January 31: 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.

February 1, 2019

George C. Bailey Photography 2019

Water sustains life. We thirst for droplets pure and cool, hydrating brain cells and skin. Cool blue. Azure coasts. Caribean surf. Water calls us to buoyancy in its waves. Floating, bobbing beneath warm sunshine. But that image is from the travel blog for a warmer destination. I’m bundled up on the thumb of land that juts into Lake Superior. Keweenaw, which must mean “hell hath froze over.”

My water mistress runs with the frozen devils. They touched down earlier this week, a hoard of them called Polar Vortex. It would be like a tale of Jack Frost if George R. R. Martin were to pen it — no survivors. I thought my Lady Lake would freeze solid, go quiet, turn white. Instead, she surges and hurls her powers across our peninsula gripped in the clutches of the Polar Vortex gang. We get the worst of both phenomena.

Lady Lake Superior undulates 10-foot swells like curvaceous hips, slow, sensuous, semi-frozen. Sea mist rises as heat against the sub-zero touch of the frozen devils. They hover above her open water, crystallizing her shores. The layers in between turn to slush the color of icebergs. The shore looks as deadly as the final view of the Titanic.

Further out, the shipping lanes freeze. The US Coast Guard ice cutter, Katmai Bay is churning ice at 12 knots tonight. A curious pastime, when I can no longer get to my favorite rocky beaches along Lake Superior, is to check in with the marine vessels on the Great Lakes.  Traffic is but a trickle on Superior. The Lady has opened her ice water mansions, and no sailor wants to go.

The Hub met a sailor in town. He’s crew on a ship that goes down to Toledo and other interior ports. For Christmas, he gave the Hub a package of sausages from a butcher shop made famous by the character of Klinger on the tv series MASH. The Hub was proud of his gift. He enjoys talking to anyone who can connect with him on an intellectual level. Intellect remains intact and creates an avenue for communication. I’m grateful for the people who choose to notice the Hub’s attributes and ignore the oddities of his condition.

The brain will have its way, but for those of us who care, we stand beside him to preserve dignity and as much of his individualism as we can. In the meantime, he scoops snow and reminds us all how much better the desert is to this tundra.

With the ridiculously cold temperatures, Lady Lake didn’t forget to gift us more snow. We’ve had 60 inches of snow in January and will likely see another 100 inches before it all ends. February is typically the snowiest month, and storms continue through March and into April although days begin to lengthen, and the sun returns its melting warmth.

But what if it didn’t?

What if the sea mist rose no more and the Greatest of the Great Lakes did freeze bone-white solid? Ice heaves upon ice heaves would build just as they do no, but with even greater strength and height. Soon, rivers of ice would rip apart rocks and grind cities. One theory of climate change is that the Gulf Stream can collapse and cause an ice age. What we see with the spread of the polar vortex is the result of the ice melting at the poles. It’s terrifying to think about. But so are all the weather extremes.

The US Midwest freezes and part of Australia are baking, flooding and on fire. All around the world we see climate change in extreme weather events.

Can we yet find the natural beauty, and find a way to give the earth her dignity.

This week, a good friend of ours, a veteran and husband to one of my Warrior Sisters, attempted suicide. He has similar brain issues to the Hub, which gives us worry. However, what gives us hope are the individuals through the VA system who have stepped in to help. A surprise, a good one, to us all. The civilian hospital reminds me of climate change deniers. They don’t want to look, listen, or maintain dignity for another. We are relieved that as of today, he’s in a VA facility with good care.

What’s with denying human dignity to other or even to our environment. Even if a person doesn’t believe in the science of climate change — and understandably, there are many theories and arguments — we can still do what is right and best for protecting our precious planet. What I don’t understand is the denial only so that resources can be stripped and robbed at the price of stability, wonder, and beauty.

I feel like our veteran friend was treated as if he were a criminal because civilian population doesn’t understand their points of fragility. An aging altered brain is frightening. In our family, we made the shift to stand on a foundation of caring, to approach all the discomforting issues that occur with loving kindness. Instead of rigid rules or treatment, like caring for the earth, we need to do what is best, to bring out the best in another. Not to strip and rob of dignity. Not to deny that veteran vulnerability is real and deserves our attention.

While Mother Earth can’t call for help, veterans in need can. This is the US Veteran Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1). You can also text 838255, or open access help for those hard of hearing (and most combat veterans suffer hearing loss) 1-800-799-4889. Share this number with FRIENDS AND FAMILY of veterans!

Most spouses and grown children probably unaware that they can call. Please keep in mind that isolation can lead to suicidal ideation. One of the reasons me and my family work so hard at keeping the Hub engaged and communication grounded in caring is so he does not feel isolated. One of the ideas behind suicide as a part of CTE (and PTSD for that matter) is due to the person losing connectivity with other people. As the brain deteriorates in CTE, a person feels trapped and disconnected. In PTSD, self-isolation is common.

So make sure family and friends know the Veteran Crisis Hotline number and that they can call. Our friend’s spouse called and likely saved her husband’s life. Just two weeks ago, one of our fellow Warrior Sisters gave her the number. She said she didn’t know she could call. We didn’t know she’d have to call so soon. We never really know the moment.

Like with the earth. We don’t know when the exact crisis will be. In the meantime, let’s be kind to one another and think of extending others and the environment a sense of dignity.

Take a look at the photo for the prompt. I asked permission of a local photographer to use it. George C. Bailey and his wife who is a renown Copper Country artist live high up on the peninsula right on the Lake. There’s something enlivening about Lake Superior in her layers of ice and sea mist. Remember, that there is always beauty around us. Do not lose hope to the frozen devils or fears of the future. Stay connected to one another and live life to the fullest.

Write to your greatest potential.

January 31, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist. How does it create an environment for a story? It can set the stage or take the stage. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by February 5, 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.

Submissions closed. Find our most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.

Mountain Passage (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

At the top of the pass, Ike pulled over. Danni radioed the lead forester to verify any logging trucks. The Forest Service road tapered to one-way traffic. For the next five miles, loggers used the narrow switchbacks to haul loads from an active site. If they met a truck on the grade, there would be no way to pass. Danni surveyed the steep ravine, waiting for a reply. Morning fog obscured the forest and hid the road. Before an affirmative crackled over the radio, Danni heard grinding gears in the distance like a rumble of surf beneath sea mist.

You May Also Like…

232 Comments

  1. Chelsea Owens

    Connectivity is so important! I wrote about it somewhat blithely in connection with depression, but your admonitions remind me that we all need it and that more sensitive persons need it on a regular basis. Thank you.

    I hope your friend receives more dignified treatment and love.

    • Charli Mills

      Connectivity is so important to depression. We, humans, are not meant for isolation, are we? The local veterans all made phone calls to our friend and left encouraging and funny messages on his cell phone. He’s not allowed his phone (which is frustrating given what we know about connectivity). But we did get the number for the nurse’s station and he’ll be getting lots of calls from all of us here. Thank you, Chelsea.

      • Chelsea Owens

        I hope he gets all of his messages from you, soon!

      • Charli Mills

        He has and he’s doing well!

  2. calmkate

    you’re surviving some tough times Charli and I don’t mean just the weather … you’re doing well, team work counts 😎
    I see a mist before my eyes … onto it <3

    • Charli Mills

      Part of it is the nature of setting out to sea alongside veterans. And like the weather, we’ll get through, but best enjoyed in the company of others (similar to the writing journey — it’s best shared, ups and downs). All right, Kate, get to it! Looking forward to what the mist forms. <3

      • calmkate

        yes vet wife supports are essential for survival … travelling now but I will get there <3

  3. Violet Lentz

    This entire post exudes love and compassion. May you and yours be surrounded by the same in all you do.. Thank you for the thought provoking post as well..

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Violet. I’m anticipating the results of your thoughts, and where you take it into your writing.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Anita!

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Deep Waters Run Still

    “Hhhrrryyy, Pel.”
    “Cat gotcher tongue Kid?”
    “Ack. I’m a pony.”
    “A pony?”
    “Yeah, a little hoarse. I ain’t spoke fer ages.”
    “Bet thet bothered you.”
    “Dang right it did. Jist ‘cause D. Avery wants ta turn tail and hunker down, why do I have ta? What d’ya s’pose she was up to anyway?
    “Ain’t my business. But mebbe she was hopin’ ta quiet you down.”
    “Hee hee. It didn’t work. I got bored an’ wriggled all aroun’ her head with nowhere ta go. You sure musta missed me, huh, Pal?”
    “Sure, Kid. Like a headache when it stops hurtin’.”
    ***
    “Ya know, Kid, it ain’t about you.”
    “I know Pal. I jist love it here is all. Where were you all this time Pal?”
    “Was visitin’ ol’ Ornery.”
    “Ta have some a his whiskey.”
    “Mebbe. But he’d busted up his still. An’ all his Mason jars— shards. I found him sittin’ an’ listenin’ ta the waterfall, freeze, a whispery tinklin’ sound. An’ if ya listen up close ta the ice ya kin hear water inside, gigglin’ about spring a’comin’. Here, Kid, it’s a Mason jar Ornery glued back together outta 99 shards.”
    “It says Moans.”
    “It’ll hold water, Kid.”

    • susansleggs

      Ah yes, the water under the ice indeed makes noise, never thought of it as giggling; will from now on.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Fun Fact: there is a waterfall short walk from the retreat house. If it’s dry then it’s a rock fall. Someone keep an eye on Mills!

      • susansleggs

        I’ll bring my walking shoes.

      • Charli Mills

        Did someone mention rocks?

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Kid was worming about your brain, D.! Despite the wriggles, I hope you had some good downtime. Love the idea of spring giggling in the frozen waterfall. Welcome back, D. et all the characters in your head! Did you notice Kid got a cat while you were gone?

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        “Pal!! Did you tell Shorty I have a cat?!”
        “Why would I do thet?”
        “’Cause I don’t.”
        “I mighta seen a cat in the bunkhouse.”
        “Ain’t mine.”
        “Mighta seen ya feedin’ thet cat.”
        “Well, it seemed hungry.”
        “Mighta heard ya talkin’ ta thet cat thet ain’t yers.”
        “Well, yeah, but… I mean it jist snuggled up on me an’ purred an’ … Really, it give me no choice.”
        “Kid, is thet a cat toy ya have there?”
        “Well, I saw it an’ figured what the hay.”
        “Well, I’ll straighten Shorty out. You ain’t got no cat. Cat’s got you.”

      • Charli Mills

        At least the cat didn’t get Kid’s tongue!

    • H.R.R. Gorman

      I think you should get bonus points for including last week’s prompt too!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Thank you. (It’s all about the bonus points)

      • Charli Mills

        Bonus Pt.

    • susanzutautas

      LOL, love your flash. Spring can’t get here soon enough 🙂

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha, giggling about the coming of spring 🙂

    • explorereikiworld

      Loved the title and I lust for Spring season now 😉

    • robertawrites235681907

      Haha, there’s just no stopping these boys, Ms Avery.

  5. Norah

    I appreciate the way you find beauty in all that surrounds you, Charli, be it human or other forms of nature. Your strength shines through clearly in this post, as does your compassion and care for others and for the environment. You sum it all up in these few words: ‘Stay connected to one another and live life to the fullest.’ The connections we make must encompass all – Earth and each other.
    Australia has it all at the moment – except for the polar vortex: floods, bushfires, droughts, heat. It’s relentless.
    I will write to my greatest potential as I use sea mist in a story. It’s nice to see Ike and Danni together in your excerpt. The sea mist would have affected their safety on the road. Thank goodness for radios, though I think she knew before she got the response.

    • Charli Mills

      Your relentless heat is expressing itself in dangerous ways, Norah. And yet, even in the extremes, we can find wonder and beauty. Ike and Danni have me on a journey into those shrouded mountains. I’m waiting to see what is revealed. Life seems to be like that — we can only see so far. Best to stay connected and caring. I can’t wait to read what you write!

      • Norah

        Life seems to be like that – so true. If only we had a crystal ball, what choices would we make? And then, would those choices change the vision? Perhaps it’s better to not know, to take life one step at a time and see what eventuates. It can be frustrating when it doesn’t move as quickly as we’d like in the direction we’d like! 🙂
        I hope you like what I’ve written – coming soon. 🙂

      • robertawrites235681907

        I must say, Charli, that we have had extremely hot weather this year too. Absolutely awful. Worse than cold as you can’t take your skin off.

      • Charli Mills

        Robbie, that’s true — at least with the cold, we can bundle up. But extreme heat is hard to escape.

    • Norah

      I’m back with my story about the magic of canned sea mist. 🙂 I hope you like it. https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-1iU

      Canned Sea Mist
      No more than a hint of sea spray and she was flown back on wings of joy to carefree childhood days frolicking in the shallows, basking on golden sands, fossicking for hints of life in rockpools and amassing precious collections of shells and other treasures arranged for her pleasure by the tide. Lulled by a gentle breeze and waves whispering a heart’s rhythm, she dosed, uninterrupted by seagulls squawking, murmured conversations, hushed laughter, or the shuffle of approaching and receding footsteps. As the sun glowed bright above, she sighed her last, now and forever one with the sea’s mist.

      • Norah

        Thank you, Robbie. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Beautiful imagery, Norah! And I enjoyed learning a new word I plan to employ often this summer — fossicking.

      • Norah

        Thank you, Charli. I was surprised to find that fossicking is an Australian word. I thought it would have been in common. use You definitely fossick! Enjoy!

    • susansleggs

      We have polar bear plunges in western New York State as fund raisers in the winter. I’ve watched, but never participated.

      • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

        I bet that is so fun to watch but there is zero chance I could/would participate! I am more of a “sipping hot chocolate from the sidelines and staying warm in my winter coat thank you very much” kind of a person 😉

      • susansleggs

        I’m with you Kay. I donate, and stay dry!

    • Charli Mills

      Several friends who live further up the Keweenaw like George have some astounding photos from this past week, Kay. I wish I could show you the lake, but the closest I can come to it is expressing its power and beauty in words.

      • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

        It sounds absolutely amazing! I bet the polar vortex really was something to experience. And to think I was complaining here at “just” -5 C 😀
        I will probably only know Lady Lake from your posts but I enjoy so much to hear about the many faces she shows those lucky enough to experience her on a daily basis.

      • Charli Mills

        There was a man out surfer the Lake in Marquette over on the east side where the bay is open. He had a beard of ice! He embraced the polar vortex! https://goo.gl/images/WUkQem

    • susanzutautas

      Would someone please turn up the heat 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! Susan, we need to send this cold to Australia!

    • robertawrites235681907

      I can picture this from my own boys experiences.

  6. Jules

    Charli,

    Compassion and the right help make all the difference. Good thoughts to all who have any ills. I drew on my recent visit to the south; Enjoy:

    Unclear Clearwater, FL
    (We had a short visit in Dec 2018 – The weather wasn’t co-operative at all.)

    This isn’t normal.
    Windswept, double bent,
    facing the wind head on.

    Feeling like a cartoon character
    being pelted by every single
    grain of sand from the beach.

    But we get there to what was
    the beach a few days ago anyway.

    The rain may have stopped
    but the misty hurricane air
    sucks at closed shop door,
    where we finally have chosen
    to take some relief.

    The door rattles and is threatened
    to be removed from its hinges.

    We’re at least a block from the shore line,
    where the tourist pier, for safety was shut down.
    At least we’re together.

    ©J/h

    • Charli Mills

      You’re so right, Jules — compassion goes a long way. Hurricane weather is something I haven’t experienced but can understand through your flash.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Sounds like a good vacation to me. (See last line)

    • susanzutautas

      I’ve driven just ahead of a hurricane on my way to Largo Florida and it was challenging, and terrifying.

      • Jules

        We drove on the Everglades HWY across the state – My turn, for an hour… I was going 35 mph with my flashers on following the car in front of me for an hour or so. I don’t think it was quite a hurricane. But it was powerful rain!

    • robertawrites235681907

      I have experienced high winds on the beach that cause dust storms that flay your skin. Really horrible. An excellent poem, Jules.

  7. pensitivity101

    Hi Charli,
    another poem from me this week

    The Sea Wept.

    Icebound, blocked, cracking,
    This world is a mass of layers.
    From the deepest depths
    A blending hue
    Of black and green
    To four shades of blue,
    Rolling crests,
    Frothy curls of white
    Crumble in the weak sun,
    Rushing to meet the shore,
    But falling short,
    Layers forming, meeting
    Joining, becoming one,
    Blinding, restricting,
    For many it amounts to
    Uncertainty and fear.
    Scrolls and wisps
    Carried skyward,
    The sea mist gathers,
    Not to hide or cover
    More to caress and blanket,
    Holding the surface together,
    Who is to say it is trying
    To shield us from
    Witnessing the sea crying.

    • Charli Mills

      I enjoy your poetry, Di! Each line is crisp and your word choice sharp. I feel such sadness at the last line.

      • pensitivity101

        Thanks Charli. I’m glad the sadness came across as I intended.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      It rocks. And roils. The pace and rhythm of your words evoke the turbulence of the ocean.

      • pensitivity101

        Thank you very much!

    • susanzutautas

      I too like Charli, feel sad to imagine the sea crying.

      • pensitivity101

        Hi Susan. I feel like that about trees too.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Wow, so lovely, and a brilliant last line.

    • katsyarina

      beautifully written <3

      • pensitivity101

        Thank yoiu.

    • explorereikiworld

      Jee! call it climate change or just my darn emotions…witnessing the sea crying can be very sad!
      Brilliant piece.

      • pensitivity101

        Thank you so much!

  8. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    Heavy duty stuff this week, Charli. So thankful your veteran friend is okay and getting the care he needs. So many veterans lost to suicide. It is an epidemic that doesn’t get near enough attention. Loving kindness – yes, that is the way to help your husband, and yourself through these tough times. And we need to extend that kindness toward our planet and each other. It might start with moving to the desert as your husband suggested. ????

    • Charli Mills

      Heavy-duty, indeed. But as you point out, Molly, the veteran suicide epidemic tends to get brushed aside. That’s why I wanted to bring it up directly and point out that the crisis hotline can be accessed by friends and family, too. We are all surrounding our friends up here. Educating those in our community who need a lesson in giving vulnerable veterans their dignity in the process. Loving kindness only goes so far — I already wandered the desert with the Hub, lol!

    • denmaniacs4

      A Canadian study from 2017 said this…”1,486 former military members ended their lives from 1976 to 2012, with one-third of the suicides occurring after 2002, when Canadian troops were entrenched in the Afghanistan war. ”

      War never has an ending…

      • susanzutautas

        Wow, I never realized that there were so many. So sad.

      • Charli Mills

        Sad to learn the Canadian statistics are daunting, as well. When I first started paying attention to the numbers, I wondered why older veterans and also those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq were most vulnerable. It seems that an “altered brain” is part of the mix — head impacts from blasts, but also aging on undiagnosed PTSD.

        War has bad endings.

      • Charli Mills

        Molly, most veterans who are homeless suffer from a complexity of issues rooted in a lack of help for those issues — no dental care, difficult access to health care, mental health stigmas, difficulties with employment, moral injuries, home loss, divorces, addictions. Many probably have CTE which is difficult to diagnose and is not treated in the VA system. Once they go homeless (rough) they are outside any safety nets. Frustrating and tragic.

    • robertawrites235681907

      Your are right, Molly. Most people do not understand PTSD and that creates stress all around. I sometimes find my son extremely difficult to live with so I do understand both sides. I often think how easily someone with my son’s intelligence and mental health issues could either commit suicide or become a sociopath. It inspires me to great patience.

      • Charli Mills

        Robbie, you understand what it is to be one of the Warrior Sisters — the spouses and mothers of combat vets with PTSD. Yes, tons of compassion, patience, and resiliency. High intelligence complicates PTSD further. Connectivity is important. And so is self-care for yourself! <3

  9. denmaniacs4

    Mist Opportunities

    It rose out of the sea like a smack in the face.

    “I can’t see the trail anymore,” I bellowed.

    “Some leader!” came from behind.

    “Oh, yeah. I suppose you can do better?”

    I wasn’t in the mood to take guff, even if I couldn’t tell who my detractor was.

    “I didn’t say that,” the voice said.

    “I don’t know. Sounds mutinous to me.”

    “What’s mootinus? You calling me a cow?”

    “Hold your horses,” I said, complicating the emerging animal theme, “Mu…Tin…Knee.”

    “Whatever! Hey guys, Old Tin Knee is lost.”

    Street kids, I thought. You have gotta love ‘em.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • Charli Mills

      Out of the mist, I got a chuckle from Old Tin Knee! A fun take on the prompt, Bill.

      • denmaniacs4

        Pain leavened with a tinge of frivolity…my key ingredient…

      • Charli Mills

        A good recipe.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Not to be confused with gorillas in the mist, the street kids stopped monkeying around.

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha, so typical 🙂

    • susansleggs

      Beautiful visual. I could feel the temperature drop

      • Michael

        Thanks so much Susan.

    • Charli Mills

      Cool thoughts, Michael

      • Michael

        Hi Charli thanks for stopping by ????

      • Charli Mills

        Good to visit, Michael. Have a great weekend!

    • Charli Mills

      And thank you for an interesting response, Teresa!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m glad you let that one have life on the page, Violet!

      • Violet Lentz

        You just never know what will resonate. or who will need to hear what you have to say.. Thank you Charli for giving us venue for our voices.

      • Charli Mills

        I believe in literary art being what gives us voice, and we need to share our voices. I’m glad you are adding yours!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      There’s some rough seas there, well sailed in verse.

      • Violet Lentz

        Thank you D. for riding along..

    • Charli Mills

      Glad you had fun with the prompt, Susan!

  10. Liz H

    Okay, I just have to note right now–>This is Superior porn (pun fully intended):
    “Lady Lake Superior undulates 10-foot swells like curvaceous hips, slow, sensuous, semi-frozen. Sea mist rises as heat against the sub-zero touch of the frozen devils. They hover above her open water, crystallizing her shores. The layers in between turn to slush the color of icebergs.”
    Well done!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! You made me snort out loud! Thanks for pointing out my new genre!

    • H.R.R. Gorman

      lololol

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Things are heating up in the Keweenaw.

    • susanzutautas

      LOL! Good one!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Ha ha ha ha ha!

  11. Liz H

    Gorgeous photo!
    And Charli, I’m glad you are so well-connected in your small community and to the services you guys need, tho’ it was a long, uphill road to get there. Bless you for sharing what you’ve found and the stories you know–that truly builds a community that goes beyond geographic limits.
    That’s the only valid kind of global warming we should have!

    • Charli Mills

      George takes stunning photos. He and his wife are hearty souls who live on the Keweenaw shore. We have found a connected community. Neighbors are stepping in and helping our friend keep her drive plowed and wood boiler going. Geography surrounds us, but it’s the people who are willing to stay connected that defines this place. If we could only spread that kind of global warming!

    • susansleggs

      I can feel the Captain’s desire to be back on his ship. Well done.

      • the dark netizen

        Thanks so much, Susan! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Net, I could feel the emotion flowing in a captain trapped on land in a broken body.

      • the dark netizen

        I am glad my words could convey that emotion! 😀
        Thanks so much, Charli! 🙂

    • susansleggs

      Enjoyed your take on the sea mist

      • Reena Saxena

        Thank you, Susan!

    • Charli Mills

      Reena, the foretelling gives way to clarity. Great last line!

  12. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Figurehead

    With Destiny tied to the bowsprit branch, Marlie took command of the tree fort. She steered the pitching ship into the roiling sea of fog-drenched backyard, the surf of snow rising underneath the plunging bow. Over the howling wind she barked orders at her frightened crew.

    “Should they really be out there in this weather?”
    “They’re dressed for it and they’re under cover in the tree fort. Tommy will let her know when he’s had enough.”
    “Maybe. Oh, here he is now. Tommy, are you okay?”
    “I had to walk the plank.”
    “There’s hot chocolate in the galley, Mate.”

    • Ann Edall-Robson

      Love this D. It brings back memories of when childhood meant letting us play and use our imaginations no matter the weather.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yeah, I really like this kid. I’m glad she showed up.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        It’s nice when they do that!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Awwww, so cute 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Destiny is my kind of kid! At least Tommy got hot chocolate after walking the plank.

    • Charli Mills

      Water is so cleansing and even slush with ice, it feels inviting. Thank you, Jan!

      • janmalique

        It’s an element strongly associated with the emotions. Have you read the works of
        Dr Masaru Emoto? He did groundbreaking work on water and it’s very special capabilities, especially of responding to emotions.

        https://thewellnessenterprise.com/emoto/

      • Charli Mills

        Yes! I remember seeing his photography and was so mesmerized by how emotional states could change the microscopic look of water. Thank for the link, Jan.

  13. H.R.R. Gorman

    Whew! I didn’t quite have the time to make a comment yesterday, so today I will!

    The more I read about your hubby’s experiences with CTE, the more I’m convinced giving kids and adults CTE through something as frivolous as sport is wrong. With the Superb Owl coming tomorrow, this information is just as relevant as ever. We need to recognize that CTE isn’t just a football phenomenon, that there are real effects we’re ignoring because of the glamour of sport.

    Anyway, here’s my merm-ish take on the prompt.

    https://hrrgorman.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/master-of-the-sea/

    **Master of the Sea**

    A slender hand helped him spew water from his lungs. “It is good you lived, but I’m afraid your countrymen died.” Her queenly presence was clothed in radiant stones from the ocean, her hair glistened with sea mist.

    She had a fin in place of legs and loose webs between long fingers.

    “She was a good ship… and my friends were good sailors.” The man shook as tears welled in his eyes.

    “Before the storm, you said you were masters of the sea?”

    “Why not? His Majesty’s navy is the world’s finest.”

    She flicked her tail and swam away.

    • Charli Mills

      I used to enjoy watching the Vikings play football and now I can’t stomach it, knowing what these players face. With our veterans, we have so many who are going to be impacted by aging in ways they aren’t prepared for. The Concussion Legacy is doing fantastic work to build awareness and open up important dialogs.

      In a way, I see how your flash reflects the hubris of believing in invincibility.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Huh, you’re right! Thanks for pointing that out!

  14. Colleen Chesebro

    Hello everyone. Here’s my contribution for this week. <3

    Sea Mist Dreams, a Haibun Senryu.

    I walk along the sandy path strewn with starfish and seashells which seems to beckon me toward the sea. Pearls and aquamarine crystals dot the trail. The salt water scent of the sea mist wafts over me as the sound of stormy waves crashing against stony cliffs draws me closer to my goal.

    I imagine the mer-people, undines, water nymphs, and sirens who assist with the flow of life, balancing emotions with healing, cleansing, love, and beauty. I can’t help but wonder how I got here.

    Childish dreams bring hope—
    as past and present conspire
    to present new paths.

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Thanks, D. I’m stuck in Poetry mode. ??

    • susanzutautas

      Very nice!

    • Charli Mills

      Colleen, as a long-form author, you gain much by your poetic influences. Your imagery and balance come into focus. Thanks for sharing different forms with us, too!

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Awww, Charli, I just love these challenges. They make me think in different ways. <3

    • Charli Mills

      So do my friends! Thanks, Ruchira!

  15. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Thar Blows

    The giant Maushop shared whales and fish with the people. Only Maushop could stop the monstrous bird that ate children. The people showed thanks with gifts of tobacco. With ashes from his pipe Maushop made a second, faraway island. The fog from his pipe shielded for a while but was not enough.
    Then the people took the others’ god. The others said he was the devil; Maushop obliged. He turned his children to fishes and his wife to a stone before taking to farther seas. They’d see him again, misty smoke now urgent spout of a great white whale.
    ***
    Get more insight at my site. (click!)
    https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/2019/02/02/thar-blows/

    • Jules

      With that intro how could one not follow….?

    • Charli Mills

      Great mythology, and I agree with Jules!

  16. Joy

    You’ve pointed out something that I should have figured out long ago: isolation can mean suicide ideation. Just never connected the dots before. Thank you ??

    • Charli Mills

      We all need connectivity. Often with PTSD, the urge is to push people away to survive. With CTE or dementia, memory or processing becomes a barrier. It’s important to identify the barriers that cause isolation and prevent a person from getting walled off where. I’m glad it helped you connect the dots! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Got your comment and link, your pingback and your form submission. Perhaps it was just a delay? Great story, Jo! Thanks for being persistent to share it.

      • JoHawkTheWriter

        So happy it went through, you never know. Thanks for letting me know.

  17. Miriam Hurdle

    You’ve had 60 inches of snow and will see another 100? Oh my goodness! I haven’t seen snow since Christmas 2018. I’m glad your hubby receives attention from his intellectual conversation. I’ll try to do the flash this week, still have a lot to catch up.

    • Charli Mills

      Miriam, we got 60 inches just in January. Total so far is over 117 inches and we’ll see that much in February and March before blessedly we get a reprieve. Most of it is “lake-effect.” Lake Superior creates her own snow system. Yes, the Hub’s speech therapy is so helpful. It helps him where his processing has shut down. Catch up and we’ll catch you flashing again!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Wow, we are glad to have 16 inches of rain in southern CA. Can’t imagine 117 inches of snow so far. I remember living in Portland, OR, it wasn’t cold when it was snowing. It was cold when it was wet.
        I’m still catching up, so haven’t gotten the ball rolling for all the challenges yet, skip the flash this week. Hope to be back next week.

      • Charli Mills

        There’s something insulating and cozy about snow!

    • susansleggs

      Glad your character knows there is sunshine out there, though not always easy to see.

    • Charli Mills

      She’s about to embark on an adventure through her view might be obscured right now.

  18. Ann Edall-Robson

    Open water and landlocked territory have their own version of sea mist.

    Landlocked Mist
    By Ann Edall Robson

    It settles again over the rocks, across the land. The morning mist portrays an eerie light to all who wake early to see the beginning of another day. Wandering along the craggy outcrops on the mudded gravel path, the damp penetrates to the bone. Hair and mittens become saturated from the fine spray slapping against faces, shrouding all signs of life with a wet, misty blanket. Landlocked, the mist will only go when the sun burns through and the temperature warms. It is a sign of real moisture to come in ninety days hence. So the old timers say.

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/landlocked-mist

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      It’s worth rising early to see that morning mist. Or so they say.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        For me it is.

    • anuragbakhshi

      The old timers are seldom wrong.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        So true.

    • Charli Mills

      This makes me nostalgic for the mists of the Pacific Northwest, Ann.

      • susanzutautas

        Thanks!

    • anuragbakhshi

      Lovely.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Susan. He is in a safe place and seems to be doing well. Good to see a haiku-style poem from you!

  19. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Dignity and respect are elemental to someone’s quality of life. My mother was in her early 90s when she developed dementia but there was so much that brought her pleasure, including as you say the connection and personal interaction with others. You and your family are inspiring and I would very much like to meet your Hub who sounds like a remarkable man.. Thank you for the prompt… hugs

    • Charli Mills

      Sally, I’m learning that if we come at dementia from a place of caring, we can uphold those connections for and to our loved ones. You give me hope, saying your mom still had much that brought her pleasure. The Hub can be a wild ride in person. But he is remarkable and he’s smart and funny, still. He also has no filters so I cringe when he goes too far, thinking he’s funny. Thanks! <3

    • susansleggs

      I enjoy stories from the opposite point of view. Thank you.

      • anuragbakhshi

        Thank you so much Susan.

    • Charli Mills

      Good hunting with the prompt, Anurag.

      • anuragbakhshi

        Thanks Charli.

  20. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Mist Agin

    “Ah, Jeez, Kid, you writin’ agin?”
    “Why not? I’m likin’ this prompt. Jist cain’t decide on my topic. Might write about the mornin’ mist in the river valley. Or the clouds that don’t clear the mountaintop an’ leave it sparklin’ with frost. Mebbe the steam waftin’ off the water trough or even the warm breath of the cattle like fog in the crisp air as they chew their hay.”
    “Kid, you cain’t write about none a thet.”
    “Why not? Jist goin’ where the prompt leads.”
    “The prompt specifically said sea mist.”
    “Yeah? Ever’ where I look I see mist.”

    • pedometergeek

      I actually thought about ‘see mist’ too, but I played it straight. Well this time, at least.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Kid has a head full of sea mist!

  21. susansleggs

    Charli, My heart goes out to your Warrior Sister, and all the group. I did not know family members could use the hot-line number. Thanks you for sharing that information. One of the Viet Nam vets in our writing group had a heart attack and died last week. A hard time for all of us. His wife was glad for our support. The polar vortex was here too, but not to the degree you got it. We had Canadian Brass concert tickets so went in our fleece lined jeans and heaviest winter coats as did everyone else. Not a suit or dress to be seen, but the music and laughter was warm and friendly. I was glad we didn’t back out. On to the sea mist—based on a true story.

    He Never Left Us

    We called the seaside motel to book a room.
    They said we’re closed for a private function.
    Yes, we said, the funeral of the owner.
    You know that? You may have a free room.
    In a local diner dressed in our best we were asked,
    Are you here for Dick’s funeral?
    Our friend was very well liked.
    His companies employed half the town.
    A church so full, people stood.
    Back at the motel well after dark.
    The sea mist rose.
    The fog horn sounded.
    We knew Dick was still with us.
    The horn will always be his loving voice.

    • Charli Mills

      Susan, it’s your spirit of going to a brass concert during a polar vortex that embraces every moment. I’m so sorry for the loss of one of yours. Times like this, our groups solidify, giving us the strength to get through. Your flash is a testament to the legacy of love and community strength Dick left behind.

      • susansleggs

        Thanks Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Nobbinmaug!

    • Charli Mills

      Such concrete details, TN, I felt like I was there.

  22. reading journeys

    Hi Charli
    A great post connecting Earth’s dignity, and the dignity of each person.

    And great poetry as well as!

    Saifun

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Saifun!

  23. Deborah Lee

    Your post is, as always, full of compassion and common sense and the beauty of the world around us. Keep on keepin’ on!

    This cue, and the one for another FF linkup I participate in, took me back to the day I spent wandering around a yacht show at the Edmonds marina in Washington. Many of the yachts were Lake Union Dreamboats, built during the 1920’s heyday before the big crash. They were so beautiful. I could easily live in one; my hubs, not so much. And if we tried it together, we’d kill each other. lol

    https://99monkeysblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/its-all-in-the-packaging-jane-doe-flash-fiction-mashup/

    • Jules

      I don’t usually splurge for flowers. I got lucky the bouquet I got almost two weeks ago is still spry. But then mums and carnations tend to last.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha — Deborah, good to know the limits of where your marriage can reside! Sandpoint has an antique boat show and though they were not the full yatchs, the craftsmanship of that era is amazing. Let’s keep on looking for the beauty (and believing in common sense).

  24. pedometergeek

    Erie Kai

    From the Canadian side comes the wind. The sustained wind buffets the Ohio shore of Lake Erie, and we can hear the roar of the waves from a block away. The longer the wind blows, the louder the “Wildcat’s” roar. The lake is aptly named for the native American word for wildcat.

    This winter the snow came as well as the northern wind, blowing wave after wave of water over the quarried slate blocks, which protect the beach. With dropping temperatures, the water begins to freeze, though, coating the blocks, forming a lacy, layered ice sculpture of sea mist.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

      • pedometergeek

        Yes, indeed, D.

    • Charli Mills

      Erie Kai — now I better understand the lake’s name! What a sight that ice sculpture can be, Nan. Somewhere I saw a photo and I thought it was of an old home on Lake Erie that became sculpted in ice.

      • pedometergeek

        That is where the name came from, Charli. Erie is the shallowest of the five, but the lake can be brutal when the north wind blows for too long.
        You could have easily seen a house on the lake covered in ice. The ice often looks like stalagtices or collonades (columns) like seen in caves. The lighthouse in Lorain often gets coated with ice.
        ~nan
        thanks for stopping by, too.

      • Charli Mills

        Thank you for sharing Superior’s shallower sister with me! They are all fierce when it comes to winds, ice and behaving like inland seas.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      You set the tone clearly and consistently, making the last part read like a poem.

    • Jules

      That photo reminds me of a lava funnel spout on Maui!

      • Robert Kirkendall

        It does! The picture was taken somewhere along the Santa Cruz coast, though I’m not sure of the exact location.

    • Charli Mills

      I know that ocean you live by, Robert — land of my ancestors. Maybe my Kincaids once knew your Kirkendalls. I can feel the reluctance to leave in the tone, the crashing waves acting like a force that wears down. I hope the potential move away is a good one and to an equally beautiful place. I started there and have not been disappointed in the beauty of other places and new kinds of sea mist.

      • Robert Kirkendall

        Anything is possible. I recently learned from a second cousin that the Kirkendall line of my ancestry from the Netherlands to New Amsterdam to upstate New York, then down to Virginia, to the Carolinas, over to Missouri, down to Arkansas, over to Oklahoma, then west to California in the 1930s. That’s a lot of stops and at some point could have crossed paths with the Kincaids. I like your description of ocean waves and what they do to the rocks and the land. When I do leave here, I hope it’s to another beautiful location.

      • Charli Mills

        Ah, like my grandmother’s family, yours came out on the Grapes of Wrath. Oakies. My grandmother picked orchards with her mother. Kincaids came to Virginia from Scotland, then the Carolinas and into Missouri. The pushed cattle from Missouri to California in 1852. Plenty of time and space to cross paths! Follow the beauty.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Your dark little soul has been busy writing. 😉

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      She always does say that, and your repeating it reads like a warning… Beware, gentle readers, beware.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I read you like a book. By the way, congrats on being in yet another book.

      • Charli Mills

        Shhh, D., shhh…

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, Robbie! Always go where the prompt leads you!

  25. Jules

    A flash fiction with four prompt! OK really three, but the 4th is just a creative link 🙂 See post for the photo and wordle list.

    Behemoth?

    I just wanted to hurl at humanity and strike them all dead. My breastbone was fraught with fantods. I really wished the newsfeed would downgrade the Occam’s Razors they were slinging and really glance into my eyes. Perhaps if I just concentrated I could crash the video feed or even the whole system. And then in the darkness of everything absorb all the passivity of those who wished me no harm so I could extend my wings and fly away, into the sea mist.

    I really wasn’t a monster. “They” only portrayed me that way… Mommy still loves me.

    ©J/h

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Your creative pen is flowing!
      But sometimes the media does recognize a monster that has no regard for humanity… and they are banished.

      • Jules

        Sometimes though monsters are created by ‘poking the bear’ – and just are trying to defend themselves from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

        And other times monsters are staring us right in the face and don’t care about about anything but themselves and it doesn’t matter what the media says or does because the monster is just out of control…

    • Charli Mills

      Jules, you served up a fine bowl of mash, contemplating the monsters we create. Monsters or not, who made us media judges?

      • Jules

        I think we all became media judges when ‘fake’ news became ‘real’ – or does that just address the gullibility of the masses?
        If it were only the facts reported would we believe the media anymore?

        Maybe the question should be when did the Media become judges? Because it seems more opinion is reported than facts and with ‘instant’ and ‘constant’ news feeds …Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, just as beauty is.

    • Charli Mills

      Good for going where the prompt leads, Gayatri! An unexpected twist, I didn’t see coming.

      • gayatriswaminathanblog

        I like how these prompts help me experiment. Thanks for that !

    • Charli Mills

      You made it down the rabbit hole, Kate!

      • calmkate

        yea, thanks Charli 😎

  26. Charli Mills

    Supremacy doesn’t always work out. Good one, H.R.R.

  27. H.R.R. Gorman

    Thanks! I left a comment later, forgetting that pingbacks were a thing… D= My timing’s been way off this week!

  28. Charli Mills

    It’s all in good timing, H.R.R.!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks for your historical perspective, Gordon!

  30. Jules

    Brilliant!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks for joining us at Carrot Ranch, Carol!

  32. Charli Mills

    Great flash based on history, Lance!

  33. Lance Greenfield

    Thanks Charli.
    Strictly speaking, it is fact rather than fiction, but it fits the challenge in every other way. I was quite pleased that I was able to pack so much into 99 words and I have had great feedback from the folks of Eyemouth.

  34. Charli Mills

    We use fiction as a stand-in for creative writing. Fact and memories are welcome.

  35. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey. I enjoyed the walk through your story.

  36. Jules

    Sometimes all you need is a little mist to make that memory last…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sea Mist – The Memory Cellar - […] If you want to participate, here is the link: https://carrotranch.com/2019/02/01/january-31-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  2. https://carrotranch.com/2019/02/01/january-31-flash-fiction-challenge/ | Jules Longer Strands of Gems - […] Carrot Ranch Jan 31 Prompt sea mist […]
  3. January 31: Flash Fiction Challenge – Sea Mist. | Morpethroad - […] Written for: https://carrotranch.com/2019/02/01/january-31-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  4. Better Be Worth It – The Haunted Wordsmith - […] This 99-word story was inspired by and written for the Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. […]
  5. Scylla and Charybdis | Thru Violet's Lentz - […] for Carrot Ranch’s 99 word Flash Fiction Prompt Sea Mist and MLMM Saturday Mix Mad About […]
  6. Master of the Sea – Let Me Tell You the Story of… - […] was written for the Carrot Ranch prompt, ‘sea mist.’  I thought it was such a calm, poetic prompt, so…
  7. Easy Fix | The Abject Muse - […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge; the prompt is sea mist. […]
  8. Flash Fiction: Dry Breeze | The Dark Netizen - […] Carrot Ranch January 31: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  9. Figurehead | ShiftnShake - […] January 31, 2019, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist.…
  10. Ghosts – January 31: Flash Fiction Challenge « strangegoingsonintheshed - […] January 31: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  11. Out of the Mist – A Tale of Humanity in War | The Curious Archaeologist - […] is in response to Charlie Mills flash fiction challenge, in 99 words (no more, no less) write a story…
  12. “Sea Mist Dreams,” #Haibun #Senryu – The Faery Whisperer - […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge for January 31, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a…
  13. Not Here But There | Writing and Works - […] January 31: Flash Fiction Chal… on Carrot Ranch Literary Community […]
  14. Another Way – Flash Fiction Challenge | Jo Hawk - […] Another Way Source: Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt: Write a story about sea mist. Word count:  99 […]
  15. Thar Blows | ShiftnShake - […] The giant Maushop shared whales and fish with the people. Only Maushop could stop the monstrous bird that ate…
  16. The Shoreline (flash fiction) – joanne the geek - […] This was written with the prompt sea mist provided by the Carrot Ranch January 31 Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  17. Smorgasbord Short Story – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Sea Mist by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine - […] Another weekly challenge that I am enjoying very much is the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills…
  18. The Eyemouth Disaster – Misty Return | Write to Inspire - […] is my submission for the Flash Fiction Challenge in the Carrot Ranch Literary Community on 31st January 2019. Sea…
  19. Insult to Injury | jagahdilmein - […] in response to the Carrot Ranch Literary Community’s Flash Fiction Challenge,hosted by Charli […]
  20. Lookout – tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice - […]   I wrote this for the January 31st Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  21. Flash Fiction (Sea Mist) – Tracey at Home - […] From the 99 word flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch. […]
  22. Flash Fiction: Sunset By The Bay – NobbinBlog - […] was written for Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Each week’s challenge is to write to a prompt, this weeks…
  23. Beach adventures and sea mist | Norah Colvin - […] I was taken back to the beach this week by the challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot…
  24. It’s All in the Packaging (Jane Doe Flash Fiction Mashup) – 99 Monkeys - […] a regular reader, you know I regularly participate in two flash fiction challenges: the Rough Writers and Friends 99-word…
  25. 99 Word Prompt: Sea Mist – Robert Kirkendall - […] January 31: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  26. Sea Mist (flash fiction) – joanne the geek - […] This is my second flash fiction for the prompt sea mist provided by the Carrot Ranch January 31 Flash…
  27. #Flashfiction – Sea Mist – Roberta Writes - […] You can join in with your own, less disturbing thoughts, here: https://carrotranch.com/2019/02/01/january-31-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  28. (f) 2.5 Behemoth? / 4 prompts /(99 word Flash Fiction) | Jules in Flashy Fiction - […] Carrot Ranch Jan 31 Prompt sea mist […]
  29. misty majesty – aroused - […] Carrot Ranch Challenge, January 31, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea…
  30. Cure for Cabin Fever – From the Valley of the Trolls - […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (01/31/2019): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist. How does…
  31. Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Bloggers Bash Nominations, Winter Warmers, Arizona, Spring Bulbs and all that Jazz | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine - […] Another of my weekly challenges is the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills […]

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading