June 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

June 8, 2018

It’s black as a mineshaft outside and somthing thuds and scratches at the window. I suspect a bat is feeding on insects drawn to the light I’m still burning. Try as I might to see the nocturnal creatures, I can only discern the sound.

In a way, there’s comfort in knowing I’m not up alone while the rest of the house slumbers. One dog kicks in his sleep, another snores and the cat nose-whistles. The third dog is silent like a youthful sleeper.

None wait up to catch a glimpse of bats with me.

I wonder if the mythology of security, the tale we believe that we can conquer change — look younger! erase wrinkles! defy gravity and time! — is why changes unnerve people. Are we all unnerved or do we each have our own tender spots?

When I was still in my 20s, but mum to three active toddlers, I grew excited to show them the monkey bars on the playground. We had recently moved from a logging town in central Montana to a small town halfway between Helena and Butte. Out west, it seems, we always lived in the shadow of mining country.

This new town had a small school with a playground, and our new place was a walk away. The monkey bars were just like the ones I used to do cherry drops from as a fifth-grader. From a seated position, I’d drop between the bars and swing upside down.

I had no intention of teaching my five, four and two-year-old such a thing, but I wanted to show off my prowess in skipping bars. I swung out from the first bar, skipped the second and while reaching for the third, I crashed to the ground.

My one arm protested that I was no longer a school girl and I sat dazed wondering how I could be so changed at such a young age yet. My children swarmed me like puppies do when you sit among a litter and soon I was giggling and telling them not to skip bars like mumsie.

Life is a series of accidents, happy or not. We do our best to steer the course, stay on track, but changes happen, and we have to set new courses or change our ways to accommodate a loss of strength, memory, or status. Change can be frightening.

And yet — some embrace changes as if that is the answer. Why wait for wrinkles when you can bask in the sun and paddle a board to get them early? Why wear what your father did when you can adopt something more like what your mother wore? Change also offers new experiences.

Last Friday, as I stood in the shadows, watching a pack of warrior women dance their myths out, stomp them into the ground and claim their power through movement and music, I noticed some of the men, too. It all began with glitter that evening.

As part of the show, reading my set of flash fiction to introduce each dance, I went to the studio with the dancers and read over my stories while they donned stage make-up. For the uninitiated, stage makeup looks daunting. It’s dark, heavy and not attractive close-up. But on stage, it catches the right contours and colors.

The ritual includes glitter. Lots of it — purple glitter, green glitter, silver glitter and gold glitter. My daughter smeared white glitter across my eyes, and I felt dancified. It was electrifying to wear the glitter. A man walked in — my SIL and the show’s MC and all heads turned. Glitter?

Solar Man is not one to fear change. He’s not threatened by a pack of dancers slinking toward him with wands of glitter poised. They all eyed his beard. He rubbed it, stroked his red tie, touched each cufflink and declared he’d only wear gold glitter in his beard. The moment passed — of all the colors, no one had gold with them.

We traveled to the performance venue and secured the dressing room. And lo and behold, a warrior found gold glitter. Soon the cameraman expressed interest and he be-glittered his blond beard. What happened next made me chuckle all evening. Other men took offense! The crowd accepted warrior women, but man glisten? No way!

Like twittering stereotypical old wives, the men chastized the glitter beards, stating it would cause regret, that the glitter would never disappear. At that comment, the scientists in the group acknowledged that glitter does not ever break down fully and pollutes the Great Lakes with other micro-plastics.

However, it did not discourage the newborn pride of glitter beards.

Bats hunt bugs, and likely always will. But men will evolve and accept the softer side of themselves.

June 7, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about man glisten. It was a fun term coined by two men with glitter in their beards. What more could it embrace? Look to the unexpected and embrace a playful approach. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by June 12, 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.

Photo credit Robin Mueller 2018

Masks of Man Glisten by Charli Mills

Deep in the shafts of Mohawk Mine, men pounded steel to separate native copper from white quartz. Candlelight from helmets of miners caught flickers of dust. Mohawkite glittered in dim beams. At the end of shift, the men piled onto trams, hoisted back to daylight of long summer evenings and clean women waiting with baskets of fried chicken and Chassell Farm strawberries. Daughters and sons skipped to their dads, uncertain which belonged to them. Tired, blinking in the bright sun, masks of man glisten mined below the level of hell made them look alike.

Sparkle, sparkle hard rock miners.

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139 Comments

  1. Norah

    What a fun and interesting post, Charli. I had hoped the photo to be a video that included you.
    It can take a brave man to step outside the norm and add glitter, or dye as Geoff does, to a beard. We women seem to enjoy experimenting with different things to beautify our bodies and change our looks. I often wonder that men dressed up can all look the same, but if two women were seen together in similar outfits – oh my! It did happen to me once at an event. I simply told the other woman that she had good taste. Then she congratulated me on mine. 🙂
    I had to look up Mohawkite. How fascinating – only found on your Keweenaw Peninsula. I thought your flash was clever, I hadn’t realised how much. I can see how fragments would make the men glisten and the overall dust make each difficult to distinguish from the others. I like that you help me learn “new” information, and the way you lead us so well into the history of your area.

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my story about Glitter Smiles Glisten. I hope you like it. https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-1af

  2. ellenbest24

    And why shouldn’t they have a bit of sparkle. Long ago gold miners probably longed to see some in their hands. Great response to the prompt Charli. Just what the husband could do with I think … *rushes to purchase beard glitter* ????????

    • Liz H

      Awww!

  3. floridaborne

    Loved this challenge!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      The man may have glistened but doesn’t come out so well as others in the responses. Fun take.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

        It was a lot of fun to write.

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    I was on the edge of my seat nervous reading about change. This post went where I did not expect it to go! I guess one thing that is slow to change is the reaction of some men to the unexpected unaccepted glistening of others.
    glisten my children and you shall hear
    of changed acceptance of all held dear…

  5. Jules

    Charli,

    What a wonderful post. It takes a brave man, either a miner or even a gentle man to sparkle! I have to go back to last week to see the links…

    I hope all is going well with you and yours – I’ve got my 99 word post ready with an extension… Please enjoy some innocence here:

    Educational Enigma?

    “Mommy why doesn’t Papa man glisten?” Adrianna asked her mother.

    At the cliff’s edge, Stan had wanted to clear the debris by their home by
    the lake. He’d at least asked Junior to go with him. Joan wasn’t sure
    that father and son had enough engineering genes between them both
    to change a light bulb. Joan was curious as to what Adrianna was getting
    at. “What do you mean, honey?”

    “Well,” the five year old daughter proclaimed as if she knew all the
    secrets of the world,“Teacher said most animals, the boys are show-offs,
    like the peacock bird.”

    99 words ends here, but The story continues…
    . Here

    ©JP/dh

  6. pensitivity101

    Here’s mine Charli.

    She sat on his knee as she’d always done, waiting for him to begin telling a story.
    He faltered, looking into those big hazel flecked saucers, feeling lost, overwhelmed, inadequate, and extremely blessed.
    How many more evenings would they share? He was old and tired, time was precious.
    She looked at him quizzically, touched a finger to the jewel glistening on his leathery cheek.
    ‘Granpa?’ she said, ‘Why are you crying?’
    He smiled, taking her tiny hand in his liver-spotted and gnarled one, slowly raising it to his lips.
    ‘They’re not tears, sweetheart. They are the Diamonds of Love.’

    • calmkate

      delightfully tender story!

      • calmkate

        my pleasure

    • Michael

      Lovely Di.

      • pensitivity101

        Good morning/evening Michael. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      • Michael

        It’s evening Di. Have a good day ????

      • pensitivity101

        Thank you so much.

    • susansleggs

      Their age difference so easy to see in so few words. Well done. Grandchildren are indeed a blessing.

    • H.R.R. Gorman

      So sweet and sad!

      • pensitivity101

        Hopefully Granpa had a few more stories to tell first.

  7. denmaniacs4

    All-Inclusive

    “Move over,” she directs. I have no objection, so we shift our baking bodies inches deeper into the shade of the giant parasol. Temporarily reprieved from the ferocity of the Varadero sun, she points to the apparition.

    “Italian, maybe?”

    “Not American, that’s for sure,” I opine, adding, “stupid embargo…”

    “He’s not alone.”

    A sleek cinder-burnt woman in a leopard bikini joins him. His leopard briefs are band-aid thin. His body, muscular, with just a hint of paunch, is a Vaseline vision.

    “Envious?” she prods.

    “If I was an oil spill, maybe. Do you want another Havana Loco?”

    “Hmm, yes.”

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Oh, good lord, they have matching leopard bikinis?

      • denmaniacs4

        They do…

    • Liz H

      Uffda…can not be unseen! Lol!!

      • denmaniacs4

        And for that I truly apologize…but, as they sometimes say, been there, continue to do that…

      • Liz H

        (Laughs) I’m with ya there…

    • denmaniacs4

      Truth and fiction…both poking “a hole in the darkness.” Love the flash and the story that inspired it.

    • Liz H

      Wonderful post!

    • calmkate

      lol nice twist, fencing 🙂

      • mrmacrum

        Thanks. The obvious just wouldn’t do. Had to try and twist it up some.

      • calmkate

        lol had me sucked in 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      There are some things a married couple should not do together. Setting posts is one of them.

      • mrmacrum

        I’ve found over the years many things a married couple should avoid.

    • H.R.R. Gorman

      Nice angle with the sweat as glisten, too!

      • mrmacrum

        When I first heard “women don’t sweat they glow” many years ago, I always thought there had to be a comeback up to the task. Charli provided it with man glisten. So ladies, right back atcha.

  8. Pete

    The ogre woke to fairies jumping on his bed. Pink tutus and wings flapping, giggles, pixie dust dancing in the morning sunlight.

    “Get up. We made tea.”

    With a grunt, the ogre shuffled to the kitchen.

    “One or two sugars, Daddy?”

    “Make it a double.”

    Two pinches of glitter. The ogre slogged down his tea, wiped his mouth, a rare smile cracking the cast of worry on his face.

    Knock. Knock.

    The fairies flitted. “Mom’s here.”

    The ogre started for the fairies’ bags. The smaller fairy took his hand. “Do you want my wings?”

    The ogre nodded. “Of course.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Shared custody. Did the mom name him? Glad he had some magical time with his daughters.

      • Pete

        Ha, no, I was just trying to make him gruff. I haven’t been writing that much lately and it was great to just dive in here. Good to “see” everybody!

    • Liz H

      Morning tea and double sugars–magic potion indeed!

  9. Frank Hubeny

    Man Glisten by Frank Hubeny

    Peter’s daughter laughed. She could see the glitter in his hair. Not much, but enough to sparkle.

    “You still got it!” She said.

    “You gave it to me,” Peter responded.

    “You’re glis…glistening?”

    “Yeah. I’m glad you let me glisten for a while.”

    Peter really was glad. It was not easy for her to throw that glitter on him last week. She showed unexpected initiative. In case showering removed too much of it, he retouched his hair to make sure she would see some before he guided her wheelchair to the kitchen table for breakfast.

    What a sparkling day!

    • Jules

      Reminds me of a story I’ve read of a couple – one didn’t get old – the spouse tried to hide aging by dying their hair…

      I like happy endings too.

      • Frank Hubeny

        Happy endings are nice. The best kind. Thank you, Jules!

    • Michael

      Lovely response Frank.

      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you, Michael!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Oh he’s a good glistener all right. Nice.

      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you!

    • susansleggs

      What a parent won’t do to show love for their child. Well done.

      • Frank Hubeny

        Yes, that is how I hope it should be. Thank you, Susan!

    • Liz H

      Sweet and touching. <3

      • Frank Hubeny

        Thank you, Liz!

      • Michael

        Thanks so much.

    • susansleggs

      The inner heart, so much more important than looks. I like your humble man.

      • Michael

        Thanks so much Susan

    • Liz H

      The glisten of good deeds and a little faith…

      • Michael

        Yes indeed Liz, thanks for stopping by.

    • Jules

      So often we do not see out own glow when we do well… nice that others recognized your hero’s efforts.

  10. Juliet

    Hi All,
    Great post, Charli. I love the fact that the men put glitter in their beards. My brother-in-law dyed his beard pink last year and he looked fabulous. My little offering this week is about a different type of glistening. This is my Hubby’s true story. From couch potato to accomplished triathlete in ten tough but wonderful years…

    Metallic Man

    The tiny drops of water clung to his broad shoulders like sequins, sparkling in the hot summer sun. Some fell to the ground, others were blown dry as he sprinted from the beach to the bike park.

    His eyes scanned the dozens of lanes, searching for his space-age contraption, the one he would crouch over for the next five hours, pedalling for his life.

    Then would come the marathon, where more pearls of sweat would bejewel his pounding body – this body he had transformed from a large white lump of lard to a lean, tanned, glistening piece of Iron.

    • susansleggs

      Inspiring story. Thanks for sharing.

      • Juliet

        Thanks!

    • Liz H

      What a hunk! And you, the fortunate and patient spouse. Good on the both of you! 🙂

      • Juliet

        He is now a hunk, Liz. The transformation is extraordinary. Fortunate? Yes, and no (lots of hours spent alone during training). Patient? Definitely!

      • Liz H

        Sometimes it takes awhile for the outside to match the spirit within. 😉

    • mrmacrum

      Seeing more and more Mr Mom’s than when I was a youngster. But I tell you what, he’s only got one kid in diapers if he actually knows how many diapers he has changed.

      Nicely done.

      • calmkate

        lol exactly … my brother brought up his first two but chose to return to work with the third … it’s good men have more choices

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I like how comfortable this guy is with himself. Macho does not equal manhood.

      • calmkate

        yes good point … I often equate macho with misogyny … manhood is being comfortable with who they are

    • Liz H

      Takes a special kind of man to get the ball rolling!

      • calmkate

        indeed and he is very comfortable in his own skin … as we all should be 🙂

  11. The Haunted Wordsmith

    The Roughneck

    For twelve weeks at a time, Buck was a roughneck on an off-shore drilling rig. The men were men and that’s the way they liked it. Leathered skin, often covered in dirt and sweat, only amplified his ruggedness and no one could take a punch like Buck. His beard made him look like he just walked out of a Jack London story of the North.

    Daisy squealed as Missy opened the playroom door. “Daddy funny!”

    Missy couldn’t help but laugh at Buck sitting on his knees, at a tea party, wearing pink fairy wings, with glitter in his beard.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      He’s a good daddy. A scary fairy maybe, but a good daddy.

  12. reading journeys

    Hi Charlie — I enjoyed reading your story.
    I write summaries of SF & Fantasy stories. The FF prompt & 99-word response will be of great help to me. Here’s my FF response to “Man Glisten”:

    The Explorer rafts came swiftly around the bend of the roaring and thunderous Kemper River. Jeff was in the leading solo raft. The old broken bridge had finally collapsed into the torrential waters. Before he could react, an unexpected surge threw Jeff into the churning foaming river. Valerie and Jody rafted furiously towards the right bank, staying close to the man glisten and perilous in the relentless rush of waters. The other Explorer rafts plunged up and down, fighting the downstream surge to form a barrier across the river. Strong hands pulled the man glisten from the raging waters.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Welcome aboard. Yep, you will enjoy 99 words. (No one else will warn you, but I will: Beware, 99 word flash fiction is habit forming!)

    • Jules

      Welcome! Riveting story of rescue! Cheers!

  13. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Pride

    William, reaching for his tuxedo, wondered why, of all the birds in the world, men emulate penguins when they dress up. His eyes hungrily took in the myriad colors and his hands explored the many textures of his wife’s clothes. The teal feathered boa from the masquerade ball complemented her sequin shawl that he had draped over his shoulders. He marveled at how both sparkled, the colors shimmering. Emerging proud as a peacock from the walk-in closet, William joined his wife, still pruning and preening at her vanity mirror. Her eyes glistened as he reached for her eyeliner.

  14. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Choosing

    Both were tall, strong, good looking. Both had good prospects. Both were getting frustrated over her reluctance to choose.
    Wade finally confronted Emerson, demanding they fight each other like men. He demanded this despite her protests for him to stop.
    “It’s the only way!” he insisted. “Best man wins!” A crowd gathered around what was sure to be a close and brutal match.
    Emerson refused to fight Wade, said he wouldn’t treat her like a prize purse. He turned and walked away. She caught up. When his eyes glistened with happiness she knew she had chosen the right man.

    • susansleggs

      Seems Emerson knew it was her decision and he won. I like the way he thinks.

  15. susansleggs

    Great post Charli, Change is indeed scary at times but I admire a man who isn’t afraid to show his softer side.

    Daddy Can Dance—–BOTS

    Two years after a bad motorcycle accident, Carl was the only father at the Kindergarten Father/Daughter dance in a wheelchair. He had trouble keeping track of Katie in the crowd but he came home with a feeling of exhilaration.

    His wife smiled at the glitter on his suit. “How did you get covered?”

    “Lots of Katie’s friends wanted a ride on my lap and they had on sparkly dresses.”

    “Pretty, but I’ll never get it all out.”

    “That’s fine, every time it glistens I’ll celebrate being alive, and remember twirling with Katie and her friends.”

    “Well said my love.”

    • Liz H

      Love this upbeat take on the prompt!

    • Jules

      Love makes the world glitter!

    • Jules

      Yes, men can dance!

  16. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    For our Bearded Buckaroo Bards

    “Men listen? They ain’t great listeners Pal.”
    “Not like you.”
    “Huh?”
    “Shorty said ‘man glisten’ Kid.”
    “What’s that?”
    “Could be glitter in a beard or jist bein’ okay with glitter in a beard.”
    “Huh. Well, is it okay? Ain’t ranchin’ cowboy types s’posed ta be rough an’ tough? Buckaroo Nation women are all warriors. Are all the men here good looking?”
    “That’s Lake Woebegone. Here men look good if they know when ta hold ‘em an’ know when ta fold ‘em, know that it ain’t weak ta turn the other cheek.”
    “An’ if their cheeks are glittered, they’re golden.”

    • Jules

      Buckaroos Bards – I like that!
      Yep we got room for all Bards.

  17. Annecdotist

    Glad you all had fun, Charli. I still agree it’s a positive development for men to be more comfortable decorating themselves. But I wonder if it’s also becoming less acceptable for women – especially young women – to opt out?

    I struggled with this particular product, so I’ve resurrected a character who would also struggle with the phenomenon. Brought to you with another – extremely lengthy, so I’m exhausted! – fictional psychoanalyst.

    Psychoanalysis, friendship and failure: Jott by Sam Thompson http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2018/06/psychoanalysis-friendship-and-failure-jott-by-sam-thompson.html

    • Liz H

      Love it! You’ve gotta put on a little glitter if you’re going to work on the Ward—makes for the best nurses and attendants.

    • papershots

      moving <3

      • Liz H

        Thanks!

    • papershots

      haha… you should all read this one! haha 🙂

      • anuragbakhshi

        Ha ha ha. Thank you

    • Liz H

      Slurrrrp!!

    • Jules

      Always a fun turn of the spit – you are saucy with words 😉

      • anuragbakhshi

        Ha ha ha. Thank you so much Jules.

  18. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    I’ve been so busy of late as I am job hunting so I’m glad I managed to join in this week. This was fun! x

    • Sherri Matthews

      All the best with your job hunting Marje xxx

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Not doing too well on that front Sherri. Will keep on trying. Xxx

      • Sherri Matthews

        Oh no, so sorry to hear that Marje. Keep trying and all the best for the right job at the right time and a big hug from me in the meantime xxx

  19. paulamoyer

    Great post, Charli! Brave Solar Man with the glitter! Here’s mine for the week: https://paulajmoyerwrites.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/hair-skin-sun/

    Hair, Skin, Sun

    By Paula Moyer

    Jean and Steve did summer weekends at Mille Lacs – that gigantic, shallow inland lake, smack in the middle of Minnesota. Swimming off the pier was a near-sunset event for Steve. Jean often looked at him and marveled. We’re both “white,” she thought, but Steve? Seriously white.

    That evening he lathered up in sunscreen, slid off the pier and floated, belly up.

    His chest hair was so thick that sunlight glistened jewel-like on the strands and then refracted when bouncing against his wet, shiny skin. Sunrays danced against Steve’s chest, a giant iridescent opal, resting displayed on satin Mille Lacs.

    • Liz H

      Oh my…I think I was married to him, once upon a time.
      Blindingly vivid, Paula!!

  20. notyouraveragemomblogweb

    I thought of man glisten and pictured a sexy man getting out of water where the water glistens on his skin in the sun light. Here is my flash for this week.

    Secret Love

    At ripe old age of 99, all Sarah could remember of her true love was the way his skin glistened in the sun every time he got out of the water that summer.

    No one ever knew about their secret love affair. They had been so careful. Most of their encounters were at an abandoned part of the river. That summer, they let their bodies intertwine beneath the surface.

    To this day, no one knew that her daughter’s father wasn’t her husband.

    She could only remember the way his skin glistened in the sun,but that was enough.

    https://notyouraveragemomblogweb.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/flash-fiction-secret-love/

  21. Sherri Matthews

    Love your flash Charli and I can tell you hubby would be proud to wear gold glitter in his beard 🙂 Not sure about my flash though, hope it conveys what I want it to. So glad you got to glitter up and enjoy the show! Love the story of the parallel bars, not for your fall – ouch! – but for your darling ‘puppies’ all over you. Beautiful. As for change, as they say, it’s here to stay 😉 <3

    Magic In The Air

    Rumours of the old man living in the woods ran rife through the village, but nobody had ever seen him. Tim, determined to prove his existence, donned binoculars and strode out towards the abandoned house in the woods. Hours later, Tim’s flagging excitement surged when he saw a man walking towards him. The man wore a black cloak with a hood over his black hair, but his white beard, glistened in the sunlight. Tim gasped and the man smiled. “I’m not who you think I am son, but if it’s magic you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.”

    • Liz H

      Cool! Kinda disappointed that it ends right there, though. 😉

      • Sherri Matthews

        Oh thank you Liz, I take that as a compliment, especially since I would like to know where it might take us too… 😉

      • Liz H

        ’twas definitely meant as a compliment!

    • Jules

      Magic is always good in my book!

      • Sherri Matthews

        I sat down to write this flash and the white glistening beard in the late afternoon sun spoke magic to me. Glad it did for you too, thank you much Jules! xo

  22. Sherri Matthews

    PS Hi again Charli, can you take the comma out after ‘beard’. I thought I had removed it, but evidently not…arrrgh!!! Thank you!!!! <3

  23. susansleggs

    Your flash was poignant and true. It doesn’t get easier, we just learn to deal with it better. Anniversary dates are tough.

  24. Liz H

    Oi!~Freddie was a horrow show, but your poem was superb!

  25. Liz H

    **horror**

  26. Liz H

    Gotta have something for the moms…

  27. Jules

    Progress… doesn’t always glisten. 🙂

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  17. Man Glisten (99 words – Flash Fiction) – The Memory Cellar - […] If you want to participate, here is the link: https://carrotranch.com/2018/06/08/june-7-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  18. Glistening Hope – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge – syncwithdeep - […] Linking up with Flash Fiction Challenge June 7, 2018 […]
  19. After the Adventure | Wallie's Wentletrap - […] in response to Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Check it […]
  20. 4 Flash Fiction Challenges: 99 Word Prompts – Carrot Ranch Literary Community « culturevultureexpress - […] https://carrotranch.com/2018/06/08/june-7-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]

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