a chance to come over and read earlier. I also hope this comment doesn’t go to spam, and my problem is solved, in that regard. I don’t know where to start, and so many great comments here to read. My head is swirling, and my heart is hurting for you. Everything you describe here about the thread of anti-intellectuism was highlighted in a programme we watched last night about Trump and his promises to put towns and cities back on the map. Cities like Lone Star Texas where the steel industry is dead, yet people there truly believe Trump will put it back together and give them their jobs back. They aren’t interested in global trade, despise immigration and just want to work hard and get back to how things once were 20 plus years ago, but they don’t question how that will happen and at what cost to their country, in the reasons behind Trump’s election.
    But it is everything you write about abuse and incest that I want to address here. I don’t know if you heard about a man called Jimmy Saville here in the UK? Those like me who grew up in the 60s, teenagers in the 70s, knew him as a TV presenter of Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It where he made kids’ dreams come true. He was a bit ‘odd’ – eccentric – but he did a great deal for charity and was very famous. He died a few years ago in his 80s and had an elaborate funeral and burial. About a year later, one , then two and then an avalanche of accusations came out. It was horrendous. An entire ring of pedophilia, children in the hospitals of which he was a regularly visiting patron, with cancer, abused by him, young girls, teenagers, cajoled to sitting in the back of his Roll’s Royce so he could stick his tongue down their throats, shove his hands up their knickers and later, rape them. The result of this is there has been and still is ongoing, a huge sweep of arrests, all dating back to those 70s, men who my generation grew up with and trusted, men in positions of responsibility and example. Even Rolf Harris, if you’ve ever heard of him. Beloved by all, now in prison for his sexual abuse. Jimmy Saville never answered for his despicable crimes. As I read your words here, I understand why you have been so terribly triggered, and so many across your beautiful land, because the same thing happened here. But…like you, it is the secrecy upheld by women, women who know what happened, that made it even more appalling. When will people realise and understand that it is the very shame of incest and abuse that keeps children/adults silent…until they are triggered. That is why so many women ‘came out of the woodworks’ to tell of their abuse at Jimmy Saville’s hands up to 30 odd years later. Because they were ashamed and didn’t think they would be believed. Not because they wanted money but because they at last felt they had a voice.
    Oh I could go on so I’ll shut up now. Thank you so much for giving me a voice here my friend, a place where I can write about this because your bravery and courage and raw honesty, painful though it is, is true and real and needs to be read to help others who have suffered at the hands of abusers. No child should have to suffer at the hands of incest, someone they have been taught to respect and trust, and then to be told to stop acting up, not believed by the women in the family, told to behave and toe the line. All the while the grandfather is getting away with his crimes. But it happens, time and time again. It is a tragedy. But it is your voice that helps those of us who know the pain to be able to speak up and in so doing, offer support and acceptance and validation. And maybe, that combined voice will at last be listened to and we can ensure that the buck stops here, one person at a time.
    I loved your flashes…. about Sarah, an aura of impending doom surrounding those loud boots. And Ike? Oh no!!
    I’ll have a think about a flash and return… hugs to you my friend in the meantime and know how very, very proud of and inspired by you I am… always… <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you so much for sharing what happened in the UK with Jimmy Saville, awful as it is. That shame dynamic is so important to acknowledge and I appreciate that you brought it up. I think many women are held back by shame; most in fact. Other dynamics are at work –normalization is getting traction in the US as a word the week following Trump’s election. Perhaps because of shame, women rationalize that what happened was something as benign as “celebrities will be celebrities.” Someone like Saville also would “groom” his victims. My grandfather held horses in front of my like candy. I had a string of horses by the time I was 5 and cattle, too with my own brand. What kid has those things? So of course the focus was on what a great grandfather he was just like Saville was touted for his philanthropy. When someone questions or suspects, no one wants to think a pedophile has been hanging out in the children’s cancer ward so denial comes into play easier than investigation. Finally, years later, trigger cracks all those forces keeping survivors silent. And it’s why I won’t ever be silent again, even when I’d rather talk about something else! So…let me tell you about the Super Moon over the mini grand canyon we found… 🙂 It’s important to have these dialogs and hopefully move on with better understanding and protection for the next generation. And as for those thinking Trump is bringing back oil rig or steel jobs, that’s wishful thinking. Instead of sitting at the local coffee shop for 20-30 years waiting for a politician to finally say, Let’s Make America Great Again, those same towns could have been looking for ways to redefine their economic realities. I’ve seen other towns do it. In northern Wisconsin there are two towns with different economies because one became open and progressive and the other sat back and watched jobs go and businesses shut down. To me, that is the difference between giving in to ignorance or seeking knowledge for positive change. We are all watching, the world is watching, to see what comes of this mess, but some of us will already be working on inclusive and dignifying solutions. You don’t have to go to college, but people need to start cracking open books and minds! Quality reading, vision and critical thinking are needed as we combine our voices to speak up, but also to listen. <3 Ike might still have a miracle or two left! 😉

  34. Sherri says:

    A hero with miracles! Danni needs Ike…we need Ike!
    Moving with the times, keeping a growth mindset, absolutely. I understand the need for those who feel they have been ignored to want to stand up and have their say, and I suppose by their protest vote against an elitist government, they believe they have done that. But rhetoric and empty promises are one thing; quite how they equate to actual change is another. And of course, using it as an excuse to bring out racist and bigoted extremism is inexcusable.
    Your example of those two towns in Wisconsin clearly demonstrates the differences between what works and what doesn’t.
    And Charli, what you had to go through…5 horses and your own branded cattle so young. I just want to weep for what you suffered. I can think of a few other uses for a cattle brand…but I’ll be good…
    And yes, let our voices ring loud and true, but let’s also make sure to listen. I hope that in the days to come, things will settle down into some kind of ‘normality’ in the US for everyone’s sakes. Meanwhile, we will talk of super moons and Mars and Acer trees on fire 🙂
    Thank you so much for this dialogue Charli, for facilitating it here at the Ranch, with other Rough Writers whom I also greatly admire for their eloquence and insight.
    I did write a flash. Not sure if I like it, hoping the gist of it makes sense…not really the end. Or is it? Let’s hope not, at least not just yet!! <3

    Blue Moon

    Tragically beautiful as expected, the moon shimmered like a magnificent, white diamond show-cased on a black velvet sky.

    Jan shivered. “Remember that film about the moon crashing into earth?”

    “Yeah, the end of the world…” whispered Tom.

    “It couldn’t really happen…could it?” Jan’s words formed into icy breath. She tried to shield her eyes from the burning white light. “But it’s getting much closer and bigger, look!” She screamed.

    “Are you okay Mum?” called Zac from the bedroom window.

    “I’m fine darling…just practicing my lines for the play! Come down and look at the moon with us, it’s massive…”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes! With the sharing of super moons, Mars and Acer trees, we’ll find our way through without having to brake out the branding irons! 🙂 Love where you went this one. I didn’t expect that…thought it was the end! <3

      • Sherri says:

        We will my friend, we certainly will! And amazing Mesa discoveries too! Ahh…thanks Charli, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I surprised myself with the ending, lol! 😀 <3

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