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January 25: Flash Fiction Challenge

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Earth has an edge and I’m standing on its fault line. Snow sweeps out in front of me, wind-sculpted and hiding the brown bones of autumn battles. I’m alone on the beach, on the edge of the earth, tempted to walk on water, but knowing better than to give into the urge. Some curiosities the cat never returns from and I want to return if only to tell the tale.

Before my solo journey, I interrupted a party of parka-clad tourists. Like Sir Ernest Shackleton, I’m the hero on pause, answering questions before I can continue. The tourists, notably excited by rare winter wonders, have a single burning question: “Do you live here?”

“Yes.” Not here as in on the frozen beach of Lake Superior, but here as on the Keweenaw.

They understand, whistle through their breath, and shake their heads. Here is impressive to visit, worth the drive from downstate or out of state. Then the next question: “But why…?”

How do I tell them I’m captive to the Snow Queen, Lady Lake, that I’m a snared wanderer and a minstrel of sand and snow? Do they even understand the battlefield they stomp over in high tech snow boots unaware that Superior undulates unforgivingly below them?

That’s not a snow drift but her hip bone and she’s going to knock you to her watery depths if you don’t take care. Look, her ribs fly exposed overhead, she’s circling, circling. Do you belong to her? Don’t wait to find out. Flee! The battles renew, surge when you least expect.

But I give the less complex answer: “Rocks. I like rocks.”

“Oh.” They sound disappointed and inwardly I chuckle. No, these won’t draw her attention. She like admirers. One lingers, though.

“What kind of rocks?”

I look at this man before me and his eyes show a snap of curiosity. I can tell he feels Lady Lake’s presence but doesn’t know what it is. Asking about rocks is like asking for a sip of whiskey when you really don’t understand what the pub is all about.

Looking down, I see my cruel mistress has erupted stones for me as if she knew I’d take this chance to glimpse her. Okay, so I’ll give the nice man a taste of firewater. “Oh, agates,” I say.

“Ah, agates.” He turns and walks away.

So I say something more intriguing, wondering if Lady Lake has me doing her bidding now. “Prehnite is my favorite though, especially copper inclusions.”

“Copper inclusions?” This man has too much curiosity to be on this beach safely.

“Um, yes. Prehnite is milky white, sometimes yellow like old peas, but sometimes it has copper and radiates hot pink and kale green bursts of inner crystallization.”

“Oh! Are you a geologist?”

I want to tell him the truth — I belong to Lake Superior, I’m her siren’s call. But I say, “No but I raised one.” My smile is meant to look innocent, motherly.

“Let’s go!” His friends are already safely up top the hill over this battlefield. I can hear movement trickling beneath. I say no more and turn to walk away. Wisely, he retreats to his friends but stumbles across another eruption.

“Hey! Hey–I found something. A rock! It’s green!”

Overhead I see Lady Lake floating as clearly as the Lady of Shallot in her watery grave. I turn back and the man approaches, holding out a rock in his now ungloved hand. It’s the size of a tomato, steely gray, pocked with vesicles, filled with glittering pistachio green crystals. Oh, Lady Lake, you are toying with him. “Ah, that’s basalt filled in with a secondary mineralization of epidote. Anything the color of pistachios is epidote.”

“Cool!” He has no idea what epidote is or how common. But it is spectacular, especially when the crystals aren’t beach-pummeled smooth. He grins and pockets his find. “I see why you like living here.”

She’s snared another. He’ll always want to come back to this beach. At work, likely an office job, maybe even as a CEO, he’ll be in the middle of a meeting, taking notes or giving direction, and he’ll think of that rock and how many others might be waiting on that beach. When the wind teases his hair, he’ll look the direction of Lake Superior and not know why.

Father Baraga, black robe to the Ottawa and Ojibwe, ministered to the tribes of the Upper Peninsula, becoming a grammarian of their languages. For thirty years he crossed these peninsulas, often on snowshoes, and dared to take on the Lady Lake. No one knows why he dedicated his service on her shores, and no stories speak of his interest in rocks. But he did tend to the immigrant copper miners, too.

It’s true that he never left the Lake once he arrived. From 1830 until his death in 1868 he lived here. One dark and stormy night he set out in his little canoe after hearing about an epidemic outbreak in the village of Grand Portage. Whether he intended to cross Lake Superior, only the Lady knows. She blew up into fierce seas, tossing about the priest and his guide in the birch-bark canoe. Whatever happened that day between Lady Lake and Father Baraga, he never forgot the feeling of salvation when she dumped him safely on a sandy shore at the mouth of Cross River. The cross, the father erected and it stands in stone.

She likes stone.

It may seem a minor miracle for a canoe to survive her battle-fraught waves but consider the Edmonds Fitzgerald. Fully loaded with iron ore, she kept that booty for herself.

Now alone and having walked as far as I can down the beach, I look back and take stock like human recorder. She uses many of us, I’m certain. Today, she called me to the Lake to see what she had wrought. I’ve enjoyed her home-visits, her playful flurries of snow, her blinding, whirling blizzards. I’ve missed her on the days when she recedes, but can always glimpse her denseness hanging gray over the distant shore.

Today, she is atmospheric. Layer upon layer of gray lifts into the blue sky edged with white feather tips — her rib cage hovers over me. Lady Lake gently blows, wind reverberates through the birch above on the hill. Somehow, I felt her call. It was a blue sky day, so why not?

Like Father Baraga must have felt at some point in his journey, I drove out of Calumet and caught my first winter glimpse of Lake Superior. Where blue horizon meets blue water, I only saw white, and white and gray. Terror frizzed across my nerves and I heard the words of the black-robe echo across time, What the hell was I thinking?

It was too late to turn back. Literally, there was no place to turn around. I nearly missed the cut-off to Calumet Waterworks beach. I turned sharply and my car slid. Missing the snowbank, I slowed down, heart pounding like the ghost of stamp mills. I reasoned that I was only going to look. After all, with 132 inches of snow in less than three months, I was not getting near the beach. The parking lot was plowed so I pulled in. Just to see.

Lady Lake had Superior locked in a violent freeze.

Birch trees on the hill remained buried to their lowest saddle. Picnic tables emerged like slates in the snow. Park slides and swings froze in time and snowbanks. The snow, compact, formed a bridge to the stairs that now drifted snow like shutes to the beach below. And yet the clever wench had blown a small trail, exposing enough steps for daring feet. And by now you know I can’t resist seeing what the rocks might be like below.

That is how I came to stand on the edge of the world, staring down the remains of a battlefield. Trees like soldiers dropped from their banks in October and November. Violently the waves spewed their denuded trunks against the cuts into the hillside. Like brown broken bones, they protrude through the snow and litter the beach. Another line of driftwood. A smaller and less forcibly tangled line of littered driftwood forms a secondary barrier. Between the two Lady Lake has sculpted ice and snow like finger painting in Elmer’s Glue.

I stand on the edge. It’s so quiet I hear the constant trickle of the Lake as if the water has been pruned back like roses and it can only ooze between grains of buried sand. In a display of force, piles of sand and beach rocks erupt like mini volcanoes through the crust of snow. Lady Lake has sculpted these along the edge into frozen pedestals. Memory recalls this is where the waves lapped to shore. No lapping now.

More fearsome yet is the battle yet raging between water. Like brothers at war, ice versus liquid rips the lake bed. What might look like dunes or drifts of snow made by a runaway bulldozer I know to be waves, sand, and rock transcending space. The lake ice scatters with foot-thick sheets upended and perpendicular to the shoreline. Lady Lake circles overhead, a war rages in slow motion below — behold the power of Lake Superior in winter.

Welcome to the edge. Dare you pick up a rock and never forget her call?

January 25, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be and how it informs the story. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by January 30, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published January 31). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Grounding (From Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Too late for planting tomatoes, Danni seeded more radishes. Ike complained they bit back, but if he left for Iraq what did it matter? She’d eat spicy radishes alone.

She kneeled along the row, tamping each seed. The earth felt solid beneath her hands. With no more seeds to cover, Danni dug into the ground that remained unplanted. Sifting loamy earth through her fingers she found a marble. She rolled the green glass in her palm.

If it was Ike’s decision and she was to stay home, why did she feel pitched over the edge into an unknown future?

###

 


350 Comments

  1. Norah says:

    Hi Charli,
    I’ve just read your prompt and had to respond straight away. Have no idea why. I usually mull it over for days. I think you pushed me to the edge! 🙂
    The edge
    She stood at the edge of the abyss and wondered what would happen should she jump – would she fly, or would she plummet to the bottom and rest, fractured and alone, forgotten and abandoned, with all the others who dared to try but failed. It was fear that held her back, chained her to the ledge. But there was nowhere else to go. She’d tried all other paths. This was all that remained. Could she stay there forever. Would there be a point? What if she fell? But what if she flew? She inhaled, closed her eyes, and jumped…

    Liked by 9 people

    • Norah says:

      As always, Charli, a beautifully descriptive post of the spot where you are now planted – or, as it sometimes seems to me – frozen in time. The lake is so different, but still beautiful, in its winter state. You are such a determined rock hunter. I’m so pleased you survived your expedition, even though you pondered what you were thinking. Sometimes we get so far, and there’s no turning back – only one way left to go.
      I enjoyed reading the excerpt from Miracle of Ducks and was amused at Danni planting radishes. I was listening to a podcast this morning (https://fizzle.co/sparkline/possible-support-family-indie-business-yes-just-listen-fs245) and the fellow being interviewed, Steve Maxwell, said that growing your own business is like planting acorns not radishes. How true, I thought. 🙂 I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to Danni’s future. I hope she’s not sent over the edge. And I hope that none of us have to wait too long for our acorns to grow. Know any good quick-action fertiliser? 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        I have to bite my tongue on the answer to your question, Norah because the fertilizer of our bones comes to mind (Van Gogh never sold any of his paintings while alive). I’d like to think artists and entrepreneurs are ahead of their time, but hopefully not so far ahead it takes generations to catch on! But I agree with the acorn analogy. Just look at how the oak has grown in four years. Thank you for reading Danni’s story. 😉

        Liked by 3 people

      • Norah says:

        I hope you didn’t bite down too hard, Charli. Biting a tongue can hurt! Let’s keep our bones healthy and above ground for a little while yet. Yep, look what has taken shape in four years – branches everywhere!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      What if she flew? A perfect precipice for the flight of those who dare to be like Jonathon Livingston Seagull. Norah, you make me think of how frightening it is to be in that edge of doing something that matters greatly to us. We leap… We don’t always find out right away… I’m so delighted you were instantly inspired!

      Liked by 4 people

      • Norah says:

        What if she flew indeed! 🙂 I’m pleased too – 99 words, straight off the keyboard – no editing – the words just came – I went with them. You put me on the edge. And you held my hand when I jumped. Thank you. 🙂

        Liked by 4 people

    • Jules says:

      Your post reminded me of an Asian themed movie a while back where a girl jumps off a mountain, flies and lives. I couldn’t find it… but I did find the one about the girl who used a hang glider to guide geese… Not quite the same as Sister Bertrille – The Flying Nun.

      There are different interpretations for flying in dreams. I think I would like to believe your character landed safely for a new start.

      Liked by 5 people

    • “Told ya, Kid, them Austr-aliens’ll turn things upside down.”
      “What’re ya on about Pal?”
      “Look! When’d ya ever see Aussie fly outta the chute like that, first one in the arena?”
      “Oh, wow, that’s a good ride, too. She is flyin’.”
      “Yep. She’s a wonder.”
      “Yep. From Down Under.”

      Liked by 4 people

    • paulamoyer says:

      Masterful and suspenseful, Norah.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Well, hey there Norah. I have always assumed you are just thoughtful in your responses as well as a busy person who manages her time, my opposite in more than hemispheres. I have been coming in later of late, but those two characters have been sneaking around the ranch ahead of me. Someone should rein them in.
      Wow, huh? There is a tourist away up there who has no idea how common epidote is or what an uncommon person he met that day. Our rock loving hero on pause is sure ‘enough a poet in prose. As Pal might say, a durn purty prompt post.
      And you had a darn good response, once again leading the charge and setting the bar high.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Norah says:

        No one should rein those two characters in. That would rain on my parade. They reign! 🙂
        I don’t know about not knowing about epidote. Who remembers geometry from school anyway? We only learned about igneous fractions and cubic crystals. None of the jewels stayed in my head. 🙂 But he did for sure meet one rare person. She is a gem, and not just because she knows about the common ones and the rare ones – because she really is one – “a poet in prose”. Always a turn of phrase to admire and something new to learn. What’s not to admire? Her words sparkle on the page or screen.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        You two are making me blush like pink feldspar! 🙂

        Like

    • And she flew…. Lovely inspirational tale Norah.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Beautiful Norah. It is how we are with every decision we make. I loved it as a metaphor and as a magical tale.
      I was going to start my reading at the bottom today as I always miss you but here you are at the top.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Norah says:

        What lovely kind words, Irene. Thank you. I’m pleased the story resonated with you, and that you got to read it without really trying. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • It was a lovely story Norah. I am finding it difficult to visit everyone and often those at the end I don’t get to. Not that I don’t want to I just haven’t the time. I was late with mine this week and thought I’ll visit from the back (and thought I will see Norah and Ann and a few others that are usually at the rear but this time you got in early and there went my resolve to read from the back and I’m so glad I did because I loved your flash.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Norah says:

        I know what you mean about time, Irene. There is so much to read and so little time. Gone are the days when I’d curl up on my bed with a few good books to last the week. Now the computer requests me to read, read, read, and I’ve lost my curling up with a good book time.
        Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my story. I appreciate it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        We’ve had a big growth spurt. I’m trying to think of some graceful ways to share our welcoming reads.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli, I’m now back with a link to a post incorporating my flash, Poised on the edge of the future. Unlike most things, the flash has stayed the same. 🙂 https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-14v

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Juliet says:

    Thanks, Charli for letting me see this extraordinary scene through your eyes.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ritu says:

    What a beautiful scene Charli, and you describe it, frozen in time, so well! I’ll be thinking on this prompt for tonight!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Lady Lake has brought me to my knees through your powerful words Charli. I feel humbled and utterly in awe of these great towering slabs of ice and the dark churning overhead. A landscape swallowed and silent and a war raging beneath. I think I’ll forever be drawn back to this otherworldly place you’ve described. Just wow.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      The Lady Lake is one powerful Muse! I am humbled as well and I hope you get to touch her shore one day. If you run those rocks under cold tap water and hold them in your hand, you’ll feel her touch.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Seeing her in person is certainly in my future and these stones you sent down are indeed the first step. It’s a blessing that my partner has a love for Chicago, Lady Lake’s shores are not much further north, and for now I’ll remain inspired by her, through your eyes, until we meet her one day. And hopefully, you too!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        I will hold onto a vision of you on her shores. No matter her mood, I know you’ll be enthralled. And Chicago is a wonderful city to visit!

        Like

  5. Abby says:

    Wow, that is so mythical, Charli, and full of old and new folklore. The atavistic human response to the power of nature. I recognise it, and love it.
    Funnily enough I wrote an Edge prompt piece last week for AdHoc. Now I shall write another.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Abby, I can’t help but wonder if some of your kin hadn’t also felt that response to Lake Superior. I’ve asked around with local historians who tell me there were Rowes from Cornwall high up on the Keewenaw where Lady Lake is most wild. So! Another edge it is for you! Thank you for your reading.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Abby says:

        That’s a lovely thought. I like that the Rowes were on the wild side, the gloriously named Keewenau. Edgy folk right there. I’ll ask my brother if he has any knowledge of the region in our family tree (he’s our go to genealogist). Off the top of my head, I only know of ancestors in Florida, but that’s not going back far enough.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Abby says:

        *Keewenaw. Sorry for typo.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        For a moment, I thought Keweenau was the Gaelic spelling! I can find out where the wild-side Rowe’s came from, too. The Cornish left a huge footprint here (and pasties).

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey Charli! ! Wanted to drop in and say hello. Here is a contribution for this week. You Rock =]

    Endless Edge by Elliott Lyngreen

    I just awoke from another one of those dreams. One of those seamless to an infinite edge. Never separating. An endless edge.

    Happens every time. Sometimes in a car. We go around the rocky bend. The vehicle turns, slides off the mountain side. (Someone is with me? Not always.) We are still turning off the edge.

    Sometimes it is a staircase. From the top I can see the bottom. So, I jump. Challenging me, the leap clears the steps only in thoughts. They always increase. The length down, to the bottom, expands. We are still soaring towards the below.

    Liked by 11 people

  7. […] January 25: Flash Fiction Challenge January 25, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be and how it informs the story. Go where the prompt leads. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jules says:

    Charli,

    I have only seen Lake Michigan from Wisconsin – The edges of North and South beach. So different from an ocean. Yet similar. Everyday can be a new dramatic edge of existence. We need to remember to breathe and live.

    I went back to Maui for my entry:

    Numb and Humbled
    (Title link to post)

    Maui has a multitude of atmospheres. The edges are not
    clearly defined. Waterfalls create their own edges from
    some of the coldest water. I may have dipped in Alelele Falls.
    The smooth black rocks on the bottom of the little pool were
    hard knots on my bare feet. I was bound and determined to
    submerge into this mostly calm scene. There were a few
    others drawn to the majesty of the eighty foot drop, only a ten
    minute walk from an almost hidden entry point.

    I got in up to my neck. I felt freezer burned, a different
    edge…

    ©JP/dh

    Liked by 7 people

  9. She scrabbled to grip the edge of the steep cliff. Pebbles and stones, loosened by her shoe-clad feet; skittered rapidly down the steep, rocky slope. She didn’t look down the hundred foot drop. If she did, pure vertigo would cause her to let go. As it was, only her bloodied fingers curled tightly around gnarled roots that jutted out of the cliff face; were stopping her from falling to certain death.
    There was no one around to help her.
    Would her own upper body strength and the tough roots be enough to pull her back up over the edge?

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Liz H says:

    Poetry in motion in your column today~~”Lake, be a Lady tonight!”

    Most of my memories of the lake are of summer days and nights, and yes wild, beautiful, and a little scary times even then.

    Did winter x-country skiing through deep woods and wind-swept ice once, and over one Thanksgiving, pulled glistening punch bowls of ice off lake-side boulders placed to keep the island from melting into Superior from the incessant wave action. And yes, we smashed ’em, ’cause that’s what kids do, and the Lake provided more for our anarchic pleasure!

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Susan Budig says:

    What a powerful piece of writing, Charli! I’m bringing this to Inkubation Writers Workshop to share. The prompt is tempting, too.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Susan Budig says:

      Here’s my flash

      Sören drew the edge of the envelope along his lips, contemplating whether to seal it or rip it to shreds. If mailed, he’d have to act immediately. Was he ready? He slid the letter out, “Dear Tessa, if you’re reading this, you’ll know I’ve decided to accept the scholarship and leave for Baltimore. But know this, too: I love you and I’m coming back once I’ve graduated university. If you aren’t here, I’ll understand. Who would wait with only hope to hold her hand for years?” He stopped reading and decisively set course for the rest of his life.

      Liked by 7 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Susan! Makes me feel like I’m back with you all again. And I’m so delighted to see Sören make an appearance. Flash fiction has helped me tremendously in my long-form writing. Your book is one I anticipate reading one day.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. […] in response to January 25, 2018, prompt by Carrot Ranch Literary Community: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might […]

    Liked by 1 person

  13. […] January 25: Flash Fiction Challenge January 25, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be and how it informs the story. Go where the prompt leads. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jules says:

    Charli,
    Such a complex prompt deserves another entry… this time poetic
    We are so much stronger than we think …sometimes.
    You have proven that statement so many times.

    Foul Fringes
    (title is the post link)

    Where’s the edge of emotion?
    How far will you push?
    Will I be able to pull out
    Of the depths you’ve
    Tossed me into?

    I must take the edge of arguments
    I have heard you yell at each other
    Into wee morning hours
    The threats and tears
    Intruding into my dreams

    I cannot know your pain –
    You will not accept mine.
    Thinking I am not capable –
    That I am underdeveloped
    Because of my shyness

    You are the parents I have,
    I was not given a choice
    Your maturity seems lacking
    As you trip over poured words
    That seem meaningless…

    ©JP/dh

    Liked by 8 people

  15. Juliet says:

    Hi again. I was inspired by nature too today for my story..

    Empty Nest

    I always knew she would finally push him out.

    She was gettting fed up with him, he had grown too much, was taking up too much space.

    She had provided for his every need. At his beck and call, day and night.

    But he was almost an adult now. It was time.

    As I watched from across the street, I saw her push him.

    He screamed at her in anger.

    But she was determined.

    He was standing right on the edge when she gently nudged him with her yellow beak.

    He didn’t know he could fly. But she did.

    Liked by 8 people

  16. Pete says:

    I read the note until I knew each fold and every stain. I studied the slant of her letters, thought I saw a slight hesitation parked at the edge of the E in LOVED.

    She loveD me.

    And a million tiny regrets hitched that D to the E. Knocked a majestic word off balance. It’s why a piece of paper felt so heavy in my hands.

    The note glowed Hemingway beige in the sunlight, yet appeared modernly cold in the glow of a device. It could turn romantically silver beneath a full moon, but was always blurry at Goodbye.

    Liked by 8 people

  17. Dimensional Kid

    “Ain’t seen ya lately, Kid.”
    “Couldn’t find my dang boots last week.”
    “Yer still edgy over it?”
    “Don’t push me, Pal, I’m right close to the edge.”
    “I’m sure somethin’ll surface this week.”
    “Jest it, I’m confused. A certain someone says an edge is a line segment where two surfaces meet.”
    “That sounds sharp, Kid. That straight talk?”
    “I dunno, you do the math. See, I been ponderin’ on edges bein’ places, gotten to in round about ways; times or spaces of transition, betwixt and between. Whatdaya think?”
    “Ta me it’s neither here nor there.”
    “Exactly! A becoming place.”

    Liked by 12 people

  18. Old Jules says:

    He stretched his big toe as far forward as he could without stumbling, feeling for the oblivion he knew waited in the darkness. Nothing. He strained his mind listening to the tip of that toe. And felt only the soft movement of what? What is that?

    Behind him the shopping cart with all his belongings rattled. “Hurry!” Her
    voice trembled.

    Suddenly the toe touched something and screamed at him. “Back! Back!” He launched himself backward against the shopping cart and the weight of her. He heard her fall and tried to grip the cart.

    “What happened?”

    “The edge.”

    “No!”

    Liked by 7 people

  19. susansleggs says:

    From muddy dogs to darkness on the edge…….

    If Only

    Her father worked evenings. That was good. She rarely had to be alone with him.
    Getting off the school bus she checked the drive. He was home. Damn!
    He would expect her to walk around naked so he could ogle and touch her.
    Her mother was buried, no longer a wedge of protection. No siblings.
    She stood there, on the edge; go in or not.
    She backed away, fishing for her cell phone. She touched the only safe number.
    “Dad’s home, therefore drunk. Can you come get me?”
    Waiting, she decided to stick with the lie, he gets mean.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Beyond the edge and past, the stars are where dreams happen.

    Beyond the Fringe
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    The edge. I dare not go over, for I might fall. Would it be so bad? Perhaps not. The currents lifting me higher, the dips, the dives, floating through and beyond. Solitude capturing moments. Beliefs shattered, staggering. The turn of events snagged in a millisecond to save the experience. Climbing, ever climbing, again. The journey continues until the edge appears, foreboding, challenging, gut-wrenching stamina to the end. Exhaustion. Numb mind thoughts settle passively taking steps to the fringe. Outside the comfort, hold on to your being. Unravel the dream, past the stars and beyond. Publish the damn book!

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/beyond-the-fringe

    Liked by 7 people

  21. dancjulian says:

    Remy’s eyes swam slightly as he cast a long look down at the several tall cylindrical stacks of ‘nickel’ chips situated between the highball glass in his right hand and the ashtray over which his left hovered with a lit menthol. At five dollars per chip, he had to be sitting on almost five hundred dollars. He’d started with one-fifty. A few hours of conservative play had gotten him to this moment, the kind of roulette moment Remy lived for. The last six numbers had been odd reds. The next spin was bound to be even, black, or both…
    https://wordflorilegium.wordpress.com/2018/01/27/edge/

    Liked by 7 people

  22. […] #CarrotRanch and […]

    Liked by 4 people

  23. […] Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  24. denmaniacs4 says:

    Night Visions

    One

    In the middle of the night, the thought swirls to the surface of his awareness.
    Eyelids crack open.
    Sleep fails.
    Fear, like a large dark suffocating stain, crushes in.
    Sharp stilettos of pain sting his chest.
    He rolls over, slips close to the edge of the bed.
    A pillow bolts, disappears in space.
    His head dangles over.
    Blood rushes to his eyes;
    A true guillotine moment…

    Two

    Watchful eyes, piercing, bright, gawk up at him.
    “Could be the cat,” he considers.
    Hopes.
    Two sets of eyes gape up.
    “Could be I’m seeing double,” he considers.
    “Could just be.”

    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 8 people

  25. […] January 25: Flash Fiction Challenge January 25, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be and how it informs the story. Go where the prompt leads. […]

    Like

  26. Jules says:

    I’m on a roll… here’s number 3 for this prompt:

    Tip of the Tongue… A Different Edge
    (Title is blog link)

    Cora had been on the edge of a deep restorative sleep –
    then dreamed of betrayal. Was she really feeling sorry for
    herself? Was she insecure or suspicious of something or
    someone?

    Perhaps learning to say no to things that no longer interested
    her had some drawbacks. Less of a public face for others to
    say insincerely when meeting; “How are you?” Because you
    really didn’t want to answer them or even ask them the same
    question.

    Cora had met Mrs. X at the grocers, yesterday. Fifteen years
    was a long time to remember the name of a distant acquaintance.

    ©JP/dh

    Liked by 6 people

  27. floatinggold says:

    My submission:

    “Jack got out of the car and ran full speed ahead, until he reached the edge of a cliff. The ocean’s stormy waters continuously slammed against the rocks below him. The frantic wind whistled in the distance before enveloping him in a cocoon of autumn leaves. He looked at the sky and saw the fast approaching rain clouds. A single tear rolled down his cheek before the sky opened up. Jack fell to his knees and buried his face in his hands. What was he going to do next? Even God was angry with him now.

    Thunder.

    Lightning struck.”

    Liked by 7 people

  28. floatinggold says:

    Btw, “That’s not a snow drift but her hip bone and she’s going to knock you to her watery depths if you don’t take care. Look, her ribs fly exposed overhead, she’s circling, circling. Do you belong to her? Don’t wait to find out. Flee! The battles renew, surge when you least expect.” is my favorite paragraph.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. […] January 25th Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 2 people

  30. […] Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – January 25, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge […]

    Liked by 2 people

  31. paulamoyer says:

    Picking up on what happened after I wrote my “me, too” essay.

    Canyon of Real

    By Paula Moyer

    Send or don’t send?

    Jean stared at the email. Addressee: Title IX coordinator of her alma mater.

    Jean never made a secret of it: the stares, the propositions, the butt swats. They were her introduction to graduate school. For over 40 years she had regaled friends with her war stories.

    Then an actress spoke up about the exact same thing and a whole movement started.

    Statute of limitations be damned. Jean’s “war stories” happened. Someone should know.

    Jean now drove her history up to a different edge, the canyon of real. One click would make it real.

    Send?

    Click.

    Liked by 7 people

  32. Joe Owens says:

    With a wife and daughter in the home I have a certain amount of consciousness about the topic of my post. Fortunately my wife has a hair salon in the home, so the possibility of workplace interactions is limited. But my daughter is only 20, so she has many more years to navigate the shark pools.

    https://fictionplayground.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/the-owners-edge-carrot-ranch-weekly-flash-01-28-17/

    Liked by 7 people

    • paulamoyer says:

      Oooh! Creepy! And masterfully done, plunging right into the action — “arriving late,” as one of my teachers says.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Welcome back from sabbatical, Joe! It must be difficult for fathers who are aware of the topic of your flash, to think of their daughters having to experience workplace harassment. And yet, I think the character in your flash must have a good relationship with he father to feel so confident to fight back.

      Like

  33. […] This is the latest Carrot Ranch prompt  […]

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Annecdotist says:

    Ha, I love how you beguiled that tourist. I’m probably more ignorant about geology than he is, but my flash also has a rocky edge:
    On the Edges http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2018/01/on-the-edges.html

    Liked by 4 people

  35. paulamoyer says:

    Charli, I love that Lake Superior is the catalyst for this week’s prompt. I’m in love with that Lady, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. […] Carrot Ranch January 25, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be and how it informs the story. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by January 30, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published January 31). Rules are here. All writers are welcome! […]

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Seeking Earth’s edges, pressing on, thrusting ahead, seeking new frontiers, always further on.
    Heroic?
    Westward expansion told as a flexible line; looping progression across the map page, across the ages, across the ever-changing landscape. Edges reached, breached and surpassed. Shoreline, rivers, mountain ranges, seas of grass, mountain ranges, deserts, rivers, shoreline; compressed, flattened, documented.
    Whose country tis of thee?
    Edges of encounter; that line of expansion entangling, ensnaring, diminishing, destroying; slicing the multifaceted beauty of each encountered edge, razing cultures, razing ecosystems.
    If only edges were navigated as holy spaces of contemplation, opportunities for true expansion, precipitant of Potential.

    shiftnshake.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/contemplating-edges/ (long-play)

    Liked by 4 people

  38. […] Charli Mills’ https://carrotranch.com/2018/01/25/january-25-flash-fiction-challenge/ : In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might […]

    Liked by 1 person

  39. The edge
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Julia’s life balanced on a silvery precipice, its sharp cleavage pressed to her throat. Its wielder clasped a bruising hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming. As the blade cut into delicate skin, Julia pushed into the knifeman’s chest to escape its bite.
    His voice rumbled, an avalanche of fear in tenor. “Stay back.”
    Julia’s husband, palms outstretched in supplication, stopping inching toward them. “Alright, but let her go.”
    A tiny blood rivulet escaped its confines and tickled to her collarbone. Julia held her breath, lest movement might cause a deeper cut.
    “Can’t. She’s coming with me.”

    Liked by 6 people

  40. […] week’s Carrot Ranch Flash fiction challenge: 99 words no more no less prompt word […]

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Abby says:

    Overcast

    This week’s is more poetic prose than story, I guess. I took my inspiration from when you see the whole globe of the moon when it’s waxing or waning, and the edge of the crescent accentuates the larger darker side. I did enjoy playing with the language.

    Liked by 4 people

  42. I loved the way you piqued the man’s interest. It would be lovely to know if he has been captured by the lady of the lake. It certainly seemed as though she had him in her clutches. You sounded like you were on the edge in more ways than one with your trip to the lake that day. Sometimes it only takes a tiny thing to put us over the edge whereas at other times we’re standing on the edge. Danni I hope survives her edge (I know she will) and I love the fact that she’ll be eating radishes with or without Ike. Life has a way of just going on. Mine this week I hoped for a couple of edges and if really lucky perhaps three.
    https://irenewaters19.com/2018/01/29/at-the-edge-99-word

    Liked by 5 people

  43. […] 1) The Carrot Ranch Literary Community Flash Fiction Challenge, hosted by Charli Mills.Charli’s prompt this week, in her own words, […]

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Hola Charli, Here’s my entry for this week’s challenge.

    https://jagahdilmein.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/gotcha/

    Liked by 5 people

  45. https://chelseaannowens.com/2018/01/28/the-real-illusion/

    Her nightdress billows in moving mists of rainbows; toes curl precariously over cloudforms.

    She cannot see, so closes her eyes.

    And now, appears the wooden bridge. It skips across to the sandy seashore
    -the shore outside a castle’s wall
    -whereat lays a fearsome dragon, curling smoky out-breaths in the sun.

    A shining knight advances, drawing schlinking steel to fight the fiery, glinting, scalesome beast.

    “Oh, dear,” cries Princess, from above. Her swooping scarf-hat trails the crumbling window ledge.

    The nightdressed girl smiles, treading where adults fear. She perches, perfectly happy, at the cliffside edge of fantasy.

    And jumps.

    Liked by 8 people

  46. paulamoyer says:

    Also, Charli — your flash of Danni, Ike, and the radishes vs tomatoes — perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. I decided to look at this challenge in a metaphorical and literal way. My character is on the edge with his emotions and what happens has him on the edge physically as well. I hope that his choice at the end is his way of letting karma happen and letting his family know how he truly felt for what he did.

    https://notyouraveragemomblogweb.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/flash-fiction-barely-hanging-on/

    Liked by 5 people

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

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Michael B. Fishman says:

    The Snow Queen? Lady Lake? Rocks? What you’ve done with your essay is something very difficult: you’ve made me actually want to leave this safe city and travel to Keweenaw and see what service I can offer those shores. And while that might not sound like much, it is. And I loved this, “Asking about rocks is like asking for a sip of whiskey when you really don’t understand what the pub is all about.”

    Anyway, here’s mine:
    https://michaelsfishbowl.com/2018/01/29/i-think-were-alone-now-carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-challenge/

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think you just took a sip of whiskey, Michael, and it was distilled with rock-infused water from Lady Lake’s depths. She’s a fine sight to see but you’ll always want to visit again. Or I can send you a rock! Thanks for catching the spirit of the piece.

      Liked by 1 person

  50. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (12/25/2018): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be and how it informs the story. Go where the prompt leads. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  51. […] January 25: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 3 people

  52. […] week’s flash fiction challenge prompt at the Ranch: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that goes to the edge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  53. Deborah Lee says:

    Edges and edges…edges are magical places, jumping-off points. Kinda literally, this time:

    https://99monkeysblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/the-edge-jane-doe-flash-fiction/

    Liked by 4 people

  54. […] This week Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that goes to the edge. Consider what the edge might be … […]

    Liked by 2 people

  55. […] week called for a story that goes over the edge in 99 words (no more, no […]

    Liked by 4 people

  56. […] You can join in this challenge here: https://carrotranch.com/2018/01/25/january-25-flash-fiction-challenge/  […]

    Like

  57. AJ says:

    The Windy Edge

    Gooseflesh prickles her skin, but she ignores the sensation, not daring to let her grip go. The wind whips sand across her face as she stares straight ahead, blinking away the sand particles scratching and blurring her vision. The rock wall cut in to her skin as she presses her back into its sharp ridges.

    The time was coming, familiar screeching echoed around her until it felt like it was beating against her skull.

    She was the last one. No one was left. She could not wait anymore. She jumps from the edge, wings spread far, catching the breeze.

    Liked by 3 people

  58. Tried to share this once but had a WP log in issue. I apologize if this is redundant.
    http://www.theplaguedparent.com/lesson/

    Liked by 3 people

  59. […] For Charli Mills Flash Fiction challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Sue Vincent says:

    Finally managed to write one in time, Charli … 🙂 https://wp.me/p1wss8-end

    Liked by 4 people

  61. Phoebe Greathouse says:

    The Edge
    She drifts in the watery blue looking down at the ocean floor. Below is a swaying forest of seagrasses. The shallow water is warm from the sun, too warm to be inviting. She seeks a refreshing swim, a cold plunge into deep dark water.
    Years before a channel was cut from the coral floor to allow large ships to navigate the treacherous shallows surrounding the island. Thirty feet deep, she floats over the descending wall of the edge. There is a sensation of falling over a cliff into blackness. Too cold, too deep, today she stays in the boat.

    Liked by 3 people

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