April 11: 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.

April 11, 2019

It’s one of those days that my calendar has an extended period of time and so I choose to fill it with writing. Every morning, I rise, answer the Hub’s question — “Watchya doin’ Tarli?” — go downstairs, take my probiotics, set the timer for 30minutes, and write. It  doesn’t matterwhat I  write. I give myself permission to write junk. Words help me to process, to think and  express my emotions. I can brainstorm any project, work out resolutions, let my characters talk, or describe a scene I’ve having difficulty extracting from my head. I complain, celebrate, but never censor. I write.

With entended time and ticked boxes on my list, I enjoy a good run. This morning, I wrote past and started to hunger for lunch. But I chose to keep writing. The UPS man delivered a box and that broke my thoughts. My tummy rumbled. I hadn’t yet had black tea. Soon it would be time to go help at the yoga studio my SIL is opening May 1. I almost felt finished. I wrote on.

Satisfied, I thought maybe I could  use what I wrote as a post. When I copied it over to edit and revise, I realised it was over 5,000 words. Ugh. Easier to write  a 1,000 than edit five times as much. While writing, an interesting phrase popped up that caused me to wonder — beggars can’t be choosers.

By definition, it’s a proverb, meaning that those with no other options must be content with what is offered.

But is it true that we have no other options? Who tells us we must be content? Those who took away the options? The phrases felt jarring and I recognized it as old programing from the  environment in which I was raised. I see it’s essence in the lack of compassion people have today for the hardships of others. I better understand how cleverly crafted the phrase is to let injustice stand because the victims have no other choice than to accept what is. I can imagine greedy capitalists hiding behind the proverb as if their meager handouts bring satisfaction, making them righteous and right. Take what’s left from the raping of the land — be content with your lot — beggars can’t be chosers.

While I’m not going to share my 5k mind explorations, I can say why it came up.

We are preparing for the Hub’s knee replacement surgery on April 22. He destroyed his knee on a bad jump into Grenada in 1983. It pained him and locked up after  that  but he soldiered on and the  military took no interest in his gait, altered mood, and trouble with cognition. The jump that bashed his knee also smacked his head, twice. This less than  a week after he was knocked out cold in a base game of soccer. I was processing all we’ve been through since a doctor proclaimed in 1987 that he needed a total knee replacement. Only, no insurance would cover it and the VA denied it. What they denied then, we got them to finally service connect in 2016 after we filed in 2014. I also wanted them to check his head. Something was wrong.

Almost 36 years after the injury, one that has caused a multitude of problems, the Hub is getting his knee replacement. Beggars can’t be choosers. In other words, he’s had to be content with “no other options.” And I’m not going to write another 5,000 words on what I think about that.

Because I come back to the same conclusion and three empowering words:

We have choices.

Always. We always have choices. Suspect those who say you don’t. What are they trying to rob you of? In 1862 when the Dakota tribe of Minnesota was starving, three teens chose to go looking for food. A Norwegien family who did not speak English feared the natives when they rode up to their farm, asking for eggs. Begging. But asking nonetheless. The teens didn’t set out to start a war that day. They chose to ask their nbeighbors for food. But beggars can’t be choosers, so the frightened farmer grabbed a rifle and shot over their heads to run them off. Historians can debate who robbed whom first — some will say the treaties for land favored the Dakota; others will bring up the shady dealings of the traders who intercepted the treaty money with claims that the tribe owed them money for goods. The boys that day never robbed the farmer. They asked. But in the heat of the moment, the rising anger, the sense of being born to land their ancestors once owned but now failed to feed their hungry bellies — the beggers rebelled, retatiated and killed the farmer and his family.

We always have choice. It doesn’t mean we choose well or smart. It doesn’t mean the world must be just first. It doesn’t mean we will act with justice. Accountability is acknowledging our capacity of choice and taking responsibility for our actions. Accountability can also mean deciding to make better choices next time.

Little Crow, as leader of the Dakota, had a choice to make. He deliberated over whether or not to hand over the teens to US authority. He had made multiple trips to Washington DC on behalf of his people, explaining their predicament, asking that the treaties be honored. He was told money would come “soon.” It never did. Aid never came, either. But more  immigrants from Europe crowded the  land where his people tried to adapt to farming, but cut worms killed their 1861 crops. They even adapted to the language and religion. Little Crow was Christian but politicians in power regarded them as savages. He was  leader of his starving tribe and the center of unacknowledged injustice. His ribs were emaciated. Beggars can’t be choosers.

When the anuities for the tribe never came, and the stores refused to let Little Crow take food on credit, he reportedly said, “Starving men will help themselves.” Sometimes choices are  forced, which is why the proverb tries to teach those at their lowest to be content. But it is human to rise after getting knocked down. Little Crow did not turn over the teens to authorities. Neither did he agree that war was the answer. He deliberated and chose to go to war with the US instead of hunting buffalo. During the Civil War, the Dakota attacked Minnesota and won several of their battles. They also killed many settlers, graves I have visited, battefields, I’ve seen, wondering about the fool choices of an expanding nation that pressured a tribe to draw first blood.

Little Crow survived the battles. The Dakota were rounded up — every woman, child, elder and warrior — and imprisoned. President Lincoln commuted the death sentence  for hundreds of warriors but on Christmas Eve (remember, this was a cultural group who had  adopted Christianity so they understood the holiday) 36 men were hung in front of their families and  tribe. Years later, while picking raspberries with his grandson, Little Crow was aprehended by men from a nearby town, hung, shot and drug behind a wagon with firecrackers in his nostrils for the cheers of the town who felt he was a monster for not knowing his place as a beggar.

And how did  I come upon these cheerful thoughts? It was the dilema of a bed that got me thinking of the phrase. You see, the Hub will have surgery and require weeks of home care during recovery. We are guests inour daughter’s home, and not to belittle all they have provided for us, but we don’t even have our own bed. The one we use is an antique and so tall that I have to  use a box to get on top. It will be impossible for the Hub post-surgery. When we received the list of alterations we needed make, I felt like we had no choice and that phrase popped into mind.

I corrected my thinking. I have choices. I don’t have to go without or settle for what is offered or be content with what won’t work. I looked through the local classified and did not find what we needed or wanted. I turned to Amazon and found a beautiful bedframe with sturdy steel slats and a low (but not too low) height. It was in our price range, too. It meant we would have to choose not to do something else, but that’s for later. Choices are empowering.

Our task might be less so, but I think this topic is worthy to explore.

April 11, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers.” You can play with the words, alter them or interpret them without using the phrase. Give it any slant you want — show what it means or add to its  meaning. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 16, 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.


Smart Beggars (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Danni overheard the receptionist say. She had stopped by the division office to resupply the fire-camp. Her grimy skin felt foul as her temper. Danni would set that uppity woman straight.

When Mavis hung up, Danni asked, “Who’s that?”

“Oh, hi, Danni. You look a fright.”

“I’m taking back the new supplies.”

“The ones that didn’t arrive?”

Danni slumped. “What will we do,” she mumbled.

Mavis answered brightly, “Beggars can’t be choosers, but Daddy raised no fool. I just sweet-talked old Jeb at DNR to find a roundabout way for us. Beggars can be smart.”

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  1. pensitivity101

    Hi Charli.
    Maggie hasn’t been well and not taking her meds. hence my entry this week

    Maggie’s sulking.

    I always get treats. Always, always, always!
    Now I get some pongy stuff they call ‘breakfast’ and they’ve pinched my food bowl!
    My big brown eyes usually work to get some titbits off plates, but I never pinch. No sir. Don’t want my nose tapped thank you. Got to keep the sniffer in tip top condition.
    It’s not fair. No biscuits either, not even in my dinner!
    And they’ve told the postman I’m not to have any!
    I’m hungry. My heart is set on chicken.
    Guess I’ll have to eat the pongy stuff.
    Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers.

    • Charli Mills

      Aw, Maggie! She sounds so pitiful. I hope she’s soon as tip-top as ger nose, Di.

      • pensitivity101

        Battle of wills again with the meds, even with prawns. Her breakfast is the only food down 🙁

      • Charli Mills

        We had a similar battle with one of the big (and finicky) huskies. We finally won with butter. I slice a thin pat and roll it over the meds, down the hatch without realizing he’s gobbling pills. I hope you find the winning food! Prawns — you’d think Maggie would be all for it!

    • Sascha Darlington

      Your poor Maggie! Di, when our Kasey was ill and we were giving him chemo drugs the one thing I found that worked was liverwurst or braunschweiger (or whatever the same is in the UK). It’s malleable and slippery and evidently tasty to dogs.

      • pensitivity101

        She seems to like minced beef, boiled chicken or tuna. I feel so mean taking up her dinner, but when her ‘breakfast’ has been eaten, it’s put back down and she gets treats and biscuits. Battle of wills again today………. cheese and rice won’t do, but we’re having fish for dinner , so I’ll mix in some of mine (sigh)

      • pensitivity101

        She’s getting there Roberta. Thanks for asking.

  2. pensitivity101

    Hope the knee op goes OK Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Di! I do, too!

  3. Susan Zutautas

    Like I said earlier on Facebook positive thoughts and best wishes to Todd. |The 22nd of April … coincidence, my mother in law is having a knee replacement that same day. As a matter of fact, I’m flying down to Florida this upcoming Wednesday to drive back up here with her for her surgery. Hopefully, we’ll hit good weather. The dog in the picture is so darn cute! Have to see what I can come up with.

    • floridaborne

      It’s according to which part of Florida. North Florida is between 85 – 79 during the day and 65 – 60 at night. Miami will be much warmer.

      • Susan Zutautas

        Thanks but I won’t be there long enough to enjoy the warmer weather. I fly in on Wednesday and we hop in her car Thursday morning to drive back up north in Canada.

      • floridaborne

        If you land in Miami, it’s an 8 hour drive to Georgia. If you land in Jacksonville, you’ll be sitting in traffic for an hour to travel from the airport toward Georgia. Florida is a long state. 🙂

      • Susan Zutautas

        I sure know that. My MIL is a snowbird so I go down once or twice a year as she doesn’t like to drive alone. Makes the long drive easier with 2 drivers. She lives in Largo.

      • floridaborne

        I have friends who live near Tampa, too. That’s quite a drive, but not as far as living in Miami.

    • Charli Mills

      We’ll share positive thoughts and well wishes for your MIL and the Hub! Safe travels, Susan. Hopefully, you won’t get snowed in. Don’t know if the storm has hit your side of the Great Lakes but we are in a full-blown blizzard at the moment. Yes, I thought the dog was cute and might lighten the tone!

      • Susan Zutautas

        Seriously? I heard the states were getting a storm but I was hoping the news was wrong 🙂 I hope we don’t hit any snow on the way home too.

      • Charli Mills

        It has passed, leaving almost a foot of snow! At least it melted off the roads, but at this rate, the remaining snow is going to turn into year-long yard glaciers. Did it miss you?

    • explorereikiworld

      Best wishes for your MIL on her surgery, Susan. Safe travels back home xoxo

      • Susan Zutautas

        Thanks Ruchira! I went and read your flash for this week and really liked it. Something went wonky and I couldn’t leave a comment again. Just wanted to let you know 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Kate! Like sensible shoes, a practical bed is a better choice. Some don’t get such choices, and often, the hole of poverty becomes too slippery to get out.

      • calmkate

        sadly true Charli and only those who have experienced really understand …

  4. Ritu

    Glad you are feeling all sunny about everything Charli!
    The Knee Op news is just wonderful!
    I hope this link works, it’s a preview one, and should be live in the morning… we are going away, and I wanted to be sure I posted this!

    • Liz H

      Either way is fine by me. Navigation is a breeze!

    • papershots

      I never know what to do either but i always end up posting a link to the blog. I like it when other writers do the same – it’s a more intimate exploration of their worlds, not just their piece for the challenge. 🙂

      • Susan Zutautas

        Never quite looked at it like that before but yes I agree with you. Thanks!

      • papershots


    • Charli Mills

      I’m glad you’ve asked the question, Susan. I appreciate the links to go visit other places. Papershots says it well. But I also want writers to share how they want to — some want the community experience here, others want exchanges on their page, and a few simply want to put their stories out there without interaction. I try to accommodate different comfort levels. I always enjoy the interactions, here and elsewhere.

  5. denmaniacs4

    As a fellow with a partial knee replacement and even a semi-humorous take on the process, I just don’t get the VA denial of a replacement earlier on…or maybe I do. Glad its finally happening, Charli…

    Here is my contribution this week…and I am still wondering where I was going with it.

    Choice Metaphorical Beggary


    I began writing this elegy rather niggardly,
    And by that I mean I was gracelessly leaning
    To thoughts quite obscure, wrought somewhat haggardly,
    Thoughts gaunt, sickly, words with barely a meaning.


    What ho, scripting peasant, why are you so buggered,
    With slapdash terms, such sloppy old bruisers,
    Ungainly lexes that daub you a sluggard,
    A slouched writing beggar snubbed by the choosers?


    He had me there by the byzantine tail.
    I’d wended my way to the edge of the page.
    Ninety-nine words with no wind in their sail,
    Fresh bottled wine with no time to age.


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      This is brilliant. Have no doubt about it.

    • Charli Mills

      Bill, it comes down to “too young” meaning the VA risks having to do a second replacement because they only last so long. So they’ve made him wait. Yes, glad it is finally happening.

      D. has it right, a brilliant piece of writing, so much play with language that I think you channeled Shakespeare. “A slouched writing beggar snubbed by the choosers?” No snubbings. Your words have wind!

  6. floridaborne

    I heard the phrase “Beggars can’t be choosers,” for the first time in high school. Little did I know that the people throwing those words around had harder lives than mine.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s probably because they’ve had that phrase to chew upon for as long as they’ve known hardship.

  7. Miriam Hurdle

    Finally the time for your Hud’s knee replacement is coming nigh. Wishing well with all parties involved, including the surgeon and the team.

    I’ll be back soon. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Miriam! The surgeon and team have instilled confidence in their abilities.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Yes, Charli. I’m sure the surgeon could do it with their eyes closed, so do speak.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! I do hope he keeps them open, though!

  8. explorereikiworld

    It’s just awesome that you write the first thing in the morning. I think you are right about the choice we have; but we choose to do other things’ instead. I am guilty as charged!!

    Best wishes for Todd. I pray his surgery goes well. The plus side he’ll get a pair of sturdy pain free legs 🙂 After the surgery he’ll be needing PT and a sprinkle of healing energy to get those legs moving!
    Let me know how can I help!

    My take: https://abracabadra.blogspot.com/2019/04/a-choice.html

    • pedometergeek

      Excellent use of the prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s funny, Ruchira, but my morning probiotic is my greatest incentive to write first thing because I don’t want to forget to take it so I keep it downstairs at my desk. Yes, we all are guilty of making other choices. That’s why I also employ incentives! I feel “healthy” when I take my probiotic and write. Then I can have coffee.

      I’m so looking forward to his new knee! Thank you for reminding me of the role energy healing can play, too. I’ll let you know what he might be up to.

  9. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Well, if that ain’t a matter of perspective. Yer right, that idiom is usually taken from the point of view of the giver. What is it to be in the asking position?
    Funnily enough, somehow this came up in so many ways today. Hmm…

    Liked how ol’ Mavis came back with another idiom and got Danni back on track. Nice follow up to last week.

    Yep. Even Beggars and the the Rich have choices; 24 : 7.

    • Charli Mills

      The fiction world is also a funny place. We can have a flat space (like Danni’s office, which I’ve not included in depth in the manuscript) and suddenly open a different door and there’s Mavis. Idioms and all. Yep (yuh) we all have choices and some try to convince others they don’t.

  10. joanne the geek

    Loved reading your post today. I have a degree in History and I always hope that people see what happened in history and learn from the mistakes made, but I fear they don’t, hence why history can be cyclical.

    All the settlers had to do was be a little less greedy and help out their neighbours when they were in need of it, but they chose not to and it led to bloodshed. I feel so bad for the Dakota tribe and all the other Native American tribes that faced similar problems. At times when one side keeps all the wealth and leaves others with nothing it leads to a break down in society and conflict, and I wonder what’s going to happen in these times when the top 1% seem to be trying to grab all the wealth for themselves…

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, good to know you have a history degree, Joanne. I think we can better understand current events by looking to the past. It’s an indicator of our future, too. I always loved that opening line to Braveheart, “History is written by those who hanged heroes.” But if you know how to dig, you can see beyond the official histories.

      The local tribe, KBIC, is holding a second annual justice conference next month. It’s part of a larger movement to decolonize. One aspect of historical justice is to address the root cause of historical trauma. Wealth hoarding by the few in power seems to me to be the root cause. We already see conflict over it. I wonder what we can learn from our Native neighbors. They say, “Restorative justice emphasizes healing the harm done by the offense and rehabilitating the offender to avoid future harms.” Despite this nation’s best effort to destroy Native culture, perhaps it will be this nation’s oldest, most intact citizens who lead us to a better way of living together.

      Or, history can repeat itself.

    • robertawrites235681907

      How lovely to have a degree in history. It will set the stage for massive revolution, I think. Isn’t that what history demonstrates?

  11. papershots

    Wow. what stories and what lessons to be learned (if we ever took the time to learn from history) and definitely yes to choices! My best wishes to your husband for a speedy recovery after surgery!

    Here’s my take on the prompt:


    • Charli Mills

      “If we took time to learn from history.” Sigh, yes, if only. We have a training manual to what works, what doesn’t work for living on our planet. Yet we continue writing new chapters disregarding the content already written. Thanks, we are hoping for that speedy recovery! Thanks for your shot!

      • papershots

        So true. All the best!

      • papershots

        Thanks! 🙂

  12. Jules

    Yes Charli, beggars can be smart. They can want, find and get love!
    I remember when my MIL had to have a knee replacement. I had to go to her place daily to help her put on her support stockings. Healing seems like forever. I can’t imagine when another relative had both knees done at the same time.

    Here’s mine: Breaking Old Stereotypical Molds

    Being the younger in a hard working family means hand me downs.
    Maybe there’d be one new outfit a year, shoes when needed, things like that.
    Cheap proteins; buckets of peanut butter, making due with leftovers.

    there are choices, yes;
    some allow us to reach stars
    others for handouts

    life throws all curve balls; cannot
    beggars be choosers for love

    To remember to give when we are comfortable can be key.
    To stretch outside of that comfort zone to help another, would, could you?
    Without expecting some reward, remembering to give of the self.

    Who says beggars can’t choose?


    Stereotypical: adjective; relating to a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

    American Strand haibun = American Sentence(s) haiku prose including other
    American Japanese Style haikai forms making a haibun. Created by JP/dh March 2019
    An American Sentence = 17 syllables – 1 line haiku
    haibun ; prose with traditional American haiku (or other haikai)
    *For this haibun an interior tanka an additional last line of five words to make the prompt word count.

    • Charli Mills

      A beautiful call for breaking old molds and mindsets, Jules. I loved this stanza:
      there are choices, yes;
      some allow us to reach stars
      others for handouts

      Double knee surgery would be difficult! The Hub won’t get the second knee done until the first has healed. Healing does take time. Love helps. 😉

  13. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    5000 words in a morning’s mega impressive but I agree it can be harder to edit a splurge.

    I enjoyed reading your account of the Dakota – a helpful antidote to my childhood watching “cowboys and Indians” films. And, if it’s okay to put it this way, I hope things go well with your family’s own battle of wounded knee.

    Your post had me wondering (again) about choice and our perceptions thereof. I’m thinking that sometimes we might muddle choice to try / have a go with choice of outcome – of course it’s only the former that’s within our control.

    For my contribution, I’ve resurrected my creepy character, Steve, to accompany a revival of an online interview he took part in last year.

    Characters in conversation: Steve from Underneath meets Lisa Burton https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2019/04/characters-in-conversation-steve-from-underneath-meets-lisa-burton.html

    • Charli Mills

      The resurrection of a creepy character sounds like a horror story, Anne but then again, the stories of those impoverished of control over their lives are so. Yet, I have a resistance to accepting that people have no choice. It’s by accepting our powerlessness that we remain that way. Those in power know this. They don’t have to control everyone, just the belief that they are without choices.

      Ha! We prepare for the battle of wounded knee.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Ha, I really didn’t think of resurrection in those terms (though it’s timely, being almost Easter).
        And I agree that oppression is partly achieved by making people believe they’ve no choice. But sometimes those choices are extremely stark and a matter of life or death. I might choose compliance in those circumstances.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Reena!

  14. Pete

    Speed Dating

    So you’re pro-choice?

    Ehh, um, kind of a personal question don’t you think?

    I’m sorry, it’s just that, well, we only have three minutes and I would like to have kids.

    Three minutes should do.

    I beg your pardon.

    No, I was… nothing. So, can’t you be both?


    Yes, both. Like pro-choice, and well, have a family?

    I don’t think this is going to work out. I’m looking for someone who shares my beliefs.

    You’re very attractive.

    Seriously? One minute.

    Just give me a chance, okay?

    I did. Time’s up.

    Look. I’m begging here.

    Beggars can’t be choosers.

    • papershots

      Love the pace of the dialogue. Well done! And I do wonder if any such conversation has ever happened at a speed dating event… ha!

      • Pete

        Thanks! I hope not, that’s three awkward minutes!

    • Charli Mills

      Great dialog, Pete! I imagine this conversation would make three minutes feel like a painful eternity.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for your thoughts, Michael!

    • Liz H

      Yum yum!! 😮

    • susansleggs

      I sure didn’t expect the ending twist. Good one.

      • the dark netizen

        Thanks so much, Susan! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Net! Not sure your last line was a treat appreciated by all! 😀

      • the dark netizen

        Haha! 😉
        Yes, got a lot of flak for it! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sneha! Thanks for finding inspiration in the prompt. For the challenge, try reducing that sweet story to 99 words.

      • Sneha Ganesh

        Ok sure

  15. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Hope the knee replacement goes without a hitch, your husband certainly deserves that and more. And as for the bed.. one thing we have always done is buy a good bed as sleep is so important. Unfortunately history is traditionally written by the victors and it is so important that the true story from all perspectives is told and keeps being told. Thanks for the prompt this week… hope to have done it justice..hugs

    • Charli Mills

      You did the prompt justice, Sally! Yes, it’s unfortunate that history favors the victors, and I enjoy digging into records and stories because it is hard to completely squash voices. Start knitting together those frayed threads and a more complete picture emerges. Ah, I miss my bed! We had a good mattress and a beautiful oak frame. Maybe one day we’ll get our belongings out of Idaho.

    • susansleggs

      Thanks for look into the history of our forefathers.

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you from the Kingdom. Sue, Ann, Jules and I will join you soon! Whisper to that Vermont snow to melt. Let the mergansers and loons in!

  16. pedometergeek

    If Wishes Were Horses…

    Julie was one of the smallest kids in her class, and she was always picked last for every team. Despite that, she loved playing volleyball.

    The school started an intramural league for the students; the team members would be picked for each volleyball team. First, however, Coach Coffman would decide who would be the captains of the teams. The captains then selected their players.

    Julie asked the coach if she could be a captain. Wringing her hands, she implored him, saying, “Please, please, can I be a captain?”

    To which, Coach Coffman said, “Absolutely not. Beggars can’t be choosers.”

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    • Charli Mills

      Nan, the response of the coach is one of many ways adults crush a child’s dream. I was thinking it would be a good role for someone who loved the game and had to work harder at it because of physical limits. But the coach failed to see a leader’s request and saw her earnest plea as a beggar. Good writing!

  17. Miriam Hurdle

    Hi Charli,

    I’m back with my flash. I thought about “Beggars can’t be choosers” for many days. I think most of the homeless people can’t be choosers, but I thought of this case with exception. Ted Williams made big news worldwide in 2011. I do hope that some homeless folks have choices.


    A Man with a Golden Voice

    A man saw a homeless person begging. The beggar’s voice sounded familiar, but he had to move on with the traffic.
    The next day he saw the beggar again.
    “Are you Ted Williams, the man with a golden voice?”
    “Hop in… Why are you on the street?”
    “I was fired in 1994 for drugs and booze.”
    “You’ll clean up and come to the radio station to see my boss.”
    For the first time after 20 years, the beggar had numerous job offers. He worked in the radio show again.
    “Beggars can’t be choosers” didn’t apply to him.

    • calmkate

      Lovely warm story, like to hear these things … thanks Miriam 🙂

      • Miriam Hurdle

        You’re very welcome. I like to read the inspirational stories. They always encourage me not to give up. 🙂

      • calmkate

        Miriam you seem so positive it’s difficult to imagine you wanting to give up 🙂

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Thank you for your comment. Yes, I haven’t given up anything major in my life yet. 🙂

      • calmkate

        good 🙂

      • Miriam Hurdle

        🙂 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Miriam, I appreciate how thoughtful you were regarding the prompt and then you found a story to re-imagine how it happened. Sometimes, I think if each person were regarded as a unique human, someone could find something worthy in someone who has hit rock bottom.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Yes, I try to think if there was another case I could think of…

  18. Kerry E.B. Black

    Santa’s Surprise
    written by Kerry E.B. Black

    We were poor. We didn’t indulge much. Basics filled bellies. Hand-me-down clothes drew derisive attention from their classmates. I scrimped and did without while trying to shield them.

    Holidays stressed me most of all. I supplement their experience with hand-crafted traditions, but I couldn’t fulfill their wish lists. Failure pressed and drained maternal enthusiasm.

    One afternoon, I answered a knock. Nobody greeted me. A package on the stoop read “from Santa.” Inside, gifts for the kids burst with cheer. I spirited the box into my bedroom and dissolved into tears. Gratefulness battled embarrassment, yet for my kids, I’d swallow pride.

    • papershots

      Lovely piece.

    • Charli Mills

      All those complex emotions neatly wrapped up in this flash, Kerry.

  19. Jackie

    I hope everything goes well with the replacement, he waited long enough for it.

    I liked how you zoomed in and out talking about agency.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Jackie.

  20. reading journeys

    Hi Charli

    My FF is in.
    You may receive my FF twice – same message as last week: link expired. The second submission worked.

    I think my FF for this week may have come from subliminal inspiration from the “write junk” approach and watch a story emerge! So to speak.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking blog.


    • Charli Mills

      Hi Saifun, and thanks for staying with the submission. One day I’ll be able to afford the Word Press at the level that comes with technicians. For now, you have me! The only other suggestion I can think of is to try a different browser. I know I have more glitchy problems with Firefox now that I have Macaroo. Hey — I like the brave approach to “write junk” and free up an unexpected story. There’s where the treasure is. Thanks!

  21. Liz H

    Beggars can’t be choosers, but they can certainly ride! So Gee-yup. we’re on our way, having waited too long for justice and deserved assistance!


    Holly sighed, dropping her sweaty forehead into her palm. It was the same words, the same argument that wasn’t an argument. She tugged her bangs and tried one more time.
    “You can’t keep doing this.”
    “Why’s it such a big deal to you?” Rita crossed her arms over her chest, and leaned back.
    “I see the future,” Holly whispered. “It’s not sustainable the way things are.”
    “Beggars can’t be choosers, Dear,” Rita hissed.
    “I’m not begging,” Holly picked up her baby. “We’re leaving.”
    “I’m calling Toby!”
    Toby was the Ex-boyfriend, not the father.
    So Rita wasn’t Gramma.
    Problem solved.


    • Charli Mills

      Boundaries are the first choice we have to establish a more sustainable life. Ride that horse far from the poison!

    • Charli Mills

      I thought your first one was positive because it offered a solution, Kate. Happy to have a second one from you.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! This was the one I had in mind. 😀 Sometimes I get mixed up!

      • calmkate

        thanks Charli, it’s a crucial topic these days as the gap widens!

      • Charli Mills

        And as the gaps widen, so does empathy and understanding.

  22. Michael B. Fishman

    I kinda think that this might have been the best blog post of yours that I’ve ever read. I could probably go on with 5,000 words on the way our nation’s veterans are treated (or not treated) and another 5,000 on the way the native population was treated. Anyway, I’m sorry your husband had to suffer for so long and I’m sorry there were no other options before now. All the best to him next week. And caregiving isn’t easy so I hope you take care of yourself during his recovery.

    Here’s mine for this week:

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Michael! I’ll know who to send my 5,000 word critiques to. When I lived in Minnesota, I used to go on history adventures to visit places in person — battlefields, farms, and small museums. Sometimes the stored knowledge comes out in response to a current happening. And I’m taking care, going to see our son for Easter weekend, and then hunker down for healing. Thank you for sharing!

  23. Violet Lentz

    You provided us with an especially delicious prompt and weekly missive, Charlie. Thank you so much, for all you do.

    • Charli Mills

      Glad you found it delicious, Violet! I’m enjoying the variety of tastes pouring in. Thanks!

  24. susansleggs


    Thanks you for the history lesson on the Dakota’s. There is usually a true story we don’t hear from our govt. or today, the media, behind life altering events that affect a certain group. I’m sure the circumstances would have been different if both sides had kept their word.
    Ahh, the workings of the military when it comes to medical. Some makes sense and a lot does not. I have friends with the same results, but different problems. Wish there was an easy fix with good outcomes for all. I’m glad Todd is finally getting his new knee. Having that one painful thing corrected will do both of you a lot of good. I’m glad to hear about the new bed since every human spends about a third of their life in one. Here’s hoping it becomes a comfy retreat.
    And writing every morning, that’s a gift to yourself, much deserved……on to the prompt…..

    Safer To Eat At Home

    Eight year old Becky came home from school to see her mother had liver and onions ready to prepare for supper. She sought permission to go play with best friend Arlene and bolted out the door. Together the two girls hatched a plan then went to Arlene’s mother to ask if Becky could eat dinner with them. They were triumphant until they sat down to lima beans and fried Spam. Arlene’s mother, seeing Becky’s face said, “Beggars can’t be choosers. Eat up.”
    Later, outside, Becky said, “Lima beans are yuckier than liver. Do you think they called each other?”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      And their other friend was served chip beef gravy. Yum, yuck!

    • Charli Mills

      It takes time for us to understand our history, and humility to reconsider that “our side” might not have been right. But from here we can recognize, understand and work toward healing. That’s hopeful to hear that you found a replacement worth the pain and trouble! Today, he’s had to drive all the way to Iron Mountain and back because the VA can’t get some of his home medical equipment delivered in time. There’s a van that runs daily…Logistics, ironically given they serve the military, is not the VA’s strong point. Now to set up the bed!

      Your flash is adorable! I can picture those two friends trying to help the other out of an undesired meal. It reminds me of the Great Depression food that still remains in recipes handed down. Fits the prompt well.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Allison!

  25. Ann Edall-Robson

    Choosey Little Beggar
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Hanna had drawn the short straw, meaning the night shift. The calf needed to be fed every three hours using a big plastic bottle. If she couldn’t get the orphan heifer to suck, she would have to call for help. She didn’t want to give Tal the satisfaction.

    Squatting next to the animal, she lifted the calf’s head, hoping she’d take the bottle.

    “C’mon you little beggar, quit being so choosey.”

    “What’s the matter, can’t get her to ear?” Tal’s smirky voice sliced through the darkness.

    Sounds of sucking made Hanna smile.

    “Us girls gotta stick together.” She whispered.


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Way ta go! (The heifer, Hannah, and you for continuing this story.)

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        A challenge, but an enjoyable one.

    • Charli Mills

      You got something here, Ann with these two characters. I like how you used the prompt, too.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        They are fun to work with, these characters of mine. What’s even more fun is figuring out how the weekly prompt is going to work with them.

      • Charli Mills

        It is fun! After I get the post and prompt set up, then I have to figure out how to make it fit Danni’s story. I find it allows me to expand or explore beyond the manuscript writing.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, TN!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for choosing to write a flash during your busy schedule, Anurag. 😉

      • anuragbakhshi

        I just feel so bad that because of this lack of time, I can’t read the stories of others and comment. I know how encouraging it is for us writers 🙂

  26. Norah

    OMG, Charli. Stories like Little Crow’s make me shudder all the way through to my soul. How could anyone … Sadly, we still seem to find new ways of treating others inhumanely. I can’t see why it’s so difficult to just be nice to each other. The teachings of every religion, of which I’m aware, seem to include the golden rule: to love one another. Why can’t we? It just tears me apart. We can live in our own little bubble where everything’s (nearly) rosy, but oh baby, it’s a wild world.
    I’m sorry that I’ve come too late to join in this week and even have a lot of catching up from last week to do. I took my grandchildren away for a few days last week and as soon as I landed back I was struck down with the flu so have been virtually away from the computer for a week. (So sad) It might be a few days yet until I’m back up to full steam so I’ll pick up where I can, but leave what I can’t.
    Best wishes with Hub’s surgery and your new bed. I hope it all works a treat. Like Mavis and Danni, Charli finds a workaround and shows that there is always a choice that is better than the others on offer, and definitely better than accepting what other hope of you.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Norah, I’m sorry to hear you got waylaid by the flu. Do take care. Rest and anything restorative helps. Chocolate is restorative, right? Perhaps not, but lots of kindness from those around you, and plenty of fluids and popsicles. Wish I could send you some homemade chicken noodle soup. Don’t try to catch up when you feel better, just enter back into the stream where so many will be happy to see you well again. Much love!

      • Norah

        Thanks for your kind words, Charli. I’d love some of your homemade chicken soup. I think I’m starting on the upward trend. I hope so. xx

  27. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Hat Trick

    “Pal, ya ain’t noticin’ my new hat.”
    “It’s a beautiful day, Kid. Good day ta ride.”
    “Yep. An’ ya still ain’t said nuthin’ ‘bout my hat.”
    “I see ya’ve got a new hat settin’ on yer head.”
    “Cain’tcha tell me what ya think of it?”
    “Why? You went an’ bought it. You must like it.”
    “Come on, Pal. Do ya like my hat?”
    “No, Kid, no. I do not like yer hat.”
    “Jeez, Pal, ya gotta like this hat.”
    “No, Kid, I don’t. Ya begged me ta respond, ya don’t git ta choose my response. Now go Kid, go.”

    A belated appearance by these two yahoos, with apologies to P.D. Eastman’s classic, “Go Dog Go”.


    • Charli Mills

      Hey, Kid, like your new hat!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for your concern for the Hub. The story of the Dakota is one of injustice repeated across the West. It is hard to face traumatic history, but it is also healing to acknowledge the truth instead of the fanciful stories Hollywood put out in westerns. Thanks for your flash!

  28. Michele Jones

    I’m not sure what I did wrong, but my link didn’t post for your prompt.
    I know it was supposed to be in before April 16 but here is my link if you’d like to read what I cam up with.


    • Charli Mills

      I got it Michele! Sometimes the pingbacks delay. Rule of thumb — better late than never (coming from an untimely lead buckaroo who understands time is not for everyone).

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Ritu!

  30. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Frank!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Marje!

  32. susansleggs

    What an interesting way to decide who to promote. Well done.

  33. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  34. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Teresa!

  35. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kate!

  36. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sascha!

  37. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kelly!

  38. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  39. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!


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