January 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

January 26, 2017

january-26Not knowing anyone, I step out of the car into three inches of wet snow. I smell patchouli, hear drums steady as a heartbeat and see colorful protest signs lining the sheltered wall of city hall. Friendly people smile, greeting one another, greeting me. I’ve never been to Kanab, Utah before, but I once followed a pink sandy road  that crossed over into Arizona and when I feared we were lost, we intersected a highway. We were 6 miles from Kanab, but turned toward Virgin instead.

The Hub pops open the trunk, and I retrieve my giant laminated poster on a yard stick that reads, “Hear our Voices.” I thought it appropriate for a writer at a protest. It’s floppy like a fledged eagle and I’m not sure how to carry it. My yard stick is taped to the back, making a shield of the art. Is that what art is? A shield? I hold it aloft. Hear my voice. The Hub says he taking Bobo for a walk, his signal to me that the perimeter is safe and he’s nearby if I need him. Shield in gloveless hands, I walk in tennis shoes with thin ankle socks toward the collection of signs, feeling unprepared but here nonetheless. I stand where I’m most comfortable; by the words.

Snow drifts down in fat flakes that look like feathers from a kill. But there’s no blood. No violent vibes exist as if patchouli casts a spell of peace. The drummers beat Indigenous American drums — skins taut over wooden bowls. A gong accompanies the music. More smiling faces greet me. More snow falls and accumulates. It feels…celebratory. Yet signs proclaim women’s empowerment:

“Women Create”

“Love, Not Hate Makes America Great”

“Ladies Unite for Equality; No Lies, Please”

“Women Want to Go to Mars, Not War”

“Girls Just Wanna Have FUN-damental Rights”

“Build Bridges, Not Walls”

“We the People”

“We the Resilient”

“I Will NOT Go Quietly Back to the 1950s”

“Peace Not Tweets”

“You Can’t Grab Our Rights”

“Can’t Comb Over Hate”

I’m definitely at the Women’s March on Washington, via Kanab. For several months, organizers across the United States had been planning the big march in Washington, DC the day after the Presidential Inauguration. Sister Marches organized in most city centers from New York to Seattle. I had planned to go to Las Vegas, Nevada about 150 miles away, and then saw the march in Kanab which is only 38 miles from Virgin where our RV is parked for winter. The snow is like a big joke. In DC it’s foggy. It shouldn’t be snowing in southern Utah. Only when women march on Mars, right?

A clear-eyed crone walks up to me and I instantly like her. I feel the wisdom and love and I notice her hand-sewn peace patches stitched to her jacket. Her sign is detailed with artistic swirls, bordering, “Women Create.” She chats with me like an old friend and I realize that many of the women here have marched before when I was still a child. I feel on the cusp of my own crone-ness and want to observe and absorb. A peaceful assembly was promised and delivered. After an enthusiastic circling of the ranks, we call out numbers, cheer and know the resistance begins here.

And what are we resisting? We are women (and men and dogs) concerned for the human rights of all. We are resisting incivility, the usurping of our governance by the people, injustice and media silence. It was not so much a protest as it was the celebration of love and humanity, a stand of solidarity for those marginalized. It was a citizens’ promise to hold its elected officials accountable. It was history in the making and I was there.

We walk and the snow begins to lift. Heavy clouds part and reveal a splotch of blue. Someone behind me says, “It looks like the old folks home on parade.” I laugh. My bones aren’t that old, yet I struggle with the increasingly flooded intersections as snow begins to melt. My jeans are wet halfway to my knees. Cars honk and we cheer and wave. Later, I see a sign from another march posted on social media and it describes many who gathered: “It’s so bad the introverts are here.”

Many of us have what are known as “pussyhats” — knitted pink hats crowned with cat ears. Mine is actually mango in color. Women who didn’t march or support the marchers began to ridicule the “vajayjay” hats. No, I think, pussyhats is the correct term. You can’t call them by any other name. He said it first in derogatory tones, in easy talk of sexual assault, bragging. The word has taken on new power. I wear a pussyhat in solidarity with every women who has been raped, sexually abused or molested. We own it. It’s not yours to grab. And that’s the kind of empowerment we walk in, not knowing a thing of each others’ histories. We are united between knitted caps across the world.

When I think of Rock Creek and the three women who reveal its story, Nancy Jane would be the unwitting feminist. She wouldn’t be seeking equality, she just failed to realize her gender was not equal. Of all the historic figures involved in Rock Creek, we know the least about Nancy Jane Holmes. History regards her as Jane Wellman, common law wife of the Pony Express Station at Rock Creek, Nebraska. She’s not legally married so she would be Jane Holmes. History also claims her as the daughter of Joseph Holmes. That’s the thing about women — they are rarely regarded on their own, attached to a father or husband.

That’s what makes Nancy Jane and Sarah Shull interesting. They were not attached in acceptable ways.

Joseph Holmes was one who lived on the fringe of society. He was a carpenter by trade and a documented drunk and thief. He had no surviving wife, no mentioned sons, just his daughter. In the 1860 US Census for Nebraska Territory, Joseph is living near Rock Creek with a daughter, Nancy J Holmes and her infant son. That child is not mentioned again so it’s assumed he died in infancy. All sorts of imaginative ideas come to mind — who was the father of the child; why was Nancy Jane not married; how did she come to be Horace Wellman’s common-law wife a year later; what was her relationship to Sarah Shull; why did she hate Cobb McCanles so much?

As I’ve imagined her, Nancy Jane grew up on the prairie losing a mother and siblings to the cholera epidemic that hit the region during her childhood. Her father was once a talented craftsman, but succumbs to drink after heavy emotional losses. He raises his daughter without borders or societal rules. Nancy Jane meets many people along the emigrant trail where she lives, and was easily seduced by a charming  Russian (I swear I wrote that scene before the Russians hacked us). Her father doesn’t react punitively to her pregnancy, nor does he force her out of his house. By the time Cobb has reached the area, Nancy Jane is burying her baby. It’s her first encounter with the man. And it’s not a good one.

Here’s how I see Nancy Jane becoming the feminist. She then meets Sarah Shull. They have much in common: no husbands, babies out of wedlock that died early, independence and loneliness. I imagine Nancy Jane being in awe of Sarah’s accounting skills. To her, Sarah is “like a man.” Eventually, as their friendship grows and Cobb moves his family to a ranch three miles away, Sarah begins to believe in Nancy Jane’s ideas of her equality and begins to plan a move to Denver on her own. Cobb loses his sway over Sarah. He wants his wife, but he’s also enjoyed the control he’s had over his former mistress.

Unlike the Women’s Marches, tension comes to a violent resolution at Rock Creek and the women are in the thick of it.

The marches are over but the movement has only just begun. As I searched out other marchers later, I saw the repeated themes of love, solidarity and enthusiasm. Women do create. Not to leave out the men (and I love you all who support your mothers, wives and daughters for a feminist knows no gender), but I want stories this week to capture the essence of women. It’s homage not only to the marches which will go down in history, but homage to all women, even those who thought it ridiculous to march.

January 26, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the theme, “women create.” It can be art, sewing, ideas, babies. What is at the heart of women as creators? Go where the prompt takes you.

Respond by January 31, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published February 1). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Stirring False Creation (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Joseph mumbled, “Sorry, Nancy Jane. I wanted to borrow a suit from Irish Hughes.”

“He borrowed my whiskey, too.” Hughes shot Joseph a dark scowl. Cobb unbundled a fiddle, leveling the bow at Hughes. “He’ll return it.”

“Put that away. This is a burial, if you men please,” she said.

“I’ll play for your child. I’m no preacher, no devil either.” A soft, mournful strain rose from the strings.

Nancy Jane had never heard the like in her life. It stirred creation in her womb, as if the notes could resurrect her son. But men have no such power.


From my Rock Creek Playlist, this is the song I hear Cobb playing the day he met Nancy Jane at her son’s burial on the prairie near Rock Creek Station.

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  1. Annecdotist

    A lovely post, Charli, you were very brave to go there alone and glad you had a warm welcome, but next time please remember your boots and trousers that don’t leave you freezing when wet. I love the photo of your friend and those slogans are superb. I hadn’t heard of the pussy hats, but there are a great idea and wonder where I can get my hands on one – I don’t want to have to knit it myself.
    These last couple of days I’ve been working on my novel set in 1990 (that’s history for some) this and was able to reference the resignation of Ronald Reagan’s best mate Margaret Thatcher from three different viewpoints – although a rather depressing angle on women’s creativity, it was nevertheless fun to write. And now our second ever female prime minister is scheduled to snuggle up to the Great Combover today.
    it’s great to see your ideas for Rock Creek developing, and I like the way the women learn from each other. I have a busy weekend ahead but hope to find some time to respond to the prompt.
    PS I couldn’t get the music to work!

    • Annecdotist

      Well, this prompt has taken me into morality play territory. As I had a very different post (about spoilers) scheduled for today, I’ve added my flash to the end of an older post on the theme of creation myths which I think fits it better. Easy to find at the end of that post but posted here too. I imagine you’ll get most of the references, but the last one, Anna, was going to be me but it’s Freud’s daughter, also a psychoanalyst.
      Creation comedy, starring Trump, Bill Gates and Freud.
      In the beginning, says God, was the Word …
      In the beginning, says Bill, was Microsoft.
      Ahem, Wordperfect was created long before your Word.
      In the beginning, says Donald, is and was the phallus, source of power and pride. And who needs words when 140 characters can express the deepest truths.
      Or lies, says Meryl (the overrated actress), and the women in their pussy-hats raise a defiant cheer. Besides, the Creator must be female; it’s She who bears the child.
      As a penis substitute, says Sigmund. Born of envy.
      Yours or ours? says Anna, as she confiscates his pipe.

      • Charli Mills

        Love the flash, Anne! One step ahead of the assumed beliefs. Ah, my boots and warm clothes are all in a storage unit up north. It truly wasn’t supposed to snow here. I can hook you up with my pussy-hat knitter. She’s a fellow veteran spouse and talented with needles. I’m wondering if you rely on your own impressions of the 1990s or if you use YouTube, music and other sources to get into that recent-historic vibe? I like the three-way perspective, from women. There’s an interesting dramatic documentary on PBS about the Six Wives of Henry. The historian on the project said despite all the documentaries on Henry VIII, none have previously considered the perspectives of the women. It changes how we look at their history when we see through their lens. I’m telling you, there’s an entire genre in historical fiction from the female gaze. Thanks, Anne, for the rich contributions this week.

      • Sherri

        Just had to chime in here, reading about the knitting of pussyhats…I swear I didn’t read these comments until after I wrote my flash! I thought of when I used to knit and how therapuetic I found it! Maybe I should have had my character knitting a pussyhat instead of scarf 😉 Great flash Anne. And Charli our newly discovered favourite, that old rascal King Henry VIII, one of the best books I’ve read giving the his wives’ perspective is Alison Weir’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII (non-fiction). I’ve read it at least three times over the years, you would love it 🙂 PS Love PBS…it was my lifeline when I lived in CA!

      • Annecdotist

        Thanks for the feedback and suggestions about the knitter. I found someone closer to home who is willing to get clicking with her needles. Now that our PM has sucked up to your POTUS and put our elderly queen in a painful position by inviting him for a premature state visit (I disapprove of the institution but there’s no denying this one has proved her worth with unstinting dedication to duty) who, of course, lived through the Second World War and even coddled in a palace must realise where racism and nationalism can lead. So, I imagine, lots of opportunities to wear it (although, unfortunately it will be the summer).
        Regarding the 1990s, I’m primarily drawing on my memories, but keep checking up online. (In the first draft I had my male character contacting his lover on his mobile (cell phone)! I believe some people had those great bricks but he wouldn’t have done.) I don’t think my story is far enough back for the woman’s perspective to be so unusual, but it does address changing attitudes to sexual activity outside marriage – punitive attitudes in the late 1930s (and well beyond, of course) have been Matty’s downfall. But it’s also relevant that in 1990 there was much more denial of sexual abuse.

      • Annecdotist

        And, thanks, Sherri, I’m looking forward to checking your flash!

  2. Norah

    Well done to all the marchers of Kanab, and elsewhere, women, men, and dogs. What wonderful words you shared as you marched: “Hear our voices” ” Women create”… Your “man” has promised to listen to the people. I’ve seen no signs of it yet. Only signs that he is listening to the voices in his head. It will be difficult for you all to be heard over those, but I hope you manage to do it.
    I enjoyed your discussion of Nancy Jane and Sarah. You show the connection they may have made, and shared. I’m pleased to be able to put this piece into the context of others you have written to bring out its full meaning. It is a mournful piece you chose for Cobb to play. What a sad scene. Even as she grieves the death of her baby, the men appear to be insensitive. Trying, but insensitive. Your final sentences made me pause to think. How powerful are those words: “It stirred creation in her womb, as if the notes could resurrect her son. But men have no such power.”

    • Norah

      Hi Charli,
      Here’s a link to my flash about creativity: Prize pies http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-Ro Thanks for the challenge.

    • Charli Mills

      “Trying, but insensitive” is a great insight from your reading of the scene, Norah. I think that applies well to Cobb. I find that piece mournful, as well. Some days I want to play it while reading my morning news briefing. Thank you for your story — perfect pies are the ones that begin in imaginative play!

      • Norah

        Thinking of your news briefing stirs my fears for all of you over there, and the rest of us around the world. What madness awaits? I neither wish to contemplate or imagine. It’s too horrendous. Someone should offer him some sweet pies.

      • Charli Mills

        Evidently he didn’t offer sweet pies to Australia. I taste mud in my mouth every day. It doesn’t end. Ha! And who were those saying, “Oh give him a chance…” What we saw is what we got. And the world weeps.

      • Norah

        It does indeed, and I think more tears will follow. Look after yourself.

  3. TanGental

    I am in awe of any protest march that is peaceful and thoughtful as is this. The pussyhats have appeared here in their startling pink too. The real power comes when the protest moves from protest – a reaction – to that creation you talk about. Let’s hope this energy can be harnessed for a true move forward and not the retrograde nonsense being spouted by the pale males in suits. I’ll wear a pussyhat with pride if I get the chance.

    • Charli Mills

      Startling pink! I think I like that description better than what we call “hot” pink. You would look terrific in a pussy cat, Geoff! The marches have been a catalyst for further action, and the big American heroes this week…hold on to your pussy hat…are lawyers! ACLU dispatched their volunteer lawyers to airports across the nation. Other lawyers have started initiatives to help Americans understand different legalities at stake. The marches have inspired movements. I hope they continue to be intelligent, compassionate and inclusive.

      • TanGental

        Yes hear hear to that

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yes, the wisdom of Maxine!

  4. julespaige

    Put two people in a room and get three opinions. Death at any age is hard to deal with…I wonder if it is any easier for the departed soul?

    My fiction was aided by a worlde list (go to the link/title for the list at my post), your post, a book I just finished and a story, or rather a secret that was shared long ago.

    The Other Woman

    The Other Woman

    Butterflies? She thought of pupa, remembering pinned winged
    insects at the museum. She could not create an image with a
    nice nose – while waiting in the ward bed. She thought first of
    mice, then of rats – She wanted to collectively sear mankind.
    Grab a triptych of insufferable egotistical men and ramble
    pleonasmic about their faults.

    The pregnancy had been difficult. The stillbirth…cruel. Once
    a mistress always a mistress? Yet…this other man, he said he
    loved her with undying passion. His children became hers…
    She created a new life filled with honorable love. And just a
    few secrets.


    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! Yes, two people equals three opinions. Opinions are not necessarily bad if we can use conflicting opinions to better understand one another. The Other Woman creates much in life and it’s okay to end up with a new life and a few secrets.

  5. thecontentedcrafter

    This sentence left me with no option to read and like and creep away Charli – ‘The marches are over but the movement has only just begun.’ I feel that way too from all the posts I have read that relate the different marches in different areas. My wish is that the peace remains in ‘peaceful marches’ and that this all gives rise to a veritable explosion of hearts over ego, a win for humanity and for our world.

    And I always enjoy reading your research and thoughts abut your characters.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Pauline! Thank you for reading and adding your hope for humanity’s win. If anything, the importance of engaging in the democratic process has emerged as a reminder. Much of the resistance has been firm, purposeful and peaceful. I’m glad you enjoy sharing in my research and unraveling thoughts about it. 🙂

    • julespaige

      Adored both ‘takes’.
      The way I cook…your heroine could have been me.
      Though I have gotten better…

      • pensitivity101

        Ha! Your comment made me smile. Thanks!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Di! You betcha! Humor is always welcomed as is any tone that strikes the writer. It makes for a more robust collection to have a diversity of moods.

      • pensitivity101

        Thanks Charli.

  6. lucciagray

    Great post. Evocative flash and lovely music. Music is indeed powerful, but not enough. I hope US doesn’t go back to the 50s or 60s. I’ve just seen Hidden Figures and I really can’t see anyone wanting to go back there.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Lucy! No, I don’t want to experience such a set back!

  7. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    Wonderful post! Listening to your fiddle selection & reflecting that we have a heavy road stretching far ahead, and far behind. So we’ll do what we must, bow our heads and keep our steady pace.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Liz! That fiddle music seems appropriately grounding for what we have coming up.

  8. Sacha Black

    Hi Charli, I’ll be back to comment on the post this weekend, for now here’s my entry.

    The Idea is Everything by Sacha Black

    Two things were wrong. First, the morgue was warm. Morgues aren’t meant to be warm. The second, her skin, despite the heat, was cold and skin shouldn’t be cold.

    I took a deep, lasting breath and bit back the tears. “You started a rebellion,” I say, brushing my fingertips over her icy hand, “and now I’ll turn it into a revolution.”

    She did so much more than just organise a group of heretics. It was the idea she created that was the power behind us. The hope of freedom.

    “Goodbye, Liza. I loved you in ways you never knew.”

    • Sacha Black

      GRRR removed one comma – sorry you can’t edit a comment! ????????

      Two things were wrong. First, the morgue was warm. Morgues aren’t meant to be warm. The second, her skin despite the heat, was cold and skin shouldn’t be cold.

      I took a deep, lasting breath and bit back the tears. “You started a rebellion,” I say, brushing my fingertips over her icy hand, “and now I’ll turn it into a revolution.”

      She did so much more than just organise a group of heretics. It was the idea she created that was the power behind us. The hope of freedom.

      “Goodbye, Liza. I loved you in ways you never knew.”

    • Sacha Black

      I’ve now had a chance to read the post. Beautiful, deep and meaningful. I’m not much of a marcher, although I love the thought of a peaceful rebellion. I’ve marched only once in my life. I was Student President in my University, and I marched in London against the tuition fee rise. It was not a group of women, meeting like minds or knowing souls. I was ashamed of the way some of the students behaved. Oddly, one of my now friends was a police officer in the middle of what turned into riots. Some idiot student threw a brick off the top of a building and it hit his knee and shattered it. He had to stand up protecting the front of the tower for another 6 hours. Can you imagine the pain? Most of the students were there peaceful. But unfortunately on that occasion, the actions of the minority were the ones splashed across the papers. It was not a good day for anyone.

      • Charli Mills

        Thank you for reading, Sacha! I recall hearing at one time that there’s a psychology behind riots that has to do with an expression of extreme frustration from oppression. Yet, stupidity is something else! Perhaps it’s people feeling emboldened by the gathered crowd. I cringe to hear of your friend’s knee. Adrenaline and training probably carried him through those 6 hours. The Women’s Marches were amazing, something so determined yet loving about why women showed up. I wanted to express my experience because biased media has portrayed the marches poorly. I even saw a post circulating with naked women and I was like where was it warm enough to be bare? I mean, it snowed in the desert that day! I got curious and saw the credits were for a British publication and turns out it was a French rally from years ago. Yet people in the US are believing that was this march. Yet not one protester was arrested and for the largest protest in US history, that’s incredible.

    • Charli Mills

      There’s many ways to start a revolution, but it’s creation begins with an idea. It becomes her legacy. The impending force behind that idea feels ready to burst forward.

  9. denmaniacs4

    Oddly, Charli, I have been having a moment of optimism this morning, regardless of the tone and tenor of this contribution.

    A Bookish Woman

    There is something in the way she holds the book, a ratty old 1951 Penguin edition, dust-covered, that draws me in.

    “I see the way it is now,” she smiles. Her smile is etched with a twist.

    “And…?” for she is deeper in thought than me.

    “When Orwell says, ‘Perhaps a lunatic is simply a minority of one,’ “Well, we know who that is, don’t we?”

    “We do,” I confess. “So…?”

    “We build a resistance. We have no choice, love.”

    My heart sinks. I am a peaceful creature. But she, she is not.

    I will follow. She will lead.


    • Charli Mills

      Bill, a moment of optimism is worth its weight in gold. I like your unexpected twist that the bookish woman is the one willing to create the resistance. But then again, your flash echos the book she is reading, as if Orwell missed the date by 33 years!

    • julespaige

      I like mashing prompts too.
      We are lucky to have had such rebels….
      May her memory be for a blessing.

    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      Lovely! And great to be the butterfly that started the effect on so many others’ lives–you show that here!

    • Charli Mills

      I wanted the record to reflect the incredible feeling of connectedness and love before the moment got over-analyzed and dimmed by skewed perspectives. And you did justice with a short space!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Michael! I like where your thoughts went this week.

      • Michael

        Thank you Charli I thought it was an excellent prompt to write to..

  10. Pete

    Julia held court, serving Bud, Jack, and Jim to Bud, Jack, and Jim. She’d heard it all, which wasn’t much. But the rules were clear: One word of politics equaled a searing blast of Fiona Apple.

    She found Hank, roughly her father’s age, eyeing her rear. “I’ve got a new drink just for you.”

    “Hell no. Your last creation had me pissing stones.”

    “I don’t think it was the drink, Hank.”

    The bar erupted. Julia spun off, wielding objectification like a super power. She let them look. And she left each night with $300 and a girl named Guy.

    • Charli Mills

      Your flash reminds me of the women who make their living along the unspoken rules of service. Tending bar, swilling coffee, serving tables. These are women on the front lines. And their livelihood depends upon what looks like compliance. Great last line!

  11. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    I went very dark here. It’s been a distressing, and minimally hopeful few days:

    What Darkness Inspires

    There was little light in the cellar, but it was nothing to the darkness of the army of boot heels sinking into the bloody ground overhead.

    Their families had been murdered in the homes they’d built with their bare hands, burned in fields they’d tilled with the muscle in their backs, and watered with the sweat and tears of desperate hope and determination.

    They had been purged.

    They were the lucky ones, hidden underground. And because they were the lucky ones, they would squeeze out their remaining life force to start again.

    Clasping one another’s hands, they bowed their heads.


    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      Went one word over, so have corrected on my home page. “They had been purged.” edited to “They’d been purged.”

      Late night writing…urgh!

    • Charli Mills

      It has been distressing and I can understand writing about the “army of boot heels.” Your flash expresses a tone of being stomped into destruction. Yet, that spark of creation, the will to continue.

      And I grabbed your flash from your blog. The constraint has a way of challenging each word’s worth. The power of your flash is carried in that line.

      • Liz Husebye Hartmann

        Thank you for grabbing from the blog–helps when one walks that tightrope between poetry and prose!

  12. Melissa G

    Change is a constant. The action of change is something that’s always enabled personal growth and eventual peace. One mom’s journey shows how two babies inspired fierce feminism.

    She read the test, it was indeed positive. She was pregnant. She was both shocked and amazed. We create babies.

    Baby number one was here for six months. Baby number two would arrive in another nine months. We create unplanned babies.

    Baby one and baby two are amazing. Mom is inspired to truly make this world a place where girls can do anything their little heart’s desire. We create strong children.

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Melissa! Your flash reminds me how what we create leads to more creation. What could be more inspiring to fierce feminism than creating the path for two girls to that place “…where girls can do anything their little heart’s desire.” Thank you for joining us!

  13. Kerry E.B. Black

    Dana’s Song
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    The Apocalypse destroyed Dana’s beauty as it ravaged the world, and Henry dreaded looking at her. No more diamonds danced in her eyes. Manicures gave way to peeled, raw hands, and bony-bare and charcoal-grey described her once lush, nubile figure.
    She prepared the protein they pretended was beef and set it sizzling over the fire. She swiped a wisp of mousey colored, anemic hair from her wrinkled brow as she turned the meat, sprinkling it with chopped greens scavenged nearby. A sweet sound eclipsed his stomach’s growl. Her song of better days somehow brought beauty to their hideous state.

    • Charli Mills

      Stark writing. The idea that you couldn’t help but see the desolation in your own spouse. Even in the darkest of days, this woman creates and her effort is uplifting. Where there is yet creation, there is hope.

  14. Sherri

    Here’s my flash Charli… <3


    Another. Fresh. Start. That’s what she told herself as she stared at the ceiling. More like another sleepless night she thought as she slid out of bed.

    She hadn’t wanted to move again, but this was her escape, shabby, cold bedsit or not.

    “Damn him and damn his lies” she said to the peeling papered walls. “He can keep the house and I’ll keep my sanity.”

    She shivered and grabbed her knitting bag. At last, she could do what she wanted without him. A warm scarf first, she thought and for the first time in too long, she smiled.

    • Annecdotist

      Love it, Sherri, and hurrah for radical knitting!

      • Sherri

        Haha…that’s great, ‘radical knitting’!! Thanks so much Anne! I’ll be over to read your Raw Literature post tomorrow, so sorry I’m so late…last week had me on the hop and I’ve been scarce from blogging/social media. But I will get there!

    • Charli Mills

      No matter the cold she’s been left in, this woman is ready to create the warmth she’d been lacking! I think this is the heart of resiliency — to get beyond enduring by creating. I do think a pussy hat would alter the tone of the flash, which is interesting to consider. I think of other things she could knit and it changes the story. That’s your creative element of craft!

      • Sherri

        Ahh…the ‘creative element of craft’. Thanks Charli! The different things she could have knitted are definitely worth considering. I’m now wondering if she not only wanted something warm around her neck, but also something with which to strangle a certain someone 😉

  15. A. E. Robson

    Last Stitch
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Her vision was not what it used to be. Too many hours doing close work without good lighting. Back in the day, there were chores that needed her attention. At day’s end, when the house was quiet, her hands created beautiful pieces she stored in the cedar chest in the closet. Intricate, hand stitched quilts and doilies for new brides and new borns. ?

    The elderly widow tucked the needle into the cloth. Sewing the ends in would be for tomorrow. She turned off the lamp, sitting for a moment. Her eyes closed. The hoop slipped from her frail hands.


    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      So sad because implied. Drew me in and let me take that final step myself. Well done!

      • A. E. Robson

        Sometimes it’s not easy to end a story. Leaving the decision of what will happen up to the reader, yet too, allowing me to go in any direction, adding more or leave it alone.

      • Liz Husebye Hartmann

        And thus we have a lovely conversation and a shared work of creativity…and you got the ball rolling for us! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      To the end a woman plans to create each tomorrow. This is a beautiful life, well stitched.

  16. Sherri

    Great post Charli, great message. You marched and I’m so proud of you. Sorry for the snow and the wet jeans though…you must have been freezing. Love the captions, so clever. That’s wonderful creativity right there! And how wonderful to be a part of such momentous history, embraced by others who all want the same thing – to be heard. I listened to your video – it’s so beautiful – a couple of times as I read your post and flash and I felt a real connection to Nancy Jane. Every time you write about her, I resonate with her character and her story, without really knowing why. This time, with the music and the story in your flash, I felt a deep sadness for her and the pain she experiences in her life. Yet…I know she isn’t a quitter. Like Sarah. Those two would have been marching for sure! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Lucy! I enjoy these trips back to the Victorian era and how you add to the understanding of both the creators and characters of the era’s fiction.

      • lucciagray

        Thank you, Charli ???? I take advantage of any opportunity to spread the Victorian word! I love the challenge of 99 words, really gets my self editing skills going!

  17. elliotttlyngreen

    Woman Writes by Elliott Lyngreen

    Yes. the same for generations. like women preparing newborn nieces.

    That escalates quickly. She snaps upon getting dressed. Over shoulders. Like Waiters.

    Shredded flag. Stripes separate wind. Lets remember to provide pull strings for future cabling. In the conduits.

    Chimes. Winds.

    She twists off the holder. grabs a shovel. Spring enters, a tidal wave of white-dark.

    11 puppies Zen. 3 did not survive.

    She thinks as i am the poor, tired, weak insides.

    And i will never my love tell your name. Or the song she begins. Yes, them women can write. Even best, are where stories been heard.

    • Charli Mills

      Your flash makes me think of creating in the secret places, of passing down words that will outlast the hope chests filled with linens because the reality is something different. Something between what lives and what is torn. I enjoyed the flow and where it took me.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Little back story… our Zenna had her puppies over the weekend; so had small window to create. But guess who came to help those days? A few women. And reminds that where lives begin, women come together. And, they could be so much more. Maybe they chose to do so. and i oft wonder how established women with the same intentions secured and nourished written tales we now enjoy. Like maybe, wives/significant others either wrote actually or say organized classic literatures. Yes. Save The uwritten legends of things that have lasted. Anyways, deep thoughts in places unlost / but perhaps, salvaged cuz of sacfrifices for greater purposes. Making sure there will be clean linens available.

      • Charli Mills

        I know that feeling of women gathering with intent. It’s powerful. And I think it can be misunderstood and feared. Imagine if we could self-actualize? It takes security for all. I hope we are breaking down those barriers and not building them up. Ah, congratulations on the puppies!

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Self actualized groups will always be feared and misunderstood..

    • Charli Mills

      If you had something whimsical to say, would that be wit lit? 😉

      • C. Jai Ferry


    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Deborah! I hope the marches as a whole felt welcoming even to those who supported from home. The connectivity of the digital age.

  18. gordon759

    Bit late, I almost missed your post. But here is my contribution, about a remarkable family and a brilliant journalist (in it’s original meaning.

    The Diary

    “Nothing, I have been wandering all day and nothing.”
    She looked up from her writing, her brother was always irritated when he couldn’t get an idea for a poem.
    “I am supposed to be the writer, yet you are writing. What is it?”
    “Just my journal, I am writing about the trip we took across the lake, do you want to see?”
    He looked, read for a moment then his eyes glazed over.
    “flock, no host” he muttered.
    Dorothy smiled and left to make tea. Later she returned to see him writing furiously. Looking over his shoulder she read;

    ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud …….”

    Many scholars believe that William Wordsworth’s great poem was inspired, at least in part, by an entry in his sister Dorothy’s journal.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m on Mars time, Gordon so you have at least half a day head start on me. I had not thought about the original meaning of journalist. Now I’m wondering how keeping a journal evolved into investigating news stories. I like how you start the story as if we have plopped into a scene already unfolding. It’s remarkable, the lack of documentation we have on what women wrote or created.


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