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February 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

february-2Hills old as dirt. Rocks ancient as time. Mesas drawn from memories of dinosaurs. It’s old around here. Solid as a rock.

And yet…

Hillsides mess with our sense of time and solidity. Geologically speaking, the wrinkled hills of debris at the foot of mesas and canyons in Zion National Park are newborns. Water carves rivulets into canyons so deep and serpentine that many of these winding features miles long went unnoticed by surveyors for years. If you believe the canyons rock-solid, I have some alternative facts for you. But before we get to fiction, let examine a few facts from science:

  • Zion’s geological features are indeed old: 250 million years old.
  • The sandstone features with cliffs over 3/4 of a mile high were once sand dunes. Sand dunes!
  • Water shapes the area’s stunning geology, including hidden canyons and the winding Virgin River.
  • Water is also trapped in sandstone, forming a weeping feature that takes water 1,000 years to emerge.
  • The park’s 229 square miles includes wide mesas, narrow sandstone canyons, seeps, springs and waterfalls.

The Zion features are not alive with music; instead they pulse with mud-pushed rocks, reshaping debris heaps. The process accelerates any time water joins the mix. Mud becomes a powerful sludge, and sometimes entire hillsides calve like a glacier. Other times a trickle of rocks tumble across trails and roads.

And some times there’s a rock big and brown in the middle of the road.

Geology reminds me that life is not static. We never have the same day. We never truly have an ideal image of ourselves in the mirror. We never fix the meatloaf exactly the same way as last year. Even the institutions we believe unshakeable are not the same from year to year. Everything shifts and sheds like Zion rubble.

Mostly the process equates to the movement of sand. It’s over the years we notice the ravages of grain — the days’ activities are noticeably different; the face in the mirror has aged; meatloaf had a makeover; governments erode. Sometimes, though, the rock crashes down in an instant and we are shaken by the change. We prefer the illusion displaced sand gives us. Sand seems easier to sweep away. And we do. But that rock — that rock in the road cannot be ignored. It calls us to change or be changed.

Rocks always take us by surprise. We know they exist in the sludge of life, but we always believe we can dodge the big ones. We do what we can to avoid the dangerous slopes where we know rocks lurk. One might acknowledge vulnerability. How often I’ve heard many people say, “I know, I know, we’re all just one paycheck away from being homeless.” But that’s just a fear many use to stay in an unsatisfactory job, town or relationship. We settle and take our chances with the sand, avoiding rocks.

When it does happen to someone — that rock of homelessness — we shore up our own crumbling edges with notions that the person struck by the rock of unexpected change must have done something. “That’s right, they asked for it. They were digging where they shouldn’t have dug.” People say those things to justify walking past a panhandler on the street. They justify not giving money because it would be spent on drugs or drink, without thinking to buy a meal or a blanket. They justify dehumanizing the homeless.

Let me introduce you to a few faces besides mine. There’s the divorced woman whose husband hid the assets and at 62 she has no employability. There’s the man and his wife and their two sons who can’t come up with first, last and deposit on a rental so they camp while raising the money that never seems to be enough. There’s the woman kicked out of a motel room after the landlord beat her. He. Beat. Her. She lost her room and now sleeps in a tent a church gave her. There’s the veterans in their trucks, belongings piled in the passenger seat and a bed in the back beneath a camper shell.

And the boy with the big grin blowing out seven candles on two cupcakes for his birthday. He’s in his third shelter, or transitional motel room. The rock that hit his parents was an unrenewed lease. The apartment complex preferred adults to seven-year-old boys with no where else to go. Once you have no where else to go, the complex web of family homelessness awaits like Shelob’s lair. More rocks dislodge — most shelters separate men from women and children; shelters have rigid rules that interfere with jobs; some shelters have a lottery system. There’s long-term motels with their own set of dangers and frustrations.

This boy’s mama dreamed of a kitchen. She dreamed of cooking. I know, Sweet One, I know. I miss my kitchen most. I miss everything that a woman creates in a kitchen —  meals and memories. Sweet One is a daughter to me. I’ve known her for nine years, ever since she was a teen working where I worked. I respect her privacy, but I want you to know this is a good woman, a good mama. She and her family got hit hard by one rock after another and they do not have the normal familial safety net. Adult orphans.

That can be hardest, which is why I asked her if the Hub and I could be Nana and Papa to her boy, Our Boy.

After six months, Our Boy, his Dad and Sweet One got an apartment. Our Boy has been doing well in school, although he had some scary days when he was taking public transportation to school, arrived late and got locked out. A seven-year-old alone in the city! Sweet One nearly lost her mind over that one and the school worked with her to make Our Boy safer in his transitions. Think about the dedication of these working parents to get their son to school every day. Together we believe in him going to college.

Carrot Ranch is hosting a Welcome Home J-Family house-warming for Sweet One and her family. Between now and February 28, there will be a Wish List on Amazon for the family. When families become homeless, they often lose most their possessions. I’ve heard people say, “It’s good to purge.” But unless you’ve had to get rid of your personal and household belongings, you couldn’t know the sorrow. Or the frustration when you want to cook after getting re-homed and are missing what’s needed.

At first Sweet One was modest and asked for three items: microwave, muffin pan and a crock-pot. After some nudging she got into the spirit of dreaming! She and Our Boy dreamed of waffles, zucchini zoodles and omelettes shaped like hearts. Then she thought out how to set up her kitchen, and I added cookbooks. Could I ask you to share this house-warming far and wide? If you can, and are moved to help one who got hit by the homelessness rock, consider buying her an item on her list. Her son is seven if you want to send him books, too. Let’s give them a landslide of a house-warming!

It was hard for me to think about my character’s homeless event this past summer even though I knew I wanted to hit Danni with that rock. I had already written a scene where she is unable to access Ike’s account right after he leaves for Iraq. Often these banking issues arise and when the spouse is deployed, they can be tricky to sort out. Using my own experiences and understanding of how easy it was for banks to foreclose on military families, that becomes Danni’s event.

Seeing what is happening in our government seems like a catastrophic event in the US, but some of us had earlier hits to know the whole thing had become unstable for those not billionaires many years before the orange rock hit DC. Although why those hardest hit would elect a demolition man to office seems counter-productive. Maybe they just wanted to see a rock-slide hit everybody else, too.

February 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road. It can be physical, adding to a plot twist, or it can be metaphorical for a barrier or hardship. Go where you find the rock.

Respond by February 7, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published February 8). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Midnight Rock (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Michael knelt at the bumper, shining his flashlight. “Hell of rock you hit, Danni.”

“It was an easy target, squatting there in the middle of the road like a legless grizzly.”

Michael shined the powerful light up the canyon wall. “Can’t see anything else unstable.”

“A rock just for me.” She slumped her head on the hood. “Ike loved this truck.”

“He still does.”

“Yeah, Ike’s in some hell-hole, pining for his truck!”

“He’s enduring because of what he has back home, Danni. You, the truck, the dogs.”

“Too bad he won’t have a home to come home to.”

###


101 Comments

  1. Norah says:

    What a post, Charli. I loved reading about the geology of your area and it’s history. Then you hit me with that rock in the road!
    How tragic is the story of Sweet One and her Boy, but how wonderful of you to be his subby grandparents. It is great that you are hosting this housewarming for them too. I hope there is enough support to warm their hearts, and right through. I’ll do what I can. So no flash fiction from you this week? The bank being rock solid in its cold stance seems very familiar. It’s funny (but not ha ha funny) that banks are managed by people, but they treat their customers as less than (unless they have plenty of money). Enjoy the weekend. Thanks for the challenge.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Norah says:

      Hi again, Charli. Just a question about the housewarming gifts: are they removed from the list once purchased? I assume so, but couldn’t see confirmation. I don’t think they’d want multiples of the items. 🙂 How is something not on the list (e.g. books for the Boy) added?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Norah! I accidentally hit publish when I meant to hit preview, but all is up-to-date, including my flash. What’s even “funnier” is that Sweet One works for a bank! Good questions — yes, there is a filter so I can check what has been purchased and then I’ll remove those items from the list. I didn’t think about the books. How about some suggestions from you because I’m woefully unprepared to suggest books for a seven year old, though I will give it a go! Yes, I have to add the books to the list. I’m sharing the house-warming through other channels, too. Thanks! And you enjoy the weekend, too! ❤

      Liked by 3 people

      • Norah says:

        Hi Charli. I’ll be back to read, but not tonight, unfortunately. I’m way behind time and can’t see me catching up any time soon. I’d love to suggest some books. Do you know what Boy is interested in and his reading level. You can email the details if you like, and I’ll come up with some suggestions. Wouldn’t it be great if some of the picture book or first chapter book authors donated a copy of their book. I wonder how we could ask them.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        Thanks, Norah! I’ll email you. Hope things are going well on the readilearn front!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        Hi Charli, I’m back again with rocks in my head! https://norahcolvin.com/2017/02/07/rocks-in-her-head/
        Danni’s story is tragic. I can just imagine how bad she feels and understand the belief that even the rock has set out to get her. I’m pleased to see the support offered by Michael. What a wonderful thing for him to say. Their relationship is obviously growing. I hope Danni can see and appreciate his support through her grief.
        Thanks for the extra information about the housewarming. I’ll think about some books. I hope they have already received much love and many gifts. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      If rocks in the head are like marbles, don’t lose them! 😀 Yes, sometimes it can feel like even a rock has it out for you, as Danni is feeling. Michael is a good foil for Danni’s transformation, but they do have a rocky start before getting rock solid in their friendship and mutual care for Ike. Okay. Now I’m rocking out with all the rock puns I can chisel out of my head! Thanks for contributing, Norah! Especially for your kindness to Sweet One and her family.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        Rock puns are great. Let them roll! I’m enjoying seeing the relationship between Michael and Danni develop. I hope Sweet One and her family are feeling the love and beginning to settle in.

        Like

  2. Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    flash fiction challenge 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. […] Source: February 2: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] February 2: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road. It can be physical, adding […]

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Charli is there a way I can just donate a small amount of cash via Paypal for example?

    Liked by 5 people

  7. denmaniacs4 says:

    Hi Charli and Carrot Ranchers, I think I went a little too metaphorical but the snow here is a bit of a surprise so I am deep in unexpected thought and getting a little lost.

    Rock! Checkmate!

    He could feel it.

    It seemed to be shuffling around in his belly, in the pit of his gut, a dark shaft of coiled intestine, wrapping around his innards like a viper, slippery-skulking, hardwired for perseverance, soft, mushy fat tissue, oozing up against it, seeking to dissolve its granite impact.

    He could feel it.

    He shifted his butt, seeking something approximating comfort. It wasn’t going to happen. His body had failed him, corrupted his future, made a lie of his dreams.

    He could feel it.

    He would forever be less than he might have been, or would ever be.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 8 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Bill! We heard a crazy storm hit up north. One of our former neighbors told us that they called for volunteers to shovel the hospital and school rooftops the snow is so deep. You certainly wound your way into a twisted flash. Go where it leads, right? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. […] February 2: Flash Fiction Challenge February 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road. It can be physical, adding to a plot twist, or it can be metaphorical for a barrier or hardship. Go where you find the rock. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. julespaige says:

    I hadn’t thought about being homeless like Danni or anyone else for that matter. But there was a short time when there were four of us living in a studio apartment… after one of my parents was ‘escaping’ a bad situation.

    I did a bit of a mash…but I still think it makes sense.
    When Mae and Her Dogs Met Jasper

    Until she uploaded her day’s photos onto the computer,
    she never noticed the shadow in each of them.

    …From the dawn without telling anybody, she made green
    pinecones stop heart disease ~ would grimace, moan, and
    pray for homeless ex-wife’s, hawk, grizzly bears, John, Steph,
    and Dakota, in the back of the truck…

    Jasper had come between a rock and a very hard place –
    knew Mae was special right off, the way she treated her
    dogs. At dusk was she was thankful when the kind man
    offered to change a flat on her truck…and the dogs even
    liked him.

    ©JP/dh 2.3.17

    This is a mash of three prompts – you can see the whole
    ‘shebang’ going to the post – the title should be the link (at CR)

    Liked by 8 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Jules, I have come to learn there are many levels of homelessness. Most are temporary. Some lose all in the process. Human dignity can go quickly. I think if anything, those who are chronically homeless (the ones we see as obvious, but often ignore) crave anything to make them feel human. The man I shared breakfast with in Moses Lake, or the couple we helped when they were stranded along the highway “in between homes” they really just want to know they are still a part of the human race. I bet that was an unsettling time for your parent. I’m enjoying your mash ups!

      Liked by 5 people

  10. I also fear for those living on the edge, as the programs that serve as a safety net get dismantled one after the other.

    Even when times were a little kinder, those who did manage to get themselves out of the spend-down welfare system were still too vulnerable, no time to build their own safety net. A health emergency or job loss easily knocked them off the tightrope and down into the gravel pit of a struggling welfare system.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Liz, I had read an interesting article about all the paperwork a person has to fill out to get into the so-called prevention programs and the point was made that often those experiencing chronic homelessness were least likely to be able to complete the paperwork required. It’s like the safety net has turned into something that assures failure. Sweet One experienced the frustration of rigid rules at shelters (like separating families) or mandatory meetings irregardless of those who had jobs. Worst is the lottery system. Can you imagine? Going to the outside of the shelter in hopes of getting in if only your number is picked! We have seen and experienced how once you fall into the cracks how hard it is to get out. Thanks for your caring comment!

      Liked by 3 people

  11. […] an idea for this week’s 99-word flash piece in response to the following prompt, courtesy of Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road. It can be physical, adding […]

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wonderful post, Charli. I’ve added the Amazon link to my offering this week: https://allisonmaruska.com/2017/02/04/flash-fiction-dancing-on-rocks/

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Quick question: Does the shipping address for the wish list automatically appear? I see a hidden address for a name with initials M. J. and family but I want to make sure that’s the right one.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. […] following was written for the February 2: Flash Fiction Challenge at Carrot […]

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nona says:

    Just discovered this challenge, and in a writing mood, though I’d play along.
    https://wildverbs.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/rocky-road/

    Liked by 4 people

  16. […] Mills’ February 2, 2017 Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge was to write a story about a rock in the […]

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Annecdotist says:

    There’s so much wisdom and compassion in this post, Charli – you are indeed an inspiration to us all. If I help out with the geology walk in the Peak District this year, I hope I’ll pay better attention so I can report back to you!
    My rock in the road is here:
    On Writing, Rocks and Milestones http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2017/02/-on-writing-rocks-and-milestones.html

    Liked by 5 people

    • julespaige says:

      It is one thing to make choices for ourselves…but harder when others seem to make choices for us.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Anne. The feeling of inspiration is mutual so I think I have much of it! Oh, if only you could take me in your pocket on that geology walk. I have a small hardback book entitled, “British Geology.” It’s a field guide and decades old, perhaps older. It came from a used book store and has fielded dreams of using it one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. A. E. Robson says:

    Flash Flood
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Water gushed through the trees and across the rutted trail, to blend into the prairie grass on the other side. It wasn’t the torrent it had been in the previous days, but still it flowed with force. Stone boats, pulled by teams of horses had been moving rocks from the flooded road since before daybreak. Each time it rained, they had the same problem. Flash floods carrying rock and debris down the mountain to rest on the open space of wagon road and meadow. It was time to find a different route to move the freight from the railhead.

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/flash-flood

    Liked by 5 people

  19. […] Husebye Hartmann  Carrot Ranch Prompt (02/02/2017):  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road. It can be physical, adding […]

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This week: two boys, a catapult, an Icelandic pony and a careless mistake:

    https://huldermn.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/sticks-and-stones/

    Liked by 3 people

  21. […] week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills is talking about rocks; rock formations in the landscape and rocks in the middle of the road, literally and […]

    Liked by 1 person

  22. […] post was written in response to Charli Mills’ weekly fiction challenge at Carrot […]

    Liked by 1 person

  23. […] for The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: Requirements: February 2, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a rock in the road. It can be physical, adding […]

    Liked by 1 person

  24. […] with a prompt and a request for help with a friend who has been homeless. Do check out her post, here, and the link to help if you […]

    Liked by 1 person

  25. lucciagray says:

    Hi Charli, lovely post.
    Just sent a little something for the kids’ bedroom window 🙂
    Loved your flash. The rock’s a Legless grizzly! Poor Ike.
    This is my weeks’ entry. I’ve gone back yet again to Victorian London, are you surprised?
    I’ve also included a small tribute to Charles Dickens, whose birthday it is today, 7th February (1812).
    https://lucciagray.com/2017/02/07/carrot-ranch-flashfiction-challenge-victorian-orphans-cracking-rocks/

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Lucy! His room is draft, I hear, so the curtains will bring cheer and block that draft. Not surprised, and actually excited to visit Victorian London again. You have a way of making it come to life. Happy (belated) Birthday to Charles Dickens!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Sherri says:

    Hi Charli! Galloping in, jumping a few of those boulders along the way but I made it 🙂 Always love your beautiful and evocative descriptions – fascinated by your ‘alternative facts’ 😉 Seriously though, sand dunes? Wow…isn’t geology amazing? That’s some boulder in the road, glad you were safe, and glad for Danni and Michael too, although it sounds like near-miss. I love the way you’re bringing in homelessness to MOD, the timely and very real issues affecting far too many. You know how fired up I get when I hear about homelessness. And my heart goes out to you for the loss of your family kitchen, as I know how much it means to you and I hope and pray that one day soon, it will be restored to you. You already know of our near-homelessness when the bank foreclosed on us when my three children were little (third new born) thanks to a mad man with an automatic assault weapon living next door. If not for the mercy of a landlady who welcomed not only us but our dog and cats, I don’t know what we would have done, since so many rentals at the time in the town we escaped to said not only ‘no pets’ but also ‘no children’. That horrified me. And of course I think of my dad… My oldest son recently started volunteering at a homeless centre for 16-25 year olds in Brighton. It makes my blood boil when I hear people say ‘they asked for it’. And as you say, there’s a huge difference between having a clear out and not having even the basics. My son gets training to help these young people, nearly all he tells me are homeless for two reasons: drug/alcohol addiction or mental illness. Did they ‘ask for it?’ Growing up with a dad who couldn’t kick his addiction, a man who didn’t know how to deal with the emotional fallout he encountered in his earlier life, I know only the good man, the man who had to search through skips to look for a mattress to sleep on at night on some cold, dark street. The problem of homelessness is increasing. It is an absolute tragedy. I shed a few tears reading about Sweet One and Our Boy and you and Todd as his adopted grandparents. Thank you for the link, I will head over there as soon as I can. How wonderful that dear family have an apartment again. It really doesn’t take much to lose everything, it really doesn’t. I’ll be back with my flash…going away to have a think….and thanks as always Charli for sharing your heart… >3

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Sherri, I’m galloping in, myself! Must be the nature of the ranch some days! Your story of unexpected kindness saving you and your poor young ones during what must have been a terrifying episode in your life is extraordinary. California, especially in the suburbs and cities, is notorious for “no pets, no children” policies for rentals. Here in southern Utah, “no pets” is common, but then the rentals are way to huge for a couple or single person (large Mormon families dominate the populace). How good of your son to be volunteering with homeless youth. The chronically homeless typically have addition or mental health problems, which is why they can’t get out of the cycle. What I see is a huge increase in the silent homeless. The ones who hold jobs, send children to school, but sleep in motel rooms or RVs or couch surf friend one place to another. And those who can’t are endlessly seeking an alleyway or doorstoop to rest when weary. Yes, we both have broken hearts for the homeless among us. I’ve learned to pick out a word from our political system and it is “access.” Evidently, all our politicians care about is access. In other words, the homeless have “access” to get homed, but they may not have the means to (such as the ability to fill out forms, pass drug tests, hold a job come up with deposits). Do you know that if you work and live in a shelter, they charge $100 a night for families? That’s “access” but it’s also not helping the families who need to save that money to get an apartment. We have to do better than that, don’t we? Thanks for riding in! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        Galloping is the way to go these days, for sure! Oh Charli, how very true about the ‘silent homeless’. Access is all well and good (and they talk a lot about it here too, and ‘signposting’), but at what price access…whether financially or unrealistically? Charging $100 a night for familes to work and live in a shelter seems plain wrong. I don’t know that, and I’m stunned. I don’t know what the cost is here, I should find out. How do we help those so desparately struggling to leave behind the cycle of despair ? You are right, we do need to do better; much better… ❤

        Like

  27. Sherri says:

    I’m back…here’s my flash, in keeping with the theme of homelessness…and present day ‘Orange Rocks’ barring the way…

    Between a Rock and a Hard Place

    Tears streamed down Carrie’s face as she read out loud, her hands shaking:

    “While we sympathize, we are unable to comment on civil matters, and therefore, we have no choice but to enforce our thirty day eviction notice and foreclosure.”

    “Bastards!” yelled Tom as Carrie threw down the letter and ran to their baby, who screamed for them both from his crib.

    Two months later, eating dinner at a homeless shelter, Tom took a call about some possible part-time work. He hoped the fact that his mother was Mexican born and bred wouldn’t be another rock in the road.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, Sherri this goes straight to the heart of the homeless situation and how I fear it’s going to hurt so many more families. As we shut our borders, I fear more what is happening within than outside in the world. Well-written! Ah — the Orange Rocks! The cruelest geology has to offer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherri says:

        And I applaude you my friend for all you do to help raise our conciousness on the tragedy of homelessness and the devastating impact it has on innocent families… ❤

        Like

  28. Sherri says:

    *That’s ‘Orange Rock’ not ‘Rocks’…feel free to correct and delete this comment if you want to, thanks Charli!!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think there’s actually more Orange Rocks here — of course, the big one of who stays and who goes when they begin deporting our neighbors to the south. But right now we are in a scary battle between the judicial and executive branches of our government. And the letter citing “civil matters” brings home how vulnerable certain people will be if the POTUS can stomp all over the laws.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. […] Some flash fiction written for the Carrot Ranch Communications prompt “a rock in the road”. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  30. […] Mills’ February 2nd Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge was to write a 99 word (no more, no less) story about a rock in the road.  It could be physical, […]

    Liked by 1 person

  31. We’ve got Snow! We rarely do, so when it happens, we take pictures and share them with all or family and friends living elsewhere. Gladys and Jim are back this month, mulling over a snow day during dinner.

    https://eloquentlykate.com/2017/02/07/snow-day/

    Liked by 1 person

  32. […] week, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch. The February 2 challenge: In 99 words (no more, no less,) write a story about a rock in the […]

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Blocked Way
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Insurmountable as a mountain, a boulder blocked the trail. Cindy’s mount snorted a cloud of displeasure into the winter air as Cindy considered other paths. Ice made the left impassable, and thick, snow-covered branches provided an impenetrable barrier into the woods.
    She sighed into her mount’s neck. “My life.” An overbearing ex, condescending family, and unpleasable boss filled her existence with self-doubt. Only riding healed her.
    She dismounted and pushed, but the stone remained. She rounded it and began breaking branches. Blood trickled from scrapes from the effort, but she forced a path, determined not to be stymied again.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Pete says:

    I found him leaning against the rock, peaked and scared.

    “You okay, Papa?”

    He slapped the rock. A car-sized boulder unearthed from blasting, when they put in the new sewer line along the edge of the creek. The blasting went on for months, cracking the walls and stirring up old memories in Papa’s head.

    “Papa.”

    He slouched down low, his back against the only place he could trust. I could see the house, but Papa was floating the Mekong Delta, lost but looking for the ambush. With a sigh, I crouched with Papa, hoping he’d find a way out.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Pete, that’s a powerful story about what it’s like to be in a fugue state. I’ve known family members of Vietnam vets who have “lived” what their loved ones did through these triggered states.

      Like

  35. […] is my first attempt at 99-word flash fiction. Thank you Charli for the great prompt and thank you Geoff for introducing me to it. This is going to be […]

    Like

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House Warming

Bloggers Bash 2017

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