January 4: 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.

January 5, 2018

January 4 Flash Fiction Challenge by @Charli_MillsDraft horses busted through drifts of snow, pulling heavy rollers to pack lake effect accumulations into paths for wagons mounted on skis. Horses, known as hay-burners, passed their fuel in droppings that became part of the snow cement of winter travel in the Keweenaw Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan.

Easier to say, Copper Country.

So those draft beasts packing snow and adding road-apples to the mix all winter come to mind as I walk the dog in yet another lake effect squall. She’s an old short-hair pointer, and I bundle her up in in a fleece-lined snow-coat the color of hunter’s orange. I don’t want her to get run over by a snowmobile.  As snow blasts my face with what stings like flakes of lead glass, Miss Bobo decides to revive an old Copper Country tradition and poops in the middle of the road.

What can I do but laugh and draw off my mittens to fumble with the poop bag in my coat pocket, chasing after steaming clusters (she’s not one to stop and poop in one place)? I’m encased in perpetual snow, my own private globe. Already, 103 inches have accumulated (if you want to watch my snowfall from afar, Michigan Tech monitors it daily). She has nowhere else to go but in the driveway or road, the spaces we clear. Imagine those horses…chickens, cattle, goats and stray dogs, too.

A local told me a story about those draft horses and rollers — his great-granduncle was once a snow removal laborer. He said those horses dropped and packed so much processed hay that by the time spring melt arrived the roads were awash in melting horse poop. Winter hides yellow and brown snow beneath her renewable white blanket.

As we turn back toward the house on Roberts Street, snowmobiles scream past us, filling the air with burned gasoline. They, too, pack the snow. It compacts like clay, and our neighbors are out, raking their roofs with long-handled roof-rakes so it doesn’t cause a cave-in. Last year, a downtown building — a large historic brick structure — caved in from the weight of snow and ice.

Folks came to this snowy region for what they found beneath — copper.

Cornish miners with their pasties come in the 1840s. Mining lasted longer than frontier towns out west. In fact, Native Americans had mined native outcroppings of copper since 5000 BC. That places North America on the map during the Copper Age. Yet that’s not a well-known piece of history. But it attests to the amount of copper found in the Keweenaw. According to Michigan Tech, in 150 years, over 12 billion pounds of native copper was mined here.

Copper Country Mall is a small-town 1980s era sprawl of indoor retail shops, mostly out of business. Gogebic College, Sears and the Vet Center occupy the space. On January 19, I’m presenting The Hero’s Journey to my fellow veteran spouses and our vets. During a group discussion, one spouse mentioned that her husband likes to watch war movies because at least in the movie, “they took the hill.” In Vietnam, US forces often repeatedly took and lost hills. They represent battles that felt meaningless.

As a literary artist, my favorite form is the hero’s journey based on Joseph Campbell’s work in mythology. Every culture shares stories about the hero’s journey. It resonates with us because we are all heroes on a journey called life. That day in group, my mind jumped to veterans and the hero’s journey. I think combat veterans are called to their hero’s journey when they serve. What might be missing is the elixir. In order to come home, the hero must find the elixir — the meaning to why they took the hill, or perhaps acceptance of the lack of meaning.

This is what makes the hero’s journey so rich. It’s like copper — malleable.

After the presentation I’m serving cake and hosting the first of several book launches (because I like cake) for The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1. Print books will be available by then. It’s an honor that the Vet Center is letting me use their facility, but I have found the Copper Country to be a welcoming community. I plan to read flash fiction (something I enjoyed doing in North Idaho) and I thought I’d see what the name of this place could inspire for stories.

And be sure to catch tomorrow’s post. It’s now 2018 and Carrot Ranch is determined to have a fulfilling year. That includes all of you! During the Rodeo, C. Jai Ferry led us all to the TwitterFrontier. She’ll be joining us the First Friday of every month with Twitter tips for literary artists and a month-long #TwitterFlash. You’ll tweet your responses, and all the Last Friday of the month you can share any in the comments. Check it out tomorrow! It will be fun and we’ll all get to learn more about Twitter.

January 4, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about Copper Country. It can be any place, fictional, historical, or on another planet. Go where the copper leads.

Respond by January 9, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published January 10). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

An Alternative Discovery by Charli Mills

Christopher Columbus informed the Queen. “Your Majesty, a great procession sails from where the earth ends.”

“Is it possible?” she asked Ferdinand. They gathered, soldiers honing flint-knapped spears, the royals at a safe distance, all praying to God.

Invaders clad in red metal came in the name of Gitchigumee. Flint spears shattered, no match for glimmering red weapons.

Many who survived that day in 1492 succumbed to foreign germs. North America wiped out most of Spain, enslaving her children to dig in the New Copper Country.

If only Christopher’s Queen had known to make weapons of the native metal.

###

 

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189 Comments

  1. Norah

    Oh my goodness – road apples in the snow. What a treasure when the snow melts! I had to laugh at you attempting to scoop up Bobo’s poop. It would have been difficult once it solidified as one with the snow. Or so I assume.
    Your Hero’s Journey talk to the vets and their spouses will be fun. I think you have a lot to offer them to consider, and not just cake. How wonderful to have a book launch with real print books. Are they available for ordering yet? I want a few. 🙂
    It’s an interesting discussion about the copper mining too, including the historic episode in your flash. If only we could all have the benefit of aftersight.
    I’ll have to think about Copper Country – too many ideas to begin with!
    Have a great week.

    • Charli Mills

      I know! All those road apples! Before the snow got ridiculously deep, Bobo did poop out front on the snow and I was late at getting back to it. The next day it was frozen on place! Not fun. The big huskies go out in the back yard and break their own trails to poop in, but sometimes one of them poops on the deck, which doesn’t make me happy since that’s my snow removal job. The SIL was on the roof today, shoveling. Poopy snow! And print books — I have yours, all the ones for the RW. Distribution says any day on Amazon, but it will be Jan. 19 that we make them available in our Book Store. So much going on! Glad you have lots of ideas for Copper Country!

      • Norah

        Oh dear, poopy snow on the roof. Was that left by Santa’s reindeer? 🙂 I’m pleased it’s not something I have to worry about. I’ll be buying quite a few copies of the anthology as soon as it’s available. Not long now! I’m so excited – can’t wait. My thoughts on Copper Country have fizzled and come to nothing. Have to think some more. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha — that was a bit misleading. No rooftop poop, or else I’d be writing a letter to Santa. Your thoughts will sizzle soon!

    • Liz H

      I think we need a new verse for the Frank Zappa classic, something like “Watch out where the huskies go // Don’t you eat that poopy snow!”
      Urgh!

      • Liz H

        Bill Cosby’s next venture? There’s always room for…No! I just can’t. I’m stopping this madness…now!
        (cackle!)

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! I’m going to sing that on my next dog walk!

      • Norah

        🙂 🙂 🙂

      • julespaige

        I knew about not eating yellow snow… but poop… ???
        🙂

      • Liz H

        The more you know…

      • julespaige

        Hey I do know not to eat that ‘stuff’, but not having a pet for several years… I don’t have to pick up…after… either 😉

        But occasionally stray cats use my flowerbeds as their litter boxes….

      • Liz H

        Pass it one…share the love. 😀

      • Charli Mills

        For every neighbor who enjoys a pet-free (poop-free) life, there’s five neighbors willing to share! 😀

      • Liz H

        (I try to keep my neighbors’ dogs on their side of the fence.)

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I finally made it back with my contribution Spend a penny or two https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-13L I hope I’m not too late. 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Here’s Norah, stepping out of her Time Machine. A copper penny can take you back…

      • Norah

        I don’t really want to go all the way back though. I think I’d rather go forward – into the future that I paint, not the one that is painted for me. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Here’s to painting coppery futures! Thanks for spending a penny at the Ranch, Norah.

      • Norah

        Ha, now I understand a comment elsewhere along the trail. I’m always looking for somewhere to spend a penny. It’s the most important thing I look for when I’m out. Why not at the Ranch? 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I’m sure poopy humor is popular among your young classroom charges! I enjoyed your more sophisticated play on the word “copper.”

      • Ritu

        Thanks Charli! Oh yes poopy humour and 3-5 year olds… a great mix!

    • Liz H

      Oh! I just got your pun…need more coffee!
      😀

      • Ritu

        ????

    • Pete

      Loved it!

      • Ritu

        Thanks!

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Elemental Problem

    “Hey Kid.”
    “Hey Pal. Got a copper?”
    “Ya mean sheriff?”
    “No, copper.”
    “Ya mean like a penny?”
    “No, ah, heck Pal, I may have ta cop out on this round-up. I don’t know nuthin’ about copper or copper country.”
    “Gonna cop a plea of ignorance, Kid?”
    “Yep. Anyway, the hosses’ve left some gems for me ta shovel. They’s all shut up in the barn what with all the snow.”
    “That’ll test yer mettle.”
    “Yeah, I’ve shoveled so much shit I should git a medal.”
    “So whyn’t ya try shoveling some regarding the shiny orange metal?”
    “We’ll see.”
    “Cu later.”

    https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/ranch-yarns/

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Clever D. from the tittle to the last line. Had to laugh. Whenever I see Cu later I’ll think of copper.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Glad you enjoyed these yahoos, but I am still stumped by this prompt. That bugs me.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        You could have fooled me but I understand that feeling when a prompt does nothing for your creative juices. Happened to me last week for FF.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I have a lot of trouble with photo prompts, I think the picture gets in the way. Best prompt in town? Right here. (yet I whine)

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I agree with you re the best prompt in town. If the photo is supposed to prompt you then it is hard to be so obscure that the photo means nothing to the story. If that is the case you might as well write anything and just say this came to mind when I saw the photo.

    • Charli Mills

      No copping out now — you’ve covered all the coppery basis! Cu further down the line with a flash of copper inspiration.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Up Harbor

        The Strawberry Moon, low on the horizon, trailed a coppery sheen. A chain of beads glimmered with each paddle stroke, their dripping the only sound as she sliced along the shimmering path of moonlight across the harbor. Playfully she pursued the moon, mirrored in the water, always just out of reach. Finally she stopped paddling, just sat, rocking gently, cloaked in the soft fleece of moonlight. The moon had risen higher, a shiny penny in the sky, and she smiled to herself, feeling truly lucky. “But, time to return. Goodnight, Moon”, she said aloud. “Shit, where’d my paddle go?”

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! Oh, yes! The moon, the stars, the universe — but can’t keep track of a paddle. A funny and familiar twist.

    • anuragbakhshi

      That is a perfect example of saying so much without saying anything at all 🙂 Brilliant!

  3. mrmacrum

    Nice turnabout with the red spears.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, MrMacrum. It vexes me that the “Bronze Age” history fails to mention copper and metalsmithing in the Americas as if only weapons of war merited mention. So I thought…what if…

      • mrmacrum

        Unfortunately, War had a tremendous influence on the advancement of Technology. Created Tech, stolen Tech and copied Tech.

  4. Liz H

    You made me laugh out loud, imagining you chasing after your pup’s string of poops, poops that stand on many generations of historical poops proudly placed by her animal predecessors.

    And then you made me catch my breath with this: ‘During a group discussion, one spouse mentioned that her husband likes to watch war movies because at least in the movie, “they took the hill.”’

    I knew this, but here I felt it.

    • Charli Mills

      Chasing poop on a snowy road leads my mind to wander… 😀 Thank you for feeling that moment. It was a shift for me that I hope I can use to connect veterans and their families to the power of literary art and the hero’s journey.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for joining us, Annette! And for sharing an authentic taste of Copper Country. Isn’t the view from Brockaway Mountain fantastic? I’m working on offering a writer’s retreat in Copper Harbor. Perfect place!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Di! I enjoyed your copper mile story!

      • pensitivity101

        Thanks Charli!

    • julespaige

      I’ve heard of schools collecting just pennies for charity.
      Nice flash!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Michael! Wishing you the same!

    • julespaige

      I like your story Michael. I did a fiction piece too. 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I liked your flash. Just be careful. There’s scat-ologists about this week who may run amuck with “inspirtation”.

      • notyouraveragemomblogweb

        You have to love what happens when you write on your phone. The typos can cause great catastrophies. Use this as a lesson to learn from. Then you will never have to know how it feels to be bested by autocorrect.

    • julespaige

      You reminded me of the copper thieves in our city… stealing the copper drainpipes. I like your morning rising to the color of the grain.

      • notyouraveragemomblogweb

        My parents used to live in Flint Michigan and when they couldn’t sell their house when things got bad, they rented it out. The tenants later complained that someone stole the copper pipes on the house. When I saw the prompt was on copper, that was the first thing I thought of.

    • Charli Mills

      Me, too! I find it inspiring to see creativity expressed in a multitude of ways. And yes, I enjoyed what you were inspired to write.

  5. denmaniacs4

    Hmmm, went off on a tangent, I suppose, Charli. Had something else in mind to begin with but took the easy road…

    Fuzzy Thinking-From the Writers Perspective

    We needed a place where we could…you know…just be, just serve and project. Whatever you think of us, we all started out with the best of intentions. Sure, some of us proved to be bad pennies. They weren’t worth a plug nickel to begin with.

    We all start out shiny and bright, but the sparkle quickly tarnishes.

    So, when that actor, Joe Penny…played Office Phil Buchwald in S.O.B., suggested we buy our own country, well, no lead balloon there. ‘Course, you can’t buy much country these days, but we acquired land in Northern BC, called it Copper Country, eh…

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Loved that middle line “We all start out shiny and bright, but the sparkle quickly tarnishes”

    • anuragbakhshi

      I would be content with a small cottage in the countryside, don’t really need an entire country…too much work to mage and administer it I guess 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Copper Country somehow sounds best followed by an “eh.” Fuzzy thinking, Bill, but sharp play on metals throughout. No lead balloon!

  6. julespaige

    I’ve got finish reading last week, come back read this week and even write this week… I think the cold is seeping in. Not as cold as Charli’s area. But we’ve had two day’s in a row of school being delayed – so I had to take my grandson in. Then today I went for groceries… which I hadn’t done for about two weeks (because of holiday meals elsewhere… and cold).

    I am befuddled about copper… but just as I say that I get an idea.
    So please stay tuned. And if you are in a cold winter climate – stay warm!
    For me we might have a heat wave tomorrow – it might actually be 32 F or 0 C!

    • Charli Mills

      Stay warm, Jules! I hope you have some copper pipes bringing you warm water. Here we have old-fashioned water radiators for heat. I sometimes take a break and sit on a cushion on the floor, my back against the radiator as hot water surges through the pipes. Lovely to take tea on the floor, until I get a dog in the face.

      • julespaige

        😀

    • Charli Mills

      Like the sci-fi take on Copper Country, Joelle!

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

  7. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Again you have given us a great visual picture of the landscape you are in, although perhaps I didn’t need quite as much of a visual of Bobo’s droppings (I have enough of my own to collect with one of mine also a walking pooper.) My story too made use of Cornish miners – they were obviously the experts in copper mining at the time.
    https://irenewaters19.com/2018/01/06/francis-stacker-dutton-copper-country-99-word-flash-fiction/
    I have recently too become interested in the hero’s journey and hope your presentation goes well. Wonderful that the book launch is also happening. Look forward to more information about purchasing the hard copy books. It is such an exciting time.
    Look forward to C Jai Ferry’s post. Twitter remains an elusive platform to me.
    Loved your rewriting of history. Always the benefit of hindsight.

    • julespaige

      Thanks… I went and looked up Mr. Dutton. Interesting how we can incorporate bits of history!

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I enjoy doing historical pieces. I’m working at the moment on some nurses from history and more recent for the university nursing faculty. History being brought alive –

      • julespaige

        Excellent!

    • Abby

      Loved this, Irene. Succinct and a grand sweep all in one. I thought the bio inspiration was very clever.

    • Charli Mills

      What’s with these walking poopers? I’m forever juggling the lead, the bag and zigzagging from one dropping to the next! That delights me to hear you are getting into the hero’s journey. The presentation pushed me to look into Joseph Campbell’s work more closely and it only makes me more excited for its role in literary art. So glad you took on the Cornish history. They were the leading experts in both copper extraction and pasty making.

  8. Juliet Nubel

    Good day everyone and Happy New Year to all!
    Another interesting prompt Charli, which had me pondering for a while before I came up with this…

    Mixing Metals

    She had always known why their village was nicknamed “Copper Country”. You just had to look around.

    Everywhere the same metallic orange tint to the hair, the same green rain-washed patina in the eyes. Even their skin bore the same burnish of the sun.

    But not James. He was just a little brighter, shinier, his green eyes with a hint of the ocean in their depths.

    Nine months after they wed, their little princess arrived. She wore pale cream skin, azure eyes and finely spun blond curls.

    Who would have thought that copper mixed with copper could make gold?

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks Irene. I’m glad you liked it. ????

    • Liz H

      So much sweetness! Love this! <3

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks, Liz. ????

    • anuragbakhshi

      So beautiful. And wonderful imagery. Lovely.

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thank you! I appreciate that.

    • Drake

      Love it!

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks, that’s very kind of you.

    • Charli Mills

      You used the copper imagery so well to tell the story, Juliet. I especially enjoyed the emerging tenderness as the story reached its sweet twist. And happy new year to you, too!

      • Juliet Nubel

        Thanks, Charli. I really enjoyed writing it.

  9. julespaige

    We get plenty of Road Apples in Amish country. And ‘Sail animals’ too –
    Like ‘Sail Rabbit’s’ run over so flat they are like the sails of a boat…

    OK… I’m Back…. with a work of fiction:

    Prospecting

    Prospecting

    Jade was looking for ideas. So she had gone on a road
    trip. Patina was a different shade of green. And that was
    all she was finding in this abandoned town. Copper roofs,
    shutters, statues. It must have been a thriving community,
    once. Now it resembled a ghost town.

    The old man at the rustic general store had said there was
    still buried treasure in Tawnytown about twenty miles north.
    He hadn’t exactly said what element was.

    As a jewelry artist, Jade began snapping photos. Jade
    thought that working in copper with jade might give her a
    new angle.

    ©JP/dh

    • Liz H

      A colorful tale, indeed!

      • Liz H

        Sorry…(cackle!)

    • anuragbakhshi

      And that is how Jade invented ‘Copade’, a new metal which took the world by storm, and became the richest person in the world 🙂

      • julespaige

        Actually I looked online and there are some wonderful combinations with jade wrapping copper… I’m not sure if Copade would work…
        Sounds plausible 🙂 especially in fiction 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Jules, you sent me down a rabbit hole! I had to see of there was copper wrapped jade and I found copper hair forks — pretty combination! I like that a jewelry artist is named Jade. 😉

      • julespaige

        I searched copper and jade and there were a whole bunch of jewelry with that combo. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Eric!

    • julespaige

      That’s called a BoTS = Based on a True Story.
      Cool… that’s how you write/ type?

      • dancjulian

        For the most part, yes… I bring at least a grain of personal experience to most pieces, and often the whole beach.

    • julespaige

      For fiction you might go to:
      Jules in Flashy Fiction
      I attempt to keep organized by having different sites for different types of writing, but my icon goes to my daily poetry site.

      I learned to type on a manual. In 6th grade…. I’ve got a nice view out my back picture window. Not quite a forest. But I enjoy it. 🙂

    • Drake

      Nice! It makes me want to read that tale…or write it.

    • Liz H

      Nice! Followed you right down the road and onto the carriage return!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Dan! “Flash Creative Writing” doesn’t have the same ring as “Flash Fiction,” but we certainly welcome true stories creatively expressed in 99 words nonetheless.

  10. Pete

    We worked fast. Kendall handed off the pipes and I ran them to the truck.

    “Easy with the noise.”

    I nodded. With arms overhead, his pits were sour and his sweat reeked of Schlitz. He looked to me through a haze of smoke, his Marlboro drooping with his smile. “Few hundred bucks running under these floors.”

    A teaching moment. Mom’s boyfriend couldn’t always tell you the day, but knew to the cent the market on metals. Kendell could strip a house clean in a few hours before getting off to the scrap yard—Copper Country, as he called it.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I had thought along these lines. Glad I didn’t go there, yours is so well done. But yeah, you have to worry about your gas lines, they’ll take bits out of your car. But hey, you are showing male bonding, mentoring, all kinds of positives.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha ha, an enterprising mentor is what every boy needs as his mom’s boyfriend.

    • julespaige

      At night the folks in our town have absconded with the older historical buildings copper drain pipes…

      Hopefully abandoned houses…

    • Liz H

      Sharp, and compact! Wow!

    • Charli Mills

      Great details, Pete, and for me the twist was in learning the narrator was a boy. So much said in what is left unsaid in that story.

      • Pete

        Yeah, I think I was thinking Randall in my head and just never made the switch. Oh well, this one was kind of forgettable anyway!

  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Okay, no fiction, and more stretching of the rules if you go to my site for a longer version.

    The Coppersmith

    Patriot and artisan, Paul Revere made a variety of contributions to the American War of Independence. The pen was a strategic weapon, and Revere, using copper plates, made political cartoons and illustrations, including his famous and inflammatory engraving of the Boston Massacre. Brawnier contributions had to do with munitions and weaponry. Yet many associate Revere the coppersmith with the making of alloy bells and with pots and pans. Let’s. Let’s melt down brass cartridges and copper bullets and make a pot to cook shared meals and bells to ring in peace. Surely we have the resources to do that.

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      My father was a horder and every BIC biro he purchased was catalogued so he knew how many writing miles it had done. When the biro was spent he separated it into components, putting the plastic outer tube in one box, the thin ink tube in another and the brass ballpoint in another. He always said ” you can never have enough pea shooters and if there was ever a copper shortage I’ll make my fortune melting them down.” Thank you for the memory. Good historical take and pots to cook in and bells to ring in peace woud be a wonderful addition to our lives today.

    • Charli Mills

      Creative non-fiction counts for flash. I enjoyed learning more about our Patriot and impressed with how you shrunk your full post down to 99 words.

    • Charli Mills

      Snow on the Puget Sound has a lovely ring to it as a title. You got enough to make a footprint! I’m mesmerized by the packing and piling of snow. What kind of copper do you like? Native, nugget, included or bejeweled?

  12. Kerry E.B. Black

    Low-balled
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Jenkins wiped grime along his plumber’s bottom.
    The homeowner, a single mother of two, wrung her hands like an old-time heroine. “What’s the damage?”
    He cleared his throat. “How long were you away, Ms. Rowen?”
    “A week. Make-a-Wish gave my littlest a trip.” She hugged the kids. “It was the kindest experience we’ve ever had, right boys? Then we got home, and the basement’s flooded.” A nervous giggle escaped.
    Jenkins considered the pipeworks, yards of stolen copper mined from the vacationers’ house. He estimated the cost. A minimum of $5,000. More than she had, he suspected.
    So he low-balled.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Had to look up low-balling, and then it became such a lovely tale 🙂

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        I was surprised by the other pipes. I may need to make another flash.

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        When I bought my house in 2002, someone had stolen everything they could, including the copper pipes. They took appliances, lightbulbs, and even the door handles. It was how I could afford the place, though, since I was a single mom of two children at the time, one of whom has profound special needs. I suspect several of the contractors who came into my home to make it habitable did, indeed, low-ball, for which I am eternally grateful.

      • anuragbakhshi

        Lovely.

      • Charli Mills

        Wow, Kerry! What a beautiful tribute to turn into a story.

    • Liz H

      Truly a Knight in shining armor! Lovely!! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Your story leaves out what doesn’t need saying — the terminal illness of one of the children and the kindness she won’t realize the plumber is extending. Well done, Kerry!

    • Juliet Nubel

      Really enjoyed your story.

      • anuragbakhshi

        Thank you so much Juliet.

    • julespaige

      Sometimes even the underdogs have to win….

      • anuragbakhshi

        Of course 🙂

    • Liz H

      Unexpected perspective~Nice twist!

      • anuragbakhshi

        Thank you so much Liz

    • Charli Mills

      Hola Anurag! One can never have too many good wishes for the new year! May it be all you hope for. Thanks for your first flash offering of 2018.

  13. anuragbakhshi

    Aah, a reverse invasion through a re-imagining of history! Loved it. And realized after reading it that my story too had copper as a weapon against an invasion. Talk about serendipity (I don’t read ANY story, including your’s till I write and post mine so that my mind remains a tabula rasa)!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s fun to think of the opposite happening according to history or expectations. Brandon Sanderson writes his Mistborn series based on that idea of what if the hero doesn’t win. What happens to the cause or how does it change history. Yes, it’s good to start with a blank slate, though some need a glimpse of what’s possible. Serendipity is a favored phenomenon.

  14. Abby

    Hello all! Here’s my debut offering to this community. Coming from the copper mining land of Cornwall to that of County Cork, it was a great first prompt on discovering Carrot Ranch.
    ismidlifeliminal.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/copper-country-99-words/

    • julespaige

      Oooh…. not sharing.

      Remember when you pop a link in that you have to hit enter so the link turns red – then you know others can use it. I cut and pasted your black link to find your story.

      • Abby

        Thanks Jules. I tried hitting enter but that just did a return line. Below will either be a link or some html gobbledegook. I’m on a sharp learning curve with all this blogging caper. 🙂
        Thanks for bothering to copy and paste, and comment.

        Copper Country

      • Abby

        Yay, it worked.

      • julespaige

        You have to hit enter at your link at your place… If you copy your link to a blank document and hit enter it will turn blue… that is now the link you can put in to a comment and it just turns red at CR because that’s what Charli has set up for links.

        Or you can use this: Name of Your Post Here

        But you also have to remember to hit the space between …strong> Name… to get your link to turn blue. Then your link will be the title of whatever you’ve but in that ‘Space for your post link”

        See my entry I try to use my title as the link to my post. example:
        Prospecting

        I see a line of code, all you see is Prospecting.

      • julespaige

        Yes… you saw gobbldy gook, but Copper Country is the right link. I only know how I do it… not how everyone else does it.

        I’m with you on the ‘straw for brains’ tech issues. 🙂

      • Abby

        Thank you so much! That is a really comprehensive answer. I’ve save the contents to use until it becomes second nature.

      • julespaige

        I think I’d have to show you how I do it another way… but you got it. So you are good to go.

    • julespaige

      Oh rats my example didn’t work, but some how you did get Copper Country as the easy link. Yeah for you!

    • Liz H

      Welcome, Abby! Excellent folktale in 99…had a real flavor of your homeland!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Abby! That is a serendipitous moment — this prompt is entirely the result of Cornish copper miners, but from an isolated peninsula in the Great Lakes region of the US. What a connection.

  15. A. E. Robson

    Copper Country Destiny
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Her destiny had changed forever on that fateful night, or had it? The lightening laced sky had been accentuated with the screaming, crying, flashing lights and tangled metal. Her potential as a great athlete who had lived for each practice, for each competition ended there and then. The accident had taken its toll on her young, exuberant lifestyle. It was her great personality that kept her from being shunned or worse. Her gentle eyes that spoke volumes, captured hearts. The Copper Country lineage prominent throughout her bloodlines would now be passed onto every foal born to the Palomino broodmare.

    http://bit.ly/2md2kph

    • anuragbakhshi

      Heart-breaking story, but ended with hope. I loved the reveal of who she really was, nicely done.

    • Charli Mills

      Great build up of suspense, Ann, and yet a hero’s journey for the mare.

    • Charli Mills

      Aw, and a sweet happy puppy story it is, Susan! Thank you for making the Ranch part of your writing community. It’s great to have you here.

  16. Annecdotist

    I was interested to read about that additional hazard of deep snow fall, Charli. The streets can be messy enough with dog shit in any circumstances, but you must have mixed feelings anticipating the thaw. Anyway, hope you manage to keep warm.
    I really enjoyed your alternative history in your flash. I’m sure it’s one you could take further if you have the time or inclination.
    Mine’s a bit rushed, stemming from a first-time reading of Utopia:
    Perfect communities? from Celeste Ng & Thomas More http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2018/01/perfect-communities-from-celeste-ng-thomas-more.html

    • Charli Mills

      Spring will be a good time to venture elsewhere! Although we are all doing our best to bag the poop as it occurs. Not everyone does so, else we would be more utopian. Thank you for commenting on the backward history. This might be one I let percolate. Flash fiction is like steam holes, venting all that hot creativity burning my brain.

      I enjoyed your flash and wanted to comment here after leaving a comment on your reviews. Policing says so much about why planned utopias do not work. Can they work at all? I wonder at the indigenous cultures in North America who had the capacity to create “weapons of mass destruction” from their knowledge of metal and access to it. I would not call any of the tribes utopian, but they seemed far more rooted in the ideas of the greater good and what one generation does, impacts the next. There was a personal obligation, and yet freedom. And women were not always subservient. In your flash, you bring up the value of commodities. It’s thought-provoking.

    • julespaige

      Ah…yes, the temper of a red-head!

    • Abby

      I loved it. If that’s lack of inspiration, I look forward to reading more when you’re on fire!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ah, you’re in fighting form with this take.

    • Charli Mills

      You found it, Diana! Search for inspiration and it will find you.

  17. julespaige

    Oooh…. not sharing.

    Remember when you pop a link in that you have to hit enter so the link turns red – then you know others can use it. I cut and pasted your black link to find your story.

    • julespaige

      Not sure why this ended up here – it belongs with and is at Abby story.

      • Charli Mills

        A wandering comment! I see you got it in the spot you intended. Thanks for the tip.

    • Charli Mills

      We could hope, but as a historian, I certainly see repeat cycles despite the advantage of hindsight. Thanks for sharing your flash. Michael!

  18. rogershipp

    Grandpa Amlodd’s Dragon

    “He’s not supposed to be green, Jess.”

    The six-year-olds gazed high atop the old stone barn. Bedtime stories of Merlin… Arthur… and dragons… filled their heads.

    “Grandpa Amlodd smithied the copper dragon to protect our farms. Now look at him.”

    “The copper dragon has to be freed.”

    Racing to the farmhouse, the boys quickly did what they did at school. They googled.

    “Ketchup!” They explained at the same time.

    Armed with two ketchup bottles in one hand and the extension ladder from the gardening shed penned under their opposing pits, the boys set off the release Grandpa Amlodd’s dragon.

    https://rogershipp.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/grandpa-amlodds-dragon/

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha ha, I wish I was there to see that 🙂

      • rogershipp

        Thanks for the kind words and the read.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ketchup for cleaning coper dragons? Relish the thought. My condiments to you, fine flash.

      • rogershipp

        Such cutting puns! Thanks for the read!

    • Charli Mills

      Nice to see you at the Ranch, Roger and with a beauty of a story. I admit, I googled the ketchup and I’ll be trying that on a few items. Sure beats all the scrubbing I used to do with a steel brillo pad and powder.

      • rogershipp

        I don’t know if it works, but i found by googling as well. It sure sounded easier than other ways!

  19. Kerry E.B. Black

    I wrote a second 99 word story for this prompt.

    Parenting
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Heather combed through the older woman’s thick hair, separating it into sections using plastic clips. Layers of steel and silver gave way to a small cove of copper. She ran a finger along the silky strands, recalled brushing and braiding when her mother’s head boasted autumn, not winter, a child mothering.
    She blinked back tears. “You were an awful mother.”
    Her mother shrugged, unconcerned. “Orphans don’t know how to parent.”
    Heather’s scissors snipped, creating the requested fashion.
    Heather’s children dominated her every thought, their needs always first; not at all how her mother raised her. “Yet somehow I learned.”

    • Liz H

      There’s a double-edge to this tale.
      Hope Heather can find balance~~

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I like all the metal- steel, silver, copper; scissors, shrugs, snips; there’s hardness and softness braided throughout.

    • Charli Mills

      Great use of contrast between mother and daughter.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I haven’t even read yet and I am replying. Yes! Danger! Proceed with caution. This is very addictive. (Okay, and I’ll go check out your gate)

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Drake! Never mind what D. says. It’s scientific fact that practicing restraints trains the mind to problem solve. Not addicting — healthy brain exercising! 🙂 Yes, it is appealing for many other reasons too.

      • Drake

        Definitely! I love the added challenge of not just a word max, but an EXACT word count. Looking forward to next month’s. 🙂

  20. mrmacrum

    A tough prompt Charli. Not sure why. Seemed like it should have been a cake walk.

    https://lostinthebozone.blogspot.com/2018/01/ray-arizona.html

    Ray, Arizona

    Atop Teapot Mesa, a Great Spirit cast sad eyes over the mile deep mine below. He had witnessed mountains grow tall and rivers gouge deep. He had never seen creatures as destructive as these puny humans busy carving out the base of his home. Did they not understand they were only hastening their own destruction?

    Great Spirit shrugged. He was but a witness tasked with remembering all that he saw and reporting back to Her. He was her eyes. It would be up to Her how to handle these ingrates and the overwhelming insults they heap onto her back.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Um, dude, that may not have been a cake walk but it sure takes the cake. There’s a lot there.

      • mrmacrum

        Thanks. I often approach a piece of flash with the intention of using flowery prose, wanting to paint a picture or emotion in words. I am not very good at that. My default is to try to cram a big notion into a small bucket, if you know what I mean.

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes the prompt isn’t the right leavening agent to get the cake to rise, but you rose to the occasion just fine, Mr. Macrum. No kidding — “Did they not understand they were only hastening their own destruction? “

  21. Liz H

    I kept thinking “Copper Harbor”, until I’d written most of the response! Oh well, easily changed. So, here’s my bit of silliness, flying in just under the line:

    Earworm

    “I swear, if you sing that one more time, I’ll push you out the hatch myself.”

    “Aw lighten up, Schmitty,” Dirk laughed at his co-pilot. “I just can’t wait to get home!”

    “You and me both,” the co-pilot muttered.

    The swept low over the canyon, lining up for their annual supply drop to the Earth outpost. Next stop: Moon Base Nine, Home Sweet Home.

    “This is the song that never ends
    Yes, it goes on and on my friend…”

    “That’s it, Dirk. Here’s your parachute…”

    “Too late!” He dropped the payload and flew up and away from Copper Country.

    https://huldermn.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/earworm/

    • Charli Mills

      Copper Harbour is lovely, not a bad earworm…but that song is not stuck in my head! Did you know that Shari Lewis wrote an episode of Star Trek? I think she’d approve of your flash!

      • Liz H

        She did?! Which one? 😮

    • julespaige

      I know of earworms… just not that particular song.
      I like anything with Sci fi….
      Started watching some reruns of ‘The Next Gen’ I think there may actually be a few I missed when they first came out.

  22. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!

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