November 15: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

November 15, 2018

The urge to craft a story surpasses available material. Sometimes I forget my sketchbook and resort to what I have at hand — the blank side of the insurance card in the car, a discarded grocery list at the bottom of my purse, a recycled envelop.

When I was nineteen, I waited tables at a casino dinner house.  Between serving meals and refilling ketchup bottles I wrote bits of stories on napkins. More often than not, I tossed the words in the garbage along with food scraps at the end of my shift. Back then, I was practicing stories. I had no desire to share them.

It’s not until the story develops into an emotional being that takes on a life of its own that the need grows into one of sharing. But what if all you have are scraps?

I’m sitting at an oak library table, casting my eyes between the bank of windows overlooking Portage Canal and the magazine I’ve opened to read. Outside, snow falls like drifting down feathers. Seagulls still circle low over the water that has yet to freeze but looks dark gray as if it were slowly morphing into steel.

This space that envelops me in books and snow-scape is called the Michigan Room. It’s where I lead a small writing activity called Wrangling Words once a month. It’s just like our weekly flash fiction challenges but in person. The snow has returned without ceasing, and likely everybody has stayed home to hunker down. But I love this space I’m in, outside my desk, filling my mind and imagination. Wood grain, pages, snowflakes — scraps of the moment.

The book review I’m reading of Retablos by Octavio Solis has introduced me to a folk art that I’ve seen in the southwest but did not know by name. It’s as old as the Spanish Conquest, based on the religious decorative panels found in Catholic Churches. As a storytelling medium, a retablo often uses scraps of metal to commemorate a near-disaster by those who survived.

The book reviewer, Deborah Mason, writes:

“By commemorating the event, the retablo can transform that story of salvation into myth. But memory is slippery, and retelling a story, even on a buckled sheet of metal, results in embellishments and refinements.”

I’m staring at snow, realizing no one is coming today, and I’m relieved for the moment to grab a scrap of paper from by box and start scrawling ideas. It’s an old woman’s story. It’s a story about me embellishing the natural wonders of a humble bog pond. It’s a story I’m trying not to kill beneath the hammer blows of revision. I feel surreal, writing in this strange and yet wonderous space.

None of it makes sense to read. I’ve been writing every day on Miracle of Ducks, pushing aside my inner critic who has rolled eyes so much I think I’ve blinded the annoyer. What I’m writing feels like a train wreck. I was almost ready to give up, to concede that one’s first novel is indeed practice. It’s not saying what I want it to say. I keep TUFFing my drafts and overhauling chunks to fit a new scene.

But it is this idea of myth of slippery memory that brings me back to a character who once emerged in my flash fiction. She actually fits into Danni’s story like a missing puzzle piece. Ramona is now Ike’s grandma who helps carry the story and solidify my decision to relocate it in Idaho.

It took 30,0294 words, a scrap of paper, and a book review about Retablos to figure out my blueprint, the underlying motivations of my protagonist.

I never stop writing. I write every day. But that doesn’t make me productive. Often, it’s exploration and communicating the stories of now. It’s about creating and connecting. I’m hardly accurate in my goals, but my vision, my north star shine brightly, and so I write my way through it all.

Deborah Mason continues in her review:

“Yet despite its imprecision, the retablo expreses a profound  truth not only about its maker but also in the world he or she lives in. The retablo itself becomes part of the myth as well.”

Fiction or non-fiction, we write into the truth. We feel the story and layer the details onto the page. We rework the scraps until they bloom — the quilter, the painter, the metal worker, the writer — we all work in scraps until we have captured the story that speaks our truth.

And speaking of table scraps, I hope to be enjoying left-overs next week. It is Thanksgiving. I’ve decided to take that week off, something I don’t often do at the Ranch. After posting this collection, I’ll be on turkey duty and savoring leftovers until the next challenge on November 29.

Submissions closed. Look for our latest Flash Fiction Challenge.

November 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that uses scraps. It can be scraps of dried flowers, paper, metal, fabric, food — any kind of scraps you can think of. Then write a story about those scraps and why they matter or what they make. Go where the prompt leads you.

Respond by November 20, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. Rules & Guidelines.

Scraps of Imagination (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Cleaning out Ramona’s dresser felt wrong, but Danni could no longer sulk over coffee at the kitchen table. She heard Ike tell his Uncle Logan, “At least she wasn’t a hoarder.”

True, Danni thought. Ramona was frugal but wrapped in her sock-drawer were rolls of dollar bills. She thought about showing the men and making a Grandma-was-a-stripper joke. Ramona would have chuckled. Danni spied a scrapbook beneath. Curious, she opened up pages to fairy drawings and cursive writing. Scraps of dried flowers mingled with Ramona’s fertile imagination before dementia robbed them all of who she was.

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    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Reena!

  1. Reena Saxena

    Your story is moving, Charli! She was lucky to have someone around to check things out and interpret.

    • Charli Mills

      I appreciate the opportunity to share my characters and see how they are received. Thank you!

  2. calmkate

    love your setting in the library … I’ve been around several in this area and yesterday found the one that resonates with me!
    But this weeks assignment does sound a bit scrappy to me … need to gather my thoughts and make a collage of 99 words 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Libraries can vary, but always it comes back to the ambiance of the books. PLDL has incredible windows, though! Something writers need. 😉 You can scrap something together, Kate!

      • calmkate

        lol have indeed done that thanks Charli … yes the library I found has large bright windows with pleasant views … my kind of place 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I’m digging the windows. Last few libraries didn’t have memorable ones.

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    So cool how you retold that retablo into your story of your writing. Characters and stories are like a quilt I’m thinking. Thanks for that thought.
    There, Ramona and Danni in the same flash. Well paired.
    Wow, good for you allowing yourself some Time. Novel. Enjoy it.

    • Charli Mills

      The retablo reminded me how as writers we are always collecting scraps of stories how quilters collect fabric pieces. You are right to liken stories and characters to quilts. Ah — yes, they are paired, at last, those two pieces of fabric! I have been writing like mad, cooking and hopefully off to sell some 99s for 99 cents next weekend. Much to enjoy! You, too!

  4. janmalique

    What a beautiful and poignant post Charli. It struck a deep cord in me. Felt quite emotional.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for letting me know it resonated with you, Jan!

      • janmalique

        You write from the heart Charli.

  5. Norah

    I love Ramona’s story and am pleased she has brought you some answers in her scrapbook. She obviously had a sense of humour and a sensitive heart. I look forward to hearing more about her and I hope she guides you in the right direction with Miracles. You need to stop worrying it and just let it be what it wants to be.
    I think all writing, not just the first novel, is practice. We are always improving our craft. I often joke that I’d like to consult with a doctor who has finally made it and not just ‘practising’. We shouldn’t see practice as something unworthy or not good enough. Life is a journey, and each step is in the right place at the right time to take us where we are going. (Hopefully.)
    I love that you wrote about writing on scraps of paper and serviettes. I was very moved by some writing my granddaughter did earlier in the week. We were at the playground and she asked me for paper to write on. I didn’t have my notebook in my bag – must put it back – but I did have a serviette. I wasn’t sure what she was writing, but when she had finished she handed it to me. She wrote, “I Love you so much xoxo I love love love you soooo much and I no that you do that too” and she decorated it with hearts. That’s one scrap of paper I will treasure. It is on my pinboard now. Many great ideas and priceless treasures have been written on scraps of paper.
    Great post. I’m sorry your Word Wranglers didn’t turn up, but it gave you time to wrangle some of your own.
    Good on you for taking a break. You deserve it. Enjoy Thanksgiving and all it has to offer.
    Best wishes to you and your family.

    • Annecdotist

      Beautifully put, Norah. Your reflections on practising are really helpful: if we can tolerate it in the medics we rely on can we apply it to ourselves as writers too? So important to break that expectation that words will flow from our heads to the page ready to read – it’s the work in the middle of editing and revising that matters, and it still won’t be perfect. We just practice and continually strive to fail better.
      And what a lovely story about your granddaughter – and what you’d have missed if you couldn’t find something for her to write on. Of course, you’ll treasure that scrap!

      • Norah

        Thank you, Anne. It is the work in the middle that counts, but wouldn’t we love it if the words flowed from our heads to the page complete and perfect?
        “Fail better” – I’ve read that a few times lately. I guess that’s what we try to do each day as we struggle on our journey of “Becoming Someone”. (Can’t wait to read your book!)
        Yes, the “scrap” is a treasure. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        What a great term — “fail better.” Thank you, Anne! I think we do need to tolerate the novel practicing. It’s an accumulation of so many of our writing skills.

      • Annecdotist

        I think it’s Beckett.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for reminding me to honor my practice, Norah. I have to say, the best thing I’ve done for MOD is to practice flash fiction every week. I’ve drawn upon so many insights the flashes have given me, including Ramano. I need to figure out a more efficient process for worrying my manuscripts! This month has been good because I have let go the worry and as you advise, let the story be. It’s taking a better shape and has me writing in a better flow.

      Your darling granddaughter! What a lovely expression to offer you and to acknowledge that she knows you feel the same way. Sounds like she is a writer in the making, wanting to put down her thoughts and feelings in hard copy (on a soft serviette). That pin must make you beam every time you look at it.

      Thank you! We will enjoy our Thanksgiving. Actually, we already are — the cooking started, the turkey is brining, and tonight we are off to see Fantastic Beasts.

      • Norah

        I’m pleased you’re in the flow with MOD (or should that be flight? Has your story sprouted wings and taken flight?)
        I was very touched by my granddaughter’s note. It is lovely to have it in writing. Although we know, it’s always nice to have it affirmed. Which makes me think, I should write one for her. 🙂
        Sounds like Thanksgiving is off to a good start! Enjoy!

  6. Colleen Chesebro

    Fabulous! Enjoy your break. You deserve the time off. I’ll be taking off the week of the Winter Solstice as that is our celebration time. It’s important to implement those rituals into our family cultures. I’ll add my story soon. I love the idea of scraps! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Winter Solstice is such a sacred time, Colleen. There is such joy in getting to the other side of the longest night. What are some of the traditions you love most when you celebrate? I always love the lights and candles, the cooking and the munching of cookies with evening tea. Thanksgiving is all about marathon cooking and playing board games. Winter is time to hunker and hygge. <3

      • Colleen Chesebro

        It’s just me and my husband so there is no fuss. I find the solstice to be highly spiritual. I meditate and spend time with some prayers and this year, healing prayers and spell work. It’s quite lovely. Different but much more fulfilling. ????

    • Jules

      I always look forward to the first day of winter… when the days start to get longer once again. Perhaps not so much a ritual as just a knowing that longer lingering light is on the horizon. 🙂

  7. susansleggs

    I think we would be hard pressed to find a writer that doesn’t write on scraps of paper or napkins. I’m glad to know those that I try to emulate do the same. Have a great week off. I know you will fill yourself with food, family friends, nature and words.

    • Annecdotist

      Susan, I am that writer who doesn’t scribble on scraps – or only very rarely. With RS I, it’s difficult to write by hand, but I do record ideas on my phone if I’m away from my desk for a while, so perhaps it’s not that different!

      • Charli Mills

        Anne, my grandfather was someone who dictated. He had a secretary for decades who took all his notes. As technology caught up, he’d keep a recorder with him (and it wasn’t small) to capture his thoughts. But the need to express is at the heart.

      • Annecdotist

        I really miss having a secretary. Voice recognition software is nowhere near as good. When I first started work in the NHS most of the secretaries were far better writers than the managers whose dictation they transcribed in those bad old days when lots of clever women didn’t dare aim too high.

    • Charli Mills

      We feel compelled to express, right? So Sue, I’m curious — you are a dual artist of quilts and stories. How does one art inspire the other? Do you collect scraps of fabric the way I imagine quilters would? You have such an instinct for color and story that brings comfort. Maybe that’s the influence of your two arts!

      • susansleggs

        I hadn’t thought of one art influencing the other until you asked. I have made quilts for everyone in my veterans writing group and picked the design for each one according to what the individual had written about (revealing their personalities.) For my WIP I made a quilt that was described in the book. And yes, I have cupboards filled with fabric, not many scraps, mostly yardage. When I make a quilt for someone specific, I choose what I think they would want, not what I like. Now I am making art and pictorial quilts so scraps of just the right color have become more important and useful to create shadows and such.

  8. Liz H

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of your crew!

    Your flash on Ramona hit pretty hard. As I watch my mother, and so many of my other friends’ parents, once so vibrant and now growing dim, it reminds me that time and creativity are short lived in the individual (tho’ long in eternity). Best to soldier on and write through the dry spells–I’m envisioning cherry blossom petals releasing and blowing free in a late spring breeze.

    And if you ever get to Saint Anthony Village (just west of the U of MN Farm campus), check out the little public library off Como, across from the Finnish Bistro, especially the space they have for their children’s library–Heaven!

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, Liz, yes I accept your vision of cherry blossom petals! It has indeed been a dry spell the past two years and I feel that Ramona has held a key for me. I would like to think that even when our mortal light dims, we can still inspire another. And you are right — we have to soldier through the dry spells.

      You St. Anthony Village library and Finnish Bistro both sound divine! The Hub’s great-great-grandfather taught school in St. Anthony in 1852.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

  9. Jules

    Wishing everyone holidays that they will remember. For quite a long time we didn’t have family close by and had to celebrate in restaurant. Now however we are lucky to have extended family of in-laws and still have our children and grands close by.

    Charli, I enjoyed your flash. We never do quite know what we will find when we have to sort through another persons things. Glad you had some free time to enjoy your creativity.

    I’ve got two stories in the works. As I tend to work with other scraps and art forms besides writing. I remember writing on the back of fast food bags, and any bit of paper I could find. I really ought to carry a notebook of some sort. 🙂

    Dementia leaves only scraps of memories. I have had and have relatives in that state of mind, and it is a challenge to remember to only ask questions that I know the answers too, and to try and keep things light and airy as to not upset the pleasant memories that they are able to hang onto.

    Again to all enjoy your celebrations. I hope to catch up on last weeks as well as this weeks offerings with our extended time.

    Cheers, Jules

    • Charli Mills

      Jules, did you have a favorite restaurant when you ate out? We ate out when we were camped near Zion.

      I love how you describe the melding of different literary arts as working in scraps. You do that so well. And you understand the different phases of dementia. How kind and understanding of you to let them have the scraps that remain as a comfort.

      Enjoy your family time! <3

      • Jules

        Not really. Just that when you don’t have family near you don’t really want to do a big to-do.

        Too many family members… dementia. A different brain disorder.

        Cheers, to you and yours!

  10. denmaniacs4

    Scraps of Memory

    I press my fingers tightly against my temple. That helps sometimes. The pressing in. Perhaps it touches some point of recall, some lobe of a button.

    Sometimes I know my entire life is stored inside me.

    I know that like I know my…


    Oh my!

    She will call me a name from time to time. Hold my face with her weathered hand, smile, whisper…words…”I miss you. You’re here…but I miss you.”


    I knew so many.

    Do I really remember that?

    I release my fingers from the brow of my history.

    The fog rolls in.

    It rarely lifts.

    • pedometergeek

      Powerful piece in so few words

    • Charli Mills

      Wow, Bill, your flash grasps the internal struggle. Those last three lines are like three punches in a row.

  11. The Haunted Wordsmith

    I never really wrote my stories down after I stopped writing. I kept them all in my head. Now that I write again, I have scraps of paper all over the house with single lines on them or a character’s name.

    Here’s my contribution for the fantastic post:

    A Patchwork of Love by Teresa Grabs

    The kids laughed and pointed, but I never cared. When we were supposed to be playing Red Rover, Red Rover, they’d call Patchy, Patchy whenever it was my turn to come over. I would smile and run over as if Patchy was my name. I loved it.

    Mama made my clothes from scraps that friends and family gave her. My shirt was part Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Lucy, and even Baby Joseph. My pants were part Dad, a little Grace, and a whole lot of Uncle Hal.

    The more they called me Patchy, the more I felt my family’s love.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Reminds me of Dolly Parton’s song about the coat of many colors. I had a quilt that my mother made, remember as a kid remembering where all the cloth came from, shirts and old blankets rearranged and reinvented. Wool scraps getting torn and twisted into braided rugs.

    • Liz H

      Very sweet, and what a gift of a person who wears their love and shares it in grateful attitude. <3

    • Charli Mills

      What wonderful writerly scraps to leave about the house, Teresa. I believe writers process more internally than we realize, and that we also feel compelled to retrieve what we’ve created within.

      The heart of your flash is that the young character knows the love of family and that is worth more than approval or fancy clothes. Wonderful and uplifting!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Ritu! As I prepare the meal, I wonder what recipes Ramona might have. Your flash is beautiful! <3

      • Ritu

        Thank you Charli! Enjoy your family day ????

  12. pensitivity101

    A happy tale from me this week:

    No longer alone:

    He was there again, sitting quietly, waiting.
    The old man took his seat outside and placed his usual order.
    The bacon, sausage and eggs arrived, the smell making his nose twitch, but he stayed where he was.
    ‘Come here Boy,’ the old man said, and the dog wandered over to sit at his feet.
    No collar, no lead, but obviously not starving as he was not the only one feeding him scraps.
    The plate now clean, the dog looked directly at him, head tilted.
    ‘Want to come home with me Boy?’ he asked.
    The tail wagged.
    ‘Come on then.’

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, Di, I love your scrappy tale! Yes, it is a happy one.

  13. H.R.R. Gorman

    Your flash/excerpt is extremely poignant. My grandparents are all in their 90’s now, and it’s both sad and strangely sobering to watch as their memories begin sifting through scraps. Your characters are going to turn out so compelling, from what I can see!

    Here’s my entry for the week!

    ***The Bone and Rag Man’s Goose Dinner***

    The rag and bone man picked through the pile of refuse with his hooked walking stick. A bit of metal glinted, so he bent to pick it up. He grunted and bent his arthritic knees, then sifted through the greasy pile of scraps. Fingers that jutted out of hole-ridden gloves chilled in the frozen goose fat.

    He turned the goose carcass over and brushed some of the blackened grease off the shimmering metal inside, only to find a golden egg.

    His good mood turned foul: who was rich enough to kill and eat a goose that laid golden eggs?

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for your encouragement, H.R.R. I think Ramona will add a dimension needed to round out the other characters. To have grandparents in their 90s is a gift. I often wonder what scraps we hang on to and why.

      Your mystical realism ponders a crucial question of why there exists such disparity. Great use of details that makes the golden egg seem so natural.

  14. reading journeys

    Hi Charli,

    A very happy Thanksgiving to you, and to everyone.

    Another great blog with so many ideas about writing.
    I particularly like your thoughts about exploring ideas for stories. Since joining The Ranch, and writing FF, I find myself thinking about ideas “hiding” in real life, in places and people.
    And my reading has become enriched — because it too has become a way of exploring ideas!

    “Scraps” reminded me of mindmaps I draw, using key words, symbols, & doodles & very rough sketches (!) – to think through & visualize books I read, & connecting to other genres, etc.

    Mindmapping my way to “Scraps” FF…


    • Charli Mills

      I’m so happy to hear that writing flash fiction has enriched both your writing and reading, Saifun. Literary art requires us to search out explore both. I feel that stories are all around us, hiding as you say.

      Ah, mindmaps! When I freelanced and had short deadlines, mindmaps were such a quick way to organize my thoughts and note connections. Great tool to have.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Traci!

  15. Jules

    Posting both at the same time, since the days and weeks ahead are going to be busy:

    Scraps to Treasured Heirloom and When Old is Made New

    Scraps to Treasured Heirloom

    Yarn leftovers. Some from Grandmother’s blanket that was knitted. And more from a two headed sweater that Ma was gifted as a joke. But most were from yard sales or charity shops. Crocheted two or three ply into squares. The blankets have our initials in them. Carefully crafted into those stitches that hold a single square together.

    They weigh a ton! Staying overnight at the firehouse in winter, Ma wanted us to be warm. We can only guess at the places where some of the skeins came from. But we do know that love is bound in every stitch.



    When Old is Made New

    The old building was being torn down to make new class rooms. The artist wanted to use some of the clay from the bricks of the building to make a Mezuzah that resembled the structure. A Mezuzah holds a Hebrew prayer of blessing. Some of the script could be seen through the windows of the sculpted clay piece.

    On the door frame of the new building is a reminder of the old. A simplistic copy that older generations could see and say; ‘Ah, ha.’ And newer members entering part of the new social hall could also see what was.


    • Liz H

      Lovely painted pictures! Grateful for these pieces of memoir/art!

    • Charli Mills

      Tis the season to be busy! Both of your flashes warm my heart. I chuckled at the idea of the mismatched skeins and yet knowing the warmth it provides her family. The Mezuzah is a noble nod to what was and what will be. Enjoy your family time!

  16. Annecdotist

    I remember Ramona from the FFs of the past and I’m intrigued to see how you’ll incorporate her into MoD. I love how you’ve described that breakthrough moment with a troublesome MS – it’s so exciting when the clouds part and you see a fresh way through.
    I’m sure it’s not quite the same thing but those Retablos reminded me of an exhibition I saw a few years ago of Haitian art made from scrap metal etc.
    Very wise of you to take a break. I’ll be back in a couple of days with my scrap of fiction for the compilation.

    • Charli Mills

      Anne, I was doubting the clouds would part, but yes, a fresh way through arrived. I wouldn’t be at this point without the earlier drafts, but I hope to get better at this so I don’t need so many! And yes, I think the Haitian art is likely inspired by the Retablos. They are infused with collective meaning and expression. I’m going to read the book and see how it inspires creative non-fiction. Thanks for your flash!

    • Jules

      Wonderful story and a delightful post.
      All the best with 99 words and all of your books!

      I’m not sure who I would want to walk or talk with from the past…
      I suspect though to meet with some family would be nice.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s all a food chain and we await our scraps. Thanks, Bobby!

    • Liz H

      The first rule of Fight Club is…you write a brilliant flash under your open name!
      Well done, Netizen!

    • Charli Mills

      Scraps is a multifaceted word and you took on its edgier meaning. Good one, Net!

      • the dark netizen

        Thank You, Charli! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I do believe your memoir was found (check the collection), but the page, alas is not yet to be found. So many scraps to find! 🙂

      • calmkate

        lol lame excuse Charli … you are so busy I have no idea how you deal with it all … but I did post it slightly edited 🙂

    • papershots

      Hi! I liked your story and would like to follow your blog. Is there any way to do it without the email address? Just follow you so I can get your posts in my reader… I rarely check my inbox and it gets all crammed with unread emails… thanks 🙂

      • papershots

        Thanks! It turned out it actually worked when i did it the first time, without email. Don’t know why it was asking me my email address after that. Anyway, thanks! I’m following you now.

      • tnkerr

        I will try not to disappoint.

    • Liz H

      I’m really sad about the disrespected eggs and wished I’d been there to clean up (yum!)
      Loved your unique & clever take!

    • Charli Mills

      I tend to fixate on celebrating with food, thus a feast is hard to resist! Happy Thanksgiving, TNKerr!

  17. D. Avery @shiftnshake


    They approached warily. The car had been gutted, no longer habitable. She spied a scrap of paper stuck to the floor. The glove box yielded another and a stub of pencil.
    “That’ll make good tinder.”
    “No. It’s mine.”
    He shrugged. They trudged on until dusk.
    He coaxed a fire from his bow drill while she sharpened the pencil against a rock. The scrap of paper was a fragile promise in her shaking hands.
    “Write already.”
    She wanted to. It’d been so long. She’d start with the date.
    It felt like fall. Was it November? The year she knew- 2023.

    • Annecdotist

      Ooooh, that’s way too soon!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I hope so. But I was petrified by Orwell before 1984…

    • Charli Mills

      There might be an apocalypse, but there will also be writers. That date is chilling, more than 1984 ever was. It seemed too far-fetched back then.

    • Jules

      Dang that’s a tough nut. Though I can imagine that scene in a bunch of
      (well really too many) places already….

    • Liz H

      Can see those papers whirling & our undeniable bias to read EVERYTHING. This was clever!

      • papershots

        Thanks! 🙂 So true, out attention is drawn to a million different things and events we feel we’re missing out if we don’t at least give them all a glance.

    • Charli Mills

      So many influences, so little time.

      • papershots

        So true…

  18. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Swept Up

    “What’re ya doin’, Pal?”
    “Ever week they was writin’ fer the Rodeo, now ever week they’s celebratin’ ever’one’s accomplishment, an’ here I am, sweepin’. Ya’d think the dang Beatles had been through.”
    “Well, it was the Fab Five, but Pal, ya might wanna update yer pop culture references.”
    “Hmmf. “
    “Sir Paul’s got a new album out though.”
    “Do they still call ‘em albums?”
    “I dunno. I’ll help ya sweep up, Pal. Is this confetti? Or scrap paper from the draftin’?”
    “Is there any other way ta write?”
    “I feel ir-elephant, Kid.”
    “More like a woolly mammoth, Pal.”

    • Charli Mills

      It feels like the after-times of the ticker tape parade of writes! “Ir-elephant” is one of Pal’s best words!

  19. Liz H

    A scrappy little piece to slow down this overly-busy week:

    Scraps From the Past

    She picks up a marble, rolling and squeezing it in her palm at a searing memory of betrayal.

    She lifts another object to her nose, breathes deep the unidentifiable organic aroma. This tiny scrap, nap nearly bald with love, is all that remains of her early childhood.
    [Continue ]

    • Charli Mills

      Good idea, Liz, to slow down the pace of this week with a story.

  20. susansleggs

    It’s the Dog’s Fault

    “Damn it! I knew your dog didn’t like my moving in. My clothes from vacation are now scraps on the laundry room floor.”
    “I warned you to keep that door closed.”
    “Well I forgot.”
    He handed her the bills from his wallet. “Go shopping. I don’t want to lose you or the dog.”
    She gave half the money back then kissed him. “Partly my fault.”
    He stuffed the pieces into a garbage bag.
    At Christmas he gave her a quilt his mother had made from the scraps. Its origin was told to family members with much adoration and laughter.

    • Liz H

      When the dog eats your home work, and it turns out to be better than the original. 😀

    • Charli Mills

      What a fun and scrappy story, Sue! And a treasured heirloom from the scraps (courtesy of the dog).

  21. pedometergeek

    Crafting Scraps

    Scraps of paper with just the right word; a snippet of a line; a phrase or two…she crafted poems like she crafted collages.

    She chooses her words like she chooses the bits and pieces of paper and string to make up her vision for her art piece. Rearranging the lines to fit the rhythm, to fit the idea of the poem is as complex as arranging and rearranging the papers into the completed collage.

    Does the poem express her inner thoughts? Has she put the words together to craft the poem that she originally envisioned? Does the poem succeed?

    Nancy Brady, 2018
    (AKA Pedometer Geek)

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ya never know with a poem. Just let them fly. Like prayer flags.
      Some I let fly only got better in flight; being colored, imbued, by readers.
      Go for it, Nancy Brady.

      • pedometergeek

        Thanks for your kind remarks. I usually do…let them fly even if in the end, they crash and burn.

    • Liz H

      This Flash certainly did–
      Nice work, Nancy!

      • pedometergeek

        Aw shucks…thanks, Liz, really appreciate your kind comment.
        Sometimes I think I read the prompts totally differently than everyone else. Thus, when they are written, they are not like any of the others.

      • Liz H

        You get that that’s a good thing, right?

    • Charli Mills

      Nancy, your idea of poems as collages is captivating. You show the artistry and choices that go into the snips and arrangement.

    • Jules

      Did you turn off comments on your blog post….
      I agree sometime poems take the scraps of thoughts we gift them and create a life all their own.

  22. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “What the flock, Pal, where’s Shorty at? Herdin’ turkeys?”
    “Roundin’ up ducks more like. What’sa matter Kid, ain’tcha got enough on yer plate without worryin’ ‘bout Shorty? Or ya hopin’ she’d put some bacon on yer plate?”
    “I ‘spose me an’ the ranch kin git by. She off with family then?”
    “Kinda. Been off with NaNoWriMo.”
    “What? That the tribe over the ridge? They havin’ some sorta pow-wow?”
    “It’s a gatherin’ all right, a virtual gatherin’ of folks gatherin’ their words. A big drive. Listen, Kid, ya kin hear the crack of the WIPs.”
    “Shorty writes fer Buckaroo Nation!”

    • pedometergeek

      Good luck with NaNoWriMo…I am always amazed at those who can do it. As Dory says (and I am paraphrasing here), “Just keep writing, writing, writing…” I wish you the best of luck with your novel.

      I did the February NaHaiWrMo for haiku writing and it wasn’t easy trying to come up with a daily haiku. Some days two or three were easily composed, but other days scratching out even one seemed difficult. In the end, I had more than 28 haiku and many have found homes in haiku journals across the globe.

      • Charli Mills

        A haiku a day is tough, any words a day is tough, but it also trains our writing muscles, doesn’t it? That’s an awesome accomplishment, Nancy!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Yes, the cracking of the WIP, the herdin’ of ducks! 😀

  23. Juliet

    Hi Y’all
    Flying in just in time (hopefully) with my scrappy story.
    Have loved reading all the others.
    This is a BOTS. The tale of a Scottish lassie (me) eating out in Yorkshire…

    Same for Me

    “And I’ll have scraps with mine, please”.
    My definition of the word obviously wasn’t hers. What was this big strapping Yorkshire lass, queuing in front of me, actually asking for?
    I watched as the young man behind the counter drove the huge serving spoon to the bottom of the bubbling oil. What he brought back to the surface looked other-wordly. Burnt, brown, greasy little pieces of batter, piled high in a mound of calories. He poured the lot on top of her fish and chips.
    “Same for me, please.”
    He smiled at my out-of-place accent.
    “Comin’ right up, love”.

    • pedometergeek

      Cool story…gotta love the Scots!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Juliet! Good to see you flashing! Ha — scraps! Now that was one definition I didn’t anticipate. Sounds delicious, like bits all crispy and soaked in grease.

  24. Colleen Chesebro

    I’m squeezing in just in time! Here is my story, in case the submission form backfires:

    “The Circle of Our Love”

    Sally watched Nana roll the scraps of dough into a ball on the floured cutting board. This was her first time baking, and she couldn’t wait to mimic every move her grandmother made.

    “Why do you roll it into a circle?”

    Nana smiled as she maneuvered the rolling pin. “Because it’s easier to fit inside the pan.”

    “But you could use a square pan, right?”

    “Yes. I could, but the circle reminds me of our family. I gave birth to your mommy, and she gave birth to you. If we all hold hands, it’s a circle of our love.”

    • Charli Mills

      Just add a wee bit of fairy dust, Colleen! If the form backfires at least the dust will light up the sky. 🙂 What a sweet way to explain the shape of a pie to an eager young helpmate in the kitchen. <3

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Thanks, Charli. I’m trying to learn how to use dialog to tell my stories. I have no idea why that is so hard, but it is. I keep plugging along. LOL! <3

  25. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    I didn’t write a post for my flash response this week – I just didn’t have a scrap of time.
    I was thinking, though, about the minor scraps (disagreements) in childhood that are quickly forgotten and easily forgiven. It is not always so if they continue into adulthood, and that’s where I went with my story:

    Memory quilt
    She was old but definitely not out. Because they were the sons, they had responsibility for her affairs. But they knew her not and cared little for her comfort or her dignity. They signed her away without consultation, denied their sisters access to her home, sold what they could and disposed of what was left. Their one compensation for their sisters was her sewing box. What they considered worthless, the sisters stitched together. With tears of joy as well as pain, mother and daughters shared the stories embedded in each tiny piece of fabric and woven into their hearts.

    • pedometergeek

      Wow, most excellent flash fiction, Norah.

      • Norah

        Thanks so much, Nancy. Appreciated!

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, after reading about the scrap your granddaughter composed for you, I suspect every scrap of time is well spent with family at the moment. As it should be. Otherwise, as we see in your sad flash, scraps lead to a hardening over time, don’t they? Well written. Enjoy your time with the grands! <3

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. I do love my time with the grands. It is very special. We’re storing up memories – and stories. Funny I’d never made the connection between storing and stories before. 🙂

    • Jules

      It is so hard when family can’t work things out. I hear so many horror stories about fighting over estates and what was left. Of the few folks I would have wanted something from… All I have are scraps.

      • Norah

        And good memories, I hope! <3

  26. Sherri Matthews

    Aww Charli, I wish I had had the time to write a flash. I love your flash about Ramona, it drew me into her character beautifully. I used to press wildflowers and write little made up sayings in a scrap book as a kid… your flash moved me, and made me smile; Grandma had a sense of humour too 😉 Keep your eyes firmly fixed on your north star and enjoy your feast. Happy Thanksgiving! <3

  27. the dark netizen

    Hahaha..thank you, Liz! 😀

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sascha!

  29. Liz H

    Reader beware…the pen is indeed mightier than the sword! <3

  30. Charli Mills

    Quite a brew, Paula! No waste!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Michael!

  32. Charli Mills

    Wow, Chelsea.

  33. Jules

    Reminds me of the show …called Hoarders. I remember reading about one gal that they did an intervention for… and within a few years it was as if nothing had been removed from her home…

  34. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Patrick!

  35. Jules

    I can see this circle shining brightly 😉

  36. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kay!

  37. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!


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