June 29: 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.

June 30, 2017

Lake Gitchi Gumee erodes the shore wave by endless wave. Ringed-bill lake gulls careen wide circles, wings spread. A loon trills from water so vast as to hide the fowl rolling in waves, but occasionally the sun slants just so, and a loon appears to be fast-paddling like a vessel full of rowers all in sync. The land giving way to water is part of the synchronization of the whole mass, a geological cycle that refuses to conform to state park boundaries or nostalgic memories of generational Kumbaya campfire singers.

Bit by bit I have frayed.

No one beach facing the endless waves maintains its original shoreline. Was it ever original? Maybe it’s just a memory of what was compared to now what is. When you visited the shore as a child, it’s not the same shoreline you visit as an adult. You are not the same, either. Yet mainstream media sells us on an ideal of “anti-aging.” It’s ridiculous. You only stop aging the day you die and even then you molder. Who I am now is not who I was a year ago.

When I packed for camping I thought at worst it would be until September. I grabbed two pairs of jeans, four t-shirts, a flannel and a sweatshirt. Wisely, I brought all my underclothes. Two pairs of Keens, my good turquoise pair and my ratty hiking ones, seemed enough shoes. I had to buy socks when it turned cold (even Mars slips away from the sun). A small wardrobe is like a sandy hill over the Great Lake, use after use, launder after launder, all fades and frays.

Internally I cracked before the storm ever began. Like a cowardly fisherman confronted with the weather report, I retreated. No way, give me some warm slippers, a comfy couch and popcorn; I’ll sit this one out. Like any hero’s journey, I refused the call. A year later when I should be due some elixir, I’m still stunned I made the journey. We intended to head to Michigan last year, to go to Rock Creek and Kansas along the way, to meet up with friends and family. But our vessel leaked and our path wandered.

We shipwrecked on Mars, broke-down in Gallup among the Great Indian Nations. How does one remain the same after endless waves?

And yet a beach is still a beach. A cliff recedes and still remains a cliff. I listen to the waves and the occasional tremolo of the loons, recognizing I am yet who I am, and I am becoming who I will be. Where does one’s energy go after the body fails? Ideas, emotions, intellect cannot simply dissipate. Sit still long enough and you can feel the impression of a place left by others. You can feel it in your own DNA. Did  I ever have a grandmother dance wildly in Mali? Can I still see the highlands my Scots grandmothers left? Does Danish hygge offer me the comfort of grandmothers before me? Does my rebellious Basque grandmother still rise in me?

Lacking any Native American DNA, I also lack the blood of conquerors — I’m not Spanish, French or English, but I’m many cultures dominated by the three. My ancestors were chained to the galleons, endentured after lost battles, and endured hardships of famine and loss. It’s without a doubt my ancestors were always striving, reaching to pluck the promised fruit, the fabled gold pavers. Luckless? I don’t believe in it. Hard-working? Without a doubt. Stubborn? Just a wee bit.

I ponder these things as my frayed edges catch in the breeze. Soon it will be Independence Day and I no longer know what that means to me. Gallup was patriotic. The town served in military wars despite the injustices its communities suffered. They were proud to serve America, united. Here, in the wilderness of a copper country in the Michigan U.P., the least skilled of the immigrant copper miners remain — the White Finns. They are patriotic in skewed ways — believing the cities are breeding terrorists, and that Trump is their savior, many turn to fundamentalism and patriotism in ways I find strange. They are frayed and wanting a mender.

Here beats the heart of America who has failed to examine her social injustices and buries it beneath a false image of greatness-returning. And one of the top universities in the nation thrives here, a holdover from its origins in 1885 as a mining technology institution. Now it is an engineering beacon with a majority of its students international. Professors, students and those who’ve built engineering firms in the beauty they found while at school create a vibrant yin to the yang of what remains.

Not to dismiss what remains of the mining culture. They are no different from my own rural roots. Hardworking and stubborn folks who believe they’ll get ahead, but generation after generation they work to pull wealth from the ground for others. They turn a fierce faith to God and get a jump on the judgement they believe is coming. Apostolic Lutherans. Firstborn Laestadians. Not my kin or kindred spirits, but I recognize the determination to not fray.

Thus I give in to the fraying.

I don’t want this year to harden me. I don’t want to become poured cement to prevent change, or fear the erosion, the synchronicity of wearing down, energy against energy. I want to lift my wrists to the wind and let the frayed cuffs of my sweatshirt fly, release my frayed soul to life yet to be and accept a new weave, one the wind might direct or the waves carve. I note the heart at my cuff and know good things come out of unraveling. It’s our fear of change of going through hard processes that convince us the garment must be tossed and proper seams displayed. I have become the fray. And who knows what is coming next.

Carrot Ranch has finally come to a resting juncture. A few internet hiccups, rectified as of today. Know there are still places where hot spots and boosters do not work. Even Mars and Elmira Pond had better receptivity. I’m now connected, and Operation Stabilization has officially commenced today. We met with a true advocate at the U.P. Vet Center, an energetic female Captain (Airborne, too) who has no problem understanding or reaching Sgt. Mills (Airborne Ranger). Another counselor I met a few days ago also works with vets and understands their filters which gave me peace through validation.

I’ve not been here long, but already I have a community and the support of my grown kids (Rock Climber is now living in Svolbard, Norway and the other two and partners are up nort’ here, ay). I’m most grateful to the community who has traversed this year with me or has fearlessly joined up during the crazy trail ride.

This is a safe space to craft, draft and connect. Come as you are, write as you are and let your frayed edges fly. Let’s get the saddle show started this week — writers on your mark…get set…go…!

June 29, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about something frayed. It could be fabric, like a flag or garment. It could also be nerves or temper. What is it to be frayed?

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


Let Freedom Ring (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“I heard her husband led the Palmetto Guard.”

“He murdered free-staters on raids.”


Mary McCanles walked bare-headed through the crowd with her basket, ignoring the fine women in stiff bonnets deep enough to hide wrinkles and scowls.

She settled on the quilt her daughter Lizza spread. A gray-haired woman herself, Lizza smiled broadly and attended several Otoe-Missouri papooses. Though frayed, it was Mary’s treasured marriage quilt.

“I love babies, Mama!”

“You are good with them, Daughter.”  Mary dared anyone say anything to Lizza. Born a blue baby, she was often ridiculed. Not today.

“Ain’t Independence Day grand, Mama?”





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  1. robbiesinspiration

    A really interesting article, Charli. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for reading, Robbie and for being part of our community.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Michael, you enjoy yours, too! I started a day early. 🙂

      • Michael

        Lucky you????

    • Charli Mills

      What a touching flash you wrote! Thanks for taking the challenge.

      • kittysverses

        The pleasure is all mine!

    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      Sweet! And I loved that bright picture you added!

      • kittysverses

        Thanks a lot, Liz!

  2. kittysverses

    Creative take on the prompt, Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kittyverses! 🙂

      • kittysverses

        Welcome, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing such an insightful flash, Reena!

  3. susanzutautas

    Loved this post Charli. You’ve given me so much to think about in terms of my own life. Someday I know you and Todd will look back at all you’ve both been through this past year and smile. Smile that you made it through everything. Have a great weekend!
    Hope to be back with a flash for this weeks prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Susan! Let your frays fly in the wind, Lady and know you are still you. I’ll take that smile, and you, too. Much love to you! You have a great weekend, too!

  4. Pete

    Great to have you back, Charli! Here’s mine…

    I studied the picture of Mom on my dresser, at the beach pier, her arms on the railing, her hair swept back by the ocean mist in the breeze. Sometimes I spoke to her or kissed her pretty face before I went to sleep. Sometimes I heard her soft, gentle words in the crashing waves.

    The mist in my eyes. I fell onto the bed, plunging deep into the soft down comforter.

    This new life of mine was bizarre, almost fake, while the memories with Mom were frayed and strained. The result was this. Now.

    Breathing but not feeling.

    Fulll version: https://lunchbreakfiction.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/swatting-at-butterflies-random-excerpt/

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Pete! It’s good to be back! You expressed that feeling of living between the familiar past and a bleak present following a loss well. It’s good to read the fuller version, too.

    • Charli Mills

      That was quick, Susan!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing this history, Kalpana. The insights in your flash speak to all nations.

    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      It’s true! The lines we arbitrarily draw on maps are not–should not be–necessarily there in our hearts…

    • Charli Mills

      Me neither, especially when I start thinking of my frays as fashionable! 😀

    • Mardra


  5. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Oh, my trail weary Trail Boss. It’s not till you stop running that you notice your legs are shaking. Or that your Goodyears are worn out. May Operation Stabilization be a successful mission for you and yours.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s an elated feeling though, to stop. Thank you, D.!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        De Fence

        “Sorry Shorty, I thought it was apple juice. I didn’t get into the fray, I’m just steerin’ the Kid here to the bunkhouse.”
        “That’s quite a shiner. What happened?”
        “I showed ‘em, that’s what happened. I said, ‘Shorty ain’t ‘fraid of nothin’ and I mighta punctuated my meanin’ with a left hook.”
        “Your left hook was more of a question mark, Kid, but that was quite the exclamation point you took to the eye. Shorty, I thought the Kid knew they said frayed, not ‘fraid.”
        “Oh, it’ll be alright. Kid, sometimes we’re all afraid and frayed.”
        “ ’Fraid so.”

      • Charli Mills

        The Kid has a big heart and a direct punch, and learned a fine lesson we all come to face.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        The kid was drinking hard cider and got into a ruckus.

      • Charli Mills

        That hard cider — tastes like juice but packs a punch!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        The Narrator would like to know where ‘n heck the Kid got the idea for cider! The Kid needs watching’ as it is.

      • Charli Mills

        I do believe Shorty has volunteered to oversee the Kid and inspect the cider.

    • jeanne229

      Love this. How often a misunderstanding can lead to a bad end. It had me laughing though. Your scenes are cinematic. The dialogue is so authentic, I feel I can see these characters in some archetypal way.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joelle!

  6. julespaige

    Charli –
    It is great to hear that you are getting the help you need. I was a tad frayed myself today with unexpected visitors. I had my grands for about 5 hours – And I’m taking my hubby up on an evening out for dinner. I can save what I had planned for another night.

    Adding to Janice vs Richard with a mini mash of three prompts:
    Quintessential Quietus
    (Wordle list and Tale Weaver prompt at my site through link)

    (Janice vs Richard #12)

    Janice refused to posture to slovenly behavior while being
    immured in the safe house. Wondering if Richard had more
    than just an insulin imbalance – how could he still shake up
    her emotions like lightning radiated from a cloudburst – she
    was the one who suffered!

    Containers from the latest takeout restaurant displayed the
    strength of gladiola or – was it a lotus, Chinese symbolizing
    purity? And then the fortune, what galimatias was that? It read;
    “Hereafter is your passion; frayed dreams stabilize future plans”

    Would it take the death of Richard to calm Janice’s frayed
    nerves? Detective Longhorn thought it might.

    *Meaning & Symbolism of Gladiolus. … Symbolizing strength and moral integrity, gladioli also represent infatuation, with a bouquet conveying to a recipient that they pierce the giver’s heart with passion.
    *In Buddhist symbolism the lotus is symbolic of purity of the body, speech, and mind as while rooted in the mud, its flowers blossom on long stalks as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. It is also symbolic of detachment as drops of water easily slide off its petals.
    quin·tes·sen·tial :adjective 1. representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class.
    qui·e·tus: noun 1.death or something that causes death, regarded as a release from life. Archaic

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! Sounds like an unexpected but full day; a good kind of fray. I appreciate you love of language and enjoy the words you share with us while extending Janice and Richards story. I’m gong to ponder on the lotus flower tonight!

    • jeanne229

      What a great use of the prompt. I feel happy that Janice received a message of sorts from the Chinese container. I appreciated the notes, too, on the symbolism of the gladiolus and lotus. What does “galimatias” mean? I, too, am eager to know what Janice will do with that difficult Richard.

      • julespaige

        I always have the wordle list on my post at my site. But for you: galimatias: confused and meaningless talk : nonsense gibberish.

  7. Norah

    It is said that we never step into the same river twice. Nor are we the same as we step into it the second time. I couldn’t help thinking of that while reading your eloquent description of the same phenomenon.
    Love this: “You only stop aging the day you die and even then you molder.” I was discussing that with my grandkids (5 and 7) yesterday. They’re not getting any younger either! 🙂
    You say you retreated like a cowardly fisherman hearing a bad weather report, but it’s not true. Maybe faded and frayed, you pushed through when lesser mortals would have curled up in a ball. You showed us strength of which many of us could only be envious, but none of us envied your journey or need for finding that strength. But you responded with the DNA of a conqueror, conquering relentless hardships and setbacks.
    I began listening to an interesting book this week: The Knowledge Illusion by Sloman and Fernbach. They say the way our nations are divided is because most of us think we know stuff, but don’t know what we don’t know. Our opinions are formed with half-truths and lack of knowledge. (They said it better and I might not be hitting the nail quite on, but that’s the gist). It confirms for me the importance of being open to other viewpoints. A closed mind will never know what it needs to know. So, as your nation celebrates its Independence Day, I hope there can be an opening and collaboration of mind to forge a new peace within your nation and the world. You have expressed this well in your wish for yourself, in lifting your wrists to the wind, open to what comes.
    I’m hopeful of your new resting place. It sounds more akin to Charli’s needs. I’m hopeful for Sgt Mills, and for the Carrot Ranch; and, most of all, for you.
    I love the positive message of your Independence Day flash, and hope that your Independence Day brings further resolutions for you.

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, I’m fascinated by the book you are listening to. Funny, but you’ve influenced me to subscribe to Audible and I started listening to books, although I’ve only completed a few. I will look for the Knowledge Illusion. I’ve seen this in action, and can understand from your explanation how it could divide nations.

      I think the counter to this closed mind is, of course, the growth mindset. We need to imagine other possibilities, too. I was reading an article about entrepreneurs and how they avoid mediocre friends because their closed thinking can rewire our own thinking (https://www.inc.com/mithu-storoni/the-extraordinary-reason-exceptional-people-avoid-mediocre-friends-they-rewire-y.html). So I wonder if that’s why we tend to form these bubbles which lead to division because different groups are not influencing each other, but only influencing within their groups. Hmm, lots to think about here.

      Thanks for the encouragement. You’ve soothed many of my frayed edges on this ride! I was reluctant, though but glad I had the chance to live until I frayed. 🙂 Like Mary, I’m determined to see this through and like Lizza, find that our world and its celebrations are yet grand. Hoping your weekend is focused on joy! No moldering for us, yet and I’m amused you’ve had that conversation with your aging grands! 😀

      • Norah

        I’m so pleased you have started listening to audiobooks. They have added a whole new level to my reading pleasure and intellectual stimulation. You would really enjoy “The Knowledge Illusion”, I think. I am finding it fascinating. I enjoyed the article you linked to. I have heard that concept before and I think it is even more reason for we meliorists to unite and make the world better through our actions. The attitudes of others definitely do influence my mood – joyful others make me feel buoyant, depressed others bring me down. If others around are very vocal and full of bluster with their opinions, I tend to hold mine, if different, inside. I don’t necessarily change my opinion, as the article said, but maybe I do more than I realise, as the book I am listening to possibly contends.
        Thanks for adding to my thinking with this. It is great for learning to develop and knowledge to grow.
        Enjoy your celebration. There is still much to be joyful about. Fly your frayed ends like a flag and be proud of your accomplishments – you are not only a survivor, you are a conqueror!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        You two are both good for surrounding brains! I want to get that book Norah, but old fashioned print form, and I read that article Charli. Thinking to use it somehow with my next crop of math students.
        These readings made me think of our holiday. There will be even more flag waving as we celebrate the grand achievements of the Revolution that was sparked by a collaborative writing project, the Declaration of Independence. The American Revolution was won as much by the pen as by the sword, with pamphlets and propaganda, as well as by the sharing and growing of ideas and ideals amongst an intelligent and literate group of thinkers and doers. Not saying there wasn’t some private ambitions and motivations, but if it had been too much driven that way, it would have splintered and failed in the face of England’s might.
        A group of people can be a powerful and persuasive thing, for good and for bad. Wave your frayed flags, but keep your quills handy and be a close reader of the current pamphlets, using your own ‘common sense’ to steer your own course of human events. As writers we should perhaps promote the literary aspects of the Revolution and ensuing history rather than the military aspects.
        Happy Fourth of July. (Did you know that both Jefferson and Adams died on the fourth of July in 1826. They just had to get one more in before moldering)

      • Norah

        Hi Charli, I back with my frayed security blanket to sit with you around the campfire and discuss our knowledge, or lack thereof. 🙂 http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-W8

      • Norah

        I’m – I’m back! Grrr! Why didn’t I see that before I posted?
        I wanted to reply to D. I enjoyed her response and her good advice to do close reading and keep your quills ready. It reminds me of one of Van Morrison’s latest songs, “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Let’s hope that the intelligent pens win the battle. Anyone can lift up a pen, or tap a keyboard, these days.
        I can’t say I’m totally in favour of ‘close reading’ as a teaching technique, but there are times when it is essential to do engage in it. Maybe I need to reconsider.

      • Charli Mills

        D. and Norah —

        Great sentiment about keeping quills handy and reminder of the power of a literate and collaborative community. It’s telling how vulnerable our big (and often melioristic) thoughts can be vulnerable. I’m also pondering the strange reaction many had over the American holiday to NPR tweeting the Declaration of Independence. Lacking knowledge, these responders thought the tweets were party politics and accused NPR (our National Public Radio) of inciting violence. So I went and downloaded “Knowledge Illusion” on Audible. I need to read it! Thanks for the interesting discussion.

      • Marsha

        What an in-depth and intellectually stimulating conversation you two – or three are having. This kind of interaction epitomizes what is great about blogging. I love this idea of fraying. Fraying things are so comfortable. Even my old computer. I can’t give up the old slow Apple with its worn out keys and scratched and fingerprinted cover. It has been sidelined to the floor for only occasional tasks, but it’s green light burns on. Waiting for me to pick it up and open its cover, putting it to good use. Fraying, by definition means wear and tear. The Velveteen Rabbit effect makes everything more loved. Frayed things are so soft and comfortable. We seek them out to retreat when we are going through the process of fraying. I agree with Nora’s evaluation of this statement, “You only stop aging the day you die and even then you molder.” Mom always said it takes courage to age. Even when faced with dangers we don’t want to face, we march on and fray as we go. These comments probably don’t fit here in the context of this conversation, but it’s kind of my MO. I just stick my nose into an interesting conversation and squirm in. Hope you don’t mind the interruption. 🙂 You stopped me and made me think for a long time. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Come on in, Marsha! We like to have stimulating discussions, and yet welcome those who want or read or write, too. Lots of great diversity of writers with different goals, genres and experiences. I like to think of this as making the three pillars of literature (reading, writing and discoursing) broadly available. I like how you express your Apple computer as worn, comfortable and yet productive. Good to have you at the Ranch!

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Frayed, by D. Avery

    Weather worn, that’s what she was, frayed further from lack of sleep. The relentless rain was a steady march, a bellicose drumbeat that only paused, never stopping long enough for anything to dry out. In the night, if the rain did cease for a time, the change in tempo would awaken her. The drilling streams from the broken gutters, the incessant drip from the trees, ponging off the roof, kept restless rhythms. Should the sun ever shine again she would lie outside and sleep in quiet, absorbing the warmth and the light into the vast reaches of her dreaming.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi D.! In this flash, your poet’s ear for words enhances the imagery of the rainy scene. I especially like the phrase, “a bellicose drumbeat.”

    • jeanne229

      Poetic indeed. Wonderful evocation of the different sounds and rhythms of the rain. Even here in the hot, dry air, I feel it. And yes, “bellicose drumbeat”–superb! As is “The drilling streams from the broken gutters, the incessant drip from the trees, ponging off the roof, kept restless rhythms.” Great example of the CRAFT of writing.

    • Norah

      Totally agree with Charli and Jeanne. I would’ve said it had I thought of it first. 🙂

    • Deborah Lee

      As a chronic insomniac, I well know that “frayed from lack of sleep” feeling. Nice juxtaposition, for me – usually it’s the rhythm of rain that can help us sleep, not the other way around. In this story, the rain is more like the maddening, incessant dripping from a faucet. Nicely done!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Sorry it resonated, thanks for the compliment. Actually, as a burgeoning insomniac, just about anything will get blamed for waking me.

  9. denmaniacs4

    An Everyday Occurrence

    “Are you afraid?” I ask. She is just a shape in the shadows.

    “Yes…yes, I am,” she answers, just as another volley smacks the air.

    “It sounds like they are on the floor below,” I state, guessing more than knowing.

    “They? There’s more than one?”

    “I don’t know. It’s usually one crazy person I suppose. But sometimes…”

    “Why would someone, anyone do something like this? I don’t understand.”

    Her voice is cracking, her fear rising, the sound of her fright getting louder.

    “You shouldn’t talk,” I suggest. “We need to stay quiet.”

    “Of course. I’m sorry.”

    And we wait.


    • Charli Mills

      Oh, wow, Bill. This is powerful and gives me chills. That we, in the US, have even begun to normalize drills for hiding from shooters, is so disturbing. This flash could pertain to many scenarios, even war, but I think of the one waging inside US borders, inside schools, hospitals and baseball fields.

      And we wait.

      • denmaniacs4

        Thanks Charli. I should confess that I overused the phrase “And we wait” this weekend. Unintentionally as this little story was almost stream of consciousness. Earlier I ended a flash poem (anther sad Trumpian tidbit, with the refrain, “And we wait and we wait and we wait.” It may be part of my Canadian character.

      • jeanne229

        Repetition can be very effective. For me, the repeated “wait” in your other example builds a sense of tension and “quiet desperation.” And yes, your flash is so sadly timely for us in the US. Well done!

    • Deborah Lee

      Powerful flash.

  10. Sarah Brentyn

    We fray (and sometimes unravel a bit) but, eventually, we are knitted back together. Or not. We wear our frayed garments, minds, emotions with pride. We are not perfect. We are all frayed in our own ways. 🙂 Good to see you.

      • jeanne229

        At first an ordinary scene in a classroom, one anyone might identify with. Tension builds over the protagonist’s coming punishment. But then you transport of us to some unfamiliar place and time, some future or alternative reality. Who is this schoolmaster? What is the Society? Nice job.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Thank you! 🙂 I so appreciate the comments. I’m having fun weaving this into a larger piece.

        (Charli. We don’t need to be ashamed of our frayed edges but, you’re right, we eventually need to mend them or change clothes. So true.)

      • Charli Mills

        So, a funny frayed story: I was wearing my frayed capris which have become thin and threadbare; my bottom, not so much. We were relocating the RV when an outside compartment slid open, dumping contents on a narrow lakeshore road. I was following behind and stopped, trying to rescue a few items in the road. I bent over hastily and the seat of my capris ripped! Argh!

      • Liz Husebye Hartmann

        I loved the subtle warning in this piece…

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you, too, Sarah! We do find a certain comfort i our frays, but eventually have to mend or change clothes. 🙂 Thanks for weaving a flash!

    • Deborah Lee


    • Charli Mills

      Hi Allison! I like that flash allows us such visits.

  11. jeanne229

    Ahh Charli. The endless change. As Heraclitus said, “You can’t step into the same river twice,” and “The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself.” How hard it is for us humans with our limited temporal consciousness and short life spans to accept that fact of our evolutionary reality. And yet, if there is a passing away there is also a becoming….as you indicated in your line “I am yet who I am, and I am becoming who I will be.” Always a becoming….Such a provocative post, as always. Such a great prompt. I salute you and Todd on the birthday of our nation. Hope to be back with a flash.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jeanne! We may have short life spans and yet as humanity we have long pondered that sense of becoming, haven’t we? Hoping you have a worthy celebration of our nation’s birthday! Thank you!

  12. elliotttlyngreen

    Happy 4th of July Charli! Annnnd everyone.!!! Hope it is safe and full of them colorful explosions, which remind us of what it might have looked like beyond a hill, forest, over the lakes… before this place was settled. Our fears are no longer that we will be conquered. Our frays are that we will not be remembered.

    My entry for the frayed week =] Thanks!!!

    Current History by Elliott Lyngreen

    Now structured, carved lens, laser-like bends, sharp ghosted terrains; find everything after.

    Burning, streaking figments of my youthful imagination burst and fray into them great sky-legged creatures.

    And mind –awakes that fearless struck-in-the-head type waves, booms frequencies, this smoked raining –I remember… in so many ways, angles, viewpoints.

    ‘That was everyday once’ ,,,, of the smoke grains in empty space…. Tristan says.

    I can see it all, misting and blown open.. balanced, the message, the things we already know, ‘gravity always wins’…wearing down.

    Long, long ago, far far removed, but arching, spot in the clearing …..remains, lonely…history.

    • jeanne229

      I know we are thinking of the American Revolution this weekend, but I couldn’t help remembering that on this weekend, the terrible battle of Gettysburg took place. Another powerful flash here. Your use of language is so novel and your imagery so striking. “sharp ghosted terrains”; “Burning, streaking figments of my youthful imagination burst and fray into them great sky-legged creatures”; “this smoked raining”….you have such a unique voice, given even more power by the references to history.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Thanks Jeanne! Fireworks always make think of old battles. How they may have appeared and smelled and sounded.

      • Charli Mills

        Hi Elliott! I found myself thinking along these same lines as darkness finally fell after 11 p.m. along the southern shoreline of Lake Superior last night and “…And the rocket’s red glare, / The bombs bursting in air, / Gave proof through the night, / That our flag was still there….” I had watched young children throw rocks in the lake, more skilled adults skip rocks, listened to the band in the distance, savored a pink cup of cherry ale, watched with interest as Tech students from the Middle East mingled with small town residents and campers. In the distance a freighter slowly breached the horizon and I felt American and yet felt at a loss to say what that meant. Maybe we are frays are memories we fear to lose. Memories of who we are based on who we were. Yet, who are we becoming as a nation? I agree with Jeanne! Fantastic imagery. Love the “sky-legged creatures.”

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Madra! Thanks for stopping by and keeping your fingers in motion!

  13. Kerry E.B. Black

    Away Too Long
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Ward relied on memories as frayed and faded as an old coverlet. Remembered roads looked unfamiliar. Street names sounded foreign. As he struggled to recognize a landmark or some continuity of recollection, the thread unraveled further. He squinted, envisioning younger trees and buildings without patina.
    A child carrying a wicker basket rushed ahead. Ward called, “Pardon me? Is this the way to Accalia?”
    As he backed away, Ward imagined in his upturned eyes a resemblance to an old school companion. The child clutched his basket. “Can’t talk to strangers.” He ran.
    Ward sighed. “Guess I’ve been away too long.”

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Kerry! Love your opening line and the winding path through the time-changed scenery.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Anne! There’s certainly a comfort to our frayed clothes and habits. I wonder if that is similar with the mind? It makes me think that often it is the observer who might feel uncomfortable with the frayed edges; the wearer at home. Thanks for digging into the fraying of unquiet minds with this prompt!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for joining the fray, Jeanne!

    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      Oh yes! Sometimes one becomes so entrenched in “helping”, one doesn’t note that the person being helped is trying to tell you to let go and let them fly… 🙁

  14. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    Under the wire, but before the fireworks. A little character exploration from this prompt. Thanks for the (continuing!) inspiration.

    To Unravel, or Repair?

    The spell had existed, long before she’d begun chronicling by gathering their hair. Candle-lit, she bent over the long braid, a weave of auburn, nut-brown, curly black, and her own pale blonde.

    She’d discovered her three friends twining together in a drunken Midsummer meadow. She’d been forgotten once again. Her heart cried betrayal.
    When had it begun?

    She turned the braid and saw the place where her strands had loosened, as theirs grew closer. “There!” she hissed.

    Tearing at the strands, she stopped.

    She pressed them to her face.

    Sighing, she set her clever fingers to reworking the braid.


    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      (Had to make some tiny edits, results on my blog page). Sorry!

      • Charli Mills

        No problem! I’ve grabbed your flash from your blog. Hope the fireworks were spectacular where you were and glad to see you using the flash to explore characters.

  15. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    “We met with a true advocate at the U.P. Vet Center, an energetic female Captain (Airborne, too) who has no problem understanding or reaching Sgt. Mills (Airborne Ranger).”

    I am happy for you guys. It’s true: You can pass all the policy and protocols in the world, but ONE PERSON can mean the world of difference. Glad you finally found someone!

    • Charli Mills

      I know! It just takes ONE! I’m really hoping she’s our one. We have another appointment with her, as we are trying to unravel our frayed ends to knit something more secure and she called today with such upbeat energy. It was just a reminder call, but after so many closed doors and protective stances from others in the VA system, she feels like a warm welcome on the porch. Best of all, Sgt. Mills responds to her and he’s not as trusting as I can be. Thanks, Liz!

  16. C. Jai Ferry

    I love the word frayed. I love a lot of f-words, to be honest. They are so evocative of the frustration I am feeling when I voice them. 🙂

    so, speaking of f-words, language warning on my post this week.


    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you here C Jai, with all that you’re effing taking on this month! 🙂 Let the frays and f-words fly. Thanks for the warning!

    • Charli Mills

      Good question, Deborah! It was an old midwife’s term I came across when looking up reasons for mental impairment due to a difficult birth. A blue baby is exactly that — one deprived of oxygen during labor. It could be from a stalled birth or the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck. Blue babies may have visual or hearing impairment, too. Lizza was not blind or deaf, but often recorded as so on Census records. She was perhaps developmentally disabled. What was interesting in my research is that it was common for families to let blue babies die, often termed “failure to thrive.” The fact that Mary and Cobb saw to it that their daughter thrive speaks volumes to their progressive, compassionate and yet contrary mindset for the 1850s. Lizza lived with her mother, and one of her brothers, Cling, stayed with his sister and mother all his life. He’s an interesting character, too. He would dance with the Otoe-Missouri men and insisted they be acknowledged at social functions. He always took his sister places, too and in pictures of them as “old-timers” she is always smiling a huge grin. She thrived!

      I only recently discovered, while stopping briefly in Nebraska, that Mary was a midwife and doctor to the Otoe-Missouri. So she knew what she was taking on, loved her children, and I can imagine her daring others to say anything out of line about Lizza.

      • Deborah Lee

        Oh wow, such wonderful history! It didn’t occur to me that such a blue baby would have been disapproved of, but of course it would, given the struggle for survival that everyday life was even for those without extra issues. I can’t wait to read the entire flowing story when you’ve finished the book!

      • Charli Mills

        Mere survival could lead to cruel choices. It’s fun getting to pull this all together.

  17. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!


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