January 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

January 4, 2019

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?

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305 Comments

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Robbie! I’m definitely on the mend and today my myofascial therapist pointed out some issues in my body that she feels the injury was calling attention to. I’m fascinated with her healing process and look forward to working with her more — she unlocked my “writing” shoulders today and my neck feels sooo good! Happy to see your goals. Go for it!

  1. Norah

    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

      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

        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

        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

        Wikipedia tells me that this year is the last of the decade. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010s
        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

        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

      Hi Charli, I think (hope) I’ve snuck in just in time with my response – Don’t Look Back. Perverse as usual. 🙂 https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-1i8

      • Charli Mills

        Perverse is becoming your usual? Yeehaw, Norah! You’re kicking off a rowdy 2019. No looking back now! 😉

      • Norah

        Hehehe! Nope. No looking back – that’s one of the best ways of falling out of the saddle.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! No falling out of the saddle — eyes on the trail!

      • Norah

        Yep. No looking back. 🙂

  2. Ritu

    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

      Book book book…

    • Charli Mills

      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

      • Ritu

        Thanks Charli ????????????

    • Jules

      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

        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

        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!

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        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

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

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        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

        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. 😉

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        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

        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. 😀

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        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

        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. 🙂

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        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

        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

      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.

      • Ritu

        Thank you Norah!

    • Charli Mills

      Always happy to read your writing, Net!

      • the dark netizen

        That means a lot! 😀

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Have you ever driven around with a mannequin just for fun? Or stuck a stuffed arm out of the tailgate? No? Me either!

      • Charli Mills

        Ha!

      • pedometergeek

        No, but my son has a right-hand drive car and his wife often sticks her feet out the window. I am sure there are people who freak out when they see feet coming from what most people consider the driver’s side.

      • Charli Mills

        Nan, that would be a surprising sight in the US!

      • Norah

        Funny you say that – not driven around, but had some other adventures. They’ll keep for another time. I must write it up. 🙂

  3. Becky Ross Michael

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

    • Charli Mills

      Becky, do you recall the steep stairs in the old mining houses of the UP? I have a renewed respect for, tread carefully! Yes, I’m so grateful it was only a sprained ankle. But dang, torn muscles hurt.

      • Becky Ross Michael

        Yes, I certainly do! My ex-husband had a mishap on our basement stairs in Laurium. Being on crutches in the winter wasn’t an easy thing…

      • Charli Mills

        Ah, you know the stairs!

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    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.”

    https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/ranch-yarns/

    • susansleggs

      Your yarns make me laugh. Today it’s the behind hitting the barn……

    • H.R.R. Gorman

      I laughed out loud at the Janus-anus pun! My wisdom teeth are howling now!

      • Liz H

        But…but…but…!
        (I’m such a child)

    • Charli Mills

      Such a long line of yarns that if we rolled ’em up into a ball we’d have a sideshow spectacle of largest ball of yarns! Impressive. Kid, let your writer know she dun good.

    • Jules

      (laughing out loud! Thank you!!!)

      There is something about that phrase ‘Bass Ackwards’ that I just adore.
      Maybe because most of life is like that and it is humor that helps get us through the gloomy days.

      That trail a head best look out for Kid and Pal! A wonderful pair to befriend, that is for sure!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        If I see that pair I’ll send your regards. They have been on a bit of a tear around here this weekend. Hard to keep up with.

      • Jules

        Great companions… With all that humor they are sure to live long lives 😉

    • robertawrites235681907

      I don’t know how you manage this for every prompt, Miss D. I take my hat off to you.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        “Aw, shucks Pal, ya hear that? She’s thankin’ D. Avery. What ‘bout us?”
        “Shush, Kid, I’m sure she’s fond a us too.”
        “Fonda? Henry?
        “Fond a us too!”
        “Bless ya, Pal. Fondant? I’m fond a fondant.”
        “Fondant? I ain’t to sweet on it. Druther carve an’ whittle spam.”
        “Huh. Mebbe I’ll git ya some spam, ya kin make a bust a me. In ma hat.”
        “I’d like ta bust ya Kid.”

      • Charli Mills

        I think those characters are lively and ready to pop out at any time!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Pal can be a curmudgeon, yet has some wisdom. Glad if they made you laugh. Jules is right, laughing is good for you.

    • Norah

      I love these two!

  5. calmkate

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

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

    • Charli Mills

      A message I took to heart, Kate! And you are creative — just keep it flowing.

      • calmkate

        thanks for the confidence vote Charli … I feel inept with your ranch full of far more experienced riders 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        It’s not how well we sit a saddle, Kate, but the determination to sit tall and hang on for the ride. 🙂

    • susansleggs

      Kate, don’t worry about others with more experience….if we only had experts no new riders would join us. We were all inexperienced at one time and we all still feel that way at times. Keep riding along, you already know the Ranch is a safe place to grow.

      • calmkate

        thanks for your warm encouragement Susan, I’m not about to stop … love the creative and supportive atmosphere Charli and her team have built up here 🙂

      • susansleggs

        Amen to that.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        What Susan said. Write on. This is the place. You are the one.

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for pointing out that we all have been inexperienced, Susan. We are here to ride and grow!

      • pedometergeek

        Hey, I am a relative novice here, thanks to Jules Paige. It took me a year of her suggestions of joining up before I finally took the plunge. Sometimes I can’t even find anything to write, and I am all over the place with my takes on the prompt. But I soldier on regardless. ~nan

      • susansleggs

        Proud of you for riding along.

      • Charli Mills

        Soldier on!

    • Norah

      We are all on our roads to the future and none of us are there – yet! But we can enjoy the journey together and celebrate each step along the way.

      • calmkate

        lovely message Norah, thanks 🙂

  6. TanGental

    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

      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).

    • robertawrites235681907

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

      • TanGental

        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

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

  7. floridaborne

    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.

    • H.R.R. Gorman

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

      • floridaborne

        Florida doesn’t have the extremes of Minnesota in winter and summer. That helps.

    • Charli Mills

      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

        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

        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

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

      • Charli Mills

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

    • Norah

      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

        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

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

      • floridaborne

        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

        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

        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

        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.

  8. pensitivity101

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Di! And happy New Year, to you, too! The music of the language in your 99 words is captivating, as well as the story they convey. Well done, to write a moving piece of reflection, salvation, and love as it is.

      • pensitivity101

        Thank you for such a lovely comment Charli

    • Jules

      Occasionally we are asked if we would change anything in our past.
      I would not if I could not be where I am now.
      And I believe your piece reflects that point of view 🙂

      • pensitivity101

        Thanks Jules. I wouldn’t change where I am and know I learned a lot on my way to reaching here.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      That’s a poem of strength. It’s a powerful place to be, Right where you Are.

      • pensitivity101

        Thanks Roberta. I appreciate it.

    • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

      Terrific story of a brutal past life, restored with love. Amazing to convey so much in 99 words.

      • pensitivity101

        Thanks Molly. I would not change what I have now.

      • pensitivity101

        Very condensed, but yes.

      • pensitivity101

        It was verbal and emotional more than anything else when he’d had a few so at least he wasn’t violent.

      • pensitivity101

        It does. Glad you’re out of it. I just find it so crazy I stayed as long, but then there were kids involved (not mine) and I felt responsible.

    • Norah

      A perfect response to the prompt. I wouldn’t go back either. Forward is the only way.

      • pensitivity101

        Hi Norah! Thanks for commenting. Always nice to hear from you.

      • Norah

        My pleasure to read.

    • Charli Mills

      Joanne, I liked the story as much as some of the literary techniques you used with pacing and expressing emotion. In a way, writing flash fiction is like filling a cup and you made a good spot of tea!

  9. susansleggs

    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

      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

      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

        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

        Nice image!

  10. Jules

    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

    ©JP/dh

    Notes:
    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

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      An edifying haibun with a happy enough ending. Happy new year Jules.

      • Jules

        I go with the flow…

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules (waving from the couch)! Thanks for the welcome back. Ah, yes, choices are never easy, are they? But it seems you reflected back on a good choice and played with the names of the character in her transformation. Well done. Good to see you!

  11. H.R.R. Gorman

    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

    https://hrrgorman.wordpress.com/2019/01/04/remember-lots-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.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      This blew me away. A satisfying summation of modern day saltifying. I bet Drew would also look back at the drive in theatre.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Thanks!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! H.R.R. I was wondering at that same idea, and interestingly, I learned that we often store earlier injuries in our bodies so there comes a time when we have to start dealing with them. Ah, if only I knew sooner. I wasn’t so tough — I just had a limited capacity. Good take on the prompt — I hadn’t considered the lot of Lot in his wife looking back. But these characters better make those final checks.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Thanks – Lot’s wife is the epitomy of looking back, so I definitely was interested in including the reference.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Thanks!

    • Norah

      I’m pleased you incorporated Lot’s wife. I thought about it but took the warning and didn’t look back. 🙂

    • Jules

      With a relative suffering dementia – I can only hope that they remember the better days…

      I liked your flash! Move forward, each and everyday. 🙂

      • Reena Saxena

        Thanks a lot, Jules!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Cool take. Imagine that kind of selective memory. (Oh, yeah, you did)

      • Reena Saxena

        Thanks 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Eyes forward! What stands out is how a weakness can be made a strength.

      • Reena Saxena

        It is true in many cases, if one thinks of what is possible, rather than what is not possible.

      • Charli Mills

        It all comes down to perspective, doesn’t it?

      • Norah

        So true, Reena. I like that philosophy.

  12. Pete

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      Pete, I like how this story unfolds like an act of letting go. And I really like this sentence: “Dad with his glove, trying not to roll his eyes whenever I missed a grounder—which was whenever he threw a grounder.”

  13. denmaniacs4

    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

      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? 🙂

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      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

      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

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

  14. Lisa L.

    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.
    Anyway.
    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

      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.

  15. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    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.”
    “Uh-oh.”
    “Thinkin’ back ta when I tried ma hand at writin’.”
    “Yeah?”
    “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.”

    • Charli Mills

      Some days I do think our characters send us writers packing and hijack our brains! D.? D.? Are you there? Did Kid take over?

    • Norah

      I’ll second that. I like the present arrangement too. It is a present.

  16. Jennie

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

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jennie! It’s always good to glance back now and again. And yes, mending is happening.

      • Jennie

        Good news!

  17. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    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 https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2019/01/my-favourite-reads-of-2018-part-4-amreading.html

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

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

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Indeed, but I’d expect a professional to be skilled in working through their difficulties to arrive at the meaning.

    • Charli Mills

      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.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

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

      • Charli Mills

        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.

  18. reading journeys

    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 !

    Saifun

    • Charli Mills

      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!

  19. Ann Edall-Robson

    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.
    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/solace-of-the-land

    • Jules

      I was walking with her…
      Thanks.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        You are welcome, Jules. I hope it was a pleasant walk for you.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yes. It always has. What a fine place to look back on.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Looking back is a soft reminder of what we have to move forward.

    • Liz H

      Truly where greatest and purest comfort is found.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        It certainly is, Liz.

    • Charli Mills

      Ann, when we have such a place to look back to, we do find solace to move forward. That place resides within.

    • Norah

      A beautifully meditative place and piece. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Traci!

      • tracikenworth

        You’re welcome, Charli!

  20. D. Avery @shiftnshake

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

    Treasure

    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.

    https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/treasure/

    • Jules

      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. 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

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

      • Jules

        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 😉

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        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

        🙂 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

      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.

  21. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    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!

    • Jules

      Make that three clumsies… though I’ve mended from my ladder fall…followed by a small stair fall that re-bruised the ladder fall!

      Yes! No accidents in 2019 – Healing vibes your way!

    • pedometergeek

      Make it four. I fell off my bicycle and broke my wrist in late August. My dominant hand, of course. Even now I do exercises to improve my range of motion. Don’t know when it will be back to normal…in a year, they said. I had never, to my knowledge, broken a bone before, and hopefully never will again.

    • Charli Mills

      Well, Marje, Jules, and Nan — we have a Club of Clumsies! 😀 Seriously, though, I’m feeling all your pain and the frustrations of hobbling or figuring out new strategies to do what used to be easy. Let have an upright 2019! <3

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Yes indeed! All the best to us all for a nimble 2019! Xxx

    • Norah

      Best wishes for a quick recovery, and definitely no more falls in 2019.

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Thank you! I’m much better, thanks.

      • Norah

        I’m pleased to hear it. 🙂

    • Norah

      2012 was the year of falls for me – four in all. I hope you won’t mind if I don’t join in this year. 🙂

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Oh, my goodness! Stay safe this year, watch out for those trip hazards Norah. 🙂

      • Norah

        Thanks, Marje. I do my best. You too! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        You can fall right in with the club, Norah (as long as you stay on your feet)!

      • Norah

        Hehehe. I’ll do my best to fall into line. 🙂

  22. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    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.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! There’s so much hope in Hope’s smile! Good to see these characters are still pestering you.

  23. Colleen Chesebro

    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: https://colleenchesebro.com/2019/01/06/29888/

    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!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      If I can’t guess who this is, Dennitsa mystery. Fun flash, Colleen.

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you, Colleen! I have missed you all, too, especially reading everyone’s stories. It’s like my weekly box of chocolates! Yours has the snap of deep, dark chocolate and ancient legends.

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Ohhh, thanks. What a fabulous compliment! ????

  24. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    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.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      “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.”

      “Four.”

      *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.*

      “What?!”

      “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.*

      “There.”

      • Liz H

        Oh NO! Not Nanjo Castille!!

    • Jules

      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

      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

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

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      He’s baaaack. The crown prince of twisted tales.

      • anuragbakhshi

        Ha ha ha, much obliged. Thank you so much 🙂

    • Liz H

      Oh you naughty boy! You made me laugh out loud!

      • anuragbakhshi

        Ha ha ha, thank you so much Liz

    • Jules

      Such a prince!

      • anuragbakhshi

        They’re all like that Jules 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Sending you back the awesome new year vibes, Anurag! You are setting the bar high for the year with your first flash of 2019.

      • anuragbakhshi

        Awww, thank you so much Charli.

  25. Liz H

    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 ]

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Had coffee with a friend today. We helped each other with the words, helped finish each other’s ?????? …um, string of words…… thing.. yeah.

      • Liz H

        When memory fails…call a friend for coffee!

    • Charli Mills

      Liz! You’ve achieved it already — you remembered what to take for memory! And I feel for your protagonist.

  26. pedometergeek

    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,
    2019

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

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

      • pedometergeek

        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

      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.

    • Jules

      I feel like I’ve done that too many times!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I especially liked the last sentence; it’s packed.

      • Robert Kirkendall

        Thank you! I was aiming to end the story with a sentence that resonates.

      • Robert Kirkendall

        Should have used reverberate, I used resonate in the opening comment 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Robert! I’m moving better now, hobbling faster. Yes, either the prompt resonates or lots of writers had resolutions to flash more. 😉

  27. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    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.”

    https://www.shallowreflections.com/chester-drops-his-guard-flash-fiction/

    • Jules

      Some guys just like to put on that tough guy persona. 🙂
      Happy New Year to you and yours!

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        Thank you, Jules. You are right about that tough guy persona. I was glad to see Chester break through his. Happy New Year to you, too!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      If he did it all the time it’d be annoying. This is perfectly sweet.

    • Liz H

      You have to keep an eye out for those sweet moments!

    • Charli Mills

      I might have to get studded snowshoes now, Molly! We really should call winter “fall” instead of autumn. Yes, so fast to happen, so slow to heal.

      Aw, look at that sweet side Chester has. Ruth knows it’s there. Hope can be a hard one to hang onto when we see youth slipping away, and this flash gives a broader perspective of Chester as a curmudgeon.

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        Studded snowshoes – now there’s a good idea, Charli! I’m super paranoid about falling again and we have had so much ice so far this winter. I’m wearing creepers on my boots every time I leave the house! Ruth does know Chester and hope is a commodity to treasure as one looks at youth in the rear view mirror.

      • Charli Mills

        The Hub fell hard last winter on the ice and one of his therapists bought him YaK Trax. He doesn’t leave home without them. I’ve been wanting a pair of hiking poles with different tips (for ice, snow, mud, rocks). Sportier than a cane, lol! Stay upright, Molly.

  28. Ruchira Khanna

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

    My offering for the new year….https://abracabadra.blogspot.com/2019/01/happy-new-year.html

    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

    • Jules

      We touch each other with encouraging words!
      Cheers, Jules

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ah, you speak of two imprints, one carbon, the other caring. Nice.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s always nice to have a rest to give good habits a chance to take hold, Ruchira! And thank you for your Healing Touch. You are helping me along the journey!

    • Charli Mills

      Ruchira, I like your contemplation of all you’ve touched in your flash. I’m not sure if my browser is being wonky but I couldn’t leave a comment.

  29. usfman

    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

      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!

  30. susansleggs

    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.”

    • pedometergeek

      Wow, nice piece of writing, Susan. Why do I hear Humphrey Bogart in the last line? This makes me smile. ~nan

    • Charli Mills

      Ooh, I like this one, Susan! It has good pacing for a crime drama and a bit of mystery as to what transpired and how the police officer is involved. This one might bubble back up to tap on your shoulder for you to write more.

      • susansleggs

        I’ll keep adding to it in mind. I’ve adjusted to flash and seem to be having trouble doing anything longer.

      • Charli Mills

        Anything longer is simply one flash followed by another, and another, and… 😉

    • Norah

      I just wonder where she’ll move on to, and who with. 🙂

  31. pedometergeek

    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

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

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

      • pedometergeek

        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

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

    • Charli Mills

      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

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

    • Liz H

      So timely–sometimes it takes great opposition to help launch us into the wonderful we truly are! <3

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I’m glad she was only driven to earrings. (Again, thank you for the comparative adjective)

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome back to the groove after the holidays, Deborah! And what a great nod to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    • Liz H

      Lovely and lyrical!

    • Charli Mills

      New year mending and writing continue to unfold. And you are stepping out with a sharp piece, TN.

    • susansleggs

      I enjoyed the twist at the end. Good job.

      • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

        Thanks, Susan. I wasn’t too sure if the twist came out the “right” way when I was writing it so I am glad you got it 😉

    • Liz H

      The games folks play with each other–not realizing sometimes it’s for REAL real. Nicely done!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      The worm turns. Or squirms? Either way, game over this time I’d say. My sympathies turned at the end.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kay! A fine flash to start your new year of writing.

      • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

        Thanks, Charli. Feels a bit rusty getting back into the swing of things since the holiday. Sure did miss ranch though. It’s great to be back. Hope you are feeling better by the day!

      • Charli Mills

        We’ll grease that rusty flow in no time, Kay. Feeling better, especially with all the focus on healing. Thanks!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      A tough look back for her. And still serving others.

      • Still Loved...Still Missed

        Yep, strikes a chord for many. Thank you so much for stopping by 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Lovely how you made this painful life into a beautiful piece of writing, SLSM.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kate!

      • calmkate

        pleasure Charli!

  32. pedometergeek

    Powerful piece…

  33. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    Interesting how the breaking of a physical reminder of her lost love, helped her realize she had made progress moving on. Great job!

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