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January 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

Like a groggy giant who has slumbered a thousand years, I feel stiff as stone as I try to re-enter my days. What is normal anyhow but the false idea that we can control our days? It truly is a gift each morning we rise to a new dawn. Well, maybe not at the crack of dawn. But you know — a new day. So I stretch back into routine, to build a sense of normalcy for what comes after a long slumber. Not a thousand years, but it has been since last year.

My computer sat closed and silent at my desk since before Christmas. I feel like a stranger to her keys, but quickly the tappity-tap-tap returns like muscle memory. This is the first day I’ve returned to my desk, following a minor accident that has my right leg healing — and throbbing. Sitting has been hardest to do, that and walking, or standing. Even lying down has challenged me.

Then I discovered myofascial release therapy, and it is aiding my healing. The therapist I’m seeing was able to unlock my foot and ankle, giving me back more mobility. It’s still painful, but healing with arnica rubs, immobility, and rest. I thought of all the things I could accomplish on the couch, and all I have to report is that I completed an epic novel by Brandon Sanderson (Way of the Kings).

However, I did use the front window often. For staring. Writers need to stare out of windows, and I stared which meant I processed. It’s what we do when we go for a walk or seek anything that relaxes the mind to ponder plots and develop character backstories. It’s what we do when the giants within us wake and ask questions. When we write stories, it’s not enough to explore “what if;” we also need to answer why.

What I’m referring to is the inner story which relates to the outer one. The outer story is all the action. It’s the plot. The inner story wants to know more than why is the protagonist on this journey; the inner story asks why it matters to her.

From the time that I fell down the basement stairs to gathering my laptop on the couch, huddled with an ice pack, not yet knowing if I had a sprain or a break, all I could think about is why Danni felt safe with a former Army Ranger. I could articulate the answer because of how my husband reacted, reminding me how willing he is to charge into danger on my behalf. Not that I endangered him, or imagine Danni endangering Ike, but as my teeth chattered in shock, the “what if” Danni got hurt question arose.

And that’s a great for action. But I wanted to explore it because I have been long struggling to answer why Danni and Ike are together. What finally emerged was a series of why questions regarding the “what if” exploration. Once I had opened this vulnerable terrain for my characters, I needed time to stare out of windows, to let the images in my mind come forward so I could better write them as words and convey the emotions I could feel to the reader who would need to slip into Danni’s skin and care about what the protagonist desired and feared.

As it was also the changing of the years. I spent time working on my vision which also required looking back. Windows are great for that purpose, too. A character in the Way of Kings is a special kind of historian who looks to the past to interpret the present. Like that character, I summed up past events to understand the crossroads where I now stand.

Crossroads equate to choices on the journey. This year, I did vision work that included three different scenarios. In each one, Carrot Ranch flourished as a place to encourage writers to create literary art 99 words at a time. This place is not a destination, it’s a traveling companion, a ranch on wheels. It’s satisfying to know that Carrot Ranch is here for the long haul. Try as we might, writers can’t escape the call of words. No matter what choices I make next in life, I’m still on the writer’s journey, and it’s like a pilgrimage — better to share the road.

Did you explore your own vision over the end of the year break? Did you try to follow or adapt the vision process from the last post? Have you taken time to look back so you can better understand where you are at and where you are going?

Regardless, here we are at the beginning of 2019. I hope you get to follow your calling and do what it is that makes writing meaningful to you. I encourage you to set goals and check in quarterly on your progress. Please share your goals or vision in the comments if you feel moved. You can share them privately, too if you want someone to bear witness outside the public eye (just contact me).

Carrot Ranch is ready to roll, and we have our first challenge of the year —

January 3, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a metaphorical reflection or a glance in the rear-view mirror. Who is looking back, and why? Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by January 8, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.


Nothing Stays Perfect Forever (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Looking back, Danni understood that she gained more than Ike in a marriage. She said yes to the man she fell in love with and the ranch-home he offered with garden, barn, history, and horses. She said yes to his family, getting the grandmother she always longed to have. She said yes to North Idaho, a balm to a harsh childhood. She said yes to finally concluding her studies and working her hard-earned degrees. Looking back, Danni saw all she stood to lose. Would she have said yes that spring day had she known Ike would leave for Iraq?


  1. I am glad to hear you are on the mend, Charli. A most unfortunate accident. I did set some goals and here they are: I hope you will have time to help me with my new book soon.

  2. Norah says:

    So glad to see you back in the saddle (so to speak), Charli. I hope your recuperative process is quick. You’ve been knocked for a six. I’m pleased that you’ve taken the time out to let your body heal. It’s difficult for it to do so if your mind is racing all over the place. I think the quiet reflection in which you seem to have engaged is perfect. That it has helped you understand Danni and her why a little more is perfect too.
    I enjoyed your flash and Danni’s backwards look. I hope she would have made the same decision. Life can seem so much easier in retrospect.
    This is a very interesting prompt to start the year. As we look back on the past, what we learn will carry us forward.
    Best wishes for the writing future you visualise.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Norah, I feel like I’m watching the riders, looking forward to the saddle soon! Yes, I think we heal best in reflection with a quiet mind. Mine is always cheerful to wander, thus the need to prompt it to “do” when necessary. But taking an action break was good. Yes, I think Danni will come to the conclusion that her yes was deeper than superficial. She is gaining improved context as a character.

      I hope you have had a break, as well and find the New Year refreshing and promising. It always feels like a new penny or a clean slate. I thought one glance back might push us all forward into a clearer vision of the future. Wishing you much success in 2019. Let’s end this decade with a grand journey toward our North Stars!

      • Norah says:

        I’m sorry I preempted your ride and hope you are back in the saddle soon.
        I do like the way in which you suggest we should finish this decade. Is that this year or next? 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        Hmm, I’m thinking this is the last year of the decade and we start a new one with ’20 but now that you ask…I’m not sure. What do you think Teach?

      • Norah says:

        Wikipedia tells me that this year is the last of the decade.
        It’s interesting though, as I remember quite a debate at the turn of the century/millennium as to when it really should be celebrated.
        Other results in the search bring up alternative ideas.
        We usually count in groups of tens, starting with one and ending in the 0 number. To do it the other way round in years is confusing. Does anything else count this way with the 0 as the first and 9 as the last? I wonder. Perhaps we need to get a mathematician onto the job.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Evidently, we need a teacher on the job! When you put it in mathematical terms it makes sense that the decade would end on the count of 10.

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli, I think (hope) I’ve snuck in just in time with my response – Don’t Look Back. Perverse as usual. 🙂

  3. Ritu says:

    Winde full to know you are on the mend Charli! We missed you!
    I’m sitting out for a while, being sat at a crossroads myself… Blog or finish my manuscript/book dream!!!!
    Hope to be back with you all soon 😍

    • TanGental says:

      Book book book…

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Ritu! It feels like a “crossroads” year, and maybe it’s the fact that 2019 will conclude a decade. But, yes, I third, Geoff and Anne — BOOK FIRST! The Ranch will roll alongside you, and be ready for your return. I hope to hear updates as you progress. <3

    • Jules says:

      While, yes the book is the goal. sometimes a short break of 99 words might help to de-stress your day?

      Wishing you all the best on your adventure of your book. I keep thinking I have to organize my poetry collections. Or maybe even tie together some of the vast 99 word stories into some theme and order (as others have done?) I guess both the work involves and the process is a daunting fear that needs to be conquered. At least at my end. To do such a thing without any help is like trying to climb a mountain with one hand tied behind one’s back.

      Hoping all the positive vibes you get help you to your outstanding conclusion! Because we all know that you can do it! Hugs, Jules

      • Ritu says:

        Thank you so much Jules! I am just over half way through my reread and tweaked. Once I’ve completed it, I will definitely take part again, while I decide on my next move with the book… Trad vs. indie?
        Good luck with compiling your bits too! I did that with my poetry book too!!!

      • Charli Mills says:

        Jules, it’s always exciting to consider the possibilities of what one can do with one’s material. I know you can do it, too!

      • I agree, Jules, that the 99 word break is a great de-stressor. I haven’t been writing much lately – taking time to adjust to my retirement. But 99 words is a lot of fun to write!

      • Jules says:

        I’m sort of retired. On call for the grands. But mostly retired. So my job is to keep me happy 🙂

      • I’m on call for the grands, too, Jules. I’m having some difficulty adjusting. It’s hard to have so much free time! (I never thought I’d say that!)

      • Jules says:

        I’m not quite ready to say that. But I’ve worked enough to believe I can enjoy what ever time I’ve got now. That might be different when my Hubby joins the scene in a few years. 😉

      • We have a lot in common, Jules. My husband is still working, too. I am trying to make friends with minimal structure. I suppose it will get better? It’s only been 2 months.

      • Jules says:

        I think it gets better. I get to write and craft when I want, between household stuff, errands, etc.

        I’ve got one friend who is also retired. So we are going to make some plans for when the weather gets better. We also meet at the library cafe.

        I can honestly say I don’t miss getting up early for the bakery job I once had. I used to work in retail which meant weekends and most holidays, and some evenings. 😀

      • I need to give it a fair chance before I plunge into another job or volunteer gig. I have made plans to get together with friends on a regular basis. I worked as a nurse for nearly 40 years – did my share of weekends, holidays, and even worked nights the first year I was out of school. Last few years I worked Monday – Friday which was better but still very demanding. I only worked 2 days/week for the last year, and I thought that would ease me into it. I don’t miss the pressure and politics of my job! I’m hopeful I can adjust.

      • Jules says:

        Sometimes my hubby travels for work. I don’t want to be in any committed situation where I am depended upon and couldn’t just get up and go with him if it was a good place. I got to go to Florida last December, and was able to visit a relative. I don’t want to lose that ability (which I was supposed to have when the nest emptied, but then got refilled with grands!).

        Just like moving – give yourself six months and it will all seem the new ‘normal’ 🙂

        I definitely don’t miss the politics! Some bosses probably should take a few classes in public relations. 🙂

      • Your advice to wait 6 months is valid, Jules. I am worried I will overcommit and then regret it because I’ll lose my flexibility. My last boss tipped me over the edge and helped me make my decision. She was dreadful!

      • Jules says:

        It did take me awhile, but learning to say ‘No’ can be a good thing. Remember you and your family first. I may have tipped the scales in the other direction… as I basically quit (over time) 99.99% of the organizations I belonged to. It is nice to feel needed, but it is also nice to have flexibility and be able to breath. Do e-mail me any time – Cheers and good luck.

    • Norah says:

      I wish you success in whatever you choose to do, Ritu. May your pens (or fingertips) carry your words and ideas as lightly and joyfully as on wingtips.

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

  5. Oh, my gosh! I’m sure sorry to hear about your accident, but glad that it wasn’t even worse.

  6. Back Up

    “Look where yer goin’, Kid!”
    “I’m enterin’ the new year reflectin’ on where I been. Like Janus.”
    “Yer an anus all right, walkin’ bass ackwards like thet. Turn aroun’ an’ look forward, Kid.”
    “Looks good, Pal, lookin’ back. They’s a long trail a yarns, fer sure.”
    “Yer gonna git tangled in thet yarn an’ trip.”
    “Dang, I sure shoveled a lotta shit last year. Shorty even give me a badge. Ow! I’ve hit a wall.”
    “Carrot Ranch don’t do walls. Jist backed inta the broad side a the barn with yer behind. Git up, look ta the trail ahead.”

  7. calmkate says:

    Sorry to hear about your fall Charli, a message to slow down 🙂

    Love your reflective post … will try to be a bit more creative …

  8. TanGental says:

    Ouch. Poor you. Somehow – I blame the pets – my laptop took a dive off my desk and has developed a stutter. So no new book writing for me. I can flash on the tablet and blog on the phone but if I’m at a serious, umm key stage of typing – pardon the pun, it’s the laptop and it’s buggered. So I’ve printed off a wip and I’m working through it, old style. After, well I’ve an anthology and some poetry I want to publish when back from the editors and then it’s book two in the Harry Spittle saga. Not much, you know. Much love from this side of the pond.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Geoff, you are an expert in spills over your experienced years, so I’m sure you can empathize! Oy, I think at this stage I’d rather throw myself down the stairs than my laptop. But funny how we adjust. You’ve got a right plan in place already, and I suppose we’ll both be hobbling along with our writing. I’ve been looking forward to more guffaws with Harry Spittle, so carry on! Thank you, I feel the warmth from your side of the pond (might be the love, might be global warming).

    • Now, Geoff, is that an excuse not to publish your poetry?

      • TanGental says:

        It’s going forward but rather on hold. I’ve had some comments back so far but haven’t been able to access them… talk about itchy fingers…

    • Norah says:

      Not much! Not much indeed! You are always good for a laugh. 🙂

  9. floridaborne says:

    Trying to recover from a fall like that can be frustrating.

    About 20 or so years ago, I fell down a flight of wooden stairs and my foot was caught between steps. I’d never felt such pain. Of course, hubby came to the rescue (it was the only way to stop the horrid screaming. 🙂 ) . The orthopaedist said it would’ve been better had I broken the bone.

    The ligaments, tendons, sinews, and muscles were torn up instead of a clean break. I was told that some of the damage might not ever heal. I was in a cast for a month, then had to wear something that was a lot like a brace for almost a year. To this day, I still have pain in that leg when the weather changes.

    • Glad you’re mostly alright, and hope you live somewhere with pretty stable weather!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, that makes me shudder, Joelle! To get caught after a fall like that would be terrifying. I’m glad hubby was home. Mine, too! Yeah, I was all proud that I have stout bones and no breaks, but the pain of torn soft tissue is excruciating. But I tell you, this myofascial massage therapy is incredible. She’s traced the injury up to my jaw, and each time I see her the pain improves greatly. She’s also working on old stuff, too so maybe you could look into a therapist in your area. Funny how our injuries become weather vanes. I guess I just developed a new one.

      • floridaborne says:

        I’m happy to hear that you are on the road to recovery.

        Did you know there are people in the world who hate having a massage? I can’t endure any kind of massage for more than a minute. I have tried several techniques and recognize myofascial massage as one of them. Acupuncture, yes. Straight chiropractic (the old-school kind), yes. Those can work for me to help alleviate pain and keep me limber(ish).

        Don’t know if it’s the Tourette Syndrome that makes massage unable to help, or simply that my body ain’t quite right. 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        So true, Joelle. Our bodies all crave or respond to different modalities. I’m glad you can do acupuncture. I find that excellent for pain relief. And the Hub goes weekly for his pain management.

      • Norah says:

        I’ll have to check out this myofascial massage. It sounds interesting.

      • Charli Mills says:

        It has unlocked my ankle, shoulders, and neck. I’ve always wanted to try it and finally got the excuse!

    • Norah says:

      Oh dear. That doesn’t sound good. Funny (not) that the pain lingers. I had a much less severe injury to my leg almost thirty years ago. It was a deep tissue bruise. It still hurts when I press on it but I wouldn’t call it painful; and I don’t press on it all that often, but I know what you mean about pain hanging around long after the initial injury. I hope your pain is not too unpleasant each time the weather changes.

      • floridaborne says:

        Just offering my support for you — especially for the fact that other people won’t understand how a soft-tissue injury can be so much worse than a clean break.

      • Norah says:

        Thank you for your support. You’re right. It’s not fun is it?

      • floridaborne says:

        I was thrown off a motor scooter into a rock pile when I was 20. Had a fractured wrist and a bruise into the hip (doctor said that the hip had been close to breaking). Both the hip and wrist healed in 2 months.

        I often wondered why the tissue damage never did heal well, and then had to chuckle at one thought: Muscle memory.

        I know it isn’t the reason, but it did strike my funny bone. 🙂

      • Norah says:

        That fall from the motor scooter doesn’t sound much fun, but I’m pleased the injuries healed quickly.
        I’m pleased your funny bone didn’t break. 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        I’ve never had a break for comparison, but it has surprised me at how deep the ache can be. I wonder if myofascial release would help that spot, Norah?

      • Norah says:

        That’s an interesting thought, Charli. I’ve never really considered doing anything to help it. It’s not a huge issue, just an occasional reminder. I’ve often wondered why it remains when all the cells in our bodies are supposed to be replaced in a few short years.

  10. Glad to hear you are on the mend Charli.
    Happy New Year.
    My piece is Then and Now.
    I am not who I was,
    Nor would I want to be
    That empty crushed shell,
    Used, misused,
    Verbally abused.
    I am not where I used to be,
    Nor would I want to go back,
    I have found my way,
    Am loved, truly blessed,
    My life is refreshed.
    I know not where I’m going,
    But I am not alone,
    I have found my soul mate,
    My saviour, my guide,
    Always at my side.
    It doesn’t matter what we were,
    Together we simply Are,
    Two drifting halves, forever joined,
    Not perfect, but meant to be,
    Us, exactly what you see.

  11. […] was written using the prompt provided by Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch of a story about a character looking back, in 99 […]

  12. […] was written for the January 3rd Carrot Ranch prompt – looking […]

  13. […] Carrot Ranch Jan 3 prompt January 3, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a metaphorical reflection or a glance in the rear-view mirror. Who is looking back, and why? Go where the prompt leads. Respond by January 8, 2019. […]

  14. susansleggs says:

    I felt the quiet of your computer as the Ranch blog pages weren’t active. I learned how important it has become in my daily routine. I wish your mending was going quicker, but reflection is indeed a tool to be used to move forward. Sending good vibes, will add my flash later.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Sometimes we appreciate the routine after we’ve had a pause. I’m feeling even better after this last round of massage therapy and refreshed to get back into my routines with all of you, too. Thanks for the good vibes, Susan!

    • Liz H says:

      My rhythm was a little screwed up, too, without the CR Weekly Flash, but I ended up needing to produce, so am working on a longer piece instead. I think there’s a lesson for resolution there…I just don’t feel right without putting words to keyboard! Need more time & focus…

      • Charli Mills says:

        When workers on the railroad would swing their huge sledgehammers to pound ties and the tracks into alignment, they would get into a rhythm. That’s how they got the nickname gandy dancers. We writers are working on the railroad too, and need that rhythm to pound out our stories.

      • Liz H says:

        Nice image!

  15. Jules says:

    Dear Charli,

    Welcome back to routine. Choices, were they ever meant to be easy? Living takes time, effort and work. Sometimes looking back can help us move forward.

    (See me waving to everyone here! Hi ya! I hope to get caught up on reading Rodeo Entries and will attempt to stay somewhat current in reading, but golly life does get in the way – so we all take it one step at a time.)

    I offer this haibun:
    Salto Quantico

    In retrospect Marietta had a breakthrough year. Though it took up way too much energy, that long standing grudge that the sisters held for so many silent years. They finally were talking again. Though there were limits that had been set in cement. The two were not friends in their youth and most likely would not be best pals. But at least they were talking, and even laughing.

    To be a peacekeeper of the hearth, that too was work. Etta hoped a slight name change helped.

    shifting sands cannot
    stand still while powerful sea
    rearranges all


    Marietta (Italian: variant of Mary) means; bitter
    The name Etta is a French baby name. In French the meaning of the name Etta is: Keeper of the hearth. Rules her household. From Henriette, the French feminine form of Henry.
    salto quantico: Italian for quantum leap

  16. Oh man, healing sucks. Have you ever wondered why it is that you can hurt yourself when you’re young and get over it, but then you get older and it just steadily gets harder? Seems a bit unfair to me!

    Anyway, here is my entry for the week –

    Remember Lot’s wife

    “Remember Lot’s wife?” Lance asked. He rolled the wire cord out, taking careful steps as he laid it on the ground. “God turned her to salt for lookin’ back.”

    “That was Sodom and Gomorra, though, not the bowlin’ alley. You suppose God’d saltify us if we just take a last couple throws?” Despite his reluctance, Drew placed the charge mechanism on the ground and fed in Lance’s wire.

    Lance sat down behind the blast shield. “Dunno ’bout that. Place coulda been full of sin.”

    Drew nodded. “Boss’ll be mad even if God isn’t. Help me run the final checks.”

  17. […] January 3 – Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  18. Pete says:

    Up until this summer, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t make the baseball team. After all that time practicing, playing catch in the front yard. Dad with his glove, trying not to roll his eyes whenever I missed a grounder—which was whenever he threw a grounder.

    “It’ll come,” he said.

    It never came. But as team manager I got a jersey, team picture, even a shiny trophy. All without striking out and causing us to lose.

    Then, about a month ago, I said forget it. What’s the point? That was also around the time I met Lia.

  19. denmaniacs4 says:

    Happy New Year Charli and Carrot Rancheros, no matter what the tone of my little effort suggests…

    The End of One Year Just Might Be My Last

    Some New Years, I think I’m sinking into a bog, a squalid sinkhole of quicksand. There I am, what’s left of me, being sucked down into the slurp of time. Those last few days of whatever year is fizzling out, I always want time to stop, to halt the wear and tear on my future.
    Every New Year shortens my possibilities.
    So, I mention this to my buddies.
    They say, “get a life.”
    I say, “I have one. I’d like to keep it.”
    Then I go off into a corner, look out a window, knock back some brandy, whimper.

    • Jules says:

      Everyone has their own definition of life. Seems your character might need an adjustment? Though – there were several years I felt like that though I didn’t knock back any brandy – I just whimpered.

      Best to you in this New Year – and yep, I think as we age the years do seem shorter 😉 Just watching my grands grow – weren’t they just born? 🙂

    • What a way to live. Hey, it’s ok you sent that character to the corner, it’s well written, fun in it’s own way. I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve but have never felt sucked down by the slurp of time.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Happy New Year, Bill and cheers to writers who have many, many lives to consider! The tone you’ve captured, though bleak, is something I think many feel, especially those who numb “the wear and tear on my future.” Brilliant line. Brilliant piece.

    • Norah says:

      I know what you mean. I’d like to keep mine too – for a while longer at least. 🙂

  20. Lisa L. says:

    So glad to know you’re getting back to things. I particularly love what you said here – What is normal anyhow but the false idea that we can control our days? So true. So true. And I think that’s where I need to start this year…remembering that, well, life happens. How we respond is key.
    I’m still working on my vision and goals. I can tell you at least this – a priority is for me to back here regularly, active and engaged. I’m looking at the badges right now.
    You have my prayers for continued healing. I am a big fan of arnica, by the way. Nothing like it.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Life will always happen, Lisa. I find that even small increments of commitment to writing can forge big result. You pick your badges and go after those goals! I’ll be cheering for you! And yes, arnica is amazing and helps the body heal.

  21. Best Face Forward

    “Hey Kid. See yer walkin’ facin’ the right way now. Have a seat.”
    “Uh, no thanks, Pal… still hurtin’. Darn barn.”
    “Ya looks as if yer hurtin’.”
    “This’s ma thinkin’ face.”
    “Thinkin’ back ta when I tried ma hand at writin’.”
    “Thinkin’ ta do more a it. Send D. Avery packin’. Do ma own writin’.”
    “Kid, it don’t work thet way. Asides, it’s a heckuva lot easier bein’ written than doin’ the writin’. An’ what if ya git D. Avery’s voice in yer head, huh?”
    “She does claim we write ourselves…”
    “Let’s keep our present arrangemint, Kid.”

  22. […] too. Ria had to survive this life threat. A throwback plays on her mind as she views her squad in wing mirror. They stayed there waving at her with tears and smiles. “How blessed am I to get them in my […]

  23. […] Inspired by the prompt […]

  24. Jennie says:

    Great prompt! And, I love your flash fiction story. I hope you’re on the mend, Charli.

  25. Welcome back, Charli, and hope you’re continuing to heal. One of the great things about being a writer is that even non-productive times can be productive and I like your new insight into Danni’s character. I actually know someone who realised in retrospect that she’d got together with her partner for the sake of his relatives, so i really liked your flash.
    I’ve been looking back on my year’s reading: 147 books from which I picked 19 favourites. But when I realised my processing had got out of hand – despite some pretty graphs – inspired a flash about the protective function of obsessions:
    Something sensational to read in the train
    My favourite reads of 2018 Part 4 #amreading

    • Your fine flash shows the difficulties any one, even a professional, has at being a listener. Hmmm.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Anne, it seems when we stand to let go of something, we realize we hung on for other reasons. I imagine we all do a lot more of that than we realize.

      147 books is an impressive pile to amass. 19 is a good list of favorites from such a quantity. Processing is another way writers like to be productive. We have lots of mind gears churning.

      • For a hoarder like me, we hang onto things for unconscious reasons too!

      • Charli Mills says:

        I know someone who asks friends and family not to give her anything because she can’t let it go, even if she doesn’t like it. So one year I gave her a “combustible” birthday present for her to burn. We’ve had interesting conversations about why we hold onto things, and realizations years later.

  26. Hi Charli,
    Welcome back. Good to know you are recovering well.

    Explorations, reflections, my thoughts:
    Life: ups & downs.
    Keep reading ? Absolutely !

    Blog Uncertainties :
    To blog or not? Write summaries of my reading or not?
    To write FF or not ?

    I’m reading James Corey’ s “Leviathan Wakes” , and an idea comes to mind for today’s FF !


    • Charli Mills says:

      You know your journey, Saifun — answer all other questions by what makes you feel as alive as reading does. Ooh, looks like you are reading a good sci-fi book! Thanks for the welcome back!

  27. Ann Edall-Robson says:

    Solace of the Land
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    It calls her name. It always has. The quiet, the solitude, but most of all, the connection to her heart. The echo of the wolves penetrating the valley walls. The lazy hawk floating high overhead in the early morning light. The rustle of the leaves dancing to a summer breeze and the mournful wail of the north wind pushing snow through naked branches. Tiny dots of green and colour carpeting the meadow floor in spring. Where is this place where people are none? Where gravel roads turn into deer trails. It is the one place her soul finds solace.

  28. Reblogged this on Loleta Abi.

  29. […] via January 3: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  30. […] The Carrot Ranch January 3, 2019, flash fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a metaphorical reflection or a glance in the rear-view mirror. Who is looking back, and why? […]

  31. Well, I got sidetracked and used the prompt to rehash an older story. But it is 99 words.


    They traveled at night, leaving the uncertainty and danger of the distillation camps behind. They walked, Ahden’s stories a mantra; stories of green, stories of trees that once cooled and soothed the land. Ahden’s most fantastic stories concerned the forked stick he claimed would point to water lying like buried treasure underground. He said he’d find water or die trying.

    The three of them sipped carefully from their flask of water. This girl had joined them and hadn’t looked back. Ahden and Leena would tell her what they remembered, teach her all they knew. They lived for her now.

    • Jules says:

      Taking a new life under one’s wing… a new challenge moving forward.
      Reminds me of some stories I’ve read like Pollyanna where a new force just illuminates and redirects life. 🙂

      • Ah shoot, Jules… you just made me see the sequel. (in a flash) Never finished!

      • Jules says:

        Glad that here at the Ranch we can inspire each other.. Nope like writing like life, each word a new breath 🙂

        Now I’ll be a huntin’ for the addition 😉

      • Ha! Don’t hold your breath. I saw how it could be but must move on for now. Too many stories, too little time. But still… that little girl should emerge more, along with the seeds in that pouch.

      • Jules says:

        🙂 I know – I have several series that are on hold.

        I like the short stuff. When its done its done! There’s always someone though who wants to know more…

    • Charli Mills says:

      Nothing quite like having a young one to teach the bygone ways to give a look back at what was lost. Somehow, it feels hopeful to find continuity for what once was and could be again. And D., repurposing stories is a valuable skill to develop and practice.

  32. Happy New Year Charli. Glad to hear your injury is improving. I also fell and hurt my foot and been hobbling around since Mid November. Two clumsies! Here’s to no accidents in 2019!

  33. […] Buried Treasure Source:  Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt: write a story about a character who looks back. Word count:  99 […]

  34. […] two for the Carrot Ranch January 3, 2019, flash fiction prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a […]

  35. Looking Back

    “I have to settle gran-mere’s estate. Such as it is.”

    He watched her zip her duffle bag. She was a light packer. And an impulsive traveler.

    “Can’t you handle this over the phone, or email?”

    “I’d rather do it in person. It’s not that far. I shouldn’t be gone long.”

    He and Hope stood on the porch in silence, watching her go.

    She glanced in the rearview, then stopped. She backed up, turned the truck off.

    “I bet Luciene would be willing to care for the animals. If you and Hope wanna go with me?”

    Hope’s smile said yes.

  36. […] be writing flash fiction again. Our resident flash fiction guru, Charli Mills, is back in action at Carrot Thank goodness. Check out the rules […]

  37. So glad to see you back, Charli. Hello everyone. I missed you all! Here’s my piece for this week. You’ll want to read my post to learn more:

    Staring into the river, Dennitsa felt the ancient memories drag her back into the past. As if she had lived long ago, the hazy recollections played out in her mind.

    The truth stared her in the face. The Slavic witches were descended from the flying dragons who were the spirits of the fallen angels. They had tumbled out of the skies at the beginning of time. Those spirits copulated with human women, creating offspring who were known as the Vedma. The Vedma became the female witches, and the Leshovik became the dragon men.

    Dennitsa had been born a witch!

  38. Buckaroo’s Journey, by A. Kidd

    “Been writin’, Kid?”
    “Yep. Easy-peasy.”
    “Gotta 99 word flash then?”
    “Better! Jist started writin’, next thing I know, they’s hunnerds an’ hunnerds a words.”
    “Yer a known shoveler. Which 99 ya gonna present? “
    “Jist 99?”
    “No more, no less.”
    “Huh. Gotta cut to the chase then.”
    “Ta the quick.”
    “Down ta the bone. What’s it about?”
    “A buckaroo who looks back.”
    “Where’s the plot, the conflict?”
    “Looks back while descending.”
    “Descending inta a cave? An abyss?”
    “Nope, jist cellar stairs.”
    “What’s the lesson?”
    “Look where yer goin’.”
    “Where was she goin’?”
    “Think they was some elixir down there.”

    • “Kid! D. Avery!”
      “Shift!… Uh, hello, D. Avery…”
      “Kid. That is not your writing. Ergo, not an accurate title or honest byline.”
      “Honestly? Ergo? Them snails what French folks eat?”
      “Go ahead, do your own writing Kid. Should be a class act.”
      “Kid, D., things is getting’ mighty weird. We might need ta call on the Ranger.”
      “No! Not the Ranger! We’re all fine. I got this.”

      *One dark and snowy night at the Carrot Ranch World Headquarters-*

      “Hey, how do we do the word count now?”

      “You have eight left.”

      “This ain’t easy.”


      *Shorty slipped an’ fell.*


      “Fine, try again, Kid.”

      *It was a dark and snowy night, ‘cause it was past August an’ that’s just how it is at the World Headquarters of Carrot Ranch Literary Community. The Lead Buckaroo was workin’ as Shorty, an assumed name. An’ that’s what happened. Zoom, on her ass, tumblin’ down the stairs like Salsola iberica tumblin’ across the plains.*


      “Writers research, D. Russian thistle. An invasive. Git use ta it.”

      *Given that simile an’ given her shortfall, an’ other dubious occurrences nationally, Shorty figured, after lookin’ back an’ all, that she’d been… Pushed!
      Comrade Nanjo? Perhaps.*


    • Jules says:

      Oh… I’m just in stitches. Tears (happy ones) are just flowing from my eye peeps. To bad I got me some errands this morning – I gotta come on back to the Ranch this morning and re-catch up on all the other good stuff here!

    • Charli Mills says:

      So glad I hurt my ankle and not my ribs ’cause I’m belly-laughing! I swear, no elixir was involved! Can’t stop the Kid at 99, but at least there comes a pause. 😀

    • Norah says:

      Oh my, there’s no stopping these two.
      And I’m so happy. 🙂

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

  40. Here’s my first entry for the year Charli. Wish you and this entire community the most awesome new year.

  41. […] and burned for Carrot Ranch‘s writing […]

  42. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (01/03/2019): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a metaphorical reflection or a glance in the rear-view mirror. Who is looking back, and why? Go where the prompt leads. […]

  43. Liz H says:

    Resolution for the New Year 2019: Improve memory, purchase, & consume more Ginkoba. Otherwise said, When words fail because memory is crap:

    Safety in Snailmail

    She swore, smacking her forehead with her fist, once, twice, a third time. This couldn’t happen, not when perfect delivery was so critical.
    She hung her head and shook out her shoulders. She was a planner, not a pantser… [Continue ]

  44. Decision Re-imagined

    Annie looked back on some decisions all the time, but only one continued to haunt her. In retrospect, she wished she had taken a chance; to be someone other than what she was: an insecure, flat-chested, glasses-wearing brace face freshman.

    Annie remembers the autumn day in study hall when Dave, a junior, asked her to homecoming. She wanted to go, but worried this was a joke, she turned him down. If only she could have set her fears aside, acted confident, and laughed it off as a joke if otherwise, then she would have a night to remember, always.

    Nancy Brady,

    • Someone said it here earlier; git up, look ta the trail ahead.
      Good take on the prompt.

      • Thanks, D. Once I had the prompt, I really had to think about what to write. Then, as everyone knows, writing is easy until there are too many words and editing starts taking out all those extra words and still making sense. Yeah, most times I fail so thanks for the boost.

    • Charli Mills says:

      The pain of those decisions we made trying to hide from them becomes ironic when we are forever haunted by not going for it. You expressed that personal haunting well, Nan.

  45. […] January 3: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  46. Get better, Charli! Here’s my contribution. Looks like this prompt got a lot of responses, it must resonate with a lot of people.

  47. […] via January 3: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

  48. […] Written for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt. […]

  49. Falls are no fun and in a moment can change your life. I’m thankful you have no broken bones, but it will still take time to recover and I’m glad you are taking care of yourself, Charli. Chester is back this week with a surprise for us – he shows some emotion!

    Chester drops his guard

    Chester emerged from the bedroom and was surprised to see Ruth sitting on the couch surrounded by photo albums.

    “What are you doing up so early?” he said.

    “I couldn’t sleep. Guess the end of the year made me sentimental. Look at this wedding picture of us.”

    Chester peered at the photo over her shoulder.

    “Yup, that’s us. Young and hopeful.”

    “We aren’t young any more, but we still have hope!”

    Chester looked away, but not before Ruth saw the mist in his eyes.

    “Awww, there’s the softie I married.”

    “Harrumph. Where’s my coffee?”

    Ruth smiled. “Coming right up.”

  50. […] was written in response to the latest prompt from the carrot […]

  51. Ruchira Khanna says:

    Happy to read that you are recovering well Charli and I wish you well.

    My offering for the new year….

    Could not think of anybody better than myself over this prompt as I ponder upon and try to break bad habits and make ‘new’ ones 🙂

    Let me know how can I help in your healing journey….xoxo

  52. usfman says:

    Writing 99 words seems to be good practice for me in adding more fiction about travel to my blog. Thanks for the idea.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Glad you see it as a good practice. It’s small enough to let you explore and yet enough words to create an artistic impact. Cheers to writing in 2019!

  53. susansleggs says:

    Took a bit of work to come up with true fiction, not memoir, but here it is…..

    Now She Could Move On

    Dr. Stephanie Davidson, still limping slightly, came out of the courthouse feeling free and relaxed. Her happiness radiated onto the people she passed. Her divorce from the man that had hired a killer to make her disappear was finalized and both men were serving long jail terms. Thankfully there were no news cameras or questions as a divorce hearing was nothing compared to the attempted murder trials the year before. The police officer that had saved her life when the attempt had been made waited for her. He gazed at her with adoration and said, “No looking back sweetheart.”

  54. A Different Point of View

    Annie still shows up in his dreams.

    Looking back to his junior year, Dave remembered he wanted to take Annie to homecoming. He’d gotten to know her during the previous summer.

    His plan to ask Annie improved once he talked the teacher into assigning them to the same table.

    Asking any girl out was always fraught with anxiety and vulnerability, but despite this, he still asked her out. He was disappointed when she said “No, my parents won’t let me.”

    Dave ended up taking another girl, but had Annie agreed, it might have been a night to remember.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    • I love that you did this second one. Now it’s a tragic love story. Great take!

      • Thanks again, D. and Liz, for your kind comments.

        Writing from the male perspective is difficult, but I wanted to try.

        Rejection on either side of a friendship is rough and I wanted to address his feelings. That maybe the geeky Annie did inadvertent damage, never realizing until much later that it is harder to do the asking in the first place.

        I don’t know if it came across or not, but working within the framework of just 99 words…well, let’s put it this way, the first draft was almost 50 words too much. A lot of cutting had to be done. ~nan

    • Liz H says:

      Great to see two sides of the same coin. We never know, do we?

    • Charli Mills says:

      What two great bookends to lives that might have been different. I like your creative drive to present both perspectives with the shared conclusion.

    • Norah says:

      Oh dear. Star crossed lovers. A tragic conclusion before it even began.

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

  56. Deborah Lee says:

    I’m here, coming up for air after the holidays and getting back in the writing groove.

    Great post, with lots to think about. May you heal quickly, Charli!

  57. […]   I wrote this for the January 3rd Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  58. tnkerr says:

    Good to hear you’re on the mend Charli. Hello everyone – It’s great to see you all again.
    Here’s what I got for this prompt. It was fun to write.

  59. […] {January 3: Flash Fiction Challenge} […]

  60. […] Prompt from the Carrot Ranch […]

  61. […] The beginning of a new year is often a time of reflection, of looking back on the previous year and of realigning goals for the year ahead. It is fitting then that, for the first prompt of the year, Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a metaphori… […]

  62. […] Carrot Ranch Challenge, January 3, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a character who looks back. It can be a metaphorical reflection or a glance in the rear-view mirror. Who is looking back, and why? Go where the prompt leads. […]

  63. […] January 3: Flash Fiction Challenge — Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

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