March 14: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

March 14, 2019

Metal on metal rings throughout the neighborhood. Mist rises from melting snow as rain softly drizzles. The weather has warmed enough that the air fuzzes like wet socks. Smells like them, too. Spring does not emerge fresh as the laundry commercials would make us believe. My neighbor — I’ll call him Chester because he shares traits with Molly Steven’s cantankerous yet affable character — chisels ice. Hammer strikes chisel, over and over and I pretend I’m living next door to Michelangelo.

My huge west-facing windows give me access to the first tremors of spring. Yesterday I watched  Chester, and other neighbors rake their roofs with extendable handles on devices to scrape snow. Many business owners hire crews to shovel snow from rooftops. A few have collapsed from the heavy loads. A few warm days above freezing loosens the snow. Others are in driveways chiseling ice with metal blades. Our bit of pavement slowly emerges, and earlier I attempted to shovel scoopfuls of dirty slushie.

The snow piles are not retreating as fast, though. It leaks like a punctured bag of milk with nowhere to go. Massive piles sink and slowly dry up like bleached corn husks. It’s also not over. On Sunday, I watched 47 North’s run-through for their upcoming performance at the Continental Fire Company March 29. Awakenings tells the story in dance how we go from darkness to light. The final dance melds both, shadow selves dancing in the spotlight. We left the studio to face a full-blown blizzard. Three dancers got their vehicles stuck. Days later and neighbors are raking roofs.

It’s hard work to chisel ice dams, but the reward is a roof free of snow, and the risk of leaks subsides.

Working underground in the copper mines was wet work at times. Chiseling copper while rivulets of water poured from ceilings and ran down the burly arms of miners had to be uncomfortable. Was standing in water cooling to feet bearing the weight of heavy work? They say the temperatures deep in the mines stay cool, not turning cold in winter or hot in summer. People adapt.

And I’m adapting to my new laptop — The Majik Runoff MacCanles Macaroo That Peterbilt. Macaroo didn’t give me as tough of a learning curve as I thought. Relief settled fully on Monday night when my Techie arrived with special equipment to read and transfer my data from its hard drive. Over the weekend I worked with several Apple Techs to resolve a few issues, including Macaroo’s refusal to let me into the world of Word Press. It extended from an earlier solution to a double ID.

For years, I’ve had an iPod Shuffle and amassed a collection of music. But when we traded in our phones for iPhone 7s, Verizon told us we had to establish an Apple ID. I didn’t realize I already had one because it wasn’t called an Apple ID. Add to the situation that I have two Gmail accounts, wires were getting crossed. One technician had me sign out of my new Apple Id and sign in with the new one — and that requires doing so in multiple places, not just on the devices.

My phone failed to adapt to the new old me and Macaroo no longer recognized mama, and when prompted to update software, my laptop with the pedigree of Carrot Ranch names dared to tell me I had to buy the software because I was not the person who purchased the device. Argh! I just wanted to listen to my Apple music on my Apple products!

Monday dawned with more Apple Tech calls and a melancholy matched by soggy skies after the Sunday blizzard. Basically, I had to choose — my devices recognizing me or listening to my music on my devices. But I’m more than adaptable. I’m a writer, and I can think through “what if” scenarios faster the latest Intel processor. This leads me to parental controls —  a feature that allows parents to manage the IDs of their brood with theirs. So, on Monday, I officially adopted myself. As my child, my elder ID can now be controlled on and by my younger devices. A bit backward maybe but it works.

Norah Colvin, the original Rough Writer at Carrot Ranch who arrived in March of 2014 when I launched the first 99-word challenge, invited me to be her first interview for a new series called School Days, Reminiscences. Norah asks stirring questions that made me think of stories I hadn’t thought of in a long time and helped me make connections I hadn’t realized. You can read our interview here. I was ready to jump in and join the conversation generated, but Macaroo refused to let me even like anything. I could sign into Word Press, but then I’d get locked out.

I thought the ID solution would resolve the Word Press one but alas it did not. By the time my daughter arrived home from work, I had that glazed-over-I’m-ready-to-take-a-hammer-to-technology look on my face. It would have been the perfect time to go for a walk but there is nowhere outdoors to walk, and snowshoes don’t work when snow turns to slush and husks. Water was starting to run but not deep enough to canoe. Radio Geek patted my shoulder and tapped a sequence that brought up my passwords where a caution sign showed at WP. Apple’s built-in security feature just needed me to adapt to its new environment.

Best of all was when Techie showed up later and spent almost four hours with me after having worked all day. He gets a lifetime supply of beer from me. Or babysitting. Or cat washing. Anything. He rescued all my data — everything! Even my latest Scrivener files which I faithfully, but erroneously, backed up to DropBox. I’m now taking a tutorial to make sure I don’t make that mistake again! When I opened the Scrivener project Miracle of Ducks, and it opened up intact (instead of the version from three years ago) I whooped and hollered. Flooded with relief, I could hardly stand, my knees wobbling.

Techie slid my old hard drive into a reader and transferred data as if it were a flash-drive. Macaroo grabbed all the files, and we only had a few quirks. I thought I’d be hours resetting up my folders. He backed up my DropBox and taught me how to use the Time Machine. Every day I backup the Time Machine onto an external hard drive. I transferred Microsoft Office to Macaroo’s OS, and now all my files are saved in One Cloud and iCloud. I’m going to get rid of DropBox and use Google Drive for sharing files. After all, I have two Gmails.

But that’s not all — I’m mouse free! After all, the bright and exciting stories last week about mice (and even grice), turns out Macaroo doesn’t need a Magic Mouse. The Apple Techs adviced me to learn gestures for the trackpad and Techie gave me driving tips. I’m all about the trackpad now. I’ve even learned a few shortcuts. Tuesday, I completed most of my internet files (another vast frontier of transference). But it is all set up, and I’m at the Ranch as me, not a lurker and not an Apple ID.

I’m ready to break out the hammer and chisel with Keweenaw Chester. Not to crumble the icy hold of winter but to harken the return of creativity unburdened by technical difficulties. Thanks for standing by with me!

March 14, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a chisel. Use chisel as a noun or a verb. Think about what might be chiseled, who is chiseling. Be the chisel. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 19, 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.


First Day Volunteers (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“I found something, Dr. Gordon.” Danni followed the volunteer who grinned.

She noted the group was digging near the mystery foundation. She expected these greenhorn volunteers to soon lose interest. Ruby City held no treasure. Danni confirmed the woman had found the edge of a tool. She instructed the group to continue peeling back layers centimeters at a time.

To her surprise, they did. At the end of the day, the volunteers left what looked like a chisel in situ. Two days later they cheered its liberation. Danni realized her first day fear of volunteers was unfounded. She grinned.



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  1. robertawrites235681907

    Oh dear, Charli, you have had a rough time with this whole laptop thing. I have trouble keeping all the passwords and logins straight too. I can’t store them to my laptop because then my access password locks. Painful!

    • Charli Mills

      Robbie, I think I’m over the biggest pains. I’m also using Apple’s encrypted password storage.

  2. Prior...

    Ahhhh – we all
    Have out tech stories and yours is unique – but we have been there –
    (And one funny one from a while ago – a friend said his mom called him because the computer he set up for her only worked at night.
    Puzzled – he went there and yes, the switch for the lamp also connected to the plug for her computer.

    Anyhow – hope the snow and slush is gone soon and nice use of chisel

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Oh, Pete, we’ve all done those kind of things too. Sometimes the solution really is that simple, but too dark to see!

      • Prior...

        Hahah – too dark to see – that was great ????

    • Jules

      To add to that… I once read of an older computer owner being happy for the cup holder the computer had… the old floppy disc tray!

      • Prior...

        Hahah – it does look like a cup holder (esp in the European cars)

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! It is like a tea cozy!

    • johnrieber

      that’s hilarious!

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, noo! That’s painfully funny!

      • TanGental

        I know; I though it genius

      • Prior...

        Hahahah – hysterical (thx for the laugh)

      • Jules

        Oy… that could be me… putting the Ipad in the dishwasher…
        I like my mouse – I do not like the little mouseless thingy on my keyboard that shouldn’t be under the keyboard where I can accidentally mess with it. Should be to the side or above the key board. So I use a wireless mouse.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a funny story! Sometimes I think technology makes us overthink and we miss the obvious. Thanks for sharing that story.

      • Prior...

        Thanks for the reply, charli…and wishing you (and all here) a nice weekend ????????????

    • Charli Mills

      It can be daunting and I can say, I’ve had enough! And yet, it’s snowing again today after the melt, mist, and rain. But I know it’s short-lived. Thanks for your story!

    • Norah

      Great response. No, don’t let them.

    • Charli Mills

      You have an ability to use insights well in your stories, Reena.

      • Reena Saxena

        Thank you so much, Charli!

    • Norah

      I like the wisdom in your story and the use of a chisel to refine one’s life.

      • Reena Saxena

        Thank you, Norah!

    • Charli Mills

      The dangers of being chiseled! 😀

      • the dark netizen

        Hahaha! 😀
        At the wrong places too! 😉

    • Norah

      Happy reading, indeed. It’s funny and gave me a laugh. Thank you.

      • the dark netizen

        Glad I could make you laugh! 😀 😀
        Most welcome! 🙂

  3. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Yay, what a relief to have all your files, but tech can be such a riddle. Sometimes the old tools are the best.
    I think Matty might have something to say about a chisel — I’ll go and consult!

    • Charli Mills

      I recall loving “cut, copy, and paste” when I got. my first word processor. That and saving my files seemed like all I needed. But now…it’s overwhelming and I can’t say this technology makes my life easier. I look forward to what Matty has to say, Ann.

    • anuragbakhshi

      I remember this very old quote that I read in Readers Digest in the mid 80s- To err is human, but to really %$ck things up, you need a computer!

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! That’s still accurate today!

      • Charli Mills

        I found the manuscript engaging and never felt lost. This is one novel I will be delighted to see in publication one day, Anne. Hope you are feeling better, too!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Thanks, Charli, it was so useful having you read the MS.
        And I’m feeling much better, thanks: still coughing a bit but with more energy in between!

      • Charli Mills

        It must feel good to gain back some energy! Keep heading that direction.

  4. calmkate

    wow glad it’s all there and accessible, patience pays off! I sincerely can’t imagine that much snow.

    now where did I leave that tool … 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Hopefully not in a snow pile! 😀 Oh, I’m hoping the technology curve is leveling off now…

      • calmkate

        must be, you deserve a break!

      • Charli Mills

        It’s been a level week!

  5. jenanita01

    Tough task this week, Charli. And I am reeling after reading about your techie nightmare! I don’t know how you cope, I would have taken up knitting by now!

    • Charli Mills

      I am knocking on wood (sans chisel) that it’s all over Anita! Today, I was invited to go to a Tribal Water Day and I was going to take Macaroo, and then…I thought, no I’m not ready to take Baby Macaroo out! Baby steps for me, as normalcy (whatever that is), returns. Thanks for reblogging!

      • jenanita01

        I have often wondered why baby steps always seem to work. Whatever happens to leaps and bounds?

      • Charli Mills

        When I trip, leaping and bounding, I often return with toddling steps. 😉 It’s overcoming a perceived fear, isn’t It? I guess that’s why we say, get right back in the saddle after getting bucked off.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank, Michael! Have a great weekend!

    • susansleggs

      Multi uses of the same word. Right up my alley.

    • Norah

      You really chiselled that one out. 🙂

      • Michael

        Ha, you could say that, thanks Norah.

      • Norah

        I did say it, Michael! 🙂

  6. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    You may need to nickname the Macaroo Chester when it becomes cantankerous, Charli. Whew! You’ve had an overdose of technology woes. I’m so happy you didn’t lose any data or fall into a coma. You made me laugh when you said you pretend you are living next door to Michelangelo. Yup. Those are Chester moves for sure. Spring does not bounce into Maine fresh as a laundry commercial either. We are in full blown mud season here with a snow pack in our backyard that I hope disappears by May. But thankfully no blizzards. Love your flash – chiseling to find a chisel. Can it get any better?

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Macaroo had better behave. Chester will be a default name for any cantankerous behavior, but hoping only to have to deal with my neighbor. Right? Who but Chester would bother to chisel the roof in spring! He’s forever telling the Hub he’s scooping “wrong.” Does not sit well. Chester doesn’t realize a former Ranger with PTSD will only take so much correction. That might be a funny future story. Alas, good luck with the mud and backyard drifts, Molly. I’d say we aren’t far behind you in Maine but another blizzard hit the Keweenaw today.

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        Another blizzard? Ugh! I expect we’ll have more before we have ‘real’ spring but so far the next week looks quiet. Sending up a prayer of thanks.

      • Charli Mills

        There’s always a spring blizzard, right? I try to pretend — it’s just white rain!

  7. Jules


    Welcome back to the fray or frey of internet capabilities. I like that Danni’s volunteers are ‘good folk’. I went were the prompt lead. To a very real situation that may not have an easy solution. But then I have my own opinions… The title is the link 🙂

    Repeat Offenders?
    (subtitle: For those ‘Groupies’ who need to get a different grip!)

    I want to chisel off the barnacles.
    Those leeches, those hanger on’ers
    That have no connection to my creativity.

    I’ve just got a simple sailboat
    I do not run with the ‘big dogs’
    Yachts, cruise ships; not for me

    I’ll get my news from where I choose
    Not from another’s opinionated feed.
    I don’t do greed…

    I have chiseled out my own niche
    Letting the wind blow through my hair
    I set my own course, by my own rules

    I use my eyes to see, ears to listen
    If you’ve been asked to leave;
    Then please, just go away…


    Note: If anyone has a ‘Raid’ solution to ‘Follow BOTS’ please let me know.
    I know I am not the only one plagued by unwanted followers. WP doesn’t seem to have a permanent solution …yet. I’ve looked in the forums and in the Help sections… but I do not see where or if this problem has been addressed.

      • Jules

        Some interesting information. But not really the issue. These folks have WP accounts. They, like other um… folks who are just selling what I don’t want. I already have to approve them, but remove them every time they want to follow. While other folks may have automated Bots, I think my Twits are real. Just inconsiderate greedy folks. Maybe not quite as high up as pyramid scams (which I’ve had issue with a few years back), but when you can’t even open a post without putting money or some kind of credit in their pocket… that’s just not nice.

        I admit I may be picky about not wanting to be followed by an opinionated news service or someone who wants to sell equipment for training animals. But it is my choice to allow the followers who respect free literary arts and to have choices on what they wish to actually buy, to not to be at risk for possible scams. Which is why I don’t have ‘Likes’ which might allow someone to get trapped by tapping some odd ball icon.

        I think I should be able, since WP started the ‘removal of followers’ service (which only works from the day they started not for anyone who followed before that time even though everyone who follows you now has that option to ‘remove’ by their names (I know I tried) – to remove someone once and done. But that isn’t how it works. You remove someone until they ‘see’ they have been removed and annoyingly follow you again and again and again (some for over a month, and twice a day).

        So my new normal is to check my email, go to my list of followers and remove these disrespectful ‘people’ who (have been told the rules of my site if they looked, and some have actually stopped. But these latest twits seem unable to read, even though they have been anonymously addressed in several posts. They must not actually read any of the sites they follow. They can’t seem to respect that they aren’t wanted. I will not as WP suggested at one point email these twits personally. I don’t want these twits attacking my personal email.

        So I guess until a better solution presents itself that’s what I’ll do. I can’t say that I’ll never write about ‘them’ again. Because I write about what inspires me. Even Twits.

      • Charli Mills

        Sorry, that wasn’t a cure for your twits, Jules!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Argh, ye’ve crafted a fine cautionary tale, I see.

    • anuragbakhshi

      I could feel your pain and frustration in this one Jules. Not sure whether a permanent solution exists though. Thankfully, my blog is too small to attract spam as of now 🙂

      • Jules

        Unwanted followers are a type of spam. I get some of the other kind too. – Thanks.

  8. pensitivity101

    Having a problem visiting you site to load my effort. Will try later, but for now:

    She knew him so well.

    The smile brought out the dimples in his cheeks, creating a path to the laughter lines around the eyes perfected to capture their charm, sparkle and warmth.
    His chin showed strength of character. She had even managed to reproduce the scar he got from horse riding as a child.
    It was her best work, but there was something not quite right.
    She studied the photograph again, tracing the lines on the image and comparing them to her art.
    Taking her narrowest chisel, she gently scooped away the blemish.
    Not on her beloved’s face, but a blot on the photograph.

    • Charli Mills

      Di, I see your flash made its way into the bucket. Thanks for persevering! You do a great job of mapping the chisel lines in your flash and finding the balance between the art and the inspiration.

    • Norah

      Blots on photographs are easier to remove than blots on character. I like it. 🙂

      • pensitivity101

        Thanks Norah.

  9. H.R.R. Gorman

    Ah, glad the winter is beginning to crack for you! We’ll beat it yet 😉

    This week, as I was reading, I came upon a section about how Old Hickory was (partially) responsible for the Upper Peninsula being part of Michigan, then how the copper mines – which you talked about last week, I think – made the UP valuable after the fact. Anyway, I thought of you and the hub this week, and I hope that you feel good in Michigan even though Idaho is where your heart kind of is.

    Also glad the technology is crawling back to health! Beat it into submission, right?

    This week’s silly story:
    ***Carve the Cake***

    The cake melted like butter beneath his carving knife. He chiseled through the icing and fondant, into the raspberry jam and vanilla center.

    “What did you wish for, Pop-pop?”

    Pop-pop gave the granddaughter a toothless smile. Though his eyes were clouded from cataracts and his body now feeble, he put the knife to the table smoothly and handed his “little pet” a slice of cake. “If I tell you, will you promise to make it come true?”


    “I wished to share another cake with you next year, sweetie.” He pinched her cheeks and cut another slice of cake.

    • Ritu

      What a lovely wish ????

    • Charli Mills

      I understand that there were the Toledo Wars and Toldeo went to Ohio and the UP and Isle Royale to Michigan. Today, Wisconsin says they were robbed. Copper certainly turned out to be the prize. But I didn’t realize Old Hickory played a role. I should brush up on that event. I do like it here. My heart has jet lag and is willing to stay put in one place!

      What a sweet flash and shared birthday wish. Great use of chisel, cutting into a special cake, which, by the way, sounds delicious!

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        What happened was Pld Hickory wanted Michigan in the union – newly admitted states tended to vote for the party that admitted them, and Van Buren was looking weak for the 1936 election. So, when the Toledo strip happened, someone had the idea to give the UP to Michigan and Jackson was like “DO IT I NEED THEIR VOTES FOR VAN BUREN” and the bargain with Ohio was struck. At the time, the peninsula seemed useless, and there weren’t complaints until copper was discovered.

      • Charli Mills

        Ah, that explains much. So much for being a remote useless strip of land, eh!

    • Norah

      I hope Pop-pop’s wish come true.

    • Charli Mills

      Found it, Di! Thanks!

    • tnkerr

      Haibun, such a sublime means of communication. This one was wonderful.

    • Charli Mills

      Cara, I like being that person who goes to the museums, too. I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I think writers have that same curiosity to poke at bones and find meaning. Thanks for adding a haibun to the constraint.

    • Jules

      Sometimes words can cut too…
      Nice haibun.

  10. denmaniacs4

    And I so wanted to construct a light-hearted piece of flash today…

    A Corrosion of The Heart

    I see them there, burning the proverbial midnight oil, hunched over their devices, adding wealth where it likely isn’t needed, chiseling away at social programs.

    Out in the hinterland, their minions, the simmering feudalists of hate, wind up their scabrous hearts, seek out their weaponry, plot heinous acts, all in the name of their purity, their virtue.

    They meld, these separate trajectories, the political, the wastrel, the fanatic, the idol.

    They meld.

    They serve each others darkest desires.

    And where am I in this collision of hateful terrorist evil?

    What part do I play?

    Am I simply a shaving?

    • anuragbakhshi

      That was intense, and so powerful.

    • Charli Mills

      Wow. Did you say light-hearted? Actually, Bill, I would say you took a keen swipe with the social chisel and reveals what ails our society. While the rest of go about daily living. Powerful writing.

    • Norah

      Did you write the light-hearted one too? This one is powerfully deep.

  11. TanGental

    ah poor you but good to have that euphoria of a successful transfer… back at it, Girl!!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s all good now, Geoff and I’m working it!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m ready for the upswing, Ritu! Thanks for taking a swipe at it this week. 😉

      • Ritu

        Things really are look gbup for you across the board!!!

      • Charli Mills

        It’s been a long rise. 🙂

    • Norah

      I would like to try drop-dead gorgeous, just once. 🙂

      • Ritu


  12. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Wood Be Artist

    “What’re ya doin’ Pal?”
    “I’m a’hewin’.”
    “Bless you. Looks like yer carvin’. When’d you learn ta carve?”
    “I’m a learnin’ jist now as I’m a doin’, Kid. Try it.”
    “Oh, I cain’t carve, Pal, not even a whittle bit.”
    “You could if you’d wood, and a knife. Jist try.”
    “I don’t know how. It won’t turn out.”
    “Won’t if ya don’t start ever. Here. Cedar wood.”
    “Yeah, I see da wood Pal. An’ cain’tcha see I cain’t carve?”
    “Jist shush. I’ll teach ya.”
    “There a charge?”
    “Yeah, sure Kid, pay me in bacon.”
    “You chiselin’ me?”
    “Maybe a whittle.”

    • anuragbakhshi

      I have absolutely no idea how you come up with these masterpieces week after week 🙂

    • Susan Zutautas

      I think this one is my favorite one of all of them.

      • Susan Zutautas

        Somehow that one slipped through unseen. Just read it now. Wonderful!

    • Charli Mills

      I can’t wait to cedar wood free of snow! You whittled another magnificent Ranch Yarn, D. Feed that Kid some bacon!

    • Jules

      Fun, fun, fun.

    • Norah

      I wike it more’n a whittle bit. 🙂

  13. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    The Last 9 Prompts

    Looking back, she saw clearly what had appeared such an enriching adventure, leaving everything behind and moving into the beach house with her new love.
    ‘It was worth you selling your house and property,’ he’d said. ‘We’ll fix up this bungalow, our love nest.’
    Everything was a sign, their sign; he helped her read them. Gray weather hewn porch supports were colonnades. The damp, clammy sea mist was romantic. Everyday he called her his Valentine.
    He took her bankcard to get lumber. ‘Just for back up.’
    That night, sleepless and alone, she heard the mice chiseling in the walls.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I got two more responses. For updates on familiar characters -Destiny’s child, Marlie, and Ernest’s Marge- click over to

      • Jules

        You’re busy chiseling at this here prompt ain’tcha. 😉

    • susansleggs

      I enjoy how your fit past prompts to work with this one. She sure got chiseled.

    • Charli Mills

      A painful chiseling echoed in the walls. You took nothing and made something!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I don’t like to call you out in front of the kids, but I didn’t take nothing.
        You give prompts and I used 9 of them, and each prompt was really something. Though it is true I had nothing with chisel to begin with.

      • Charli Mills

        Each prompt is merely the wind at your back, whispering to follow where it goes. You have to do the word-walking, and you did!

  14. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    You know I had to write a Chester story, after your intro to this week’s prompt, Charli.

    Ruth signs up for a woodworking class

    “What in blazes are you gonna do with a chisel?” asked Chester.

    “It’s for my woodworking class. I signed up for a two-day session in Rockport,” said Ruth.

    “Dadblast it, woman! I suppose you think because you’re goin’ outta town, you’ll learn more. That class is likely run by some hippie who moved here from California who doesn’t know his dovetail from his biscuit joint. And I bet he learned it all by watchin’ YouTube. You’re wastin’ money! Why didn’t you ask me to teach you?”

    “Because for all your experience, there’s something you don’t have.”

    “What’s that?”


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Dang, Ruth is going to the big city of Rockport. Look out Chester, she’s carving’ up some trouble.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Last time I was in that fair city the cops were apprehending a racoon on main street. It was a wild night.

    • Charli Mills

      Chester’s influence can be seen in the Keweenaw, Molly! And I imagine there are some Ruths here as well, seeking some enlightenment beyond. This line is brilliant: “…some hippie who moved here from California who doesn’t know his dovetail from his biscuit joint.”

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        Chester’s influence is everywhere and I find hope in the Ruths of the world. Thank you for recognizing that line – it was my favorite in the piece. XO

      • Charli Mills

        That line was a gem! We’ll be the Ruths we want to see in the world. 😉

    • Norah

      Good one, Molly. And Ruth is right. To be a good teacher, one needs tolerance and a whole lot of patience – more than a biscuit tin full. 🙂

      • Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

        Thank you. A good teacher’s essential ingredient for sure, Norah. I don’t possess it, so it’s a good thing I didn’t pursue a teaching degree!

      • Norah

        I’m pleased you’ve pursued your writing career. You are teaching through your stories which give us a mirror on life.

      • Norah


  15. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    I think you deserve another MA in technical advancement Charli.. and the thaw sounds as daunting as the snowstorm. All together a very busy week and thanks for finding time to set us the usual challenge.. hugs

    • Charli Mills

      I feel as though I completed exams last week, Sally! It’s mucky here, but melting slowly as to not flood so messy is good. Thanks for sharing and taking the challenge! Hugs back!

  16. Susan Zutautas

    Here’s mine for this week. Took me a while to think of what to write about.
    I’ll be back to read other stories and poems. But now that I’m on WordPress a lot of the stories pop up in the reader, which is cool!
    Oh and Charli, we had snow last night.

    Chiseled Cheekbones

    You’re so bubbly, Sarah? Her mother said. What’s up?

    It was going to be a surprise but I’m going to get my cheeks done.

    Oh, for heaven’s sake don’t tell me you’re serious!

    Sarah’s father was in the other room and heard the conversation. He went out to his workshop to grab a tool thinking he might be able to change his daughter’s mind.

    See this Sarah, showing her a chisel. This is a tool they use to chisel your cheekbones.

    Oh, Dad, you’re so silly, the one they use is much smaller and besides I won’t be awake.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I don’t think it’s the dad who’s being silly.

      • Susan Zutautas

        No, neither do I 🙂

      • Norah

        I agree!

    • papershots

      The daughter has a point

    • anuragbakhshi

      That’s not necessarily an advantage, as she might soon realize 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      No, not more snow, Susan! We’re supposed to get some squalls tomorrow but it’s still warm enough tonight that water is dripping so maybe it’ll be white rain.

      An unexpected take on chiseled cheeks! I like how you show both thought processes, too and yet, I shudder at the thought of being chiseled.

      • Susan Zutautas

        Oh, so do I Charli. Can’t imagine ever doing this myself.
        I think it’s warming up today and melting some of the snow and by the weekend temps maybe it will all go away 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        We have a ways to go yet! It’s getting gross, though — spring muck!

    • Jules

      I keep seeing those commercials that say injections can wait – just use this serum… Heck I won’t do neither. I like my laugh lines – I earned em and I’m keepin’ every one. 😉

      • Susan Zutautas

        Me too Jules 🙂

    • Norah

      Good one, Susan, but I’m with Dad on this one. 🙂

      • Susan Zutautas

        Thanks Norah, I am too 🙂

      • Norah


  17. Frank Hubeny

    Brad knew he didn’t have the proper tools to do the job right, but he rarely did. The door and opener cost under $50. He’d reuse the old hinges.

    He did have to buy a chisel. They told him he couldn’t return it when he was done. He could live with that.

    After sort of measuring everything, he realized it wasn’t as easy as he thought to carve out where the hinges should go.

    Eventually in spite of everything he hung the door.

    Happy wife happy life: she was happy. For the most part the new door even closed.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Well shut the front door, that flash rings true.

      • Frank Hubeny

        Most of it is true.

    • anuragbakhshi

      That’s so relatable.

      • Frank Hubeny

        I usually figure I can do something until I realize I can’t. Thank you!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s an innovative spirit on a budget, Frank!

  18. Alexander De

    Hope I did this right. Here is mine:

    “Chisel me this, Batman!” she said, laughing.

    “Riddle,” I corrected her. “It’s riddle me this.”

    She silently shuffled the salt and pepper shakers. I drank my coffee; stared out the window. Cars passed.
    She always says the wrong thing, like she doesn’t quite get the punchline and I feel this stupid need to correct her. Me, and everyone else.

    “I don’t really fit in the world,” Her sadness slipped into a smile.

    I smiled back, took her hand. Held it, as it turned out, for the last time over pancakes.
    She poured out the entire syrup jug, slowly, deliberately.

    • anuragbakhshi

      This is sad and funny at the same time.

    • Charli Mills

      Hey Z — good to see you at the Ranch! I got your submission, too. Thanks! This flash really cuts. That opening line with her laughing, and then shut down from there.

    • Norah

      I hate to say, it serves ‘you’ right! Great response.

    • Charli Mills

      It is different, Kate and I like the flight of your words.

      • calmkate

        lol and hopefully with less crashes than our airlines 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you, Bladud!

  19. reading journeys

    Hi Charli,

    A flow of thoughts “chiseled” from your blog and the FF responses and comments:

    Tough but when there is no other way:
    Persistence, tenacity, patience – whether it’s technology or FF! Or life….

    My FF was chiseled from my FF of last week, and mice managed to chisel their way into it!



    • Charli Mills

      You managed a lot of good chiseling this week, Saifun. The mice wanted to hang out, evidently. And onward we all persevere.

    • Charli Mills

      Siri says she doesn’t understand, Nobbinmaug. 😉 They can have the control as long as they keep me writing! Thanks for bringing your chisel to the party.

  20. tnkerr

    This is almost a true story. It was really an interaction between me and my mother (in the story, I said ‘my dad’). When my Mother sculpted she worked with clay, not stone, and she removed clay that needed to be removed, but the prompt called for a chisel, so…
    When I got older I also learned that my mother had stolen the story and it is really an old story. Some people attribute the idea to Michelangelo, but I think if this is true then the copyright has surely run out and I can attribute it to my mother, as I remember it. Sorry Mama.

    • susansleggs

      It’s quite all right to fictionalize your own history. Great story and I’m glad the fisherman wasn’t hurt.

    • Charli Mills

      Actually, it makes me think about how we, as artists, pass down stories that other artists can understand. Maybe we aren’t the originator, but it matters when we pass that story down and feel its truth. Michelangelo probably didn’t come up with it either!

  21. papershots

    I like the idea of pretending to live next door to Michelangelo 🙂 such a great line. it reminds me of my grandfather and his doing odd jobs around his house, inside and outside, and however little the task was, he would do it as if he was painting the Sistine Chapel… haha! Anyway, glad to be be able to finally contribute after a long while.

    Here it is:

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Oh, yes, that describes my neighbor as well. He takes care of every inch of his property that way. Thanks for your story, Papershots!

      • papershots

        🙂 thank you for the challenge!

    • Jules

      Just love your twisted tales!

      • anuragbakhshi

        Awww, thank you so much for the constant encouragement Jules 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      That fairy tale didn’t get a happy ending, Anurag! Or maybe it did…

      • anuragbakhshi

        Not for Prince Charming definitely, but then, he should have taken her consent 🙂

    • Norah


      • anuragbakhshi

        Thank you so much Norah 🙂

    • Ann Edall-Robson

      Hahaha. Reminds me of what’s mine is mine what’s yours is mine. Always good to share.

      • robbiesinspiration

        Yes, that is my marital ethos [giggle]

    • Charli Mills

      I laughed, Robbie! I realized you named something that I think many of us are guilty of — misappropriating tools for creative purposes.

    • Norah

      Good one, Robbie. 🙂

  22. Susan Zutautas

    Charli, I never could get used to using the mouse pad on my laptop. I’ve tried but I always go back to a mouse, mouse 🙂 My goodness didn’t realize that it’s been 5 years since you started this wonderful Flash Fiction adventure. So happy that I’ve been part of the ride since the conception.

    • Charli Mills

      Susan, I’ve never been able to use the pad before either but this one is amazingly different and I love making the gestures. My hand feels so much better now that it’s mouse-free, too. 😉 Thank you for riding with me these five years! You were there when I was dreaming of doing this! <3

      • Susan Zutautas

        It’s been a great ride Charli, and one I hope I can continue to do for many years to come. <3

  23. Pete

    When inspired, I rush. I don’t always use the right tools. I’m impatient, not formally educated. I’m not traveled and my well of self-confidence runs dangerously low.

    All I have is a chisel. An understanding of the human experience. A blunt determination to pound away—beat tool against tool—at the stone until something takes shape. And when the dust settles, when my fingernails are blackened with bruises, I possess the resolve to see it through.

    The stories exist. Even when my resolve erodes and my chisel dulls, the raw materials are there.

    And so I keep pounding away.

    • Charli Mills

      Pete, your flash affirms you have a firm grip on the chisel!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Michael!

  24. susansleggs

    I’m still laughing at the line, “I had to adopt myself.” How aggravating is that. Lucky you have a techie at hand and can phone Apple for advice. I can imagine the glee when Miracle of Ducks appeared intact. Hopefully that episode in your life is done and over with. I hope Macaroo will have a very long, prosperous life.

    Ahh, chisels on ice….we do that in our driveway every so often and I wonder who’s nap I am interrupting as the sounds echo off the neighbors’ houses. I can’t imagine it on a daily basis, I like my quiet, unless it is one of my backyard birds announcing it’s arrival or singing in the sunshine.
    That brings us to chisels……..

    Those Beaks Are Made For Eating

    Outside my window suet feeders for woodpeckers hang on the crabapple tree. They are chained because climbing critters like to steel them. The little Downy Woodpecker feeds with the tiniest beak, the size of a push pin, but it’s the fiercest of the bunch. The Hairy is next in size and its beak resembles a small nail. The Red-bellied sports a picture hanging nail and the Flicker’s beak is long and sleek, like a sharp needle. The extra large Pileated Woodpecker has a huge beak in comparison. It looks like two chisels on a hinge. He takes big bites.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Your flash has me back to a place of birds and beaver and ice chisels. Thanks.

    • Ann Edall-Robson

      I am going to have to pay more attention to the birds who visit our feeders.

    • Jules

      I got me some of them birdies.
      And the squirrels done and stole one of my metal suet holders after knocking it of where it was hanging!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! The adoption is going well, Sue! Yes, we have a special chisel for the driveway, too but this year we had to call in bigger equipment to take down the “pad.” I love your flash! Brilliant use of chisels and describing the beaks of woodpeckers. Now I’m getting excited for the return of backyard birds.

    • Norah

      I enjoyed your birdtalk, Susan.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joanne!

  25. Ann Edall-Robson

    By Ann Edall-Robson

    His chiseled features had softened with the years. Still handsome, with a rakish look, and eyes that flashed like lightning bolts when his thoughts turned to what his son had done so many years ago.

    He stood with his hip leaning against the workbench, looking out the window of his saddle making shop. The cloudy expression changed when he spotted his grandson working with a young colt in the corral across the way.

    Watching the young man, he could see himself at that age. The family traits, and looks had definitely not missed a generation, but would the deception.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Family secrets always make for a good story.

    • Charli Mills

      Ann, this story sounds like it has more to reveal. I like that the main character is carving saddles. A rare artistry these days.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Heritage and traditions go hand in hand to open the gate to the possibility of more to come. I couldn’t agree with you more, the art of a good saddle makers in today’s world is somewhat of a rare commodity.

    • Norah

      Hmm. Deception. Now I wonder what that might be.

  26. floatinggold

    The snow sounds overwhelming. Hopefully you will be able to walk sooner than later.

    I’m glad to hear that your computer problems are in the past, but that is one of the reasons why I’m not a fan of Apple. Everything is related and if one thing gets screwed up, so does everything else.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m embracing the synchronicity, Goldie! I’ve been in chorus with Macaroo all week so we are adjusting. And that snow is looking dirtier by the day and slowly receding.

  27. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    It’s taken me a while to get over here and read in detail – and that’s just your post. I haven’t begun on the comments yet. I’ve got a few distractions I’m chiselling away at. I can’t believe the snow and ice that still surrounds you. What a task it must be to remove the snow and ice, and to be confronted with it every year. The benefits of living with it must far outway the inconvenience, though I find it difficult to imagine.
    I’m tickled that you called your mouse Macaroo and impressed that you’ve decided to use the trackpad rather than the mouse. I’ve always found them difficult to use and much prefer my mouse. Hub refused to use a mouse and I find it frustrating when he needs my help to wait for the slowness of his trackpad. At least it means I have to keep my hands off which I always recommend when teaching someone to do something on the computer. 🙂
    I do hope you have seen the end of your computer problems. You do sound confident. It is great to have techie support who knows what they are doing.
    Thank you for participating in my school days interview. It was wonderful to have you lead the way and I am looking forward to hearing of others’ experiences.
    I’m pleased that Danni’s volunteers were useful and that she has changed her mind about them. I’m sure they are happy to have been able to contribute in a productive way.
    I’ve chiselled out my story. I’m not too sure how productive it is, but it’s done, so it must be productive. 🙂 As always, thank you for the opportunity and your wonderful support of all things literary.

    The monumental task cast a shadow deep and long, miniaturising the toolkit at his feet.
    He shook his head, muttering complaints and impossibilities.
    The supervisor appeared. “Better get started. No time to waste.”
    He rummaged through the toolkit, lifting, inspecting and replacing each implement in turn.
    “What’s the holdup?” bellowed the supervisor.
    He grabbed the mallet and whacked the stone. “Take that!” Chunks smashed around him. He wiped his brow and whacked again.
    “Great. You’ve started at last,” encouraged the supervisor.
    Later, as the light turned, the shadow faded and diminished. He lifted his chisel and refined his work.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Norah,

      Thanks for chiseling some time to make it here! I was happy to be at your place and I’m enjoying your new interview series. D. just launched one, too. I look forward to hearing more about other writers in the greater community, especially school reminiscence.

      Well, I recently saw an article about someone in Texas who had 45 rattlesnakes under their house and it made me feel happy to have snow surrounding mine! The snow is looking grungy but Macaroo is a shining apple. The trackpad feels fast to me. It’s bigger than on other laptops I’ve had. It’s all working out well.

      Your flash reminds me of starting any task and how a project can feel like we take a hammer and bash into, later finding the right tools to refine. Thanks for sharing it!

      • Norah

        It’s always a pleasure to visit, Charli. I just seem to be ‘snowed under’ with a variety of other tasks at the moment and am chipping my way out. I knew they’d be big but I didn’t realise how big until I got started. It’s partly my fault from being thorough. It’s a bit of overkill, but I’ll get there.
        I wouldn’t be too keen on 45 rattlesnakes under my house. Were they invited? And who counted them?!
        I’m so pleased Macaroo is your knight in shiny armour. And I’m impressed at your use of the trackpad. I think it would be easier if I persisted in learning to use one, but am happy with my mouse.
        Thanks for visiting my place. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      You are fine, Robert! Thanks for your flash!

      • Robert Kirkendall

        You’re welcome, Charli!

  28. faithanncolburn

    Hi Charlie. As often (not always) I’m a day late and a dollar short, but here’s my contribution:
    Sharp Chisels by Faith A. Colburn

    I have a set of chisels. They are very sharp. I use them occasionally, but I don’t have the skill or training to use them elegantly. When I use tools, though, I think of my mother who could look at mechanical devices and understand them. She had the patience and natural talent to use tools effectively, but in the mid-Twentieth Century, she was never allowed the pride she deserved in her skills. My dad’s embarrassment (because the man’s supposed to fix things) gave him no ability to appreciate my mom’s solutions to farm problems—in the house and out.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Faith, good thing you don’t need your dollar here! Thanks for your contribution. I can relate to that idea of having tools used occasionally and not elegantly. I feel sad for your mother who had an aptitude she couldn’t take pride in.

  29. explorereikiworld

    I realize the melting of snow and the cleanup is another set of chore!
    Although I am happy that you could restore your back up courtesy the technician…YEAH!
    Glad that you are ‘mouse-free’ no squeaks 😉

    Do post pix of your neighbor’s chisel work.

    In the mean time: My offering:

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Yes, Ruchira, I’m squeak-free! Cleaning up is definitely another snow chore. It’s looking mighty gritty and icy out there. I’ll post a photo of my neighbor chiseling. Thanks for your offering!

  30. Charli Mills

    Welcome to Carrot Ranch!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Teresa!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sascha!

  33. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Annette!

  34. Charli Mills

    Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Kelly!

  35. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sarah!

  36. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!

  37. Charli Mills

    Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Nascent!

  38. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo Hawk!

  39. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Gordon!


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