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February 8: Flash Fiction Challenge

Like a blank page, the white goes on and on.

I’m rugged up and running errands with the Hub. For today’s entertainment, we sit in the parking lot at the drug store and watch two snowboarders bounce on a precipice formed on the ridge of the hill across from our front row parking lot seats. He keeps the car running for our comfort and we watch as the two figures climb back to the top of the ridge. Evidently, the precipice passed the stress test.

The Hub fusses with his camera and gives me a dissertation on how the lens focuses. We no longer have real conversations. I’m with him, but I’m lonely. His abstract thinking is all that remains. That and the pestering need for attention that makes him seem frozen in the terrible twos. His sense of humor was always a high point in our relationship and I never expected it would one day be the most annoying thing about him.

But it also remains the most recognizable aspect too, so I grit my teeth and bear it.

In a flash, the first snowboarder leaps from the ridge, hits the precipice and soars momentarily airborne like someone with Olympic dreams. I think this time of year as the nations gather for the Winter Olympics we all feel the excitement of such dreams.

He nails the landing and the second snowboarder launches, hits the precipe and wipes out. So it goes with chasing the tail of dreams. Some days we catch a glorious moment and other days we get a mouthful of cold snow. Both snowboarders begin the long hike back up and we head to the store.

Our hike continues and where it will end we don’t know — curable? incurable? — more tests and scans and evaluations will tell. For now, everyone is puzzled by the Hub’s behavior I’ve been red-flagging to deaf ears for nearly five years now. Something is definitely wrong to the point that he doesn’t even know himself anymore.

But I know who I am. I’m fireweed, the purple and pink flower that grows like a tall spear in a tribe of flower warriors. After a forest fire, mining reclamation, road grading or any kind of soil disturbance, fireweed grows back first from seeds born of despair. It’s a phoenix flower, a soil nourisher, a defier of the odds when life is bleakest.

Fireweed and her toddler enter the store.

I have ibuprofen and office supplies to pick up — a few folders to hold the contents of developing plans and workshops. I shop to ease my back pain and keep hope alive. I also browse, drawn to colorful Valentine’s Day merchandise. I attempt to ignore the chocolate.

The Hub plays peek-a-boo with me from the opposite end of the aisle. I hear employees asking him if he needs help and he says he’s just waiting. I feel that’s apt. His life is waiting. He waits for me to get up, to go to bed to notice him. I feel like a cad, ignoring him, but it’s so hard for me to engage with his skewed thinking. He tells me I look nice in the shirt he bought me because he thought it was colorful and he likes colors I don’t and don’t you remember that time…

The moment he dips to the past I stop listening. It takes energy to not argue. He didn’t buy me this shirt. I do like colors. And no, I can’t listen to another story from the past. He lives in the past and I don’t know what to do in the present. Finally, others are seeing the cracks only they’ve become chasms. And he knows it but doesn’t know how to get across.

Yesterday in frustration at his constant pestering (because he was bored), I snapped at him to let me work. He silently left and sat alone on the couch. I heard him tell the dog, “She told me to shut the eff up. Yep. Just shut the eff up.” I wanted to bawl, to go to him and say I don’t want to shut you up, but I’m scared and I’m focusing on jumping off my own precipices and I don’t know how to help you. I can’t have him hindering me. My work is all we have.

I am the fireweed and I brave the inclement weather with one purpose — grow, grow, grow.

At the register, the Hub is making jokes and a woman with sleek gray hair and a classy red and black wool coats finds him outrageous. With an audience, he continues to ham it up. He tells her I’m his support — like a bro bra. I want to cringe, but she laughs. The woman says he’s fun. The Hub elbows me and says he’s fun. I roll my eyes as I concentrate on my transaction.

Then he tells her, “She misses the old me.”

This is the second time in two months he’s said this. One day when we were driving across the bridge he said, “I miss how we used to be.” I do, too. His therapist says not to give up hope, but we don’t yet know what we are dealing with. What I thought was a blight of combat PTSD is now a terrifying dementia-like “something-we-don’t-know.”

The woman asks how long we’ve been together. 30 years, he says and looks at me, grinning. I nod and smile. “Yes, 30 years.” She tells me I look beautiful in my coat. It takes me by surprise. Beauty is not a strength. And I had been admiring her classiness. Perhaps she can see I am the fireweed.

February 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You can use it as the plant, a flower, a metaphor or as the name of someone or something. Go where the prompt leads. Burn bright when you write.

Respond by February 13 , 2018, to be included in the compilation (published February 14). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Life Comes Back (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Spears of purple lined the narrow two-track. Tall dead trees stood like charred sentinels, remaining witnesses to the last forest fire.

“Life comes back,” Danni spoke to no one in particular. Her only companions were three dogs on leash, each tugging a different direction.

At the site of the dig from two years ago, Danni hiked the ridge to her former perch. Any moment she expected Ike to rumble up the road in his truck. Yet there she was with his dogs. She opened the can and spread the ashes, hoping fireweed would find its way into her heart.



  1. Old Jules says:

    “Lord, just let me get through this. I’ll never do that crap again.” I changed
    positions and savored the hand of my only source of comfort. Suzanne, my
    patient, devoted wife.

    “What was it? What went wrong?” She was a tower of strength. She’d had an
    enduringly bad trip the only time she smoked jade.

    “Fireweed, babe.” I tried to imagine my head chained to the floor. “Paraquat.
    They sprayed it on the crop in Mexico.”

    Forever came and went but she stayed. “Are you coming down at all yet?” Her
    tension spoke through her fingers over my forehead.

  2. Hugs, Charli. Life hands you lemons… you know what to do. You got this. <3

  3. Oh, Charli. Ms Mills. Boss. Shorty. Fireweed…

  4. I am so sorry for the anguish you feel. Your relationship with your husband sounds like an exhausting marathon that never ends, with you oscillating between fear and exhaustion of one hand and very occasional optimism on the other. Continue to be strong, the fireweed that you know you are. You are not alone.

    • Charli Mills says:

      It’s something I continue to process. We write and can understand and cope better through our expressions. I’m very blessed with the communities I have and I feel supported. It helps me support him better. Thank you, Kim!

  5. Ritu says:

    I feel I can give nothing but {{{hugs}}} Charli…

  6. susansleggs says:

    Charli, I admire you for being able to share your situation. I hope that helps you deal with such frustration. There are things I know I need to heal from, but don’t feel safe sharing the emotions that go with. I am glad your work keeps you centered because we depend on you too. Hang in there. 99 words to come later. Oh, I am not actually a veteran, but an ex of a veteran. I belong to a Veteran’s writing group as a mouth of the home front and because I identify with my ex-military friends. Hugs.

    • Charli Mills says:

      You served, too Susan! I think wives need a special kind of Purple Heart. In my novel, my character has a realization after interviewing the ex-wife of a soldier. I had wanted to include the exes, too because just like the brothers in arms, we are always sisters. Writing is how I deal with the emotions which helps me prepare for the advocacy battles. Keep being that mouth of the home-front! Hugs, to you, too!

  7. […] February 8 — Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  8. Annecdotist says:

    My heart bleeds for you both, Charli. This doesn’t have the ring of PTSD but a type of dementia. Hope you can get some help.
    The good news for me is that I now know what fireweed is! In the UK we call it rosebay willowherb.

  9. denmaniacs4 says:

    A powerful post, Charli. I hope my nonsense doesn’t demean or lessen its power.


    “Dot, you have your assignment.”

    “Louis, I know she’s your favourite but, really, she’s not listening.”

    “I know, Freddy. But I like to think my tone of love, of respect, somehow has an impact…”

    “Sure. You’re one sensitive zoologist. A credit to scientists everywhere. But it’s not Dot’s assignment, it’s ours.”

    “Lighten up. You’re not the one eating this stuff.”

    “Stuff? Fireweed is not stuff! Its chamerion augustifolium, as you well know.”

    “Holy herbivore, Freddy. We’re in the field with two hundred sheep chowing down on acres of vegetation. Research, yes, but tedious.”

    “Fine, but please stop cuddling her.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      The best thing about the Ranch is that we can all come as we are, express what we need to and share our love of words and stories no matter how different our approaches. And your take on the fireweed is hilarious! I’ve known a few cowpokes like that researcher, too!

  10. […] February 8: Flash Fiction Challenge February 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You can use it as the plant, a flower, a metaphor or as the name of someone or something. Go where the prompt leads. Burn bright when you write. […]

  11. Jules says:


    Life has a way of healing … sometimes taking the most round about routes.
    One can only hope for ‘used to be’s’… but the reality is having to live with the ‘what is’. Living with relatives with degenerative memories… I know is a very hard thing. (((hugs))).

    I went a tad selfishly Sci-fi…(title is post link)
    Angusto Animi

    Angusto Animi

    They were the new colonists. Escaping from overcrowding,
    indecisive politics, and diminished resources. They were
    branded the Fireweeds. On a set course to wake into a
    distant future, to hopefully send back anything that might

    One thing good about the mind is that most thoughts were
    unreadable. The crew of the Fireweed had been selected
    partly on their ability to communicate through telepathy.

    This crew however was smarter than the average bear –
    they also knew how to protect their thoughts from
    unwanted probing. Which was for the mutinous crew a
    good thing. Since they were only for themselves.


    angusto animi = Latin for narrow mindedness, taken from definition/description of fireweed: in The specific epithet angustifolium (‘narrowleaved’) I played with the word for the title since the ‘crew’
    were only for themselves.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Great opening line, Jules, as it sets up the mission and also grabs an attribute of fireweed. And thank you for your encouraging words. Some days I just need to write it out. I’m better once I do.

  12. susanzutautas says:

    Oh, Charli I’m so sorry you’re going through this. You’re a strong woman and I know you’ll get through this hurdle too. Sending you much love and hugs.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Susan. Some days the hurdles are not what we expect, but then they teach us to pay attention to where we are on the path. Love and hugs back!

  13. FatTide says:

    Some boys love girls and others love money, but John loved one pure thing – fire.

    At six years old he stole a match from the kitchen drawer and lit it in the backyard.
    Matches lead to lighters, and, as a 19-year-old American Indian boy, he had set dozens of wildfires without being detected.

    After it started, the fire crews would show up. The news media, smoke, purging – it all gave him such a thrill. It needed a fresh start.

    Months after all the commotion, he would return to the site to see his favorite part – fireweed popping like candy.

  14. […] February 8: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  15. […] If you want to participate, here’s the link: […]

  16. floridaborne says:

    Charli, my 2nd husband had diabetes and kidney failure. It was hard to control the amount of insulin he needed. When he was hypoglycemic, he’d hallucinate,and he’d become like a different person. In-laws were always willing to dispense advice, but never willing to provide a day or two of respite. Neighbors came to my aid more than once. At the age of 31, with 2 young children, hope became a luxury. Without my neighbors or my parents, I don’t know what I would’ve done.

    At present, I can do nothing more than say that I understand the emotional torture, and the need to find a way to cope with it.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Writing is my coping! But goodness, to go through what you did with children. That’s hard. The support is so necessary and yet near-impossible for some to give. We might have the same inlaws. His sister and our kids and their significant others are all like rocks. Hopefully, we’ll finally get some answers and a plan. Hope still rises. Thanks for sharing, Joelle.

  17. paulamoyer says:

    Words are inadequate for what’s going on, Charli. Just know you’re not alone: “We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). Here’s my flash:


    By Paula Moyer

    For two years after Charley left her, Jean’s heart couldn’t grow fireweed. Even when she tried to love – nothing. Only ruined pulp remained.

    Then she moved to Minnesota, started graduate school. And met Michael. She loved all of him – East Coast, Italian-American, laughed at her jokes, her Southern accent.

    “We’re the only early risers!” he greeted Jean one morning in the dorm’s cafeteria.

    Not the best choice. He was gay. Couldn’t even admit it – the seventies.

    At first, Jean didn’t need to be loved back. To know love could sprout, flourish, from her burnt, scarred core – was enough.

  18. […] word flash fiction for Charli Mills’ challenge and this week’s writephoto […]

  19. […] Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge, February 8, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You can use it as the […]

  20. weejars says:

    Seeking greener pastures in my response this week…

  21. susansleggs says:

    From Fire to Fireweed
    No fire had ever come close to our valley before. We could see the leaping yellow and red flames over the crest of the hill. We tied wet cloths over our faces to hand out water to firefighters in the dense smoke. They said we were safe. We weren’t, but we had lots of warning compared to others and left with full cars.
    Months later we returned with a builder who agreed to work around the original stone fireplace. Vibrant purple fireweed greeted us. The irony of the plants name made us laugh aloud. There had been enough tears.

  22. […] February 8: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  23. Being with you in spirit and keeping you in my prayers that you get the strength to carry on, Charli.
    One thing that makes me go on is: Adversity never stays!! Change is a constant thing!!

    My take on the prompt:

  24. Any Other Name

    “How long you been here on the ranch Pal?”
    “My whole life.”
    “Ever leave?”
    *I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
    It felt good to be out of the rain
    In the desert you can remember your name
    ‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain*.”
    “That was kinda weird Pal, and stealing song lyrics too.”
    “Yep, but that’s where I went, Kid. It was a lonesome place an’ I was all alone an’ never felt lonely.”
    “Gotta point, Pal?”
    “Not sure, Kid. ‘Cept ta say there’s flowers in the desert.”

  25. goroyboy says:

    Beautiful tribute and tie into the ashes Charli. Life in another species renewed.

  26. […] for Flash Fiction Challenge thanks to Charli for […]

  27. goroyboy says:

    Hi Charli,
    A love poem based on a Native Legend of the origin of the vibrant fireweed. Thanks for hosting.

  28. […] February 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You can use it as the plant, a flower, a metaphor or as the name of someone or something. Go where the prompt leads. Burn bright when you write. […]

  29. […] via Carrot Ranch Literary Community February 8: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  30. So much you are going through, Charli. I see the pain of care taking every day in the patients I deal with in my nursing career. It is a rough road and I’m glad you are able to write about it.

    Two weeks in a row for me to participate in the challenge! Here is my entry.

  31. […] That’s a rant that hopefully didn’t send you away from my 99 word flash prompted by Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch this week. […]

  32. Our flower warrior, Charli, reminds us of the colorful way that fireweed tells of both past trauma and of resilience and healing for the future. I’ll never forget seeing acres of burned forest; the charred trunks, silent standing memorials amidst a resounding choir of color, purples and reds echoing brightly on the eyes. Which is not to do with my response.

    Ground Cover
    Though she didn’t know him, she climbed the granite boulder underneath the craggy maple and sat with him looking over the hayfield.
    A beautiful quilt he said, the red and orange paintbrush, the blue chicory. She loved how he spoke, but bluntly informed him those were weeds that covered poor soil. Then she blushed; the weeds exposed her family’s poverty, her father’s laziness and ineptitude. This field should be green, not the color of scars and bruises.
    She noted his backpack and tightly rolled sleeping bag. “Don’t go yet”, she instructed him. “I need to get a few things.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      That is a sight to see, D. Where we think exists an end, it’s really a new beginning. No matter where on that spectrum, we strive to experience where we are now. I love your flash and the way the female character feels vulnerable to what the soil exposes of her roots.

  33. Pete says:

    Hang in there, Charli, your wonderful, heartfelt writing seems to be what keeps you sane. At least you can find the words, if not the answers….

  34. Hey kids, I just took that memory of fireweed and used it to participate in the February #twitter flash Challenge.
    file://localhost/( https/
    Then I pared those 200 down to 99, just for fun. it’s your turn. And don’t forget THE WORK OF MEMOIR.

    In the Wake of Fire

    I’ll never forget seeing acres and acres of burned forest. Some charred trunks still standing, silent memorials amidst a resounding choir of color, the purples and reds of riotous fireweed echoing brightly. The tree trunks intoned their past trauma as the fireweed sang the refrain of resilience. It was beautiful and it was ugly. It was awesome and it was eerie. It was quiet and loud. Back in the truck I stared out the window at this powerfully incongruous scene for miles. Later the memory would appear unbidden, and whisper reminders of the immeasurable capacities of the human spirit.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Brilliant work, D.! I’ve been Twitter AWOL and better get to tweetin’! I know these whispers. They linger long after and come when needed.

  35. I loved reading about the fireweed, though your story was poignant. I felt inspired to think of flowers, and therefore came up with my entry:

    If you were to assign a flower to my childhood personality, you might search among the less-desirable weeds. I wouldn’t have minded; I’d have stuck my prickly, unwanted self even further into your business.

    My grandmother, however, was a soft-spoken, kind-thinking sort. I never heard her raise her voice nor speak insult. She was more like the gently-swaying field flowers of springtime, shyly smiling to a beckoning sun.

    While people greeted my coming akin to a dandelion outbreak, we all recall my grandmother’s mischievous blue eyes with forget-me-nots.

    At least dandelions are my son’s favorite.

  36. Pete says:

    Miles blamed his friends. What on Earth did they have in common? It was chilly outside, and he was sitting on the hood of a Toyota, watching a girl with dreadlocks roll a joint.

    “This is good shit,” Ava said with a lick and a flourish. “It’s called fireweed.”

    Miles coughed. He got very high. He went on about a Neil deGrass Tyson book.

    Ava yawned. She lay back against the windshield, pointed to Jupiter, some five-hundred million miles above their heads. Miles sat next to her, found Mars. Ava giggled.

    “See, the sky is better than the book.”

  37. […] week, Charli Mills hosts a flash fiction challenge at the Ranch. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that […]

  38. Deborah Lee says:

    Oh, Charli — my heart breaks for you. My hubby and I are in a similar situation. His health has been steadily declining to the point I am afraid his systems are slowly shutting down. Severe chronic illness and psychotic depression have changed him entirely. Yes, I miss who he used to be, and I miss the me I used to be and the us we used to be. He is only 55. This is where “in sickness and in health” hits us in the head. It’s so hard to live with, and I feel selfish for thinking it’s hard. But it is. All us fireweeds can do is keep on keeping on.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hey, Fireweed, we’ll get through. Your hub is the same age as mine. I think what is hardest is the gap it creates. And it’s not like, okay he’s sick this week and he’ll cover for me when I get sick. It’s that definitive this is the new normal that can be disconcerting. I wish you all the strength you can muster on the days it feels charred and the wind blows lonely. Know you are not alone. Fireweed is a tribe. Keep on keeping on, and keep on writing!

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

  40. A big hug to you Charli. I love how you share snippets of your life with us in such a meaningful way. Here’s my story inspired by this week’s prompt:

    Again, I am apologizing in advance since I will not be able to read other people’s stories this week too, kind of swamped with some writing projects, and looking at any screen after a full day of writing on the laptop is daunting. I promise I will finish my backlog as soon as I can 🙂

  41. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (02/08/2018): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You can use it as the plant, a flower, a metaphor or as the name of someone or something. Go where the prompt leads. Burn bright when you write. […]

  42. Liz H says:

    Here’s my effort, dreaming warmth and health and transformation in this imagined world, at least: Cora’s Fireweed

    September’s last rays paled as velvet breezes whispered of long nights to come. Cora nestled deeper into a warm hollow at cliff’s edge, ignoring the salt sway of the fjord below. Gripping her tail between front claws, she nibbled at fiery dreams.

    Smallest in the clutch, she’d not found the final element to ensure her next passage. Jonah’d found lavender, Pete pine, and Minna bright marigold. Soon they, with their mother would migrate to the Northland to winter.

    But what was her element?

    Night sighed a hot pink scent.

    Corazon’s triangular head lifted. Bugling once, her wings opened, joyful.

  43. […] Carrot Ranch 8th February prompt Fireweed, 99 words no more no less. […]

  44. Abby says:

    Hello Fireweed xx

    This took me a while until I realised it’s what I’ve always known as rosebay willowherb. Then suddenly the prompt was intimate. I loved it.


  45. […] (tangentially) to the Daily Post‘s Daily Prompt, “Conjure,” and directly to Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Check it […]

  46. wallietheimp says:

    Wallie and I wrote our response! Thanks for the great prompt! “Castles and Carpeting”–

  47. I wish we were closer. I’d love to give you a huge hug and share a bit of tea. We could use some of those lemons with our brew.

    Here are my 99 fireweedy-words.

    Lady Fireweed

    My SpukWu’say cast herself like the seed of the willow herb on an Alaskan breeze, blowing where fate might have her alight. I don’t think she cared if she ever landed. She wanted to experience freedom and, since she’d been nurtured and knew her worth, she felt no fear. She drifted until she found a prairie and a community she admired. There she set down roots. She stretched her abilities like tender greens, practiced healing and aided all. When at last she bloomed, her talents lit her world like translucent fairy dances until all tried to imitate Lady Fireweed.

    • Juliet says:

      Hi Kerry, I wish I had read your story before posting mine. I’m sorry, I too speak of fairies and their dancing. Great minds think alike?

      • Liz H says:

        Fits Charli to a ‘T’…We are so fortunate! <3

      • Haha! Indeed! No reason to be sorry. I look forward to reading yours… After I make dinner, finish homework, get the kids to tae kwon do, get them ready for bed, and then tidy up! Oh, I am tired thinking about it all!

    • Charli Mills says:

      We’ll have to settle for a shared cup of lemon brew with a bit of snow and distance between us. Thank you for this beautiful flash, Kerry.

  48. Juliet says:

    Good afternoon, everyone. Your post made me so sad, Charli. I really, really feel for you. Your words made me realise just how lucky I am, we are, to still be fit and healthy and happy.
    Here’s a sad little piece as my offering today:

    The Fireweed Fairies

    It took almost a year for the fireweed to cover the large circle of blackened grass.

    On the first of May, for over thirty years, they had lit the huge pile of sticks, watching the flames lick the sky as their guests cheered in time to the blaring music.

    But this year there would be no fire, no music, no feasting friends.

    This year the fireweed fairies could continue their march.

    They could stray outside the circle, across the field, down to the cemetery.

    And there they could dance forever more on the gravel path leading to her grave.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Juliet. I find writing to be a good way to manage and understand my feelings. Sometimes stories pop up and push me to write the heaviness. I feel lighter! It’s life and we all have our journey. I’m glad to have one with a tribe of writers. A lovely and melancholy flash.

  49. […] The three prompts used: February 8: Flash Fiction Challenge February 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You […]

  50. Jules says:

    Second entry (see title/link for other prompts used including a 12 word wordle list):

    Euphoric Wish?

    Was it Wabi Sabi, that ancient process of birth and renewal in
    the guise of twisting fireweed, to take over the valley? Norma,
    just a visitor, stood transfixed. Urged by some profane tug this
    spring Wednesday – to see what the updraft of fire had
    left. The professional naturalist, did a quick assessment.

    The news headlines had shown two boys who had come from
    the local school that, was octagonally shaped. They skipped
    out of their lunch, smirking with the joy of freedom, that fall
    afternoon. Yet their black and white faces showed compunction
    for the destruction they had caused.


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

  52. This weeks challenge reminded me of the Heather plants that are all over the hills of Scotland. Being named after that, I pictured being a small child lying amongst the purple flowers absorbing nature. So, here is this weeks submission.

  53. TanGental says:

    seriously tough for you Charli; hope there’s some better news somewhere. All that and all this too – you are amazing. Here’s mine; it’ll be up Wednesday so the link will, maybe miss the deadline. Just in case…

    It’s All There, On A Plate

    ‘Hey Morgan, what you got?’
    ‘Geez, that’s huge. Hey, it’s got a trunk.’
    ‘Yeah, it’s an elephant hawk moth.’
    ‘Must be really rare.’
    ‘Yeah, but you know it lives on a really common plant.’
    ‘Fire weed.’
    ‘Funny. The Queen likes cornflakes.’
    ‘Is that so, Logan?’
    ‘And Jeremy Corbyn’s into quinoa.’
    ‘You just can’t tell from what they eat.’
    ‘We’re all the same under the skin.’
    ‘Troo dat.’
    ‘They say Trump only eats Mac burgers and fries.’
    ‘There has to be the exception that proves the rule.’
    ‘Never did understand that expression.’
    ‘Any more than I understand Trump.’

  54. […] week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills wrote about fireweed. She describes it […]

  55. […] week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills wrote about fireweed. She describes it […]

  56. Norah says:

    Hi Charli,
    I’ve read your post a number of times since you published it, but am only just getting to the computer to comment on it now. There is so much in your brave strong post, I hardly know where to start. That you are fireweed is true. You have endured so much and from it gathered strength, determination, to succeed. I’m sorry that the situation with Todd has become so difficult to endure, but endure I know you will. That is your way. You don’t buckle under adversity. As I said in my post, through acceptance comes recovery. I’m trusting that the support services come through for you. You and Danni are both resilient, both fireweed, both able to face challenges head-on and find a way to make things work. Look at what you have achieved with the Carrot Ranch. It’s no small feat.
    I found this prompt quite a challenge, but decided to bring Marnie’s story out of moth balls and create another scene. You and I both thought of her again at the same time. There must be something in that. My story is called Burning with hope, and can be found here Thanks for “making me” stretch my imagination again.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Norah. There’s a time for everything, including a time to be resilient, a time to let go. It’s a bit like making a puzzle out of one’s life when the pieces look like one section but turn out to be in another. The Ranch grants me safe space to write and explore my experience which is kind of funny because I started here most certain I’d never write memoir! A growth mindset, right? Even in tough circumstances. I’ve learned much from you, Teacher! And I’m glad you are dusting off the mothball from Marnie’s story. She’s your fireweed character.

      • Norah says:

        You need to know when to hold them and when to fold them, and when to grit your teeth and bare it. It’s bad enough when the puzzle pieces don’t fit where you first thought – it’s even worse when they’re missing.
        Never write memoir! Sometimes I think we write ourselves into our stories. I write little bits of me and my experiences into many of mine – things I may not feel “safe” writing as memoir. Fiction is great for that!
        Marnie is definitely fireweed. She needs to be – more than I ever did. 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        Supposedly, Ernest Hemingway said, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Our blood is all over our words! Marnie is definitely fireweed and is a messenger of sorts, too. She has something to teach us all about humanity and that open mindset.

  57. Michael B. Fishman says:

    This was a sad essay, Charli, and I don’t know what to say other than I’m sorry you’re both going through it. “She misses the old me.” 🙁 He knows and I’m guessing he must be feeling some fear over what’s happening to him. Anyway, positive thoughts to you both. Here’s mine for this week. It’s similar in a way to what you’re going through so you might want to skip it.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Michael, I find that writing into truth, even the hard ones are validating and healing. It creates an authentic life. Not a perfect one, but a beautiful one nonetheless. Thank you for a beautiful flash that captures the fading.

  58. Pete says:

    I have dreams about stabbing my personal trainer in the back. Yep, it’s true, just plunging a knife right between one of her many thick, grooved back muscles.

    I also have dreams about Twinkies. Pie. Chocolate donuts with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles. But mostly I dream about stabbing my trainer in the back.

    A fireweed. That’s what they called her when I signed up. And it should have been enough to make me turn and haul my jiggly self out the door. But for years I’ve wanted this—dreamed about it.

    So I run. I follow the fireweed.

  59. […] wrote this in response to Charli Mills’ February 8 2018 Flash Fiction Challenge. In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed.  You can use it as a plant, […]

  60. FatTide says:

    I liked this one. Alot said in 99 words.

  61. lisarey1990 says:

    I’m really sorry to hear this Charli. This is a very brave piece of writing. Sending you both strength and positive feelings at the moment.

  62. […] Via #CarrotRanch challenge […]

  63. Last year wildfires affected those near and dear to our heart. The thought of spring and Fireweeds giving colour to what Mother Nature so brutally took away is something to look forward to.

    By Ann Edall-Robson

    For miles in every direction, there is nothing but death. Tall sentinels become charred, decrepit reminders of the devastation. Piles of ebony shin tangle across the expanse of bleak nothingness. The seasons change. Slight bits of green push through the blackened earth. Long wispy leaves on fibrous stocks. Tight pink buds open with a flourish. A brilliant contrast to the carnage, life after death. And when it is their turn to become the colours of their end, the Fireweed fluffs up against the odds. Sending offspring in search of a new home to brighten the landscape after a wildfire.

  64. Kate says:

    Hi Charli, My heart and wishes are always with you. You write courageously with compassion about the world you live in. You capture our attention and your words flow like music on a page. Somehow you make it look seamless – a sign of a great writer and author.

    I’m back this week with Gladys and Jim coming in to tell a story about a fictional young couple who through their actions are a metaphor for fireweed – creating beauty from ashes. Last year British Columbia (B.C.) Canada, like other parts of the world, experienced devastating wildfires and news of these fires filled our headlines for months. No doubt, we’ll be seeing fireweed sprout up throughout B.C. this summer.

    • I love the scene between Gladys and Jim – doing ordinary things while they discuss extraordinary acts of kindness and hope.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, Kate! I’m happy to see Gladys and Jim return. I can’t recall, when was the last time B.C. was hit by fires? It seems like an unusual place for fire. I hope you get morell mushrooms, too! Strange, the gifts nature offers after devastation.

  65. Charli, my heart just goes out to you. You are in my prayers. Your tenacity is amazing. Somehow, no matter what you encounter, you find and bring the beauty of life to us again and again.

    I’m back at the ranch (finally) with a flash about life from death. Great prompt!

  66. […] You can join in this challenge here: […]

  67. Nice prompt Charli, I am finding a small well of darkness inside me after all. Here is my post:

  68. Oh Charli, I so much wanted to write a fireweed flash and get here to read your post way before this. You are beautiful and strong and rooted fireweed, rising from the ashes and standing tall even when all around you falls apart. This post moved me to tears, so tender and vulnerable and authentic and powerfully beautiful your writing. Like you, my dear friend. You know I am standing with you, your fellow fireweed. One day at a time, one answer at a time …<3

    • Charli Mills says:

      Fireweed knows good company! You’ve been such a source of emotional support, knowing the daily struggles. It’s good to have you as a friend. And dare I say, I might be learning something from you and Irene in regards to pushing into memoir? I’ll call it creative non-fiction! <3

      • Likewise Charli, you are a wonderful friend 🙂 <3 Oh I get excited hearing you talk about 'pushing into memoir'! I've always loved your creative non-fiction! It was Irene who helped me better understand the difference between that and memoir. I'm honoured that I might be able to add something to the dialogue! Who knows where it will take you! 😉

      • Charli Mills says:

        I’m going to attempt my first memoir piece for Vol. 2. I’ll be needing the help of my writing partner! <3

  69. […] in response to the February 8, 2018, flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch […]

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