To Gander

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 15, 2016

To Gander Flash Fiction Published at Carrot Ranch by @Charli_Mills & The Congress of Rough WritersTo gander is to take a look, head perched upon neck, ready to pivot or remain still. It’s easy to picture why the old word for goose would evolve. The verb creates a picture and we want to see what is being looked at.

Such is this collection of stories. Writers explored the different ways a character might gander or how the writer might look at the unfolding story. Will you look?

December 8, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write using the word gander as a verb.


Not Like Kansas 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.”


The Storm by Allison Maruska

“I think it’s gone.” I climb the shelter’s concrete stairs and turn the lock. “Time to gander at what’s left.”


“Yeah, bug?”

“I’m scared.” Her small lip quivers.

I wave her over. “C’mere.”

She hugs my leg.

“The scary part is over.” I brush her hair from her eyes. “No matter what’s out there, we still have each other. Okay?”

She smiles.

We emerge onto our property.

The barn is a pile of sticks. The shed lies on its side. And the house…

“Would you look at that!” I pick Natalie up and point. “Our house looks perfect.”


Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

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.


The Hidden Quarter by Roger Shipp

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.


The Art of Looking by Geoff Le Pard

‘Here, love, have a butcher’s.’

‘What’s he mean, mum?’ Penny eyed the stallholder as she whispered to Mary.

‘It’s rhyming slang: butcher’s hook, look.’

‘I don’t get it.’ Penny frowned.

The man had a permanent scowl, it seemed, intimidating Penny. ‘What’s you dad wear when he goes to work?’

‘Pyjamas. He works at home. Mum goes to her office.’

The scowl deepened. ‘What you go up to bed?’

‘My bedroom’s by the front door.’

He looked at Mary. ‘She’s hard work. Are you interested in anything specific?’

Penny scowled back. ‘We’ll have a good gander and let you know.’


Busy Aralise by Sarrah J Woods

There was a girl named Aralise
Whose schedule was very full.
She had a different activity
Each day after school:

Mondays, guitar; Tuesdays, drama;
Wednesdays, jiu-jitsu;
Thursdays, softball; Fridays, ceramics;
And weekends were jam-packed too!

One morning, Aralise woke up and cried,
“What’s today? I forget! I feel dizzy!”
Then she heard a purring voice say,
“Aralise, you’re too, too busy.

“You need time to wander and meander,
To nap in a sun ray,
To pause and ponder, gaze and gander,
And, most of all, to play.”

It was her cat! He winked and smiled.
Amazed, Aralise said, “Okay.”


Mining the Past for Stories by Anne Goodwin

Donning hard hats, we collected picks and hessian sacks and stepped into the cage. Down it went through the darkness, down and farther down, before jolting to a halt. “Go on,” said the tutor. “Have a gander around. See what you can find.”

The students whooped and giggled as they stuffed their bags with gems and precious metals, and the occasional cuddly toy. “To think we’d find such treasures below the surface of our minds!”

Shivering, hyperventilating, I crouched in the corner of the cage. Out there, for me, all was the deepest black.


Goosing Hope out of the Box by Jules Paige

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.


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.


Bird (non)sense by Norah Colvin

Finch’d had an eagle eye on the play all day.

Robin’d been hawking chicken pies. Now sold out, he wandered over to gander with Finch.

Robin craned his neck, just as “He’s out for a duck!” was announced.

“He’s out for a duck,” he parroted. “That’s something to crow about.” One team was swanning around, exuberant as monarchs. The other was as despondent as miners on strike.

Martin was larking around. “Yeah,” he sniped. “The silly goose was distracted by the kite and missed altogether.”

“More like a turkey, I’d say,” Robin reterned swiftly.

“You’re a hoot!” chirped Finch.


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.


Taking a Gander by Michael

Mum came rushing in, “Come quick, take a gander at this,” she said pointing out the window.

Along the back fence were seven ducks perched and quacking quietly among themselves in some sort of duck club meeting. They shifted from one foot to the other as if engaged in a strange duck dance. A flurry of flapping wings signalled approval.

Well stood amazed by what was happening. Usually the ducks didn’t come near our fence but today there they were.

Mum had her camera out clicking enthusiastically while the ducks and us took a long gander at each other.


Old Friend by Felicity Johns

We scrambled up the familiar trail, shale cascading from beneath him like marbles. We’d reach the summit to stand and gander. Such views from the rim. Cobalt skies and red rock and always a vulture making his lazy circles.

I dropped to the ground 100 yards from the top, his breath too labored. I waited while he recovered, my hand on his shoulder.

Once arrived, we stood. I turned to see him kneeling; before he went down I slid the Winchester from the leather scabbard. Thirty years of these rides. It was time. I owed him this much.


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 here 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!”


Takin’ a Gander (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“Hey, baby, how you doo-in?”

“Well, hel-lo, beautiful! “

Sidelong, Jane can see the predatory teeth. Other faces join the leer, other voices join the taunts.

“C’mon, smile, honey.”

“Take a gander at this, boys.”

Jane looks up with her eyes only, head down. All men. One in khakis and loafers, laptop bag, intent on his phone. Another checks his watch, the street, the sky, studiously oblivious. The rest grin widely or waggle eyebrows.

No allies.

She tightens her jaw and continues, aware of every twitch of her buttocks as she walks away.

“Bitch. You need to learn to smile!”


The Look Of Love by Sherri Matthews

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.


Cross-Country is a Girl’s Best Friend by Liz Husebye Hartmann

A bowl of nuts dominated the coffee table, a nutcracker standing sentry, ready for service. Three wooden bowls with three types of crackers surround the cheese log, like wise men around The Child.

A stack of small china plates tremble nearby. The radio broadcast croons encouragement that Christmas will be different this year. Bottles rumble in the kitchen, spirits that know better. Outside, the quiet snow piles up.

She sighs, and takes a gander out the window at the family arriving; Fighting already.

Opening one door, she slips out the other. She straps on her skis and glides free.


Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

He felt like the village idiot, walking down the street with a goose under his arm.

What Missy Tomkins wanted with it he had no idea. Nearly a hundred years old, it was unlikely she was going to cook a family dinner.
He approached her run-down cottage, and the gate fell off its hinges as he pushed it.

Terrific. Something else to fix.

‘Wha’s ya got thar Tom?’ she croaked from her rocking chair.

‘The goose you wanted Miz Tomkins’ he replied.

‘Goose? I nay wanted a goose, boy! I need ya to have a gander at tha oven’!’


America As Seen by A Canuck: Imbed by Bill Engelson

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.


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.


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  1. Michael

    So many fabulous responses….obviously an excellent prompt!!

    • Charli Mills

      An excellent dynamic going on from all quarters! 🙂

  2. Rachel

    Lots of wonderful responses again!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Rachel!


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