December 7: 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.

December 7, 2017

December 7 Flash Fiction Challenge at Carrot Ranch @Charli_MillsWe crowd into the lobby, snow nipping at our backs each time a new couple or family enters the oak doors. I wiggle my fingers to diminish the giddiness of a night out to the Calumet Theater. I listen to chatter as people explain who they know in the upcoming performance of Alice in Winterland. One mother laughs when she explains how much green paint her daughter wears as the Grinch. Another confesses how nervous her son is the play Charlie Brown.

It’s a winterland mash-up of familiar American Christmas stories all set to the music and narrative arc of Taichoski’s Nutcracker Ballet. It’s a bit like this take on multiple Christmas songs in one minute:

And all of this creativity in bites to produce one performance also reminds me of the weekly compilation of responses to our flash fiction challenges. It struck me, as I took my seat in the historic gilded and velveted Calumet Theater how much of a ballet mom still resides in my heart, rounding up the stories backstage each week. I want to bring roses to all the writers after a performance.

It’s been too long since I connected with my inner stage-mom. For 15 years I lived in awe of The Nutcracker. Five of those years I eagerly watched from backstage as my eldest daughter and youngest son both performed in a professional ballet troupe from Minneapolis.

Every child in dance dreams of shoes and sugar plum ferries. In ballet, it’s point shoes. After spending $100 on a pair of pink satin slippers with ribbons so fair, my darling daughter would pound the toe-boxes, burn the satin off the point and whip-stitch the ribbons. If it sounds horrific, consider what we writers do to a flash fiction.

We pound stories into sentences, slice words to a perfect 99, and strangle characters with twists so fine.

Between the audience seats and the dancers behind the curtain exists a stage upon which we both suspend belief and let art convey the story. I love dance as much as literary art, but I have no skill for it. I can take classes, just as I learned the craft. But writing is the performance I prefer. I’m content to sit in the audience and watch the dancers.

For years, I helped backstage, learning how to double-pin strands of wayward hair and zip sparking costumes during quick changes. A quick change occurs when a dancer must change costumes for back-to-back dance numbers. My son, one of few boys who even studied classical ballet, was guaranteed to be cast as one of Clara’s brothers and rarely had quick changes in the first half. My daughter danced in the corp, meaning she had numerous changes.

And lucky me, one year I was responsible for the Prince.

The Calumet Theater with its opulence and history reminds me of the Red Wing Theater where The Nutcracker performed on tour. I went with the troupe and taxied my kids to classes, performances, and costume fittings. Each December dreams of sugar plums danced on stage. And then the lights went out.

Children grow up, move on and stage-moms are left with no one to buy roses for or help whip-stitch new ribbons. What a comfort it is to be in a theater again, listening to family chatter, watching former students return for the holidays and sneak backstage to say hello. I sink into my seat, wait for the house lights to dim, knowing that these children performing on stage have received classical ballet instruction from my daughter.

A literary community knows such connectedness, too. I’m stage-mom in the back-wings, watching each of you work at your craft, find joy in the steps and brave the spotlight when it’s your turn to perform. And yet we are a whole, each voice lending to a more powerful dynamic than one alone.

Hold on to that feeling a moment. Two points I want you to own: no matter your solo, no matter your dream and your pain to accomplish it, no matter how many hours you write alone — you are not alone here. Second, we are a part of something bigger, something we call art. And we are champions for literary art, giving voice to unheard stories, even giving voice to the invisible.

If you know some of my journey, you are aware of how I feel about the homeless experience and veteran struggles being invisible among society. They are the unsung songs, the canceled performances, the flash fiction in a journal no one reads. Recently I learned of an organization using another art form to give voice to veterans and their families:

Songwriting With Soldiers operates from a simple principle — pair veterans and active-duty service members with professional songwriters to craft songs about their military experiences.

To me, this is a powerful way to use art to heal, to create empathy for another’s experience, to give voice to those who struggle to articulate that experience. Songwriter, Mary Gauthier, wrote The War After the War (below) with the input from six combat veteran spouses, which is the number of women I share my own experiences with each week. It’s empowering when the invisible are seen and heard.

While I don’t have roses to share with all you who perform on the writing stage at Carrot Ranch, I have a digital gift for the holiday season. If you’ll go to my Canva profile, you can pin or download the Carrot Ranch Seasonal Desktop Wallpaper to add a touch of holiday cheer to your computer. I tried to think of different manifestations like the diversity we have here at the ranch (the squirrels are for the nuts among us who don’t like holiday cheer).

Surrounded by velvet the lights finally go low at the theater. The performance has begun. And I’ll let you get to your own.

December 7, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write that features a performance. You can interpret what is a performance any way the prompt leads you.

Respond by December 12, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published December 13). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Performance Anxiety (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Standing in the darkened wings, Danni stretched her hips. She arched her back, clasping her hands overhead. On the stage, Evelyn prepped the audience.

This was her moment. She couldn’t see faces, just the heavy beam of overhead stage lights. Her professor taught her tricks to overcome performance anxiety when she realized that as an archeologist she’d occasionally have to give public presentations.

The Sandpoint Theater was packed, and Evelyn was already giving introductions. “Without further ado, Dr. Danni Gordon…”

Walking out into the lights, Danni conjured the friendliest face, as if she were performing just for him – Ike.



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    • cam8510

      Been there and shed the tears. This brings back sad memories.

    • Charli Mills

      Michael, I liked that you used the teacher’s perspective for your flash. I think that’s a solid way to gain empathy for the student’s plight. Have a good weekend!

      • Michael

        Thanks Charli

    • julespaige

      We cry… then learn us something, and dust off and go at it again.

      • Michael

        Indeed we do.

    • cam8510

      Truth be damned. Let the kids live in peace.

      • floridaborne

        My sentiments exactly.

    • Charli Mills

      You did, Joelle! Sharp writing.

    • Liz H

      Unexpected, and yet timely! 🙁

  1. Frank Hubeny

    Imagining the face of a loved one seems like a good way to overcome performance anxiety.

    Here is my approach to the performance prompt, but it is not on an official stage.


    Holiday Storytelling

    Each year Peter told the grandkids how he killed the monster. They believed him, but children grow up.

    Sylvie was nearly grown-up. She quietly went to Grandma Alice to get the truth, “Did Grandpa really kill a monster?”

    Alice told her, “Your Grandpa’s getting old. He wants you to be happy and so he tells stories. He’s feeling better now but he has protected me from his nightmares for many years. I only know this. What he fought was not exactly what I would call a ‘monster’.”

    “I didn’t think so.”

    “It was the meanest dragon that ever lived.”

    • cam8510

      Grandma played that one perfectly. Good story

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha ha ha. Grandpa was a true badass, and Grandma is one up on him too. Loved it 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes the most important performance is not held on a stage. Lovely twist, Frank. Grandma Alice didn’t miss her line!

    • Liz H

      Bittersweet, but go Gramma, go!

    • Lisa A. Listwa

      Well played, Grandma.

    • julespaige

      I love this! My own father was a storyteller… He and I may not always have seen eye to eye… but I’d like to think I’ve got his spark and spunk – some of it anyway 🙂

  2. Chris Mills

    Escape Artist: Flash Fiction Challenge for December 7

    My husband insists on a dress rehearsal of his escape routine. He was a failure as an illusionist, so he’ll try Houdini’s gig.

    I snap the padlocks. Believe me, it’s an honor. He sinks onto his back in the coffin. As his assistant, I kneel and kiss him, passing a key into his mouth from mine. I lower the lid.

    From the coat closet, I retrieve a suitcase and pause at the front door. The real key lies on the locked lid. I hate to miss the performance, but it will be a long scene before the curtain drops.

    • denmaniacs4

      It’s hard to find good help…a nice helping of irony and deceit, Chris.

      • Chris Mills

        Thanks, denmaniacs4, She seems to have been a better escape artist than him.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Wicked! Loved it.

      • Chris Mills

        I love this genuine response. Thanks.

    • Charli Mills

      Ooh, what a performance! I love what is left unsaid, too — will he realize the betrayal, or think he failed? Is she truly devious or escaping a bad situation? It’s good to let readers fill in those spaces. You included the right and pointed details. Good job, Chris!

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      How cruel. Not being able to make that key work will make him feel an even bigger failure. Good one.

    • Lisa A. Listwa

      Just enough detail to set the stage (heh), but just enough missing to let the reader’s mind get to work. Nice one.

    • julespaige

      Devious and cunning. 🙂

  3. denmaniacs4

    First Performance


    I still see him, still hear his awful silence. Eyes darting. Like the condemned. Tears desert-dry. The pain is too much for waterworks.

    Nine he was that Christmas. He shot up by thirteen but that year when he was nine, he was a waterless shoot.


    Pale, as if exposure to the sun would shrivel him.

    He had two lines. “He is a beautiful baby.” And “The donkey is sad.”

    The moment overcame him. He scampered off the stage into his mother’s arms.

    The play, as plays do, went on without him.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Oh wow. Brilliant.

    • Charli Mills

      Beautifully written, Bill. Sometimes we can’t, won’t and second chances come later. Good to have comfort when the first performance is silent.

    • Lisa A. Listwa

      Bittersweet and true.

  4. Juliet Nubel

    You do bring us roses every week, Charli. Your input and comments, hard work and thought put into these weekly challenges are like a stage-mom’s hug after every performance. Thank you for all of that. I’ll be back later.

    • Charli Mills

      What a beautiful comment, Juliet! Thank you! I’m as delighted to see the performances unfold each week. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      A convincing performance, Di!

      • pensitivity101

        🙂 Thank you.

    • Liz H

      Lovely, and likely happens more often than we’d like…

      • pensitivity101

        I know and just glad that my Mum is in a safe and warm environment.

  5. julespaige

    I don’t know what a Cavana provile is or how to get there… anyone?

    Public speaking, or even smaller presentations for school… they all can be a tad nerve racking. In one choir I was in we couldn’t be seen, in another – until grew to be too many, we were in a high loft, but then moved to an in your face front section. I’ve done my share – and think that I may never have to do it again. Yet one remembers that one should never say never…

    Anyway – just wanted to put two cents in and Thank You Charli for the music additions. I’ll be back…

    • Charli Mills

      Oops! That would be a failed link! It’s linked now, Jules and here’s the address to my Canva Profile:

      You might think, “never,” but you’re an overcomer and do it nonetheless. I think singing in a choir must be a magnificent experience, adding one’s voice to others. Kind of like our collections!

  6. julespaige

    “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”
    Sir Francis Bacon

    CR/ LIGHT; messaging (reverse haibun + two words)

    the cursor blinking
    waits to advance – the curse,
    blessing; advances –

    As the cusser and controller of the keys, the writer walks
    that odd line through. I stand watching the squirrels out the
    window like acrobats unafraid of tree limb heights. Spying
    on the line up of birds taking turns at the feeder. Woodpeckers,
    Junko, Mourning dove, mockingbird… pecker, junk, mourning,
    mocking… is there a secret message from nature? That present
    darkness, swooning like a lost love. As dawn breaks and the
    sky turns a faint blue, who else is looking for the light of the
    bright sun to shine?


    Note: I actually wrote this 12.7 for my daily verse. And I only had to
    add two words. When something fits… use it. Could just be I was
    connected to the prompt before I saw it… I’d like to think that sometimes
    we all can do that – Make a connection to the performance even before
    we see the play…

    • Charli Mills

      That’s so true about how we make connections and I think our minds are constantly doing this. I like the idea of the sun dawning as if the stage lights come on.

    • Liz H

      “I’d like to think that sometimes
      we all can do that – Make a connection to the performance even before
      we see the play…”
      A great synchronicity, indeed!

    • Pete

      Beautiful images, loved that last line…

  7. Pete

    Take Five

    Jan set the cake on the table. She lit candles, grabbed her phone, and pressed record.

    “Happy Birthday, to Logan…Happy birthday, to Lo—”

    Jan popped up. “Tyler, why aren’t you singing?”

    Tyler rolled his eyes. Logan leaned forward, ready for cake, but Jan held out a hand. “No sweetie, not yet. Hang on. Tyler, sing. Avery, smile. Okay, ready? Smile!”

    She pressed record. “Happy Birthday, to you…Happy—”

    Jan cocked her head. “Tyler, try to look happy, so I can post this.”


    “Shh. Okay, let’s try again. Smile. Baby, not yet. Okay, ready?” She pressed record.


    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha ha. You can take the child to the camera, but you can’t make him smile 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      And this is reality-tv! Great modern take on the everyday performances of our lives, Pete.

      • Pete

        Thanks Charlie, I had no idea about your life in theater. No wonder you’re such a fantastic writer, you’ve done a little bit of everything !

      • Charli Mills

        It was forensics that really captivated me because I could let the “characters” come to life in a dramatic or humorous interpretation, and I think it does help in writing characters to life, too. But mostly, I pinned hair and tutus! 😀 I can’t wait to see where your son takes you as a Dad. The journey is wild, as you already know.

    • Liz H

      (I find it’s easier to smile and sing AFTER dessert!) 😀

      • Pete


    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      What a performance. Sadly I fear this could be true for many. social media has a lot to answer for.

      • Pete

        I know it. Not too long ago I went for a hike when my wife and kid were out of town. Reaching the top of an overlook, where I used to take a breath and look at the scenery, I found myself patting my pockets for my phone, as though to validate my hike. Luckily I’d left it in the car and was forced to enjoy the scenery.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I’m the same when it comes to scenery but I always have been that way. Now it is just easier to carry a phone instead of the camera, cheaper to develop and I can enjoy for a lot longer than just having the memory which starts to become somewhat blurred. I always have time to physically enjoy the moment and there are some things I do not photograph.

    • Lisa A. Listwa

      In our efforts to capture and remember every detail, we miss so much of what we hope to hold. I find myself happier the more I turn off my technology. Love your take on the prompt.

    • julespaige

      So hard to be happy when you aren’t… just let them eat cake.
      Not everything has to be recorded. But then this comment comes from a person who does not have a smart phone 😉

      • Pete


    • Charli Mills

      That’s some vivid showmanship of writing flash fiction!

    • julespaige

      Twilight Zone feel… ! Excellent!

  8. Juliet Nubel

    Hi again,
    I’m back with my story. Which is really my story. I am this mother…

    Ol’ Red Eyes

    ‘Your daughter danced beautifully.’ The other mum stared at my red-rimmed eyes but didn’t mention them.

    ‘Yours too’, I lied.

    I hadn’t noticed her daughter or any of the other girls. I never do. They are all just a blur of pale legs and lacquered hair, moving around the edges of my own beautiful child.

    The tears spring forth whenever she flies onstage. I smile from the heart, but my eyes weep freely from a well, deep within my soul.

    Where that well originates will be a lifelong mystery. Her beauty, her grace?

    Or just pure, undiluted, crystal-clear pride?

    • anuragbakhshi

      Awweee. I sometimes almost tear up on seeing a brilliant performance by any random talented artist, so I can well imagine what seeing your own flesh and blood’s performance would feel like 🙂

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks for your comment. The feeling is such a mixture of emotions. But it always makes me cry to see her. Pride and love seem to overwhelm me.

    • Liz H

      I did that, too, with my own kids!

    • Charli Mills

      Well done, expressing that laser-beam focus we have, watching our child perform, which is all the more emotional when that child truly is in their element expressing a gift on stage. Good use of BOTS for your flash, Juliet!

    • julespaige

      One does that with children and grandchildren…
      And it doesn’t matter if they have grace or not –
      It’s the tug of the heart and it belongs just where it is 🙂

    • Liz H

      Captured perfectly…And my favorite part of watching the little ones perform!

      • Ritu

        It is always such a pleasure!!! We have our nursery Christmas sing a long to the parents tomorrow!

    • Charli Mills

      What a wonderful way to cope with work by bringing it to flash fiction, Ritu!

      • Ritu

        Thanks Charli! It has been my coping mechanism many a time!!!!

      • Charli Mills

        Hope you survived, Ritu!

    • julespaige

      Last year I attended an end of year concert for 3 year olds – as my Little Miss (grand-daughter) was in it. I was amazed that they did 12 songs – one for each month of the year. And most were fully engaged! But yes you could see the others there too…

      • Ritu

        There are always a few… I had my class of 3 year-olds (x2) shows yesterday and they did us proud!

      • julespaige

        I taught pre-school … seems another life ago. 🙂

      • Ritu

        But such fun!!!

    • Liz H

      Oh yes! Workplace training at its best, and most usual.

    • Charli Mills

      A great image of all those dodo eyes glazed over at the training performance, Neel!

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you at the Ranch, Lisa! Your piece is a good look at a character and you relay much more than your 99 words.

  9. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Viva la Diva

    “Told ya Pal.”
    “Told me what?”
    “All the world’s a stage.”
    “Yep, s’pose so. Hey, do you dance, Kid?”
    “Jist the can’t-can’t. Why? Hope Shorty’s ain’t plannin’ some sorta ballet here at Carrot Ranch.”
    “Naw, her dancin’ lessons are of the 99 word variety.”
    “Gotta tell ya, Shorty’s a tough act ta follow. Such strong performances every week.”
    “Yep, Shorty’s writin’s a gift.”
    “Pal, ta say that diminishes the fact that Shorty’s sharpened her skills an’ honed her craft through perseverance an’ hard work.”
    “Kid, I meant Shorty’s writin’s a gift ta all us.”
    “Oh. Now I’m readin’ ya.”

    • Liz H

      Agreed 100%!

    • Charli Mills

      The gift is having a community for literary art, getting to write and read and be inspired by the work of others. Thanks, D. and all the Ranch hands with poised pens.

    • julespaige


  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    The Show Goes On

    A long running show, predictable; performed live, it could easily go off script, could still surprise the players as well as the audience. She used to enjoy that.
    She was well respected for her roles, yet, despite her experience, her pre-show jitters were getting worse instead of better. Onstage if the tempo slowed at all, she was aware of a persistent anxiety, always ready to prompt her from behind the curtain, whispering to her of her inadequacies.
    “Good morning, how are you?”
    She smiled. “Fine.”
    7:55 A.M.
    She had gotten through her first act, had given a convincing performance.

    • anuragbakhshi

      I wonder what role she takes on when everyone has gone to work or to school. I would love her to be a detective…or even a serial killer for that matter 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Oh my. I did not see that coming. I felt she was more ordinary than that. Tell ya what, since this flash has some ambiguity, you can go on and have her be a serial killing detective if you wish. There is no right or wrong response.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ugh. Did it again. Charli, when you come by this way, you should know that the better version is over my way.

      • Charli Mills

        The ambiguity is well-balanced in this flash, D. It allows us, as readers, to both feel ourselves in that role (empathy) or imagine any call to come (adventure). Never a problem picking up a later version! You certainly help me out in that regard. 😉

    • julespaige

      Yep, sometimes just getting through the day can be like that. I had a few jobs that I ‘performed’ like that …

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Is your dancer also a detective? I am pretty sure her performance will not get her a call back.

      • anuragbakhshi

        Not really, just a gal with killer talent 🙂

    • Liz H

      Oy! That’s quite a twist on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Red Shoes.”
      But I could see this for many of those TV talent competitions. :-0

      • anuragbakhshi

        The Red Shoes? Have to read it now. I assure you that any resemblance was purely coincidental 🙂

      • Liz H

        There’s an amazing film (same name) adapted from the fairy tale, done in 1948. Some amazing ballet and very powerful visuals!

      • anuragbakhshi

        Aah OK, will definitely check it out at the earliest. Thank you so much 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hola Anuragbakhshi! Thanks for adding your performance to the mix. That was an unexpected and deliciously dark twist.

      • anuragbakhshi

        Thank you so much Charli.

      • Charli Mills

        Aha! Anurag — I have your name correct, now. Although I rather like the full effect of it as a run-on. 🙂

    • julespaige

      I may have to read ‘The Red Shoes’ now…
      I wasn’t sure if the Judges were alive to begin with or Helen danced them to death… very interesting. Thanks for joining in this week!

      • anuragbakhshi

        In my head, they’d refused to give her a chance, so she killed them, and then danced her best dance ever in front of the judges!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a potent performance, and a compassionate one, too!

  11. Annecdotist

    How lovely to progress from assisting your children’s dance performances to watching one that your daughter has enabled. Good vibes passed down through generations!
    Having addressed my own book-promotion performance in a recent post, I thought I’d go back there for my flash. It’s inspired by Yoko Ono’s performance Cut Piece from 1965, although it didn’t come my way until a video at an art gallery about a dozen years ago. I think (I hope) it’s a bit more disturbing than the Christmas show that inspired this prompt.
    Does a ‘first draft’ video reflect badly on my published fiction?

    • Charli Mills

      Yoko Ono’s performance cuts deeper than what I see in local theater and dance. Although I did go to the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra performance of Sinfonia Artica which portrays Admiral Scott’s failed arctic expedition. The final piece begins with his last entry in his recovered journal and he states he has no regret. A soprano was sequestered away from the choir and orchestra and moaned gracefully to the wind machine and strings. It reminded me how much I appreciate performances that uplift. I can’t say Yoko’s piece is uplifting but it certainly exposes. And I still enjoy your videos!

  12. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I imagine that there is much grieving that occurs as ones children stretch their wings and fly. I had not thought of the backstage mum as being part of this before but I can now. It must make your heart swell with pride to have watched her on the stage and now to watch on the stage those that she has taught. I’m heading off to consider my own performance – thank you for the wallpaper — a lovely reminder that with the community you have created we can perform knowing that we are not alone. I will return with a flash.

      • Charli Mills

        I’m glad you liked the wallpaper! I had fun trying to blend different holidays and hemispheres. We have a broad community! And thanks for listening to the War after the War. I liked where you went in your flash — straight to the performance some places forget to train for!

      • julespaige

        Depression is a hard nut to crack, and too often many underestimate how those with it survive. As sometimes the depressed don’t even recognize the depth of their own sorrows.

    • Charli Mills

      And a Happy Wednesday to you, too. Lady Lee! 😀

  13. TanGental

    Lovely stuff Charli and the respondents (is that a new rock band?) I love the idea of the songs for the military. Have you come across Gareth Malone and the Military Wives? There’s a BBC series about how he formed them and took them to the Royal Albert Hall and a number one hit, even though they were complete amateurs. Very moving stuff.

    • Charli Mills

      If I led any band it might be ill-fated and short lived, but we’d have a great name! 😉 Wow, I had not known about Gareth Malone and the Military Wives. Incredible. I’ll read up on it more and try to find the BBC documentary. We’re all amateurs on that stage but together, military wives are a force of nature. This group here in Hancock is nothing short of amazing. I’m already thinking about how we Carrot Ranch responders could work with collected stories from the vets and wives and write flash…perhaps that is a project for Vol. 3.

      • TanGental

        Sounds like a plan. Everyone either has a direct or family connection to military service So has something to write about

    • Charli Mills

      Beautiful song and the interviews leading up to it were moving. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Liz H

    My effort at a grisly smile:

    My Mouth-Watering Performance

    “All I remember,” I pause, heaving a shuddering sigh, “Was walking into the downstairs parlor. It was dark, but I smelled swampland. I stepped in a patch of something wet and my feet flew out from under me.

    “And then I came to and saw your dear face hovering above me,” I grasp his brawny bicep, offering up a shaky smile. “But your fiancée, Melanie, has been…eviscerated.”

    “Murdered by the Swamp Thing!” Lawrence clenches his fists. “I swear I won’t rest until it’s destroyed!”

    “Of course, Dear,” I murmur, picking a strand of swamp grass from my teeth.

    • Charli Mills

      It made me smile, Liz! Perfect final detail, too!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a powerful bag of rocks, Colleen! And indeed, storm-borne in the gales of November. Love where they took you to write!

      • Colleen Chesebro

        The rocks spoke to me for sure! Thanks again for the inspiration. It means much to me. <3

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome back, Joe! Wow, that must have been memorable. How was your mission trip?

      • Joe Owens

        It was fantastic Charli. I decided to sponsor a seven year old through a Christian organization run by a good friend I met in Belize 5 years ago. God blessed me so much and has revitalized and refocused me!

    • Liz H

      (I actually heard your screech, and came running)
      Loved that final line, and the subtle lead-up image in the one just before!

    • Charli Mills

      No need to screech, the cows all moo when late arrivals slide under the ranch fence! Actually, the deadline is meant to give both of us a cushion of time. 😉

  15. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    I’m late this week. Apologies, I’ve had some distractions. Here’s my contribution: Christmas lights I do promise to catch up on reading. If I’m too late, it’s okay to leave my story out. I’m okay with that. 🙂

    • Liz H

      They do let us know, in no uncertain terms, when enough is enough!

      • Norah

        In no uncertain, and often unpleasant, ways. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I keep late hours at the Ranch and you have the advantage of being a day ahead! Besides, I’d wait for you, Norah. Hope your distractions are all positive!

      • Norah

        Thank you, Charli. That’s so sweet. The grandchildren and Christmas activities were a good part of the distraction! Then recovering. 🙂

    • julespaige

      Oh, I know that overtired little person all to well.
      Sometimes even as a grown up adult – I think I’d like to stomp and fuss until I fall asleep! 🙂

      • Norah

        Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves, can we? I know I’m in need of sleep when little things, that normally wouldn’t, start to niggle. As adults we are able to make better behaviour choices. Usually.

    • Charli Mills

      JUst like the grit of writing, only we don’t get tutus! Thanks, Deborah!

    • julespaige

      I like that – every time we speak a language we are unfamiliar with…we are preforming 😉

  16. Lisa A. Listwa

    You give us roses in so many ways, Charli. I love the connections you’ve drawn here between these arts you love. What beautiful thoughts on the processes we employ to hone our talents. Awesome.
    Here’s my offering for the week…just making it under the wire, I hope.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Lisa! It’s rewarding to work these performances and see what you all create each week. And wires are easy to get under! 🙂

    • julespaige

      Your piece reminds me of all the times I had tot move while growing up… that last performance in the old school and having to shore up for the new one.

  17. Sherri Matthews

    Aww Charli, I’m so sorry I missed your post and flashing this week. Just couldn’t do it. Thank you for reminding us we are not alone in this, in our art, in our struggle and isolation. Love the medley, so clever and what a great night out! Moved by the The War after the War…and so thankful you have your support network of other VA wives…. <3

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you, Sherri! We are not alone! <3 Thank you. I'm grateful for VA wives, too.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Robbie! Well, you create fantastical stage performances for all your books and with your baking, too. I hope that satisfies the inner exhibitionist! 🙂

    • julespaige

      Just because one doesn’t get the costume does not mean that they have not succeeded! 🙂

  18. julespaige

    I’ve had my own distractions this week; A trilogy of three books each about three hundred pages. So my performance of getting to all these wonderful entries… I was determined to catch up on before the next 99 flash prompt.

    Stay warm or cool depending on where you are 🙂

  19. Liz H

    It’s always something…now to pull it off with panache!

  20. Charli Mills

    Ah! Well, I hope he performs well, nonetheless.

  21. Liz H

    Yes, the performance goes both ways–sometimes that’s helpful for the show to go on!

  22. julespaige

    Parents… grandparents… never scripted is it? 🙂

  23. Charli Mills

    An adorable flash, Kerry!


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