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June 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

White hedgerow roses bloom on the corner of Ethel and Roberts Streets. With each pass, I wonder at their fragrance and details — are they white or tinged with a subtle color the way prehnite covers a gray rock of basalt with a sea-green glow when wet?

I’m breathing deep of the crisp air and watering my daughter’s garden which rises and blooms with purpose. She’s planted alternating heights, textures, and colors, timing the blooms, so there are buds to watch when spent petals fade and drop. It rarely gets hot in the Keweenaw, but if it doesn’t often rain the sandy soil quickly dries.

My 85-year-old neighbor, Mrs. H, watches me water the flagging yellow lilies and explosion of purple allium. I’m curious about a thicker and bigger bulb that’s not yet ready to reveal it’s color. It continues to grow, and its bud reminds me of a green coxcomb. I smile and wave to Mrs. H. She returns the smile and walks over to me.

“Winter’s coming, hey,” she says.

At first, I think she’s alluding to the nip in the near-summer air or the smear of gray rainless clouds overhead. But she means something more — when you live in a remote region with Lake Superior’s micro-climate that dumps an average of 300 inches of snow a year, you have winter and preparing for winter.

Winter’s coming, hey. It’s more profound than planning for next round of snow. It has to do with seizing the moment, savoring the bounce of bumble-bees, and seeking agates under every rock on McLain Beach. The time is now. Stop and smell the roses for winter is coming and you need to populate your senses with a full bouquet.

Watering, I know each bloom will pass so I’m mindful of each moment — gauging its height, noting changes in shapes, and admiring deepening shades of hues. I’m more attentive to the differences. I let Mrs. H know I’ve noticed her hedgerow flowers blooming. Her light blue eyes widen.

“They must have just bloomed,” she says.

Daily, Mrs. H circles her property. She pauses at the forget-me-knots and points to the Columbine. No matter where she walks, tiny white English daisies carpet all our lawns on the block. At night, the flowers tighten and reveal a hot-pink undercoat. I remark that I’ve never lived in a place like this where flowers bloom from snowmelt to snowfall.

Mrs. H nods and says people never had lawns. Everyone had flowers! What I see all around me when I walk the neighborhood or woods where farms and houses once stood during the mining heydays reflects abandoned yards of flowers. Historically, this amazes me the same way old stone foundations do — someone once lived here.

I turn the spray to the phlox to water this brilliant scrub of bubblegum-pink flowers. Mrs. H tells me phlox are her favorite. Her grandmother’s yard was full of phlox. I try to imagine the lawns gone and replaced with clumps of phlox and daisies. I can even see Mrs. H as a little girl trailing behind her grandmother.

These flashes of images come to me like a bouquet of emotion. I pick out each flower, each feeling to capture the scene. Often a story begins in sensory distortion until I can define what it is about. I’ll file away such scenes in my mind’s cabinet box and when I’m writing fiction, access it to use its color, scent, and feel. This is part of filling the well, catching stories for later use, like collecting herbals for dyes and healing teas.

Mrs. H leaves me to water, and I mull over the paperwork for the Hub and think of how healing this garden will be for my daughter when she returns home from surgery at the Mayo. A part of my whirring mind urges me to quit dallying around — so much to do, so behind, so much worry, so many unknowns. That’s like anticipating snow shoveling instead of experiencing how big the begonia buds are today.

Winter’s coming, hey. I’ll fill my mind with petunias and possibilities before returning to the tasks and trade. I’ll focus on what I love about literary art and branding and community and serendipity. I’ll chase down flowers in the woods and rocks on the beach. I’ll catch all the stories I can and finish the ones I can tame.

Before I go inside, Mrs. H returns with white hedgerow roses and blue forget-me-nots clasped in her thin and papery hand. She shares with me the day’s bounty. We meet in this moment, and time spins around us — she is at once a girl and a wise woman to me. She’s ageless as she passes the gift. One her grandmother once bestowed upon her.

June 14, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the meaning of the word or gather a bunch of flowers. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by June 19, 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.

Submissions closed. Find our most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.

A Mother’s Bouquet (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“Mama, flowers!” Lizzie stumbled through the cabin door, dropping her bouquet of Black-eyed Susans.

Sarah cringed as Lizzie wailed, wanting to escape the chores Mary gave her.  Lizzie’s brothers rushed in to help gather their sister’s spilled flowers.

Monroe calmed Lizzie while Jules and Cling gathered her bouquet, handing it back. Lizzie sniffled. Mary knelt with Baby Charles on her hip, and Lizzie thrust the flowers to her mother. “They are beautiful, Lizzie.”

Sarah’s heart ached for a little girl to gather a bouquet for her.  But she left her daughter in the grave in back in North Carolina.


  1. (Ouch. I have yet to get out to smell the summer flowers and ya have winter in the air.)
    Just keep chasing rocks and flowers, Ms. Mills, take care of you. You are where you are and you are doing great there. Just ask those flowers you’re tending. Seems like you’re picking up some good people too. Enjoy the bounty of your neighborhood, your well.
    Thanks for the prompt!

    • Charli Mills says:

      “Winter’s coming, hey” is the Keweenaw version of living mindfully with urgency! Taking care of business and flowers. You get out to smelling yours soon as you can, D.!

  2. […] Flash Fiction Challenge June 14 […]

  3. “Pal! Where’s Shorty at?”
    “Whoa, Kid, what’s wrong?”
    “The ranch hands! They’s all off in the upper meadows an’ in the woods sniffin’ flowers an’ makin’ daisy chains.”
    “So?! They should be makin’ hay, not pickin’ flowers! We gotta be makin’ hay; sowin’ an’ reapin’. Git ready fer winter. Where’s Shorty?”
    “Kid, whyn’t you relax, go sniff some flowers yerself?”
    “Cain’t, no time, gotta replenish the carrot bin, git hay inta the barn. Winter’s comin’. Where’s Shorty?”
    “Kid, go back ta the meadow. Shorty’s there gatherin’ flowers.”
    “Fuel fer the soul, Kid. Important work, time well spent.”

  4. Here’s mine Charli:

    With Love

    Her hands were bloody and dirty, nails broken and uneven.
    But the smile was a full one thousand watts as she handed the bouquet to me.
    ‘From the garden’ she announced proudly.
    ‘I picked them myself, just for you. Sorry they’re a bit untidy and not tied with a fancy ribbon, but I wanted you to have them.’
    Mr Robbins looked over at me and smiled sadly.
    They were actually his roses, from his garden, but Gran didn’t realise that.
    Gone were the days when she tended her own flower beds, but no doubt the memories were still there.

  5. […] Source: June 14: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  6. janmalique says:

    A beautiful post and prompt Charli. The glory of flowers, of any type, filled the heart and senses with their presence. Hopefully post my offering this weekend.

  7. I was inspired quickly this week!

    ~~The Smart Home~~ (This will go up on my blog Sunday!)

    Master Ellen left me in my own devices every morning, heading off to work while I – her Smart Home – tended to her domestic needs.  She returned every evening with a smile and a ‘thank you.’

    A man, I’ll call him ‘Asshole,’ showed up at me with a bouquet.  She let him in with his dirty shoes every time he arrived with flowers. 

    My gardening protocols kicked into overdrive.  I grew flowers and made arrangements, leaving them at my door.  She cared for my creations.

    Eventually, Asshole returned.  “Thank you for all the bouquets!”

    He stepped back.  “It wasn’t me.”

  8. […] Carrot Ranch : Bouquet June 14, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the meaning of the word or gather a bunch of flowers. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by June 19, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. […]

  9. […] Carrot Ranch June 14 Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  10. Jules says:

    Summer hasn’t even started and “Winter’s coming hey…” Esh!
    But yep when the solstice arrives the day’s will be getting shorter.
    Just keep filling yours with joy!

    We need to appreciate the gifts youth can bring – even when those little fingers want to escape work. We can take a lesson in that – be in the present.
    And untie the ribbons of each and every floral petal. 🙂

    I went with something that caught my eye in the news this morning. People taking the time to do good. That is a treasure filled bouquet. Link to the news story is at my blog.

    Bundled Batch

    It was a cardboard bouquet – with sweet aroma of warm food.
    The people in the back of truck though they were in the middle
    of a fairy tale.

    They were aliens… unknowns. Some were whisked away by
    princes who worked in the medical fields. But most were left
    with just some cool air and water. The stranger on the white
    horse galloped, after work and hearing their plight on the news
    – to the local pizzeria and just bought them a meal. Just
    because he didn’t know when they had eaten last. Could this
    temporary happy ending continue to last?


    • Norah says:

      People taking time to do good is indeed a treasure-filled bouquet, Jules. Let’s grow those bouquets.

    • Charli Mills says:

      This year, I’m celebrating the solstice with a midsummer Finnish bonfire on Agate Beach near Toivola, MI (about 20 miles away). I’m excited to see such a huge bonfire on the shores of Lady Lake. Especially on a beach called “agate”! I love your advice to appreciate all the little gifts we receive daily and “untie the ribbons of each and every floral petal.” Yes! And what a beautiful story to capture in a flash fiction — a bouquet of good deeds.

    • Jules says:

      Just noticed that ‘though’ in the first line should be ‘thought’
      “The people in the back of truck thought… ”
      Maybe there’ll be a fix or not… But I fixed my blog post.

    • Liz H says:

      We can only hope, and sow our own seeds. Well done, Jules!

  11. Here’s my take on the prompt:

    Happy reading! 😀

  12. Liz H says:

    “Winter’s coming, hey. I’ll fill my mind with petunias and possibilities…”
    My new mantra–love this! <3 <3

  13. Annecdotist says:

    I love your flash, Charli, so poignant. And awareness of impending winter – real or metaphorical – while living well in the present is important for us all.
    I need a bit more headspace before I can come back with my contribution.

  14. Whew! I’ve missed you guys! I’m ready to write some flash fiction! WOO HOO! <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      Woo Hoo! Welcome back, Fairy Cowgirl! Hope you had a fine vacation and have lots of fresh ideas to write!

      • Oh, yes! Wait until you see. My new book comes out on Thursday. I have a special dedication to you in the acknowledgements. I love this flash fiction challenge. My writing has bloomed. Thanks for that. <3

  15. floridaborne says:

    She stared at the bouquet of long-stemmed yellow roses, tears streaming.

    The best florist in town, the baby breath arranged perfectly in a cut crystal vase, his intentions unmistakable, she opened the embossed envelope and read the gold lettering on an elegant card, “You were right.”

    Yesterday, they’d argued about his late nights at work, and excessive spending. She’d accused him of having an affair.

    She’d once quipped, “If you want a divorce, just send me a dozen yellow roses.”

    He knew she hated that color. He didn’t know she was pregnant.

    He’d learn to hate child support more.

  16. Hi Charli,
    A great post! So much wisdom in a few words:”Winter is coming, hey!”. A time and season for all things.
    I enjoy reading poetry. And your post reminded me of Robert Frost’s poems. Here’s a few lines from “Putting in the Seed” (1920) (or you could say “springtime is coming, hey!”!):

    “… If I can leave off burying the white
    Soft petals fallen from the apple tree.
    (Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,
    Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;)…”
    (The poem is online at Academy of American Poets website, and is in the public domain).

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, Robert Frost has such a way of slowing down and savoring the full richness of the moment it takes for an apple blossom petal to fall. Thank you for sharing how poetry expresses the time and season of all things!

  17. Frank Hubeny says:

    Lovely description of Mrs H. The desire for flowers more than lawn helped inspire the following story.

    Finally Blooming by Frank Hubeny

    That was the spring Alice turned the lawn into a big bouquet of flowers. It surprised Joe but looking at her face looking at the former lawn with a gentle smile she rarely showed him anymore made him grateful.

    The neighborhood wives thought her odd for years. Her newfound gardening energy did not impress them. Alice’s view of them wasn’t pretty either.

    That winter Alice died.

    Joe kept her bouquet of former lawn going for the next decade as long as his life allowed. He received help especially towards the end and gifts of plants from the neighborhood wives.

  18. JEN Garrett says:

    Some Great flash fiction here! I’ve written a few super short stories, but never with the emotional depth that these stories have. So, sorry for commenting without an entry, but I just had to say Good Job, Writers!

    • Norah says:

      You’ve still got a few days to join in, JEN. You never know what you may write until you try. Carrot Ranch welcomes all writers regardless of emotional depth. 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks for commenting, Jen! Actually, we are a literary community and there are three pillars of literature — reading, writing, and discourse. We appreciate your engagement no matter how it inspires you to respond!

  19. denmaniacs4 says:

    A Posey Mosey

    He thinks, “I could do better.”

    She thinks, “I don’t require much. Just a sense that I am thought of, some gesture.”

    And he thinks, “I’ve missed so many opportunities. I really am a slouch.”

    And she muses, “Yes, you are, but that comes as no surprize.”

    And he wonders, “Do I offer no surprises, anymore? Was it always so?”

    She doesn’t hold back. “You’ve always been fairly predictable. Like I said, I don’t require much, and I expect less.”

    And he finally realizes, “I’ve had a free ride, haven’t I? Should’ve gotten her a posey. At least one.”

  20. Hi Charli, I love your daughter’s garden. She is doing what the gardening books tell me to do: plant alternating heights, textures, and colors, timing the blooms, so there are buds to watch when spent petals fade and drop.
    Mrs. H has a good story to tell about her flowers.

    I have winter flowers and summer flowers. The summer flowers bloom when winter flowers hibernate. My first ten rose bushes turned out to be red or burgundy. I planted other colors of flowers such as various lilies, lavender, geraniums to give my eyes a break of boredom. Walking around the garden in the morning is my therapy.

    I’ll do my flash fiction soon, just had a long day of running around. <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Miriam, I love my daughter’s garden, too! She’s got the mix going on in a good way. Oh, how wonderful to have both winter and summer blooms! I can relate to your morning garden therapy. I look forward to where this takes you in your flash.

      • Oops, my flash went in a different direction. It was and pantser writing, I started without knowing how it ends. I may do something about my morning therapy in the future.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I love that you followed your flash to the end, even though you didn’t know it. That kind of discovery is why I like to write flash fiction.

  21. […] Charli Mills Carrot Ranch: June 14 Flash Fiction Challenge – Bouquet […]

  22. […] Carrot Ranch, June 14: Flash Fiction […]

  23. weejars says:

    This week I’ve reworked one of my most popular posts!

    a link to the original is included as part of the post

  24. Hi Charli

    I’m back. Yes, seizing the moment! When it’s gone, it went with the wind.
    Here’s my flash fiction for the week.

    Bouquet Business by Miriam Hurdle

    “My husband buys me bouquet every week,” Sandy blushed. She forgot who bought up the subject.

    “It will get old in no time. Guys buy a bouquet every now and then,” Mr. Cole’s deep voice came from the other side of the room.

    “They are still on honeymoon,” Mrs. Cole was embarrassed by her husband.

    “Kyle is a devoted customer. He came to my floral shop for a special bouquet five months ago. I praised his affection for Sandy. He has been coming every week.”

    “Sorry, I’m not trying to ruin your business,” Mr. Cole whispered to Ms. Laura.

  25. Marlon looks out into the garden at the rear of his house. This is my house he reminds himself, not a shack or a cabin or a squat, my HOUSE.
    He steps carefully off the step and busies himself in the scrub that passes for a garden. He wanders through the tress stopping and bending, his fingers brushing through the weeds and tall grass before returning to the other guys sitting around the fire. A large bunch of green and flowery foliage in his hands.
    ‘These weeds gentleman are called bouquet garni. in restaurants the posh folks go to’.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch! I like your take on the prompt and finding a different perspective on one’s circumstances. Fun final line!

      • Thank you Charli, I love writing these short pieces.
        I was stuck on the writing struggle bus for so long but your prompts have given me a shove in the right direction.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Thank you, but I’ll give credit to the science behind constraints! Any constraint — word count, minutes, number of pages — form a pattern of problem-solving. Flash fiction can be a great way to open up writing creativity, and it can also be a terrific tool. I’m so glad you are feeling the results! Me, too! 🙂

  26. Juliet says:

    Hi Fellow Ranchers,
    I’m sitting in my wildly overgrown and underloved garden as I write this and the sun is making me silly. I loved your post, Charli. My offering this week is away off on another tangent. It must be because summer is almost here and the World Cup has started. 😀

    Catch Me If You Can

    Julia had hovered behind her sister all day, following her like a faithful young puppy. A puppy in teetering heels and an atrociously tight scarlet dress.

    She was the older one, surely she should have had a say in what she wore today?

    As she lingered she kept a careful eye on the bouquet. The scent from its red and white roses had tickled her nostrils all day.

    When was her sister ever going to throw the damned thing?

    Julia prayed that her months of training as the goalie of the local female football team would finally pay off.

  27. Norah says:

    What a bouquet of beautiful thoughts you have presented us with in this post, Charli. Winter’s coming! I thought your summer had just begun. But your summer is unlike our summer, and your winter unlike ours. You have winter and preparing for winter. So cold. But yet you find beauty in it, and possibilities to explore, gathering up the stories into your mind’s store. (Interesting the connection between stories and store.)
    Watering the garden is a meditation, time to be in the present moment, but time for the mind to wander wherever it pleases.
    I do hope daughter’s surgery has gone well and that hub’s forms complete themselves with ease. So many concerns to weigh upon a mind that would prefer to be arranging bouquets of stories.
    I almost forgot to read your flash again this week, forgetting to look beyond the form before commenting (I like to post my comment before reading others, otherwise I get caught up in conversations and forget to comment on your post. :))
    Your flash, so sad for all. Lovely big brothers to help Lizzie though. Black-eyed Susans. I haven’t thought of them for years. My parents had them in the garden when I was a child, along with many others of the flowers you mention in the post. I think Black-eyed Susans were one of my favourites. I think the name did it. Poor Sarah has no one with who to share her loss and grief.

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my post and story – A Special Bouquet. Thanks, Norah

    • Norah, I always enjoy your notes to Charli. Hope you don’t mind but you’re always so spontaneous and real. I love it. <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      Norah, there is always beauty to be gathered, even from rubble, I have discovered. Mrs. H prepared me for an unexpected week — not only do we prepare for winter, but we also gather as a community when called upon. I can’t say enough good about my new home (except that I’m starting t long for a home of my own). The paperwork was disastrous, thus that longing will have to wait. I’m full of ill-feelings toward the VA this week and the impossibility of their “evidence.” I was told not to give up, and I will try not to. Witnessing neighbors helping neighbors this week, I know we all struggle and we help where we can. We are bouquets unto each other. You are the black-eyed Susan of my bouquet!

      Thank you for commenting on Sarah’s grief. It’s a cornerstone of friendship between her and Nancy Jane — a grief they both share but respond to differently. Thank you for your creative take on bouquet!

      • Norah says:

        Beauty in rubble – yes, we do need to find it, even when the digging is sometimes hard. A welcoming community helps, but I can understand the need for a home of your own too. It’s a long time coming.
        I’m sorry to hear the paperwork was disastrous. The VA seems to be intent on grinding you down. I guess too many give up and they win, so they do it again.
        Know what? I just googled images of black-eyed Susans, and they are not what I was remembering. Either I’ve remembered incorrectly (likely) or my parents named them incorrectly (unlikely). I’ll have to try to find out what the flower was but I’m not sure how. Will give it a go and let you know. 🙂
        Grief is such a personal thing. I’m not surprised Sarah and Nancy Jane respond differently to their circumstances.
        Thank you for sharing bouquets (and not brickbats).

    • Charli Mills says:

      Norah, I do believe that is the intent of the VA, too and it all comes down to resources. We had a town hall meeting with all the wives and the Vet Center director for our region (which is a branch of the VA which focuses on the mental health of combat veterans). They are terminating our beloved counselor who has done so much for our veterans, families and she herself is a combat vet. Through no fault of her own, they are eliminating her position because of a bureaucratic move to make their human resources more effectively. We are all outraged. She can apply for the new position but no guarantees that she will get it or that the Vet Center will continue service here. I was so proud to be a part of this meeting and when the director droned on about policy over his head and the turnover he’s had to deal with and then launched into understanding “our needs” by reciting the cycle of grief to us, I cut him off and said these women are here to speak and you need to hear what they have to say. And they spoke up! Yes, we do all handle grief differently and as we’ve discussed before, I think on Anne’s blog, grief is difficult to write authentically.

      Oh, maybe we both have that name for different flowers! It was true of fireweed, too.

      • Norah says:

        Good on you for standing up and ensuring the women’s voices were heard. Too many take what is handed down from ‘above’ and pass it down the line as if it’s gospel, passed down from even further above. Sometime, someone in the chain, before it gets to the last link, must stop and say, “No, I’m not doing it. It’s not right to treat people this way.” Nothing will change while those people fear for their jobs, which in reality is a nothing job as it creates and solves nothing. I am so tired of bureaucrats trying to make things work more effectively by getting rid of those efficient workers at the front line. All they want to do is keep their own little circle of penpushers employed rubbing each other’s backs. If they make the circle too big, they know they won’t be able to cope. Grrr. It happens here, it happens there, it happens everywhere. I think this is another reason why we need women in power. I think, I hope, they would work with more compassion.

      • Charli Mills says:

        You understand the full picture! Yes, the penpushers want to protect their jobs that don’t impact the people they serve by removing those who do. Some days, my mind boggles at all the ridiculous bureaucracy. It is so insidious that we can recognize it around the world. Yes, I do think women have compassion and yet I’ve seen women in these position makes the same poor decisions. Our regional state representative is a man, and I’m so impressed how he’s been on the ground all over the disaster sites, listening to people and pitching in, being our voice. We need people like that. I’m going to call him about of vet center. And tell him that it’s in jeopardy because someone in DC thinks that “efficiency” serves vets. It doesn’t if they remove our effective frontline people. We need more compassion!

  28. Hi Charli
    Here’s my response to a great FF prompt: Bouquet

    Eagle Point Ridge was devastated first by a firestorm, then deep winter snows and spring thaw mud slides. Carmen drove up a steep valley road towards the timberline. She gazed at the scorched forlorn firs, spruce and pines among jagged rocks and boulders in the muddy valleys.
    Near the road’s edge, a clump of bright green ferns caught her eye. Among the ferns was a bouquet of bear grass, tall green stalks crowned with tightly packed white flowers. The faint fragrance of the vibrant precious bouquet drifted in the slight breeze, a sign of hope for the days ahead.

  29. […] June 14: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  30. […] Mills, of Carrot Ranch, has prompted her wranglers this week to look at bouquets. “June 14, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the meaning […]

  31. […] June 14: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  32. calmkate says:

    Vibrant colours, sweet fragrance, singular flowers or bunched bouquets thrill with heartfelt joy! Those purchased or plucked make delightful offerings to one we wish to thank or cheer.

    Brightening another’s day, claiming they are loved and dear. Garden blooms emit radiance to those passing through our neighbourhoods.

    But best of all are those innocently picked by children … to thread a daisy chain; puff at the dandelion; discard petals to the chant ‘he love me, he loves me not’; or gigglingly gifted to a much adored mother. Our inner child beams playful smiles as flowers flourish irresistible profound power.

  33. […] 14, 2018, Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the […]

  34. Here is my entry for this week: I have written a flash for this prompt and developed the idea into a much longer story too. I would love to know what everyone thinks.

  35. […] Carrot Ranch Writing Prompt […]

  36. […] 99-word flash fiction challenge over at the Carrot Ranch. This week’s theme is Bouquet. Click here to join the […]

  37. The Litha preparations had been underway for days. Yesterday, the children had gathered bouquets of yellow daisies for us to carry on our journey to the bonfire which would honor the magnificence of Father Sun. The people were assembled, ready to pay homage to the One.

    Excitement coursed through my veins, and I quivered. Tonight, my secret would be revealed. The mother had blessed me with the greatest gift of all. Inside, I felt the first fluttering of my tiny son.

    My summer posies—

    awash with an early dew

    standing sentinel.

    A gift of fertility,

    honoring the summer sun.

  38. […] apology to Carrot Ranch since this post is not fiction and over 99 words, but thank you so much for the inspiration of the […]

  39. myforever77 says:

    My apology to Carrot Ranch since this post is not fiction and over 99 words, but thank you so much for the inspiration of the prompt BOUQUET.

    • Charli Mills says:

      No apologies needed! We use “fiction” loosely here at the Ranch and happy to know you found inspiration in the prompt. I’d encourage you to take your story and trim it to 99 words. You might find it’s a fun writing form.

  40. […] Responding to the prompt, Bouquet – 99 words, no more no less. Thank You Carrot Ranch. […]

  41. Mardra says:

    OOps – I used the form (which is fine but) I meant to “comment with it. 🙂

    Title: Bitter Bouquet

    Here goes:

  42. […] you to Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch for the prompt that inspired this flash.  The picture is of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a similarly nosy […]

  43. […] as a part of the Carrot Ranch June 14 Flash Fiction Challenge. The objective is to write a story in exactly 99 words on the weekly prompt provided by the host, […]

  44. Hello good people, here’s my entry for this week:

  45. OK, so just read your heart-breaking story Charli, and realized that we both took slightly similar routes in spirit. Oops.

    • Charli Mills says:

      When I collect all the stories, I look for intersecting spirits and contrasting perspectives. It makes for a beautiful bouquet of literary art. Glad we intersected, Anurag!

  46. susansleggs says:

    Charli, I’m sure you would rather have gone with your daughter instead of staying home and tending the flowers, but the home front needs you too. You take care of your own and all of us, be assured we’ll wait while you take care of yourself. I hope your daughter heals quickly and completely. The flower beds sound marvelous and Mrs. H. an empathetic neighbor. Nice to have. Your prompt brought many thoughts as usual. This is the winner for this week. Hugs.


    When I got home from work the aroma of dinner, a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine waited. I exclaimed to my teenagers, “Wow. What’s the occasion?”
    “Your birthday.”
    “That’s next week.”
    “We know. Surprise!”
    “I’m going to cry.”
    “Not allowed. Open the wine instead.”
    “How did you get wine?”
    “Dad took us. He said this Merlot has a great bouquet.”
    “So Dad was involved in this?” I hesitated, took a deep breath and added, “You might as well call him to join us.”
    “We told you, we’re just taking a break, not getting a divorce.”

  47. […] June 14: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  48. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (06/14/18): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the meaning of the word or gather a bunch of flowers. Go where the prompt leads […]

  49. Liz H says:

    A little off-season, but something to dream on as we sweat the current heat & humidity:

  50. Ruchira Khanna says:

    I absolutely loved the description of your daughter’s garden. No grass just flowers!! Wow!!
    Also I liked how Mrs. H said…winter is coming! Yes, we ought to be prepared for cold season 🙂

    My take:

    • Charli Mills says:

      My daughter’s flowers are so glorious, Ruchira! Things keep blooming and it’s joyous. Yikes — Mrs. H. should have said that mudslides were coming first! Thanks for your take!

  51. […] 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 that includes a […]

  52. Deborah Lee says:

    Live in the moment as much as you can. Especially when the moment is filled with flowers. 🙂

    “You got a job offer! But this is thrilling!”

    Jane laughs. She pulls a bottle from her backpack with a flourish. “It’s not much, but we can celebrate.”

    “I’m honored to help you celebrate, dear girl,” the old man says. “I wish I had proper glasses, to appropriately savor the bouquet of this lovely drop.” His eyes dance.

    “Bouquet,” Jane snorts, uncapping the wine. “Two-Buck Chuck doesn’t have a bouquet. More like a…twang.”

    “A pungency.”

    “A stench!” Jane squeals, giddy.

    Henry drinks, wipes the the bottle, passes it. “I could not be happier for you,” he says quietly.

  53. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the meaning of… […]

  54. […] in response to Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Check it […]

  55. wallietheimp says:

    Wallie and my response–“Red Roses”–

  56. paulamoyer says:

    New Bouquets at Cheever’s

    By Paula Moyer

    Sitting in the upscale-but-casual restaurant, Jean could not tell it had been a florist – Cheever’s. Now the restaurant was part of a different bouquet, the renaissance of downtown Oklahoma City.

    One by one, flower by flower, new businesses sprouted in old buildings – an art gallery where Fred Jones Ford had been. A restaurant inside Cheever’s. As a salute to the history, each new business took on the name of the old one. Thanks to a city-wide sales tax, new life pulsed through the old part of town.

    Jean and Lynn took their seats. Their salads were fresh as carnations.

  57. Winter’s coming, hey? Life is to be lived with urgency, what a wonderful expression of all that is to be taken in the moment, for what comes around the corner next is never guaranteed, good, bad or inbetween. A timely, quite prophetic post, dear Charli, and I know not what else to say <3

    A Bouquet of Tears

    If forget-me-nots would bring you back, I would grow nothing else.

    If an English Country Garden cooled your fire, I would gather every living plant and flower and bulb growing there, tie them together with a bright, red ribbon and send them by whatever means possible across the Shining Sea.

    If lilies, white and pure, touched your brow and returned your smile, I would place them carefully in your hand and cry with joy.

    But it cannot be.

    So I bring my love in a single rose and lay it on your grave and I weep for wasted years.

    For Mark, dear brother <3

  58. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a bouquet. You can explore the meaning of… […]

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