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July 26: Flash Fiction Challenge

The train has left the station, and a suitcase remains on the tracks. Which is bereft? The passenger who will miss what she packed, or a transportation company who has failed to make good on its reliability? Maybe the suitcase grieves.

Perspective can change any story. It can even change our personal narratives and shape our identities. How much choice do we have when it comes to success and failure? Is it a matter of perspective?

I’m walking the surf at McLain State Park, relishing in the windswept waves, pondering another perspective — the difference between worries and wishes. I’m thinking about wishes because every time I bend low to search a patch of water-tumbled pebbles for a possible agate, I find a wishing stone.

My daughter, who has an undergrad degree in geology, told me about wishing stones — any rock encircled completely by a mineral vein. Usually, I find one or two basalts with a vein of quartz, or maybe feldspar ringed with epidote. Today they are abundant.

I wish…to find a big agate!

I wish…to have a successful class at Finlandia U.

I wish…for Cynthia to get her house rebuilt.

I wish…for the Hub to be happy in his present condition.

I wish…

That’s when the worries slam down like an unexpected big wave, taking away my breath. I realize wishes and worries are equal energy wasters. Both feed off the same emotions. Both give control to matters beyond myself.

Instead, I recall that accountability leads to empowerment. I will do my best to create and lead a successful class at Finlandia. I can define what success looks like. That will help me shape the course. Students will be an unknown factor. I’ll focus on one rule: we are a marketing class, and we will behave professionally. I’m sure I’ll be pushed to define that over the year, as well.

But more than wishing, I can be accountable for each step and response I make.

For my friend Cynthia, I’ll continue to offer my help. She’s now in our RV which is parked at a beautiful home in the country not far from her beloved Ripley. I’ll stay in communication with her, attentive to ways I can offer my strengths and let others offer where I can’t fill in. Together, we are a community, and that’s empowering to all of us.

As for the Hub, his happiness is his own. It’s hard to watch a loved one falter. No doubt, life has dealt him an unfair hand, yet we all encounter such losses in life. He will have to come to terms with the impact of long-term TBI and how it complicates PTSD. It’s both neurological and psychological. Some days I want to flee. Mostly, I stand in the gap for him to hold the space he cannot.

But I’m no saint, and wishes and worries wash over me as I comb the rocky beach. I’m no hero, either, yet I’m on my own journey to be who I can be.

What about those who don’t or won’t? Or can’t because of circumstances stacked against them? Can the hero’s journey extend to those who don’t answer the call or step out of the cave?

And so I’m brought back to perspective. My perspective is that I believe I can push through and be all I can be. Funny because that’s the US Army slogan — be all you can be. Where did that get the Hub? Bashed knees by the age of 25 and damaged brain matter by 50.

It reminds me of the Vietnam vet who said, “Those who fight for the freedom for others are never free.”

My perspective progresses; my husband’s stays locked in the cave. I want to shout into the dark, “You have the key! Get out, get out!” But the sound of his own troubled perspective groans louder.

The suitcase remains on the rails. I want to pick it up — it seems so natural to me. Even success and failure are but different perspectives. If I don’t find an agate, I have failed in the hunt. Yet, I can average the number of agates and hunts and say that my success rate is high. Or I can call other finds a success in the absence of an agate. I might even claim that any day spent with feet in Lake Superior and eyes upon her rocks spells s-u-c-c-e-s-s.

I don’t want to perceive failings because I want to spend my energy pursuing what brings me joy. If I fail, I can try again. If I fail, I can learn from the experience. If I fail, I can choose another way. Failure can lead to resiliency, breakthroughs, and unexpected opportunities. More than perspective, it’s also a matter of choice.

So there the suitcase sits. It doesn’t matter why. It’s what happens next.

July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale.

Respond by July 31, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.


Keeping Secrets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Anabelle found the suitcase in the hayloft, upright as if ready to travel. She didn’t see the slim shadow of a boy slip out through the stalls below. She grabbed it and ran to the farmhouse where her uncle was frying supper.

“Uncle Henry! Look what I found.”

“That’s Grandma Mary’s old medicine bag.”

“It’s a suitcase.”

“It’s what she used to tend to the Ottawa. Been missing for thirty years.”

“It was in the hayloft, plain as day.”

“I’ll be. Someone brought it back.”

Annabelle open the latches. A single sketching of Cobb McCanles drifted to the floor.



  1. Norah says:

    Lovely article, Charli. Life is all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? How do we rate a success or failure? What do we measure against? If we measure against wishes, it may never be enough. Even when aiming for something more realistic, things don’t always add up. Perhaps we’re adding the wrong things. Wishes and worries are both wastes of times. Actions are what make the difference. You are running the course at Finlandia U. You are preparing and taking responsibility. You are assisting Cynthia get back on her feet by providing a roof over her head and other support. You are filling the gaps in Hub’s memory and reasoning capacity, and you’re are leading the buckaroos at the Ranch as we hunt for gems in our work.
    The abandoned suitcase is an interesting prompt and I like your response to it. So, the drawing of Cobb (as well as the suitcase) turns up after all these years. I wonder what will be made of it.
    Makes me think of all the warnings at airports etc to not leave suitcases unattended. This one looks to be in a potentially dangerous spot. 🙂
    I saw an interesting “thought” this morning, but can’t find it again just now. It went something like: If you love what you do, you’ll never stop working.
    A new way of looking at “If you do what you love, you’ll never work another day”. 🙂

    • Hi, Norah, I like you last saying. If you do what you love, you’ll never work another day. I’m retired but I do many things that other people consider as work, such as my after school care which is my business. I do counseling. But I love everything I’m doing and I don’t consider them as work. 🙂

      • Norah says:

        That’s great, Miriam. If we love what we do, it certainly makes life more enjoyable, doesn’t it?

      • Yes, Norah. I’m fortunate that the less than 10 jobs throughout my life, I had fun doing. Each required different skills and I was natural to some and acquired to some and eventually got good at them. So I wasn’t bored of any of my jobs.

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli, Here’s my contribution: A Case of the Unexpected
      A Case of the Unexpected
      “I wonder what’s inside,” said Jamie.
      “D’ya think we should open it?” Nicky asked.
      They looked around. No one anywhere.
      Jamie shrugged. “I guess.”
      “Looks old,” said Nicky.
      “Probably been here for years.”
      “So dirty.”
      The rusty catches were unyielding.
      “Might be locked,” said Nicky, hopefully.
      “Let’s see,” said Jamie.
      They pried with sticks, battered with stones and willed with all their might. When the catches finally snapped open, they hesitated.
      “Go on,” said Nicky.
      “No, you.”
      “Okay. One, two, three … open!”
      The children’s eyes widened.
      “What is it?” asked Nicky.
      “Dunno,” said Jamie. “Looks like …”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Norah, I liked the link you shared on Twitter. I read that while at the VA, today. And I got to share the line about holding the light for the ones who have to walk in the dark. I think that describes advocacy as well as encouragement. So, the old sketch of Cobb was actually found in an old trunk and I read about it in a 1960s newspaper article. It shows details cropped out of his portrait. I like that adage of loving what you do and you’ll never work. But the reality is that it’s a lot of work! Good thing we love it! Great flash — thanks for sweeping us into your ending.

      • Norah says:

        Waiting at the VA was probably a really good time to read the article I shared with you on Twitter. You do a lot of that candle holding, and I especially am grateful to you for doing so.
        I do remember your telling us that information about Cobb’s portrait before, I think. It sounds familiar anyway. It’s great how you can turn these little tit-bits of information into stories.
        You’re right – doing what we love is work that never stops! 🙂
        I hope it’s not considered a cop out to leave the ending (or the suitcase, as it were) open. It’s almost a prompt in itself. I could use it as a writing task at school. But perhaps it only repeats your prompt? A prompt in a prompt like the Matryoshka dolls.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I don’t think it’s a cop-out at all, Norah! Do you remember those early chapter books where readers got to pick what happens next? That what your flash reminded me of and it engaged us to join in the story. Clever!

  2. floridaborne says:


    My daughter laughs at an abused green suitcase. “I remember that thing!”

    “You used it for a summer in Morocco. I trusted you…”

    “I know, I know,” she chuckles at me. “You kept it in pristine condition and I returned it all beat up without the wheels, BlahBlahBlah… Why won’t you throw it away?”

    “Together, we explored the world. I had a career… a life. I met your father…”

    “Then you had me, so it’s all good!”

    What if I’d told him no?

    Too late…

    Like this dusty attic, I hold the memories of a lifetime no one understands.

  3. Great post and what a thought provoking photo!

  4. Here’s mine Charli.

    No more could he take the tormenting dictatorship of his life, the personal sleights, the ridicule.
    He packed everything into a battered old suitcase. There was no connection to him and he could walk away.
    The train was due in five minutes. This place was perfect and deserted when he tossed the case off the bridge, ignoring the voice from within screaming
    ‘Let me out! Let me out!’
    The train smashed the case into a thousand pieces, the dummy inside with it.
    The head landed at his feet, and the sinister smile said it all.
    He’d never be free.

  5. Good Measure

    “What’s in that case, Kid?”
    “Hee hee, wouldn’tcha like ta know?”
    “Yep, that’s why I asked ya. So?”
    “Ha! No. What’re ya wishin’ fer it ta be, Pal?”
    “I dunno, I jist wondered is all.”
    “Are ya worried ‘bout the contents, Pal?”
    “Knowin’ you, yeah, a little.”
    “Well Pal, I’ll tell ya, some say what’s in here is a treasure. The key ta yer success even.”
    “My success? Kid, what in tarnation is in that case?”
    “Ah, Pal, you’ve failed in yer quest ta guess. Ow! Okay, Pal. There’s 98 Ranch Yarns in here. An’ now 99!”
    See the 98 at Good Measure

    “What’s in that case, Kid?”
    “Hee hee, wouldn’tcha like ta know?”
    “Yep, that’s why I asked ya. So?”
    “Ha! No. What’re ya wishin’ fer it ta be, Pal?”
    “I dunno, I jist wondered is all.”
    “Are ya worried ‘bout the contents, Pal?”
    “Knowin’ you, yeah, a little.”
    “Well Pal, I’ll tell ya, some say what’s in here is a treasure. The key ta yer success even.”
    “My success? Kid, what in tarnation is in that case?”
    “Ah, Pal, you’ve failed in yer quest ta guess. Ow! Okay, Pal. There’s 98 Ranch Yarns in here. An’ now 99!”
    Pretty cool, Shorty.
    See the first 98 at

  6. janmalique says:

    A thoughtful piece Charli, tinged with pathos and hope. Sometimes wishes can take root and offer us wonderful sights.

  7. Jennie says:

    Words and thoughts of wisdom, beautifully penned. Thank you, Charli.

  8. denmaniacs4 says:

    Other Peoples Stuff!

    You see it often on country roads, goods left out at the top of driveways.

    Sometimes there is a sign.


    I scored a nice office chair that way, once.

    Well, it had a wobble.

    But so did I.

    Today, someone’s put out a non-descript hard suitcase, popular back in the day.

    It is pale green.

    My parents once told me about Jack Graham who blew up a plane with his mother and forty-three others back in ’55.

    He put a bomb in her suitcase.

    Their advice: “Always pack your own suitcase.”

    These are great words to live by.

  9. Liz H says:

    <3 <3 Hug! <3 <3
    That is all for the moment.

  10. paulamoyer says:

    What a moving post, Charli — it does come back to figuring out what we can do, doesn’t it? You are quite the hero and inspiration right now.

    Here’s my flash. (Sorry for submitting twice, forgot to the put title in the first one; please the second.)

    Abandoned Fountain of Youth

    By Paula Moyer

    Be alert to unattended items. We learn this now. But here is a suitcase at the St. Paul Amtrak Station, the new Union Station with its vintage look. Made to look old. And there’s the train – headed points west, so far from the suitcase now. The night train.

    The Amtrak employee removes it. The dog sniffs. The security guy opens with tongs and finds … curlers, cosmetics, anti-aging cream. Calls the number on the tag.

    The train station tries to look old. The sleepy lady answering? She was peeling away the evidence, but left her accomplice on the track.

  11. […] July 26: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  12. […] Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch: July 26, 2018: Flash Fiction Challenge – Stranded Suitcase […]

  13. Hi Charli,

    We all have hopes and dreams. They keep us alive and moving, waiting for something better than where we are and what we have. If we are not moving, we are dead.

    I appreciate your kind help to your friend. I admire you filling in the gaps for your hubby. It takes strength and persistence to do what you’re doing. A smooth sail is good in life. The ups and downs make us have a keen sense of being and the appreciation in life.

    ~ ~ ~

    I have quite a few stories about losing suitcases during the days when I checked in my luggage. None of them got lost nor sent around the world before returned. I had one suitcase returned four hours after arriving at the hotel; another one came back the next day. Ever since my husband and I travel light, we marvel at the people who seem to pack everything except the pots and pans.
    A friend who went to Asia as a seminar speaker for five days. She lost the suitcase with the clothes needed for presentations. One presentation was a few hours after her arrival. The airline compensated her with cash. But what fun is that to go shopping under pressure and exhaustion from the long flight?
    She was fine with her seminar. The suitcase never showed up.

    ~ ~ ~

    Stranded Suitcase

    “The passengers picked up their suitcases. The one went around in the carousel is not mine.”
    “The dark green color and the size look like yours.”
    “Mine has a red and green stripe.”
    “Let’s go to the customer services.”
    “I couldn’t find my suitcase. This one has men’s clothes.”
    “Let me check… Have a seat.”
    “I need things when we get to the hotel.”
    “Excuse me, Madam. A passenger has mistaken your suitcase as his. He lives two hours away and is driving home. We’ll exchange them and deliver to your hotel.”
    “Oh, well… at least it’s found.”


    • The exact same thing happened with us last month. A passenger picked our suitcase up and walked off with it…into a connecting flight. Thankfully, we discovered the exchange in time, but still had to wait for a couple of hours for the suitcase to be retrieved and returned to us.

      • Sorry to hear that. Any time of waiting is bothering. I haven’t check-in luggage for years, just take carry-on. Our next long trip is coming up, hope it won’t happened to us again.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Miriam! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and stories of lost luggage. I particularly like what you say about “if we are not moving, we are dead.” I try to picture the flow more like breeze through a willow tree, but some days it feels like an oak in a hurricane! I only had my luggage lost once but it was for three days. Kind of disconcerting. Your flash relays the experience well in dialog.

      • Yes, Charli, we have days like strolling around the lake, but sometimes it’s like horse racing. Take care of yourself first then everyone else! 🙂 That’s how it works. When the school had disaster drill, we were told that the principal get priority care if he is hurt. The chief has to be well to take responsibility to care the staff and students.

      • Charli Mills says:

        It can be hard to remember to invest in self-care so everyone else can be cared for, too. Good point that the school needs to attend to the leader as a priority. Getting time with Lady Lake Superior is my plan.

    • Jules says:

      I think your story is similar to all of us who travel, by train or plane. 🙂

      • Yes, exactly, Jules. I tried not to check in luggage when travel domestically. 🙂

      • Jules says:

        Hubby has a tool box. It has to be checked. Often it isn’t on the carousel…and we have to hunt for it. And it’s always opened and not sealed correctly. Sometimes though he’ll mail it back to his office.

      • When it comes to situation like this, he has to do what he needs to do!!

  14. Rose’s Valuables

    Rose packed her bag as she was told. Underwear, socks, dresses, and, of course, her teddy bear Samuel, who knew everything. Sam listened, comforted, and kept secrets. Samuel was her best friend.

    Her parents and Rose walked to the train station; she carried her whole world in that suitcase.

    The men made Rose put her suitcase with the others. “They’ll be on the train,” they said, herding everyone into train cars.

    As the train pulled away, Rose saw all the suitcases still on the platform. Her little suitcase was dumped, contents rifled, and the bear tossed onto the bonfire. ~Nancy Brady

  15. I feel as if your challenges always take me off into new and interesting directions. 🙂 Thanks, Charli!

  16. Great prompt! Here’s mine for the week:

    Waiting For The Right Train

    “There’s rumors of this line,” the old man said, “they say all those lost eventually find their way home.”

    “Nonsense!” Charlie knew this line. Who was this old tramp to tell him of this line — his line? “Been here over thirty years and never heard anything of the sort.”

    “I would sure love to go home. Go all the way back to Ma, the farm, to Lucy. Back to the day I made the wrong decision.”

    A suitcase fell from a train crossing the bridge overhead landing gently in the old man’s lap. He opened it and went home.

  17. […] Prompt:  Carrot Ranch July 26: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  18. Hi everyone this is were the theme led me….

    ‘The problem with working in a goodwill is the tat that comes through the door’ Marlene Fisher explains to Bobby.
    ‘Always chuck it out’ no questions don’t even think about it.
    Bobby considers this, takes it on board. He hadn’t the heart to tell Marlene that this is what he always did, and that unbeknown to her he’d already chucked out an old suitcase and a bag of old books.
    ‘So where did you find it?’
    ‘Back of the Goodwill’.
    The lid of the case suddenly pops open and the breeze flutters the hundred dollar bills stacked neatly inside.

  19. Hey Charli, Thanks for the prompt! This is my first time trying this so here goes,

    The Suitcase (a 99 word story)

    Since his childhood, the suitcase had been scared of the dark. He had travelled the world, but hotel rooms are comfortable in the dark. The only ghost he met was reasonably friendly.

    When the suitcase fell out a train, he panicked. The wind was cold, the tunnel in front of him looked like it would never end. The sun was setting slowly, like it would never stop.

    But it did.

    There was nothing but the dark.

    He heard the familiar horn of a train. The tunnel exploded with comforting light that came closer by the second. The suitcase smiled.

  20. […] Linking up with Carrot ranch Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  21. syncwithdeep says:

    that was an intriguing prompt with a beautiful recount. Here is my take,

  22. […] Below are 501 words in response to Charli Mill’s July 26, 2018 prompt at Carrot Ranch to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go […]

  23. Three Sisters

    Three sisters came upon a worn suitcase in their path.
    “Unattended baggage!” the first cried.
    “Abandoned,” lamented the second.
    “Lost,” declared the third.
    The first sister would not go near the suitcase.
    The second sister found the suitcase too heavy to move.
    The third sister found that she could manage the suitcase.
    All three sisters gathered round to peer inside.
    The first sister saw fear.
    The second sister saw worry.
    The third sister saw hopes, dreams and wishes.
    She left the wishes. She took hope and her best dreams. Continuing their journey, her steps were lighter and more certain.

    Usually I come pretty close to 99 words in my first attempts and just whittle and sand to get it. This week a longer version of this story came first and would not be denied. Then I distilled it to the 99 words here. Go to to see the longer version. I love writing and reading 99 word stories but sometimes have to let more out. What do you think?

  24. Annecdotist says:

    Great to continue the hero’s journey conversation and very clever of you to link it with the metaphor of the stranded suitcase. I’m on similar territory trying to emphasise success for myself right now. But I think I disagree on the amount of choice we have over the perspective we take, which is influenced by both our external environments and how our brains are wired. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.
    I’m not sure if you are saying you approve of the U.S. Army slogan, but it strikes me as overly optimistic and verging on dishonest. Do they have the resources to provide the psychological support to enable recruits to be everything they can be? I doubt it.
    Choosing the positive perspective is culturally valued, especially in the US but becoming more so over here. I find it individually and politically problematic. Two years on from Britain’s Brexit vote we still don’t have a workable plan for the divorce, yet those who criticise are branded overly pessimistic and even unpatriotic.
    But let’s get back to fiction:
    Your flash really draws the reader in, so that we are as excited as Annabelle to see what’s in suitcase and then piques our curiosity even further when we’re told it’s a medicine bag.
    I’m afraid the suitcase in my flash remains closed, but Matty resists the call does feature the first stage of the hero’s journey, along with a post about Celebrating the small successes:

    • Ha! Many slogans verge on dishonest; they are sales pitches and propaganda after all. Choice? Perspective? I happened to hear a guy in a bar recently make this comment: Anyone whose feet hit the floor in the morning is a gambler. We all have to deal with the hands we’re dealt, hold or fold.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Anne, I think for me, personally, I’d feel depressed if I felt I didn’t have choice over environment and thinking, or the ability to change either. But I do understand not everyone has such choice over their perspectives. And I certainly scoff at the Army’s slogan. I believe they do not have a person’s self-actualization in mind. However, it sounds good in commercials! Just as I’m sure Brexit sounded good the way it was pitched before the vote. Now the mistress is exposed as superficial and the divorce an ugly reality nonetheless.

      I’m glad you are celebrating successes, and in a well-grounded way. It’s not as if you are believing Clark Gable is reading your books! I enjoyed that detail to Matty’s flash.

      • Annecdotist says:

        Thanks, Charli, I was pleased when Matty dreamt up Clark Gable, but trying to stay more grounded than she is.
        I must have mentioned before the research into the differences between depressed and non-depressed people’s attributions. The depressed people were actually more realistic – it seems it’s healthier to maintain an illusion of control. But, as you show in your post, it’s also good to be able to distinguish the things we can control from the things we can’t.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Last night I was having a conversation with someone who has also been going through long-term challenges and she mentioned how not doing anything feels like living “flat.” That even if our actions or choices don’t get the results we want, that it’s better to try. Be then talked about having big dreams and the need to negotiate all the small steps to get there. I’m not sure if that’s realistic, but we both do not think we can control our situation. We still have choices.

  25. […] Carrot Ranch Challenge: July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale. […]

  26. Jules says:

    Charli and Visitors all…

    Oh, Charli I like your tale. I came up with a talking valise. You can see it if you go to the title link…


    I am and will always be a ‘valise’. Of a rare heritage.
    Vintage large blue marble Samsonite.

    I held the young wife’s Trousseau – and was passed
    on for her daughter to use. Though I am heavy, I held
    all of that little girls things as she was bounced around
    to different locations.

    Until finally I was filled up with old things – Not as old as
    I. And donated to charity… After all age took its toll, my
    seams were coming undone and my lining frayed.

    I am in an old house again. Filled with blankets, for a
    Mother cat.


  27. […] Written for the July 26th Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  28. tnkerr says:

    I seldom write anything other than fiction, but almost everything in this story is true:

  29. Hi Charli
    Thank you for sharing so much of your own personal responsibilities and your challenges.
    Great and inspiring FF responses and comments.

    Sharing a story – Real people, but writing it in the form of fiction; holding the “spaces” in someone else’s life when they cannot.

    “Janice was diagnosed with a “silent” brain tumor, when her peripheral vision was affected. Surgery was scheduled within days. Her husband Tom was devastated: Responsibilities; challenges. Burden. Then Tom thought of Janice: her difficulties. He could not imagine what she must be feeling, thinking. He decided to stay. He would not leave her.”

    Will post my FF response soon.

  30. oneletterup says:

    I now know about wishing stones. Wonderful! Thank you Charli.

    My contribution to this week’s prompt:

    The Respite Suitcase

    She is so very tired. Of walking and walking.
    The sun blinding as she emerges from the woods.
    Dirty. Legs scratched. Cotton dress torn.

    Cars roar by. A motorcycle backfires.
    She jumps, turning to go back.
    Then she sees it. It looks kind of familiar.
    Grimy and gouged, its rusty metal corners bent in.
    An old suitcase stranded in the brush.

    She stumbles over to it, considering.
    “I’ll just rest here for now. It’s okay.”
    She cleans a spot for sitting, picking off dead leaves.
    Carefully lowering herself down, she sighs; eyelids closing.
    As a truck pulls over. Unnoticed.

  31. calmkate says:

    Charli what I enjoy so much about your posts is that you sincerely write straight from your heart which is overflowing with loving kindness for us all … no exceptions as you encourage and support at every level, thanks!

    Some great posts here already … here’s mine:

    The suitcase lay abandoned on the line … would the owner have less clothes at the other end? Had staff been incompetent when loading the baggage? Or had someone tossed it off to be retrieved later?

    In 1939 nobody considered bombs or sabotage. Odd things happened in times of war and extreme poverty.

    People noticed the case but speculation was preferred as nobody approached it. Reluctance to get involved held them back. Everyone thought the other should investigate the contents yet nobody touched it!

    What was in that suitcase and who had lost it … mystery and intrigue prevailed!

  32. Pete says:

    They played Three Little Birds at the funeral. Close enough I suppose. Time’s up and my suitcase is full. Not like most of us get a choice, anyway. Though my baggage is spare. stranded memories of work, tuna salad, regret, the real stuff I packed away for safekeeping. My first love’s smile. The kids. That dawn with Dad in the wet grass and the big moon. But you’d be surprised at what lingers for eternity. Mom’s death. The hot lash of her slap on my cheek. Lower back pain. The pulse of summer in the woods. Every little thing…

  33. […] Carrot Ranch Literary Community Entry […]

  34. susansleggs says:

    I never thought about wishes and worries being time wasters, but they certainly are. It is good that we can take charge of both and either make them happen or let them go. Yeah, I know, easier said than done. Thanks for making us think of perspectives.

    A Bereft Duffle

    My son returned from the war in person, but his mind never did. It took me years to understand why he refused to take off that dirty field jacket. I would beg him not to wear it. I even hid it once when he was in the shower and I don’t want to tell you the fight we had before I gave it back and he stormed out of the house to walk the streets, his mind encumbered with the scenes of war. The day I found him hanging, the coat was folded neatly on his full duffle bag.

  35. […] July 26: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  36. […] 26, 2018, Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go […]

  37. I have so much fun with these prompts, Charli. Hi, everyone. Here is my fun for this week:

    The suitcase lay in the weeds at the side of the tracks. Today, the mischievous brownie had been discovered and tossed away like yesterday’s newspaper.

    The satchel scrutinized the desolate landscape. The brownie, a shapeshifter who could change into a suitcase to mingle with the humans, waited. Someone would come along. They always did.

    “Well, I’ll be darned,” the old man said. “Look Ethel. Isn’t that the bag you saw in the general store?”

    “It is. You said we couldn’t afford it,” she pouted.

    “Well, you can afford it now.”

    The valise grinned. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure.

  38. […] the Carrot Ranch Literary Community Flash Fiction challenge  hosted by Charli Mills. Charli’s prompt this week […]

  39. […] The challenge. […]

  40. […] Carrot Ranch Challenge: July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale. […]

  41. rogershipp says:


    My heart is lightened remembering the first time I had pulled this old thing from our attic. Its ebony wool was frayed and one of its brass corners had been removed. It had be Great-Aunt Gertrude’s carry-on for her train-ride to the West.

    For me, it was by get-away bag. My denied destiny… the rodeo.

    Girls weren’t to climb trees, bust horses, or chew…. according to Father. But I was better than brother at all three.

    I was packed and gone – three whole hours- when Grandpa found me headed toward Tulsa.

    We compromised.

    But I never did unpack it.

  42. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (07/26/2018): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale. […]

  43. Liz H says:

    With apologies to Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey~~

    Takin’ It Easy

    I bin standing on this corner in Winslow Arizona since she tossed me out. Well…me, a half dozen t-shirts, some ragged jeans…… [Continue ]

  44. calmkate says:

    My first entry caused too much intrigue … Hitler’s conscious won!
    I wrote a second entry:

  45. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go wher… […]

  46. A beautiful post, Charli. Life is never easy and we all respond to the challenges differently. I sometimes wonder why my son suffers from PTSD and OCD. Why can’t he overcome it? His challenges were not greater than those of some other boys who have come through their’s without suffering from aftereffects like PTSD. That is the journey of life.

    • Robbie, is your son getting help from school? I do hope that he could overcome it before he goes to college or takes on adult responsibilities. <3

      • robbiecheadle says:

        Hi Miriam, no, there is no help forthcoming from the school. We are paying for private treatment and he is making progress but it is baby steps. Hugs.

      • What I learn from psychology and counseling is that if it psychological situation, even if it’s partly neurological, 30% is born with and 70% is development. Baby steps are encouraging. Consistent reinforcement could retrain the brain and build new habits. Observe every tiny positive behavior and encourage him to repeat it (ignore the undesirable behavior, by not mentioning it, it won’t bring it to his attention). Big hugs to you, Robbie!

      • I didn’t mean to over simplify the situation. I only mention the behavior aspect. Your therapist’s insight is more important.
        It it affects the school performance, the school should be informed that your son is in therapy so they would have that understanding. It happened to my friend’s son.

      • Charli Mills says:

        That’s helpful information, Miriam. Even with a full-grown adult, it’s baby steps!

    • Charli Mills says:

      One thing I try to keep in mind, Robbie, is that PTSD shows we are resilient. It’s a survival mechanism. I’m not as familiar with OCD, but I believe multiple issues create greater complexities. I’m a big fan of CBT and I’m trying to get EMDR for me. I hear it is great for PTSD. But we are all each different. The best you can do is stand in that gap for your son, let him know he’s loved, and encourage him to find his own way. Hugs! <3

      • Thank you for the advice Miriam and Charli. Greg has been in therapy for 11 years (since he was 4 years old). We are currently trying CBT with the fourth therapist. He has also had drama and music therapy and “normal” therapy. It all helps and he makes slow progress. He is a very brilliant mind so I have a lot to be grateful for with him. Hugs.

  47. Here is my post for this week. I have kept it light:

  48. Thanks, Charli! Here’s mine:

    It was twenty years ago. I was shopping the antique stores looking for unique things to furnish my house. In one store, hidden in a corner, was a leather suitcase. An old one with straps around it. I pulled it out and decided I loved it.

    As I was cleaning it up, I felt a bump and heard a crunch under the inside liner. I worked the one-page note out the edge of the liner. Dated 1945, it said, “Meet me by the hickory tree. If you aren’t there, I’ll know you didn’t mean it.” It was a man’s writing.

  49. […] week, hot from the Ranch we have an […]

  50. […] The challenge: […]

  51. […] July 26 Flash Fiction Challenge […]

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