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August 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

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Monty sits on what remains of Cynthia’s deck in Ripley. Much of the rubble from the landslide remains, and yet life boldly rises. The apple tree uprooted and hanging over the fury of water that flooded Ripley Creek after the mountain slid, grows like a tree from a fantasy novel out of the gray and green rocks. Apples hang heavy in its branches.

A clump of roses takes root in a barren patch of dirt and kale spreads like weeds. Milkweed, nectar to butterflies, protrudes in clusters, tall green and promising to flower. A daylily nods its orange head by the deck. Purselane spreads across the rocky ground like nature’s band-aid.

I watch the Hub pet Monty, Cynthia’s charming rescue dog, a Daschund. He’s sitting down, which is good. Typically, the Hub would be gnashing his teeth at the pain in his knee, but he tells me the gel shot he got on Mondy is working. He’s tired, and no shot will take away the instability of both his knees.

The Hub gave us a big scare on Tuesday, ending up in an emergency room. His VA doctor offered to drive him after determining his blood pressure was through the roof. The day before, when he got the shot, the nurse raised the alarm over his dangerously high blood pressure, but he told her she measured it wrong. He can be surly to deal with in such circumstances.

On Tuesday we went to the local clinic for a weekly visit. Afterward, he wanted to see the Marine nurse he likes. I like her, too. She fights for him to get the care I’m fighting for him to get. She and his primary care doctor are the best. But often the referrals they make get denied by the VA. Slogging through the system is never easy.

I returned home to conduct a phone interview for a profile I’m writing, so the Hub drove back. He asked the Marine nurse to take his blood pressure because she does it right. She said it was THAT high. The doc came in, and both told him he needed to go to the emergency room immediately.

When his calls came through to me, I was on another call — the DVIBC had called me back, and it wasn’t a call I could miss, so I ignored his. He only told me he wanted to “talk” to the Marine nurse. I didn’t know he was checking up on his blood pressure. Or that he was in crisis.

I was managing the ongoing crisis — the Hub’s head. We’ve been down a scary path of weakening executive function over the past eight years. When it got bad, I pestered him to get seen for PTSD. I didn’t know what else it could be. His family and friends always talked about how changed he was after service, and I knew his quirks and moments when I’d call him out as “Sgt. Mills” because of his intensity.

But these past few years have been crisis hell. I couldn’t understand why, when we lost our rental two months before we could get into our next one, that he’d insist on going into the wilderness. I’m still traumatized by the experience. That’s when I started fighting hard as I ever have to get him into the VA. Before it was his knees. This time it was his shifts in thinking and behavior.

The VA had no trouble diagnosing him with combat anxiety even 33 years after the event. But he wouldn’t stay put. Next, we were off like a rocket to Mars (southern Utah) because it was a chance for him to get back into his aviation career which he loved. But he couldn’t do it. He was fired for PTSD symptoms.

That’s when I got scared. My husband was not acting like my husband and yet he couldn’t see it. I grieved terribly. I felt like I lost him, and in many ways, I have. A few widows have put it in perspective for me though — I still have him. It’s a bitter pill. But I charged on, getting him up to Michigan with him resisting the entire way.

Even now, it’s a weekly battle for two therapists and one ready-to-give-up wife to keep him here. I love my new community. I love being close to my eldest and youngest. I love Lake Superior and her tempestuous moods and generous rocks. I love new friends like Cynthia and Cranky. I love what the Red Cross discovered when they came to the Keweenaw — we are an intact community.

The Hub wants to leave. He hates mosquitos. He hates snow. He hates feeling bored, and he hates not being able to connect thoughts. He hates that his knees hurt so bad after years of needing a replacement.

You might notice a difference in attitude, and that’s part of the rub. But still, I fight to get him care. His therapists were the ones to catch on that something more was going on with him. That led to suspicion of traumatic brain injury (TBI). It would take sleuthing the pieces to puzzle out what happened.

We all knew about his hard landing into to combat.

The Hub’s mom got a phone call early in the morning of October 25, 1983, that her son was on his way to Grenada. A determined US president confirmed on television that he deployed US special forces – Navy Seals and Army Rangers – to rescue US medical students on an island that Cubans had fortified to build a runway for Soviet planes. So much for a dairy farmer’s wife to comprehend.

How could she know her son was jumping with a concussion? He didn’t even know.

Less than a week earlier, a fellow Ranger spearheaded the Hub in the face during a soccer game and knocked him out cold. He was ticked off to get pulled from the game. Knocked out cold and that’s all that happened. That’s the culture of “Ranger Tough.” Within days, he was flying in a C-130 to combat.

The Hub jumped with a T-10 parachute which Airborne uses for mass combat jumps. His rate of descent increased with his heavy load — a mortar round and all the communications gear for his unit. He hit so hard he bounced. He hit right knee, hip and head…bounced…hit his head again. He wore an M1 helmet which the Army acknowledges was not designed for impact. He essentially wore no head protection for 174 career jumps.

It would take almost five years for the Hub to realize that the pain in his knee after that jump was from bone fragments and a complete internal derangement of his knee. He had continued to jump, play soccer and rugby, all on a broken knee. That’s the culture of “Ranger Tough.” As much as I’d like to smash that tough attitude, I also recognize that it conforms to his identity.

When we go to the VA, I fight him as much as I fight them. I must be “Ranger Wife Tough.” He’ll ignore pain or report it’s low, then go home and rail about the pain. I won’t go into what it’s like to be married to a veteran, really only other veteran spouses get it, and many of them are exes. It’s not a glorious role.

But I know the Hub is a good man. He’s been a good dad, and I always felt safe with him (up until wilderness homelessness and Mars wanderings). Just as I did when I was raising three children, I ask, “Why this behavior?” Each new puzzle piece comes with a “why.” I keep arranging, searching the scientific studies, reading articles from the National Football League, reaching out to experts, asking for more tests.

We now understand that the Hub’s symptoms at the end of his military service and after he came home were likely due to TBI. PTSD certainly factored in — simply surviving Ranger Battalion required the maximum effort and PTSD is proof that one is a survivor. Another piece of the puzzle was linking his combat dive specialty after Grenada, after a TBI. It compounded the lack of healing.

But the brain can and does heal. The problem is what they call second impact syndrome. After a concussion, the brain releases tau, a protein which destroys more of the brain’s neurons. It leaves the brain vulnerable until it heals. If the brain suffers another impact (even a jolt), more tau is released. This is why repetitive concussions are dangerous. They lead to degenerative brain disease.

Chronic Traumatic Encephaly (CTE) can only be diagnosed after death through autopsy. Researchers are studying the brains of retired and living NFL players to look for clues. One marker is the presence of white matter brain lesions which also manifest in dementia. The Hub’s brain MRI reveals white matter brain lesions.

Symptoms include loss of executive functioning which explains why at age 55 the Hub was diagnosed by a VA psychiatrist with ADD. He never had ADD as a child or teen, or even hinted at it with learning or behavioral problems. But loss of executive functioning in adults is often confused as ADD. So it makes sense.

It’s why, when a doctor tells the Hub he needs to take the pills to lower his blood pressure, the Hub argues with him that he doesn’t have high blood pressure.

But today was a victory. In therapy with his Vet Center PTSD counselor, he recognized himself in a younger veteran he recently met. The signature wound of Iraq and Afghanistan is TBI. And most soldiers with TBI have PTSD. The VA, once it began to understand the immensity of the problem through recent TBI research, began screening all post-9/11 veterans.

The Hub is pre-9/11. When he came home, his parents wanted help, but no resources existed.

The fact that the Hub could see his own symptoms in another person was a huge moment of clarity. He understood why we were focusing on the two in-patient treatment options we have. He’s agreed to either one that comes through for him. I’m beyond relieved. He’ll have a team of medical and mental health professionals to work with all his issues.

Like Cynthia, though, we wait. We wait to find out if and when. She will rebuild a new home. We will rebuild a different life.

As I watch the Hub pet Monty while talking roofs and walls and how to live in a house with no running water or floors, I feel we are all going to be okay. I feel like it’s a yellow tent moment. We’ve pitched our tents and wait for the stars to come out. My tent is yellow. The color of sunshine and hope.

August 2, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent. Where is it and who does it belong to? Think of how the color adds to the story. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 7, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.

Wanting to Hide (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

Danni unzipped her tent. Vapors rose from the creek where it meandered smooth and flat across a meadow dotted with daisies. The sun cast colors across the eastern horizon of sharp mountains. She checked each boot, a habit from growing up in Nevada where scorpions liked to take refuge in a cozy shoe. The feel of laced boots gave her confidence to face the day. The volunteers would soon be arriving to camp. Ike had always teased her about how bright yellow her tent was – “Astronauts in space can spot it.” Today, she wished she had his camo tent.


374 Comments

  1. Ritu says:

    Oh wow Charli… I’m just glad his condition has been recognised, and that he has accepted it too… No more Ranger Tough. Well, at least not where his health is concerned!
    💜💜💜

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s so, Ritu! It’s taken so long to unravel, but in the end, it’s been all the research at the VA that helped make sense of it. I know I belly-ache a lot about the VA and its slow system, but they do good, too. Right now I’m focusing on “dignity.” That was something that struck me when I saw your Dad’s photo. Despite what he had recently been through he had his dignity.

      Liked by 6 people

  2. Reena Saxena says:

    It was a heart-wrenching read at what combat and intense physical activity can do, without the person knowing it. I am sharing it with arny wives (that is what we call them here) in the social circle.

    Wishing you courage and strength ….

    Liked by 3 people

  3. […] August 2: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. janmalique says:

    Gosh Charli, I never realised how hard the struggles were and are for both you. It also impacts everyone else around you as well. It can be difficult to admit to and show vulnerability. It sounds like you have a good support network, and hopefully the creative activities help.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. TanGental says:

    When are you going to publish your prompts as the travelling memoir of a valiant vet and his even more valuable wife? Your stories Hub and you are so compelling yet it is almost voyeuristic reading at times. I doubt my simplistic flash will do it justice but be sure I’ll do it thinking of you too and Monty and Cynthia and even the pesky mosquitos…

    Liked by 6 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Geoff, writing has helped me process, but I also get tangled up in what I’m processing and what I’m writing. I’ll work through it because I want to put out stories that are meaningful in regards to the veteran journey and the spouse experience without adding, well, my angst to it! We’ll see what comes of it all in the artistic output. Beware of the mossies — they are voracious this year! Thank you!

      Liked by 4 people

  6. […] Linking up with Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  7. syncwithdeep says:

    u are amazing Charli. I am in awe how you coped up despite the struggle. I too wish your hopes be fulfilled. While your story was heart wrenching, I am sorry to have my story said in a naughty way. Coz the yellow color was kinda beautiful for me. here is my take,
    https://syncwithdeep.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/getting-naughty-in-the-nature/

    Liked by 11 people

  8. Frank Hubeny says:

    Best wishes to you and your husband, Charli.

    ———————————-

    Yellow Tent by Frank Hubeny

    Perhaps it was the sunshine yellow that attracted the bear or the food or curiosity. Bill had a camper over his Ford pickup truck, but he could not stand up in it and so he bought the tent.

    He thinned naturally grown trees on clear-cut paper company land. This kept him alone in the woods for a week at a time or until the project finished.

    He thought the tent was perfect until the bear came. It pushed its nose into the fabric deeply breathing. Bill swatted it and it ran off.

    After that they left each other alone.

    Liked by 16 people

  9. This is a feast for my eye kind of flash fuction prompt. My mind’s already all over the place.

    Would it be ok to change the entry date to 2nd Aug, as it still has previous week’s date of 26th July?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jennie says:

    Oh my! You describe Hub so well. Thank you for this, as the world needs to know, and Vets need services. A yellow tent moment… that is just wonderful.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Jennie. It’s the Iraq and Afghanistan vets who have the highest incidence of TBI, and much research and policy change is helping current and modern soldiers. We got the call from Minneapolis today and it looks like they’ll start the process in September. We have options finally. And I still feel it’s a yellow tent moment.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. […] My entry for this week’s Carrot Ranch 99 Word challenge: […]

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Liz H says:

    Uffda.
    Glad that you & hubs have a ribbon of sunshine as he recognizes himself and takes a next step. Wishing you two strength and serenity, & hope that the good tide continues. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  13. —————————————————–

    “A Beatle’s Wasteland”

    ‘How did I get myself into this mess?!’ he thought while trying to find beauty in his surroundings, with freeze burn on his toes.

    His mind was frozen from the cold. And in this solitude, all he managed to do was to hum a tune to try and stay awake. All that came to mind in this ironic turn of events, was a song he used to sing with his friends under a starry night around the camp fire…

    “We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow sub…mmaa….riiinee…”

    And then he dosed off into the stars.

    —————————————————–

    I hope it is acceptable that I borrowed 11 words from The Beatles?

    Just experimenting a little, I just did what came to mind.

    https://latenightgirl.org/2018/08/03/a-beatles-wasteland/

    Liked by 11 people

  14. Dear Charli,

    thanks for such an open share. Yes, no one can relate until they are married to a vet, and your husband finally saw something as if he stood next to himself when he saw the young vet.

    It is incredible the immense pain but love.

    LNG

    Liked by 3 people

  15. […] Entry for this week’s Carrot Ranch 99 Word challenge: […]

    Liked by 3 people

  16. My thoughts & prayers for you and your husband.
    Your courage, persistence, and keeping faith in your husband and yourself, are truly fantastic .

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you. We have a long history, and I’m not going to give up on him yet. If he has no quit, I won’t either. And we got good news today — looks like he’ll get some vital testing in Minneapolis.

      Liked by 3 people

  17. May you and the Hub continue to make progress Charli

    Here’s my contribution under the title of Mum and Dad’s tent

    It was sunshine in a sky of green, brown and grey,
    A golden globe to feast your eyes on and aim for.
    It was the smile that shone through on a rainy day,
    The honey pot to attract the bees, and more.
    A symbol of hope and simplistic clarity,
    A bright star on which you could depend and wish,
    It stood out like no other, a guide and a beacon,
    There would never be another quite like this.
    There was an inner magic,
    Built on devotion and love,
    Was it no wonder then
    It could be seen from above?

    Liked by 16 people

  18. […] Carrot Ranch August 2: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  19. denmaniacs4 says:

    The Crawlspace

    “Help me?” she pleads.

    “Sure. With what?” I reluctantly query.

    “The crawlspace…under the back porch. It’s a fire hazard.”

    The world is ablaze, I think, and she’s worried about the dank confines of the porch.

    “Okay,” I concede. “I’m too big to slither in there, though.”

    “Fine,” she says, ticked. “I’ll slither in…hand the stuff to you.”

    Delighted with my negotiating skills, I wait while she inches in.

    “This is heavy…smells to high heaven.” She shoves out the old canvas tent, once khaki, now splotchy yellow.

    “Full of sweet memories,” I opine.

    “And fat spiders and mummified mice, sweetheart.”

    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 14 people

  20. […] Written for the August 2nd Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  21. tnkerr says:

    The VA saved my life and there are thousands of stories just like my mine. They do good work there.

    Oh, yeah…
    and a post:
    https://tnkerr.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/watching-from-above-waiting/

    Liked by 8 people

  22. Ritu says:

    Here you are Charli, a piece not inspired by my reality at the moment (thank goodness)!
    http://butismileanyway.com/2018/08/03/august-2-flash-fiction-yellow-tent/

    Liked by 10 people

  23. floridaborne says:

    You’ve been through the mill and ground back up again. I’m happy to hear that you have family, friends, and you love where you’re living. You need that support to get you through the next few years.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. “Yellow!”
    “Hello?”
    “Huh? Oh, hey Pal. Jeez… Yellow tents… ”
    “You seem a might tense, Kid. Maybe a might yeller too. Just go where the prompt leads, don’t be afraid.”
    “I ain’t afraid, Pal, in fact I prefer ta sleep out under the stars, no tent at all.”
    “Don’t Kid, ‘cause I’m afraid I’ll have ta listen ta yer complainin’ ‘bout skeeter bites.”
    “Hmmph. Pal, why is Shorty’s tent yeller?”
    “It ain’t yeller. It’s transparent.”
    “I see.”
    “Yep. The midnight oil she burns makes it ‘pear yeller. Claims it’s like sunshine.”
    “I prefer moonshine.”
    “Jist go ta yer tent Kid.”

    Liked by 12 people

  25. Annecdotist says:

    Another extremely poignant post, Charli – what a hero’s journey you’ve been on! I imagine there’d be similar struggles with a hard-to-diagnose condition in a reluctant patient here in the UK but at least here you wouldn’t be fighting the insurance companies to pay for it as well. Although we are likely to be following the US down that rabbit hole before too long.

    Enjoyed your flash – you can’t hide a yellow tent so easily! But I wondered if you noticed the connection between your character and your husband’s attempt to run away from his condition (by moving to new territory, although unfortunately away from the support structures you’ve built)? It’s something we all do in different ways in response to adversity we can’t control and don’t want to admit to – perhaps for some of us do this through writing!

    Your post also made me reflect (a lot of thinking on my walk to the shops this morning for breakfast croissants) on the constant dance of accommodating to a partner’s different point of view. We need to compromise but, when that partner is more vulnerable, we sometimes need to take control. And then, having taken control, to give it back, either entirely or in part. A complex business!

    I’ve been rather perverse in my interpretation of the yellow tent – my flash needed to accompany a particular photograph of me as well as a post about The Toddler in My Laptop https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2018/08/the-toddler-in-my-laptop.html

    Liked by 11 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, I truly hope the UK can prevent a travesty of healthcare and NOT follow the US down the rabbit hole where profit margins matter more than the health of its nation. I was asking my daughter recently how to put our journey with her dad succinctly, and you’ve given me my nine words: “it is a hard-to-diagnose condition in a reluctant patient.” Thanks!

      Ah…I’ve become so mired in that move. It reflects my own sense of displacement — where do I belong? He’s moved us so much I have no roots and find it difficult to give them to Danni. I’m frustrated that I’ve become hung up on it. I appreciate that you’ve pointed it out.

      Perspectives within a relationship are tricky to navigate, and power struggles, trickier. I finally feel as though we’ve reached a level of support from his team that I gave over control to his therapist last week and no longer will be going. That he’s agreed to the program in Minneapolis is promising, too. We got the call on Friday that they will conduct neurological-psychological testing there in September. No matter the result they will take him their program or send him to Milwaukee. I no longer feel burdened with trying to get him care. He has it.

      I look forward to reading your flash. A toddler is not what I would expect!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        I’m glad that helped, Charli. I suppose I was also looking for a way of framing your experience for myself, acknowledging the commonalities without denying the uniqueness. I’m glad you’re now in a position to hand over care. And I think I might have hit on the running away theme because it chimes with something in myself right now, albeit in a very different way. I might be saying more about that on the blog soon.
        Our NHS is continuously under threat from right-wingers who hate the idea of people without wealth and a decent quality of life. It was amazing from this side of the pond to hear about the American suspiciousness of socialised healthcare. It seemed they picked on extreme examples from over here about restricted choice. Here, some people do choose private healthcare – but when that goes wrong, as it too often does, it’s left to the NHS to pick up the pieces and sow them together again at great expense.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        I’d just posted this when I saw this morning’s headline. This is how the NHS will be privatised through the back door
        https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/05/virgin-awarded-almost-2bn-of-nhs-contracts-in-the-past-five-years

        Liked by 1 person

      • susansleggs says:

        So happy you got the call about a place for Hubs to get care. I hope you don’t have to move there, but can stay in Hancock near your daughters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Anne, I’ll be interested to read what you write in your future post. As for Virgin, that article is disturbing. Why is it that people care more about wealth than health? Richard Branson is known as “hair-flipper” to my daughter who met him while on an expedition to Baffin Island. She has some funny stories to tell about him and his vanity. Not someone I’d feel comfortable covering healthcare contracts. And yes, American have this weird paranoia over socialized medicine. They call it “commie” medicine, which I find humorous given that these same people now declare they’d “rather be Russian than Democrat.” But so many suffer, not getting the care they need so CEOs and shareholders can enjoy their wealth.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        We won’t be moving, Susan! The program is in-patient but temporary. They’ll build a team locally, which we already have. We just need a better treatment plan. Our Hancock area and daughter provide us the stability we need during this time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Annecdotist says:

        You know about these things more than I do, Charli, but I suspect his hair, beard and casual dress is a cynical branding exercise to make him seem cuddly and unthreatening. I pity anyone using his healthcare services as we hear so many complaints about virgin trains.
        Shortly before I left the NHS contracts were opened up to “any willing provider” – I’m not entirely sure what the previous wording was but it did including assumption that the provider would be competent – with the odds strongly in favour of the private sector. But we’ve been on the rocky road towards privatisation, even under supposedly left-wing governments, for decades before. All it’s done is reduce staff morale and make the system more expensive. I wonder if it will see out its century before it cracks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        I can’t imagine Richard Branson as cuddly! I can see right up his nostrils in that photo of him from the article you shared! Competency would be a good thing given healthcare. It’s so interesting going through this disaster and navigating healthcare in the US. I don’t have much faith in these infrastructures but those making money seem to be sucking it up like carp does mud. I’m not sure any of these societal infrastructures are going to last.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        I’m so pleased that Hub now has care in the pipeline and that it has eased, if but a little, your burden.

        Like

  26. At the Midway

    It was a yellow tent, not well placed in the carnival midway, but its owner sang out to prospective customers, enticing them to come closer, come curious, come in.

    *Come in, come in, all will be revealed
    Lived well, or sinned, come see how you’ll be dealed.
    Step through the yellow tent
    See how your end of days are spent.*

    Most went in just for a lark, laughing.
    Some came out beaming, said the tent had the buttercup color of sunshine summer days. Others came out shaken, said the tent was sulfur colored, reminded them of lightning, striking close.

    Liked by 10 people

  27. The Fortune Giver

    Also on the midway, an exotic red haired Portuguese gypsy woman spun fortunes from words. Her tent was unmistakably the color of sunshine, which drew people eager to spend their 99 cents for the gift of story. In every story the gypsy spun, they heard their own story and left emboldened enough to tell their stories themselves. This yellow tent buzzed and hummed with story as more and more people came to hear and to tell. The gypsy woman glowed, basking in her good fortune, measured not in the 99 cents, but the 99 word stories of her community.

    Liked by 13 people

  28. Ah, Charli. ❤ I aspire to be like you.

    Liked by 4 people

  29. […] via August 2: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

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  30. I’ve been recovering from a mild concussion, Charli, so I cannot even imagine how your Hub endured his multiple TBIs and still carried on. What a road you have both traveled to get to this point with the VA. I am hoping and praying that the treatment will help him. Despite the frustration and fear you’ve expressed, reading your prose is such a pleasure for me – one I have not been able to indulge in for the past two months with my limited time on the computer. I’ve even written a flash this week! It feels so good to be back, and I will read the work of others as I can. Here is this week’s story:

    Not what she had in mind

    “What are you watching?” asked Chester.

    “The Travel Channel,” said Ruth. “Don’t you wish we could drive an RV across the country? There is so much to do and see.”

    “I’m pretty happy right here,” said Chester scratching his ample belly.

    But he saw the wistful look in Ruth’s eyes.

    “I’m going to run into town,” he said.

    When he returned, he was as radiant as a cloudless July sky.

    “This is going to be our home at Park’s Pond campground up the road in Clifton,” he announced.

    “Oh, Chester, I was longing for Yellowstone, not a yellow tent!”

    https://www.shallowreflections.com/not-what-she-had-in-mind-flashfiction/

    Liked by 9 people

  31. Jules says:

    Charli,

    I can only hope you and the Hub get all the help you need as quickly as possible. I know all that you spoke of in your post are huge steps. It took my own father years to get help for a hip he needed replacing because he didn’t trust doctors, much less the VA system.

    I went with fiction, though I’m not a true camper, I’ve been there and done that… and can check it off my life list and won’t have to do it again, if I don’t have to. So I’ve added some history of the color yellow (at my site) while I combined your prompt with another one.

    I was on vacation last week – I hope to catch up on reading last weeks offerings as well as this week, this coming week. Everyone please enjoy:

    Cowardly, Chloe Goes Camping

    I knew I’d be a heel if I didn’t go camping with him.
    He said it was a time to heal, being in nature. He’ll
    provide everything he said.

    I dreaded him coming down my lane. All night I
    had lain stiffly prone trying to sleep in the comfort of
    my bed… I tried to dream up some excuse not to
    go. I couldn’t find any…

    Maybe one night wouldn’t be so bad? We got to
    the lake and he set up a yellow tent. He brought
    an air cushion …

    No indoor plumbing. I’d be peeing in a can.

    ©JP/dh

    Liked by 11 people

    • Yeah, understand this feeling about camping. We actually have a yellow tent. I think we have only used it a few times. On second thought, the cover is yellow; I don’t remember whether it is green or gray. You can tell how often we have used it if I can’t remember. Love your final line; it made me smile. ~nan

      Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Jules. I do believe the care can be good at the VA. The biggest hurdle is getting to it and I think we crossed them finally. I’m sorry your Dad had to suffer in pain before he finally sought treatment. It’s all too common. Thanks for writing a mashup and taking on the tent though, in real life, it’s a done deal!

      Liked by 2 people

  32. Sending strength your way, Charli. It can’t be easy what you are going through but at least you have each other. Fingers crossed both he and you get the much needed (and long overdue) help you have been hoping for and fighting for for so long xx

    Here is my entry for the week:

    The Sunshine Kid by Kay Kingsley

    I emerged at dawn to a silence only those who have known solitude in the forrest long for. The sweet dampness of the morning burned the smell of warming Redwoods into my memory as I sat quietly by the fire perking coffee I drank from a tin cup.

    The smoke rose into the forrest’s canopy as the fire pit crackled and popped and as peace settled in the sun broke free cascading a kaleidoscope of light all around and from our yellow tent emerged my favorite person of all, my sunshine kid, beaming a smile from ear to ear.

    Liked by 11 people

    • susansleggs says:

      Sharing a campsite with a child full of wonder and desire to explore can be inspiring. A beautiful sight!

      Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Kay. I’m still grappling with what it means to still have each other in the face of this. Like in your flash I try to take it all to still moments and breathe, remembering the beauty of a dappled sunrise with coffee in hand. Such a beautiful image you have emerging from the tent.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sometimes all we can do is make lemonade with some of the lemons we are given although this process can take a while. Try not to lose hope and remember that we are all exactly where we are supped to be (I’d like to think).

        I am glad you liked my flash too. The prompt was a challenge this week. Thanks you for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. here’s my contribution for this week

    Charlotte steadies the kayak. From this far out it’s impossible to see anything on the beach. She steers right and paddles towards land, careful not to drift into the rocks beneath her.
    A flash of yellow at the back of the beach, James? This must be the place. She paddles, then pulls the kayak onto the sand above the tide line.
    Shane watches from trees. The woman paddling towards him doesn’t look like Soph, she looks more like Lotte his wife.
    He steps back into the yawning flap of the yellow tent and hopes that Soph doesn’t show up.

    Liked by 9 people

  34. Luxury Home

    If you’ve ever sat and watched a mountaintop succumb to dusk’s misty cover; if you’ve sat long enough to see the fog reveal the mountaintop again but linger in the cuts and valleys; if a westward mountain reluctantly letting go its grip on the slanting sunlight that battled clouds all day, now trailing yellow rays, grasping at the underside of high branched leaves, streaking yellow ripples across the water, then you know. You’re just a poor camper, with all the riches that heaven and earth have to offer, with the late evening sky the roof of your yellow tent.

    Liked by 10 people

  35. ShiftnShake says:

    […] Yellow is a rare color among tents. But now Carrot Ranch is dotted with yellow tents of all sorts. Click over to read or write.                          August 2, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write […]

    Liked by 1 person

  36. […] Charli Mills at Carrot Ramch – August 2, 2018: Flash Fiction Challenge – Yellow Tent […]

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Hi Charli, I know how bad your hubby’s knees hurt. They must be bones rubbing bones by now. It only happened to my left thumb years ago and I couldn’t hold anything with the thumb and index finger. I hope he is not trying to walk with his knee condition.

    Thank you for sharing your need to be with the community and friends and the environment and your hubby wants to move. As hard as it is, I hope you could stay. You need your support so that you could support your hubby. Especially you could be with other vet’s wives. They are the ones who understand you and keep you from giving up.

    I know someone who stayed with her recovered mentally ill hubby. It’s tough.

    I know what you’re saying that you have a long history of being with your hubby. I appreciate that when he doesn’t give up, you won’t.

    I pray for your strength. Only you know what could sustain you and give you the energy you need.

    Here’s my flash:

    Yellow Tent

    “How was your sleep last night?”
    “Awful. I’m not the camping type. My back hurts.”
    “You slept in a cot. Didn’t it help?”
    “It’s just the idea of not having walls around that gave me a nightmare.”
    “The tent is our wall.”
    “But that yellow color is so light that I could see the moonlight.”
    “That should be soothing and relaxing.”
    “But, but… it’s like transparent. I felt like sleeping in the open air. I heard growling and saw a bear chasing me.”
    “The bear didn’t chase you. We had a bear visit and stole our food last night.”

    https://theshowerofblessings.wordpress.com/2018/08/04/august-2-flash-fiction-challenge-yellow-tent/

    Liked by 11 people

    • Ha Ha, very good! 😀

      Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Miriam, yes it is bone on bone with his right knee and nearly so with his left. It amazes me how he still muscles through it. His legs are powerful, but his knees have imploded. That’s why I hope he gets the right knee replaced, while he still has strength.

      Community is important to me right now and I’m not moving on because I know we need the stability of place. He doesn’t and he might choose to do something different. And maybe he should while he still can.

      Your flash captures why many don’t feel safe in a tent. And I think that character will not be camping again after a bear visit!

      Thank you for your encouraging words!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I surely hope he get the right knee replaced. He should not forces it.
        The second half of the flash is another camping trip with a camper in our previous own 10 acres in Washington Peninsula. We had a bear visit but no harm done. We parked next to a beehive though without knowing because we got there after dark.
        Take care of yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

  38. Wow, Charli. What a story you told. Mine is told is flash pieces on my blog – or part of mine is told there. Not as brave as you to put it all together.

    The Yellow Tent

    https://rosemarycarlson.com/2018/08/05/the-yellow-tent/

    Liked by 9 people

  39. Norah says:

    Oh Charli, what a battle you’ve had, he’s had, you’ve both had – individually and together. I feel a tinge of yellow hope and sunshine in your post and hope that the in-house support is not long in coming. I’m so pleased that he is finally coming to realise. Imagine it taking a mirror (almost) for him to see. It is often said that we see ourselves in others. Perhaps this time, it is a good thing. Thank you for sharing your journey. It’s a tough road. It helps us better support you if we get a sense of what you’re going through. So much, too much, all at once and over a long time. I wish you a change of pace and better days.
    Love Danni’s flash and that her tent can be seen from space. I understand her desire to go unnoticed. A yellow tent doesn’t do much towards helping that desire. If only Ike could see it too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Norah says:

      I wrote two responses to this one. I had to go with children and play, of course; and made a rare attempt at romance.

      With Intent I
      They dragged the upended chairs into position, stacked boxes in the middle and positioned the quoits hob on top.
      “Now a cover,” said one.
      “I know,” said the other. They raced inside.
      “What are you doing?” asked Mum.
      “Nothin’,” said one.
      “Just playin’,” said the other.
      “Don’t make a mess,” said Mum.
      “We won’t.”
      The yellow sheet refused to hide as they returned outdoors. Mum smiled.
      After some realignment of chairs and adjustments to boxes and sheet, they stood back to admire their work.
      “Lunchtime,” said Mum.
      “Can we eat in the tent?”
      “Only if I can join you.”

      With Intent II
      “I have to work.” She feigned disappointment.
      “That’s okay. Come after work.”
      “But I’m working late. It’ll be dark.”
      “It’s well-lit all the way.”
      “But I don’t know the way.”
      “That’s okay.” He punched the address into her navigation device. “Just follow the directions.”
      “How will I find you when I get there?”
      “I’ll be watching for you.”
      Conjuring no more excuses, she wasn’t yet ready to explain her attraction to him didn’t include camping.
      Later, when entering the campgrounds, deserted but for one yellow tent lit by solar fairy lights spelling the words, “Marry me,” her fears melted.

      Liked by 8 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Norah, you’ve been such a good friend throughout our crazy journey. I think he understands as much as he can. The greatest frustration is that he thinks he’s in control when he’s really out of control. It is good that he can see it in someone else, but often he’ll make a realization then not act upon it. But we have a good support team and promising options so I’ll take it in small steps.

      I loved both your flashes, Norah, but I only saw II in the bucket. Did you not want to include I? I’ll happily publish both!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        I’m hoping there’s a rainbow at the end of this VA trail, Charli. Though I fear there may still be more boulders popping up.
        As for the two stories – I couldn’t submit a second form after the first, and I forgot (obviously) to go back to see if I could put it in later. Perhaps I should have put them both in together on the one form. I didn’t think of that. No worries. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Wonder what was up with WP on a second submission. I get other ones, but with WP often it’s a weird glitch that isn’t explainable.

        Like

  40. […] Flash Fiction Challenge over at Carrot Ranch […]

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Popping in to say hello. Whipped up a quick flash while I was here. Hello, Rough Writers! *waves*

    https://sarahbrentynflash.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/the-tent/

    Hope to be back soon to catch up on everything. Best to you, Charli, and to all the Rough Writers.

    Liked by 7 people

  42. […] week, I chose to work with Charli Mills’s weekly prompt – Yellow Tent.  Her weekly story took a dark yet hopeful turn this time, and I hoped to accentuate the soldierly […]

    Liked by 4 people

  43. oneletterup says:

    Yellow is such a positive and hopeful color! I can understand the comfort you find in it, Charli.

    Here is my contribution:

    “Are you okay kid?”

    The last thing she remembers is a truck door closing.
    Then sleeping in this soft lap.
    She struggles to open her eyes. So tired.
    Where Am I?

    “Kid! What’s your name? Who are you?”

    She turns toward the voice. A kind voice.
    A smooth hand covers hers. Gentle and warm.
    Something in her untwists.
    Tears escape, sliding down her face.
    She feels herself lifted up. Hears a door opening.

    She peeks. A blue house. Flowers. Swings.
    A little girl. A little boy.
    A little yellow tent; flap up. Toys inside.
    “Ya wanna play?”
    She smiles.

    Liked by 9 people

  44. […] up at Carrot Ranch for this week’s prompt from Charli. Her story is especially poignant and thought provoking this week. America does not take […]

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Yellow Tent for Sale

    “Yellow tent for sale, never used. Complete with stakes and poles. Good for camping trips. $99, OBO. Sleeps four comfortably. Inquiries at…”

    I squinted at the ad as I picked up the phone. Files littered my desk. Paper clipped photos of children stared back at me vacantly.

    “Hello? I’m interested in the tent. Would $70 do? Great, I’ll pick it up today. Cash only–I understand.”

    I grabbed my keys and stuck my head into my boss’ office.

    “Got another tent for a family. Be back in ten.”

    https://peregrinearc.com/2018/08/05/flash-fiction-yellow-tent-for-sale/

    Author’s notes:

    For those unfamiliar with OBO, the acronym means “or best offer.” It’s common to put this in personal sales ads.

    Whenever I see or hear the word tent now, I think of refugee families. American, Syrian, Mexican–whomever, wherever. I leave it up to you to decide where this particular flash fiction story takes place and who they’re helping. It could take place in the past in WWII, present with Syria or Greece, or even sometime in the future with all the parties changed and switched around.

    Liked by 10 people

  46. […] Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt Cindy Chen […]

    Liked by 4 people

  47. For All In Tents and Purposes

    The truck pulled up and parked on the side of the road. The two men climbed out of the truck. Arrayed in green shirts, khaki pants, boots, and a utility belt to rival Batman’s, they attached their belts and shimmied up the telephone pole.

    With the sky looking overcast, the men put up a little safety yellow tent on the telephone line. Looking more like a tiny house than a typical pup tent, it hung there fifty feet above the street. It sheltered the two men as they worked furiously to fix the phone lines before the storm hit.

    http://www.nbsmithblog.wordpress.com
    Nancy Brady, 2018

    Liked by 10 people

  48. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent. Where is it and who does i… […]

    Liked by 2 people

  49. […] Charli’s prompt this week was: […]

    Liked by 2 people

  50. Pete says:

    Judy always loved the countryside drive. All that fresh air, the postcard views, the streams, the tattered American flags—some confederate ones too. She could almost hear the hymns of old spilling from the window-less clapboard church, it’s steeple at a tilt.

    But the yellow tents were new.

    Her breath caught. A camp, but nothing like she’d seen, with black and brown bodies, childrens’ hands grasping a gleaming chain link fence. Judy’s foot found the gas pedal.

    Judy thought the scene belonged in Europe. In the news. Debated from podiums. Instead it was sitting between cornfields, confronting her scenery.

    Liked by 8 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Wow, good one, Pete. I love how “Judy’s foot found the gas pedal” describes so clearly the act of looking the other way. So stark, that image of tents, children, and a chainlink fence. It can’t be unseen.

      Liked by 1 person

  51. […] Carrot Ranch – Yellow tent prompt […]

    Liked by 2 people

  52. […] a curious prompt? The little yellow […]

    Liked by 3 people

  53. Jules says:

    Second entry – a poem… and yes my feelings towards camping 🙂
    Been there done that…

    Blonde Dreams?

    Yellow was the color of my true love’s hair
    Never quite long enough to act as a tent
    For me to hide in –
    But with hugs and silent strength
    (even when a very few times when
    patience ran thin)
    I’ve always had that haven…

    Camping out in a yellow or any tent –
    Not high on my radar.
    However I hope that when we retire
    We can travel in or out of country
    (we’ve not yet been to all fifty states –
    I’ve been to a few countries)
    Maybe the hotel walls will be
    White-washed yellow – and that will
    Be enough…

    ©JP/dh

    Liked by 9 people

    • susansleggs says:

      My husband considers Motel 6 camping. He much prefers the comforts of home. I have to admit, I love nature, but tenting is not for me either now that I am 65. Yellow walls sound like a great substitute.

      Liked by 3 people

    • robbiecheadle says:

      You and I share similar views, Jules. I prefer to go to a hotel or self catering cottage to camping. I like my own bathroom.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Jules says:

        I know some folks who like their own bed and facilities that they got a camper for camping. So they don’t have do share anything with anyone else. And it’s nice too – Full shower bath, really nice kitchen. Yes they have to watch their water supply if they can’t find a hook up. But to them that is a minor inconvenience.

        Liked by 3 people

      • robbiecheadle says:

        Yes, that is a good way of doing it – with a camper.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Jules, you are on a roll! I like the dreaming and compromise. Many RV parks also have cabins. At McLain where I love to hunt rocks, they rent cabins in the off-season for like $35 a night. But BYO bedding. That makes a happy medium.

      Liked by 2 people

  54. susansleggs says:

    Charli,

    I’m glad you feel safe enough to pour your heart out to us and I’m thrilled Hubs has seen a bit of light. Being a caretaker is tough job and I salute you. I hope a spot for inhouse treatment opens sooner than you expect and Sgt. Mills will remember he agreed to go when the time comes. Waiting is the hardest part.

    Wrangling Words with my Vets group went very well. They liked the challenge of attaining 99 words and still telling their story. It was a great day.

    And now on to the yellow tent:

    The Birdcage Cover

    My sisters and I were gathered around an open trunk from our family home. Angelina took out a piece of yellow fabric that was shaped like a small Christmas tree skirt but only had a tiny center hole and snaps along the open edge. I asked, “What’s that?”

    “Do you remember the yellow canary we had when you were little?”

    “Yeah, it sang when we ran water and louder when anyone whistled.”

    “Mother made this from a tablecloth to cover its cage at night after Dad put the umpteenth cigarette burn in it. I wonder why she kept it?”

    Liked by 8 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, Sue, thanks for recognizing that Sgt. Mills might not remember that agreement! He makes strange twists — sometimes they are funny, but often exasperating. He was told to cut back his coffee consumption — one or two cups tops. So today, he announces that he’s cutting back to 2/3 pot of coffee. I was like, wait a minute — that’s 8 cups of coffee! But he says, “They’re small cups.” I’m pretty sure when the doc said one or two, he meant “small” cups, too! But the bigger battle is to get him to continue with high blood pressure medication because he now is saying it was just a trial. Like I said, we have a good team and we are all working with him to do what is in his best interest. Thanks for being a part of the safe space here!

      You flash has both a sense of nostalgia and sorrow. So many tantalizing clues to put together a past that wasn’t sunny as a parakeet. Well done!

      Liked by 2 people

  55. […] August 2: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Liked by 1 person

  56. robbiecheadle says:

    PTSD is so hard, Charli. Sometimes it is like living with a stranger and their needs to do their rituals and other things completely overwhelms everything else including love. The real person is still there though, underneath the symptoms and you do get through to them now and then. It is very frustrating and overwhelming for us. Love to you.
    Here is my piece, I wrote it before I read your post so it is a bit naughty rather than uplifting: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/carrotranchflashfiction-yellow-tent/

    Liked by 9 people

  57. […] was written for the Carrot Ranch’s 99-words flash fiction […]

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Here’s mine for the week (it’s just a little later than usual)

    Bright Yellow Tent

    “Let’s get you guys this one,” Lucy said, picking up a dome tent.

    Amber and Gin moaned.

    “Girls, the tickets alone were nearly a thousand dollars. I am not buying a top of the line tent for a music festival. Besides, how many people there will have a bright yellow tent?”

    They knew she could still change her mind about letting them go and she had a point about the color of the tent. No one wanted a bright yellow tent. When they arrived and was blinded by sunlight lying on the ground they learned how wrong she was.

    Liked by 12 people

  59. […] was written for Carrot Ranch. Many thanks to […]

    Liked by 1 person

  60. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (08/22/2018): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent. Where is it and who does it belong to? Think of how the color adds to the story. Go where the prompt leads. […]

    Like

  61. Liz H says:

    Here’s my attempt. Combined with another prompt and image. You can decide if there’s any hope at all.
    Cheers! 😉

    Before The Gold Rush

    We’d started loading at the dawning of the third moon. Triage overflowed after the fifth wave from the Kipstanian Crisis. We tried to get the word out to all survivors; transport off our doomed planet ended today.
    [Continue ]

    Liked by 8 people

  62. calmkate says:

    Vets everywhere have such a hard time … if you can link up with a wives or ex group it would help tremendously … I know coz I helped set some up and twenty years on those women still support each other. Altho only two are still married 😦

    Sunny Cindy
    Most prefer to blend into the bush when camping but not Cindy. When searching for firewood she had a tendency to often wander off completely distracted by an insect or looking for rocks or flowers. Hence she found a bright yellow tent was much easier to spot from afar.

    And let’s face it if there are other campers about they cannot wander into Cindy’s by mistake as it’s so distinct. Besides yellow suited her personality as she was a sunny type of lass always smiling and chatting to anyone with the time. Ready to help or listen whenever needed.

    Liked by 10 people

  63. […] Carrot Ranch Challenge, August 2, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent. Where is it and who does it belong to? Think of how the colour adds to the story. Go where the prompt leads. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  64. I have been so wrapped up in dealing with my four stir-crazy kids during summer break, that I have seriously slacked on writing. Even writing this entry was while dealing with kids arguing and fighting over things. When I thought about a yellow tent, I thought about making tents as a kid using sheets. Here is what I came up with.

    https://notyouraveragemomblogweb.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/flash-fiction-boxing-up-the-past/

    Liked by 7 people

  65. paulamoyer says:

    Charli, so sorry to hear about Todd’s ER visit. Never a good time. I have been tied up with family emergencies, too — hence my squeaking under the wire for this week, but here it is.

    No Vacation

    By Paula Moyer

    Jean was 10 years old when she saw it in the catalogue: a bright yellow tent. It gleamed and beckoned. Oh, wouldn’t it be so marvelous – to live in that tent, with her family, on a vacation?

    She sighed and dreamed.

    “I’ve camped enough.” Her dad’s flat response woke her up.

    Twenty years before: “the war.” Simple name.

    Clarence, her dad, served in North Africa, Sicily, France. Like everyone else – “for the duration.” Three years in a khaki tent – no playful yellow.

    “I’ve camped enough.”

    Years later, in her own yellow tent, with her boyfriend, Jean swatted mosquitoes. Understood.

    https://wordpress.com/post/paulajmoyerwrites.wordpress.com/354

    Liked by 9 people

  66. Hi Charli, I can’t believe how much I’ve missed at the Ranch…what happened? 😦 So glad to be back again, and what a wonderful post to return to, so full of hope and optimism in the face of so many setbacks and hardships. For you and Todd and Cynthia. And how wonderful to belong to such a loving and caring community. ❤ Like the apple tree, uprooted but heavy with fruit, life never stops giving and growing, does it? 🙂 I read your prompt from your FB link yesterday, but not your post, which I didn't read until just now after I wrote my flash, which is unusual, as usually I write it afterwards, to get a better feel for the story behind your prompt. Maybe that was why I found it so hard to come up with something, but your 'yellow tent' message must have stirred something in me. Ahh…the delicious surprise of 99 word flash fiction revealing a story we didn't know existed: never fails to amaze me…nor you, Charli! Two years ago tomorrow, August 8th, we played Amazing Grace, the Neil Diamond version, for my dad, but I wasn't thinking about that…until now…but obviously I must have been. See what I mean? A long road still to travel, but thank you for a such a heartening message, Charli 🙂 ❤

    A Wretch Like Me

    ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…’

    Will sang to his heart’s content, as tuneless as he cared to in his truck and no chiding from Pauline back home fixing dinner, no ma'am.

    ‘That saved a wretch like me…’

    The radio cut dead and Will clamped the breaks. ‘Well, I’ll be damned…’ A tent as yellow as Pauline’s lemon pie covered Bud Wilson’s field and not a soul in sight.

    Then he heard it again, but from the tent. He walked inside.

    ‘I once was lost, but now am found…’

    Bud found Will’s body next morning, comforted by his smile.

    Liked by 10 people

  67. faithanncolburn says:

    The Yellow Tent Did It

    It was the yellow tent that did it. I hadn’t camped in years, hadn’t taken out the canoe, hadn’t even jumped in a swimming pool. When I went into Scheels for hand weights (gotta keep up my strength), it was in the next aisle. It looked so bright and lovely. I would ignore the aches in my joints and brave the wilds. Like my dad, I only needed a ring of bologna and a loaf of bread—and I’d make concessions to my years. In my yellow tent I would have my turquoise sleeping bag and an air mattress.

    Liked by 9 people

  68. […] to retreat and wandered out behind Arnold’s shop and looked around. She marveled at the yellow tent barely visible through the thick brush. Like a quiet island stamped into the urban jungle. One […]

    Like

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