December 8: 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.

December 9, 2016

december-8Driving up Flying Monkey Mesa days after rain is risky. Wide enough for only one vehicle at a time, if you were to wind around a sharp corner to find slick clay or tumbled rocks, you could have difficulty backing down. The mesas up close are a marvel — made of such soft clay and sandstone it is a wonder they stand cohesively at all. The debris that slumps and gathers at the base of mesa reminds me of mountains that have dropped their drawers. Driving up a geological mess is taking a risk with heights and unstable material. But I really wanted another gander.

Rock Climber, middle daughter, joined The Hub and me in southern Utah for Thanksgiving week. I wanted to share all my stories of this strange new place, and I wanted to do so within the live setting.

We climb the mesa where live monkeys once tested the ejection seats for jets. In 1957, Marine test-pilot, John Glen, led the US into the supersonic age and space travel. He would become the first astronaut to orbit the earth in a capsule. I wonder if he felt like those monkeys did, having no control over that orbit beyond the ability to see if humanity could leave the pull of earth’s gravity. I wonder if he ever drove up this road to review the work that once happened at this base which led to mechanisms he depended upon.

Thoughts of monkeys and space travel fly out the window as we gander like geese — the sketchy road, the slump we rise above, the dry canyons that periodically pump with flood-water like intermittent veins, the promise of solid bedrock above, the surprise of a juniper forest taking shape. Much to see. Much to consider. Each time up this mesa is a deepening of its stories to me. And Rock Climber is entering the scene.

My children grew up knowing my affliction to gather rocks. While one embraced the science of geology, the other two have learned to run at the sound of me rattling my rocks in a box. They’ve not been keen at looking over my collection. And I’ve even begun to question my desire to collect. If they are part of a story, how can I capture what a rock has to tell? I share rocks with any friend who shows a remote interest. Some receive live photos of my finds. It’s not as important for me to have as it is for me to share. I share with Rock Climber the area on top of the mesa, littered with petrified wood.

To my surprise, she gets pulled into the search, laughing at all the rocks she’s pocketing. It’s as rewarding as someone who reads my stories, wanting to read more.

The Hub doesn’t share the rock enthusiasm, although he picks up a few. He’s antsy to get going. We both want to share an amazing view with our daughter although we aren’t certain the road will be good enough to drive there. Once on the Flying Monkey Mesa, the road winds up steep stone cliffs to the higher Smith Mesa. We encounter a Jeep on the flat and ask the driver how the roads ahead are. He’s says they’re bad and he had to turn around. The Hub continues on, reasoning the Jeep is shiny and new, and it’s driver is only reluctant to get it dirty.

We get muddy, blasting through several large pools of red water that obscure the road. It’s not on a dangerous incline, but still I squeal as we hit each pool, feeling the tug and slip of the tires. The water saturates the truck and we all laugh at the fun of it, until we remember our picnic in the back. The canvas pack is muddy, but our cheese and sausage are fine. We sit on the very rim of the highest mesa in the region and look out at a hidden geological gem — Zion’s secret mini-Grand Canyon.

The view takes neck-work. In a panoramic view, we can see all the way north to Kolob Canyon, the lesser known part of Zion National Park. Following that canyon east with its stunning giants of sandstone we see the swath of multiple canyons and smaller mesas known as Kolob Terrace. To drive up the Terrace is to go to elevations where elk and pines thrive among mountain meadows as if there were not a desert at its base. Stretching across the eastern horizon and yet towering over the Terrace are the famous features of Zion — the Patriarchs, the Angels, the Temples. It is a divine view.

Rock Climber has since gone home to Montana, full of living stories and a few rocks.

We settled into our work routines, we realized we yet have more to look at and resolve. The Hub struggles with managing his combat PTSD in the workplace. It’s not blatant and he often misunderstands directive and his superiors misunderstand his response. It’s something that has dogged him since leaving the military, but as he’s gotten older his struggle seems harder. Having dealt with it for so long without any help from the VA, we started pushing for help two years ago, and beat down the doors when we found ourselves homeless in June. While he has overcome some symptoms of PTSD, he’s developed severe anxiety to the point that the VA recognizes it as a service-related disability.

But will his new employer accommodate his disability? He’s on unpaid leave while they take 30 days to decide.

Advocacy on behalf of another is relentless work, yet with the VA it’s never-ending. In Spokane we had a team of doctors, nurses, mental health providers, social workers, and access to a vocational rehabilitation counselor. Trying to transfer everything to southern Utah has been slow. The VA clinic in St. George is elusive as monkeys on a mesa. They don’t answer their phone; in person they say The Hub isn’t in their system; and they don’t return voice calls.

When I twist my neck backwards to take in the view of hindsight, I see where his life, our life, could have been different if only he had received support from the VA to bridge back from military life to civilian. If only the VA had accepted accountability for his blown knees at age 25, he might have received re-education benefits. Instead we struggled through it on our own. Spokane is still helpful to us, but St. George is silent. I even called the Veteran’s Crisis Hotline to speak to a mental health provider and find other resources here. They had nothing closer than Las Vegas so they referred me to the Suicide Hotline, saying it would get me through to the local support network. Local, is Salt Lake City.And there’s no support here.

Tomorrow, we storm the doors of the St. George VA clinic. I want to go all Trump on them, but I will remember to take the higher road.

We are okay. We are safe in our new-to-us RV with a supply of propane for heat and cooking. I have my writing, which is always interesting to hear therapists applaud. It makes me think about how grateful I am for the community of writers here because I can tell my stories without feeling isolated.

The future, including Trump and circumstances, actually looks hopeful from this view. It’s not rose-colored glasses. It’s about making choices, taking accountability, and a willingness to give and receive kindness. After what we came through this year with all our losses, even losses for Carrot Ranch, I recognize the gains. It’s like I’m looking at that panoramic view, acknowledging that the grand beauty is the result of destructive forces. We might slump and weather, but something new is created in us during adversity.

I’m not afraid of the view. That’s the kind of writer you have to be if you are in this for the long-haul because there are no shortcuts up the mesa. And that debris is what every other writer has had to slump in perfecting craft, a weathering and writing process that never actually reaches perfection. But we strive. We write. Year after year. I no longer feel pressured to produce. It’s not production that matters as much as process. Keep progressing. Never mind the rock-slides that build up from rejection or disappointment in your own work. Never mind. Keep writing. A sandstone pillar will only emerge after much processing.

So let’s take a gander, this season of the Christmas goose!

December 8, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write using the word gander as a verb. A gander is a male goose, yet the Old English etymology of the word suggests it was once gandra which described a waterbird with a long neck (like a crane). In 1912, it became the act of taking a long look. What is the long look your story or character is considering?

Respond by December 13, 2016 to be included in the compilation (published December 14). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Silly Geese (from Rock Creek by Charli Mills)

Sarah walked in the shadow of cottonwoods across the chasm called Rock Creek. The water flowed tepid and slow, but spring floods gouged a deep course that made crossing difficult for wagons until the toll-bridge. Cobb’s family lived at the trading post and she slept in the smaller toll booth. Cabins separated by the natural divide. Sometimes when she walked, his children would see her. Their heads bobbed like silly geese above the blond waves of autumn prairie grass. Occasionally, Cobb gandered a look across the creek, but mostly he stayed with his flock.

He never really saw her.


Just Looking (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

A sea of long tails and chunky puppy faces churned in the birthing box. Soon they’d need to relocate. Ten puppies! Danni found herself gandering at the box several times while cooking dinner. The roan male, fat as a tick, stared back. The last time Ike called from Iraq she’d told him about the tails. He wasn’t thrilled she didn’t get them docked.

“The male has a tail like a sparkler with a tuft of cowlicks at the end.”

“That can’t look good.”

“He’s gorgeous, Ike.”

“What? Danni Gordon thinks a dog is gorgeous?”

Maybe, she thought. Just looking.


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  1. Norah

    Ha! I’m going to be first! Last last time. First this time!
    Two thoughts spoke to me loudly – if only you known, but you struggled through on your own. How often do we do that?
    and, “no shortcuts up the mesa”. Yes that’s true and there is much that we must make our way through.
    I also love the image of the mountain with its drawers down. Now that’s creative! Seeing with other eyes.
    I’m pleased, if surprised, you see positivity in the political climate. But then you are a meliorist, so why wouldn’t you. Meliorism is not a gift, a talent. It’s an effort, a part of the yet growth mindset. Well done to bring it back when times are tough. I’m sorry to hear that Todd is on 30 days unpaid leave. What a blow after what you’ve been through.
    How I loved hearing about all the things that you are taking a gander at, broadening, like the skies, your perspective.
    I love the last line about Cobb and Sarah – “he never really saw her”. Do any of us ever really see anyone else, or do we only see what we think we see? Connecting this one to your previous story with her wanting to set up an accounting business highlights this lack of “sight” further.
    Danni is giving away her secret love for the puppy. What a gorgeous description: a tail like a sparkler with tufts of cowslicks at the end”. I’ve never seen much to like in cowslicks (I can’t do anything with them!) but this makes me see them in a different way. Thank you. Awesome post, as usual.

    • Annecdotist

      Congratulations on getting here first, Norah. I like your comment but, as I’ve done before, I bristle at the concept of meliorism and implication that it’s a general good. So I went back to have a look at your two-years-ago post
      I find it comes down to whether
      “a belief that the world CAN be improved by the actions of humans”
      “a belief that the world WILL be improved by the actions of humans”
      (which don’t agree with)
      or whether it can also contain something more provisional:
      “a belief that the world COULD be improved by the actions of humans”
      (which is fine by me, but on our track record, I think we wreak as much damage or more than we improve things)
      I think either of these could be part of the growth mindset or an excuse for stagnation.
      Sorry, Charli, maybe I should have put this on Norah’s blog. I know it looks as if I got out the wrong side of bed this morning but I honestly don’t feel grumpy! Maybe just defending the minority position, since most commenters seem to support meliorism.

      • Charli Mills

        While your response pricks my meliorist bubble, Anne, I welcome it. I do think we can make a difference and that even small actions count. For me, I feel more of a sense of purpose and having choices. Otherwise I’d crumble beneath the onslaught of those like Trump who trample for their own gain and create division and damage. I think we have a choice. However, I do have skepticism, and I don’t go into my meliorist beliefs without doubt or critical thought for what is occuring in our world, especially human-caused damage. I agree that it’s important not to stagnate and see your point. And I don’t see you as grumpy! I’m appreciative to discuss alternative viewpoints because we shouldn’t all blanket agree.

      • Norah

        Thank you, Anne. I’m honored that you went back to, and linked, my post about meliorism. I had to go back and have a read myself. I do see the fine distinction you have made between “can” and “could”, but neither says it actually occurs. It is difficult to remain positive sometimes with all the goings-on, but even in darkest times I think we (or I) have to believe or hope that we humans will make better choices to improve the world. It is possible, however unlikely, and it is that that keeps me going and stops me from curling up in a ball.
        I think it’s great that you defend the minority position. And I knew you wouldn’t like my use of the term, but it’s what I read in Charli’s post. 🙂
        Never grumpy, always honest. That’s what is important and appreciated.

      • Annecdotist

        Then I must apologise, Charli, as it wasn’t my intention to add to your burden by criticising your choices. Like Norah, I was surprised, and even pleased, to read that you found room for optimism but, in such a detailed post with so much else that caught my interest, wasn’t going to comment on this. I might have been oversensitive, but my issue was with what I read as Norah’s implication that looking on the bright side is generally preferable to the reverse – a commonly held belief, but not mine.

        I did wonder about my strong reaction to your comment, Norah, especially as it was a comment to Charli and not to me! But I went back to that post because, while I know there’s much we disagree on, I was troubled by our difference in this area. But it doesn’t look as if my distinctions between can’t/won’t/will have resolved it.

        So I thought a bit more about my position, which is that there’s lots in the world that’s wonderful right now and will continue to be so in the future, but on the specific question of whether we’re making it a better place, what I see is that while we might be doing so for a privileged minority it’s getting worse for many if not most of the world’s population. While humans are incredibly inventive this does not seem to benefit the majority and we have an impressive capacity to tolerate global inequalities and damage to the planet we all rely on – as I don’t see this changing, I can’t be a meliorist.

        Actions count more than beliefs, and we all have to do our best within the framework that works for us, and stops us from curling up in a ball. I suppose the improvement I’m hoping to see in the world is for pessimism to be accepted as equally valid as optimism in its potential to contribute to the greater good. A bit like the fact that we live in a world built for extroverts but introversion is now being accepted as a valid mindset.

      • Charli Mills

        No apologies needed, Anne. We need pessimism along with optimism. But I do think it takes a certain fortitude to be pessimistic in a way that is for the greater good. Perhaps it’s like introversion and extroversion. One who is naturally an introvert, might have to be an extrovert in the workplace or social settings. It can be a choice even if it’s not a natural inclination. And sometimes the greatest act we can make is a choice in what we believe. It’s incredible that we can continue a dialog started two years ago on Norah’s post about the word meliorism. It’s important we prick each other and challenge beliefs because what we think will dictate how we act. Or so I believe! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Norah, while I believe we can do good in the world, and I’m choosing to be hopeful, I have a mean-spirited response to your observation. You have read no positive posts about the US President-elect because the ignorant don’t read and certainly don’t write more words than trolling responses. But that’s unfair. I do believe there are writers among us who did vote for him because he transformed politics at a point in time where many felt vulnerable, and others fearful. We do have many broken systems in the US. We need to get involved with solving problems in our government. My hope is that so many US citizens are now willing to get involved. To act, as Anne reminds us, to actually do something about our beliefs. We can act melioristically or pessimistically if we are believing our actions can contribute to a greater good.

    • Charli Mills

      First in line, Norah! Thanks for responding to the imagery of the mesa. Wasn’t sure if that was a stretch! And there are no shortcuts up is true and I’ve come to better accept that. Perhaps even with politics in the US, I’ve come to a point of acceptance, but certainly not in the way of tolerance or apathy. I accept who our president-elect is and I will stand up for the gaps he creates. He’s not president yet, and the movements I’ve seen rise up in response, whether it’s veterans apologizing to Native Americans after the two came together in peaceful protest to protect our water; or the young people deciding to organize; the rise of the PantsuitNation; the compassion declared between strangers; the willingness of the Weather Channel to stand up with scientists — there’s many hopeful examples that we can stand up for what is intelligent, good and inclusive. And I’m hopeful about working with the VA. Although I’m frustrated with the local clinic, we have connections elsewhere that are helpful. Yes! I’m fully embracing my meliorism! Good that you ever taught me that word. I appreciate your feedback on my flashes, too! Thanks!

      • Norah

        I am pleased you can see “many hopeful examples that we can stand up for what is intelligent, good, and inclusive.” It’s interesting (I guess it’s just an indication of the types of people whose blogs I choose to follow) that I have read no positive posts about your President-elect. Everyone seems to be fearful and concerned about an uncertain future. I wonder where all those who voted for him are hiding. But, as I say, I guess it’s more to do with the people whose ideas I enjoy reading.

  2. Annecdotist

    Do you realise how nervous you make me, Charli, when you go off on your adventures? But glad you’re enjoying your gander about. I really like the concept of a view that takes neck-work.
    So sad to hear about Todd’s continuing trials. In Britain, we have a disability discrimination act that is almost two decades old but continually flouted and, last time I heard, there have been NO prosecutions under the act.
    Once again, you’ve beautifully integrated your experiences in the outside world with the work of writing. And excellent flashes, especially how you evoke Sarah’s invisibility in the first. As Norah says, it follows on really well from your previous one about the intellectual side of her not being allowed.
    Will be back later with my flash.

    • Charli Mills

      It makes me nervous, too, but I like the feeling of surviving with tales to tell. This is neck-gandering country to be sure. We have a similar disabilities act and thus, asking for legal accommodations is part of dancing with human resources to get treated fairly, yet truly they protect the company, not the employee. We’ve had key prosecutions in the US, but often they result in settlements and adjustments to the laws. Our goal is to sincerely give Todd the chance to process what complaint his employer has with a counselor and adjust accordingly. I wish I could download into his mind where he’s tripping up. I see it so clearly, but I also see his employer is not giving him a chance and I believe it’s because he doesn’t fit the workplace culture. These flash challenges have been instrumental in distilling longer scenes and helping me see clearly the greater issues. Thanks, Anne!

  3. julespaige

    There can be too much to say on looking and how we look at or through.
    Too many tough times. Adding positive thoughts to your family for good reconciliations. Too often when we look in the mirror we judge ourselves to harshly… but writing – that continues to be a key, the key for many of us. And having a welcoming home here at the real ‘Carrot Ranch’. The one we see that is a backbone of support for all of us.

    My flash comes from a most recent conversation, which is why I’m quick out of the box this week… and it just fit. So please enjoy:

    Goosing Hope out of the Box

    The pursuant of knowledge, to serve, to live peaceably. Is that
    karmic dream attainable? We converse about dreams and
    nightmares. She says; “Dreams the dust of stars we cannot
    cleanse…least we too burst into flame.” Then adds; “Perhaps
    when we join the stars we become ‘enlightened’? Pure energy?
    A most different dream then…”

    Is heartbreak all we can gander and garner from living in a world
    were injustice has become normal? Do we have to wait until we
    are less of earth and more of the universe?

    Ink flows, we gander at the words. Like Pandora’s Box –
    ‘Hope’ escapes.


    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Jules for your thoughts. Often that mirror is a harsh reflection, and we right to gain a better balanced one. Thanks you for the positive thoughts, too as they are much needed as we wait. Waiting with uncertainty is not my favorite state of being. The outings help, the sitting on the edge to feel alive and not defined by what seems like a harsh view upon us. But mostly, thank you for that deep and introspective flash. It really does tease out a sense of hope in reading it!

  4. elliotttlyngreen

    The poet in me wrecks itself for the subjugation of them monkeys.
    The engineer in me longs for the test results and the ultimate conclusions that, like you said, opened the doors to invention and progress to other worlds, to space and the cosmos. . . .
    The monkey in me wonders what it was like; wants to be in their shoes; wants to experience space travel and be immersed in the spacecrafts amongst the gadgets and gizmos and smooth steering through asteroid belt at light speed.
    But the human in me, at long aches for the experience; for the time travel; for the impossible; for a point of view nearly unable to be seen.
    Which you bring to life, Charli. More than anything I want to be one of the scientists or engineers. More than anything, and per usual, I want to know what it was like to be there. It is never enough to read. I want to go there; to go back; or, to gander from within the realm rather than process the details (which you always write within every extent of that perfection). Thanks Charli – and, as always, fantastic stuff!!

    Vicarious Monkeys by Elliott Lyngreen

    “”””””””Clarence, he’d been on Mars before too.
    Clarence just got so bad, near snap try’n to slugg holes in Mars’ sides –punchin that Mars, claiming he clean the wishing pond dry.

    Mars own the ratty scene; never rely on Sucker’s Eyes.

    Clarence, though, like somethin without any screws. So ya can’t say he got any loose or nothin.

    And Clarence bound up now. He scrap the change up out North’s wishing pond with looks like being them hopes they tossed in -like that; like, “nobody wants this Quarter!?” –and that monkey shot into space; just flee with its flashin.

    • Charli Mills

      The monkeys have gotten to you, too! They are like a hub and there’s endless spokes to stories about them. I can’t get them out of my mind, and don’t really want to for right now. Not often one gets to ponder monkeys and rocks when all else seems to be falling apart. I’ll let the world re-knit itself after some time on the mesa cliffs. And here you are flashing between worlds with universal monkeys. One day we are bound to see each other in the passing. Keep flashin’!

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Im telling you – ’12 Monkeys. Ya see?!?’ Lol!! Such the great movie.. I really think it is fascinating what you are finding (whether it be the rocks or the imaginations) upon the cliffs and how you write about. Im so increasingly intrigued and want to know more in around and about this; and – The Hub and Spoke configuration -of course!! Make sure you intersect me in my orbit…..on that day. ‘We’re. All. Monkeys.’

      • Charli Mills

        Until that day! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I’ve begun to notice that change in the southwest is swift. Different kinds of adversity lead to different creations. Thanks for joining us again. I enjoy your writing!

    • A. E. Robson

      The twist at the end is excellent.

      • pensitivity101

        Thank you!

    • Charli Mills

      Every creative response counts! It’s odd sometimes, the places our mind goes because of a prompt. The goal is to spark the creative response and it’s okay to veer a different direction from the actual prompt.

  5. jeanne229

    Just love how you so skillfully interweave the themes of geology and writing. Another gorgeous post here with much to ponder. I’m a rock-lover myself. The professor and I have a yard full of quartz we dragged down from the mountains near our old house, not to mention nuggets and slabs of red rock from Sedona. Some might fault us for absconding with a natural resource, but I figure I am just borrowing it for now. I’d happily join you on your expeditions. Vistas and rocks…sounds like heaven. And beautiful flashes. Your descriptions of Rock Creek are so evocative. What a plaintiff tone in this one…Sarah in view but unseen. Thinking about that prompt now. “Gander” … such a great word!

    • Charli Mills

      I need to take a gander at your yard sometime! Perhaps we can invent a new word, like “luggites” for lugging rocks home. 🙂 I’ve heard stories about people getting petrified rock fever to the point some have tried to lug trunks home with a backhoe! If you find yourself wandering north, I’d be so thrilled to gander at the rocks with you! As for Sarah, it’s taken multiple rewrites, but I think I’m finally getting her on the page how I feel her in my heart.

  6. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    Wish we had a “Love” radio button we could tap.
    Really enjoying the mountain trip by jeep, from here in the flatlands (MN), and touched by your struggles with getting timely aid from the VA.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Liz. It’s been a long struggle with the VA, but at least I can vouch for current veterans (and returning soldiers) getting better care. When I lived in MN I had a friend who was instrumental in getting alternative practices “tested” at Fort Snelling. She nudged me often to get Todd help with PTSD but it wasn’t interfering with his coping skills. Alas, to really get help there must be a struggle.

  7. denmaniacs4

    Well, Charli, it may be flash but I can see its wending its wonky way out of fiction. The concept is getting away from me. Regards, anyways.,

    America As Seen by A Canuck

    Chapter 2 Imbed

    I’ve got the United States of America on the brain. I am, in many, eerily unpatriotic way, American. My memories are predominantly Yankee.

    There’s something insidious, something Invasion-of-the-Body-Snatchers like about my capitulation.

    I gave up without a fight.

    I just sat there, gandering in front of the Tube, giving up the ghost.

    F’instance, Leave it to Beaver. Some days, I couldn’t distinguish between my life and Beaver’s charming, coming of age existence.

    It’s ridiculous. I mean it was a television show. An old television show.

    It also didn’t help that the Beaver (the rodent) is on our Canadian nickel.

    • Charli Mills

      The beauty of raw literature is when what we intend to create takes on intentions of its own. I’m liking this flash project. Greatuse of the prompt word, too: “gandering in front of the Tube.”

  8. Pete

    I drive down the old street after work, where I sneak a gander at the old place. The cypress trees have shot up tall, their branches touching, closing off the yard. Kate’s car—the one we took to the airport only three years and a lifetime ago, JUST MARRIED frosted onto the back window—is now smeared with tiny handprints, a roll-down shield by the baby seat.

    A large truck sits faithfully behind her car. The trashcan is choked with boxes, gift wrap, styrofoam and ribbons—Christmas’s hangover.

    My trash is minimal, my windows spotless. My life a mistake.

    • jeanne229

      Beautiful flash. I need a sad emoji for this.

    • Charli Mills

      A hard gander — to look at what one’s life could have been if messiness did not matter. It’s lonely from the pristine perch. Clever unfolding of the story through the vehicles and description of Christmas’s hangover. The pain is complete in that last sentence.

    • A. E. Robson

      I liked how she could see what was in store and had her escape route planned.

    • Charli Mills

      Great writing, Liz! I love this image: “Three wooden bowls with three types of crackers surround the cheese log, like wise men around The Child.”

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you, Michael! Thanks for taking a gander at the prompt.

      • Michael

        My pleasure.

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome back, Anne! Interesting is such an interesting word. 🙂 In Minnesota, if someone said, “that’s interesting” they really meant it as disapproval.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Deborah! I appreciate that! Powerful flash this week. I’m gritting my teeth with Jane.

  9. A. E. Robson

    There’s always one in every herd. One that has no interest in what the rest are doing. One that ferrets out the treats while the others play around, not paying attention. With this in mind . . . From the equine perspective comes my thoughts on this weeks prompt.

    Not Enough Breedin’
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    “Take a gander at that one?”

    “Wow, she has some hind end on her. She’d be able to produce foals with no trouble at all.”

    “Classy colour. Imagine her paired up with that black stud our people keep in the barn?”

    “She sure is a looker. Think they’ll come close so we can talk to her.”

    “No way. Those people are uppity. They’re just showing her off. No way they’ll let her near us. Not enough breedin’ in us for the likes of them.”

    “George, hey George, you see that filly?”

    “Huh? What? What filly? These guys have oats!”

    • Charli Mills

      Sassy talkers in the herd! I like the idea of the horses taking a gander and making assessments. And yes, there’s always that one who responds to a pocketful of oats.

  10. Norah

    Hi Charli, I’m in with my bit of bird nonsense. I hope I’m not being a total goose!
    Thanks for the challenge.

    • Charli Mills

      Leave it to your eagle eyes to see beyond a gander to a flock of birdy words. You were brave to take the full challenge! Thank you!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. It took a while for my imagination to take off, but I was quite pleased with the flight when we got there! 🙂

  11. Sherri

    Phew! Your adventures make me nervous Charil! Ha..seriously though, I love Todd’s reaction to the ‘new’ jeep and so glad, for how great was your wonderful reward, that view…stunning! I’m really enjoying your flashes, that image of the children’s heads ‘bobbing like silly geese’ takes me right there to those fields, to Cobb’s quick ganders at Sarah, yet that last line ‘ he never really saw her’ packs a punch. And Danni…ha, this I just adore: ‘fat as a tick’! I can practically see that little puppy’s fat belly and want to pet it right now! Keep exploring, keep looking out at that horizon and keep fighting…I say it, because I know you will…and how great to gather weekly at the Ranch to share our stories thanks to your wonderful posts and prompts and yes, hanging in there my friend 🙂 <3
    Here's my flash, hmmmm…not sure, but here it is (no idea where this came from btw…)

    The Look Of Love

    How long had it been, ten, twelve years? All that time she was lost to him, but John was back and he meant business.

    He breathed long and deep, clutched the bouquet of flowers, and pressed the doorbell.


    He tried again. Still nothing except for a crow’s raucous caw overhead.

    John stared at every window, but nobody was home. He couldn’t leave, it was now or never: he placed the flowers by the front door just as he heard a car pull up.

    There she was, taking a gander at him, the sister they told him was long dead.

    • Charli Mills

      You’d like the adventures! Just maybe not the ride up…or down. 😀 The mud puddles were fun, like blasting through chocolate milk. Thank you for your support and understanding, Sherri. I’m hanging in there and appreciative of the ranch gathering! Oh, wow, where did that come from? Bubbled up from your creative well. You are such a mix of memoir and fiction, a talented writer able to bridge both. You should comment on Anne Goodwin’s post if you get the chance. I’d be interested in your take on her ideas about whether or not one should write their “interesting” life stories. Then when you read her flash, it’s like a scary trip into the mine of memory. Great flash!

      • Sherri

        It sounds like so much fun, scary fun! And thank goodness your picnic wasn’t ruined by all that ‘chocolate milk’! We’ll keep those wagons circling Charli 🙂 Thank you for the flash! I have no idea where it came from…but I’m loving flash more and more. I plan on visiting Anne’s post but as of this afternoon, again (and I am so bleeping frustrated, I can’t tell you…) I can’t comment on other blogs, they keep going to spam. I’ve emailed Akismet (I have a direct line, it’s happened so many times, ha!) so hopefully it will be fixed asap. Then I will head over and read. I’m okay commenting via the notification bar (which seems to have changed on my blog, and I also can’t see the little stat lines either…) so hopefully this comes through… I’ll click over after sending this to check… finger’s crossed…

  12. Sarrah J. Woods

    Hello! Sorry I’ve been away so long. I’m happy to have a chance to join in again! In skimming through the comments I was surprised to see that there was a debate about worldviews instead of about the usage of the word “gander”…I’m personally a bit skeptical about its use both as a verb and to mean “a long look” as opposed to “a quick glance,” especially after taking a gander through some online dictionaries. But hey, this is creative writing, so poetic license is okay!

    I took that concept and ran with it, calling on my childhood poetry style for a fun break from all the boring prose writing I’ve been doing lately for a huge paper I was working on. Thanks for the inspiration and challenge, as always!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sarrah! Good to see you! And with a good point of discussion, too. Yes, we picked up a discussion from two years ago over a word — meliorist — and the world view it expresses. Ah, raw literature where ideas and poetic license collide. What I like about creating material together like this, we get the chance to explore, wrong or right. Seems I’m stretching the goose’s neck, having gone with a long look, but yes, other definition are glancing. I thought it would be fun to play with the word as a verb and I’m glad it challenged you to explore it further and despite skepticism, to embrace the creativity of its use. Maybe future writers will gander more than a glance at our collection one day! Glad it could afford you a break. Good luck with that huge paper!

  13. rogershipp

    The Hidden Quarter

    Reaching for my ear lope, Grandpa twisted me round and collared me under his armpit. “Lemme take a gander at you, boy.”

    Didn’t matter if I’d seen him yesterday evening, or if it had been more than a week… same thing always happened.

    At six, the twisting was horrendous. Finally, Cousin Jim told me to roll into the Grandpa’s pit.

    Once I knew the drill… cooperation was less painful.

    “Well, looky what I found.” There was always a quarter stuck in my ear.

    With a kiss on the forehead and swat my butt, I was safe for another day.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Roger! Good to see you! Ah, the old quarter behind the ear trick. I like the entire sequence to the greeting ritual. Fun take on the prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Felicity! Yes, you did! Good to see you back!

      • Felicity

        Thank you! I love this challenge, and will participate as often as I’m able 🙂

  14. Kerry E.B. Black

    Not Like Kansas
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Kevin rested a calloused hand to his brow, shielding squinting eyes from the glaring desert sun. “Suren that’s an odd sight,” he told his new wife, Ariann. “T’aint nothing I’ve seen before.” He pointed. “Take a gander.”

    Ariann’s face contorted in fright. She pulled on her husband’s arm. “I’ve seen it plenty. We need to get below ground.”

    Kevin spit a wad of chew to the sand. “Below ground? Are ye daft? There’s no below ground in these parts.”

    Ariann decided on the safest place. “To the bathtub, then. Hurry. And hope that twister don’t touch down on us.”

    • Charli Mills

      Great use of dialog to create the scene, and a chilling one at that. A twister is not something I’d want to take a gander at!


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  8. Flash Fiction – Old Friend – Felicity Johns - […] December 8, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write using the word gander as a verb.…

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