May 31: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

May 31, 2018

Softly my feet pad across the hard-packed trail through the forest. Pine-scent bobs in the air like the dandelion seeds that haven’t yet formed, spring is so new. But the lawns and fields are covered with the promise from sunny yellow heads.

Again, I’ve become the hunter. Some take yoga to go into warrior pose — I take my feet outside; my body and mind follow, feeling the call of the hunt. Alert, my senses feel the dappled sunlight keenly and separate the sounds of chattering birds and lapping waves.

Where has my fierce Lady Lake gone? She’s acting so passive, I wonder if she’s at rest. Over winter she fought ferocious battles between water and sand, upturning the shoreline like a bulldozer. She called in blizzards like flocking white ravens. Now, she sleeps, her seas lightly sloshing. It’s the perfect time to hunt — her guard is down, her waves at rest and a new crop of churned rocks wait on the beach.

But first, I slink through the forest.

To see Lake Superior through the pines is one of my favorite views. From this vantage on the ridge overlooking the dog beach at McLain State Park, I can scout stretches of beach-worn basalt, granite, and gabbro. I’m refining my hunting skills, having studied over winter. I now can identify more of the minerals that fill the mafic bedrock like the clays chlorite and celadonite.

But the hunt isn’t always for the next rock or potential agate. I am also a woman who runs with the wolves. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. writes:

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”

My doors to my Wild self are indeed precious — through scars, caught stories, rocks, and water, birds, and sky. I can love the hunt so deeply, I take this path in the forest to savor the time it takes to burst forth onto the rocky beach to step into cold Great Lake waters. I yearn for deeper art to the point that I can feel my writing before I even begin. Art enriches my life, leaves me breathless and yet grounded.

Music, movement, color, words, texture — art fills all senses.

And this is why I love dance. I don’t dance. I don’t run with the wolves across the stage, but I watch from the audience the same way I watch Lake Superior from my footpath in the pines. I love the costumes, the drumbeats, the sharp movements and the flowing visual story. Dance is my daughter’s art. Often we share artistic moments, and that’s better than bagging an agate.

When her dance troupe accepted my idea to incorporate flash fiction into their next performance, I felt giddy at the chance to meld artistic expressions. I met with the choreographers and took note to capture the tone and emotion of each piece. We discussed the music, costumes, and movements.

When I wrote, I had that same feeling as when I step into Lake Superior. Wild self takes over. Intuition spills my words. Afterward, I felt unsure. Would this story partner with the dance? Or would it be a clunky addition to the show? I wrote like a dancer — interpreting each piece with new and different structures.

In the end, I had eleven Mythica Flash Fiction worthy of the warrior women taking the stage. I felt I could run with these wolves and that’s where my writing began and ended. Each flash in between told a story, hailed queens, invented new myths, introduced unknown characters or celebrated the power of the Wild self.

On Friday, 47 North performs Mythica at the Continental in Houghton. The belly dance troupe specializes in tribal fusion and modern. Their literary artist specializes in rocks, history and flash fiction. The first flash opens the show, the second closes it, as I speak directly to the dancers taking the stage in leather, chain mail, and fur, dancing to music from Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur.

Shadow People
Undergrowth of legends cling to consciousness and shadows vape through the veil between who we must be and who we indeed are. Quaking, we repeat fairy tales to let fear conform our captured souls.

The veil slips, and we glimpse Mythica where strange and weird entities tap and twirl to original wingbeats of self-expression. Fear blinds our hearts and knots the rope around throats of mythical women who are different.

Mythica is the shadowlands populated by shadow people. Dare you cross the veil? Grandmother won’t save you, but she beckons you to enter and run hard with the wolves.


Step forth onto the battlefield, Daughters. Brace your feet, remember your training. Adjust your shield and sword. Death is but a trip to Valhalla. Ready your bodies for passage. When you fall, the Valkyries are coming. Skol!

Lift up, lift up, lift up — Choosers of the Slain! Warrior-women wielding runes, marks of the chosen. Let not the weight of the world, the heaviness of battle, the blood your body sheds destroy you. Glory nears.

Lift up, lift up, lift up and carry those battle-born souls to Odin. Warriors of the warriors. Valkyries. Women who rise. The run is over.

It’s not easy to be an artist, to be a hunter, to run wild and return home again. Illness, disappointment, injustice, grief — these often erode the shores of who we think we are. But we evolve. Every run, every storm, every story is another chance to turn our own page. Estes writes,

“Though fairy tales end after ten pages, our lives do not. We are multi-volume sets. In our lives, even though one episode amounts to a crash and burn, there is always another episode awaiting us and then another. There are always more opportunities to get it right, to fashion our lives in the ways we deserve to have them. Don’t waste your time hating a failure. Failure is a greater teacher than success.”

Opportunity energy is high right now. I’m hunting down each one. Not everything will stick, but at the end of the day, I won’t go home empty. A significant transition looms for me. As life with my spouse evolves, as my daughter leaves the dance stage to undergo tests and possibly surgery at the Mayo Clinic next week, and the organization that was my anchor client leaves, I turn to my Wild self to adjust not with fear but with a welcoming of the challenges.

Roundup, a small weekly e-zine, returns from the ashes to spotlight three flash fictions a week and highlight one of our many writers. It’s intended for an audience of readers, to get people excited for what forms literary art can take 99-words at a time. Writers can benefit from a subscription to learn craft tips. It will connect to each weekly collection so you can share Roundup.

Books by authors in our literary community will be featured on Rough Writers’ pages and individually in Roundup. You’ll notice rotating books alongside the blog posts with house ads. I emphasize “house” because Carrot Ranch does not use AdWords. I’ll be promoting local events, workshops, author books (from our community and at my discretion), my services, literary art patronage, and an upcoming subscription to Marketing Mavericks. You can catch my #NaNoWriMo post at BadRedhead Media for a taste of what Marketing Mavericks will be like.

Literary art continues to be my focus. I want you to have unencumbered access to play with the art form among a group of people who see writing as one of their doors to the world. Please submit your badges for any goals you set and earned (see Rancher Badges). This is a self-motivated personal development opportunity. Now is the time to set new goals for the next three months.

Any Rough Writer who wants to offer Wrangling Words to their own community library, please contact me and I’ll get you set up with some basic training, materials and an outline for how to get established. It’s a great way to spread literary art where you live. I find it a rewarding program, and you can adjust it to fit what you want to offer.

All Patrons of Carrot Ranch (monthly supporters) have been gifted the full Mythica Flash Fiction collection. You can catch 47 North Belly Dance live streaming Friday night starting at 9 pm (EST) on their Facebook page.

I’ve set my vision for how I see art in my life as my northern star, and I write and run. Listen, you can hear the wolves howling. The warrior women gather.

May 31, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about warrior women. It can be myth or everyday mothers and wives. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by June 5, 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.


Start of a Wild Ride (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Sarah startled at the hand pressing against her mouth in the dark. A woman’s voice shushed her struggles. She sat up in bed to see Nancy Jane’s face inches from hers. “What are you doing,” Sarah whispered.

“Ever run with wolves?”


“Come, on, Sarah, Yellow Feather gathered some ponies. Let’s be braves under the moon!”

Sarah clung to her quilt drawn up to her chin. Camp was silent, emigration season nearly at an end. Cobb would be asleep next to Mary, and their baby. He was the same age –

She threw down the quilt and rose from bed.

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  1. The Haunted Wordsmith

    Nice post and story! I love all the things you offer writers…it creates a sense of community. If I don’t start selling my small collection, I probably won’t be here in three months to really plan, but I think its great! Interesting prompt as well…really out of my zone. It’s going to take some thinking 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks! Sometimes, those prompts that take us out of our zone, when we apply it to a character or story we have, something unexpected can spark. I hope that happens for you. And good luck with your collection! Yes, we create community so writers can explore, grow and play with literary art.

      • Liz H

        Happened for me this week, and in other prompt weeks as well! <3

      • Charli Mills

        I like where you went with it, Liz!

  2. Liz H

    Wow, you once again have blown my mind with all you’ve got going, especially melding 99-Flash with dance performance! Sounds so cool & what a great way to bond and conversate (is that a word?) with your daughter.

    Missed last week to focus on my long-term project, but the prompt this week really grabbed–will have to see if I can capture two birds with one gently thrown stone.

    • Charli Mills

      Ooh, conversate! It’s a word now, Liz! I’m in full literary artist warrior mode right now with the dance show! It’s such a powerful performance and to lead each opening is a blast. Their stage manager and MC were skeptical, and dress rehearsal was the first time they got to hear the stories. By the end, they were all excited, including the skeptics! Throw the stone hard this week, Liz! And wishing you the best with the long-term project. That requires endurance.

      • Liz H

        Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

    • Jules

      Conversate – wonderful new word!
      Continued success with all your writing projects.

      • Liz H

        Thanks, Jules!

  3. Eric Pone
    Mama Bear Unleashed
    May 31, 2018,
    Ono looked at the robber in the store. As he smacked the owner, she looked down at her daughter and took a deep breath. Piper shouldn’t see mama this way but shit happens. Reaching behind she slowly removed the Tanto Emerson knife and quietly rolled Piper into a quiet aisle. She walked purposely toward him her pace quickening as old habits opened their doors for their horrible duty. The man turned toward her and tried to point his Magnum 357. Too late. The knife quickly sliced his jugular. She smiled as he gurgled and fought for life. Mama did well.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Eric, good to see you back at the Ranch (I saw you were here last week, too but I fell into the GDPR and dress rehearsal cracks). Your title sets the tone and Mama Bear is one fierce contender! As your stories expand with these characters, it draws us into a world we couldn’t experience from an article or news report. This is where literary art can make a difference.

    • Shallow Reflections

      That about sums up what a mama bear would do to protect her young. Chilling story. -Molly

    • Liz H

      We do what we have to to protect our young…and our community!
      First shot out the gates and it’s a strong one!

    • Kerry E.B. Black

      Vivid! That’s a kick-butt warrior, indeed.

  4. The Haunted Wordsmith

    Took me a little while, but I came up with one 🙂

    Silent Warrior

    Protests erupted nationwide as women took to the streets. They protested for parental pay, self-ownership, and some just to protest. Newscasts were filled lawsuits over whether a man looked at a woman or complimented her outfit. Some men were too afraid to be in a room with a woman.

    Lillian adjusted her gloves and checked her hat in the mirror one last time before going shopping. The streets were filled with protests again. Words hurling everywhere and no one listening.

    “Thank you,” Lillian said, to the man opening the store’s door for her, smiling. Today’s silent warrior, she thought.

    • Charli Mills

      Well, that didn’t take you long! And to an unexpected direction — in a world of chaos often the warriors are the silent ones. This line really chilled me, thinking of current events: “Words hurling everywhere and no one listening.” That reminds me how literary art is also discourse which requires close reading, discussing and listening.

      • Michael

        I liked your approach to this one too, so well done….I hadn’t thought of the role of a silent warrior.

    • Jules

      Often warriors remain silent. I truly believe they are the strong ones.
      Those who come back from any type of confrontation or battle and brag – I think they know less than of what they spew.

    • Shallow Reflections

      I like the power of the silent warrior. I didn’t know where this was headed and I like the surprise ending. -Molly

    • Liz H

      A warrior queen for civility–we need her balance.

  5. Faith Colburn

    My Mom
    She thought she could adapt to anything. After all, to save her family, she’d got a job when she was only fifteen—singing in a nightclub. She’d navigated groping, propositions, and men who said she did when she didn’t; she’d joined the Army and learned to build radios and install them into B-24s; she’d married the man she loved, a shell-shocked veteran, and moved with him to a farm in Nebraska, where the nights were silent and the stars near; she’d learned to be a farm wife. But in the end, she learned she couldn’t just be missus somebody.

    • Charli Mills

      Faith, that’s a powerful flash and profile of a strong woman who had to be who she was. Is this a BOTS (based on a true story)? I like the comparison of details between being a nightclub singer and joining the Army.

    • H.R.R. Gorman

      I really liked this one! So often we hear stories of the heroic men of WWII, but the ladies who worked hard at home are forgotten and left out of memory and history. I enjoyed reading this response.

    • Shallow Reflections

      ‘My Mom’ is a true warrior! Well done. -Molly

    • Kerry E.B. Black

      My niece is collecting the stories of women warriors from our nation’s past for a Girl Scout Gold Project. If this is a BOTS, I bet she’d be thrilled to have this story as a part of her collection. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        That’s awesome! Can we help her out?

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        Goodness. She would welcome help!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Neel! And thanks for your story!

  6. neeltheauthor- author of WHEN LIFE THROWS THOSE CURVE BALLS


    By Neel Anil Panicker

    It’s plain nepotism. The winner’s the Jury Chairman’s nephew. You can contest the decision if you want to’.

    For Abraham Lincoln, the Principal’s words were a sledgehammer.

    He had outscored every single opponent and was lustily cheered after his passionate seven minute espousal of a woman’s undeniable right to abortion yet lost the prestigious annual Inter-Collegiate Debate Competition by a mere vote.

    His mother’s words ringed her ears.

    ‘Remember, son, a Black man’s got to be a hundred times better than others if he wants to succeed in this land’.

    “No Sir, I’ll try to do better next time”.

    #neelanilpanicker #historicalfiction #America #Black #emancipation #AbrahamLincoln

    • Charli Mills

      Your character takes injustice and uses it as a motivator. Too often this kind of favoritism is on the scale that it stunts the abilities and potential of those who deserve more than they are robbed of. A thought-provoking flash.

  7. denmaniacs4

    An excellent post, Charli…mixing mediums is marvelous…

    Urban Encounter

    I generally don’t walk down Carlyle Avenue after dark. The town has quite a few streets I avoid at night. Truth is, there was still a hint of daylight slanting through, courtesy of a stretched moon shadow.

    Before I see her, she screams from the alley, “Get the blazes outta here.”

    That grabs my attention. Then she sashays into the light. Five-foot tops, wearing a black shawl, an ankle length red dress, and a gray military great coat.

    “What’s ya lookin’ at, Creepo?”

    Later, I’m thinking I should’ve said something clever.

    Sadly, my tongue was tied.

    I just skedaddled.

    • H.R.R. Gorman

      I like how it’s unclear whether the narrator is male or female. I think it adds to the strength of the woman in the shawl and coat.

    • Shallow Reflections

      You’ve used two words I adore – ‘sashay’ and ‘skedaddle.’ I like how unsettling this is and what you haven’t told us is as intriguing as what you did tell us. Well done! -Molly

    • Liz H

      i love the language in this flash (sashay, skedaddle), but my favorite set is : “a stretched moon shadow”.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Cool. He feels threatened, she considers him a threat but out-warriors him… creepy funny.

    • Charli Mills

      I always think of clever things to say later. A warrior protecting her turf. Wonder what battles she lost to end up there.

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Drumbeats and dancing feet reverberate like thunder across the lands of Buckaroo Nation.
    The usual low, homey campfire is now a blazing bonfire. Flames leap wildly, lashing the night sky. Wild women are illuminated in flashes, scars revealed in the dancing light.
    Old stories are told in new ways. Sad stories are told. Yet laughter rings out strong and true. Songs of life rise up like sparks from their fire, sung to old tunes that resonate like a smooth round rock.
    The women warriors rise. The women warriors raise one another up. The women warriors of Buckaroo Nation write.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Charli there is so much to admire about your post. Many connections. Hopefully I can come up with a flash. (That there is a renegade Ranch Yarn, not a flash)
      Loved your flash; you have some spunky characters! I wonder where they get that from?

      • Annecdotist

        And so much to admire in your yarn.

    • Charli Mills

      An appropriate battle yarn for Buckaroo Nation, D.! The call of the wild writers. 😉

    • Shallow Reflections

      ‘True warriors are a source of inspiration to so many, her voice in a wilderness of indifference.’ Sad, but inspirational message. -Molly

      • Michael

        Thanks so much Molly, I appreciate you stopping by.

    • Liz H

      Beautiful and poignant…One of your best, I think!

      • Michael

        Thanks so much Liz for that lovely comment.

    • Charli Mills

      A powerful flash this week, Michael!

      • Michael

        Thanks Charli. She’s a remarkable woman.

  9. papershots

    What an interesting prompt! We need that! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      With a warrior’s yell, write more, more, more! 😀

      • papershots


    • Charli Mills

      Great present, even if it doesn’t manifest into a beam of light.

  10. pensitivity101

    Easy Pickings from me Charli
    Swordsmanship wasn’t restricted to just the menfolk in their quiet village.
    Situated in the middle of nowhere, they would be open to invasion from all sides, and when food was scarce, the men would go off to hunt, leaving the women to care for the children, elderly and infirm.
    Such was a time when Outsiders decided to plunder the village whilst the men were away.
    It was a bloodbath, and they didn’t stand a chance.
    Only one was allowed to live and serve as a warning to others that the women there could kill as well as any man.

    • Liz H

      (Cheering loudly!) <3

      • pensitivity101

        Ha! Love your comment!!

    • Kerry E.B. Black

      Go lady warriors, indeed!

    • Charli Mills

      Wow, Di! Great homage to the women left behind…to defend!

  11. Jules


    I think I’d like to have the chance to run with wolves. Given a little time 🙂
    There’s so much going on at the ranch… I’d love more than just five days to write and read…

    While Little Miss naps.. My little warrior princess just graduated from her four year nursery school program today! … I’ve penned my 99 words:

    Champion Challenge

    Was Mercy a warrior? The woman had given Regina birth.
    Perhaps Mercy’s own mother knew, maybe even the man
    who she called her husband? But when you die young
    and don’t get to tell your tale – you can only hope others
    will. Both Gran and Dad had broken hearts that they kept
    as silent as a moss covered stone.

    Regina latched onto the few memories that had been
    shared and would spin them thousands of ways. After
    all Mercy’s blood ran in her veins. Perhaps the words
    that Regina spilled on paper would be enough. They’d
    have to be.


    • susansleggs

      How sad Regina had to guess about who her mother was. Well said.

      • Jules

        I am afraid there are many children in Regina’s place, lacking one parent or the other.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      That’s a powerful piece Jules. It’s too bad the dad and grandmother couldn’t share stories with the girl.

      • Jules

        Sometimes when there is a tragic loss all that folks want to do is forget. Unfortunately, sometimes in doing that they also forget those who are still living.

    • Liz H

      Another example of how the pen is mightier than the sword–go, Regina, go!

      • Jules

        Virtual tissue, anyone? 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yay for the Wee Warrior! May she follow in her Grandmother’s bold steps. The Ranch is certainly hopping. You can take your time as there’s no obligation to run with the words weekly, especially during summer as I’m sure you are busy with family. Love the contemplation of your flash and how we don’t always know the full stories, but can spin thousands of our own. Keep spinning!

  12. floridaborne

    Work study in a musty university library back room, 1968.

    Three students were tasked with binding tortured book spines. June, a slender woman well aware of her own beauty, liked to talk politics. Plain, “heavy set,” Linda was mortified.

    Jack, once part of an inner-city gang, didn’t try staring his umbrage into someone with an opposing point of view. He took a blade used for binding and held it at June’s throat.

    “I just bought this blouse,” June said. “Try not to get blood all over it.”

    Jack lowered the weapon, and chuckled. “That takes guts.”

    Linda, however, fainted.

    • Shallow Reflections

      This story is spell ‘binding!’ And made me laugh. June is gutsy and I love Linda’s reaction. -Molly

      • floridaborne

        I was going for “Laugh” and am happy to hear that I was successful.

        Thanks. 🙂

      • papershots

        Agree! And for what it’s worth, i think fainted “works” much better than “laughed.” it makes the whole piece more dynamic in a way. You can SEE it as you read it.

      • Shallow Reflections

        Yes, ‘fainted’ was the perfect ending.

    • Liz H

      Gotta ask…any element of this flash a BOTS? 😮

      • floridaborne

        Not sure what BOTS means except for robots abbreviation.

      • Liz H

        Another term I learned via Carrot Ranch-> BOTS = Based On a True Story.

      • floridaborne

        Loosely but, yes…I did say that under those conditions. But no one fainted. 🙂

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        You go, you brave wisecracker!

    • Charli Mills

      They say humor can deflect, but that’s going boldly into a knifepoint! Ha! Linda fainted!

      • floridaborne

        We can’t all be warriors. 🙂

        My dad used to tell my sister and me stories about the men lined up in front of him to get shots during WWII before being sent overseas. He saw first-hand how the skinny guys took it, but the big-strong braggarts fainted at the sight of a needle.

      • Charli Mills

        That’s funny! It comes down to the moment to define character sometimes.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jack!

    • Jules

      I like the direction you took this prompt. I wasn’t into sports that much as a child or even a teen. But then I did belong to a ten pin bowling league for a short time. 🙂

      • weejars

        I am into unusual hobbies…dragonboat and African drumming being my biggest vices

      • Jules

        Excellent! I’ll have to look at your links later –
        My post was for this prompt was with name changes… a tad personal too.

    • susansleggs

      What a great way to bet cancer together. There should be dragon boats in every town.

      • susansleggs

        BEAT cancer

      • weejars

        They are an amazing community

    • Charli Mills

      And love your response! Drums and dragonboats suit you, Sarah.

  13. Shallow Reflections

    Thank you for this Charli: I want you to have unencumbered access to play with the art form among a group of people who see writing as one of their doors to the world.

    Here is my submission for this week. – Molly

    Mystery solved

    At first, Chester treasured his time alone when Ruth disappeared into the spare bedroom. He sat in tightie whities slurping coffee, scratching a butt cheek, and passing gas, thankful for the absence of her heavy sighs.

    Then it seemed creepy. What the hell was she doing in there?

    “I know it’s that crazy neighbor, Myra, put her up to somethin’,” he said.

    He turned the knob inching the door open. Ruth stood with hands on hips, feet shoulder-width apart, chest puffed out, and chin up.

    “Sweet Jesus, it’s dad-blamed Wonder Woman,” said Chester.

    Ruth flashed him a wide grin.

    • Jules

      I’ve enjoyed every movie I’ve seen with Wonder Woman – though that she never seems to age or ages slowly is just a tad difficult to reconcile.
      Kind of like some vampires… or the Highland Warrior shows with the magic swords… I’m not sure I’d want to live forever or even close to forever.

      I hope Chester is ready for some ‘Action’!

      • Shallow Reflections

        Wonder Woman is awesome! And something tells me Chester is going to embrace her if he knows what’s good for him. 😉

    • Liz H

      I laughed out loud! Are you familiar with Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants”?

      • Shallow Reflections

        Glad you got a laugh from this, Liz. I have watched the movie “Captain Underpants” with my grandsons and we laughed ourselves silly. So funny!

    • Norah

      I thought Ruth had disappeared into the spare room for longer than that. Their responses are both wonderful! Enjoyed it immensely.

      • Shallow Reflections

        Thank you, Norah! I wonder what Chester’s next move will be now that Ruth has claimed her power. 😉

      • Norah

        Maybe it will enliven them both! 🙂

      • Shallow Reflections

        Nothing like a bit of unpredictability to rattle the cages of long term relationships, Norah!

      • Norah

        Exactly, Molly!

    • Charli Mills

      Chester is killing me! You built multiple layers of laughs into this one, Molly.

      • Shallow Reflections

        Glad you enjoyed it, Charli! Chester is a character.

  14. Annecdotist

    How it keeps on growing! Fascinating to combine flash fiction with dance, and the two you’ve shared seem very different to your usual style. I hope you enjoy performing them with the dancers. And best wishes for your family’s health and well-being.

    I didn’t think this prompt would suit me, but I’ve gone and posted two!

    One is a tribute to the warrior women of Ireland:

    The other is about a girl named after Joan of Arc from a new WIP:

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ain’t it funny how sometimes one flash leads to another.
      Terrific twofer!

    • Charli Mills

      This project definitely took me to a different space with writing flash fiction to perform. I got good feedback from those who were there that they like how each flash set up what the dance was about without giving away too much. 99 words was a good amount of storytelling! It was fun.

      I’m enjoying your dystopian story as it unfolds, and I really like where you went with the Irish Warriors. A great tribute to the moment!

    • Liz H

      Painful and relate-able.
      You nailed it.

      • Reena Saxena

        Thank you, Liz!

    • Charli Mills

      A painful, yet honest look at how women rise and become resilient.

      • Reena Saxena

        Thank you!

  15. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Wounded Warrior

    Not best friends, but reliable friends; neighbors, they had been playmates since forever, from sandbox to bikes, many shared adventures. Together they had explored the haunted house, both emerging as warriors, both with bragging rights.
    Together they’d built a secret fort.
    That’s where they started exploring each other. The fort was theirs, this exploring was theirs, fun and friendly, another rite of passage shared.
    He bragged. Somehow he knew he could. Somehow she knew she couldn’t admit that she’d even done it, let alone liked it.
    Somehow the game had changed.
    She wondered if he also missed their friendship.

    • susansleggs

      How true that “the act” can change or destroy a friendship. Hard for any age to grasp until it is a personal reality. Well said.

    • Jules

      Words, some need to be left in one’s head.
      Gossip whatever germ of truth may exists generally blooms askew.

      • Norah

        Nice one, Jules. 🙂

    • Liz H

      Ouch. So sad when the game changes to fit with the expectations of the outside world. Innocence lost!

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, a wounded warrior, when that dynamic of exploration and discovery becomes exposure and judgment. A battlefield, that fort.

    • Liz H

      I like this kind of warrior!

      • calmkate

        yes the strong community minded women contribute so much!

    • Norah

      That’s some woman, Kate.

      • calmkate

        She sure was Norah … her name was Nora!

      • Norah

        I’ll try to live a life as worthy and long. 🙂

      • calmkate

        hey if I can be half the woman she was I’m doing well, nice to have inspiring heroes 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kate! That’s a life-long learning warrior!

      • calmkate

        indeed, and a great confidante to so many 🙂

  16. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Warrior Revising

    She reined hard to a dusty stop. “Whoaaa.”
    “Nice bike”, her granpa remarked. She reproved him with a withering glare. “It’s a horse.”
    “You’re a cowgirl?”
    “No, I’m an Indian.”
    “A lovely maiden out for a ride!”
    “No, Granpa! I’m a warrior!”
    “A warrior princess.”
    He got an eye-roll. “Granpa, I’m not a princess! I am a war-ri-or.”
    “Okay, okay. You are a warrior, doing battle, fighting.”
    “Actually, I just try and save boys ‘cause they’re under a spell that makes them do dumb things all the time.”
    She galloped off.
    Maybe he should call next door, warn Tommy.

    • Jules

      Even with a warning – Tommy’s unlikely to listen, never you mind be prepared. 🙂

    • Liz H


    • Norah

      She’s got those boys figured! 🙂 Made me laugh. Thanks.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Good! One dark, one light, seems to be my pattern.

      • Norah

        Life in balance. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Go, little warrior, go! Tommy’s just going to have to deal.

  17. Sarah Brentyn

    Wow. Flash in a dance performance. That will be amazing!!! (Or have you already done this? Yesterday?) Love the mixing of arts.

    This whole post with Valkyries and Warrior Women is SO right up my alley. I’ve got to play this week. Will whip something up worthy of our Sisters.

    Hope all goes well with your daughter. ????

    • Sarah Brentyn

      You made a unicorn badge! ????

      Just saw all the badges. Very cool. Will be back to check them out properly. ????

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        “Badgers? Unicorn badgers? How do they git inta their burrows with a horn on their heads? An if they’s badgers they’s likely ta be lotsa prairie dogs an’ such. Ride carefully, Pal, Don’t wanna trip yer horse in a hole.”
        “Badges, Kid, not badgers, badges.”
        “Oh. Yeah. I ‘member somethin’ ‘bout that. I was workin’ on my manure spreadin’ badge.”
        “Well, Kid, you certainly spread a lot a shit, but I didn’t see a badge fer that.”
        “Oh, durn it.”
        “There is a badge for the love of bacon.”
        “Really?! Pal, I want that bacon badge!”
        “Badger Shorty then.”

    • Charli Mills

      It went well and was such an incredible experience. I love mixing art and showing story from different angles. The Valkyries dance was beyond amazing. One woman is injured in battle and they all pull and push her down the line of women. It was astounding. They filmed the show, but I’m not sure about the quality. If I can get some clips, I’ll post!

      Yes! A unicorn badge! ????

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Oh, please… If you can, please post some clips. Seriously amazing. ????

  18. Peregrine Arc

    Warrior, warrior

    “You’re too fat.”
    “You’re too skinny.”
    “You should stay at home.”
    “You should volunteer again.”
    “That’s not organic?”
    “Why are you breastfeeding in public?”
    “That skirt is too short.”
    “That blouse is too modest.”
    “Boys will be boys.”
    “Men will be men.”
    “Be quiet.”
    “Speak up.”

    The conversations streamed past me as I sat in the mall, quietly observing.

    Men may carry clubs, but women carry poison.

    Authors note: It’s up to the reader to determine if all of those voices are women’s voices or if they’re a mixture of men’s and women’s. Do tell.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Girls can sure do a lot of damage to each other, even when they don’y pick up any sticks or stones.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Hmm. Wondering about an amendment and not the don’y that’s a typo I can live with. No, I’ll leave it at girls though of course anyone and everyone can do damage with words, with snubbing, or a social chess move. But I have observed that the boys usually get on with things pretty quickly; physical, but quick and done.
        I will also say that many girls have great strong friendships that build resiliency and compassion and are repulsed by poison spreaders.

      • Peregrine Arc

        Ain’t it the truth.

    • Norah

      The voices could be either or both. Sadly, they are the uneducated ones who choose to suppress through their ignorance.

      • Peregrine Arc

        Thanks for reading!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, all those toxic messages and it does seem like a poison dart when it’s women talking about other women. A unique take on the prompt, Peregrine.

      • Peregrine Arc

        Thanks for reading.

    • Jules

      A resounding “Yes” – we still are – warriors!

    • Liz H

      Your final paragraph, and the comparison of tears to warpaint (ennobling, courageous) are heartbreaking. Beautiful Flash!

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! We succumb, surrender, and rise. Put on the war paint.

  19. Liz H

    This prompted worked well in moving my larger WIP along the mountain path! 🙂

    Who’s Gettin’ Schooled?

    She swings again, the blunt-edged sword whistling past his ear by a hair’s breadth. He slices upward with his own wooden blade…
    [Continue ]

    • Charli Mills

      I like to hear that, Liz! The larger WIPS have a long climb.

  20. susansleggs

    Hi Charli,
    Love the flashes to go with the dance. What a grand idea for a MC to introduce the movements.
    I looked at pictures of the parks you mention and the scenes showing Lady Lake between the trees are beautiful. No wonder they beckon.
    May your daughter’s health not become worrisome. It’s nice you can share creativity.
    Here’s my offering:

    It Takes a Warrior

    The nurse woke Maggie the morning after her right breast was removed. “Your husband wanted me to make sure you saw this.” She held up a framed picture of them holding compound bows. The inscription on the glass read, “To my warrior. Now you have an advantage. Your chief loves you.”

    Even though it hurt, Maggie laughed. “We are professional archers. I have complained my boob gets in the way, now it won’t. That’s why we decided I shouldn’t have reconstruction. He tells me it will take a warrior to beat cancer and get strong enough to compete again.”

    • Norah

      A deeply emotional piece, Susan, it brought tears to my eyes. She’s one courageous woman, he’s one brave man. Together they make a strong and wonderful couple.

      • susansleggs

        Thanks Norah

    • Jules

      To think positively on any count of surgery… I knew a woman who had some inside pieces removed, then an eye (both due to cancers) and lived into her 90’s!

      Great tale of courage and strength!

      • susansleggs

        Thanks Jules

    • Charli Mills

      The reading flash for dance went well and I enjoyed it. Aren’t those views of Lady Lake something through the trees? She’s a siren sometimes! I loved the character in your flash and how she and her husband handle her battle at hand with humor hope and competition.

  21. Frank Hubeny

    Wanda by Frank Hubeny

    Silvia walked into Benny’s Diner. Sharon told Benny to deal with her or she’d quit. Benny shuffled to the bar.

    “Morning, Silvia.”

    “I want a real waitress serving me.”

    Benny glanced at Sharon. “She’s busy.”

    “She’s just standing there.”

    “How about some pancakes?”

    “Are they gluten-free?”

    “You know they’re not.”

    Silvia ordered pancakes as usual. While she dripped corn syrup over margarine the dreaded alien invasion began. Silvia looked at Benny and Sharon. She ripped off her street clothes revealing her secret identity as Warrior Wanda. It was time to show these wretched Earthlings how high maintenance kicks butt.

    • Norah


      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you, Norah!

    • Jules

      Lot’s of them warrior women hiding in plain sight! Kudos to Silvia/Wanda!

      • Frank Hubeny

        She saved the day. Thank you, Jules!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! High maintenance is secret warrior training! Good one, Frank!

      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you, Charli!

  22. Kerry E.B. Black

    Charli, I’d love to present one of the books to my local libraries. Please let me know how to go about it.

    Here’s my flash.

    Worth the Frostbite
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Dyan wielded a pitchfork like a peasant soldier, lips pulled into a snarl. “Back off! You’re not hurting these kittens again.”

    The farmer whistled through his teeth. “Girl, are you daft? We’ve too many felines. Don’t need no more. ‘Sides, you’ll be needing some attention. Thrusting your hands into a frozen trough for a few useless kits was just plain dumb. You’ll be nursing frostbite.”

    She no longer felt her fingers, but she didn’t care. “You’re a cruel man.” She scooped the sack squirming with mewing kittens, sheltered them beneath her winter coat, and ran to the tack-room’s protection.

    • Liz H

      She’s MY kind of warrior woman. <3 <3

    • Charli Mills

      That would be great, Kerry! I’ll email you details. And your flash exemplifies an everyday warrior, standing up for those who have no chance on their own.

  23. robbiesinspiration

    This post is very inspirational, Charli. The idea of mixing flash fiction with dance is very unique. I hope your daughter’s surgery goes well – a worry for you.

    • Charli Mills

      Someone from the audience later told me she felt the flash connected her more to the storytelling element of each dance. And thank, you, she’ll be recovering and coming home next Thursday.

  24. Norah

    A very moving post, Charli, no pun intended. While there is mention of flash dance, the emotions, appreciation of and wonder in nature’s majesty run strong. You run strong, going from strength to strength. It seems there is no stopping you. I can only wish you a safe and prosperous journey. I wish your daughter well. May the results bring a prognosis with a solution, and may dance continue to be her art of choice.
    I’ve been back to read a few times now and am impressed, as is usual, with the quality and variety of stories submitted. This prompt obviously had great appeal to many. Your post had me rushing to Google for more information about many things, but I’ve stayed in my comfort zone and will post tomorrow.
    Best wishes with all your endeavours. N.x

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my response Gertrude the Invincible Thanks for the challenge.

    • Charli Mills

      Flash dance! That movie had slipped my mind, but I always loved the warrior-like vibe of “What a Feeling.” It was fun, our local flash dance. Like my fellow warriors, we are all using our strengths to move mountains and experience them. I loved your flash and the fiery warrior it led you too. It made me think of a wee Norah!

      • Norah

        I loved the movie Flash Dance too – made me want to get up at get at it, but I sat and got to it instead. 🙂
        Sometimes the tasks we warriors engage in do seem as difficult as moving mountains, or maybe pushing a boulder up one.
        I don’t know if wee Norah was ever like that. She probably would have loved to have been, but circumstances didn’t allow. However, a couple of young readheads in the next two generations definitely are or were and have more than made up for it. 🙂

  25. endlessramblingssite

    Hi Charli,
    Another brilliant prompt, I had fun with this one! Here is my offering to the melting pot. I hope you enjoy it.

    Battle Cry

    We will fight in the streets; we will fight in the boardrooms, the courts and the home. We will never surrender.
    We have lived under their rule for millennia. But nothing lasts forever.
    First we fought for the vote, then for the right to work. Now we fight for control over our bodies.
    So grab your weapons warrior women – the pen is mightier than the sword. The sword is a man’s weapon, a big steel dick. Look how much good it did them.
    And as we come to conquer the world they will fear our battle cry:
    “Me too.”

    • Jules

      Ya know guys are good for many things. My hubby says I keep him around to parallel park the car and change light bulbs…

      I just wonder how the whole inequality stuff started? Anyway-
      equality should be for everyone. ‘Endless’ for us all. Thanks for bringing in current events.

      • endlessramblingssite

        My current working theory is that men realised women actually hold the power, but we needn’t get into that now.
        Thanks for the feedback, it was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the prompt.

      • Jules

        Always go with where the prompt takes you. My hubby says that there should always be the same to words to end a couples argument and they are; “Yes, dear.”

        I’ve two sons… and together I hope the hub and I have taught them to respect everyone. Cheers! And continued success and since I’m not sure that I’ve seen you at the Ranch before so in caps as for hurrah (not shouting) WELCOME!

      • endlessramblingssite

        Thanks for the welcome. I’ve been following them for a while but only started posting last week. I’ve only recently discovered the joys of flash fiction.

  26. Aweni

    As always another educative and enlightening post????????????. What would we do without you????.
    I hope you had a good break Charli. Welcome back.

    My take on this week’s challenge is

    • Miriam Hurdle

      The brave warrior women in:

      War Zone

      “Good morning, Lieutenant? You’ve slept for three days.”
      “Where am I? My legs? I can’t feel anything.”
      “They found you after the bombing. You’re alive.”
      “Sheila, we need you. The Captain is hurt.”
      “Right over, Ursula.”
      “The blood is gushing out from his chest.”
      “Roll up the sheet to put pressure on it. Give him porphin.”
      “Sheila, more stretches are in. We have no beds.”
      “Clear up all the tables.”
      “Sheila, here. Private got shot through the elbow.”
      “I’ll prepare to cut his forearm. Bring me the equipment.”
      “Sheila, over there.”
      “Captain needs a blood transfusion.”
      “I’ll be there.”

  27. Nicole

    The grandfathers were whalers, and according to historians, they were yeoman farmers. I wonder, what were the grandmothers doing?  And how were the grandfathers, out at sea harpooning whales, managing their farms?  Rebecca Corson, one of the grandmothers, is said to have fired a cannon scaring off the British as they approached shore during the revolutionary war.  My guess would be that the women were spending less time on widow walks wringing their hands watching for the whalers to return than they spent in the fields tilling, in the woods hunting, and behind the cannon doing what they must.

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks for sharing the prompt!

  29. Charli Mills


  30. Liz H

    It takes only a moment in the sun to break through…beautiful and vividly poetic!


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