March 30: 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.

March 31, 2017

Farewell to flying monkeys, the black chimps who once flew from mesas, proving jet seats safe for ejection. You gave me a road to explore land as strange and wondrous as Mars. Farewell to roads that skirt the baggy pants of scree, proving what drives up (the mesa) must drive down. Unless, one decides to fly or become a hermit. I could become a hermit until those Mars temperatures exceed my low tolerance for sun-baked heat or I remember my comfy bed.

Farewell to GhostRider, Utah’s saving grace for piss-water beer. It’s commendable that the straight-laced state legislates responsible drinking, but when my RV lands elsewhere than Mars, I’m going to have a pizza and beer in a bar that doesn’t require I have to eat pizza in order to be served a low-alcohol beverage. Wasatch Brewery, in great Utah irony, brews a respectable white IPA with an adult alcohol content but can only be purchased out of state. I’m onto you, Utah! I found your GhostRider IPA in Nevada, having crossed the Arizona Strip to claim it.

Yes, I’ve been bootlegging while on Mars.

Farewell candy-drenched colors of the sweet and arid desert. How pleasant you’ve been in winter (except when your clay clung like taffy to the truck tires). I never experienced the same day twice on Mars. The light slants at a different angle; the shadows dip into crevices; the partial or full sun filters color from rose to apricot. You are vast and varied, reminding me that creativity has a grand canvas and art is never fully realized, crafting still from the dinosaurs of yesterday to the shed lizard skins of future summer. I close my eyes and feel the vibration of the truck, in my imagination I can always return.

I offer my farewells to a western sun shining gold on thin steel clouds. If I had a GhostRider in my hand, I’d toast a brown bottle the direction of flying monkeys because I can see the mesas monkeys explored. I can see the squared top of Zion’s West Temple, glowing like a rosy aureola. I can see Molly’s Nipple, where I wanted to go, but the Hub couldn’t shoot up there on the black volcanic core. That’s okay. It’s good enough to see from here.

Here, is Fort Pearce. It’s rock ruins on a hill, overlooking a red slash across the desert along an intermittent creek. The red slash is what remains of the Honeymoon Trail, a level lower than where I first crossed it’s path. The fort protected those seeking temple sealing for their marriage, and was established during Blackhawk’s War. Poke around the place and you’ll discover why it was sacred to Native Americans: it harbors a fresh spring, the treasure of any desert. I’ve walked south from the fort to follow the western sun as it sinks.

I, too, sink into the land, pondering farewell.

How does one say goodbye to something that’s marked the soul and psyche? In order to write the land, any land — the microcosms in your own garden dirt or dust motes in your flat or moors in your backyard — you have to be present. Writers understand presence. You can’t write without being present on the page. Writing is not doodling, something you do during a boring meeting. Writing is not knitting, or any craft you can do while watching TV. Writing demands you be here, right now. The sharpest writing cuts through space and time. Therefore, to write the land one must be present with it.

And I am present, in this moment, standing on a spine of yellowed sandstone the color of an old bride’s weathered wedding dress. I’m mentally flipping through the album of memories, wondering when they will fade. It’ll all be here when I’m gone. It doesn’t require my presence, it’s colors don’t depend upon my eyesight. But we’ve had a relationship. Not a marriage, but certainly a fling. I caress the cheek of an exposed rock with my shoe, and sand lightly shudders between the contact. I’m not certain if the land is alive, or if I’m the one it electrifies to life, like it’s Dr. Frankenstein and I’m the monster. It’s my clay, my origin and one day to it I shall return.

Not today. Or maybe today. The Sioux Warriors faced mortality, saying, “Today is a good day to die.” Again, it’s about presence. When we are present, we face the duality of life and death within us. The creek and path below the ridge are at least 40 feet down a precipice. Like baby steps toward mortality, I step down the sand-slick rocks that form a natural staircase. At 20 feet above the creek, I peer over the edge. It’s no abyss, just a hard rock, bone-crushing bottom — with a curious hole the diameter of a soup bowl. It’s so round and smooth, potentially a grinding portal, and it awakens my curiosity. It will be the death of me. Edging closer I make a daring choice.

It’s only 20 feet. The sandstone has no more steps, but I carefully find footholds until I reach handholds. I’m not fit for mountaineering, but ah, the body remembers it. At this point I can still scale upwards, but my heart pounds at the realization I can also fall, and it’s too far to fall without cracking bones. A second decision. I decide to continue down to the ledge. I hope that hole in the rock is worth the one in my head where thoughts of safety fled the scene to let curiosity play. I’ve got flying monkeys in the brain.

Safely on the ledge, I still have another 10 feet to drop. Jumping is for younger, sprier bodies. So I sit and hesitate. I can see there is another ledge only three feet below my shoes. It’s the unknown that is in between. The ledge is a perfect hiding spot for rattlers. Now I think of rattlesnakes! A lizard zips past as if to say, “Yep! Reptiles are now active.” It’s the perfect time of day for snakes to also be descending to the water below. I look back up at blue skies and tattered clouds, deepening in color as the sun nears the horizon. Do, or die. Do, and die. Just do it.

The moment slows like a bullet in ballistics gel. My bare calves tingle at the imagined strike of a startled rattler. I hang them over the edge feeling as if I’ve made bait of my own body. I hop. Then quick hop the remaining rocks to the bottom. The empty crevice stares back at me like the empty chamber in Russian roulette. A surge of adrenaline gives me attitude and I whoop because I made it down a cliff face. Resting my hand on the iron patina of a boulder that fell long ago from the height above, I feel indentations. Looking closely, I’m stunned to realize my hand rests upon a block of petroglyphs, each one formed with rock-on-rock drilled holes.

The desert has just said farewell to me, too. I take this final gift, wrap up the memory in my hope chest, and feel as the pioneer women must have felt. Onward ho.

My thoughts are on Danni. As a character in WIP #1, she’s most present in the archaeology grid. Like a writer, she can hone her focus and spend endless hours at tasks others might not understand. She’s a historical archaeologist, which means her second place of presence is in the archives dungeon. It’s not hard to guess that Danni is an introvert. Ike, is not. He’s her connection to the outside world, the one who reached into the pit and said, “Hello.” He broke her focus and stirred her curiosity. With him gone, she’s out of sorts and craves the cover of her retreats. In such a way, that is how writing can be double-edged — it calls us to the present and yet demands such focus we are not present to anything else.

Like Danni, we all need to strike a balance between the oppositions in our lives. And we are often called to say goodbye. It merely opens a door to hello, that will also lead to a goodbye. Kind of like my favorite Beatle’s song “Hello, Goodbye”:

March 30, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a hello or a goodbye. You can pick any greeting that grabs you from howdy to fare thee well. It will be interesting to see how the collection intertwines the opposite greetings. Go where the prompt leads you.

Respond by April 4, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published April 5). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Ike’s First Hello (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Them Wranglers, cowgirl?”

She’d been focused on brushing the next layer, irritated someone would enter her grid to comment on her jeans. Without pausing, she said, “Want a broken nose, farm boy?”

“Farm boy? I’m hurt. I’m a fisherman. Can’t you smell me?”

Danni stopped and stood in the square pit. The corners of Ike’s eyes crinkled and he stood with a fly-rod like a staff. His pants were wet like he’d been swimming with the trout. He wheeled around, bent forward and pointed to the leather brand on the butt of his jeans. “You’re right—I got Wranglers, too!”


You May Also Like…


    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Charli Mills

      Hello and Goodbye, Lady Lee! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Reena!

    • Charli Mills

      Maybe it was the Beatles…!

  1. Norah

    What a wonderful farewell tribute to Mars, Charli. How your love for this foreign land shines through. You really didn’t want to love it when you landed rudely with a ker-thump, but how could you help yourself. You are a girl of the earth and you speak its language, understanding its moods by reading its hidden stories. I wonder to which planet you will now travel, where will the Tardis take you, for a Tardis it must be to carry your words and dreams; not the mention we ranch hands.
    You described your descent down the cliff face, but not your ascent. I assume you are not posting from the base of the cliff so you managed to get up okay. Thankfully. I was holding my breath and my palms were sweaty. I could not have maintained a foothold out of fear. But you did. And what magic awaited you – pteroglyphs! You have the ability to see more than what many of us would. You are the historian, the earth’s interpreter.
    Actually, this reminds me of an article on Hub’s desk calendar yesterday about moving rocks in Death Valley. Heading that way by any chance? (Seriously, I hope not.) According to the article it is a mystery, a game played by aliens perhaps. But according to this youtube video, it seems a geogolist has solved the mystery: [youtube
    I thought it might have been waiting for your interpretation.
    I love your open-ended challenge this week. I’m not yet sure if I will go or stay.
    I really enjoyed your flash telling how Danni met Ike, not necessarily love at first sight, just as should be for any good love story. It made me smile. It’s not usually difficult to pick a fisherman. I think he may have caught what he wanted with his hook, or was that on the fly?
    Thanks for a great post, Charli. Happy travels. I hope your next home is welcoming.

    • Annecdotist

      Ha, Norah, we’ve commented with similar sentiments at roughly the same moment – Although yours is the more eloquent.

      • Norah

        Synchronicity! I don’t think I’d go so far as eloquent, but I’ll accept it from you anyway. Thanks. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for sharing the stones! I’ve heard of them, but not the researcher’s resolution. What a discovery!

    • Deborah Lee

      I love these stones! I have mixed feelings. I like finding out what’s causing the mystery, but then…it’s not a mystery anymore. 🙁

      • Norah

        I like to know about the “natural” world. The unnatural world can remain a mystery. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for enjoying the tribute to Mars, Norah. It is a strange land and will remain, though many secrets were revealed. My Tardis will be here shortly and will have the shape of a 2003 Dodge 3500 4×4. It’s big and the Hub says it has cow and horse poop for authenticity as a real ranch Tardis. We have to find and attach an adapter to our RV and the next planetary exploration begins! It really feels like science fiction trying to figure out these logistics. Ah, most observant of you, yes I climb down, and then I took the footpath back to the truck. It was unnecessary to climb, but caught up in my curiosity, I opted for the more adventurous path. I couldn’t get to the hole I saw, unless I went under a jumble of rocks and by then snakes became a deterrent. Thank you for commenting on the clip of Danni and Ike. Originally, MOD was set in a fishing village on Lake Superior. However, in rewriting with the Idaho location, I could still use elements, like Ike fishing, but had to change where and why. My next home will be welcoming because we plan to visit our Kansas family, our Sweet One family in Minneapolis, our son in Wisconsin and our daughter and her hubby in Michigan. In Kansas I’ll get to research as the renown Kansas Historical Society where Joseph Rosa research Wild Bill Hickok. That’ll be thrilling!

      • Norah

        Sounds like you’re going to be on the road for a while. We need a map to follow your journey. It will be lovely to see so many family members after being isolated on Mars for so long. I’m pleased you didn’t need to climb up to get out. All the while I was thinking of Helen Piers’ story “The Kitten Who Couldn’t Get Down” about a kitten who climbed up high but could never get down. Until Mum and Dad taught him. I hoped you weren’t going to be the cowgirl who couldn’t get up! 🙂
        I well understand snakes being a deterrent; and I look forward to reading more about Dani and Ike.
        I hope your truck is a good one and pulls you safely to all the places planned. Travel well!

      • Sherri Matthews

        So glad you get to visit family and friends along the way Charli…and how wonderful to stop off in Kansas for some Wild Bill Hickok research! Thrilling for sure!

      • Charli Mills

        Norah, I’d be the kitten who couldn’t get up! 🙂 Thanks! I’ll keep you all posted on the journey. We were delayed another day, having hitching issues, but it gave me time to clean out the ranch truck. I’m certain it’s had calves in the cab! And I found a hoof pick for horses.

      • Charli Mills

        I’m excited, too Sherri! Kansas is the best place to research Wild Bill, and who knows, maybe I will find Nancy Jane!

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I rode around in circles a bit on this one, but true to form, I ended up here: Thanks for the challenge. 🙂

      • Sherri Matthews

        Hi Norah…I’ll be over tomorrow to read your post, sorry I didn’t make it over today… See you then! 🙂

      • Norah

        No hurry. I’ll still be here. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        It’s kind of a circular prompt! Thanks for taking the challenge in circles!

    • Sherri Matthews

      Fascinating, thanks for sharing the video Norah! Love this stuff. Makes me think of crop circles, of which we get a lot in my part of the world.

      • Charli Mills

        Crop circles! You’ll have to tell us more! Are those made by aliens in Stetson hats? 😀

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha…nothing would surprise me anymore Charli…nothing!! But we live very close to Wiltshire – home of Stonehenge and those lay lines – so of course the area is rife with crop circles. And I have a story to tell about one and my dad, after he died… remind me… 😉 Dad would have cracked up over that alien in the stetson btw 😉

      • Norah

        Crop circles are fascinating. 🙂 I thought these rocks were pretty cool too.

      • Sherri Matthews

        Me too Norah…I wish the three of us could meet for real and talk about all this…we would never stop!!! 🙂

      • Norah

        It would be fantastic, wouldn’t it. I fear I wouldn’t get a word in edgeways!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Yes it would be fantastic, even more so as I miss you all being away from blogging for so long. And as for getting a word in edgeways, I’m sure you would Norah…I’d stop talking for at least two seconds, lol!! 😀 😉 🙂

      • Norah

        It would be okay, Sherri. I’m usually a good listener. Ask any of my friends. 🙂

      • Sherri Matthews

        Ahh…I know you are Norah, I can tell. That’s what makes you so special and lovely. I am always reminding myself to be quick to listen and slow to speak…I am not always very good at it, but I am trying 😉 More SMAG coming your way! 🙂 <3

      • Norah

        Thank you, Sherri. You are a true friend. 🙂

      • Sherri Matthews

        As are you to me dear Norah 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Crop circles and trailing rocks capture our imaginations both for stories and science. and, yes, I’ll remind you to tell me, Sherri!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Oh yes…crop circles! We must definitely discuss… !

  2. Annecdotist

    In such a short time, this strange landscape has become part of your psyche and you’ll be leaving a little of yourself behind when you go. I hope your next home is equally inspiring – although hopefully a little safer (even though I know you’ve got back unharmed or you wouldn’t be writing this, you have me tensing up as I read about your adventures).
    Danni and Ike’s first meeting seems very sweet: many of us can identify with that ambivalence about being distracted by apparent frivolity from our ‘serious’ focus. and of course plenty of narrative potential in putting opposite characters together.
    I’ll be back in a couple of days with my flash when I figure which review to pair it with.

      • Deborah Lee

        Hardly “crappy.” I loved it.

      • Charli Mills

        Anne, I’m hardly versed in verse, and not well enough to tell crap from cream, but I thoroughly enjoyed your poetry! Fascinating reviews, too.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s landscape that makes an impression, that’s for certain. I grew up scrambling and sliding down granite boulders in the Sierras and have an affinity for scaling rocks. The scary part is that I do not have the physicality; the mind forgets the body has changed and gravity is unforgiving. Makes for some good tense moments, and a fresh rush of adrenaline afterwards. I’m thinking we are going to enjoy the homes of loved ones throughout the Midwest, getting to do some serious historical research and finding the cooler climate of the UP in Michigan. Thanks for commenting on Ike and Danni’s first meeting. It’s sweet up until the point Michael joins them, and Ike tries to warn Danni not to reveal her work to his Kalispel friend who opposes archaeology as bone-digging and culture-napping.

      • Norah

        I thought I had replied to this, Charli. Apologies. I laughed when I read “the mind forgets the body has changed”. I wish my mind could forget! 🙂
        It will be great for you to dig into some more historical research, and I’m sure the cooler weather and greener pastures will appeal more to you too.
        Trust Michael to come along and add some tension, but I’m sure he has some lessons for all of us along the way.
        Happy trails!

      • Charli Mills

        The first time I experienced that chasm between “used to be able” and “no longer able” I was teaching my kids how to skip a ring on the monkey bars. I skip and then flung myself onto my back in the playground dirt. My mind was sure I had it; my body wasn’t. 🙂

  3. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    A Dear John letter from another age!

    A Midsummer’s Dear John

    Dearest Oberon,

    Although I swore to renew our vows this Midsummer’s Night, I cannot in good conscience re-marry you. Your cruel joke on Nick Bottom backfired, and I’m still pissed that you snatched my changeling to make him one of your warriors.

    Bottom may not be much to look upon, and burns the bulb yet dimly, but his voice is sweet and his nature pure. Amply endowed with primitive gifts, his unschooled rendering of the tragic Pyramus has captured my fairy heart. I take him as my consort, and leave you to your boy.

    Thank Puck for me,

    • Charli Mills

      This is great, Liz! I can tell you had fun with your Shakespearean Dear John. Great line that captures the language and tone: “Bottom may not be much to look upon, and burns the bulb yet dimly…”

    • Annecdotist

      Very clever, Liz – or should I say Titania – I loved it!

  4. julespaige

    You say you are leaving Mars…but not where you’re going. Ready for some new ‘Hellos’. It is always interesting how we meet and then have to say good-bye to those people who bring us joy. I like your first ‘Hello’…story. I did a mini mash where the prompt lead… And there are a few links at my post site,
    which should be the title:

    Mesmerizing Melody

    Mesmerizing Melody

    The music box sat on the shelf for years until he walked in.
    The replica played Josette’s Theme. I had pretended that any man
    who walked in and looked at it was a vampire. Mostly thought it was
    just my imagination. That is until he walked in.

    I had watched a good many of the Dark Shadow episodes growing
    up. But I was really too young to understand much of what was going
    on. All the hello’s and goodbyes as scenes flashed back and through
    the years at Collinsport. Now this young man who looked eerily like
    Jonathan Frid…


    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! Tomorrow we are heading east, through the southwest, to Kansas. I’ll get to see family and do some research. It’s been a bear to get the truck and trailer compatible, but we are at last ready to “get hitched.” A fun take on your flash! Our imaginations can take us through many past hellos and goodbyes at the mention of a familiar one.

  5. JT Twissel

    Yes, leaping should be left to the young and spry! Beer in Utah? Whoa. Last time I was there you couldn’t even get a decent cup of coffee!

    • Charli Mills

      The mind still thinks the body is younger and sprier than it is! And yes, weak beer in Utah, and actually decent coffee roasted in Le Verkin. It’s still distinctly Utah here, though.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Joe! Glad you enjoyed the prompt. A writer can hardly go wrong with that classic.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Bill! Great to see you at the ranch!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Di! I enjoy the BOTS in flash form. It’s kind of like a snapshot from a photo album.

  6. susanzutautas

    Hi remember me? 🙂 Thought I’d join in this week with Morag and Ian’s first meeting. From my novella New In Town.

    “No, go right ahead, please have a seat,” Morag said as she gazed into his sea blue eyes, thinking what a gorgeous looking guy.

    “Can I buy you a beer?”

    “Well I was just about to leave. My cousin was supposed to meet me here but she just cancelled. So sure, thanks, I’ll stay for one more.”

    “Good then, nice to meet you, my name’s Ian”, extending his hand out to her.

    “I’m Morag” she nods.

    “What are the odds of me meeting a Scottish lass, and such a pretty one at that … must be my lucky night.”

    • Charli Mills

      Susan! Howdy Lady, how have you been? Of course I do, and I recognize these lovely characters, too. I recall this as a fine hello and kicking off many thrilling moments. Good to see you at the ranch!

  7. shiftnshake

    So, I did what all the other kids at the Ranch are doing. Gotta site. This week’s entry makes more sense if you go to my site and catch up on the artist that is in a cell at the arena. (March 16 Flash)
    But here it is the old fashioned way too, ’cause that’s how I really roll.


    “Hello again.”
    The artist had stopped his work when Marlie approached. He was shirtless, little droplets of blood magnifying the added details of his phoenix, the blood tipped shard of stone in his hand.
    “What are you doing?”
    “I think you know. What are you doing down here again?”
    “The lieutenant feels the animals are too dangerous, so he let me guard the artists and writers instead.”
    The artist smiled. “But we are a danger to society. Aren’t you afraid? Of me?”
    “You’re to be in the arena tonight.”
    “I know.”
    Marlie unlocked the cell.
    “Come with me.”

    • shiftnshake

      Oops. This is D. Avery

    • Deborah Lee

      I’m enjoying this thread.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I am glad. This flash is the eighth out of ten (currently) 99 word episodes that started here March 16. See the whole kit and caboodle on my brand new site.
        And, you and Irene are nothing if not honest. (I didn’t own up to my thoughts regarding the trout fisherman in Charli’s flash.)

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      (to be clear: the italicized (artist’s) words are from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet)

      Found this while reading and thought of the prompt; thought of these characters I ended up with; and thought of Charli in her aloha time.


      Lingering day gilded the trees.

      “And shall it be said that my eve was in truth my dawn?”

      “More”, demanded Marlie.

      The artist smiled. “So, you like Gibran.”

      “Long were the days of pain I have spent within its walls, and long were the nights of aloneness; and who can depart from his pain and his aloneness without regret?… It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin that I tear off with my own hands. Nor is it a thought I leave behind me, but a heart made sweet with hunger and with thirst.”

      • Charli Mills

        Fabulous! I truly believe that art inspires art; that literary artists give rise to other literary artists. We each tap into the collective and share hearts “made sweet with hunger and thirst.” Thank you. D.!

    • Charli Mills

      Yay! You’re blogging with all the cool kids now, D.! Nice website and great addition to your tale.

      • D. Avery

        Thanks… and you shoulda seen it before I went to tweak it and then ruined it. It is in need of repair and reconstruction, but the day job….
        and lack of skills…

    • Deborah Lee

      I am so sorry about your mom. But you’re right, she lives on in you. Nice flash.

    • Charli Mills

      My condolences, Ruchira. That’s cause for a heavy-heart, yet I’m honored you would pick up the pen to write something about it and share at the ranch. Please take care and much love to you! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Not at all, and I like the technique you used to show how important saying hello to the Nnew Era was, and still is.

      • Michael

        I think so, thanks for stopping by..

    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      You made me chuckle. Lost love for a lack of 4 wheels…alas!

      • Michael

        That’s how it goes sometimes ????

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Michael! Thanks for pedaling to the ranch this week. 🙂

      • Michael


  8. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Charli You have had so many farewells but in the process you have developed an affinity with Mars and introduced the land to us through your eyes. I consider that a real privilege. Although there is always sorrow in saying goodbye there is joy in the hellos that will greet you at your destination – a place I guess you have not yet determined. Wherever it ends up being I know that I am going to be meeting another part of your vast country in a way that would normally not be available to me and I thank you for that. Like the others I held my breath as you climbed and have to admit I can only think that you are totally mad. Jolly glad you survived your jaunt and I suppose, to you at least, your find made it all worthwhile. My contribution this week
    I enjoyed yours but I have to admit that it put my mind into the gutter with his wet pants and staff like fly rod. You should banish me.

    • Deborah Lee

      My mind went straight to the gutter too, Irene!

      • Charli Mills

        Irene! You made me snort-laugh! How could I have missed the wet pants and staff like a fly rod. Well, my mind went gutter-walking and I was slow to catch on. 😀 It’s been a joy to bring back sights from Mars and I’m grateful for all who’ve appreciated the view. And yes, at times, I’m mad. I usually don’t think about it until later. Kind of like the gutter terms!

  9. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Geez, Irene. Sometimes a fishing rod is just a rod and a trout is just a trout. And toads are sometimes princes?

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! It’s fun watching where different imaginations perch. 🙂

  10. Pete

    Judith looked up at the figure in the window.

    “Hello, can I help you?”

    “I need Doctor Sherman.”

    “He’s…sir, do you have an appointment?”

    The man sighed. His dark eyes cast tired contempt. He shook his head, as though Judith were incapable of understanding. Or maybe she hadn’t heard him correctly.

    “Sir. We have—”

    The man touched the glass, reminding Judith that it was only a delicate partition defining their roles. “He told me Linda would be fine. He said not to worry.”

    “Sir, I’m sorry. But Dr. Sherman—”

    “I never even got to say goodbye.”

    • Deborah Lee

      Oh, NO. Nice writing.

    • Charli Mills

      Such agony on that one side of the glass, as if the suffering can’t penetrate to the technical side. Sharp writing, Pete!

  11. Deborah Lee

    I can feel your heart breaking, Charli. But your love of this land shines so clear. You are leaving part of yourself behind, and taking part of it with you in your heart. Where are you headed?

    My mouth went dry as I read about your descent of the cliff face. Reminded me of the time I decided to face my fear of heights at Groves Lake near Kingston, Nevada. I climbed to the top of the big rock and stood, terrified, realizing I couldn’t possibly climb back down again and had no choice but to jump into the water. The jump didn’t kill me, but I thought that cold water was going to stop my heart! I have never been in water that cold.

    Safe travels. Looking forward to hearing from where you’re landing. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      This land has expanded me to the point where I feel more like a western writer now than ever before. It is in me and I feel I will leave a part of me behind, too. Oh! That must have been a terrifying moment, before the jump. And I know that smack of cold water. As soon as it hits your chest, you can’t breathe. Thank you! Hope to be reporting, soon!

  12. denmaniacs4

    I’m in a bit of a dreamland with this prompt…

    You Snooze…You…

    The moment squeaks by me like a baby mouse skirting the baseboards.

    My emotional cat is asleep on the veranda.

    You, you are packed and loaded for unbearable loss.

    Me. I am the loss leader.

    “Bye.” I look up.

    You are shaking your head just a noddle.

    A nod.

    A noddle. I can’t even think coherently.

    I’m not saying a word.

    I’m not feeling a thing.

    “This is all I’m taking.”

    This seems wrong.

    “For now,” you add.

    Dead on, I think. You were never one to pass on what was yours.

    And me, I never quite measured up.

    • Charli Mills

      Your delivery is certainly dreamlike and slows down the moment and turns up the pain and simmers the coming finality.

  13. Kerry E.B. Black

    Hello, hello! Nothing like an awkward first meeting…

    First Day at a New School
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    When they collided, their books flew to litter the hallway. “Great!” she shouted, bending to retrieve her armful of texts.
    He handed her a paper-wrapped volume, smiling shyly. “Sorry. First day rushing.”
    She snatched it. “Thanks to you, I’ll be late.”
    He nursed his reddening cheek as she flounced ahead. Her skirt and ponytail swayed, an admonishment of his clumsiness.
    “Please don’t go into my room,” he thought. But she did, haughty attitude in a seat at the room’s front.
    “Great way to start.” He indulged in a deep breath before taking his place. “Hello, class. I’m your teacher.”

    • Charli Mills

      It’s even awkward for teachers that first day! Nice twist, as I was expecting a boy her age.

  14. rogershipp

    Hello… Good-Bye

    “Good morning.”

    Standing at my door, I greet every one of them.

    Most years, by now, they greet me back.

    Not this year.

    “I glad to see you today. I missed you yesterday.”

    Agnes had been absent… again.

    Her parents- between homes.

    I wish I could do more.

    Was that a small smile?

    Here comes Aaron, the perpetual fist-bumper.

    He always pulls his fist away before contact.

    Small moments of coolness are important.

    I grin… Then I step forward and bump fists before he can retreat.

    He grins and sprints down the stairs.

    “You cheated!” he yells in flight.

    • Charli Mills

      I know it’s unintentional that your flash follows Kerry, but I love how hers reflects the awkwardness of a teacher’s first day and your shows what can be master throughout the year of hellos and goodbyes.

  15. LucciaGray

    Hi Charli!
    As you reflect, saying goodbye is indeed sad, and we always take part of where we were with us. Sad ‘goodbyes’ are always followed by new beginnings and optimistic ‘hellos’ as in your flash 🙂
    I think I’ve bitten off (almost) more than I can chew! Today I’ve combined three prompts: AtoZ, NationalPoetryMonth and Carrot Ranch.
    My flash is about a group of schoolchildren saying hi to a ‘different’ new girl.
    The post also has a wonderfuk poem by Guyanese born poet, John Agard, which you may enjoy 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a big carrot to chew on, Lucy! Yet you did it well. I’m looking forward to more hellos, now that I got to say goodbye. And yes, I enjoyed the poet! Thanks!

  16. Sherri Matthews

    Ahh Charli…I’m honoured to have walked on Mars with you, even if the beer tasted like gnat’s piss! Love that you got the inside goods on the real stuff! You evoke such powerful emotion through your creative writing, I am with you through word and spirit. Love your flash, I can visualise Danni and Ike so clearly, brilliant setting and dialogue. And I loved this:
    ‘In such a way, that is how writing can be double-edged — it calls us to the present and yet demands such focus we are not present to anything else…’ This is a brilliant quote, and helps me firm my resolve to do what I have set out to do. I feel sad with you in saying goodbye, but I am delighted to share in your journey moving forward. I’m saddled up, ready to go, just lead the way. And I wrote this for you my friend… <3

    Signs of Life

    I always believed there was life on Mars and then I saw the mesas and the monkeys for myself. Found arrow heads and footprints too – Dinosaur prints! You know Charli Mills, that bestselling author of Rock Creek everyone’s raving about? Well, I know her! We met through blogging. Yeah, I know, it was big back then. Crazy! She lived on Mars for a while and years later, we met up and she took me there. Ahh…great times. I always knew she would make it big. In fact, she’s coming to London soon. Can’t wait to say hello again.

    • Charli Mills

      Typing through tears! Thank you, above all else, for your friendship. This is a vision I will hold on to! I’m late at the ranch following an utter trailer debacle. Our first day and we break and axle. At least the trailer stayed with the truck even when it became a dragging situation instead of a pulling one! And me behind driving through a cloud of smoldering tire rubber. We are paused for the moment and I’m catching up at a Burger King on the rez, determined that it will all be okay even if it isn’t smooth sailing (the RV looked a lot like that ship!). Thank you. I needed this refreshment of my writing soul. <3

      • Sherri Matthews

        I cannot believe how long it’s taken me to reply to you…and so much has happened since then! Aww Charli…I haven’t been able to get back to the Ranch since this last flash prompt…I am so glad to have written this one as a temporary goodbye – no…as I will say in my sign off blog post, not goodbye, but au revoir! But not to you my friend – I am in your pocket wherever you go! And hoping with a good report on the transmission as I type this! What a journey…ha! I bet, you must have felt like you were on that ship in all that smoldering tire rubber…arrgh…one day at a time as we always say. I am so glad to have brought you some small writing refreshment. On we travel, on we write… 🙂 <3

      • Charli Mills

        It’s always so good to have you in my pocket, Sherri! So much has transpired since au revoir, hasn’t it? We write on!

    • Charli Mills

      This is a good place to shed the slump! Good to see you, Diana!

    • Charli Mills

      No problem, Scarlett! I give myself a day to process the stories and I’m always happy to add another one to the compilation.

  17. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    Absolutely Enjoy the ride and keep a little faith that when what goes around comes around, it’s what you wanted/needed as you venture out!


  1. Farewell | Ladyleemanila - […] For: March 30: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  2. Closure – Reena Saxena - […] March 30: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  3. 99 word prompt: A good “bye.” | Two on a Rant - […] 30, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a hello or a goodbye. You can pick…
  4. A Midsummer’s Dear John | From the Valley of the Trolls - […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (03/30/2017):  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a hello or a goodbye. You can…
  5. (f) CR/ MMLM FLF/ Mesmerizing Melody (3.30) | Jules in Flashy Fiction - […] March 30: Flash Fiction Challenge March 30, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a hello or…
  6. A Series of Flash Fiction | ShiftnShake - […] The following 99 word pieces of fiction are the results of responding to CHARLI MILLS in FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE on Without Art MARCH 23, 2017  …
  7. Flash Fiction: The New Era | Allison Maruska - […] this week’s flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch, our task was to think about beginnings and endings –…
  8. March 30: Flash Fiction Challenge – Pedalled | Morpethroad - […] Written for: […]
  9. Hello: 99 Word Flash Fiction | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) - […] response to Charli’s prompt where she […]
  10. Never Goodbye (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) – 99 Monkeys - […] week, Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: In…
  11. Hello… Good-Bye | It's All in Finding the Right Words - […] for The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Writing Challenge. Requirements: March 30, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write…
  12. #AtoZChallenge ‘C’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘Half Caste’ #NPM17 #CarrotRanch | Rereading Jane Eyre - […] I’ve also added a third challenge, Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch, weekly Flash Fiction Challenge based on a 99 word…
  13. Are you coming or going? | Norah Colvin - […] around and around in my head this week when Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In…
  14. Open and Shut #carrotranch #flashfiction #prompt | TanGental - […] A thought piece this week for Charli’s prompt […]
  15. After – Fledgling Fiction - […] Response to Carrot Ranch’s March 30 Flash Fiction Challenge: Goodbye or Hello […]
  16. Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge April 4th | Scarlett Sauvage - […] and doing no writing at all, I thought I’d try and get back into the swing of things with…

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading