Wet Ink

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 18, 2018

Freshly applied to the artist’s canvas, or scrolled across the page, wet ink implies an idea newly committed to expression. It’s still vulnerable to smudges and drips. Yet it shimmers with inspired creativity, too.

Where would wet ink take writers who tap type on a screen without the cursive inkiness of a quill? Do they long for pens or go elsewhere for a story? Read on and find out.

The following are based on the January 11, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about wet ink.


Wet Ink by Pensitivity

It was unique, a masterpiece and accolade to her artistry, the scrolls and attention to detail second to none.

When asked, she said the secret was in the ink.

In order to get the definition and blooming effect, the red ink had to be wet so that the coloured segments ran into each other.

Silk of course was the best fabric, though with sufficient care on cottons the effects could be produced almost as well.

No two garments would be identical, and she could name her price.

As she settled down to work, she pricked her finger and began.


Hazzard Lights by Abby Rowe

Within each act, there is a point of no return. Like ink, flowing wet, from nib to sheet. Still fluid, but now indelible.

In my car, rain pounding, wipers bust, hazard lights flashing. I work out who to call, but find my phone is dead.

I assess my options. Waiting out Irish rain is plain silly. Walk home twenty miles? Flag down a car? Or approach the nearby farmhouse. Huge and dark. If windows reveal the soul, this one is empty.

I must trust.

All possibilities still exist as I knock on the door.

“Come in.”

Nib hits paper.


When She Holds Me by Michael Fishman

I love when she holds me.

So many years – her hand, now heavily veined and knuckled with arthritis is, even after all this time, still strong and comforting.

The magic lives in that hand.

Me, I’m the same. A little nicked here and there, also showing my age, but she warms me, and keeps me happy. She keeps me young.

I’m lucky. Others her age would have abandoned me. Would have left me for the new WordPerfect, but she never stopped writing words in longhand. She feeds me with ink and I dance across the parchment, singing her song.


Dear John by Juliet Nubel

She almost began with ‘My Darling’ but this letter had to be the last, so she wrote simply ‘Dear John’.

Then, weeping silently, she listed the reasons she wanted to leave him after thirty long years.

She could take no more of his sporadic, misplaced fury. It coated her in a dirty, thick sludge of angry words which sullied and betrayed their miraculous marriage.

As she folded the page, the tear-soaked ink became a bright blue pool of illegible smudges.

So she crumpled it, slipped into bed beside her tortured, grieving spouse, and wrapped him tightly in her arms.


Saying Goodbye by Eric Pone

Staring at the ink on the page. She just cried. As the emotions flowed she could not help but finally realize that their relationship was over. “Barry I can’t continue to live a lie with you.” Ono wrote this by hand with the pen and inkwell inherited from her great aunt. Fitting she thought. The same pen and ink that ended her aunt’s marriage now ended hers. She watched the dots of ink dance up and down her hand as she reloaded the cartridge, she felt a renewed sense of peace and wholeness. Things would finally be right again.


Bitter Ink by Bill Engleson

Jowls droop, fleshy things they are, dangling like fudgy cleavers, poised to slaver and savour his shabby instincts which tauntingly venture deep beyond the pale.

Eyelids, bulbous and midnight dune, glint dull in the moonlight, his bruising purple prose, vile acid-tainted dispatches from his fatuous demons, etching the air, scratching our communal spine, cavorting to the venom of his dark refrain.

Lips, antediluvian lips, fouled by callous conversations held in rooms of gold, rarely resist pronunciations from his poisoned pen.

Our spirits marrow is breached, the seepage flows into our organs, our minds, our dreams, with its bitter ink.


A Blot on Whose Copybook? by Norah Colvin

Ever so carefully, she dipped the nib in and out of the inkwell. Her tongue protruded, guiding the pen as she copied the black squiggly lines dancing across the page.

“Start at the top. Go across; then down. Lift, dip…,“ the teacher droned.

“Start at the top!” The cane stung her knuckles, sending the nib skidding across the page.

“Now look what you’ve done!” The teacher grasped the book and held it aloft, sending ink in rivulets down the page. Her thumb intercepted one, smearing another opportunity for humiliation across the page.

“Girls, this is what not to do!”


But the People Can’t Wait by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He lay the quill down beside his Manifesto, reaching to close the cap on the near-empty inkwell.

Leaning back, he gazed out his window at the sunrise, the horizon full with rooftops. It was a sign of Providence for the impoverished people of his city, he decided.

His fingers rasped over his many-days growth of beard, poetical hair flowing long and dark over his shoulders… like the ink that had poured from his pen!

“Finished?” Eliza’s heels clicked over the bare wooden floor. “Let’s get moving, then!”

“The ink’s still wet! Let me enjoy my moment!”

“We’ve no time.”


Wet Ink by Ben Laing

“I used to write with these damn things all the time!” he huffed, looking at the smear of the still wet ink that obscured his words on the page and had blued the edge of his hand.

Grimacing in a way that turned his broad, bushy mustache downward at the ends, gave his face a sour expression. Casting the fountain pen aside, he instead picked up his trusty pipe. Swiftly lighting the crumbles of leaf in the bowl, he squinted through the smoke, down at the ruined page. He furrowed his brow in frustration.

“I cannot write this again!”


The Blot by Irene Waters

The stain spread like octopus tentacles. Grace felt sick. One mistake. That’s all it took to destroy everything. Too late to take back the action. It was done. She’d blotted her copybook and now, she had to live with it. Tears came unbidden. Not her fault. Alcohol was the culprit. The six gin and tonics had made her lose control but she’d chosen to drink. She’d wanted Dutch courage. She needed more than that now. She’d have to hand it in. Perhaps they’d overlook the ink as the content was good. Better than saying the dog ate her homework.


Wet Ink by Michael

My mother always said there was no point in crying over spilt milk, but spilt ink was a different matter.

There was immediate panic to clean it up as mum knew the stain would never come out. And it didn’t. Not that it happened much, but it was a constant source of danger.

Each of us was given a bottle of Swan Ink. We guarded it with our lives. Hours each day we practised our script, our curved lettering.

In front of us was the reminder to take care, the stain of the spilt ink fresh in our minds.


Inked by Ritu Bhathal

It was the bane of my life at school, being left-handed…

The most annoying thing?

Writing with an ink pen.

Now, if only I could write from right to left, like the Arabic community, I’d be fine, but no, we need to write from left to right, meaning my hand would smear the still wet ink across the page, as I wrote my essays.

I’d get told off, have to redo my work, and each inked page would look the same, despite my taking extra care holding my pen.

As I said… the bane of my life being left-handed…


Blue Marks by Paula Moyer

Being left-handed is over-rated. So Jean thought as she assessed the past hour’s journaling. The blank book and the gel pen seemed like a good idea. But now she looked down. The writing was not legible due to the smudges. And big, blue circles shone on each knuckle of each finger.

It looked like more than just a left hand sweeping across still-wet ink before it dried. As if the ink were more plenteous than that used by right-handed people.

Both moved left to right. While right hands moved across virgin paper, lefts caught all the marks. Held grudges.


Artistic Pages by Kerry E.B. Black

Youngest of the order, Brother Seamus crafted ink by scraping carbon from candle backs, crushing Gum Arabic, and adding drops of wine to reach the correct viscosity. He carried a bottle stained black to replenish his brothers’ failing supplies. They hunched over vellum made from animal skins stretched until translucent. Hours, weeks, and months bled into each of their artistic pages. Awed by a piece, Brother Seamus leaned closer, forgetting himself. Fresh ink poured over an illuminated letter, marring the holy scene. His eyes widened in horror, and Brother Seamus fled before the artist broke his vow of silence.


The Pen is Not Mightier Than the Tablet by Heather Gonzalez

Billy’s world seemed futuristic to his grandpa. All he ever did was touch a screen. Grandpa pulled a pen out of his pocket and held it out for him.

“What is this? How do you turn it on?” Billy scrunched up his face as he inspected what he was given.

“That is a pen. You use it to write. This is how you turn it on.” Grandpa clicked the pen as if it would magically bring his grandson the urge to use it to write.

“No, thanks,” he said handing him back the pen and turning to his tablet.


Fit to Print by Denise Aileen DeVries

Myra Jean believed cleanliness was next to godliness. She picked up the local newspaper with misgivings. Why did the ink stay wet forever, staining her fingers? She had asked her father, a linotype operator for the Baltimore Sun, but that was one of the few things he didn’t know. He was a fount of wisdom with a brilliant wit. On his rare days at home, they would read the paper together, pointing out typos and clichés. Even today, the smell of newsprint evoked her father’s wry grin. He would have enjoyed this weekly rag; it was full of howlers.


The Scoop by Anurag Bakhshi

Jimmy excitedly picked up the newspaper fresh from the press, ink still wet and smudgy. But he didn’t care. He eyes were transfixed on the front page photograph that would save his career.

His name had been on the list of those being given the pink slip at month-end. Not after this exclusive!

The scheme to push the kid into the snow leopard’s cage had been hare-brained and hair-raising, but it DID work out brilliantly in the end, thought Jimmy Olsen to himself, as he looked at the photograph of his friend Superman rescuing a child from the cage.


Dusty Bottles All in a Row by JulesPaige

The wet colored ink is mostly dry… but there was a time
that an Italian Glass Fountain pen had been used to write.
Frequently dipping for the store of ink in the nib only scripted
six to eight letters.

Poems, thoughts, the importance of actual communication
through postal correspondence. That was one way to occupy
the time of day when alone for a spell and other chores were
put on hold with the prospect of believing the recipient really
cared about you.

Oh, the colors; purple, orange, green – flowing into and
gripping the warp and weft of woven paper…


Story Hunting by D. Avery

Recognize the spoor, that tuft of hair on the twig, blood like ink on the ground; this one’s been hunted before. It’s okay if someone else spooked it, if it crosses your path it’s fair game. Don’t follow too close, don’t give chase too soon. A direct approach will send it running. Same with your searching eyes; relax, over-focus and you’ll never see it. Trust; your quarry will reveal itself to you. The shot has to be well aimed and certain. Make sure it’s in the clear, ready for its own end, final and swift. There; there’s a story.


Wet Ink by Jack Schuyler

Wet ink is the closest thing in this world to inspiration.

I ponder this statement as I splatter the dark liquid across my paper.

Its formless, free spirited, and it leaves its mark on everything it touches.

I reach up to scratch my face and leave behind a smeared black stripe. I look into the reflection of my spectacles and chuckle.

Even inspiration must dry eventually. If we don’t let it become physical—become permanent— then we will never realize its full beauty.

A strange shape has settled on my canvas. It looks like an octopus. I smile. Nice.


Skeletons in the Closet by Irene Waters

“Dad’s got skeletons in his closet.” My brother showed me an old, leather book. Inside were some blank pages and skeletons.

“Dad said we can do ours.” Excited, we raced to the study where the ink lived in a little glass pot at the top of the blotter. My brother went first, creasing the page in half then signing his name along the line made in the middle. Whilst the ink was still wet he folded the page in half again and pressed down on the fold. On opening it he had his own unique skeleton. Mine quickly followed.


Inky by FloridaBorne

“You say you’re dyslexic?” the head of human resources asked.

He held my application as if it contained a dead fish.

“Have you heard about the ADA?”

“You don’t use a wheelchair.”

“It’s 1995 and you still think the Americans with Disabilities Act only applies to wheelchairs?”

“I must have a secretary who can write!”

“I know, my handwriting looks like ink blots. Have you heard of a computer?”

“For what purpose?”

“I type 90WPM. This company uses a computer messaging system. The message goes to your inbox…”

“Computers will never last,” he smirked, sending me on my way.


Red Ink by Lucia Gray

The poet always wrote with red ink.

A constant reminder that his blood, the blood that pulsed through the fingers that held his pen, was red, not blue like the rippling sea, or black, like a moonless night…

His blood was red, a bold, vibrant scarlet, ablaze with love or hate, sometimes sizzling with lust, others fierce with rage, but never tepid.

His blood was red like a crimson dawn, or a ruby sunset.

Black or blue was the choice of those who embraced the vulgarity of conformity.

He lifted his pen, growled at the blank page and bled.


Unexpected News by Susan Sleggs

With great excitement and anticipation I opened my son’s first letter since he had joined the Air Force. I expected personal news and an address. I got the opposite.

“I’m sure you don’t know, Dad told me to never come home again for enlisting without his blessing. I don’t think it’s safe to give you any contact information because he will force you to choose between him and me. I’m sorry.”

My sudden tears wet the ink. I realized any letters would have to be kept secret and I didn’t know if I would ever see my son again.


Wet Ink by Colleen Chesebro

“How much longer?” The man asked, squirming face down in the chair.

“It’s done.” Diavolo laid the iron on the table. The ink wasn’t dry but the tattoo was finally finished.

“Can I see it?”

“In a moment. Just relax until it cures.”

The tattoo had morphed and changed several times over the last few days. Diavolo’s artistry came from a higher source, one that would determine this man’s fate. Today, the anchor tattoo faded and was replaced with the image of a sinking ship.

Diavolo shook his head. “What ship are you from, sailor?”

“The USS Arizona, Sir.”


PTSD Personified by Susan Sleggs

“Doc, my family feared I would die shortly after the ink was dry on my enlistment papers. Now I’ve made it back home without a visible wound they want me to tell them what my days were like: what I ate, what I saw, if I met any nice girls. They have no idea all the Army wanted from me was a body count. Having done what I was expected to do in order to survive, now I am dead inside. I’m afraid to go to sleep at night because of the nightmares and ashamed I made it home.”


Tattoo by Sascha Darlington

“The ink’s running. Is it supposed to do that?” My husband shows me his forearm, the new tattoo leaking color.

How would I know? His freshly engraved arm evokes uncertainty in me. Who is he now?

“Have you googled?” I don’t wait for his reply. I jab words into my browser, thrust my phone at him, and bite my lip. Passive-aggressive much?

“This has nothing to do with you.”


He sighs. “It’s an expression of creativity. I knew you wouldn’t understand.”

“You’re an accountant.”

“And bass player.”

Comprehension drizzles coldly over me: Saturday night’s groupie hot for ink.


Wet Ink by Rugby843

He thought it was just spilled wet ink, he felt. He thought he had committed the perfect murder. He thought it looked like she fell on her own letter opener. He thought leaving her body slumped on the desk would be believable. He thought he was through with her finally and forever.

He didn’t think she already informed her brother of the meeting. He didn’t think she was expecting a volatile argument. He didn’t think she would set up a video camera. He didn’t think it was not wet ink, but blood. He didn’t think she was still breathing.


Crime in 99 by MRMacrum

Outwardly, Harold was a picture of calm as the cop pressed his hand into the ink saturated blotter.

Sgt. Pine handed Harold a towel. “Confirmation prints, Mr. Jenkins.”

“Confirmation prints?” Harold stopped wiping his hands. His stomach knotted.

“You mean elimination prints, yes?” Harold felt his blood begin to rush.

“No sir. … Confirmation ……. You said you saw the victim through the window and never went inside, right?”

“Uh, Yes,…that’s right.”

“Well, we found a print with a nick running through it. We think the perp cut himself recently.” The Cop’s eyes sparkled.

Harold slowly turned over his hand.


Ink by Alice

Smooth as a new laid egg, the way the fountain pen flowed on a piece of paper was exactly how the sales assistant described it to be. Excited, he clipped the pen to the inner pocket of his suit and smoothed any creases with a nervous laugh.

“You’ll be fine,” his best man reassured, “Just be yourself!”

“Easy for you to say. Can you double check that you have the ring?”

“For the nth time, yes. We should leave now or we’ll be late!”

They never got to the church and the only document signed was a death certificate.


Wet Ink (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

“…to hold you in shadow and light, in doubt and certainty, when times are hard and when they are easy…”

Richard’s sister may have legally taken his earthly possessions, but this single page covered with scribbled bits of the vows he was writing are worth more than his computer equipment and manga art collection could ever be. Vows for the wedding they would never have. Becca gives in and allows herself to weep for a minute, then flings the pages away in horror at her carelessness. She can’t even read his words now, his pages smeared with her tears.


Rorschach Discovers the Inkblot Test by Anne Goodwin

Five minutes to prepare for my next patient, a haughty fellow who loved goading me. Did reluctance make my hand slip, knock over the bottle of ink? Before I could grab the blotter, a black splodge obliterated last session’s notes. I folded the page, was still trying to dry it when the patient took his seat. “It’s beautiful! Randomness and symmetry.” He looked awestruck, but he might have been taking the piss. “What do you see in it?” I ventured, still expecting him to scoff. “My mother!” He bent his head, began to weep.


The Evaluation by Charli Mills


“Looks like an athlete running.”

“And this?”

“Definitely a giraffe dancing the mamba.”

I can’t tell if the suit showing me ink blots takes my answers seriously. He’s just another cog in the government wheel of oppression.


“A storm with black raindrops.”

His pictures are stale blots. After watching FBI agents shoot my mother why would I conform to the government? They killed the adults in our compound. I’m only 13, but I know the freedom he doesn’t.


“A deer in the willows.”

My imagination is wet ink. I’ll survive captivity to create a better world.


Blot by Dan C Julian

I sat, pen poised, at pot and pad, to put to words a thought I’d had, when a fat drop dripped from the quill’s thin tip. By reflex, my hand flashed forth to catch it! But I was far too slow… What’s more though, the pot was caught by my reaching arm and overturned onto the page. In fuming self-rage at my clumsiness, I righted the inkwell, tissued up the black mess, regained the pen, and with it – in large surly letters alongside the Rorschach, suggestive to me of the proverbial catfish uncaught – wrote this: “Aborted Jot!”


Smudge and Psychometrics, Logan Style by Geoff Le Pard

‘You write neatly, Morgan.’

‘Teachers always moaned, said I had hooves, not fingers. Called me Smudge.’

‘Why’d you not type?’

‘Can’t get the words right, typing.  I need to have wet ink if I want to make progress. Otherwise writing is hard.’

‘That explains it, then.’

‘What does it explain, Logan?’

‘Your call to your mum, about your writing. Last night.’

‘Does it? I don’t recall talking about ink to my mother?’

‘Course not. You used your writerly code. You said, “I’m happy with my WIP”. I wondered what WIP stood for but now I know. Wet Ink Progress.’


Wet Ink by Robbie Cheadle

She sat working on her laptop in the dark. The power was of and she had a deadline to deliver on. The lights suddenly came back on and she looked up. Perched on top of her screen was a huge Parktown Prawn. She shrieked and jumped backwards. The enormous bug jumped to the floor and scuttled towards the doorway. She grabbed a heavy book and brought it down on the creature. When she lifted the book, she saw it was dead. A viscous black substance oozed out of its crushed body. It looked like it was leaking wet ink.


Wait for It to Dry by Chelsea Owens

“Nearly done, darlin’.” Her purpled tongue-stub protruded.

“Sue’s the best,” they’d said, in town.

I flinched. “I wouldn’t do that.” Her potato-skin face was expressionless. Cataract-blue globes never strayed from her age-veined fingers.

“Just don’ get the snake,” an old-timer warned.

A stool creak told me Sue was done. I peeked, gasped, and shifted my shoulder to view the deep golds and blues of the dragon’s ink-birthed scales.

Sue looked …the same. “Don’t you forget to let ‘im dry,” she scolded.

I nodded, paid, left. Absentmindedly, I slipped on my jacket. It was cold, everywhere except my arm…


Wet Ink by Annette Rochelle Aben

She dug through her purse for the stamps she just bought a week ago. This card needed to be posted today to reach him in time for his birthday.

Cars behind her in line honked impatiently as she absentmindedly popped the card into the box slot in the drive through at the post office. She waved out the window and pulled away, smiling

The postal worker came to collect the drive through mail. Dodging the automatic sprinklers, he reached for something face down on the ground. It was a goner, as he couldn’t read anything for the wet ink.


Wonderland by D. Avery

“Kid ya kin sure shovel it. Barn looks good.”

“Yep, shovelin’ manure’s a winter chore I got talent for.”

“Kid, ever think about goin’ on vacation, mebbe travel?”

“Uhuh. Leave the ranch? There’s so much goin’ on. This is the place ta be.”

“Hmmph. Ain’t snow an’ cold Down Under.”

“Still thinkin’ ‘bout trippin’ down there?”

“Nah, best keep an eye on ya here at the ranch. B‘sides, thet snow sure is purty.”




“Where’d all the shit from the barn go, anyway?”



“Piled higher an’ deeper.”

“But where?”

“Spring’s comin’. All will be revealed.”


Double Trouble by D. Avery

“Shorty sent ya ta town?”

“Yep, said she needed ink.”

“Hope she also told ya not to talk ta strangers, ta stay on the trail, ta not take magic beans nor wooden nickels in trade.”

“Fairytale funny, Pal. I’m smarter than ya think.”

“Ya went ta the General Store I hope.”

“Well, I was headed there but there was this guy on the corner.”


“Who had some good deals on ink cartridges. Only slightly damaged. From fallin’ off his cousin’s wagon.”

“What’d he look like?”

“Dunno. He stayed in the shadows. Spoke with an accent. Offered good deals.”


“Kid, that was Nanjo! Tell me ya didn’t git ink from Nanjo.”

“I didn’t git ink from Nanjo. Got this.”

“A bucket? You bought ink by the bucketful?”

“No, Pal. They’s squids in there.”

“You got squid, Kid?”

“Yeah. Feller said we’d never run outta ink if we had us some squid. Squirts ink if ya scare ‘em.”

“I’m gonna scare the ink outta you, Kid.”

“Squid. Jeez Pal, yer color’s changin’. Like a squid.”

“We cain’t be keepin’ squid on the ranch!”

“Pal, who’s Amari? Guy said, call Amari ta git rid of squid.”

“That’s calamari, Kid.”



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    • Charli Mills

      It is becoming a weekly anthology! Thanks so much for sharing, Sally!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Reena!

    • Charli Mills


  1. Ritu


    • Charli Mills

      A masterpiece!

  2. Ann Edall-Robson

    A good read, as always.

    • Charli Mills

      A good application of ink, this week.

  3. robbiesinspiration

    What a great selection of posts, Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      This is always my favorite part!

  4. Juliet

    I’m always amazed at the variety.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s an affirmation of how endless creativity truly is.

  5. Colleen Chesebro

    This is my first pass through. I’ll come back later to read and visit these awesome writers. Wow… every week I’m amazed at the creativity. <3

    • Charli Mills

      Me, too, Colleen!

      • Colleen Chesebro

        I’ve been so darn busy. I’ll get there hopefully tonight. <3

  6. thecontentedcrafter

    I’ve missed reading through these collections – it’s good to be back!

    • Charli Mills

      Glad to welcome you back, Paula! You’re an important reader at the Ranch.

  7. Norah

    As always, I’m amazed at where the prompts leads. Great compilation, Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m always amazed, too. Thanks, Norah!

      • Norah

        My reading pleasure, Charli. 🙂

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