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Dec. 21: Flash Fiction Challenge

December 21 Carrot Ranch Prompt @Charli_MillsI have no birds to cushion life’s blows. I seek signs of them and wonder when the shift will happen in my mind; the shift from no birds to birds.

Growing up in the Sierras, red-tailed hawks came to me. It’s not as if they circled overhead, asking, “Hey, Charli, can I ride your horse?” It’s more like made their presence known. A loud, “Sceeee!” and I’d look up, watch wing feathers tickle air currents, and feel connected to the expanse we shared.

In Minnesota, it was backyard birds from red cardinals to common house finches to swooping goshawks. Then the ducks came. Whenever I needed a lift of spirits, a duck would fly overhead. Up north the loons would trill to me, and across the border, in Wisconsin the pileated woodpeckers played hide-and-seek.

North Idaho exploded with birds — Elmira Pond was a traveler-stop along the feathered migration highway. Hefty eagles hunted turtles and baby mergansers in early spring and Blue Heron bathed on a log at the edge of the pond. Wonders never ceased until the place ceased to be my home.

Lost in the wilderness with no plumbing and living in a leaking tin can of a camp trailer, nonetheless every morning I awoke to the miracle of hummingbirds. Caliope with golden-red heads descended from the river trees and battled for the sugar-water I set out for them.

In the strange and red land of southern Utah (Mars), Road Runner appeared. With a red head and black and white body, he was easy to spot. Yet he’d stride quickly in and out of brush and cacti. One day along the Virgin River between the massive sandstone pillars of Zion, Blue Heron flew past me like a visiting angel.

Broke down in New Mexico, quail, roadrunners, and hawks made visits. Our final days there on the border of Colorado where the McCanles family settled, the hummingbirds returned and we saw flashes of indistinguishable mountain birds. In Kansas, a hoot owl serenaded me several late nights.

Arriving in the Keweenaw, I heard a loon one morning and the trill felt like a welcome call. But since then, birds have gone silent. Maybe the rocks are too loud. More likely I haven’t adjusted my perception. It’s a stillness I embrace to be with nature, in nature. It’s where the birds usually meet me. It’s like the border to another place.

Writers visit that place — the borderlands between what we know and what we imagine.

Lately, I’ve been meditating and it feels like visits to that borderland expanse. I use an app on my phone from Believe me, after a year of wandering homeless, I need calm. An added feature is the “focus” music. Ambient sounds to de-stress and work by. A must-have for writers, especially on deadline or amid distractions.

A quote from a recent #dailycalm reads:

“You can close your eyes to the things you do not want to see but you cannot close your heart to the things you do not want to feel.”

I sat with that quote, letting it seep into my bones. Writers can’t help but see, and we write from open hearts. Whether we search the shadows for the darkness of humanity or let the light in, this is the borderlands. It’s setting out to write about birds and ending up with white flowers. Because we don’t know what awaits us on the page until we cross the border between what we see and what we feel deep inside.

Sometimes we don’t know what we feel deep inside until we craft a story and a reader reflects back to us the depth. Thus, is the deep in the writers? The readers? Or again, a borderland between individuals? We may not want to feel it but that is what we must write. That is what writing into our truth looks like — a trip to the borderlands and a journey to the deep.

In meditation, I was guided to “feel.” I recall thinking that I wasn’t really feeling anything deep. After all, I’ve been meditating, letting go, hefting healthy boundaries and (mostly) eating healthy food. I had invited calm into my life. Things were finally happening, moving, not stuck or unstable.

I was guided to pluck a flower and look at the feeling as if it were a bloom. I did. It was white. Suddenly a field of white flowers expanded before me and I recognized it as the scene I once snapped when Bobo perched in a field of white daisies. I love that photo — the beauty, the wonder, the freedom. It was before…

…before Kate died. Before we lost Elmira Pond. Before we wandered. Before Grenny died on Mars. Before we knew the battles ahead. Stab after stab I felt the grief so sharp. How could I be sitting here so calm, so focused and so utterly devastated inside? Suddenly, every white flower morphed into every war widow or struggling veteran wife.

If the soldiers have a field of red poppies, the spouses have one of white daisies.

The meditation continued. I grappled with grief, thought of Danni in that field and realized it will play out in my writing. After recognizing and naming my flower (field) I was able to let it wash past me. I felt better afterward, and curious, too. It felt like the borderlands materialized clearly. I will sit with this image for a spell.

In the meantime, I went digging in my photo archives and found the actual shot that led me to the field of white daisies. It reminded me that an early prompt at Carrot Ranch was “white flowers.” It was April 2014 and six writers responded. I remember my elation that anyone was responding! The writers responded with depth and I knew we would venture to the borderlands together.

Over three years later and we consistently have over 30 writers responding a week. And The Congress of Rough Writers has grown to 40. And now we have our first global title in Amazon, published by Carrot Ranch Literary Community: The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1. It’s also my first book to qualify me for an author page and I’m over the moon. This marks a huge milestone for many of us in this community. I’m thrilled!

Yet deep down, I grieve.

That is the essence of the field of white daisies, though. It is why we remember WWI soldiers with stunning red poppies — we rise, perhaps stronger for our pain and suffering, and we soak up the beauty and the life, too. We cannot know joy without knowing grief. We cannot know the hero within without also recognizing our own capacity for villainy. We are human — we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Just as I’m expecting birds to show up, I will always expect stories, too. We need only open our eyes to see, brave the depths of our hearts to feel. Write into those borderlands.

December 21, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but one that has an ability to be emotive. Humor, drama, irony — go wherever the white flowers lead.

Respond by December 26, 2017 (Happy Boxing Day!) to be included in the compilation (published December 27). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


A Field of White Flowers (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mils

Danni dodged potholes on the way to the logging site halfway up Nine Mile Road. On corners she slowed, scouting for logging trucks. Fully loaded they needed wide clearance. Near the crest of the ridge a mountain meadow opened up from the cover of tamarack and jack pines. Danni pulled over to let G-Dog and Det run through white daisies. G-Dog marked the perimeter and Det held point. What did she see? Danni scanned the far edge of shadows, imagining Ike and Bubbie walking the forest. White flowers bobbed like funerary tokens. A lone duck beat wings overhead. Silence.



  1. The title has fiction in it, but what you say sounds as close to actual happenings.

  2. Joy says:

    “Holy shit,”she exclaimed with the grace and aplomb expected of a fine lady. I saw the prompt first (the “is it a bear?” one) and immediately thought of Channing. So when I read this, I was quite impressed with myself for thinking like you. I’m going to write 99 words. I will probably not submit because my writing is kinda crap. But I have to write because apparently I cannot close my heart to things I do not want to feel.

    • Around here the term is “raw”. 99 word stories are given and received graciously here. This is a fine safe place to practice craft and share writing.

      • floatinggold says:

        Yes, writing is so diverse. This is a great place for any reader to find something they like. And for the writer to keep on improving.

      • Michael B. Fishman says:

        Joy, I would personally love it if you shared your writing because when I read something like this: “But I have to write because apparently I cannot close my heart to things I do not want to feel.” it tells me that those words – regardless of how they’re strung together – are words I want to experience.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, my dear sweet (fiery) Joy, no, you do not close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel and because of that, you express huge amounts of compassion and truth. Truth that others often find difficult to face. You have a beautiful heart and a massive wound, yet still, you rise. You are courageous! And, as D. says, we embrace “raw” writing because that is also bravery. I would be honored to have a story for Channing here, though even the thought of you penning it makes me cry. Loss does weird things to us because we can’t ignore the hole or close the heart. Miracle of Ducks began as “Bubbie stories.” I was actually happy at one point, feeling like Bubbie could live in stories and it lifted me. But then I knew Bubbie would die because the truth is not in life or death; the truth is in how we take the elixir after death and return to life. In the end, it’s become a story about women who survive loss. Though it may slice our feet to walk in truth, it has a liberating beauty. I hope you feel the quickening of the borderlands upon you as you write, whether you share with us or not; I hope you experience what artist do when they dare to walk among those white flowers.

    • Norah says:

      I add my encouragement to that of the others, Joy. Carrot Ranch is a very safe place to share; but some writing is very personal and it is not necessary to share everything. Share when you are ready. There is no pressure. You’ll know when it’s time for you, and we’ll be here waiting with open, accepting arms, ready to embrace you.

  3. Helleborus niger

    “Hey, Kid, I see yer saddlin’ up.”
    “Yep, Shorty’s got us on another roundup.”
    “What direction ya headin’?”
    “Don’t rightly know, Pal. Headin’ for the border, not sure which one.”
    “I reckon you’ll head north. Don’t fergit ta git white flowers.”
    “That dang Shorty. White flowers. In winter. Bloomin’ hell.”
    “That’s it Kid! Hellebores. Christmas Rose.”
    “Oh, yeah, Pal. Blooms in winter.”
    “See, Kid. The longest day is past. Ya’ve rode through a seasonal borderland. There’ll be snow an’ cold yet, but there’s always somethin’ bloomin’, somethin’ ta be picked.”
    “Thanks, Pal. Feelin’ lighter already.”
    “Yer hoss’ll ‘preciate that.”

    • “Gol dang it Kid, she messed up agin! I shoulda said ‘darkest day’ or ‘longest night’, not ‘longest day’.”
      “Dang errorist.”
      “Ain’t funny, Kid.”
      “Well, those dark days sure seem long, Pal.”

      • julespaige says:

        I mess up all the time… but once you hit send. Well that’s it isn’t it?
        Ack it is 4:18 pm and very dusk near dark. I feel like I just woke up.
        Kinda spooky when you look out an’ can’t tell if it is dawn or dusk.

      • I never seem to learn about a hasty hitsend. Funny too how ya can read yer own words and not see errors. And I think in my mind these short daylight days do wear long. Gotten’ longer now though.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Them errorists pop up when least intended! Darkest day it is… But a white rose in winter will uplift us all.

    • So true, there’s always something blooming 🙂 Wish you and your loved ones a merry Christmas!

    • Norah says:

      Always love these stories, don’t always notice the errors, just appreciate them. I knew what was intended – the power of the mind.

  4. Juliet Nubel says:

    This made me so sad, Charli. For you, for war victims everywhere and especially for a friend who buried her eight year old son last year. She called him her ‘petit colibri’. I know I’ll have to write my story based on that. But not yet. Later.

  5. Ritu says:

    Oh Charli, my heart goes out to you…
    I shall try my hardest with this extremely symbolic prompt. <3

  6. […] Carrot Ranch: White Flowers Dec 21 prompt December 21, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but one that has an ability to be emotive. Humor, drama, irony — go wherever the white flowers lead. […]

  7. julespaige says:

    Charli and Company…

    White flowers have different meanings everywhere… Some are sad, but others bring joy. If you choose to go to my link I got a tad carried away with some research on the flower of my choice… Please enjoy:

    Floral Notes

    White Spider Chrysanthemums, are an autumn flower.
    Mums the birth flower of November;related to daisies
    and marigolds. Being born in autumn, perhaps that’s why
    Blanche chose them along with other smaller mums,
    Baby’s breath, and to honor a Grandfather, whom she
    had never met, (at her father’s request) three white roses;
    for her wedding bouquet just days before the autumnal

    Blache has a fascination now for any and all white flowers.
    She plans on framing some in a display; of the photographs
    she’s taken of different white flowers on one of blank walls
    in her dining room.


  8. floatinggold says:

    I am already impressed with the pieces in the comments. To me, this prompt looks very difficult. And because of the busy Holiday season, I will be bowing out of this one, but I hope to read some of your posts once they get published.

    Oh, and CongratZ on your dreams becoming real with the book, etc.

  9. They keep coming, friends from her youth, family, neighbors, and loved ones. They keep coming with fresh pasta, white roses, presence and care. They keep coming to spend time with their beloved who is so close to death that heaven now seems closer to them. They keep coming to break bread, sip tea, sit together on the foldout, laugh, cry, and love one another. What they do not know is how they are lifting the children, the caregivers, those weighted down with the grief of their love. They keep coming, giving so much more than they will ever know.

  10. mrmacrum says:

    “Writers visit that place — the borderlands between what we know and what we imagine.”

    Absolutely. Excellent.

    My 99 words are up. Not the cheeriest I have written given the season, but in some way appropriate.

    • julespaige says:

      Gently haunting…

      • mrmacrum says:

        I had not thought of it as haunting. But after I read it with that in mind, I could relate.

        I actually had to pare it down from a hefty 300 or so words. I had action, laughs, and serious moments to share. But rules are rules, and this is how it turned out.

      • julespaige says:

        You could always say there is a longer version and post that at your place. Others do.

      • mrmacrum says:

        Oh I saved the longer version on my hard drive. I just might want to finish it, expand it, or just use it for a bookend in the collection of unseen words I save like scraps of paper.

    • So touching. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ah, you recognize that place then! Sometimes there’s more truth in less cheery stories. And there’s plenty of truth in yours. Thanks, Mr MacRum!

  11. denmaniacs4 says:

    a small Canuck bouquet of Christmas cheer, Charli…

    Write Flowers

    “Flowers! Fine! I did as instructed. Write flowers, the prompt said. I’ll write it again. There! Flowers!”

    “I read the whole prompt. Your cognition’s seriously out of whack, buckaroo. And you need to get your eyes tested.”

    “I have. It’s not looking good.”

    “Oh, really. I’ve hardly noticed.”

    “Well, I’m not walking into the walls. But I have prescription eye drops.”

    “Sorry to hear that. Still, it didn’t tell you to write flowers. The whole post was a beautiful elegy to white flowers. WHITE.”

    “So, I misread it. Haven’t you ever made a mistake?”

    “Only in having this conversation.”

  12. Frank Hubeny says:

    White Flowers

    Peter had four chickens and a dog. They did not get along. The dog was chained. The chickens weren’t. The chickens approached the dog and wiggled their butts at him. He jumped. They all knew just how long his chain was. “You idiot,” the chickens thought.

    One day Peter went for a walk in the woods with his dog. His dog dragged him deeper and stopped near an opening with white flowers. Peter was happy. He unchained his dog.

    His dog looked at Peter thinking, “You idiot.” The dog ran back without him.

    Peter now only has a dog.

  13. Juliet Nubel says:

    I’m back after a long, sad day. Here’s a short, sad story to help me remember.


    We each held a single, long-stemmed, white rose, its perfect petals acting as a cup, catching the tears dripping from bowed heads.

    I tried to curb the flow, but the speeches clawed at my heart. I longed to cover my ears and scream at them to stop.

    But when his mother stepped forward I listened carefully, amazed at her strength, her calm, her beautiful, soft words.

    As I approached to place my rose-cup upon the pile, my eyes met hers.

    They were desolate, all the life in them gone, now inside the small white coffin with her first-born child.

  14. Innocence Lost

    If you read that the ink is a tear across the page, how would you pronounce “tear”? Did the ink drop, or rip?
    The page is a field of white flowers. The unarticulated dreams in the margins know the sadness masked by the pure and perfect page, and hesitate, uncertain of the trek across the field of white bloom. What happens there at the borderland? Petal picking; it pains, it pains me not, down to bare stem.
    Blushed blossoms fall apart, spent. Windblown petals shower across the tracked page.
    Did the ink drop, or rip?
    Bruised fruit is borne.

    • julespaige says:

      An enchantment here.

    • My God, that’s magical! Brilliant.

    • Norah says:

      Deep. Maybe we need to pick those petals for find the truth: drop or rip, drop or rip. Maybe a bit of both. This phrase gives much to ponder, “The unarticulated dreams in the margins know the sadness masked by the pure and perfect page, and hesitate, uncertain of the trek across the field of white bloom. “

    • Charli Mills says:

      Sometimes it drops, and other times it rips. You wrote this from that place. This particular line has stayed with me: “Petal picking; it pains, it pains me not, down to bare stem.” Writing is to bare the stem. And yet, flowers grow back, blossom again and ink drops like rain. Beautiful returns this week from your journey to the borderlands!

  15. Reflection

    “Yes, Hope, a fellow who fell deathly in love with his own reflection.”
    “Mommy, that’s silly.”
    “Then we’ll call them paper whites. Do the blooms seem papery to you?”
    “Yes, and they stink.”
    “Ha! Kinda, Hope. And I kinda like the smell. I don’t know why.”
    “I like the way they stand in their pots, Mommy.”
    “Me too, Hope. So bold and defiant on the cold windowsill, trying so hard to be spring. But they reflect winter.”
    “If Winter falls in love with his reflection, he’ll pine away.”
    “Then Hope, we’d best start ordering seed packets for spring.”
    (Look, Norah, Mom’s hanging around, parenting! Happy Christmas)

    • Liz H says:

      The melancholy of Winter, held at arm’s length with a seed packet.
      I do like how this kid thinks!

    • How lovely!

    • Norah says:

      Thanks, D. I was pleased to see Mum hanging around parenting, teaching Hope a thing or two about plants. Ordering plants for spring – helping Hope live up to her name. Love this thought: “If Winter falls in love with his reflection, he’ll pine away.” though we don’t need it to pine away here in Australia, and we really don’t want it to pine away altogether. Stay warm. Happy days.

    • Charli Mills says:

      That wonderful feeling of ordering seed packets! I’m happy you offered Norah a literary gift of Hope (and Mom), too. 🙂

  16. […] Carrot Ranch, December 21, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but one that has an ability to be emotive. Humor, drama, irony — go wherever the white flowers lead.Respond by December 26, 2017 (Happy Boxing Day!) to be included in the compilation (published December 27). All writers are welcome! Rules are here.   Except I am breaking the Ranch rules here this week and presenting 375 words.  […]

  17. Flight

    “The king will be very angry with you for freeing me. How can I repay you? Name it.”
    “Oh no”, said the girl. “You have brought birdsong back to the kingdom. That is all I need.”
    “Take this”, said the bird. He pulled a white feather and handed it to her. “With this quill your words will sing and your spirit will soar. And yes”, he said as he flew away, “There will be pain.” She held the quill like a white flower; she held it like a sword; she held it as the key to her own escape.

    (This week I have a 375 word version of this at if you want a bit more)

  18. A really lovely topic this week, Charli. I have managed to do something that isn’t fluffy and white so I am pleased with myself. Here you go:

  19. […] Dec 21 Flash Fiction Contest at Carrot Ranch […]

  20. Annecdotist says:

    Oh, Charli, sorry you’re missing your birds. Winter is the best time for bird spotting here although many have flown south for the winter.
    A great way to celebrate the first anthology with a return to an early prompt. You’ve done wonders gathering this community together. I remember that initial white flower prompt although I didn’t join in until later. You’ll find my contribution here:
    Two novels about young men’s journey into Otherness

    • Charli Mills says:

      Perhaps I’ll have to fly south to catch the UK birds one winter, Anne. I did spot a vireo nest in the maple while scooping snow and will watch it closer to spring. Amazing that white flowers had six responses the first go. You were there in the early moments. Amazing that you have published two novels in that time, a book of short stories due out and the third novel in progress. What a journey! And still, the birds fly their paths, time after time.

  21. […] 21, 2017, Carrot Ranch Literary Community prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but […]

  22. […] Dec. 21: Flash Fiction Contest […]

  23. […] 21, 2017, Carrot Ranch Literary Community prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but […]

  24. […] Dec. 21: Flash Fiction Contest […]

  25. Here’s my contribution, its tone may be different from the other entries.

  26. […] #Saturday mix and #Carrotranch flash […]

  27. […] Carrot ranch Prompt (12/21/2017): In 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but one that has an ability to be emotive. Humor, drama, irony — go wherever the white flowers lead. […]

  28. Liz H says:

    A bit grim for what should be a holiday of light and renewal, but this character had to be dealt with for my WIP. Starts with the flash shown below, and continues to a longer piece per my link…God Jul to All at the Ranch!

    Lilemor and the Fiddler

    Lilimor gazed across the field of wild strawberries into the Great Wood. She didn’t have enough berries to fill her basket, but the fiddle called her to the waterfall within. Its song enticed, one she almost recognized and had to sing.

    Perhaps she had enough strawberries after all. She stood, humming, and stepped her way through the field of white flowers, unmindful of the rich red berries that stained her feet.

    Behind her, the cat growled, his tail switching. He was not as easily convinced as his young mistress.

    He padded behind her, nonetheless, following her into the darkness.

  29. What a journey it has been Charli and although I wasn’t in it from the your white flowers prompt I feel I have shared most of your journey with you and have been honoured to do so. I have no doubt Charli that where ever you are birds will come and give you pleasure, flowers will bloom and although dark clouds are sure to be on the horizon they will be momentary storms that you will weather well, and will add to your depth in writing. Your flash has left me confused this week. You put me in a beautiful place yet made me wary. I am uncertain as to whether I should feel hope or fear. I’m opting for hope. I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas. Lots of love Irene
    Nearly forgot – mine this week

  30. […] Carrot Ranch  December 21st Flash Fiction Contest using ‘White […]

  31. Alexander De says:

    New to this ranch. Here is my bit of flash:


  32. I sat quietly in my bed where I read close to a whole book every night. Usually mystery suspense novels, new stuff for me. I’m writing 3 books from 20 years of notes. Everyone loves the stories, but they all say I can’t write for shit. My characters lacked personality. I’m learning triple time reading what that means, and what to do. I had already imagined their personalities while I wrote; I just forgot to share. Your share about the birds and the flowers 2 of my favorite things…held me to the very end…I wanted more, and whudaya whatdaya there’s more!!! Can’t wait to read ur anthology !!! Thanks …billy. and happy holidays!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Billy! Sounds like you are on a writing journey. It’s a good place to start with stories others connect with. Character development takes practice and that’s something flash fiction can give you — try using it to explore your characters. Thank you! I hope you get to read the anthology — good information and good stories. Welcome to the Ranch! (And I found your flash, posted it, too.)

  33. […] Dec. 21: Flash Fiction Contest […]

  34. susansleggs says:

    Wedding Flowers

    “As is customary son, we are planning to pay for the wedding flowers. I think elegant white flowers like gardenias or roses would be best.”
    “Sandy and I have already chosen carnations because of how well they last. They will look elegant with some green ivy, baby’s breath and long white ribbons.
    “But we would be happy to pay for something more exotic; maybe orchids or lilies.”
    “Lilies are for funerals and we aren’t exotic. Carnations will represent our practicality and symbolize our expectations for a long marriage.”
    “Fluffy white marshmallows if you ask me.”
    “That’s why we didn’t.”

  35. […] The Carrot Ranch Literary Community, hosted by Charli Mills, is HERE. […]

  36. Michael B. Fishman says:

    Hi, I’m new to the Carrot Ranch and looking forward to getting to know you all. Here’s mine:

  37. […] in response to the Carrot Ranch Literary Community prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but […]

  38. Here’s wishing our host Charli and her merry gang at Carrot Ranch the merriest of Christmas and the Happiest of New Years. No gifts I’m afraid, only this 99-word story on your lovely prompt. Have truckloads of fun guys!

  39. And a big hug to you Charli. It’s only when we open our heart that we allow others to share in our grief, and though the grief itself does not reduce, you find yourself able to cope with it just a tad bit more, for you know you have friends who are there for you. Wish you a Merry Christmas.

  40. Michael B. Fishman says:

    Is it on “the far edge of shadows” where answers lie or more questions? A very evocative flash.

  41. Have you ever wondered if your last wishes will be carried out – right down to the flowers you’d like to adorn the celebration of your life? Here’s a little bit of fiction to lighten the thought.

    Funerals & White Flowers
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    “Ahhh well…now, who is that coming in the door? I don’t recognize them. The kids seem to know who they are. I guess they are some of their friends. Nice for them to have some of their own kind in tow at a thing like this.”

    “Jeeeeze Luweeeze, who in the heck ordered the white lilies? I know, I know. I always said they reminded me of death, but I sure didn’t mean mine! Wild Flowers and lots of them would have been my choice. Guess I missed that on my checklist of ‘this is what I want’.”

    • Norah says:

      I’m making that list and checking it twice. I think it’s important to say how we’d like to be farewelled but, after we’re gone, will it matter to us? I wonder. I like the perspective in your flash.

    • Charli Mills says:

      The full story got me chuckling, and I could see the character puffing around her own funeral. This was one of my favorite passages — the thoughtfulness towards the kids met with humor by referring to them as “their own kind.” And the flowers. Nicely crafted, Ann!

  42. I wrote for flash….but how to submit ???? Billy 831 212 6039

    • Copy & paste story into comments. Copy and paste your url from your post. Pray to the www goddesses. All of the above.

    • Liz H says:

      And to be done by what? Noon on The Tuesday due date?

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Billy, Welcome to Carrot Ranch!

      I’m glad you posted in the comments because that cued me to go searching my spam filters. I was able to retrieve your flash from my spam filters. It happens sometimes. You should be able to post here next time and I’ll post for you now:

      White Christmas by Billy Quealy

      Giant white CalaLillies in California last only 3 days in water. Pulled some from landscaper’s junkpile. Mysteriously still blooming 2 weeks later!! The music ?, the sex ?, my semi-autist GF reading holybooks aloud??

      Christmas morn: “Fetch us some coffee so I can surprise. ” Return to see she painted wall behind flowers black. “Shiny now, and look ‘little friends’!!!” placing little white potted bloodwort-plant. Stolen from someone’s yard no doubt. Landlord not gonna like painted Mahogany panel, fumes gonna wilt flowers.


      “It’s beautiful honey!!!”


      “Oh let’s have coffee with the flowers…..we’ll have a white Christmas billy!!!!

  43. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to in 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but one… […]

  44. Norah says:

    Hi Charli, I’m running late again – got caught up in the holidays and forgot the day. Apologies. Here’s my story: You can count on it I’ll be back later to read and comment on others. Best wishes.

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli,
      I hope the birds fly back to you soon. I’m surprised there’s not so many where you are. I thought there’d be many around the water. Have they all flown south for the winter? I love the birds and marvel at their songs each morning, as I wrote last week, and throughout the day. What a dreary world it would be without them.
      So many changes you experienced during the past eighteen months, Charli. I hope the spring brings forth is new beginnings and abundance for you.
      It’s interesting returning to the ‘white flowers’ prompt. I appreciate that you dedicated that initial compilation of six white flower stories to my mum; gone but not forgotten.
      I went in a completely different path with my white flowers this time – not into physical death as your flash seems to point, but more the death of an idea, a belief – or not.
      I’m so excited about your author page and have followed you. I didn’t even know you could do that! And am excited about the anthology too. Thank you for including my stories. I’m thrilled to be a part of it all.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Hi Norah! Considering I lost a day somewhere, it’s all working out. I feel like we’ve been through many lifetimes at the Ranch, experiencing loss of all kinds and writing our way through, showing each other compassion, trying to find solace in our art. Ah, I know what you mean about the birds providing our soundtrack. We do have massive ravens hopping and gathering about. And I discovered a bird’s nest up in the old maple tree that looks like a hanging basket. My daughter looked it up and we discovered it possibly belongs to a red-eyed vireo which is known to sing incessantly! It may be quiet for winter, but I look forward to what the spring brings — birds and otherwise! Thank you for being such an important part of the Ranch.

      • Norah says:

        The song of the vireo is another thing to look forward to in the spring. I have good feelings about 2018. Things are starting to hop at the Ranch and it’s still snowing outside. You’re keeping it warm inside. Best wishes to you and your loved ones.

  45. […] week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), include white flowers in your […]

  46. Deborah Lee says:

    Every Christmas brings back, for me, the home I lost in Nevada, with all the Christmas decorations and the huge, beautiful kitchen. I’ve been slogging through the season. And I missed the deadline but here I am anyway, ready for spring already.

    Beautiful post as always, Charli!

    • Charli Mills says:

      My heart aches for you, Deborah, in that loss. I know what it is to wander down halls no longer there; to see ornaments so clearly they must be…somewhere…but they are nowhere nearby. I can even smell the sagebrush. I had hoped for some uplifting vibes at Christmas but I didn’t have much of my own to add. Thank you for slogging over. I’m none too speedy, but feeling excited for the new year (probably to be done with this one)! Thank you!

  47. Birds. I love them. I hope they flock to ease your thoughts soon Charli.

    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Delicate blooms bobbed from fragile supports, yet fragrance rose like springtime that winter afternoon. Cindy ran a finger along its silky petals, marveling at the minute perfection of the Paperwhites. Narcissi. Named for a narcissist so in love with himself he ignored another and drowned attempting to hug his own reflection.

    Cindy smiled at the gift-giver. “They’re beautiful.”

    He shrugged. “I picked them.” His gaze swept her party dress and updo. “Are you ready? I mean, is that what you’re wearing?”
    Cindy inhaled the delicate perfume and sighed. Never fall in love with a narcissist, yet here I am.

  48. *I know I missed the deadline, but I wanted to participate none=the-less. 🙂 I hope that’s okay.

  49. reocochran says:

    I have featured cardinals and how one visited me on the day my Grandpa died. This particular cardinal was a winged messenger letting me know my Grandpa understood how much I loved him. . . Then the yellow Carolina parakeets out west were shot at by the homesteaders in their Connestoga wagons, in the hundreds. . . My tags have birds listed on the side of my full size posts. 🕊 🐦 🐤

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