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March 29: Flash Fiction Challenge

At first sniff, the clear liquid smells sour. The menu reads: grape leaf vinegar, mint and rose water. The concoction does not evoke the subtleties of pink petals or the promise of a fresh taste. Above the richly dressed crowd, lights beam geometric shapes across the ceiling in red, green, pink and blue. Digital flat screens display a New Year countdown that moves to the beat of electronic dance music. The pulse dares me to sip.

And I do.

To my surprise, the liquid glides sweetly across my tongue. Never judge a drink by its smell? Perhaps. But the aromas emanating from the buffet tables raise my expectations — grilled meats, heavy-handed spices, and frittered vegetables. Last, I grab a cup of dessert pudding with more rose water. Food infused with romance settles on my plate, and I weave my way back to the reserved table. I’m a guest tonight.

It is March 25, and we are celebrating the New Year. Tables packed with guests, many with families, form a horseshoe around a central stage. Even if you can’t see the stage directly, the digital flatscreens are mounted for clear viewing from any angle. Men are dressed in suits and women in evening dresses. I don’t mind that my outfit is simple. No one here is judging a book by its cover. Everyone smiles, welcoming.

Accouterments scatter across a table on the stage. Goldfish swim in a glass bowl surrounded by apples, garlic, sweetgrass and a bowl of painted eggs. Each item symbolizes health, prosperity, and happiness. Traditionally, all the guests wear new clothes. It’s spring, if not the exact equinox, then merely a few days later. The days are lengthening in the northern hemisphere, and no one can deny the renewal of life the season heralds.

Outside, snowbanks sag like swayed-back horses. Their geological record of snowfalls dips around the objects hidden beneath — boulders, park benches, small sheds. Spring can be dirty business. The south-facing bank of Quincy hill exposes bare ground as plain as the skin on a potato. Everywhere grit covers streets and sidewalks. Dog pellets slowly emerge day by day as the sun erodes their icy receptacle. We can only dream of freshness in the Keweenaw as dirty snow gives way to dirt.

We hold on for blades of grass.

Inside, the countdown ends, and we cheer in the New Year. A pianist flies his fingers across the keys and dinner tastes all the more succulent. It feels like renewal in this banquet hall at Michigan Tech University. Photos flash on the screen of places I’ve never before seen — moss on rocks, rivers, mountains, trees, cities, and deserts. Thes images connect many in the room to home. The celebration will suffice while they are away in a foreign land, studying engineering and technological sciences.

I’m an American celebrating an Iranian holiday among people my nation’s president would call enemies. How can I possibly view a culture whose writing reminds me of teacups and black olives as hostile? Laughter, rose water, and artistic performances tell me another story. People are not the enemy. Our fears and hatred cling to cultures like cancer. When we fight cancer, we don’t malign the person. To stand up for humanity, we must call out injustices, not cultures.

Tonight, I’m in love with Iranians.

Midway through the performances, a trio of musicians takes the stage. One plays the sitar, another a violin, and the third drums. I recognize the doumbek because my SIL, Solar Man, plays one as a drummer for my daughter’s belly-dance troupe. When the drummer plays his large frame drum, his fingers fly. I’m mesmerized. And so is he — eyes closed, frame tipped back, fingers dancing across tightened skin.

Next, my daughter and her fellow dancers take the stage in tribal influenced garb and dance to a Persian song. Radio Geek has recently cut her hair — it’s part classic bob, part shaved-head punk. By day in the office, the bob covers the undershaved sections. Tonight, she flaunts her inner punk. The troupe dances with energy to an appreciative crowd, and a delighted mum. This is the Persian New Year — Nowruz.

No-Rooz Mobarak! Happy Easter! Happy Spring! Chag Sameach! May peace and joy be with us all.

Before we get to the prompt, a bit of Ranch spring cleaning. Following last week’s deluge of information, you can now find the newly erected Rancher Badge page beneath the tab, Support Literary Art. You’ll find all the badges (plus a few new ones from your suggestions) in a clear and concise format. Now is the time to set goals. June 1 will be the first quarter to claim badges.

You will erase from memory, any mention of Facebook as a way to collect flash fiction. A great idea went downhill. It didn’t work as intended. Interact in the comments as usual — share your links, stories or pingbacks. If you want to be included in the published collection, submit your story via the form. Forget about short links, too! Write, and let your fingers fly across the keys.

March 29, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different ways we use our fingers and what happens when we add speed. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by April 3, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

If you want your story published in the weekly collection, please use this form. If you want to interact with other writers, do so in the comments (yes, that means sharing your story TWICE — once for interaction and once for publication). Rules are here.


Rumors of Quick Draws (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Grab the mochila, boy!” Dock wasn’t any older than the new crippled stock handler, but he oversaw the mail exchange.

Sarah watched from the barn. The new handler grabbed the leather cover from the panting horse and draped it over the saddle of the waiting mount. The rider clambered up and sat on the mochila containing US mail.

“Haw!” The Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company rider departed Rock Creek.

Hickok’s fingers flew, grabbling leather straps, unsaddling the weary mount. His injured arm did nothing to hamper his agility. Rumors had it, the boy was a gunman.


Author’s Note: The Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company is a mouthful. No wonder we took to calling it the “Pony Express.”




  1. […] Source: March 29: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  2. Reena Saxena says:

    “I need to enrol for that class. Finger speed matters in whatever we do.” My son was taken in the by the fancy ad placed on the front page of newspapers.

    “Sure, you must join. I just want you to develop other faculties alongside.”
    “And which ones are those?”

    “Feet fly either to achieve something, or in response to danger. The first is planned, while the other is a reflex. Fingers will fly to write, type, dance or paint but what needs to fly first is the mind.”

    “Hmmm…. I guess I am putting the cart before the horse.”

  3. Juliet says:

    No-Rooz Mobarak and Chag Sameach to all!
    And thank you, Charli for reminding us that ‘to stand up for humanity, we must call out injustices, not cultures’. Well said!
    Will be back soon with some flying fingers…

    • Charli Mills says:

      Sometimes I think all we need to do is to sit down with one another and share celebrations and renewals. Isn’t that diplomacy? Thanks! I look forward to seeing what flies from your fingerti[s, Juliet!

  4. Ritu says:

    It’s always lovely to be able to celebrate with other cultures, enriches our own lives no end!
    I need to get my fingers flying too, to answer the prompt!

  5. Hi Charli. Here’s my effort regarding my natural gift and love of music.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks for sharing your gift and a perspective I hadn’t considered Di!

    • I played piano in my youth and you took me back. And also to the present time with arthritis in my fingers. I could hear the melodies being played. – Molly

      • I sold my piano in 2013 which is just as well as we ended up buying the boat. Hubby insisted I had another when we got the house, so I can play again………. just not so fast or as loud!

      • I passed my upright piano on to my niece and then my brother so it stayed in the family. Several great nieces and one nephew learned to play on it. Now I have a keyboard I use to plunk out notes for choral music I’m trying to learn. But sometimes I sit down at the piano at church when I’m alone and practice sight reading. It is soothing to the soul! Glad you have one now and can let your fingers take flight!

      • I play by ear, and improvise a lot! I know my notes, but found it frustrating working them all out when I could listen to the melody a few times and pick it up from there. Mum used to sight read. I don’t know what my sister plans to do with Mum’s piano as she never mastered it and neither of her daughters play.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Such a beautiful gift to pass along, although not all can play the instrument as well. Feldenkrais is my weekly dance class that teaches me the joy of dancing outside the limitations of my body by mindfully imagining each movement.

  6. You saying about the smell of wine reminds me of my Dad. He made wine from just about anything, including parsnip and swede. Both stank the place out, so pegs were optional at the tasting sessions. The men said it was good stuff (coughing quietly) 🙂 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha! I’m not so convinced these wines taste all that great (and the smell can be a deterrent). But I’ve been researching pioneer foods and what they made. Seems it was common to ferment most anything, the idea being to make the water safe to drink. Hmm. 😀

  7. Annecdotist says:

    Sounds a fun party, Charli, and spring seems a much more sensible time to celebrate the New Year. It can be hard to keep up with which particular country were supposed to hate at any one time – so that the lazy person’s incentive to celebrate them all. My flying fingers flash relates to reluctant readers but, as I’ve got a novel about a pianist to celebrate, I might come back with another after the weekend.
    Should we plough through the classics?

  8. […] Carrot Ranch, Flash Fiction Challenge – March 29, 2018. Task: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the […]

  9. weejars says:

    Inspired by one of my favourite Diana Ross songs…

  10. […] For: March 29: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  11. […] This week’s prompt: “Fingers that fly” – Why not join the 99-word Carrot Ranch Challenge yourself? […]

  12. Matt Copping says:

    Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates it.

    So many options for this week’s challenge!! I took my first foray into 2nd person. . . it feels weird haha. Let me know what you think =)

    • Charli Mills says:

      Happy Easter to you, too, Matt! I’m delighted that you wrote something daring that feels weird because those kinds of risks can lead to breakthroughs in our writing (that qualifies as a Runs With Scissors Badge).

    • Jules says:

      I’ve been on a few paddle wheels… one on a man made lake in AZ.

      You can post more than once. I might do a second entry myself.

    • 2nd person puts the reader right there, can be very effective. It was.

  13. Frank Hubeny says:

    Flying Fingers by Frank Hubeny

    Faster than drawing a gun his fingers peppered the keyboard and hit “Enter”. Later he will wish he thought more, but now, oh, the rush! It was the perfect point, typos and grammar and all, and he wanted to make it before someone else did.

    Later, second thoughts like snail mail arrived. Then third-thought packages containing arguments he should have considered punched him It occurred to him maybe someone else should have made that idiotic point.

    Then it happened. Just when he thought it wouldn’t ever be over, it was over. No one cared anymore and neither did he.

  14. Jules says:

    I’ll try to catch up on reading more tomorrow but I’m slightly busy today.
    And the prompt fit (with a little adjusting) to my daily verse (which is centered at my site… Title should be link). Funny that the fingers are walking. Please enjoy:

    pound the pavement
    (haibun with renga series)

    At the end of my hands my fingers are flying. I get…
    my holiday meal started, belonging to an interfaith
    family presents its challenges. We will prevail!

    morning – time to pound
    the pavement; work before play –
    before all arrive

    prep work done to ease days’ load;
    always last minute details

    dueling crock pots up,
    eggs to boil, soup to brew,
    table welcomes you…

    smaller compliment around
    town as holidays collide

    the present hearts will
    expand to fill the places
    keeping traditions

    may each day bring abundant
    joy-filled memories to share

    let differences
    be set aside, so we can
    accommodate – love


  15. This week when I thought of fingers flying, I saw my two year old daughter twirling in the dress I bought her. She was so happy by this thrift store purchase. If only you could bottle that sweet innocence and happiness. Now, since I like to write about the twisted side of life, things are going on around her that she is unaware of due to the pure bliss of her new dress.

  16. […] In response to: […]

  17. papershots says:

    Key turns into keyhole, door opens, door closes, keys end up in a bowl on the sill on top of the radiator. The heat goes on. The light goes on. Laces untied, shoes in their compartment. Slippers are found, put on, as well as music, wine poured, glass taken, on a tray beside the couch. “Sorry about…” Like, like, ha ha, like, sad, sad, ha ha, wow. Hold on, interesting, go back up a bit. “… the loss of…” Freezer, bag, content, pan, oven, program 3. “… your friend.” Ha ha, wow. “Can’t make it tonight.” “Congrats on your new job.”

  18. Liz H says:

    Your fingers and fancy were surely flying with this week’s installment—example, your description of new-exposed earth to a potato skin. Wow!

    WIld Bill was a mailman? Take that, Cliff Clavin!!

    • Charli Mills says:

      It looks like expose potato peels right now. Not real appetizing as far as springs go!

      Ha, ha! I never thought of Wild Bill as a mailman, but yeah…! He was!

  19. […] #FlashFictionChallenge and part of the Carrot Cake Treasure […]

  20. janmalique says:

    Love your post Charli, the scents and aromas drift off the page to evoke wonderful images. I’ll post my response to the challenge soon.

  21. janmalique says:

    Here’s my contribution, featuring a passion of mine, flamenco:

    The dancer’s hands unfurled like the wings of a bird, speaking in a tongue so easily understood by the true sight of the heart.

    The music beat out a rhythm that enveloped the onlookers like a lover’s embrace, full of gentleness and grace.

    They gazed entranced at the dancer’s figure, watched her hands weave a hypnotic spell, watched them perform a feat of extraordinary flight.

    They spoke so eloquently, more than the voice could ever, ever express.
    Her body overflowed with passion sublime, crowned by the delicacy of her hands, reminiscent of the dance of the Bird of Paradise.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Flamenco dancing is mesmerizing and you describe so beautifully how the hands speak another language. Your passion for this style comes through in your writing.

      • janmalique says:

        Flamenco, tango and in fact most dance forms (for me) are infused with strong emotions. Obviously it is the artistry and essence of the dancer that shapes the quality of the dance. Your primpt was a great catalyst.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I love watching dance. It was the dance and music of Nowruz that inspired my writing. We continue to pass inspiration on.

  22. […] this week’s Carrot Ranch challenge – flying […]

    I’m not sure if I’ve shared correctly, but here you go!

  24. […] this weeks Carrot Ranch 99 word flash fiction challenge prompt is ‘fingers that […]

  25. tintins says:

    Hey guys, here’s my attempt this week:


    I watched the croupier manipulate the deck; the overhand, hindu and riffle shuffle demonstrated with ease as her fingers flew.

    I heard Twenty-one was a game of probability. The way she mixed them cards had me unconvinced. All players were transfixed.

    Hand dealt: Four of Clubs, Nine of Diamonds. House: Queen of Hearts on display.

    “Player has thirteen, your move?” she encouraged.

    “Hit me.”

    “Six of Hearts. Player has nineteen.”


    Confidently she turned over the Hole Card: Ace of Spades.


    Should have listened to Papa, “ain’t no way of winning Snapper, House always comes out on top.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Great moment of a classic gambling game that captures both the conviction of winning with the reality of the House’s advantage. My niece is a dealer and she has amazing card skills.

    • Norah says:

      Love the ways those fingers fly through the deck. Great imagery, and so true. The House always come out on top.

  26. Juliet says:

    I’m back with this little story…

    Scarlet Strings

    She wondered if anyone ever noticed the scarlet drops running down the strings onto her long black skirt.

    Perhaps if she wore the white of angels they would see the abstract red splashes of blood and scream at her to stop.

    And if she wiped off her painted smile they may see the pain beneath.

    But every night she forced her lips wide as she hugged her harp, fingers flying deftly over the nylon, plucking sweet notes from its lengths and scattering them over the hushed auditorium.

    They would applaud loudly when the lights dimmed.

    She would cry silently.

  27. Anony Mole says:

    “Drop your spoon!”
    My grandma’s favorite spoon clacked to the floor, batter spraying her shoes.”
    “What in God’s name are you making?”
    I popped the tupperware lid and showed her.
    “And what are you going to do with those?”
    I shrugged my shoulders.
    “Well, I expect the best.”
    Arrayed like a fan I delivered them to the table.
    Grandma took one bite and spit it out. “These are awful.” Picking up a handful she threw them toward my face.
    I ducked and grinned mischievously as the squadron of Lady Fingers flew across the room and exploded against the wall.

  28. floatinggold says:

    I’ve been gone for a bit, but now I’m back and ready to participate.
    I read up on the badges. That’s a pretty cool idea!
    A lot of great submissions already, but I prefer to comment on them when they are posted/ finalized on Thursdays.

  29. floridaborne says:

    Okay, I’m entering it here, too.

    I noticed the “look” first, pity followed by disgust, and chuckled at a T-shirt that said, “Hillary won.”

    “Do you need medication?” She asked, with feigned concern.

    “I have Tourette’s,” I replied. “My fingers fly across a piano, and my intelligence is above average. Unfortunately, intolerant people don’t understand when my arm flies outward, I grimace and I sniff, too.”

    “That must be embarrassing.”

    Just what I needed, fake tolerance. “ “My husband doesn’t mind.”
    “You’re married?”

    I sighed. “Did you know that Mozart, Samuel Johnson, and Howard Hughes had Tourette’s?”

    “Who?” She asked.

    “That explains a lot,” I snickered.

    • Wonderful. Fake tolerance. I wonder if we could get away with it.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Great flash to show how faking tolerance falls short. Your flash extends knowledge of Tourette’s better than an article could because we get to witness the experience. And thanks for posting it here, to so others have the chance to read.

      • floridaborne says:

        Happy to do so. People think of the more extreme Tourette Syndrome, but the majority of us just look weird to everyone else. It helps to have a sense of humor to go along with the weirdness. 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        I like it when we can arrive at a point where we enjoy our quirks.

    • I had a student develop Tourettes quite rapidly last year. We all learned a lot. Like who could tolerate what and who was genuine. Humor did help, all the way around. It got pretty extreme but has settled down now.

      • floridaborne says:

        Stress can make it worse. Symptoms generally begin between the ages of 4 and 7. “Generally” means that it can show up later sometimes. 🙂

    • In her case, lack of intelligence has not been compensated by empathy at all. Great story.

    • Norah says:

      I didn’t know about Mozart, Samuel Johnson, and Howard Hughes. Interesting. Talk about flying fingers. There must be a few in that lot. 🙂

      • floridaborne says:

        In one of his books, Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat — a series of short stories medical) wrote about a gifted drummer with Tourette’s. When he took medication, the symptoms faded but so did his exceptional drumming. If you have a chance to read that book, it’s a winner. 🙂

      • Norah says:

        Sounds interesting. Thanks for the tip.

  30. Plumes of paper rooster tailed from the adding machine, the cocky accountant’s fingers like frenzied birds swooping and diving at the keys.
    She held her pencil thoughtfully, carefully examining the numbers, pecked and scratched at the paper. She didn’t want to ruffle any feathers, but something didn’t add up. Her fingers tapped out a message on her computer keyboard.
    The investigation had barely begun when he flew the coop, though he was unable to line his nest as planned.
    She got a feather in her cap. The promotion would help her grow her nest egg, which she tended prudently.

  31. Charli that sounds like a lot of fun having new year 25th March. I couldn’t agree with you more people are people the world over and it is the injustices that should be held to account not the culture or the people. We too have a government that works on scare tactics trying to make those that don’t already have a world view (and sadly some of them also) frightened of people from different cultures. It makes me want to weep.
    It sounds lovely to have spring breaking through. You can go and find those piles now that you couldn’t find at the time. The dirt (of all kinds) doesn’t sound that appealing but the thought that this is the beginning and the grass will be next must make the heart sing.
    Sarah is doing quite a lot of watching from the barn. I feel for her having to hide in the shadows although she gets to see a lot. Loved your last two lines in the flash.
    Will check out the badges and set my goals.
    My flash

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ah, today Lady Lake brought fresh white snow. I think she didn’t want to see the piles, either! I tried tackling some by chipping the ice with a special tool, but I didn’t get far. Funny you mention Sarah watching from the barn! It struck me that I’m always having her witnessing Rock Creek from the barn. I’ll have to be mindful of that when I write actual scenes. I’m glad you are going to consider the badges!

      • LOL. I thought about the snowbound doggy done its overnight in one of my waking moments wondering if perhaps the snow kept them intact as they were laid or whether they became white like the snow in their decomposing state. From your comment above I believe they remain as fresh as the day they were dropped.
        Interesting you had the same thought about Sarah. At least you can be mindful of it now.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Ha, ha…poop stays fresh encased in ice, unfortunately! Spring thaw is not a fresh moment for pet owners.

    • Liz H says:

      Uffda! This one kind-of creeped me out at the end… 😮

  32. Fingers cracking the pod and rolling the peas out into the pot in one deft move. Had that favorite paring knife, remember, always got the thinnest peel off a potato, all in one piece. She taught us all to knit, though none of us have ever gotten our needles clacking as fast as hers. She even tickled trout, would go down to the brook and get all she wanted and not a line or a net.
    Now she just lies in bed, her papery hands fluttering to her face over and over, like she can’t believe she’s still here.

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

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think of how deft your fingers must be, Robbie, as you craft your fondant characters and unleash their stories across your keyboard!

  34. […] Carrot Ranch, the March 29, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different […]

  35. Donning by D.Avery
    Once upon a time there was a time that all wished there never was; for this was not a forwarding time, but a time when the world went backwards. In that time there was an Emperor, which there was not supposed to be in that time.
    His hands, never having known good work, were known to be small and soft. He was fast with his fingers, his trigger finger itchy, always pointing at someone else, never at himself. Sociopath, he poked the keys to provoke through social media, stirred unrest with his jabbing digits. The world was thoroughly shaken.

    • Charli Mills says:

      So many layers here to enjoy, D. First, I love the humorous take on “once upon a time” because mirrors the convolution of “Donning.”

      • Gotta have humor. I suppose we’re not the first humorans to live in dark times. Happy Easter, and all other vernal celebrations of light and hope.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Mark Twain and Chaucer remind us that we’ve had to deal with dark times in humorous ways. Easter arrived with a blizzard on April Fool’s Day — it’s a Keweenaw joke shared by other places I understand!

    • Norah says:

      This is very clever, D., on so many levels. I love the fable feel to it – a time that all wished there never was. And of course, the title gives it all away. Brilliant!

    • Liz H says:

      I think this one trumps the collection!

  36. […] March 29: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  37. […] prompt at Carrot Ranch this week had us focusing on fingers, fast fingers, no less. In 99 words, no more, no less. I felt […]

  38. Watch Your Words by D.Avery

    It was hard to catch everything she said, she talked so fast. When she was angry, she talked twice as fast, emphatically, replete with innovative swear words. And just now she was on a creative streak. She was mad. At him.
    “Slow down”, he pleaded. “I can’t hear a word you’re saying.”
    Oops, that got an eye roll.
    He didn’t need to catch every word. He knew what he had said was wrong and was hurtful. They had been talking about having a baby. He had signed that he hoped it wasn’t born deaf.
    That’s when her fingers flew.

  39. In praise of flighty logic by Molly Stevens

    The server waited with pen poised to take the order. “I want turkey hands pwease,” Kyle said.

    “He means chicken fingers,” his weary mother explained while swabbing the baby’s drool.

    “What a remarkable mind he has!” said his grandmother.

    “Is a chicken a birdie?” he asked.

    “Yes,” grandma said, “it is a birdie.”

    When the food arrived, Kyle grabbed a strip of chicken, hurled it high into the air, and watched it plop into grandma’s water glass.

    “Kyle, why did you do that?” Asked his mother, exasperated.

    “I wanted to see if chicken fingers could fwy.”

    “Brilliant!” said grandma.

  40. […] via March 29: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

  41. […] I thought writing a flash fiction piece would be fun. This one comes from the prompt over at Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different […]

  42. The celebration sounds fabulous!
    Here’s my contribution this week:

  43. susansleggs says:

    Floaters Not Sinkers

    As the only non-Jew in the house, I cringed when my new husband’s father demanded to know at the dinner table, “Who made these matzoh balls? They aren’t round.”

    A female cousin said, “I tried to show her, but she said I was taking all the air out of them by rolling them in my palms. She barely touched them with her fast fingers and dropped them into the boiling pot of broth. They floated.”

    “Well that’s it then. When it comes to matzoh balls, floaters are much better than sinkers. She is to make them from now on.”

  44. Equal Knocks

    “Where ya been, Kid?”
    “Jest made the perfect vegie-tarian Easter dinner.”
    “Nope. Bacon and brussel sprouts.”
    “Kid, bacon ain’t vegie-tarian.”
    “Whoa, Pal, thought we’d all agreed this was a culturally inclusive place. Don’t tell me how ta be a vegie-tarian. My people like ta include bacon.”
    “Well, what’ve you been up to? Got yer fingers in ever’one’s pot I s’pose.”
    “Na. I been stayin’ outta the way. Ridin’ fence mostly, lookin’ out fer signs a spring.”
    “Lookin’ fer greener pastures, Pal?”
    “Don’t go pointin’ any fingers, Kid. No, there’s plenty a range here at the ranch.”

  45. […] March 29: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  46. My Friend Majda

    I type at 100+ wpm—until I broke my hand.That’s not my story. Let me tell you about Majda. She had barely escaped Bosnia with what she could carry. From the plane, she rushed to the hospital with an angina. I was supposed train her in American journalism. English was her fifth language. In Bosnia, she’d been arts and entertainment editor for Oslobodenje, a major newspaper in Sarajevo. Her fingers flew over keys as her mind flew over paintings and sculpture she’d seen; music she’d heard. Now, like me with my broken finger, she speaks and writes more slowly.

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

  48. Hola good people. I’m combining my AtoZ Challenge entry with my submission for this prompt, killing two birds with one stone (hopefully). Cheers.

  49. […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction […]

  50. […] Charli Mills: Carrot Ranch – March 30 Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  51. Charli, It sounds like fun that you joined the New Year celebration on March 25. I visited my daughter and her family in February. We had Valentine’s Day on 2/14 and Chinese New Year on 2/16. Lunar New Year goes by the lunar calendar, so it’s different every year.

    In LA, for Cinco de Mayo, many streets in downtown are blocked off for the celebration. For Chinese New Year, at least in Monterey Park that I know of, also has many streets blocked off for the Flower Market.

    I submitted mine in the submission form and here is the link to my post.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Miriam, how wonderful that you have such large celebrations to share with your community. We used to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Helena, Montana and I always enjoyed the food and festivities. What is the Flower Market like? Thank you for submitting your story!

      • It has a for cherry tree with flower buds. If people have cherry blossoms after Chinese New Year (and they will in this weather), it signifies that they’ll have a prosperous year. The flower market also carry all the Chinese clothes, lucky charms, lucky money envelops, red posters for walls. So it;s not just selling flowers.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I love the cherry blossoms as lucky. Sounds like a festive place.

  52. Norah says:

    Happy New Year! The festivities sound very enjoyable and inclusive. Yes, it’s not people or cultures we must fear, but the bigotry of fear itself.
    I’m pleased you have tidied up the publication process, and trust that it will work better for you. The badge page is amazing – so many badges to choose from.
    That’s an interesting story about Hickock and his injury. I wasn’t aware of that. And I didn’t know the “real” name of the Pony Express. Yes – definitely a mouthful!
    And thanks for teaching me four new words in this post. I think you’ve earned the “Teacher” badge.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Happy New Years, Norah! I hope I taught you some new words and not tyops! I was trying to listen to a podcast today about what skills it takes to be curious. Brene Brown says, “Curiosity is a shit starter.” I laughed but didn’t yet get to hear about the skills. I was curious, but my lunchtime listening came to an end. Yes, Hickok’s injury was a bit of a mystery. Legend has it, he was mauled by a black bear as a wagon driver on the Santa Fe Trail. Maybe Smokey Bear’s grandmother injured him! Hickok’s biographer, Joseph Rosa, thinks he had a wagon accident. Whatever it was, the injury was the reason for going out to Rock Creek. I hope you find badges you like and certainly, there are many you already deserve!

      • Norah says:

        Hi Charli, None of us like those tyops but they have a way of sneaking in unbidden. None of the words I learned were tyops. I look forward to hearing what you find out from Brene Brown. She’s an inspiring speaker. Sometimes conjecture is the best answer to many unknowns in the past. I guess as long as they stay as that and not fact, we’ll do okay. What a pity Bill didn’t keep a diary. How amazing would it be if one (genuine) turned up?
        I’m back with my story: Counting on fingers.

      • Liz H says:

        Good intentions are sometimes misguided, but sometimes what’s right will come through in the end. Nice one, Nora!

      • Charli Mills says:

        Bill did write letters home before the Civil War, but nothing about Rock Creek. He was young and worked hard and stayed in touch with his mother and sisters. One historian wrote that we’ll likely never know what fully happened at Rock Creek. But I enjoy digging up what evidence I can and imagine the gaps.


    Fast Fingers Eddie they called him.
    He hated it. Thought it sounded childish.
    Ask anyone in town and they’d tell you.
    Fast Fingers Eddie earned his nickname from his handiness with a switchblade.
    But as his eyes looked up at him, Enzo saw someone different.
    He saw the hatred Eddie had for his own actions.

    Saw the remorse.

    Eddie was’t the cold killer that Enzo had challenged.
    There was a good man there.
    Eddie looked at Enzo, lying in a puddle of his own blood, and smiled as he retrieved his blade from Enzo’s gut.
    Whistling, he walked away.

    • Liz H says:

      This was sharp! Changes in POV and crystal clear reveal in the 2ndto last sentence. Gobsmacked.

    • Talk about a switch blade…

    • Charli Mills says:

      You just experienced the “flash magic”! When you practice flash fiction regularly, it patterns the brain as a way to solve creative problems. Therefore, when you feel like you are struggling with a prompt, your brain recognizes the 99-word constraint as a problem-solver and you’ll get an unexpected story. And this one is a zinger! Great flash!

      • Thank you! I never thought I’d get such positive feedback from my writing. I look forward to the weekly challenges so much now. Both to write and to read others’ stories. The odd thing I’ve found is I love comedy, making people laugh, and would be described by most who know me as a joker. But my writing tends to always go towards a darker, more sinister place. I’m not sure why. But I love it regardless.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I’m glad you are enjoying the feedback. This is a place to play with words and explore where you go to find stories. And many other writers have also been surprised by the depth or darkness that shows up in their writing. I think that’s the result of writing without expectation and going where the story is and bravely bringing it back. Be sure to add your story to the form also, if you’d like to be in the collection. It’s a brand new process but helps me with collecting.

    • A great twist there.

  54. […] March 29: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  55. […] week’s Charli Mills’ prompt […]

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

  57. […] week’s Charli Mills’ prompt is; in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that […]

  58. gordon759 says:

    And here is my contribution, a true tale about a remarkable lady of the eighteenth century

    After all if you played duets with Handel, Johnathon Swift told you, and your future husband, that you ought to get married and you invented an art form when you were 71, you cannot be anything other than remarkable.

  59. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (03/29/2018:  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different ways we use our fingers and what happens when we add speed. Go where the prompt leads. […]

  60. Liz H says:

    A story of a lovely lady that many might identify with about now:

  61. Ann Edall-Robson says:

    Hands of Age
    By Ann Edall Robson

    Hands resting gently against the frail body. Every so often fingers come to life. Flitting in the air mimicking thoughts of birds, butterflies and making a point. Settling once more in the aged lap until the story needs their tiny bit of exuberance. No more are they raw and ripped from the daily chores of scrubbing floors, wringing out the laundry and pulling weeds. These hands of time have experienced many lives and now they spend their days reminiscing and playing out the memories. They have become props for the mind of one who remembers but does not see.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Beautiful, Ann! Your flash reminds me of Cobb’s sister, Julia who lived to be a ripe old age with gnarled hands. Those hands speak of much hard work in a lifetime.

  62. […] post was written in response to Charli Mills weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. Do you love writing flash fiction? Pop over, find out more and join in! It’s a fabulous and […]

  63. LucciaGray says:

    Loved your flash Charli. Reminds me of my vision of The Wild Wild West! A dangerous time to live…
    The ‘Fingers that fly’ reminded me of a pianist and the film The Piano set in 19th century New Zealand. Amazing all the different places a prompt can lead.

  64. […] CarrotRanch 99 word challenge. […]

  65. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different ways … […]

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

  67. Deborah Lee says:

    “…we must call out injustices, not cultures.” So eloquently put.

    My contribution for the week:

  68. […] in response to Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge about flying fingers. Check it […]

  69. wallietheimp says:

    Wallie and my response: “The Drum and the Harp”–

  70. paulamoyer says:

    Interracting later, but here’s what I posted:

    Piano Lessons

    By Paula Moyer

    Jean watched her mother play the piano, watched Liberace slide his fingers in an upward glissando. When she got to be seven years old, Jean got to play the high C of her mother’s cross-hands piece.

    Finally she asked her mother. “Can you teach me how to play?” Her mother called around and ordered beginner’s piano music. While she waited, Jean could just see herself playing requests, improvising wildly. Her fingers would fly.

    Then the music came, lessons began. Oh, so hard. This stuff on paper, the piano keys. It was three months before Jean graduated to “hands together.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Paula, your flash shows that after the desire to let the fingers fly across the keys, next comes the determination to learn. Such a life lesson!

  71. […] “Fingers that fly.” – a prompt for this week’s CW piece. [Source: CarrotRanch] […]

  72. […] This was written in response to Charli Mills’ (Carrot Ranch) challenge to writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about fingers that fly. Think about the different ways … […]

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