Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » Flash Fiction Challenge » March 15: Flash Fiction Challenge

March 15: Flash Fiction Challenge

My son, Runner, always finishes the race.  He’s the kind of man who takes the time to achieve his goal. I like to think he’s a chip off the mom-block, but he’s his own person.

By the time he was ready to apply to college, he only wanted to visit one. He had narrowed down all the possibilities to one. Of course, teachers, coaches, and parents suggested having a few secondary options.

Nope. Runner knew what degree we wanted, the level of college sports he wanted and what region he wanted to further his education. He applied to one school, tried out for one team and graduated with his Bachelors and Masters from one University.

He finished the race.

Next came job seeking. Again, Runner held a laser focus toward the type of job he wanted with his psychology degree in industrial organization. He worked as a bartender and restaurant manager for the interim and then moved to a place called Baraboo when his girlfriend found her dream job. He didn’t give up, and yesterday he texted to tell me he got his first entry-level job with a company that will use his degree.  I texted back my excitement.

Runner has been on my mind this week because of all my three children he was the one to take to the kitchen. In high school, we called him Betty Crocker because every Sunday night he’d get out my cookbook and bake — pies, cookies, quick bread. One pie he’d give to his dad with the instructions to stay out of the remaining desserts. Those were for his cross-country and track friends. While Runner always finishes the race, he also makes sure everyone on his team does, too.

He has a gifted social intelligence; a strength called “woo.”

Perhaps it was his gift of woo that also made him adept at sales when he was still just a teen. He worked as a sales rep for a Minneapolis office supply store and one day he met a customer who returned with an offer for Runner — to sell Cutco Knives. For a year, he did. The knives are gorgeous and high quality, but high priced, too. As a gift, when Runner left for college, he gave me his demo set.

Of course, they are wickedly sharp knives. After a prolific pumpkin harvest in our backyard (to the annoyance of my suburban neighbors, I grew food and pollinator plants all over our lawn and flower beds), Runner nearly cut off his thumb. The bone stopped the knife. After that, we all developed respect for the Cutco set.

Throughout wandering, a few of the Cutco Knives have traveled with me. One is an eight-inch chef knife. I’m not sure how it wrangled its way into my small box of kitchen gear. Perhaps it had been too big to plant safely in a storage box. But it is with us yet, and the Hub likes to use it to cut ham and cheese slices. I avoid the monstrous straight edge.

This past weekend, we received sad news that our cat of 15 years had died. She had gone to a new home after we had lost ours.

Both the Hub and I cried when we received the text. It was early afternoon, and I decided to cook a vegetable stir-fry. Solar Man and Radio Geek had left for Minneapolis to spend the birthday weekend with his mom. After all we’ve been through, it was a vulnerable moment. We were in the kitchen together, me prepping veggies and him slicing ham because I was cooking vegan.

The Hub dropped the knife. The Cutco Chef blade. Stainless steel, heavy duty, forever sharp. Guaranteed.

He was barefooted. The knife — as he has since described — spun a perfect pirouette and fell point-down, bouncing off his bare foot. I didn’t see it happen, so much as I realized he dropped the monstrosity of a knife, and automatically, I grabbed the roll of paper towels with one hand and shut off the gas burner with the other, and sunk to my knees.

The first glimpse was not good. The Hub’s foot split open like a ripe plum. When shock first hits, the body does not bleed. Did you know that? Maybe you didn’t want to know that, but it’s a fascinating scientific fact. No blood is a bad sign. Shock can be fatal. Bleeding out can be fatal, too. And blood arrived in a torrent. He cut a vein.

I was thirteen years old when I signed up for my initial first responder’s class. My father served as volunteer fire captain, and when the Red Cross trained the volunteers, I was one. Growing up in a remote mountain town where the nearest hospital was an hour away in good weather, I not only knew first-aid, I had ample practice. I can shut off any emotions of fear or squeamishness. It’s like going into a soundproof room — everything slows down, noise cancels, and I breathe rhythmically.

That’s what I did, kneeling with paper towels, compressing the Hub’s foot. I became hyper-aware, noting where each dog was, assessing the stove was off, planning our trip to ER. The Hub reacted the same way — his Ranger training kicked in, and without a passing word between us we knew the plan. He slid his foot toward the front door, and I crawled and compressed.

At the edge of the kitchen, I told him to stop. With one hand on the third wad of red-soaked paper towels, I reached with the other to open the junk drawer, hoping to find…packing tape! Grabbing it and a fresh wad of towels, I wrapped the Hub’s foot tight. We grabbed jackets, and I made sure he had his VA card for insurance purposes.

We discovered the Hancock Emergency Room to be a friendly and quiet place. It’s the first time I’ve ever been to an ER where they had to turn on the lights and heat because it the room with all its beds sat empty. Our nurse shared a good sense of humor, and when she asked the Hub if he felt safe at home, she glanced my way and laughed.

The Doc irrigated the wound and delivered the good news that no tendons suffered a slice. But the vein was a concern, and she sewed up the wound. The next day his toes and foot turned purple from bruising. We met with his therapist that day and had a good story for her. She is working with us to get the Hub’s knee fixed, too, recognizing that his mental health issues stem from the crisis this long-overlooked war wound causes him. She told us, “It’s about quality of life.”

I didn’t cry once, seeing all the blood, but I wept for a cat I gave up six years ago, and I sobbed at the thought that someone in the VA system gave a damn about my husband’s quality of life. It’s good to have someone who cares.

So that brings me to cake. Carrot cake, of course. Cake is my all-time favorite celebratory and comfort food. I’m celebrating Runner’s new job, the Hub’s continued care with the VA, sharp knives and sharp wit. With all of you, I’m celebrating four years of literary art we all get to share. I’m passing around the cake.

March 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by March 20, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published March 21). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


An Unexpected Exchange (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Mary McCanles set the carrot cake in the window sill to cool. Several Otoe boys hunkered beneath the window, and Sarah watched them from the shade of the horse-barn. One boy reached toward the cake. From inside the house, a man’s large hand grasped the boy’s wrist. Instead of squeals of terror, they all laughed at the one who got caught. A flour sack of carrots passed from the man’s hands to the boy’s and the Otoe ran off toward their family holdings. Sarah shook her head. Leave it to Cobb to be generous to those others feared.



  1. Frank Hubeny says:

    Carrot Cake

    He reminded her of the strudel she used to make. He wanted to make it himself but he didn’t know how. Could she teach him?

    She asked him about that girl he liked. He said her name was Shirley. “What happened to her?”

    “There she is.”

    “Ah! She’s grown!”

    “And we have children. Look.” He pointed to two girls too old for innocence, too young to be on their own in the doorway.

    “How beautiful! I don’t know if I remember how to make that carrot cake.”

    “That’s alright.”

    “What was that girl’s name again?”

    “It’s Shirley.”

    “How beautiful!”

  2. Gee whiz! Your post was a well told tale that had me on the edge of my seat. Your life is quite a story. Meanwhile the ranch ticked on, you meeting all deadlines, keeping up and commenting… jeez, Boss. That’s a hard way to get cake. You deserve it and should eat it too.
    Loved the image and idea of handing a would be carrot cake thief a bag of carrots. Like a diy kit, or cake in the raw.
    OK. The celebrations continue. Party on.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha! a DIY kit — go make your own cake, kids! I hadn’t thought of it like that but I appreciate the enhanced perspective. I’m happy you enjoyed the campfire-style post, my favorite form of story-telling and I’m always appreciative of life when it gifts such tales. I’m holding out for cake, my next literary event (my incentive to get them set up).

  3. calmkate says:

    yes what an interesting and varied life you have .. not a dull moment by the sounds of it! Surprised you’ve got time to bake for us all 🙂

  4. Ritu says:

    Oh Wowweeee! What a tale to tell!

    And as for Carrot cake.. that is just my favourite ever cake!
    I shall have fun writing, but I feel I might want to make some too after!

  5. […] fires back, with carrot cake. For their full story, made up as prompts suggest, go to their page. Carrot Ranch March 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be […]


    Strawberry Moon

    Marge sat at the table poring over a seed catalog, one of the balloons a strawberry moon overhead.
    “I want carrot cake, Earnest, that’s what.”
    “There’s some at the store.”
    “I want to make it.”
    “We can buy carrots.”
    “No, I wanna grow the carrots.”
    “Well gee Marge, it’s gonna take a long while to get that cake.”
    “Yes, well into summer.”
    “Why wait so long? Why work so hard?”
    “It’s to celebrate. Us. You like balloons, I like cake.”
    Earnest grinned. Marge would be baking, here, come summer.
    “I’ll dig the garden patch, Marge.”
    “That’s what I figured.”

  7. Annecdotist says:

    Lots to celebrate this week, Charli! Good thing you were on hand when that knife slipped. We’ve just broken into the last of last summer’s pumpkin harvest and it’s a relief not to have to grapple as much with the challenge of getting a knife through the hardened shell. I didn’t think about it when I was writing my 99-word story earlier this morning, but the associations with pumpkin might be partly why my carrot cake story also features soup (an addendum to a post about writing priorities, IF-THEN plans and a little bit of pie):
    PS. Enjoyed your flash but just wondering, given you’ve set it against the history of Rock Creek, is carrot cake a long-standing thing in the US? It’s relatively new in the UK (new as in the last thirty or forty years or so), so it might be an import from the US?

    • I’ve just had an aha moment reading this. I read and comment on other’s blogs early in the morning. Like I’m doing right now. And I realize this shortchanges my own creativity and energy for writing. Thank you! I’ll postpone this as an ‘after I’ve written for the day’ activity! And I like your flash on carrot cake, too.

    • Norah says:

      That’s an interesting question about carrot cake, Anne. I first became aware of them here about 25 – 30 years ago.

    • Jules says:

      Carrot Cake is older than we think and not invented in the US at all:
      See what you started Anne… a search for the beginnings of Carrot Cake. 🙂

      Thanks for your Pie chart and ‘If, Then’ habit post.
      I write everyday in the morning before reading anyone else. The rest of the day just flows after that. But being semi-retired helps.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Pumpkins and squashes can be intimidating to cut! I recently read about a technique that calls for baking a whole butternut or pie pumpkin and then cutting for pulp and seeds. I have one last pumpkin lurking in the kitchen and might try it for a pumpkin chili recipe.

      Interesting point, Anne — I collect old recipe books which give insight into historic cooking. Carrot cake features in many of these US books (perhaps as far back as 1827 according to I source I looked up). I know that the pioneers who traveled west in wagons and homesteaded often relied on fruits and vegetables as sweeteners. You can tell where an old homestead once stood by the old apple trees that linger. Perhaps carrot cake evolved from carrot pudding, which is considered a medieval British creation. However, I did learn that following WWII there existed a glut of canned carrots and the version of carrot cake we typically know today is based on recipes developed to use up those leftover rations! Glad you asked.

      Interesting IF/THEN plans you share in your post. I can see that being a useful time management technique.

  8. Joe Owens says:

    Hello my fellow Rough Writers and those seeking the same. I may have stepped over the line with this week’s second part to last week’s Prom by Balloon, but I felt like the story was incomplete. Here is the back half: and if there is anyone in the dark, the first half resides here:

    • Norah says:

      I think serials are quite acceptable, Joe. There’s a few of them doing the rounds of the Carrot Ranch. This is a good conclusion to your story. I was wondering where it might land.

    • Jules says:

      I don’t think there is a rule here about series… I’ve got one that I haven’t added to in a while that could turn out to be a book… anyway I think if each part makes sense on its own it doesn’t matter.

      I like both of your stories and can see them alone and together. 🙂

    • Ann Edall-Robson says:

      A great continuation of your balloon story.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Joe! I think serials are inevitable because often a flash we write leads to a character or story we want to further explore. That’s a great spark of creativity — whenever we get curious, I’m all for following that curiosity. As a craft “best practice,” it’s good to think of each flash as its own complete component, similar to how we might think of a scene or chapter to a book. It should have enough elements to stand alone, and yet drive our readers to be curious for more, too.

      • Joe Owens says:

        I agree and understand that Charli. I try to make them stand alone just for that reason. What if someone only reads the one. I don’t want them asking so many questions they cannot enjoy.

  9. I worked for an American Bank here in the UK and our counterparts across the Pond came over to visit. It was decided to hold a competition for the best carrot cake recipe, and our department took part roping in the rest of the office workers as judges.
    The icing was the same for everyone!

  10. Liz H says:

    This blog was a masterful memoir! 😮 <3

  11. denmaniacs4 says:

    My Roots

    “Really…we’ve got the ingredients. Mostly its flour and carrots. Quite easy.”

    “Hmm, okay, but…” and here I dig deep, “if it was me, I’d go with chocolate.”

    I can see I’ve touched a culinary nerve. She also digs deep. With tongue and feet. “Plain and simple, I don’t like chocolate, or pie, or cake…any of the chocolate spinoffs.”

    “But its my birthday,” I go for the jugular. “That should count for something.”

    She hesitates.

    Have I won this round?

    “Okay,” she says, touching my lips. “A compromise. How about chocolate carrot turnip cake?”

    I’m snookered.

    Inevitably, love is compromise.

  12. Carrot cake, eh?

  13. I don’t have a complete set of Cutco knife, but I have a gift set of two, steak knife size. I know how sharp they are. It was effortless to use them to slice beef. I hand washed them and put them away after each use. I slit my finger once. Afterward, I make sure the blade is not facing my fingers as I wash them.
    I did have a story of dropping a knife (different one) pointing down. Fortunately, my feet escaped!
    I love your story about your son’s sharp focus and determination. What a precious gift to have.
    I forgot to follow you last week so I missed some of your posts. I just followed you.
    Carrot cake! Humm… I’ll get into my story a bit later. Packing for my weekend trip to go from southern CA to Portland, Oregon to see my baby granddaughter.
    Thank you for the prompt.
    Do I submit my name every week for the publication? I’m still trying to get myself oriented to your blog!

    • Jules says:

      Best to you on your travels and your new grand baby!
      Write when you can. We are a patient group.

    • Welcome Miriam. The prompt comes out each week and you leave a link to your site with your story or post your story in the comments. You are welcome whenever you can make it to the Ranch. If you want to do more there are guest posts you can volunteer for. It is fun taking a wander around the ranch. You’ll be surprised at all you find.
      Enjoy your journey and your new grand-daughter.

      • Thank you, Irene. I do feel very welcome at the Ranch. Nothing like other challenges I have participated. I’m really curious, are there many writers co-hosting the Ranch? I was welcome by Jules also, In addition to Charli.
        I’ve been touring different pages at the Ranch.
        Are you done with your memoir or writing it? I started, but I got stuck at one place where I don’t particularly want to look back. At the mean time, I’ll edit what I have written first.
        I have a wonderful time with my 5 1/2 months old granddaughter. This happy baby brought us so much joy!
        Thank you, Irene!

      • It is Charli’s site. She is the head buckeroo. If you have a look up on her sites you will see one for Rough writers. These are people who usually write and do other things around the ranch. There is also one for guest posts where any writer, reader or rough writer might volunteer to do. It is a nice place to write and be part of – and we all welcome newcomers. I have written two memoirs. The first will be published this year (I hope). Time is needed sometimes for places where you don’t want to visit. I will be talking about time and memoir next month in my memoir segment on Carrot Ranch. It comes out on a Friday I think. I get confused with time due to the time zone difference. I think I am a day ahead of most people.
        Glad you had a good time with your granddaughter.
        Look forward to seeing you again.
        Cheers Irene

      • Congratulations to your first memoir!

      • You’re welcome. Is it available on Amazon?

      • It isn’t published yet but this year it will be and it will be available on Amazon. Don’t worry Miriam, I’ll be shouting so loud when it comes out that I probably won’t need to post about it – but of course I will.

      • Are you writing it in two parts?

      • I have written a second one. Both are stand alones but the second one follows the first. I had thought I would write one that precedes the first and then one that follows the second but getting that first one published and marketed is this years goal so I’ll wait and see where I go after that.

      • Are they in chronological order? I’m writing one about my personal journey, then I’ll write one about the journey of me and my daughter – that was a painful one, we’ll co-author. I may write one about me and my husband – lessons we’ve learn. It’s my second marriage of 21 years. I do have many projects lined up. I also have a short stories project.

      • At the moment they are but then I will go backwards although I am considering doing one that will span all of them but will focus on dancing. Where are you up to with yours? The co-authoring will be an interesting project, particularly if it is painful. I hope a bit of time has past before you start it because it sounds as though it could be traumatic for both of you. You sound like me. I have many projects lined up to – sometimes I get so excited about a new one that I neglect the ones that are close to completion. I too have a short stories project which I am hoping will be illustrated by my 11 year old nephew.

      • My personal one will be in chronological order focus on 3 or 4 “theme” of my journey – music, education, “health nuts”/exercise habit, and one more are the recurring theme whether I was on top of the mountain or in the depth of the valley. I was divorced after 10 years of emotional abuse. My daughter was taken away. She was too young to understand. We were separated for 7 years, but I kept by one way message throughout. We were united when she was 18. She is 32 now. We are getting so closed emotionally because after taking her away, her dad started doing to her what he did to me. She has been in counseling and gained more understanding of what went on. We will write parallel stories. Even my friends of 30 years are wondering what happened on both me and my daughter during those years. We shard eventually, but we’ll go back in time to write as separate journals. I’ll write mine first. She’ll try to write her parallel journals. I just came up with the idea after many friends asked.

      • I see what you mean by chronological now Miriam. You have done well to isolate the themes because knowing these keeps you on track and keeps out the stuff that isn’t necessary to the story. My first chapter happens further into the story and although it does follow in a chronological sequence from that point each chapter is a in itself (theme excluded) standalone so it is chronological but may take in time that is later in sequence than the point where the chapter starts which is in chronological sequence with the theme that holds the entire book together. Don’t know if that makes sense. Hope so.
        The parallel stories sounds really interesting although given its subject both you and your daughter might struggle during the writing of them. Please take care of yourselves. Have you read any other memoirs done in a similar way?

      • As far as my personal story, each chapter is stand alone also. I read Issac Watson’s biography of Steve Jobs (the Apple guy). He is a highly esteem author. I read his book almost in one setting, and learned a lot from his writing.
        The parallel journal – I read a small book by Tiger Wood and his father, they coauthor a book and wrote parallel stories. I read it when Tiger Wood first became famous and I thought of doing something like that with my daughter. Their book was a motivational book to young people.

      • I’ll look out for the Tiger Woods book. I’ve not read one that is written in parallel.
        I’m looking forward to reading yours also. It is good to read memoirs when you are writing them as you learn what you like and possibly more importantly what you don’t like.

      • Hopefully I can finish this year. How are you publishing yours?

      • I am hoping for a publisher. Waiting to hear but the process is long.

      • When I went on Amazon, one book made to the top 100, but it was previously self published. I also attended a presentation from a best seller author. She struggled for 10 years, was rejected in the first few years. She then self published almost 10 books before getting Amazon’s attention. Now Amazon pays to republish some of her books.
        I’m attending classes in a university foundation for the retirees. They have writing classes for life stories, etc. and also publish the members’ books – self published but could use the name of the university press. Basically it’s the kindle book (and the POD paperback).

      • I don’t think there is anything wrong with self-publishing as long as you can hook up with Amazon and put it on kindle. The hardest part of writing a book is the selling of it afterwards. With a mainstream publisher they will put it in bookshops, amazon etc and give it three months to either make it or not. They will organise for you to be as active as possible – speaking events, writers festivals, book signings etc. If after three months it doesn’t sell then that is basically the end of your book. With self publishing you have to do the footwork to get it in the shops and onto Amazon and kindle etc (although some selfpublishing sites will organise that for you). Again you have to push yourself to do the marketing. At least that is how it is in Australia. I’m not sure about the USA. If the university will publish your book that is fantastic. Most people read kindle now so it is not an issue and pay on demand is fine also.

      • Okay, one step at a time. Doing the kindle on Amazon is easy. I have a Create Space account with Amazon. I also have an ISBN number for a book. I also learned to use Word to set the size of my book. When the book format is finalized, save it as pdf and it to Crate Space. (I haven’t gotten this far yet. Then you can decide whether just do kindle or kindle and paperback. Even if you want to do paperback, before you click “print,” it would be just a draft, you could order one book (print on demand), read it over, make changes.
        As far as marketing and speaking engagement, I could ask one blogger what you has done. She posted some book signing events.
        With myself, I could advertise in the university and my church. My church has many adult groups.
        As you said, you have three months with the publisher. After that, you still have to do the marketing yourself.
        I have many bloggers hooked up with reviewers to review and post the review on their blogs, or trade reviews. One blogger belongs to a review group and do ongoing review and promotion.
        If I have a book right now, I have many bloggers to post the review of my book.

      • the more ideas for marketing the better. One might work better for you than another. That is good that you have a lot of readers to review your book (if you had it out). I’m sure they will still be reading when you do publish.

      • I used to do 2 or 3 posts a day. Now I do just a few a week and spend more time editing.

      • It is the only way you can focus on your memoir. I should do the same – maybe one day I will.

      • I checked out the number of your archives. One month you did almost 90 post. The most I did was 68. 🙂

      • LOL Just shows I’m over productive. I don’t do that many now but I have my favourite prompts I like to post for.

      • Yes, I do the same.

      • It’s been good talking with you about this process. It’s a lonely process. I was so tired from editing, certain part was too much detail, and certain didn’t have enough detail.

      • I’ve enjoyed talking to you also Miriam. It is a lonely process and anytime you want to run anything by me feel welcome. I know what you mean about the editing. It is not easy. In fact I think it is harder than the initial write and you get to a point where you just want it over and you can’t see anything anymore.

      • Exactly! Worse than that, I was going to write a novel based on my story, but decided to go ahead with the memoir. Now I have to change from third person to first person. I’ll take on your generous offer, thank you, Irene.

      • You’re welcome Miriam. I think a lot of people fictionalise their stories but I think it is important that we own them.

      • Yes, my daughter wants me to leave a legacy.

      • I think that is lovely and a good thing to do too.

      • Yes, I write with the immediate audience in mind but also keep extended audience in mind.

      • I initially started writing mine for my mothers birthday. When I decided to take it world wide the focus changed and I had to get rid of a lot of stuff that only family would be interested in.

      • I did the same thing. I was going to write it for my daughter.

    • Liz H says:

      To quote our fearless leader, Charli, “Happy Trails!”
      And welcome to the Ranch…we have cookies here, AND plenty of carrot cake!

      • Oh Liz, it sound like you have a group of fun people working together there. Now I have met 3 plus Charli. I’ll take a piece of carrot cake! Thank you!!

    • Charli Mills says:

      They are sharp, aren’t they, Miriam! I like the Cutco steak knives. Somehow the big one made its way with us on our wandering path. I’m glad you missed your feet with a dropped knife. The Hub is no longer quick on his feet and didn’t even attempt to get out of the way. But he’s healing well enough. Thank you for your comment on my son. I’m happy for him that his focus and determination is paying off. Enjoy your trip up the coast and the time you get with your baby granddaughter!

      Watch for the March 22: Flash Fiction Challenge because I’m starting a new process for how I collect the stories to publish weekly. You can continue to share here to engage with other writers, but there will be one more step for sharing to the publication, starting next week.

      • Yes, the Cutco knives are sharp. I like them. You’re blesed to have a son with sharp focus. My engineer son-in-law has been with same company for 10 year and was promoted to be manager. I’m happy for him and my daughter.
        Thank you, Charlie for the heads up. I’ll pay attention tothenew process.

  14. Ritu says:

    A little tongue-in-cheek entry featuring one of your Rough Riders… Geoff LePard!

  15. […] March 15: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  16. And Eat it Too

    “Shorty sure takes the cake.”
    “Yep. Carrot cake.”
    “Shorty’s a first responder! She kin really take the reins. Heck, she kin braid her own reins. That wrangler built a ranch, ran a rodeo, an’ published a book all while workin’ on her own books. An’, she sure kin cook. Is there nuthin’ Shorty cain’t do?”
    “Jeez, that’s a tough one, but I already know the answer. She cain’t be anything but kind.”
    “Got that right Kid, she ain’t never.”
    ‘Yep. That gal’s got broad shoulders and a big heart.”
    “Got that right Kid. Why, Shorty’s heart’s as big as…. “
    “Pal, ya left another sentence unfinished.”
    “Yep. Readers kin submit the end of that sentence here as a reply. If they do, an undisclosed amount of money will be donated to Carrot Ranch through that fancy patron button up there in the upper left hand corner.”
    “Like last week.”
    “Yep. Aussie got an A fer effort fer her subtle submarine subtext.”
    “It’s hard for Aussie ta be anything but decent. Don’t unnerstan’ her hangin’ out with you.”
    “It’s a wonder.
    “From down under. So you want folks ta finish that sentence?”
    “Yep. Shorty’s heart is as big as_____________ .”

  17. janmalique says:

    I raise a slice to your adventurous life and provide a “cake” of my own:

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

  19. floridaborne says:

    I love the way you merge together two different topics — your son’s sharp focus and what happens when your focus isn’t sharp.

    BTW: My hubby offered to sharpen my knives when we were first married. I said no. When your eyesight isn’t quite right, and you’re seeing 2 blades instead of one, it helps to use a slightly duller knife if you want to avoid emergency room visits. 🙂

  20. Jennie says:

    My goodness, what a terrific story. I was glued. Thank you!

  21. […] Via #CarrotRanchChallenge […]

  22. […] March 15 – Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  23. Juliet says:

    Good morning Happy Ranchers. What a post, Charli. I could feel that knife as it hit your Hubby’s foot. Ouch!
    The following story could have been BOTS if I knew how to bake carrot cake but I only know how to eat it. And love it.

    Let Them Eat Cake!

    “You can’t give them carrot cake, ma chérie. This is France, remember?

    How could she forget? Born with a supercilious culinary chauvinism, the French believed that everything they cooked was good, better, the best.

    “They’ll love it.” The look in Joanna’s eyes warned him to drop the subject.

    His father had looked intrigued. His mother had looked appalled. But neither had dared refuse the dark, moist, glistening slice.

    Later, as the Gallic goodbyes finally ended, Joanna leaned against the door. A small, satisfied smile landed on her lips.

    “Your mother just asked me for something, Jean-Paul.”


    “The recipe!”

  24. Norah says:

    Charli, What a delicious looking carrot cake. I was out and about today and treated myself to slice, imagining I was sharing with you. I do fancy a piece of carrot cake, though I don’t often make one. I don’t often make cake for that matter, unless the family or friends are over, and then I more often make pavlova.
    Congratulations to Runner on scoring a job that utilises all that he has worked towards. What an achievement. Looks like he got a full dose of his Mum’s persistence, determination, and growth mindset. I daresay his Dad must have a bit of that too.
    One must be careful with knives. Especially sharp knives. I do hope Todd’s foot will heal quickly, and that he gets his knee work done soon too. I’m so pleased you are getting some support for his needs now. I can understand your shedding a tear for that – tears of relief.
    And tears for your cat. So sorry. Was this Boots that we often read about?
    I hope SIL is enjoying his birthday with his birth family.
    It was great to read about Mary, Sarah and Cobb again. It seems so long since we’ve seen them. It’s a great tale. Those boys were probably just as happy with the bag of carrots. Maybe.
    I’m also interested in Anne’s question about the history of carrot cake. Do you know?

    • Jules says:

      I stuck in a link about carrot cakes history somewhere… and there’s even a museum that another rancher linked too. But I haven’t gone there yet.
      The internet is amazing.

      I hadn’t heard of pavlova… I usually doctor box mixes. 🙂

      • Norah says:

        Pavlova is an Australian invention (don’t listen to the New Zealanders who say otherwise). It’s similar to meringue but not as dry. It’s basically egg whites beaten with sugar, cooked until crispy and topped with fresh cream and fruit. Delish. I’ll read your history next time I’m back at the Ranch. Thanks. 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        I love pavlova! Kate helped me fix it one year for Radio Geek’s seventh birthday. She was in ballet and wanted a high tea birthday party, so Kate told me about pavlova (and she told me it was from Australia so I’m happy she had that right)! The girls loved learning that the dessert was in honor of the great ballerina, Anna Pavlova, and the meringue was meant to be her tutu.

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli, my story this week is entitled “Can you have your carrot cake and eat it too?” I hope you enjoy this little slice.

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s a much kinder description than “he’s as hard-headed as his parents” lol. I say that in jest. He’s always been a thoughtful person even as a young child and once he sets his course, he follows it. I was researching his new company and it’s going to be a great fit for him.

      The Hub is healing though it’s still painful. The Doc said veins take longer to heal so he has to have the stitches in longer yet. But the bruising is clearing up and the swelling is subsiding. Thank you for sharing tears — even relief — with us.

      I try not to think too much about Bootsy. I wanted to whisk her away from Elmira Pond but we had no home. She was a barn cat and would have been terrified to leave her known territory, anyhow. I think of her as perpetually prowling the pond. I also gave Sarah Shull “Boots” and will honor her that way. Our cat was Pippin. I grieved greatly, leaving her behind in Minnesota. Then we lost Grenny last year in Utah. Miss Bobo is hanging in there and likes her husky pack. I am looking forward to bird-watching. Less grief involved!

      I responded to Anne, becoming curious myself. I knew I had old recipe books with carrot cake, but did not know the history. And as Jules explained, she found an interesting historical link that she shared with Anne, too.

      Thanks for adding your slice!

      • Norah says:

        I think we could do a song to a Cat Steven’s tune: Hard-headed parents. 🙂 You brought all your children up to be what they wanted to be and to follow their dreams. You’ve done a great job and have much to be proud of.
        Your losses last year were huge. Some can’t be replaced or repaired. I hope this year brings abundance.
        Hugh also wrote about the history of carrot cake. I don’t think of things like that having a history. It’s interesting.

  25. […] Carrot Ranch – Carrot Cake March 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads. […]

  26. Jules says:


    Happy Four years to you and all the Ranch Buckaroos! One can’t be a day late anymore round these parts or they’ll miss out …unless you got another pot of coffee and tea brewing or made an extra cake ;D

    I just read a story about the Cherokee. I like that Cobb was generous. I’ve got a poetic haibun this week. It’s how I make my cake – and eat it too 😉
    (Title is link to post – the only difference is the poem is centered and the haiku is in italics.) Oh sometimes I add brown sugar and coconut to the top instead of frosting…

    (a poetic haibun)

    Is there space in cake for carrots
    Or any vegetable like zucchini?

    Is it just the shape makes a cake…
    Round, Square… A loaf?

    Is there a reason to hide roots,
    Or that which grows in rows?

    To save fingers from the sharp teeth
    Of a grater… I’ve used carrots in a jar

    Specifically junior baby food
    That’s got some texture

    No added sugar – sweetness –
    Comes from the applesauce

    That’s in place of water that a box mix calls
    For…to add flavor along with my love

    fresh baked anything
    there’s always space for good food,
    family and friends


    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Jules! The teapot and coffee pot are always bubbling over the campfire and waiting to share a cuppa. I’ve read stories about how Appalachian men often played sports (games) with the Cherokee in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cobb and his family had an easy acceptance of the Otoe which makes me wonder if they had relationships with the Cherokee back in North Carolina. But I don’t know.

      Love your haibun! And your sweet sentiments added to the mix.

  27. […] I had so much fun working in the restraints of 99 words from the Carrot Ranch prompts I thought I would try again. This weeks prompt is Carrot Cake. […]

  28. paulamoyer says:

    Poor Todd and poor you with the knife! Touching about when there are tears and when not.

    Here’s my post:

    A Reluctant Upgrade

    By Paula Moyer

    Jean never made carrot cake. It sounded too – next generation. No, Jean was proudly retro.

    Her go-to was the Duchess Spice Cake from the Betty Crocker cookbook, the first edition of 1950. For her cake, made with buttermilk, Jean doubled the spices in the recipe. The result: dark, aromatic batter that sweetened the air as it baked.

    The icing was pretty retro, too: buttercream frosting. Lots of butter.

    She really couldn’t see how carrots would improve it. Why pretend it was health food?

    Then: the neighbor’s party. The cute orange squiggles on top. The carrots, walnuts, raisins.

    Jean surrendered.


    Jan dashed onto the main road.

    Bullets whined through the drowsy sunshine like furious hornets.

    Then silence.

    He glanced back as his pursuer threw down the empty gun.

    Jan raced on, instinctively turning into a side street.

    He saw a bakery and stumbled into the shop, hoping for a back entrance

    through which he might escape.

    He leant against the counter, his heart pumping furiously.

    Through eyes misted with perspiration, he saw the best looking cake ever.

    White, creamy icing covered a huge round cake, bedecked with small, orange

    fondant carrots.

    His mouth watered for a taste of carrot cake.

  30. […] Carrot Ranch – Carrot Cake March 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads. […]

  31. Jules says:

    OK… I did a mini mash up and you can find some interesting word definitions if you go to the post at my site, the link is the title:

    To Catch a Thief?

    To Catch a Thief?

    The horde of rabbits whored the garden and hoarded all the
    carrots. It was odd that Madame Coniglio told me that all she
    could see in her crystal ball was the auricle of bunny ears as
    they scurried deep into their warrens.

    I thought it was peculiar that she saw a bakery in my future.
    Madame C didn’t charge for the first oracle session. She
    handed me a double sided business card. Her side said
    “I am always hare for you”… I thought it was a misspelling.

    The reverse advertised Coniglio’s Confectioners.
    With a photo of a carrot cake…


    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha, ha! My favorite line: “The horde of rabbits whored the garden…” I’m going to use that at some point this summer. Thanks for the fun mashup, Jules!

  32. […] Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – March 16, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or […]

  33. weejars says:

    A question needing to be answered in my response to the challenge this week…
    Thanks for another great prompt

  34. […] 99 Word Fiction Challenge from Carrot Ranch. […]

  35. […] via March 15: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

  36. I love carrot cake unconditionally, so it was inevitable unconditional love was the focus for me this week. Here’s my take on the prompt.…/

  37. […] this week’s Carrot Ranch […]

  38. Ann Edall-Robson says:

    Tradition vs tradition with a twist. Is carrot cake a carrot cake if it’s not made according to Gran’s tradtional recipe? Some family members would argue for and some will argue against. I switched our Gran’s recipe up (a bit) and like it quite fine. I even included it in my published recipe book.

    Carrot Cake Debate
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    “It’s carrot cake.”

    “No, it’s not.”

    “Yes, it is. I can’t for the life of me see why you can’t accept that IT IS CARROT CAKE!”

    “BECAUSE IT’S NOT! You don’t make it like my Gran did, so it can’t be carrot cake.”

    “Just because I don’t spend hours grating carrots and I ice mine with cream cheese icing, doesn’t mean it’s not carrot cake.”

    “Well, it’s not. She didn’t spend hours and hours making her cake.”

    “Just taste mine. I think you’ll see what I mean.”

    “I won’t like it.”

    “You might.”

    “Maybe it’s not bad, I guess.”

  39. […] To participate, or read some clever, innovative, and funny stories starring the humble carrot cake, please visit: […]

  40. You do live an interesting life, don’t you Charli? 🙂 Hope your hubby’s fine now, that must have been quite a scare.

    OK, so here’s my entry for the week:


  41. I am so happy for your son and I know that as a Mother you must be over the moon for him. Ouch for Todd. I know those sharp knives and have received a finger injury at the end of one. Having it land in your food point first doesn’t bear thinking about. Lucky that you knew what to do and good that it was a good experience in the emergency department. It just shows how important some kind words are, even if they make you cry. I’m sorry to hear about your cat as well. As you say though – there is much to celebrate and cake to be eaten. Your flash shows kindness as well. I wonder in those days which the boys would have preferred – the cake or the sack of carrots? Mine this week:


    There it sits, upon a plate:
    It may be cake, but it’s cake I hate.

    Who was first to see a root
    And put it where one should mix a fruit?

    Raisins do not count this time
    Since they’ve barely made my list of “likes.”

    If your cake needs added sweets,
    Try not adding dirty veggie treats.

    “I see your point,” you might say,
    “But my recipe makes doubters sway.”

    “I especi’lly aim to please,
    “By whipping a frosting of cream cheese.”

    Citing that was a mistake;
    Carrots, raisins, cream cheese: baked
    Are the ingredients that take my cake.

  43. […] You can join in Charli’s challenge here: […]

  44. A beautiful post this week, Charli. I enjoyed reading about your son. Here is my little contribution:

    • Annecdotist says:

      Ha, brilliant BOTS, Robbie. The same thing happens with my bread sometimes – it rises and then flops.
      Sadly your blog wouldn’t take my comment – probably knows I’m not into baking!

      • Charli Mills says:

        Anne, with all we are learning about the social media data mining, I wouldn’t be surprised if your reasoning for Robbi’s blog not taking your comment is accurate!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Robbie! And I enjoyed learning of your nephew’s science experiment with the prompt!

  45. Hi, Charli, Thank you for sharing the story about your son.
    I’m having a wonderful time with my daughter, SIL, and my granddaughter!
    Here’s my entry –

    • Three times the amount of carrots! Not good to meddle with a perfect balance of sugar and spice with carrots. A carrot cake should only reflect carrots through the visual effects of the lovely orange flecks, sort of like food coloring. Haha!

    • Jules says:

      Children know what they want don’t they 🙂

      • We just hope that they want the right thing. <3

      • Jules says:

        We teased that our 4 year old was going on 40 and then when 14 going on 2…then when 20 became human again. Now over 30 – we think our two are doing just fine. But children love to challenge authority 😉

        Having good role models helps 🙂

      • That’s true. Jules. I worked in the school district as administrator. I do parenting training. If they change the authority, better to say ‘no’ when they are still little, usually before second grade. If they don’t learn to take ‘no’ for answer, it’s hard for people around them, <3 <3

      • Jules says:

        I worked in teaching and in retail… it is amazing how children can manipulate adults.

      • Yes, they show their intelligent in young age. When one parent said ‘no,’ they would ask the other parent.

      • Jules says:

        I think in any time period the intelligence of a child rises because of what is available. It is sad to think though that there are still so many areas of poverty. There is the hope that the next generation, our own children or theirs… with learn to work in peace to solve the worlds problems and do so with respect and honor for differences while learning from ‘the pasts’ mistakes.

      • Yes, that’s true. My daughter works for a non-profit and partner with businesses to help change the neighborhood. <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, I’m so happy you are with your daughter and granddaughter now! Enjoy that sweet time! Thanks for sharing your story!

  46. susansleggs says:

    Carrot Cake

    “Girl, you dare put a piece of carrot cake in front of me that’s got bugs in it?”
    “Grams, you know those raisins aren’t bugs.”
    “Well they look just like the weevils that got in our flour when I was a girl and I ain’t eatin’ that.
    “Grams, you taught me to make that cake, pick the raisins out and try it.”
    After a tentative taste Grams old face wrinkles. “This ain’t my recipe it’s got hooch in it.”
    “It’s not hooch, it’s Jamaican Rum I soaked the fruit in.”
    “I guess them bugs are good and dead then.”

  47. Thank you for my slice of carrot cake Charli…I need a strong cup of tea (or maybe a large G&T?) to go with it after reading your powerful and moving story. The ups and downs of life, pulling and pushing, laughing and crying, celebrating and reflecting. Huge congratulations to Runner, what a fantastic achievement and one he richly deserves (and I would say definitely a chip off his amazing mom block <3). I've never heard of 'Woo' before…going to look into that! Thank goodness your first aid training kicked in, I felt your calm as you wrote it. And what great news for Hubs having someone on his side at the VA. I've never heard of an ER that needs to put the lights and heating on…unheard of here! And you know my sad heart for your darling kitty. I know too well the awful sadness in the loss of a beloved furry family member. Need to whip up a carrot cake flash…back soon! <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think this might have been the “stay calm and drink a cup of tea” moment that led to a taste for G&Ts! Thank you for your kind support. I’ll have to share the StrengthsFinder book with you — it has Woo and other interesting personality traits that become our strengths. Yes, it was definitely strange having to “wake up” the ER. I look forward to your whipped carrots!

      • Haha…I think so! Always Charli, and likewise <3 Yes, I would love to find out more about those traits, sounds fascinating. Whipped carrots and cheese it seems! But tonight, I know I'm going to need Gin!!!!

  48. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (03/16/18): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the prompt leads. […]

  49. Liz H says:

    Here’s a little Flash that might strike a chord with U.S. folks, this time of year. Don’t delay…get started now! 😉

    Time of the Season

    In the sepulchral half-light, behind a fortress of tall paper stacks, the crackling tapping endures: Fast, slow, shuffle, sudden dry slap…

    • Charli Mills says:

      Evidently, my sense of time is so off that when I changed the clocks, I managed to get them each off (forward and backward) by five to 10 minutes. My daughter who actually uses clocks was befuddled for several days! 😉

  50. […] March 15: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  51. […] obviously now craving a bit of a writing fix.  In needing some inspiration I headed over to the Carrot Ranch for this weeks 99 story word prompt.  It just so happens to be carrot cake.  Funnily enough this […]

  52. tintins says:

    Howdy Guys and Gals. Here’s my Carrot Cake story this week –

  53. […] 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is there cake? How does it feature in the story. Go where the […]

  54. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about carrot cake. It can be classic or unusual. Why is… […]

  55. Rowena says:

    Here’s my carrot cake story for the week: You Can Blow My Candles Out!
    Best wishes,
    PS I like carrot cake which has crushed pineapple in it. Yum!

  56. Rowena says:

    Here’s my carrot cake story for the week: You Can Blow My Candles Out!
    Best wishes,
    PS I like carrot cake which has crushed pineapple in it. Yum!
    Sorry the link didn’t come through in my previous attempt.

  57. […] week’s prompt from Charli at the Carrot Ranch […]

  58. gordon759 says:

    Here is my take on the topic of carrot cake.
    as you can see my take is slightly different as carrot cake is a rather modern invention.

    • Charli Mills says:

      My understanding is that our modern carrot cake was born of leftover canned carrots from WWII. You date it back to 1903, and I had it dated in an American cookbook to 1853, another source claims George Washington ate it. A curious history indeed!

  59. Hi again Charli, here’s my carrot cake flash…it’s a BOTS wouldn’t you know it, ha! <3

    American Tastes

    Sponge pudding and custard. Definitely. But cheesecake? No way.

    ‘Go on Helen, try it, it’s really nice,’ coaxed her brother.

    No way. Cheese and cake…together? Whoever heard of that?

    When she told her school friends the next morning about the latest awful thing her stepfather had brought home, they all agreed it sounded revolting.

    Years later for her birthday, Helen’s American friends made her a carrot cake.

    The laughed together as she recounted her cheesecake moment. Was she more daring now, they teased?

    ‘Go on Helen…’ they chorused.

    Helen took a forkful and smiled. Life had never tasted better.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha, ha! Such unusual pairings for cakes, but they can grow on you. I like that you used BOTS to craft your flash, Sherri!

      • I made a couple of errors in this flash darn it…oh well, at least I turned up with a flash , or should I say, slice, of cake! It was a BOTS Charli, but true confessions here, I don’t like cheese cake or carrot cake!!! Or chocolate cake. Love chocolate. Just not in cake. Told you I was wierd 😉 Thanks for another great challenge that got me thinking outside the cake box lol :D<3

  60. For some reason when I thought of carrot cake, I thought of how Americans eat a lot sugary treats and usually not in moderation. I am guilty of this myself. So I thought about outsiders looking at some of our bad habits. So I came up with this tale of a mail order bride being disgusted by her new husband and his habits.

  61. Grandma’s Carrot Cake this one was not home baked. Here’s the link:

  62. Gram’s Peculiar Taste
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Constance frowned and poked her piece of cake, leaving four tine-marks as evidence of her displeasure. Carrot cake? What kind of trick was this? Her mother didn’t disguise the vegetable’s presence. She proclaimed it in orange and green icing atop the sea of ivory.
    Not like the time she served squash and pretended it was spaghetti.
    Who knew what other things she slipped into meals?
    “Mo-om, why can’t we have chocolate?”
    Mom bustled about, polishing the silver. “Because carrot is your Gram’s favorite.”
    Gram sure had peculiar taste.
    At least Mom made chocolate chip scones.
    Or were they current?

    • Jules says:

      Hmmm. I do believe that is how muffins with raisins got started… so the sailors couldn’t tell which were the raisins and which were the flies…

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha! Great final twist — there’s nothing worse than biting into what you think are chocolate chips only to discover raisins instead.

  63. Whew! I’m sneaking in under the rail… <3 Hope your hubby is doing well. What a story!! <3

  64. […] in response to the 99-word flash fiction challenge with the theme of ‘Carrot Cake‘ over at the Carrot […]

Comments are closed.

A 5-Star Readers’ Favorite!

Be a Patron of Literary Art

Donate Button with Credit Cards

S.M.A.G. Kindness Among Bloggers

S.M.A.G., Norah Colvin, @NorahClovin

Proud Member

Stories Published Weekly

Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills


Follow Blog via Email

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,743 other subscribers