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January 24: Flash Fiction Challenge

Somewhere in a museum, marble walls border a room full of vases. Each vase displays qualities from behind protective glass cases. Each one rests upon plush velvet — a deep royal blue that accents the different shapes and hues of fine artistic renderings. The veins in the marble create a soft pattern and polish. Security cameras validate the assumption that this room secures valuable items on display.

People meander through. Children are taught to “not touch.” Everyone can feel the value of the place with unseen price tags that would shock the more common among the crowd. Those not shocked want to possess more of these vases for their own private collections out of sight from the throngs.

No one seems to notice the shards on the floor, swept away to an unlit corner. From the shadows, the shards remember what it was to once be whole. These shards came from a water basin, or maybe a jug for transporting figs. Whatever the purpose, the shards knew they had shape for a task. The original vase might not have been destined for a velvet seat on display, but the shards dream.

The shards dream of wholeness. They dream of Japanese myths that say that gold can mend broken vases. The shards envision how to rearrange into something new, something not seen before. They dream of purpose, to serve again. They dream of someone noticing them in the corner, someone willing to give a broken vase a break. Sometimes, the shards dream of blue velvet. Why not? The shards know beauty because they have known the pain of shattering.

Occasionally someone will step over to the shadows.

A bored child approaches, one who has plenty of vases back home. Who cares about these dumb vases in glass? There’s not a vase in the world Father can’t own. He steals a shard because he knows its naughty and wouldn’t that make Mother blush. The remaining shards sigh and rethink another configuration with one shard stolen.

A woman in high heels randomly steps on the shards, pulverizing the edges to dust. She grinds the shards under the toe of her Jimmy Choo, revering the feel of power over something already crushed. Abated, she leaves the shards gasping. Maybe it was foolish to dream of being worthy of blue velvet. Maybe it was a waste of time to find recognition as a vase.

Once broken, you can’t be whole again. The shards lie numb in the dust of what was and what could have been. That’s when the sweeper arrives.


Can even one shard have hope of being a vase again?

Hope of evolving into something more.

To be valued.


Without a second glance, the sweeper batters the pile of shards with bristles, grumbling about its unsightliness. Unwanted. Worth nothing. An imposition on his time and effort. He sweeps away the pile, scattering them down a dark, dank drain. Water flows and pushes the shards through tight places. What is left, lingers on a gritty bottom of a sewage pipe. In the darkness…

In the darkness, the shards dream a little dream. Why not? It’s better to dream of blue velvet or purpose than worry about the dark. Dreams light the inner places of the shards, and although broken and scattered, they still connect as one. A type of wholeness?

A rushing sound in the distance grows, and so much water pushes every last remnant of the shards out into a waterfall sparkling with sunlight. The shards tumble over miles of rocks and land on a sandy beach, breathless beneath moonlight. It’s so beautiful, the shards marvel, looking up into the vast array of stars on velvet so dark blue it’s black.

Can it be that stars are pieces on velvet? And yet, the shards notice with excitement, they form patterns, constellations. Now the shards dream of being stars! The water rushes in from the sea on rolling waves as translucent as green glass. It grabs at the shards and tumbles each piece in a playful game. The shards laugh with joy and go with the water.

Sometimes, from beneath the glassy filter, the shards see people on the beach. It reminds them of old dreams. Life is not so bad now, with the waves, sand, and sky. But to be valued. To be whole. It’s still a dream. People do not care about broken things. Best to remain in the sand.

A woman in bare feet approaches, toes sinking into sand. She lowers her face, searching. But for what, the shards wonder. She reaches out slender fingers to grasp a shard. The woman smiles. She shouts, “Look what I found!”

Another joins her and cries, “Beautiful!”

The companions sift around, searching for more. The shards call to one another — we are found!

That day, two women left the beach with a bucket of shards they treasured. Some shards stayed behind to experience the world. All of those found came under scrutiny. They were bathed and photographed. A man in a curio shop identified their family — a broken wine vessel from Roman times. Unusual. Beautiful craftsmanship. Broken.

Identity is not about going back. Identity gives foundation to what comes next. A sense of belonging in time but free to evolve. The women made art of the shards. One arranged pieces into shapes, mounted and framed. The other made jewelry so exquisite that one set went to a jeweler who displayed the grandest pieces of the shards in a glass case on velvet.

Great value came with price tags and news media. Pieces were made into whole projects. Of all the lives the shards experienced fractured and worn, the time spent on the blue velvet was most boring. Safe. Secure. Objectified.

Luckily, an adventurous world traveler bought the exquisite jewelry set and took the shards around the globe. Even to Rome! Which changed a lot since the shards had last seen home. Finally, the shards realized that value came from being who you can be no matter how broken.

We might never be whole again, but we can live a full life. Shards know true beauty, hope, and joy. Pieces become more valuable than the whole.


It’s been a week of healing and snow. I like one better than the other. One of our Rough Writers, Ruchira Khanna, has generously offered me long-distance Reiki and Healing Touch on my ankle. Tuesdays are quickly becoming my favorite day of the week! After she calls, I go to a quiet place (aka the couch) and rest beneath a big fuzzy blanket. Sometimes I have to shove over a dog, and sometimes the cat pesters me with her paw. I don’t sleep but fall into a warm, restorative space, watching colors swirl behind closed eyes.

I’ve experienced Reiki and HT many times before, but always in person. I wasn’t sure how the long-distance energy work happened, but Ruchira has been a caring guide, committed to helping my ankle heal. If you are curious or interested in working with Ruchira, she is accepting new clients in her practice. Contact her at You can learn more about energy work at Explore the World of Reiki or the world famous Mayo Clinic. Ruchira is both a Reiki Master and a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner. She offers her services to Standford Health Care.

In other forms of healing, I had another EMDR session. I get stuck in my grief over many losses I’ve experienced, one after another. It’s like a crushing weight. EMDR helps me face painful feelings and neutralize them. This week,  I had a vision during my session that led to the story I wrote above. It was a big shift for me to realize that value is not about wholeness. I’m embracing the lesson of the shards.

Snow, well, snow keeps falling. This is the Keweenaw I know and love with its Winter Mistress, Lady Lake. She’s been fickle and now fierce. I love the energy of her wild lake-effect snow. Driving in it is another matter, but our city is fully equipped and experienced.

If you are curious about the ads, I will continue the space I set up for the Rodeo. Kid’s Kat explains what you need to know (look for the cat among the ads). I’m still waiting for a decision from The Continental on the Radio Spot. We had so few writers, I’m not sure what they are considering.

I’m not the most patient person in limbo, and right now I’m waiting on several important outcomes, and it’s about to drive me mad. So what is a writer to do but write? And so I am writing. I hope you are, too!

January 24, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item they once were, or who picks them up and why. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by January 29, 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.


Stories in the Shards (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni sifted dirt from Ramona’s garden through the screen and shards of glass emerged. She had built the box to hang on a tripod to accommodate her shorter height. Thick brown crockery and glass from household items emerged. Danni would take this year’s haul to her barn, scrub pieces clean, arrange by type, and document. Every fall, when Ike’s grandmother tilled up her tomatoes and zucchini, Danni sifted for treasure. Most people scoffed at broken glass, but to an archeologist, each piece told a valuable story. One day she’d figure out why the crockery and mason jars were there.


  1. […] Carrot Ranch January 24 Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  2. Here’s my take on the challenge:

    Happy reading! 🙂

  3. Ritu says:

    Long distance reiki definitely works too! My Pops is trained and has performed it on us from his house while we are laying here!
    And shards can indeed be beautiful. Sometimes more so than the whole!

  4. Shards? Mine has to fit with a post for Australia day which is almost upon us. Yikes!

  5. calmkate says:

    Charli, this is the most gifted of your writing so far … straight from your heart, thank you!

    We are all shards, nobody is that pristine piece on the blue velvet. EMDR is incredibly powerful so glad it’s helping 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      And that is an excellent point, too Kate. Even masterpieces have flaws. The transformation was a shift in perspective and embracing the value of the pieces. Oh, EMDR is incredibly powerful. It brings out all kinds of metaphors in me, lol! Thanks.

  6. […] Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  7. […] was written using the prompt shards for the Carrot Ranch January 24 Flash Fiction […]

  8. […] This 99-word short was inspired by and written for the Flash Fiction Challenge at The Carrot Ranch. […]

  9. […] was written for the 22 January Carrot Ranch prompt, “Shards.”  I realized after this was finished that I’d only written about a single shard, […]

  10. […] is a second piece I’ve written using the prompt shards from the Carrot Ranch January 24 Flash Fiction […]

  11. I’d never heard of Reiki before, so this was something new for me to learn about! I’m glad that it helps you.

    I must say I enjoyed your story about the dreaming shards. They were so positive, so outlandish, and yet so simple when their identity was revealed. I thought that was good.

    Anyway, going to see if I can help Jules out and actually get the link to work today. I swear I hit enter after I put the link, but it never comes out right.

    **Closing the Circle of Life**

    I cup my mother’s hand and hold it tight. She stares at me with unknowing eyes, scared, reluctant or too weak to squeeze the hand in return. “Ma?” she asks.

    I rub the wasting arm, glad that even a shard of a memory is poking through. It’s been a while since she’s asked for anyone. “I’m your daughter,” I answered. “Do you need something, Mama?”

    The words come slowly to her. “Just sleepy.”

    I smile, hand her a baby-doll, and tuck her in with a kiss on the forehead. “Then rest, Mama. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

  12. With the prompt being shards it also made me think of a vampire story:

  13. TanGental says:

    Well that was a compelling read, oh mighty Buckaroo. Whatever works for you, works for me. I’ll go and think about shards…

  14. […] Carrot Ranch Jan 25 January 24, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item they once were, or who picks them up and why. Go where the prompt leads. Respond by January 29, 2019. […]

  15. Jules says:


    One day all the pieces of shards, glass or pottery will tell their tales. For now I may be repeating my experience from visiting Lake Michigan. My post has some photos of where my shards may have come from. The title is the link to my post; Enjoy:

    What One Lady Gave Me

    The of Lady Lake Michigan gave me shards. I was visiting in Wisconsin In August of 2017 I traversed the length of the north and south beaches.

    One little triangle white with blue hand painted lines like decorations; I’ve identified that coming from a piece of a Leeds Blue Feather plate.

    The Lady also offered up something green on both sides; which I was told came from the 1856 Toledo shipwreck.

    entrusted to me;
    bit pieces of history
    gifted by a lake

    These pieces are a part of my Lake Michigan treasures. Bits of memories that make me whole.


    • I liked the historical angle you incorporated into this, Jules.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Jules, isn’t it amazing how big a story can be from such a small shard? That’s a magnificent find — something from the Toledo shipwreck. I also like the idea of all five Great Lakes as ladies — perhaps sisters.

      • Jules says:

        – kind of like the Pleiades; the seven sister stars? Yes I think that works nicely. I was lucky enough to meet up with a gent who was able to tell me about the Toledo shard. It was before I found the Leeds shard. He was the one who also told me about the fern fossil I found.

        I did go on the net looking for shards… but while there were many photos there wasn’t enough description as to where found or what they were.

        I also saw some very neat projects to use shards or beach glass. Like decorating a clay pot or making a stepping stone for the garden. Others have made jewelry too.

        There is a specific name for adding gold to pottery for repair. “Translated to “golden joinery,” Kintsugi (or Kintsukuroi, which means “golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece.” You may have mentioned that… but I’m in my comment section so I’m not easily able to reference your post. Which I thoroughly enjoyed.

        I really enjoyed the story and journey of your pottery shards. Sometimes it is fun to think that intimate objects have life. Some folks do believe that things like furniture and the walls of homes can absorb the spirits of the people who have lovingly (or otherwise) cared for them. There have been some unique stories about furniture attacking someone ‘they’ don’t like.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I like thinking of the Great Lake Ladies as the Pleiades! And thank you for finding the term for the Japanese technique — Kintsugi. You are good at hunting down the words. Meeting an expert is so helpful, especially when they recognize what you have. Thank you for your insights!

    • denmaniacs4 says:

      There is a very brief scene in the movie, Roma, where a piece of pottery crashes to the floor and shatters. Symbolism or accident, it is a poignant moment in the film…

      • Jules says:

        Some traditions brake a glass at the wedding ceremony – to symbolize that the joining will last. Some take those glass shards and sort of encase the bits into the shape of what it was leaving gaps. As a memento keepsake.

        I also read about “Plate Smashing – The Greek Tradition. Greek tradition has it that this practice started when a rich family invited a much poorer family to dinner and to make them feel better invited them to break the plates. They were proving that friendship is everything.”

        If we look hard enough we can find symbolism in all things.

        I am not familiar with the movie Roma. I did look it up. I scanned the link, but didn’t find a reference to the shattering pottery. Though I could see how that could be taken as a omen.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Roma is a brilliant and beautiful work of art and tribute to strong women. I think the shattering scene does imply that we have to experience that moment of breaking free when we think we are breaking apart. The movie is up for numerous Oscars.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Interesting to better understand the glass breaking in some cultural marriage rites, Jules.

    • I don’t think Charli ever denies any attempt, and I have noticed quite a few ‘wranglers’ who write poetry. I think she will love it. It is a poignant piece of poetry. ~nan

    • You found treasures on the lakeshore, and then you wrote a treasure!

  16. Liz H says:

    What a beautiful, shining palette you assembled in this week’s blog, Charli. some longing there, but so much hope! <3 <3

  17. denmaniacs4 says:

    Some mornings, Charli, many mornings in fact, I can’t get away from the crush of news that splatters the airwaves. Shards of tragedy, and the occasional joy, that unite us all in the circus of life. All the best…

    A Partial Conversation Overheard in the Centurion Lounge During A Flight Delay at LaGuardia

    “Two glasses of white wine, please.”

    “Any preference?”

    “Whatever you have will be fine. Sauvignon Blanc, maybe…unless you have Chardonnay?”

    “I do. Coming right up…”

    “How long’s it been, Jeannie? Two…three years?”

    “The conference in Chicago. October 2016.”

    “Right. Not that long.”

    “In years, maybe. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime. You know…”

    “Right! The clown in the White House. What a disaster. It’s like he’s grabbed everything we understood about the world and smashed it on the floor. The proverbial bully in a china shop.”

    “Let’s not talk about him. It’s great to see you.”

    “You too.”

    • An interesting use of this prompt

    • Charli Mills says:

      Bill, I know what you mean about sifting through the news. And you expressed that feeling we all have regarding the swift changes after November 2016. I can still hear the shattering from that night. The characters, like real-life counterparts, would rather talk about something else.

  18. […] KristianChris – Luna’s OnlineFandango – This, That, and The OtherCharli – Carrot Ranch Literary CommunityLinda – Linda G. […]

  19. Pete says:

    What a well written piece, Charli! I found myself nodding the whole way down. I used shards to a longer piece I’d written a few days ago, and it fell in perfectly with the theme.


    I was alone, near the stairs, clutching popcorn and beer when the lights dimmed, summoning me to seat 112 in Row EEE.

    Dan stood at the entrance to the balcony, eyes panning the lobby. When he saw me he grimaced, motioned for me to hurry. I tossed the popcorn into the trash, corn and kernels falling like shards into the bag. I tried not to think about how I my appearance inspired such small misery—a small explosion in my chest. I washed it down with beer and walked towards my husband.

    He turned and we entered the darkness.

    If interested, the long version is here:

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks for letting me know my piece resonated with you, Pete. I’m hooked on the tension and emotion found among the popcorn shards, and go to read more. You caught my interest!

  20. Norah says:

    What a beautiful, philosophic, metaphysical and inspirational story emerged from your vision. What speaks most clearly to me through your words are two things: acceptance and hope. Acceptance of who you are and where you are on life’s journey, and hope for … maybe just for that acceptance. With acceptance comes contentment and peace.
    I like that Danni likes to sift through the shards. We find so much of the richness of our history through the patient sifting of sands by archeologists.
    Heal well. You sound to be in good hands.

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli, I’m back with mine for this week: Meaning in each word.
      I didn’t achieve what I was hoping for, but I hope it carries a shard of a message anyway.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I wasn’t sure if I could achieve what I was hoping for either, Norah! Yes, you caught the messages of acceptance and hope. Even when we can’t find acceptance where we think we belong, we can still find it. Always hope. Danni’s profession mirrors the sifting we all do to better understand the fragments we piece together into our own narrations. Thank you! Healing continues and I no longer need a brace. And thank you for your shard of a message in your flash.

      • Norah says:

        I’m pleased I caught your message, Charli, that I interpreted it as you wished. We do have to sift through our own stories to capture the fragments we wish to define us and release those that don’t.
        I’m pleased to hear your healing is progressing.

  21. floridaborne says:

    Reiki can work well. Glad to see you’re exploring alternatives.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m finding out how well Reiki can work! I used to have a family doctor who was both an MD and trained in other alternatives. He called it integrated medicine.

      • floridaborne says:

        Medical doctors who are worth anything have found that chiropractic, acupuncture, Reiki and other “alternatives” can heal, too. A good doctor of chiropractic will tell you that a good emergency room and a good surgeon are sometimes what is needed.

  22. So beautifully written, Charli. I think your story resonates with all of us in one way or another.
    Here is my entry for the week:

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Kay! I think it can be a broad enough metaphor to fit many perspectives and situations, yet still feel true. You took the shards to reveal another truth.

  23. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
    Charli Mills reflects on her own healing process of her injured ankle by sharing a wonderful short story which leads to this week’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Shards of pottery, glass etc and their story…#recommended.

  24. Here’s mine Charli

    The Mirror Cracked

    The bathroom mirror was still cracked after all this time, a reminder of tempers lost and love destroyed.
    Now suddenly the pieces broke free of the frame, crashing and smashing into the sink below. Was it an Omen?
    Splinters, slithers and shards glistened up at him, each representing a part of what was.
    The whole had been beautiful, reflective, serene. Now all that was left was an empty canvas having ejected the shattered remains.
    It was a solid base upon which to build.
    Taking the smallest piece, he put it in place.
    Always best to start with the heart.

  25. […] that I have scheduled more time to write, I thought that I might join the many participants of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge under the dedicated management of Charli Mills. It is a great exercise in brevity and I am looking […]

  26. Hi Charli, a very poignant tale. I am sorry your ankle is still so bad. Sending you healing thoughts and prayers. Here is mine for this week:

    • Charli Mills says:

      Robbie, my ankle has finally turned a corner in healing this week. No brace. Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers. Your flash is moving.

  27. Hi Charli,
    What an imaginative story!
    – with so many different directions to it.
    I was struck particularly by the visit of the “Ancient Ones” to present-day Rome. Time travel.
    That got me thinking of “shards of rocks” and Earth’s own history & evolution. Volcanic eruptions (Pompeii).
    Meteorites & impact craters. Dinosaurs & extinction of life.
    And more epic/cosmic rocks in space – comets, meteories, asteroids, and the not-so-small icy moons.
    And the impact of those shards of rocks on imagination- writers, artists, composers.

    Pieces & Shards — stories of their own.
    thinking over ideas for the FF…

    Thank you!


    • Charli Mills says:

      Shards of rock! Now that’s shattering in epic proportions. Have you seen the Pompeii exhibit by chance, Saifun? I caught it when it traveled through Kansas City and we were yet meandering our way to Michigan. Those are shards of stories that still fascinate us.

  28. Your post this week moved me to tears as I read of the beauty and value of brokenness. It is our brokenness as humans that binds us together. For in our suffering we develop empathy for others who suffer. And through that experience we are restored to wholeness. What love I saw come shining through this vision of yours, Charli! I have a Reiki story. I broke my foot in 2012 and it was slow to heal since the break was very bad. The word ‘surgery’ was discussed and I was adamant I’d avoid it. One night I had a dream that I had Reiki and it healed my foot. I had never had nor considered having a Reiki treatment for any reason prior to this dream. I thought it was worth paying attention to and I scheduled a series of Reiki sessions. My bone knit together which amazed my doctor who cancelled my surgical consult. Hallelujah! I trust your sessions will work to speed your healing process, too.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Molly, you come from one of those professions that bears witness to much human suffering. Yet I have also experienced that nurses can perform the binding. We need artists and healers to make sense of suffering.

      That’s a great Reiki story! How incredible to have a guiding dream. I’m amazed at how much the Reiki has been helping my ankle. It has been speedy!

  29. Forgive me for not editing this to make it the correct number of words but I’m a little busy at the moment.


    I woke this morning in a pool of vomit,
    on standing I lost my footing,
    cracking my head upon the table
    and splitting my lip on the cold stone floor.
    It was another black dog afternoon.

    I crawled my way to the broken mirror,
    to see myself with a cubist eye,
    staring back all black and jagged,
    some one looking, it wasn’t me.
    It was another black dog afternoon.

    I heard a voice say take your medication,
    pink first, then blue and white.
    Stop shouting with your megaphone,
    too loud, too loud, turn it down.
    It was another black dog afternoon.

    Some days the noise won’t go away,
    sharp ones and oblongs too,
    banging in my semi consciousness,
    flashes are worse, I hate that sound.
    It was another black dog afternoon.

    I’m scared to death of bloody voices,
    I need to shelter in my youth,
    the only place where I feel safe,
    snuggled in my blanket, warm.
    It was another black dog afternoon.

    The only way to escape the screaming,
    is the solace of a Prozac haze,
    more and more and more and more,
    until the terror fades away.
    It was my last black dog afternoon.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you for joining us and sharing your story. The one rule is important to growth as a writer: 99 words, no more, no less. The magic (science) of constraints won’t happen if you don’t constrain the words.

  30. janmalique says:

    “The shards know beauty because they have known the pain of shattering.” Those words sum up the fragility and exquisiteness of existence and the healing process. What a deeply touching post Charli. I hope your healing continues.

  31. Shards has a lovely ring to it but not so nice when used by me at

  32. ladynimue says:

    I love love love the long story up there .. much inspiring 🙂

  33. ladynimue says:

    Brilliant inspiring story !

  34. As usual a very heartwarming post, Charli. Thank you for the shoutout of my work. I hope and pray the call comes through for the job as you continue to heal yourself.

    My take this week:

  35. Your story of the shards is beautiful. I look forward to writing about them.

  36. […] that I have scheduled more time to write, I thought that I might join the many participants of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge under the dedicated management of Charli Mills. It is a great exercise in brevity and I am looking […]

  37. […]   I wrote this for the January 24th Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  38. tnkerr says:

    Lots of diversity in the stories, even this week. I’m pleasantly surprised by that. I thought the single word ‘Shards’ would yield a more narrow interpretation, but the ranchers here certainly rose to the occasion with a spectacular display of talent and skill.
    It’s a pleasure to participate.

    • Charli Mills says:

      One thing I’ve come to anticipate each week it that creativity is boundless. I find it encouraging as a writer. I’m glad you enjoy being a part of the contributions, TN!

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

  40. Deborah Lee says:

    I love your shards. What a powerful insight! None of us is unbroken. Shards can glitter all on their own. (I have also benefited from long-distance Reiki. Yes, it works!)

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes — shards can glitter on their own, Deborah! It can feel awkward trying to piece them together and freeing when we realize we don’t have to. Thanks for sharing that you’ve had success with long-distance Reiki!

  41. […] in response to theThe Carrot Ranch Literary Community Flash Fiction challenge, hosted by Charli […]

  42. […] for Carrot Ranch‘s writing […]

  43. […] Carrot Ranch Challenge, January 24, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item they once were, or who picks them up and why. Go where the prompt leads. […]

  44. […] wrote this in response to Carrot Ranch’s Word prompt- Shards, even though the prompt clearly called for a 99 word flash fiction […]

  45. Violet Lentz says:

    I apologize for my blatant disregard for the rules, but I came across your prompt when I read a piece attributed to it, and wrote and posted my response, an expository verse, before I came here to link. I am going to post my link here anyway, as I know you have editorial privilege to delete it if you see fit. See you next week with a valid entry, and thank you for the venue.

  46. […] was written in response to Charli Mills’ latest prompt at the Carrot […]

  47. […] From the 24 January 99 word challenge at Carrot Ranch. […]

  48. susansleggs says:

    Charli, Your essay certainly resonated with me. We have so many broken pieces in our lives no matter who we are, but healing can happen with new thoughts, directions and helpful companions. It sounds like your ankle was hurt more than you let on at first. Glad the Reiki is working. On to my flash….


    The vinyl discs were from his high school and college days. When he left her for another woman she smashed them against the edge of their marble counter. Shards flew. She eyed the mess with a childish glee, feeling she had destroyed something of him as he had destroyed their life together. She slept well that night. The next day she purchased a shiny new bucket and filled it with every shard she could locate then left it by the turntable with a note; “Here is your record collection, in the condition you have left my heart and life.”

  49. […] was written, or will be when I’m done, for Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. This weeks prompt is shards. The challenge is to write a story that is exactly 99 […]

  50. Nobbinmaug says:

    Here’s my take. The dark and depressing is too easy for me.

  51. Lead Came

    It was Valentine’s Day, and Julie was working. She received a bouquet of flowers from her husband. Her customers would remark, “He really loves you” or some other platitude. It certainly felt like a platitude because she recently discovered that he had an affair with a mutual friend. One he denied up until now.

    With two young children, what was she to do? His betrayal had cut her to the quick, and she felt she couldn’t go on. Her heart had been ripped to pieces. Would she ever feel whole again?

    yellow roses…
    shards of
    the stained glass heat

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    • Charli Mills says:

      Nan, I can feel the build-up of emotion, like the last intake of breath before it all breaks.

      • Thanks, Charli. Your kind remarks are appreciated. Everyone gets burned/betrayed some time in their lives by someone close to us. Whether it is gossip or infidelity or a lie. We can be shattered into a million pieces, but fortunately we humans are pretty resilient and can recover.
        My best to you in your recovery. ~Nan

  52. Fractal Features
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    After their argument, she retreated into the museum until she no longer heard the derisive laughter and tinkling of toasted congratulatory conversation.

    Cold air buffeted from a neglected hallway. The percussion of her footfalls punctuated until the crescendo burst her dammed emotions. A torrent smeared makeup while suppression unknotted.

    She beheld glass fingered with frost. Backlit, it reflected her amplified imperfection. Within the fractal features resounded his criticism.

    Instead of accepting the carnival-mirror version of herself, she punched the unfair portrayal. The window shattered into a crystalline spider web. Pain shot through her wrist and left shards for remembrance.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Kerry, I can feel her need to escape and the transition to lash out. Great line: “Within the fractal features resounded his criticism. “

  53. I thought I had nothing for this week’s challenge. But Chester and Ruth came to my rescue. And I’ve got football on my mind.

    Chester helps Ruth with the crossword puzzle

    Chester flopped into his recliner, cracked open a beer, and turned on the football game. Ruth poured over the weekend crossword puzzle.

    “What’s a five-letter word for fragment?” Ruth said.

    “Chip away at ‘em with short passes!”

    “I said five letters. Chip only has four.”

    “One piece at a time.”

    “Starts with ‘s.’ Piece doesn’t fit.”

    “There’s the scrap you needed for another set of downs!”

    “No, it’s not ‘scrap.’ The word ends in a ‘d.’

    “Smash the defense!”

    ‘Smash doesn’t end with ‘d’.”

    “Shard, the word is shard, woman.”

    “I love it when we do the crossword together.”

  54. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (01/24/2019): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item they once were, or who picks them up and why. Go where the prompt leads. […]

  55. Liz H says:

    Last minute, but this has been on my mind…

    Polar Vortex and Privilege

    Hunkered down in double socks,
    Layers of wool and moisture-wicking long johns.
    It’s a quick hike to the kitchen for more
    Coffee hot soup the sweet pungency
    Of Sumo oranges in a hand-turned bowl.

    I could go out. I could stay in.
    My choice.
    Do I trust the slippery overpasses for a writing class in a historic cottage supporting local art?

    Grateful for my privilege, but feeling detached.
    Worried for those living rough
    On our Twin Cities streets,
    And rural roads.

    Predicted windschill 60 below: Our people may literally freeze to death,
    Shatter into shards of never were.

    • Liz H says:

      (Typo…”windschill” should be “windchill”)

    • This has been on my mind, too, Liz, with our severe Maine winter. You nailed it, and I share your concern for those who don’t share the privilege of staying inside a warm house with hot soup. Well done.

      • Liz H says:

        Thanks, Molly. I was relieved to see much more coverage and lists going out Tuesday night news, of the many churches, social centers, and government buildings in the Twin Cities keeping doors open. Mobilization takes time, but the call has been answered with humanity!

      • We have warming stations in our community, too. I cannot imagine spending a night outside in this severe weather.

    • Charli Mills says:

      For as cold as we got in our snow globe, I figured Minnesota must be absolutely blasted by the polar vortex. People can’t survive living rough in this kind of weather. Your last line echoes the invisibility of this vulnerable population.

  56. […] via January 24: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]

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

  58. Ann Edall-Robson says:

    Fooled Once
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    The creek had become a fast-moving lake. Crossing the muddy water was for those who were stupid. Today, he would be one of the stupid ones. He had to check the cattle, regardless of Mother Nature.

    His eyes were drawn to the West, and he smirked. The thunder was like a drum roll followed by the ebony clouds opening to brilliant shards of light streaming through. Was it another one of Mother Nature’s false hope sign that a break in the weather was on its way? He’d seen the sky like that before. Fooled once, but never again.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Once again, Ann, you write with such a strong sense of place. I can feel tension for the plight of ranchers who depend on reading the weather and flooded roads.

  59. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about shards. You can write about the pieces, the item … […]

  60. […] Charli Mills Carrot Ranch: Flash Fiction Challenge 2019.01.24 – She’s Made Whole Again […]

  61. Hi Charli,

    It’s so good to know that you’re healing well and on the way to fully recover. It takes patience, I know. Before you know it, you’ll be moving around like you did before.

    Here’s the story about my sister.

  62. Story of Shards

    A favorite author of mine, Jennifer Estep writes fantasy fiction for teens and adults. I actually stumbled upon her writing when I won a copy of her YA novel, Dark Frost from her Mythos Academy series.

    Once I devoured that whole series, I branched into her other series like the Black Blade trilogy, the Bigtime series, the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series, and the spinoff series, Mythos Academy: Colorado, which begins with Spartan Heart.

    Her humorous, lighthearted style makes for fun reading.

    My current read is Kill the Queen, the first in her newest series, A Crown of Shards.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    While technically not a flash fiction, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use the prompt word again.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I love it, Nan! Isn’t it a joy to discover an author whose writing we can drink in? Clever 99 words to share her work.

      • Thanks, Charli. I really do love the fantasy that Jennifer Estep brings to life, and that her newest series is called A Crown of Shards is just coincidental. Do check her out sometime. Her Easter eggs that she hides from one series to the next is just a nod and a wink to those who read all of her works.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I love Easter eggs! It’s one reason I love Marvel Studios and the work of Stan Lee. Sad to lose his creative genius this last year. He knew how to create flawed heroes.

  63. […] at an internal, emotional level. Sunday, January 27: “Grandma’s Tears” for Carrot Ranch‘s flash fiction prompt. Monday, January 28: A great quote from Len about love and marriage. […]

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