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August 16: Flash Fiction Challenge

The sun dips late, casting its copper hue over Lake Superior. The lower it sinks, the redder it grows and forms a brilliant pink path from horizon to shore. The sky takes forever to darken in the Northern Hemisphere even after summer solstice. Sparkling planets and stars pop like diamond studs across a jeweler’s midnight blue velvet.

This is the season of the Perseid meteor showers. Time to wish upon shooting stars.

JulesPaige reminded me about the connection of comets to my WIP, Rock Creek. In 1858, before Cobb McCanles left Watauga County, North Carolina with his one-time mistress, Sarah Shull, a comet had featured in the October sky and slowly faded by the time the two left in February 1859.

Cobb’s Father James McCanless, known as The Poet, marked the occasion of Comet Donati:


Hail! beautious stranger to our sky,
How bright thy robes appear,
Noiseless thou treds thy paths on high,
And converse with all our stars.

In radiant flame of glowing light
Thy silent orb rolls on,
Through vast eternities of night,
To mortal man unknown.

Thy magnitude thy fiery glow,
Thy towering wake of flames,
But mock our wisest skill to know,
We’ve barely learned thy name.

Through boundless depths of space unknown,
Beyond the realms of days,
In blazing language of thy own,
Thou speaks thy Maker’s praise.

This week, I’m sharing a different kind of post, a longer scene that features the Comet Donati. I shared this in 2014 when I wrote the first draft of Rock Creek. Although my novel has evolved from this early writing, including my later decision to give Cobb two bs to his name, this scene holds an essential piece of the later tragedy that unfolds for the McCanles family who had hoped to escape the coming war.

Perhaps the comet was not the glorious sign James thought it to be. It turned out to be a natural phenomenon occurring before an unnaturally violent war between families and neighbors. Unfortunately, human contempt is not as uncommon as a visible comet.

Excerpt From Rock Creek:

“Truthfully, it grows fainter as it passes us by. Comet Donati,” said James.

“That’s a pretty name.” The cider was sweet and warm as Sarah drank.

“It’s named after the Italian astronomer who first sighted it last summer.”

“Is it an omen?”

James leaned against the oak tree and looked skyward. “Omens are for old ladies.”

“What do the old ladies say? It’s not as if any speak to me.”

“They say that such terrible lights burn for killed kings and slain heroes. They say a bloodbath is coming.”

Sarah shuddered. “And what do you say?”

James raised his upturned hand to the comet. “Thou speaks thy Maker’s praise.”

A clomping of hooves sounded from the snow-covered road. Cob was walking Captain and leading another horse.

“Evening, Da, Sarah. Are you ready, lass?” Cob swung down from Captain and stood eye-to-eye with his father.

“Might I dissuade you son?”

“You may not. What it done, is done and now I must flee. Leroy will follow with his family and mine in the spring.” He grabbed Sarah’s bundle and began to tie it to the saddle of the second horse. Sarah wondered if she would have to walk.

“I cannot imagine a more beautiful place than Watauga, this lovely vale. I brought my children here to make a home. And now my children leave. My grandchildren, too.”

“Da, come out with Leroy. Get out of here before the war.”

“Bah! These traitors who talk of succession are just blustering. A new President. We have a Constitutional Unionist on the ticket…”

“Enough of politics.The west is were we can prosper.”

“Yes, and I hear that Mormons can have many wives.” James looked pointedly at Sarah.

“Leave her be, Da. Mary knows I’m getting her out of this place so she can have a fresh start, too.”

“Do not be leading your family to a cruel fate, David Colbert.”

The two men grasped arms until James pulled Cob to him. “May angles guard over your journey. Your mother and I shall weep in our old age, not seeing the single smokestack of any of our offspring.”

“Come with Leroy, Da. At least go to Tennessee. It’s safer at Duggers Ferry and you’ll have two daughters to spoil you in old dotage.”

“Ach, I’m not leaving my native land. How could I stray from the Watauga River? Who would fish her silver ribbons the way I do?”

“Then mind yourself angling and take care of mother. Fare thee well, Da.”

To Sarah’s surprise, Cob reached for her and slung her up into the saddle as easily as he had tossed her bundle. He swung up behind her and seated her sideways on his lap. He nudged Captain and the horse responded with a spirited trot.

Sarah heard James call, “Farewell.” His voice sounded choked with tears, yet she couldn’t deny her joy at leaving this place. She would be a free woman.

It was hard not to fidget and the night grew even colder. Sarah watched the comet as they rode up the mountains, cresting the ridge and breaking through drifts of snow. Occasionally they would pass a cabin or farm, a coon dog barking in the distance, but no other signs of life.

“Where are we going, exactly,” asked Sarah. West seemed like a grand place, but she had no idea where west or how long it would take.

“We’ll catch the train at Johnson’s Tank.” His voice rumbled in the cold silence of the mountains.

Johnson’s Tank was a start. Sarah had never seen a train and now she would get to ride on one. Somehow she failed to summon the earlier excitement and she glanced at the comet, hoping it meant nothing at all. Yet, it had to mean something. It was no coincidence that it appeared in her darkest hour of despair or that it was still present the night she escaped the damnation of her family’s punishment. It had to be a sign for good. Her lucky star.

Sarah must have dozed off because she awoke, startled to see the light of dawn shining from behind them. They had ridden out of the the mountains and the land before them was rolling with woods and fields.

“You awake?”


“Good. I have to stop.” Cob reined in Captain. “Slide down,” he told her.

Sarah did and hopped to the ground that was wet with dew and free of snow. Cob dismounted and handed her the reins. He stepped a few paces and with his back to her, she heard him urinating. Her face grew flush and she realized she needed to do the same, but how could she?

“Do you have to go?”

“No.” She stood uncomfortably aware that she had to go even more now that she had denied it.

“Just go.” He took the reins from her.


“Pick a clump of grass and sprinkle it with dew. How about that clump there?” Cob pointed to a small bent row of grass in front of Captain.

Sarah looked each direction and finally walked around to the other side of the horses. Lifting her skirts and spreading her knickers she squatted with her back to the horses feeling somewhat shielded. Her stream sounded like a roaring river in her ears. Rearranging her underclothes and skirts, she turned around to see Cob leaning against Captain staring at her with a big boyish grin. “I knew you had to go.”

“Do not watch me!” Sarah turned away, feeling the flush rise from her neck to her scalp.

“It’s natural.” He chuckled.

“For men, perhaps.” She turned back around and glared.

“Oh? And women politely pass on pissing? What happens when you have to…”

“That’s enough!”

“Time to mount up, my damsel in distress.” Cob bowed as if he were a gallant.



Thank you for indulging my historical fiction as a post this week. For those of you who’ve kindly expressed interest in my veteran saga, we are still in a holding pattern, waiting for news on whether or not the Hub will “get a bed” in Minneapolis. His therapist is now pushing to help that cause, as well.

On the Keweenaw homefront, we have the urgent sense of savoring every last ray of summer sunshine. Winter is coming. And for our writing prompt this week, so are comets.

August 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet. You can consider how it features into a story, influences a character, or creates a mood. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by August 21, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments.


Origins of Comets (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Sarah spread a quilt on the knoll above Rock Creek to watch the night sky.

“The year before I was born, stars landed.” Yellow Feather pulled a pitted gray stone from his medicine pouch. He passed it to Nancy Jane.

“Feels kinda like lumpy metal.”.

“It’s heavy, too. This is a star?” asked Sarah.

Yellow Feather said, “My grandfather found it where many small stars burned the prairie grass.”

“Look – there’s one,” said Nany Jane.

“I saw it! Did you see Comet Donati last year?”

Yellow Feather laughed. “Comet Donati? That was just First Shaman urinating across the sky.”


  1. Comet Donati? Hmm… That’s an interesting one. 😂
    Hope to join this week. Look forward to all the flashing.

  2. denmaniacs4 says:

    Hi Charli,

    In your flash tonight…a typo quit instead of quilt. Having just made an error in a flash contest, I am sensitive to small errors.

    All the best.


    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m sensitive to them, too, Bill but in the sense that I keep making them! I was frustrated with myself over the last two errors on my post photos with mis-dates that I took extra care in proofing this week. And still, err I go! Thanks for helping. It’s correctly quilted now.

      • I installed Grammarly. It helps me a lot catching the typo.

      • robbiecheadle says:

        I realised that my flash wasn’t clear in one place, Charli, so I had to make some changes after I posted it in the block above. These things happen.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I pay for Grammarly, Miriam! It’s great but not foolproof!

        And Robbie, any time you want me to make sure change I can change it in the comments or if you submitted it, just submit a second one.

        The war on errorists is real, lol!

      • robbiecheadle says:

        Thanks, Charli, I will submit it again.

  3. […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  4. syncwithdeep says:

    I could not any better come up with a story as I never relate myself to sci-fi.. but definitely a poetry of my comfort within your word count. here is my take

  5. Ritu says:

    Loved your fiction piece Charli!
    Here’s mine

  6. Here’s mine Charli

    Emily was sitting up and looking out of the window, fascinated by the bright star in the night sky.
    She turned to her Dad who had just finished reading her a bedtime story.
    ‘Do you think she can see us Daddy?’
    He felt a lump in his throat and tears fill his eyes. It had been only two months since Nancy had been taken so cruelly from them.
    ‘I think so Sweetie.’
    Emily waved at the comet and snuggled under the sheets, then looked across at the empty bed where her twin used to sleep.
    ‘Night, sis.’ she said softly.

  7. […] Flah Fiction Challenge at Carrot Ranch […]

  8. Oh, my goodness I’ve missed you all. Our flooring remodel is finally finished and I get back to important things… like writing poetry and flash fiction. <3

  9. Heads Fer Tales

    “What’sa matter, Pal, no smartass comets?”
    “Don’tcha mean smart comments, Kid?”
    “You ain’t so smart if ya don’t even know it’s about comets an’ such this week.”
    “Yeah, saw thet. This is worrisome Kid.”
    “Why’s that?”
    “Talkin’ comets an’ meteorites? If Shorty starts thinkin’ on rocks thet fly aroun’ an’ come from the sky we’ve lost her fer sure. Her head’ll be spinnin’, lookin’ ever’where ‘cept where she’s goin’.”
    “Mebbe she is lookin’ where she’s goin’. Lookin’ up, reachin’ fer stars. Don’t worry, Shorty’s got her seat in the saddle, her feet on the ground.”
    “And in thet lake.”

  10. […] my Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge, using synonyms for “love and time, with the Carrot Ranch Literary Community August 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet. I used the words […]

  11. The comet streaked across the sky dragging a fiery tail against the inky blackness. Dennitsa shivered in the gathering gloom. Her dreams of late had been infiltrated by the ancestors revealing the prophecy this celestial nomad heralded. Time was running out.

    The old ways of healing-magic were in danger. Today, the Byzantine priests had instituted a plan to hunt down and kill the fairy witches, thus performing a cleansing upon the land.

    Ripples of magic exploded from the woman’s form silhouetted against the night sky.

    Her spirit calls out—

    the continuum answers,

    benevolence found.

    The solution came from above.

  12. College Colors

    Ya, know, Kid, you ain’t half as green as ya used ta be.
    If I wuz half as green would that be yeller?
    Yeller is when yer too chicken ta try anythin’. Green’s simply not knowin’ what ya don’t know. Yer less ignorant than ya were.
    Now I’m pink from blushin’ at yer compliment. But, yeah, I’ve had some real good learnin’ here at the ranch… Pal? Is it true Shorty’s a perfessor an’ will be teachin’ at a uni-versity?
    Gosh. Well, handlin’ students’ll be like handlin’ hosses an’ cattle.
    Yep. Shorty’ll rope ‘em and set ‘em write.

  13. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (08/16/2018): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet. You can consider how it features into a story, influences a character, or creates a mood. Go where the prompt leads. […]

  14. Liz H says:

    Here’s my offering, combining this week’s prompt with the prompt from last week. Thanks for all you do, Charli, and best to you and the Hubs as you enter into the cool waters of appropriate and much-deserved care from the System.


    It started as a tone, growing in volume and pitch as it resolved itself into a bright streak, slicing silver blue through an opaque night sky. The tone grew to harmonies as dark stars broke free and distributed themselves across the horizon.
    “By all rights, we shouldn’t be able to see anything.”
    “Magic tops meteorology!”
    “Ha! You just made a pun.”

    [Continue ]

  15. Ruchira Khanna says:

    I pray your hubby gets the room and all the necessary treatment, Charli. Hang in there…right there behind you with all the possible positivity xoxo

    My take:

  16. Hi Charli
    Enjoyed reading the poem about the comet of 1858, and the excerpt from your fictional story, about Comet Donati.

    I’m enjoying your posts also from another perspective — they remind me of famous figures in history!

    Maria Mitchell, American astronomer, who discoverd a comet in 1847, using a telescope. “Miss Mitchell’s Comet” is named after her. And she went on to teach as professor of astronomy at Vassar College in 1865.

    Thank you, Prof!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Your reading journeys teach you much, Saifun! Does the style of the poem fit a one from the 1850s era? I like to think about who James’s influences might have been.

      I did not know about Miss Mitchell, and appreciate the introduction! A lot more American women were educated and teaching college than we realize. Thanks!

      • Hi Charli,
        I’m reading & writing more after joining the Ranch! Great for the heart & mind’s journey!
        Chances are that great…great -grandfather James McCanles was influenced by the poetry of Longfellow, James Lowell, and Wordsworth, in terms of style. It was also the century of Walter Scott, and earlier poets Keats, Byron, Shelley; and later poets like Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.

        Thank you, Charli!

      • Charli Mills says:

        Thank you for expanding my poetry horizons from James’s era!

  17. […] story is linked to Charli Mill’s Carrot Ranch. The theme this week is “comet”. Each submission is required to be exactly 99 words in […]

  18. Frank Hubeny says:


    There are stars out, but that doesn’t mean anyone notices. However, the comet was special. People pointed it out proving how smart they were being able to see what others told them about.

    Charles didn’t care. He looked at Anne’s eyes.

    Sure, they were told about the comet, the rare comet that comes once in a million years. “You better look while you have the chance!” “You may never see something like that again!” “Don’t miss it!”

    They looked, but they were not sure they saw anything particularly remarkable out there. They were more interested in each other’s eyes.

  19. […] Charli Mills Carrot Rach – August 16, 2018, Flash Fiction Challenge: Hale-Boop […]

  20. […] Charli Mills Carrot Ranch – August 16, 2018, Flash Fiction Challenge, Hale-Bopp […]

  21. Hi, Charli,

    Hope your hubby will get a bed and get the treatment he needs.

    Here’s the flash

    Comet Hale-Bopp

    “What a crispy night to look at the stars.”
    “Yes, it is. A good crowd here. I’m Tim.”
    “Hi, Tim. I’m Eric, this is my wife Jan. Jan Hale and Eric Bopp.”
    “Hale-Bopp, like the comet?”
    “You know it? My dad saw it in New Mexico.” Sparks jump out from Jan’s eyes.
    “My dad saw it too in Arizona.”
    “My dad saw it first.”
    “Your dad emailed the astronomical discoveries. My dad sent a telegram. They got the email faster than the telegram.”
    “Who sent a telegram in 1995?”
    “Your dad was only a hyphen faster than my dad.”

  22. […] Carrot Ranch August 16 Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  23. […] shoot across the skies like luminescent smears of silent light. At the Carrot Ranch this week they portend what […]

  24. Ann Edall-Robson says:

    Speed Demon
    by Ann Edall-Robson

    Crouched by the fence she watched, reminiscing, smiling at her childhood partner in crime. They had been a formidable team. Each day they had forged rivers, hid in canyons and chased foe. Together, their teamwork had conquered imaginary obstacles. No chore was too tough for them. Sometimes reckless, but always sure-footed, and with mane and tail flying in the wind. She laughed, remembering their nickname, Speed Demon. Those days were gone now. Slowly he came toward her, head high, ears at attention, looking for a treat. Standing, she called her trusted friend, the one she had named Comet.

    • Awww, so sweet, reminded me of Black Beauty, the book which first inspired me to start writing from an animal’s perspective.

      • Ann Edall-Robson says:

        Stories that come from an animals thoughts are fun, interesting and challenging to write.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Aw, Comet! This flash gave me tears, Ann. My speed demon’s name was Lunch Gut (I did not name him, but boy did I run him). He should have been Comet for he was a brilliant white appaloosa with silver dappling and golden-white main and tail. He was one of many ranch-horses I rode but never got to claim. I enjoy that we share horse nostalgia.

  25. […] Carrot Ranch prompt August 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet. You can consider how it features into a story, influences a character, or creates a mood. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by August 21, 2018. […]

  26. Jules says:


    I enjoyed reading your post and the poem. Continued success in all family, friends and working matters.

    I had the grands yesterday… boy one can’t sleep at the ranch can they?
    So much to read already. Your flash… well we both are dealing with gods in a way…

    Note: Please remember to use the title/link to get to the post as my icon doesn’t go anywhere at the moment.

    Sibling Games?

    There would be punishment for stealing his marbles.
    But only if the thief was caught. Which was why she
    hid them in the hem of her black velvet skirt…

    Being the children of the Gods, they still behaved with
    human attributes. Or was it just that humans had to have
    excuses for their own failures?

    If he wanted them back, he was going to have to look
    carefully. She took them into the night and with all her
    might tossed them into the universe. The marbles were
    pulled by gravity, while gaining speed and left a lingering
    light trail.


  27. […] via August 16: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

  28. denmaniacs4 says:

    Hair! Up in the Sky

    “There!” I point skyward.

    She looks up sharply, asks, “Where?”

    “It’s gone.”

    I, of course, hang my head and repeat, “gone.”

    “That fast?”

    “You gotta be quick,” I tease. “Don’t call them comets for nothing.”

    “So, smart guy…what else do you know?”

    This poses a challenge. I’m never quick to put on my thinking cap.

    She knows this. Oh, I’m good for a slick rib poke but actual knowledge…that’s a puzzler.

    “You got me,” I confess, adding “Halley’s Comet.”

    “What about it?”

    “Well, I know I’ll be 114 when it rolls around again.”

    “Good luck with that,” she laughs.

  29. Ah, Charli, I swooned when I read this line in your essay this week: “Sparkling planets and stars pop like diamond studs across a jeweler’s midnight blue velvet.” Love the excerpt from the book and the poem. And your flash fiction made me laugh! Hoping for the best from the VA for your husband. I am savoring every last moment of summer here in Maine, too.

    Winning at charades

    Rosie was excited about an evening of charades with her women friends.

    She glanced at her word and said, “This will be tough.” But having once yearned for a career in the theater she knew she was up to the task.

    She pointed to the sky and mimicked staring through a telescope.

    “Star! Constellation! Astronomy!”

    Rosie shook her head no. Then she stretched her arms in a dramatic upward sweeping motion and assumed an awestruck expression.

    With no answer forthcoming, she kneeled on her hands and knees. Pretending to sprinkle something onto the floor, she started scrubbing.



    • Annecdotist says:

      Nice one, Molly! I’m not terribly knowledgeable about cleaning products, but I don’t think we have this variety in the UK (perhaps you made it up and you don’t have it in the US either?) yet it’s very clear what’s going on in this clever flash. Oh yeah, now Flash was a cleaning product – painfully, I can even remember the advert.

      • Thank you, Anne. I wondered if it would be clear to someone who wasn’t familiar with the cleaning product, Comet, which we do have here in the U.S. It is in a green can and is an abrasive powder. It was fun to incorporate it into the flash. Fun that you have ‘Flash’ as a cleaning product!

    • I cleaned my bathroom in college with comet! This makes me nostalgic.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Molly! It’s that strange no-longer-summer feel in the northern air. It’s pleasant but chilly at night. I notice the sun dipping earlier at evening time. Ah — but the grand parade of colors is coming next!

      I love your flash! I giggle thinking of playing charades because it’s one of those games that seem more hilarious the older we get. And you struck upon why! We have many experiences to pull from and act out.

      • Fall is nudging us, Charli. This past week I traveled to northern Maine where I saw a few leaves turned color from nights in the 40’s. I am sad, but do love what comes next. I never thought about why charades is more fun as we age but you have nailed it – life experience! 🍁

      • Charli Mills says:

        We have colors turning already, too. Funny how life experiences enrich much as we age!

  30. Hi here’s my contribution for this weeks challenge

    Hurtling through space at a gizzillion miles per hour is not my idea of fun.
    The view from earth is a bright streak. Boom, flash, gone. An oh and an argh from the kids. An explanation from Mom about star dust and bones and human flesh.
    Or Santa, a sleigh and reindeer.
    The view from space is endless darkness in sea of stars. A small robot on a large comet hurtling towards nothing. My purpose to take holiday snaps and beam them back to earth.
    I try not to think of the future, as I hurtle through deep space.

  31. Annecdotist says:

    What a great way to enrich your novel, Charli, and thanks for sharing the extract. Will you keep it in now that Cob is Cobb?
    I had to dig around to find inspiration for my comet flash, but that’s okay, as I have combined it with a post on How to have a fruitful research trip, stemming from my (not-so-)recent trip to Cumbria to soak up the atmosphere and check a few facts for Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home. I would have liked to have set my flash in the context of that novel, but Heaven’s Gate Away Team is a BOT set in the USA.

    • Liz H says:

      Something slightly sinister this way comes?

    • Charli Mills says:

      Good question, Anne. Actually, this scene is from the cutting floor. I wrestled back and forth on Cob versus Cobb. History uses both spellings. It’s actually diminutive for Colbert. So I was thinking Colb –> Cobb. But ultimately, I hope to find a historian who is familiar with Appalachian names, so in the end, who knows? Meanwhile, it rambles on with Cobb, and we only hear from James in memories and letters.

      I don’t know about you, but I need multiple research trips and for many of the points your raise. But good to include reasonable limitations on time away and resources. Your flash is not one I’d like to research but given your earlier profession and proclivity for exploring the shadows, I see why the prompt lead you that way.

      • Annecdotist says:

        Given what I know of your extremely thorough approach to research, I was unsure about my credentials to write on the subject! I think I write much more from inside my head than outside.
        And fascinating the different things that interest us. The mass suicide is definitely my kind of story.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I wonder if you would be interested in the communes we saw at a distance while on the Utah/Arizona border.

      • Annecdotist says:

        Probably! But only from a distance.

  32. Norah says:

    Hi Charli, I really enjoyed your post, getting back to Cobb and Sarah’s story. I enjoyed James’s poetry too, including his interpretation of what the old women say. It’s particularly poignant, knowing what comes next.
    It’s silly the little things that intrigue sometimes, as I was by your description of Sarah spreading her knickers. I hadn’t realised that our version of knickers was such a recent invention until I attended a talk by one of my favourite historical novelists Jackie French and she explained a little of their history. She’s also written a very cute picture book about it called “Queen Victoria’s Underpants.” So much we take for granted. I live a privileged life and am pleased of that.
    Your flash is great too. I think I like Yellow Feather’s description. It’s pretty apt. 🙂

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my story:

      An Imperfect Proposal
      “What the…?”
      He scrambled through bushes, slipping and sliding on twigs and gravel in haste to his love. When he reached her, she was doubled over holding her belly.
      “What happened?”
      She shook her head.
      “What’s wrong?”
      “I thought…” Her body shook.
      “What?” he soothed, wiping away tears.
      “Snake… I thought…” She pointed.
      On the bed lay the strap of his telescope bag coiled neatly.
      “You’re laughing?”
      She nodded.
      Camping became their family tradition, but their children’s favourite story was of the “snake” that frightened Mum, not of the comet that graced the sky the night that he proposed.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Aw, Norah, I love how you wrapped up this trilogy! I would not have thought of a strap causing such alarm, but I do realize your continent has the most venomous snakes around the globe. Great flash!

        Anne had brought up the point in one of her posts several years ago that characters don’t always take a bathroom break. I became curious as to how the pioneer women handled such issues while traveling across the plains or desert. I realized how awkward it would have been for Sarah, traveling alone with Cobb. How interesting, going to Jackie’s talk (and cute title of a children’s book).

      • Norah says:

        I’m pleased you liked the ending to the story, Charli. I was pleased that your prompt allowed me to tie it up that way.
        The only time there seem to be bathroom breaks is when it’s for an either comedic or revolting effect. Normal doesn’t cut it. 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        That’s a good point, Norah. And yet normal bathroom breaks seem more taboo than the shock-value ones.

      • Norah says:

        They do. The taboos just keep us guessing.

  33. […] week, I returned to Charli Mills’s Carrot Ranch and wrote about comets.  I don’t think we have a doomsday comet coming to us anytime soon, but I do want to see […]

  34. […] Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt […]

  35. […] Carrot Ranch prompt August 16, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet. You can consider how it features into a story, influences a character, or creates a mood. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by August 21, 2018. […]

  36. Jules says:

    Second entry, mashed three prompts.
    Please remember the title is the link (the Icon doesn’t go anywhere ‘open’):

    Tempting Fate, Gathering Facts

    Standing alone in the garden, she was the only one to
    witness the comet passing. It wasn’t that anyone else
    couldn’t have – they were just a superstitious lot.

    If they didn’t see it, they couldn’t be taken by the power
    of suggestion. A bad omen to witness, they believed.
    Constance was her father’s daughter. He believed in
    the beauty of natural science.

    The scarecrow was her only companion – noting
    the direction and duration of flight, and owing to her
    mother’s romantic side; made a wish. Back indoors,
    Constance rewrote her notes in large script for her
    father’s failing vision.


  37. oneletterup says:

    Hi Charli! Very interesting – and challenging – prompt this week.

    My contribution:

    The screen door slams behind them.
    She rushes past the little boy. Runs upstairs.
    The little girl stays behind.

    “What happened?” he asks.
    “I think she’s scared,” the little girl answers, eyes wide.
    “Someone was spying on us from the woods!”

    They like this new silent mysterious guest.
    She stays upstairs. They let her be.

    Day becomes night.
    She crawls from under the bed.
    Peeks out the window, eyes scanning left and right.
    Nobody out there.

    Transfixed by the starry night, she sees it.
    A blazing white streak across the sky.
    Like from the book.
    A comet!
    She remembers.

  38. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a comet. You can consider how it features into a … […]

  39. […] Charli’s prompt this week, in her own words, was: […]

  40. […] 99-word challenge from CarrotRanch […]

  41. […] Carrot Ranch 99-word flash-fiction challenge […]

  42. Hi! I love your style of writing, the flash fiction piece is amazing. I just posted my first flash fiction piece on my blog 😀 If you have the chance I would love for you to check it out. I’m just starting out so only have a few pieces posted and would love your opinion and a follow if you like what you read. Thank you 😀

    • Charli Mills says:

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Deanna! This is a good place to connect with other literary artists. You are welcome to join in our challenges any time and in October we have a month-long Flash Fiction Rodeo happening.

  43. […] Written for the August 16th Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  44. tnkerr says:

    This week I titled mine: Once in my Lifetime

    I was twenty-four the last time it came, that periodic star that causes ships to ground. She was twenty-six. We drove to the desert’s edge and climbed Blue Mesa in the dark; leaving behind the city lights, the traffic sounds, and the sounds of club music that floated incessantly through the downtown streets. In the stillness, we spread our blanket and made love waiting for and watching Edmund Halley’s dirty snowball with its retrograde orbit and curved tail. She speculated that lovers had done the same for thousands of years before and will continue to until the comet dies.

  45. Elgin: Our Cross-county Rival

    In the early sixties, it became common for smaller schools to consolidate into larger schools. My county was no different with several schools opting to consolidate. Not my school, however; our district chose otherwise!

    Elgin became one of those county schools; it was supposedly named by combining the three schools that made up the new school: LaRue, Green Camp, and New Bloomington. Elgin even named their mascot based upon America’s new obsession of space.

    Elgin was our biggest football rival, and often, the conference championship hinged on the last game, us against them, with the Comets streaking to victory.

    Nancy Brady, 2018

    • Charli Mills says:

      Nan, that’s a great use of modern history to explain the districting of county schools, but showing how it didn’t change the sense of cross-county rivalry. Great last fine, too!

  46. susansleggs says:

    I so want to read Cobb’s story in totality. I know it will be worth the wait.
    I had to do some reading about comets and meteors to know the difference. Always good to learn something new.
    Here’s hoping Minnesota is a go…….

    Impending Doom

    “Who cares if I don’t know the difference between a meteor and a comet?”
    “I care, as a science professor, you embarrass me.”
    “Well la-dee-da Mr. Education. Is it true a comet warns of impending doom?”
    “That’s all myth. Science has advanced enough that we know better.”
    “Perhaps this one is warning of our doom.”
    “It’s not going to hurt us.”
    “You give me no credit. I was thinking of how doomed our marriage is.”
    “You may have a point.”
    “Maybe I could catch a ride on its tail to a happier galaxy.”
    “They don’t leave our galaxy. Sorry.”

    • Jules says:

      Communication via com(et /comlink) makes for a distant relationship…
      (sorry I just can’t help myself…)

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha! Your flash made me laugh, Sue! You did a great job of capturing the voices of these two.

      Thanks! Sounds like they are assembling an entire team for the Hub’s case. But no date, yet. We may have to go back down to Iron Mountain soon as the knee evaluation might have popped a tendon. He thinks it’s a blood clot from the BP medication they put him on. Doc says no. We just got the fourth BP cuff in the mail because he says they don’t work. He’s starting to run up my blood pressure, lol! Where’s that comet tail? 😜

      • susansleggs says:

        Oh my, you do have your hands full with the hub. Wish I could do more than send a hug from afar.
        At times I wish I dared talk as my lady in this flash does. I’m still quite close lipped when I shouldn’t be.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Susan, you and I might be alike in that we can think of these things to say but don’t! The hugs work great. Thank you.

  47. […] August 16: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  48. Jennie says:

    Outstanding, Charli!

  49. I did a piece on my blog entitled Grandma’s Comet about when Grandma was 100 years old and Hale-Bopp streaked into sight.

    • Jules says:

      When we are young we can’t imagine being old.
      I’ve dealt and deal with elders close to that mark –
      some are more flighty than others.
      But oh, I wish for some I had asked questions earlier – just to hear their memories one last time.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Beautiful flash, Faith. Very poignant to contemplate the introspection of an elder.

  50. […] week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less)  write a story about a comet. […]

  51. Deborah Lee says:

    This week’s “going where the prompt leads” took me to an entire day of binge-listening to the Steve Miller Band, never a bad thing:

  52. […] August 16: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

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