December 14: 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.

December 14, 2017

Plaiting rawhide strands into romal reins is not all that difficult, and yet it is an uncommon skill. Beyond learning the 12 and 16-strand plaits, a rawhide braider spends a lifetime crafting a signature look. Art. It’s like writing, of course (you saw that coming, didn’t you?).

Writers strip ideas into strands and plait them into stories. Just like rein construction, the story structure might be common — take a 99 word format. It implies that all the stories will be the same, just as one might think all 12-strand romal reins are the same.

But we know they aren’t.

Creativity bends beyond the corners each of us alone can imagine. We see it every week with the responses to the flash fiction challenge. Even if stories follow a similar thread, other stories will add a new thread or a single story can act as a departure point. Each one is different in delivery, vibrancy, and use of craft elements, and yet all are 99 words.

I once knew how to braid romal reins. I trained horses with bosals my family made and I know the buckaroo knot demonstrated in the first few minutes:

Like many of us old enough to have moved beyond our roots, or experienced travel, migration or vagabond wandering, we recognize that differences do exist between hometowns, regions, and cultures. To me, these differences create a world of wonder. Still, we can recognize the traits typical to a place or group of people. And this plays into the writer’s adage — “write what you know.”

If I were to set a story in New Zealand, I would focus on what I know. I don’t know New Zealand terrain or people, so I’d be hard-pressed to write a story that could only take place there among those who call the country home. Instead, I’d write a story that could take place anywhere (a universal tale) and research some convincing details to set the illusion of the place.

It’s similar to writing historical fiction. I could spend a lifetime studying an era and still not get it right. As a writer of historical fiction, I write the universal tale first. I might start with historical facts, but I let the story unfold, then go back and color with historical detail. It’s a challenging craft to get the braid plaited from the present to the past and back again. It’s a challenge I relish. I also focus on places where I’ve experienced a deep connection.

When you’ve experienced a place or culture, a funny little phrase pops into mind, “Only in…” If you are scratching your head as to why I’d share a six-minute video with you about bosals and buckaroo knots, it’s because I wondered if buckaroo culture (particularly rein braiding) had accessed social media. When I saw  Guitron’s website I felt a tad giddy because my brain ignited with recognition of something culturally familiar that I hadn’t encountered in decades.

Only in buckaroo country would anyone deftly tie such a knot (or know why). Why? Because when that horse you are training decides to leap through a window in the sky and pulverize your body into corral dust, your knot won’t slip or bind up so tight you have to cut it away.

What got me thinking of “only in” was a post my middle daughter shared on Facebook. She’s my world traveler and for the moment is home in western Montana. Working in hospitality she knows all the restaurant and bar owners. So when three miscreants broke into a place late one night, she posted the story and the security footage to help the owners with identification. Social media acts like a small town — someone is going to recognize you!

How is the story unique to a region? Well, it’s in the details. The story begins with an Only in Montana hook: Two cowboys and a woman broke into a bar after closing. How do we know they were cowboys? Well, they had on cowboy hats like every other cowboy in the region wears. And they had a woman with them identified by her girlie cap with a blonde pony-tail hanging out.

The owners of the bar expressed anger because these three partyers didn’t go home to their ranch; instead, they helped themselves to more booze and beer, taking selfies and having a waffle fight.

I did not make that up: they had a waffle fight.

And here’s where things got weird on social media (only in Montana). Respondents asked questions and made comments in regards to the shame of it all. One question pertained to the selfies — the owner explained that on the security camera they could see the illegal revelers posing with flashes of light. Okay. Then another person brought up the waffles because he’s dismayed that this bar doesn’t make their own.

Grumbling begins. Only in Montana do rural folks care if one of their bars makes fresh waffles or not. Evidently, folks didn’t like hearing there were waffles pre-made. Perhaps the break-in was to expose the bar for its duplicity. Immediately the owner calmed the mob, assuring everyone on social media that their waffles are indeed fresh — the thieves brought their own to the break-in.

So, two drunk cowboys and a female companion break into a bar at 3 a.m., pop the tops of some beer, drink from the whiskey bottles and throw frozen waffles at each other while taking selfies. The town is more upset over the questionable freshness of the bar’s breakfast offering. Who says ranch life is boring out West? Only in Montana.

Here’s my favorite cowboy crooner singing a small piece about a cowboy’s thirst:

I’m thinking they were far into the rye whiskey that night as their antics revealed.

So now it’s your turn. You can think of a place or culture you know well, or you can tell a universal tale (like a break-in) with details that make it specific. The phrase “only in…” is often marked with wry humor like the tone of light-hearted jest.

You’ll often see humorous lists about a place such as my new location. Only in the Keweenaw…

  1. … do people lick rocks.
  2. …are parking lots full of snow machines in winter.
  3. …is a 7-course meal a pasty and a six-pack.

Of course, there are the features indicative of a place, too. Lake Superior, peninsula isolation, moose, wolves differ from North Idaho’s Lake Ponderay, panhandle isolation, moose. Keep in mind your story might be the same, or features might be like elsewhere, but what are the local details?

Think about how you can use this idea to craft a story.

December 14, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “only in…” It can be used to tell a story about a profession, a place or situation. Go were the prompt leads you.

Respond by December 19, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published December 20). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Only in a Snowstorm (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Rain splattered wet pavement when Danni walked to the truck. She paused, looking back at the airport doors. On impulse, her legs twitched, urging her to run after Ike, catch him at security and… And what? Demand he stays? Beg? Instead, Danni left and drove toward the snowline where misting Spokane rain gave way to North Idaho snow. She gripped the steering wheel and drove slow on the slick corners where snow accumulated. Only in a snowstorm would Danni drive without giving in to her churning emotions. If it weren’t for the conditions, she’d be risking a speeding ticket.

###

You May Also Like…

214 Comments

  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Only At Carrot Ranch

    “What’s up Kid? Looks like yer all tied up.”
    “Jist shush, an’ hep me get untangled.”
    “What’re you doin’?”
    “Tryin’ out some fancy knots.”
    “Not so fancy. Not even knots, Kid. Why are ya tryin’ out these buckaroo skills?”
    “Shorty said-“
    “Did ya follow the thread of Shorty’s prompt, Kid? Pick up yer own lines ta braid yer own story. Shorty’ll git ‘em all wove together after.”
    “Go where the prompt leads?”
    “Yep, but let it lead ya ta a familiar place Kid, a place ya know. Hey, where ya headed?”
    “Cook house, gonna git ta know some bacon.”

    • Charli Mills

      Up for a late night write, I see! Gittin’ back to what we know this week and maybe it’ll shed some illumination on what we don’t yet know. Bacon’s a good place to start! Thanks for the yarn, D.!

      • Ritu

        Love this!!!

    • Norah

      And I thought I was first to comment. You must have posted just after I started writing mine! Gotta love these stories. Kid sure knows where it’s at. Nothing like the smell of frying bacon to get the imaginative juices going.

    • julespaige

      Yup go with the familiar or the family…
      Here’s hopen’ they’ll always be good friends, food and family at Carrot Ranch!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha ha. So much fun 🙂

    • Lisa A. Listwa

      Bacon is always a good place to start! Love this one!

  2. Norah

    Love this prompt, Charli. I think you’ve sucked me in! I enjoyed hearing about your knots and ropes and had to check the meaning of quite a few words. What a great education I get when I visit here. I was tickled by the “Only in Keweenaw” list, and like the way you changed it up for Danni’s driving. Hopefully she was safer in the snowstorm than without it. Saying goodbye is never easy, and she seems to be more without Ike than with him.
    I’m wondering when you’ll ever run out of analogies to writing. Somehow, I don’t think you ever will.

    • Charli Mills

      Glad to teach you a few words, Norah! I’m always hunting analogies! 🙂 Now, I further got to wondering if I could find figure 8 roping because it’s highly specialized and I think Bolado Park where I used to rodeo is one of the only places that used to offer figure eight as a contest. My father’s father was often a winner of that roping style. So! I found another video and was blown away because it’s about figure eight roping at Bolado and features the vaqueros (forefathers of buckaroos) and ranchers of San Benito. My Scots ancestors rode out of Missouri with a herd of cattle all the way to San Benito in 1851. Cobb’s kin, my line, settled there in 1910, and my mother’s grandmother came to San Benito in 1890 from Hawaii and her mother was from the Azores and her father from Brazil. Talk about diversity! And yet they all assimilated into that older vaquero and Californios culture. Only in San Benito do they still toss a riata in a figure eight:

      [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tKS8_XzvJ0&w=560&h=315%5D

      • Norah

        Wow! That’s interesting stuff, Charli. It’s good to see you digging up the history on these things. The video is fascinating. Now I’m wondering what techniques are used in rodeos here. But I’ll leave that for another day. I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that I enjoyed listening to Michael Murphy. I have a couple of his albums that I loved, but haven’t listened to for a long time. Flowing Free Forever is the tune that pops to mind first of all.
        And the Only in Montana burglary was a beauty!

      • Juliet Nubel

        Scots ancestors? Yay! Maybe we’re related ????

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, I love Michael Martin Murphy, too! We used to listen to Cowboy Keepers every time we went camping with the kids. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the moment with me on the video!

      • Charli Mills

        Hey, Juliet! Maybe we are cousins! Any kin to Kincaid, McCanles or Alexander?

      • Juliet Nubel

        No, we’re Crawfords. As far as I know… ????

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my response – Only in Australia – where else? https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-12L I’ll be back to read and comment as time permits. Thanks for a great prompt, once again. 🙂 PS While I don’t mention education, it is educational. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! I like that you took it “down under” and as always, your posts are educational!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. 🙂

  3. ladyleemanila

    Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    “only in…” challenge 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Lady Lee! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Adele!

      • Adele Marie

        My pleasure, Chris. xxx

  4. Ritu

    Oooh ! I’ll get me thinking cap on!!! Only in a blogger’s life is a writing prompt more important than breakfast ! ;P

    • floatinggold

      touche.

      • Ritu

        😀

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, I like that idea, Ritu! Breakfast first!

      • Ritu

        100% 😀

    • Norah

      So true. We must decide what our life depends on!

      • Ritu

        Exactly!!!!

    • floatinggold

      Wonderful.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for the travel guide, Lady Lee! 😀

    • Norah

      This is great. How wonderful to get to know about other places and people with this prompt. Thanks.

    • floatinggold

      Commented.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, the way we dream an event will go and the reality our location puts upon us! Love that image in the end, no matter how unintended it was.

    • Norah

      Oh dear. It can’t be good to fall on your face in the snow.

  5. denmaniacs4

    Only in Our Dreams

    The moon tonight is a giant illuminated pumpkin glowing ginger in the sky, hung on the horizon above us, orange and glistening, glorious and great.

    Bundled, braving the dark, the winter chill, we huddle by the burn pile, flames crackling, singeing the air, grey embers sweeping skyward, caught on wayward breezes, some, flitting down the slope of the hill seaward, others disappearing into the woods.

    “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says.

    “It will always be exactly like this,” I answer.

    “But must it be only in our dreams?” she asks.

    “Yes, love,” I confirm. “Only there.”

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • floatinggold

      Awww…

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a sweet moment of recognizing that we can hold it in our dreams. The star-stuff memories are made of.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Awwe…so lovely. The world of our dreams, where no one can draw any boundaries to stop or restrict us!

    • floatinggold

      I had a problem leaving you a comment on your site, so I’ll leave it here. “That was hilarious!”

      • Ritu

        Oh thank you!!

      • Norah

        This is great, Ritu. Love it!

    • floridaborne

      Your site wouldn’t let me add a comment.

      Your post was very funny!

      • Ritu

        Thank you so much! Somehow I managed to disable the comments! I have rectified it now!! I hope!

      • Ritu

        I managed to uncheck the leave a comment button somehow when writing the post. Thankfully some of the others alerted me and I sorted it out! Thank you xx

    • denmaniacs4

      a hoot, Ritu.

      • Ritu

        Thanks!

    • Charli Mills

      That made me laugh, Ritu! You paced it brilliantly.

      • Ritu

        Glad you liked it Charli!

    • Liz H

      I just imagined the progression of tension-inducing music to backdrop the scene, and now my head’s going to make-up and costuming…this is priceless!

      • Ritu

        Lol!!! Glad it affected you so deeply!

    • mrmacrum

      Liked it. Soap Operas in general seem to eat as much time on the mundane as possible,like the writers were having a bad week or something.

      • Ritu

        Thanks! When 4 out of 5 episodes are like this, it kinda makes you wonder why you still tune in..!

    • floatinggold

      Commented.

    • Charli Mills

      I learned a new sport from you, Lisa! But I recognized the familiarity of pride. Great job of taking something like community and sports but giving it a definite local flavor.

    • floatinggold

      Commented.

    • floridaborne

      I’m not a fan of snow flakes either.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Michael! You have a good weekend, too! I’m sending you lots of happy and cooling snowflake thoughts! 😀

      • Michael

        Thank you, I think we need a good week’s worth if that is not too much to ask for.

      • Charli Mills

        I have a huge supply of snow — let’s see if it gets to you! 😀

  6. floatinggold

    A first timer here. Not sure if I got this right… The “Only in…” prompt took me in a different direction. No particular place or humor involved. Well, at least I gave it a go.

    “Betty looked in the mirror one last time after washing her hands and before exiting the washroom. As she stepped outside, she reminded herself to adjust her smile, because her life was perfect, after all. Off to hair and makeup she goes. It’s another busy day on set, so she changes her clothes while she walks, absentmindedly almost tripping over her own feet. It looks like they are shooting an ad for lipstick. In the modeling world no one knows about her horrible car accident in which her face got badly burned. Only in the shadows does she cry.”

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch. The ranch is a great place to just go where the prompt takes you. Only in the ranch all directions taken are valued. Good story. I love “only in the shadows does she cry.” I want her makeup artist – she has to be good to be able to hide the burns — I need a few wrinkles covered up.

      • floatinggold

        Thank you for the warm welcome.
        Hahah! I’ll see if I can hook you up. But she might have a mask she puts on at home…

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for that “only in the ranch” comment, Irene!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch! The prompt can be a different pony to each writer; follow its lead. I enjoyed your flash, and felt deep empathy for the character at the final sentence.

      • floatinggold

        Thank you. It just came to me, and so I had to write it.
        Good to hear that I was within rules.

      • Liz H

        It’s like Pirate Code–“more like guidelines, than actual rules!” 😉
        Hop aboard, we set sail at dawn!!

    • julespaige

      Welcome… only in back shadows are the truths reviled if ever in behind the scenes in stage or screen.

      • floatinggold

        Isn’t that the truth?!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Welcome aboard! Loved the story, especially how it showed the pain behind the glamour in the world of lights and shadows, i.e. the entertainment/advertising industry!

      • floatinggold

        Yes! Exactly! Thank you so much for the welcome, the read and the comment.

    • Lisa A. Listwa

      Welcome to the Ranch! Love your story – so tragic and beautiful at the same time. Great use of the prompt in the last line.

      • floatinggold

        Thanks a lot, Lisa!

    • Norah

      Welcome to the Ranch. It’s a great place to ride and write. Great story. You met the prompt well. It’s only in our own insecurities that our stories wouldn’t be valued.

      • floatinggold

        Thanks for reading!

      • Norah

        My pleasure.

  7. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    I wish I could write a story, maybe funny, but charming too, because I am from a place where rugged people work and play surrounded by beauty.
    I wish, for your sake, that it’s only in this place that people get burned out of their homes over drug deal disputes; only in this place do innocent people get killed on the interstate by zombies speeding north with powder and pills to sell; only in this place are parents losing children, are children losing parents, are people blind to the beauty that surrounds them. I wish this were a story.

    • Charli Mills

      I wish it were only true on bad sit-coms and overrated paperback zombie tales. Poignant writing, D.!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        (Well, once again, I fired too quick, the better edit is over yonder.) Nowadays people seem to be into zombies but that’s the word I went with. Long term heroin use does dehumanize, takes away a person’s soul. Makes for bad drivers.
        Hoping a story finds me this week, but wicked busy…

      • Charli Mills

        We got to keep feeding our souls (I think that’s a line from a Jewel song).

    • julespaige

      Your ‘reporting’ is too accurate for most everywhere these days.
      Just at dinner the other night we were talking about the back alleys where things creep out to scare the reality out of the waking day and innocent dreams.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Unfortunately, the place that you described exists in large parts of the world today 🙁

    • Charli Mills

      What a soundscape Dehli must be! Thanks, Neel!

    • julespaige

      I thought that was only in New York City or in larger Metropolis cities.
      I would not thought of it happening there where you are…

    • Liz H

      “Monday morning murderous mayhem…”
      Marvelous!

  8. A. E. Robson

    Have you ever experienced or seen a Chinook a.k.a. Snow Eater? They happen “only in” select parts of the country. Visit our link to see what a Chinook looks like during an early morning sunrise along the Livingstone Range.

    Snow Eater
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    This morning it’s -40 and three hours of chores don’t give a rats’ ass about the weather. There’s talk of it warming up, but it’s December so I don’t hold my breath on that account, just yet. The thermometer hasn’t seen the top side of zero for a few weeks now. Two hours into chores, the wind starts to blow. There’s the telltale blue arch visible in the western sky. The snow eater is coming. By mid-afternoon, the water’s running in the barnyard. It’s not a myth. It happens from time to time, but only in Chinook country.

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/snow-eater

    • Charli Mills

      Ah! I have! Occasionally a Chinook blows down to eastern Montana. Same thing — double digits below zero, mounds of drifting snow and then a warm Chinook. It creates muck on the logging hill, as much as in the barnyard. Thanks for the memory, Ann!

    • julespaige

      Amazing!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Unable to comment on your blog for some strange reason. Thanks for the introduction to another one of nature’s awesome phenomenon- the Chinook. Had only heard the name, but had no clue what it was…before today!

    • Norah

      Wow, Anne. Great story. Thanks for the explanation too.

    • Charli Mills

      Boom! That’s a good one, Joelle!

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

    • Liz H

      Ha! That’s be me in the light Hawaiian shirt, while everyone else is bundled up!

      • floridaborne

        LOL! When summer comes, y’all are dying in the heat and we’re jogging without breaking a sweat. 🙂

      • Liz H

        It’s true! I’ve been to Florida in the summer, and I didn’t even want to move…breathing made me break out in rivers!

    • Norah

      Oh dear. It’s pays to have the local info sometimes.

      • floridaborne

        A little research can protect your car — and your head. 🙂

      • Norah

        Indeed! Happy Christmas!

  9. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I found it interesting your discussion of the universal story versus a story of place. We have just read an Australian book where half the people saw the description of place and characters in place as being true to a rural town in Australia. Three of us didn’t. Your own experience plays such a part in this. The story was universal however and I read it as a good detective yarn.
    Mine this week https://irenewaters19.com/2017/12/16/only-in-my-house-99-word-flash-fiction/
    Your flash – she still shows strength of character because many probably couldn’t bring themselves into the present even because of the snow. I’m glad it saved Danni from a ticket but potentially it saved her life.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a good point, Irene. I think the more details we add to a place the more it becomes a perspective not shared by all from that location. I think to be universal, it is also generic. Hopefully that universal connection or location remains strong so that readers don’t trip over the brushstrokes of too many specifics. And thank you for your reflection on Danni’s strength of character in that moment.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Absolutely or if it is rich with detail that detail has to be accurate to all (and that I think is difficult to do because we all have our own world view). I’m not sure about if universal it has to be generic. I can think of some great literature (the obvious being To Kill a Mockingbird) that was not generic yet hit a chord worldwide.

      • Charli Mills

        Generic may not be the right word…it has to be simple like, boy meets girl, or something happens to someone…we build details upon those common bones. And yes — the more detail, the more accurate we need to be.

    • julespaige

      This reminds me of walking in a dark house… living with children and stepping on small building bricks… not funny. One wonders why slapstick humor is funny?

      Ouch…as long as it’s not me …I guess.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I know – I said to a facebook friend that had posted a video of someone doing something stupid and suffering the side effects – why do we laugh when it isn’t funny. but we do.
        By the way you can get special leggo slippers that make walking on leggo not painful.

      • julespaige

        There is an invention and intervention for everything 😉

  10. Juliet Nubel

    Hi dear riders and writers,
    Talk of Charli’s Scots ancestors took me down another path today. Something of a silly wee story, this one…

    The McWedding Day

    “Gorgeous fabric.”

    Mrs McGregor slid along the polished pew to get a better view down the aisle to the front of the church.

    “You’re absolutely right, Jean. But it’s a wee bit short, don’t you think?”

    “No, but maybe too tight on the hips. Makes it rather lumpy over the bum.”

    The organist struck up the first chords and every head turned towards the beaming bride, entering on her father’s arm.

    An old Irish cousin, one row back, whispered into her neighbour’s ear – “Only in Scotland could you comment on the groom’s kilt as much as the bride’s gown!”

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Oh, that’s priceless! It reminds me of a song…about winning a blue ribbon…I’ll try to find it, unless you know which one I mean. I think the men are as prideful of how they fill out their skirts as the women. 😀

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks Irene. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • julespaige

      My brother-in-law is of Scott heritage … and for a while the whole house took up the dance. Two gals, two guys in full regalia!

      Got a giggle out of me 🙂

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha ha. That was unexpected. So much fun!

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks! Glad you liked it.

    • Liz H

      Plot twist–brilliant! 😀

      • Juliet Nubel

        🙂 Thanks, Liz!

    • Charli Mills

      Link works great, Juliet! Thanks!

    • Charli Mills

      A sweeping dark place but authentic to what the experience can be like. Well done, Chelsea.

  11. Frank Hubeny

    I can see how Danni might be speeding if it weren’t for the snow.

    —————————–
    The Genie Wormhole

    Even Robert Roqetscienski was surprised when the wormhole appeared. “It worked?”

    From the smoky mist he heard, “Your wish is my command, Master.”

    “What? Are you some kind of genie?”

    “Well, yes. What were you expecting?”

    “My time machine was generating a wormhole from dark matter singularities.”

    “Sorry. I did bump a wormhole on my way here. Maybe I could still grant you a wish?”

    “What I want is a wormhole.”

    “If I did that, you would not be able to reproduce the results in your journal article.”

    “In what universe does stuff like this happen?”

    “Only in fantasyland.”

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Haha. Love the name you gave your character. It fitted the story perfectly. Good one.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! When sci-fi and fantasy collide. Good one Frank! And yes, a good thing for Danni there’s snow. We’ll both have to write our characters out of their dilemmas (or into more…).

  12. Annecdotist

    I’ve got a character tying knots in my WIP, but they’re a lot less sophisticated than yours. Then your buckaroo braiding had me thinking of complex African hairdos. But with a post compiling extracts from fictional Christmases to fit in before the 25th, I imagine I won’t be the only rancher whose “only in” adopts a seasonal theme:
    8 fictional Christmases #amreading http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2017/12/8-fictional-christmases-amreading.html

    • julespaige

      With commercialize paramount and growing with exponentially as the population… it is hard to escape such friction with populated areas.

      We chose one year to get away and forgot that others might too. – traffic was a bear. And so where the beaches…

      • Annecdotist

        Indeed, Jules, can be tough if you don’t have a cellar (which I don’t) but I know where I can go now for a quiet Xmas day walk 😉

      • julespaige

        Too many holidays… It would be nice if each day was respected for what it presents. 😉

        Enjoy your quiet times.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        We went on a cruise last year to miss all the crowds. It worked a treat and we didn’t have to worry about Christmas Lunch. We’d do it again except my Mum was left by herself so not fair on her.

      • julespaige

        A cruise is nice. I’ve been on one… I met some folks then who never left the ship! Could your Mum go with you next time? We’ve relatives who cruise at least once a year and took their mothers with them… a different challenge… but one remembers you aren’t in your room much and there are many open spaces and so much entertainment.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        We could but I think she would be too nervous leaving her doctors and electric bed and chair and all those other creature comforts that make life easy for her.

      • julespaige

        Some of us don’t have to wait until we are older to feel like we would rather not leave our ‘comforts’ whatever they are. Though we might surprise ourselves if we traded some of that comfort for new experiences. Ships have doctors and there are rooms for those with special needs… But each to their own, and especially elders choices need respect.

    • Charli Mills

      I can see the possibilities on the topic of knots, an interesting quirk to give your character. And hopefully, none are tying you in knots as you write! Yes, the braiding is similar, except one is performed with hair attached. Oddly enough, only a few Christmas themes! But some interesting travels and experiences.

  13. julespaige

    Charli and Community;

    Been a tad busy and distracted prepping for a house full of companionable
    company. Now the relaxing and cleaning up can begin… and just the write time for being; All Wrapped Up

    All Wrapped Up

    The innocence of the youth…only in a home with children
    can one appreciate the sheer joy of opening gifts – and it
    doesn’t matter what holiday, birthday or celebration. They
    wiggle as they wait knowing that some traditions have to be
    dealt with first. Like all the adults oohing and ahhing and
    catching up since last they met (some six months ago,
    others just last week). Eating and more schmoozing…
    then finally the one of the four (the eldest) who has reached
    the age of reason… reasons… seeking Grama and asks;
    “Is it time yet to open the presents?”

    ©JP/dh

    Be back to soon…

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, I think that is so true — children catch on to gift giving traditions and hold such excitement for it.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Since I’m watching the second season of The Crown currently, I am assuming the guy to be Prince Philip, and the Madam to be the queen!

      • mrmacrum

        No, actually I had no specific person in mind, other than they were born into privilege and never escaped it. But I can see where Prince Phillip would fit right in.

    • Norah

      Welcome. Great story – creates a vivid picture.

      • mrmacrum

        Thank you. It is fun to see how much paint we can lay down in 100 or fewer words.

      • Norah

        It is! Happy Christmas!

    • Charli Mills

      Your flash brings to mind that even privileged we may not be free.

      • mrmacrum

        I am reminded of Bob Dylan, “We all have to serve somebody”. And thanks Charli for the prompt. It was actually tougher than I thought it would be.

    • Charli Mills

      Good one, Jack!

    • Charli Mills

      Hola Anurag! Great tension and twist!

      • anuragbakhshi

        Thank you so much Charli.

  14. anuragbakhshi

    Hi Charli, it was so refreshing to see the dangers of driving on snowy roads actually become a life-saver for Danni. I’m sure that she’ll realize that just like on the snow, you can skid and fall when you’re in love, but it’s still so much fun while it lasts 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, that’s a good insight, Anurag!

    • Charli Mills

      Isn’t it interesting how we set out to write one story and another takes us?

  15. susansleggs

    Learning Respect for the Flag

    “I’m not coming home for a dumb parade to see Dad in a musty old uniform and carrying a flag that means nothing. I’m riding to D.C. for Memorial Day.”
    “He fought for that flag.”
    Weeks later. “I went to Bike Week in Lake George, NY, after I went to Rolling Thunder. I saw lots of bikes, boobs, and drunks. Not a good scene. On the other hand, only in D.C can 400,000 roaring bikes, lots of flags and tons of veterans be a reverent sight. I now understand Dad’s loyalty to the flag. I’ll be home next year.”

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Sometimes it takes a little world experience to give us understanding. You have written this perfectly in your flash.

      • susansleggs

        Thank you Irene.

    • Charli Mills

      What has meaning for one generation often has to be learned to be appreciated by the next. I like how you have a perfect story arc in 99 words, Susan.

      • susansleggs

        Thanks Charli. That’s a big compliment coming from you.

    • Charli Mills

      Keep using the flash to explore your novel! I also was thinking how I appreciate getting to write about my novel characters even after the novel is finished!

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Your characters get stuck in your heart. I would say their story isn’t over. ????

  16. Pete

    Directions

    “Excuse me, we’re looking for the memorial.”

    “Nice car. You from Virginia?”

    “Yes. Fairfax.”

    “Right.”

    “Sooo, the memorial?”

    “Go down Jefferson Davis Highway, take a right at MLK Boulevard. You’ll pass Nat Turner Park…”

    “Are you being serious? I can’t tell if you’re being serious.”

    “…there’s a marker for Stonewall Jackson’s arm’s grave.”

    “A um, a grave for his arm?”

    “That’s what I said.”

    “…”

    “Anyways, at the courthouse—it’s closed on account of it being Lee-Jackson-Kind day—you’ll see it. You can’t miss General Lee. If you look close you can see the tears—hey, where you going?”

    • Pete

      I just noticed that my “only in…” is implied, also it should be Lee-Jackson-KinG day–a bizarre recognized holiday back when I went to school. That said, Lee-Jackson-Kind could be interesting as well…

      • Charli Mills

        Maybe there will be a Lee-Jackson-Kind day in the future when we are a kinder nation. I love that you let the “only in” be implied. It certainly comes through!

    • Liz H

      When the only way to communicate is remotely.
      Clever!

      • jordancorley

        Thank you! It definitely seems to be the go to approach now a days, albeit a sad approach as well

    • Charli Mills

      I enjoyed your flash Jordan, and glad you had fun with it!

      • jordancorley

        Thank you Charli!

  17. Sherri Matthews

    Love the 7 course meal! It’s crazy isn’t it how a break-in turns into a pout about homemade waffles – or not! Social media helps find the culprits, hopefully, but turns into on online waffle fight, frozen or otherwise! Great post Charli, I love it when you share your insights into your differing local communities throughout your many travels. vary here just from town to town, and not just in local dialect. And those knots! Wow. I remember helping my boys with knots in their Scouting days. But I’ve never heard of a Bosal, and what a great find for you on YouTube. Hopefully no waffle fight vids though 😉 Things I’ll try my best to return with a flash later on… 🙂 <3

    • Charli Mills

      I’d love to see the waffle fight on a video! Yes, so interesting how the culture fluctuates across regions. I can only remember one knot! Thanks for riding by, Sherri! <3

      • Sherri Matthews

        Me too! Haha…those knots are tricky at the best of times! Always Charli…unfortunately I was thrown at the last jump and couldn’t make it this week. But I’m chomping at the bit for the New Year…let’s ride!!!! 😀 <3

    • Norah

      Worthwhile rant!

    • Charli Mills

      A bit of a rant is needed. Actually, I believe we need to express what is happening in literary form.

  18. Lisa A. Listwa

    Just want to say that I’ve had Debbie Gibson’s “Only in My Dreams” stuck in my head for DAYS! Ugh. Not exactly the direction I wanted to take… LOL

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Thanks for passing along the affliction! 😀

  19. Liz H

    Grateful for mornings like this one. Made it under the line, I hope…

    Only in Real Winter Dreams

    Spoon coffee grounds into the BPA-free filter, the scent a bright hit in the ice-crystal kitchen. Cat slurps his morning meal, shoulders hunched protectively over his bowl.

    I am so not going to fight him for a bite.

    Down the obligatory 8 oz of skim to wash down the multi vitamin and D3 tabs. Cereal clatters into a Pyrex bowl, then softened by another deep splash of skim. My jaws work the goodness from five different healthy grains.

    Grabbing the golden caffeine elixir, I pad off to transcribe my dreams.

    Only when the sun rises before I have to.

    https://huldermn.wordpress.com/2017/12/19/only-in-real-winter-dreams/

    • Charli Mills

      Love the unfolding of this morning and a great detail: “My jaws work the goodness from five different healthy grains.” I recognize that crunch. 😉

  20. Kerry E.B. Black

    Ninety-nine
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    She commands I capture a story using ninety-nine words, but I have lifetime to present. I chafe at the confines, yet by honing the message and pruning the words, I achieve brevity. Brevity is beautiful, right? I strive for beauty. I face doubts and strike blows at fear. A story has an arc, and mine begins with an idea. I face adversity in a stifling word count, fail, edit, and at last reach my goal. In only ninety-nine words, I present a baseline, a struggle, a resolution. It may need flesh, but it is there, only in ninety-nine words.

    • Norah

      Brilliant, Kerry! Well done.

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        Gee, you made me blush! Thank you for the confidence boost, Norah!

    • Charli Mills

      A beautiful expression of the 99 form!

  21. Kerry E.B. Black

    The snow dancing through the site is a nice touch!

    • Charli Mills

      After four years I’ve finally figured out how to turn it on! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Every good trail ride requires those who bring up the rear! 😀

    • Norah

      Great stuff, Lisa!

  22. Charli Mills

    Funny how logic isn’t as sparkly as drama! Thanks, Reena!

  23. Liz H

    An astute observation!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks for sharing, Judy!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Only in the Philippines – Ladyleemanila - […] For: December 14: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  2. December 14: Flash Fiction Challenge | pensitivity101 - […] Thanks Charli. https://carrotranch.com/2017/12/14/december-14-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  3. Logic – Reena Saxena - […] Flash Fiction Challenge at Carrot Ranch […]
  4. Flash Fiction: Tower – Telling Stories Together - […] For Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt: “Only in…” […]
  5. December 14: Flash Fiction Challenge - Judy E Martin - […] via December 14: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  6. December 14 – Flash Fiction – Performance – Only In | But I Smile Anyway... - […] prompt this […]
  7. December 14: Flash Fiction Challenge: 99 Word Prompt – Only In – Carrot Ranch Literary Community « culturevultureexpress - […] https://carrotranch.com/2017/12/14/december-14-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  8. December 14: Flash Fiction Challenge | Morpethroad - […] Written for: https://carrotranch.com/2017/12/14/december-14-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  9. neelwrites/losingit/flash/99words/16/12/2017 | neelwritesblog - […] Hosted by Charli Mills at https://carrotranch.com/2017/12/14/december-14-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  10. Based | ShiftnShake - […] Carrot Ranch, December 14, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “only…
  11. 99 word prompt : Only in Florida | Two on a Rant - […] If you want to participate, here’s the link: https://carrotranch.com/2017/12/14/december-14-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  12. Only in my house: 99 word Flash fiction | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist) - […] response to Charli’s prompt: where she […]
  13. Charli’s challenge | OMG I'm fifty! - […] was Charli Mill’s addictive flash fiction challenge at the Carrot Ranch this week. I’ve just ingurgitated my dose and…
  14. Only In | A Wife, My Verse, and Every Little Thing - […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Entry […]
  15. Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – America – The Bag Lady - […] https://carrotranch.com/2017/12/14/december-14-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  16. (nf) CR; All Wrapped Up (12.17) | Jules in Flashy Fiction - […] Carrot Ranch Dec 14, Flash Fiction Challenge In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the…
  17. Creatures of the Dark | jagahdilmein - […] for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community. The prompt this week […]
  18. Adventures, Right Here | A Wife, My Verse, and Every Little Thing - […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Entry […]
  19. “Only in My Dreams” – A Tanka | Colleen Chesebro?The Fairy Whisperer? - […] 14, 2017, Carrotranch.com prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “only in…”…
  20. “Only in My Dreams” – A Haibun/Senryu | Colleen Chesebro?The Fairy Whisperer? - […] 14, 2017, Carrotranch.com prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “only in…”…
  21. Only in Australia | Norah Colvin - […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenges writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write…
  22. Only in America (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) – 99 Monkeys - […] week, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: In 99 words (no…
  23. Only in Real Winter Dreams | From the Valley of the Trolls - […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (12/14/2017): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “only in…”…
  24. Lila – The Meaning of Me - […] in response to the December 14 Flash Fiction Challenge at Carrot Ranch […]
  25. Star-fall | Chelsea Ann Owens - […] Frosted pine-pinnacles still point, in vain, Where once I sat, aglow, forever and a million years Before the laughing…
  26. neelwrites/somechoice/fiction/flash/99words/10/01/2018 | neelwritesblog - […] December 14: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

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

Continue reading