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April 25: Flash Fiction Challenge

My spirit has slumped for the moment. I’m exhausted. This month has resolved years of spinning in circles. The Hub officially has a new knee. We spent Easter weekend with our son and future DIL in Wisconsin, meeting the priest who will marry them next year. We are close to getting approved to buy the Roberts Street House where I’ll have two rooms to offer visiting writers. And the weather has warmed the earth to generate the first batch of crocus. All good, but I’m wiped.

The Hub’s knee replacement has been 35 years in the making. After talking to the surgeon and one of his physical therapist, I’m delighted that we pushed through to get it replaced earlier than the VA wanted him to. Although it also infuriates me that they didn’t do it sooner. Moving forward, I’ll embrace the delight and hard work of giving the Hub a better leg to stand on.

It’s been nutty since we last talked gender. Weird, too. Over the weekend, after we drove down to Prairie Du Sac, I received a message to advise me that a shirt-show was brewing on Twitter. I’m part of the line-up for next month’s author marketing event NaNoProMo hosted by Rachel Thompson (author, creator of #MondayBlogs, and marketing guru to indie authors). In one of her promotions of my previous marketing articles at her website, my shirt from my author headshot was noticed.

Bob Mayer, a NYT best-selling author, and former Green Beret, questioned why a woman was wearing what he recognized as authentic Ranger and unit tabs. It was a testosterone filled inquiry, implying that women are not yet assigned to Ranger units (two did make it through all three phases of Ranger school). Had he taken time to read my author bio he would have at least understood that I’m the wife of a former US Army Ranger who writes about the veteran spouse experience. But he didn’t.

By the time I caught up over on Twitter, not only was I the wrong sex to be a Ranger, but others commented I was also the wrong age and size. Bob is a former Green Beret. He likely experiences what my husband does — knowing that there were 437 Navy Seals in Vietnam but having met all 10,000 of them. People make false claims of elite military units all the time. And it rankles the few who actually served in those units. But the other commenters fell into the phenomenon of sensing a public shaming.

Yes, I was shirt-shamed on Twitter.

Having caught it soon enough, I was able to respond:

“That’s my husband’s shirt. We’ve been married 32 years, homeless the last three because of his symptoms of CTE from head hits during his service. I’ve fought to get him help. He let me wear his shirt for my author headshots because I write about the veteran spouse experience.”

I could have left it at “That’s my husband’s shirt.” But I was feeling vulnerable, sitting in the dark of my son’s apartment after everyone had gone to bed, thinking I’d read stories at the Ranch and instead felt thunked over the head. I’m tired of not having a home. I’m tired of not knowing how to fully explain my husband’s odd behavior. I’m tired of having to cope with early onset dementia. And it’s early! What next? So I wanted to reply in a way that made Bob look like a jackass for his original comment. It succeeded in shutting down any further comments.

Except one. A woman called out the man. And on gender week at Carrot Ranch. She called him “a sexist piece of shit.” Thought I chuckled, it only made me feel more isolated. I didn’t want to be some poster child for sexism. I had a surgery to prepare for — not mine, his.

And it went well, it really did. It was hard at night because I’d leave the hospital, and he’d tell the nurses something like, “I don’t want  any opiods,” and they’d struggle to figure out what to do with the docs and pharmacists all gone, knowing he’d be in worse pain trying to fight it with only Tylenol. Then he’d text or call me because he was in excruciating pain and I’d be howling at the nurses to give him his assigned meds. Now that he’s home under my care, I can better regulate his pain med schedule, keep him iced, and apply ointments. I get no sleep until he does.

It’s frustrating, the little ways his brain doesn’t work the way it should. Like not understanding the importance of the pain meds for a total knee replacement. Sometimes he says things like advising the nurse not to use his third finger to draw blood from because it gives strange results. I usually get odd looks. By the end of his stay, they would not tell him anything important without me there. But they remained respectful, and I admired the way nurses listened to him and made him feel valued even if his understanding of circumstances is skewed.

The doc tells me my Ranger is going to be a new Cowboy. I’ll take that.

And, with great hope, we may qualify for a program to take out a  VA loan without anything down. Unless the bank would take my boxes of books or our  RV, we have nothing to put down. We’ll do okay on his disability until I can finish up my MFA. I don’t know when or if we’ll get our belongings out of storage in Idaho, but I plan to furnish two rooms to host visiting writers. Like I did in Idaho, the rooms will be free, and I’ll set up reading opportunities. Maybe I’ll do a fundraiser to set up those rooms, but first, we have to get the house.

Before that, I need a full night of sleep.

Give me some time to catch up on my ranch chores. The weekly compilations are a labor of love, and I will get over to read everybody’s submissions when I can hold open my eyes. Thank you for understanding. And for taking on a hot topic like gender with such openness and curiosity. Hallmarks of literary art.

April 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? Can you make art of exhaustion? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 30, 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.


Tired No More (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Trench work became harder with an archeology field school of newbies. The questions exhausted Danni more than digging on her knees.

“What’s this,” was the most common question.

By late afternoon the scrape of her trowel sang a different tune. Instead of soft forest duff, the trowel made the higher pitched scrape against something hard. “Do you hear that,” Danni shouted to any close enough to hear. They all came running.

As she revealed the flat of something large and human-made, they all lost their sense of exhaustion. Curiosity woke them up and eased the aches of hard digging.


  1. And there it is, the crux and crucible of last prompt.
    A green beret and best selling author yet threatened by a woman because… of how she dares to dress. Not what he expected or desired; shame. On whom?
    (There’s a whole lotta Mary Gauthier/Vet ballads in there ain’t there?)
    F*** him, if he doesn’t have the love that your husband has, the war after the war that you have fought for so long and so valiantly not just for Todd but for all Veteran couples that have to fight their own nation for respect and treatment and benefits we all were led to believe were our birthright and couldn’t imagine weren’t readily available to those who signed on to defend our country .
    May you lose your sense of exhaustion, Charli Mills. May exhausting squirrels stop crossing your star lit path. Give them no never mind.

  2. tnkerr says:

    Hi Charli –

    When the captain of my boat gave me my Dolphins, in the Navy, he also gave a set to my wife. Wives and husbands of veterans sacrifice too. Good on you.

  3. You’ve certainly been through a lot, lately, and handling it well, from what I can see, Charli! I’m wishing you wonderful results in your pursuit of the house and a speedy recovery for your husband from his operation. The sight of crocus must help:)

  4. You’ve had a lot to deal with. I’ve found from past experience that confrontation on social media sites can be very draining: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    With everything else going on be sure to take care of yourself. I hope everything turns out right.

    Kia Kaha <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      It is all as it should be, Joanne. Thank you! I’m taking care and have moved on from the shirt as the more important focus is my husband. We had a rough week but he’s over the hump and healing can be like magic to the body, mind, and spirit. Thank you for the “Kia Kaha” as it reminds me of Finnish sisu (and a hint of what will come next prompt).

  5. Norah says:

    Exhausted but yet you think of others. Think of you, too, Charli Mills, and care of yourself as well. I hope the house in Roberts Street comes off, and that Hub’s new leg carries him well and pain-free. I love the way you show through your flash that renewed excitement beats exhaustion any day. It’s like the game of rock, paper, scissors but with exhaustion, excitement and … a third? extremism?
    I hope your week allows time for recovery, for both you and Todd.

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli,

      I’ve popped back with my story:

      Exhausted possibilities

      Jolted awake when the bus reached the terminal, they grabbed their belongings and stumbled out. The driver shrugged when asked about accommodation.
      ‘NO VACANCY’ signs flashed along narrow streets. ‘NOT WELCOME’ lists accompanied the few with vacancies.
      Trudging back to the terminal, hoping for seclusion, a ‘VACANCY’ appeared where none before. An old man bade them enter, waved away their money and installed them comfortably.
      “Thank you. Thank you,” they bowed, and collapsed into sleep.
      In the morning, they were alone. A note lay on the table:
      “When you think you have exhausted all possibilities, there is always more.”

      Thanks for the challenge.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha, ha — exhaustion, excitement, extremism. You’re clever, Norah! Extremism is like the rock that bashes all. 😀 Feeling more excited, which overcomes all. Recovery and restoration and revitalization is all underway. I felt semi-normal today despite a fresh coat of snow. We are turning a corner. Now to work on the house…

      • Norah says:

        I like the sound of those ‘R’ words, Charli. Unlike the competitive ‘rock, paper, scissors’, they all work together. Now we need to work on the ‘H’ words perhaps; home, harmony, happy. Or ‘S’: stable, settled, satisfied.

  6. denmaniacs4 says:

    Only a rock, or someone as thick as a proverbial brick, could miss the depth of exhaustion in your blog this week, Charli. I am so sorry you had to be the recipient of a shirt-storm. No one deserves that, and certainly not you.

    Exhausted Love

    He went to bed late. It was after nine.

    He told the cat, “You should’ve reminded me.”

    The cat squawked as if to say, “Yeah, right.”

    It was only him and the cat these days. Sal had packed up and split a month or so earlier.

    He’d said at the time, “The cats yours,” meaning quite clearly, he thought, “take the cat.”

    She didn’t.

    All she said was, “I can’t hear you.”

    He thought that an odd thing to say but he didn’t tell her.

    There would’ve been no point.

    The upside was, he’s almost sure the cat listens.

  7. Michael says:

    Really enjoyed that…. encouraging stuff

  8. Having a loved one undergo serious surgery and the recovery thereafter is very hard, Charli. I am a veteran in that division with my boys having undergone nearly 30 surgeries between them. Take the time you need to rest as your hubby is counting on you. I am glad it has gone well. Hugs.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Robbie, I can’t even imagine going through so many surgeries with your boys. I’m a great advocate but a crummy nurse. I get too worn out and my mind slips. I admire the way caregivers keep their spirits from flagging. You are amazing! I froze my husband’s knee and he’s happily recovering out of my care. Hugs back to you!

  9. […] Carrot Ranch April 25: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  10. Hey Charli! 🙂
    Here’s my take on the prompt:

    Happy reading! 🙂

  11. Aw, Charli, what a pain to be hit by Twitter shit when you’re already juggling more than you should have to. Surgery can be disorientating for any of us, so especially hard when your brain isn’t at its best. As in your lovely flash, I’m sure your curiosity will wake you up soon. But get some sleep first, and the ranch will take care of itself while you do.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Anne, it’s definitely disorienting when he mis-remembers things but I have to pause because I’m not sure my memory is clear! We have laughed over a few incidents, though, like when he asked me why I called a nurse a dumb**s. I was certain I had not! Then he said he dreamt it. I told him that word wasn’t even in my lexicon. He then said I was dumbfounded. And we both laughed. Who says we have to get all the details right every day, eh. Feeling curiosity rising again, a good sign.

      • A friend went to support her elderly parents who were both having surgery within a couple of weeks of each other. Her dad, who had been perfectly compos mentis, became completely disorientated and embarrassingly to hospital staff. All very funny when she related to it a few weeks later and he was back to normal, but very distressing at the time, especially as it seemed this might be the end of living independently for him.
        Hope you both continue to mend.

  12. […] April 25: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  13. jenanita01 says:

    Charli, such a perfect image to describe how you must be feeling.
    No point telling you to take a few moments to rest and restore your batteries, for I know you will, just as soon as you are able…

  14. calmkate says:

    Thanks for sharing your sincere “exhaustion” … take time and recharge, we will all be here 🙂

    Hope hubby’s head and mind heal swiftly, that some housing comes through and that you’ve had a long deep sleep since posting this!

    Social media is the pits, just a bunch of bored people loitering to make fun of others … your response was just right <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      That long deep sleep came last night and it was restorative. I have hope that the surgery will give the Hub some hope, too. He’s doing well, though we had a rough week. Thanks, Kate!

      • calmkate says:

        adjusting to a new knee takes time and lots of painful exercise, preferably swimming. But once it’s working he will be so grateful.
        You will come through this Charli, you have resilience by the truck load and the support of very worthy friends 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        He loves to swim so we look forward to that phase. I’m trying to teach him some of the Feldenkrais techniques I learned that allows a person to imagine a movement they can no longer make. I’m grateful for truckloads of worthy support. It helps the resiliency! 😉

  15. The stuff about the buttholes on Twitter being mean just burns my dog-hide. I hate that kind of thing, though I understand people who are actual vets (or some other kind of elite or exclusive thing) don’t want impersonators running around, but it seems easier to just let things go. And a dude who’s relatively famous doing that? That makes it *worse*.

    Anyway, I was watching my little dog fall asleep when I wrote my response to the prompt. I knew who I had to write about! All his hard work!

    ***The Hard Life of a Hector***

    Home defense is no joke. I thwart dozens of attempted break ins, assaults, and thefts every day.

    Look at that two-legged creeper. “BARK!” I shout, warning him that my house is occupied by a threatening set of teeth.

    “WOOF!” I combine it with a growl to ward off that four-legged menace. Other dogs make me so mad – sometimes I get a little over the top and attack the walls. Hooman doesn’t like that, but at least the house is still standing, I say.

    Guard duty’s exhausting. It’s nice to settle down with a peanut butter Kong and a snooze.

  16. Jules says:


    We at the ranch are all with you since you include us in your trials. If there’s anything we can do… It is a darn shame that stuff through the Armed Forces takes so dang long. I’ve had different issues with my own Dad not getting his medical needs done when they should have. And because my FIL’s records got burnt up… well he got burnt all together. I am happy though that my neighbor a WWII Vet seems to be getting the aid he needs through our local association.

    As for Mr. I can’t read far enough to give credit where it is due – maybe he can take some sensitivity training? I dislike social media even more for the misinterpretations it splatters like gossip that is almost seemingly impossible to stop.

    I enjoyed your entry about Danni – Getting that second wind is priceless. Good luck too on getting your own place. I think I can safely say that all of us Buckaroos are pulling for you and Todd.

    I just had too much to say so I did a two parter of a BoTS:
    Life in a Wakeful Trance

    Part 1

    You know you’re a parent when you seem to be exhausted all the time.
    Especially in early years when multiple night feedings happen.
    Or when the little tyke has regular two and four o’clock nightfrights.
    To bed by ten, and up at six the child; not remembering the screams.
    The advice is; don’t turn on the light, coo and calm the itty bitty.
    And you wonder how many months or years this is going to go on.

    where’s independence
    the confident adult who
    just now needs some sleep?

    Life goes on, they grow up, move out; and you retire?

    Part 2

    You know that you’re a child when you seem to be exhausted all the time.
    Especially in years when multiple calls to your old folks occur.
    When your elderly parent starts to have memory and health issues.
    You’ve the same ten minute conversation three times in thirty minutes.
    Mother or Dad never seem to sleep or be awake when they should be.
    You offer support, loving them; trying to keep your own sanity.

    where’s independence
    that confident adult who
    you wanted to be?

    Life goes on, and you can only that hope your own children remember you… with kindness too.

    When the night frights started with the second child; we flipped on the lights and said; “Wake up – it’s OK, you can go back to sleep now. The night frights ended in three days instead of ongoing for months. Caring for elderly parents with memory loss who live out of state presents unique challenges, just different from having them close by. ‘One day at a Time’ is more than a TV sitcom.

    The last sentences after the American Japanese style haiku in each haibun are not American Sentences, they were added to complete the 99 word count for the prompt.

    • Liz H says:

      Cleverly done, the seesaw of life with the hinge of a “sandwich gen” in a shared haiku. Cool!

    • Copy and paste Liz’s comments.
      Great inclusion of perspectives. Cool.

      • Jules says:

        One of those been there done that’s… and glad to not have a t-shirt reminder. A few words will do 🙂

    • Charli Mills says:

      Jules, I’d like to hope that after as long as it has taken, we are set. The surgery and care have been excellent. His doctors have been on top of everything. Seems like once you pass the hoops, you are in. But I won’t rest on that hope. I’ve learned how and when to push. We start looking at the other knee and the hips, too.

      I love your dual flash with its bookends to life. A beautiful message. <3

  17. Pete says:

    Man, this guy would have had a field day if he’d ever seen all the Rambo stuff I had when I was a kid. I figured it was your husband’s, but I always thought it looked super cool just the same.

    Here’s mine, just a spur of the moment free write:

    I couldn’t believe she would show up like this, tapping on my door. Like I had nothing to do but sit and wait for her. She was drunk, or close, her hair up in a lazy bun, curls dangling, spilling in a way Hollywood could try to replicate but never get right.

    She was breathtaking. And she knew it. And she wasn’t supposed to be within 100 yards of my door.

    Her smile widened, like her path of destruction. “Hi.”

    I closed my eyes. From exhaustion—no, to stop seeing her, stop wanting her—when her lips found mine.

  18. Glad to hear about Hubby’s new knee. Hope you are getting some well earned rest.

  19. TanGental says:

    We’d call him a pillock, this side of the pond. This whole extrapolating intentions (to diss the service) from an action (wearing a shirt) bugs me to the ice cream and back. As for you Charli Mills you must be vulcanised, the way you bounce back. I bow to the way resilience is marbled through every one of your cells. You may be exhausted, you may be tired but you’re still standing. Veni, Vide, Charli! I came, I saw, I’m Charli. Go gettum girl. And as Norah says, give yourself some space to cuddle yourself. Compassion for others only has legs if it starts with self compassion. Love you!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha, ha! My new motto. Thanks, Geoff! I’d like to get ice cream out of it, too. Well, that pillock can go bite the business end of a mule. I’ve had self-cuddle time, back to share the love with everyone. <3

  20. […] Charli’s Flash Fiction Challenge: […]

  21. Ritu says:

    Oh, what an arse!
    Sorry, Charli, but that sort of thing really gets my goat!
    How dare someone assume they know anything about anyone, simply from a photo??
    You take all the time you need to get yourself shipshape!
    Meanwhile here’s mine!

  22. Very fitting for our latest (and final!) DIY

    ‘My get up and go has got up and left,’ Hubby said.
    ‘Lucky you,’ I replied. ‘ Mine hasn’t got the strength to actually get up!’
    These days, our energy levels are a fraction of what they were and it takes weeks to get over any additional exertion.
    Despite being exhausted though, both of us have had restless nights this past week, managing only a few hours sleep.
    Our routine is the same, and we take our cue from Maggie who puts herself to bed at 9pm. Wish we could sleep at the drop of a hat like she does!

  23. dgkaye says:

    You’re a warrior woman no doubt about it Charli. Chin up girl, better things are coming your way. 🙂 A perfect word for the challenge and well done! <3

  24. […] Carrot Ranch Challenge, April 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? Can you make art of exhaustion? Go where the prompt leads! […]

  25. floridaborne says:

    Until child care and household management get the same respect as being a CEO, there can never truly be equality. It is a mindset that devalues over half the people on Earth. I have a mental movie about walling off countries who think women are worth only half of a man, and leaving only men inside the boundaries. But the last man would die, holding onto his arrogance until his final breath.

    It’s like the guy who wrote, on an insurance claim, why hitting a tree wasn’t his fault. “I swerved to the left, I swerved to the right, but the tree hit me anyway.”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Today, on the radio, I heard what was meant to be an “uplifting” spot calling for wives to be their husbands’ cheerleaders. That men need to come home and hear how worthy they are, and not criticism or complaints. I seriously started choking. My husband was hooting. We made a joke about it, but he was the one to point why not encourage the men to come home and cheer their wives? And what if they both work, or she’s the breadwinner, or if they are single? Who cheers the men? According to this radio spot, that’s the job of women. Oh, hell no. These social norms are insidious. Partnership is great. Let’s start there. Or how about honoring the dignity of each human being, regardless of relationship status. I’m certain my value does not require me to cheer on my husband.

      • floridaborne says:

        A man who needs a cheerleader instead of a partnership needs to spend a few months doing his wife’s job. I just read a joke about a guy who comes home to a house that’s a complete mess (inside and out), the fridge door is open and and kids are out of control. He demands to know why and his wife says, “You always come home and ask,
        ‘What do you do all day? So I thought I’d show you.”

  26. I am sorry that you had to go not only the worry and exhaustion of hub’s surgery but the trend of assuming guilt before innocence. What would have taken for him to ask..”tell us the story behind your shirt as I am sure it is interesting?” But you are made of stronger stuff than any ranger Charli and this will pass and the man who gave you that shirt and wanted you to wear it will be standing and walking without pain in time. Will get my story written and up…love and hugs ♥

    • Charli Mills says:

      I wondered at the same thing, Sally — how difficult was it to simply ask a curious question? Ah, but I know who shirt it is, and he’s hobbling about today, getting stronger, less pain now that I’ve let up on over-icing him. Thanks! Hugs back! <3

  27. That’s terrible that that happened on Twitter. Some people can be such assholes.
    Glad that Todd is home and everything went well.
    Missed writing last weeks flash and reading everyone’s response. I have so much catching up to do, I only wish there were more hours in a day. This caregiving thing is exhausting as you know. It’s funny, the other day my mother in law says to me as I’m making her breakfast or lunch, or fetching her something, or filling her ice machine… “Are you not writing anymore?”
    All I said to her in a polite voice, of course, was, “For some reason, I don’t seem to have the time to write these days.”
    Today I’m up at 4:30 am to try and get some writing done. Hopefully, no one will interrupt me 🙂
    I’ll be back with a flash in a flash 🙂

    • Jules says:

      For several years before SIL moved to town… Tag I was it. Dr.s appointments… At the time Sat and Sun dinners – as her retirement community didn’t do them yet. And then she, too had a knee replacement… such joy. That including schlepping my own children where they needed to be and working part time. It does become a memory… You might wonder when. Take care of yourself too!

      • Thanks Jules. I’m having so much fun. HaHaHa 🙂

      • Jules says:

        I brought a book, or other small hobby, like crocheting to every appointment… Then and now I don’t have a smart phone. But also it’s good to get copies of everything medical wise, ask questions and write down answers.

        Elders don’t like being treated like children, but sometimes it has to be that way. Make sure that the Doc’s talk to the Elder to show respect though. No one likes feeling left out, even when they know they have issues.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha! Yes, Susan, some people are natural at being assholes. Oh, you are doing exactly what I am — healing meals to go with the meds, filling the ice machine, fetching, visiting, running errands. And I’m not the best caregiver. I spilled dinner on his lap the first night home, lol! I gave him frostbite, and the latest is that I might have accidentally thrown away his wallet. He’s hoping I get back to my writing! I hope your MIL is healing well, and that she knows what a good caregiver she has. The Hub appreciates my efforts. 😉

      • Sounds like Todd is getting around a bit better than my MIL but then again he’s a lot younger than her. I am getting exhausted though and will need a mini vacation soon. Want to go somewhere with me? I only wish.

  28. Wishing your husband and yourself health, wealth and happiness.

    I read calmkates response to your challenge and i thought i would visit your blog to see the challenge and the rules, may be one day i might take part . At the moment i only blog once a week but contemplating returning to twice a week..

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hi Bella! Thanks for stopping by Carrot Ranch, following calmkate here. If you’d like to join in you can simply submit a story using the form beneath the challenge. You don’t have to post it on your blog. I publish a collection weekly from the submissions. I find the practice of 99-words to be a gateway to creativity.

      • Thank you. Yes i certainly need to get creative. Will definately try. I just crazy busy this month hoping june life will return to a slower pace .

  29. […] week’s flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch is to write a short story or poem (in 99 words, no more, no less) using exhaustion as your […]

  30. […] is part 2 of my submission for this week’s flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch. In 99 words, no more, no less, write a short story using the prompt word […]

  31. Jennie says:

    Your preludes are always a joy to read, because I am ‘there’. Thank you for that! And another excellent flash fiction, too.

  32. Oh my goodness, Charli, do take time to take care of you, too! People can be so rude, questioning why someone would wear a specific shirt is ridiculous. I hope he’s married and his wife let him know what a jackass he is. Glad everything went well with the knee replacement. <3

  33. Liz H says:

    Because I’m feeling like this right now. Anybody else join me in this exhausted hope for best writing?


    She dropped her pen, hand cramping. Why had she defined success as the number of pages she filled?
    She’d been sure that using paper and pen would slow her thoughts, access a deeper, more creative part of her brain, that would result in less typing and less editing.
    [Continue ]

    • Jules says:

      I’ve heard that too…Pen in hand. But I think one can also be creative with a key board. Why the health profession (at least some I’ve read) frown on naps I don’t know. I need a good night – if I don’t get that sleep, I will take a nap!

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s a legit fatigue, Liz. And for napping, I like to get long distance reiki from Ruchira Khanna or use the Calm app power naps.

  34. Exodus

    “I know she’s old but just two days ago she was walking and talking and taking meals with us. You try talking to her.”
    “Come in child, sit. I’m old it’s true but I see and I hear. Come, talk with me but do not talk to me of getting out of bed, of eating food. I tell you, I am done.”
    “Why? Why are you giving up on life?”
    “I’ve seen enough. I’ve seen too much. When I was a child. And now in this country. At Passover no less. I’m tired of the hate. I’m exhausted.”

    • Jules says:

      I think I read those headlines… Too much violence. But we must keep the memories alive.

      I also try and read good news. I read a story about a Bar-Mitzvah boy who asked his guests to add to a go-fund-me page of a Cellist who was down on his luck. The go-fund-me page exceeded the minimum and now the Cellist has four different folks helping to manage and keep tabs on the bills and how to manage the money.

      • Charli Mills says:

        I like the good stories you seek out, Jules.

      • Jules says:

        One must keep faith somehow…
        The other day on a walk I took two bags with me. One for trash one for plastic/glass. Not much but a little sprucing up in my neighborhood. I read about a dog who likes to collect plastic bottles on the beach… I forget the name given to walking and collecting litter. Plodding?

    • Liz H says:

      I’m tired, too, Boss. Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other.
      It needed to stop along time ago. 🙁

    • Charli Mills says:

      Not the kind of bookends one would want for a life, seeing too much violence. Each breath we take, each choice to find joy, we choose something other than hate.

  35. Hi Charli, my observation and experience tell me that we don’t realized how exhausted we were all the years as long as there was a battle to fight. We kept going and going and going. Finally we came to a point where we could pause, that was when we allowed the exhaustion to surface.

    Yes, you came to a place where you could feel exhausted, yet you could pause and stop for a minute also. You’re have been fighting a long battle to get your hubby to this point. Now he got his foot into the system, got his new knee.

    You can now do something for yourself and celebrate the bright future. 🙂

    Here’s my story:

    Expedition by Miriam Hurdle

    It had been thirty-five days in the ocean desert. Their boat was beat up brutally. The sun was on their right, but the boat was drifting.
    “We have exhausted the food supply and fresh water.”
    “Such a pity we couldn’t pass Cape Town.”
    “We set out together and will end here together.”
    “Some of us could hang in a little longer.”
    “We’ll draw the lots to decide who goes first to sustain us.”
    “What? I’m throwing up.”
    “I’m in the same boat. Here are three straws in my fist.”
    “Wait! I spotted something.”
    “A bird.”
    “Ay, the land.”

  36. If Ya Try Sometimes Ya Git What Ya Kneed, D. Avery

    “Hey, Pal! Where’s Sho-mmmfff?”
    “Kid, I will remove my hand from yer big mouth if ya kin hush and jist whisper. Okay?”
    “Where’s shorty at?”
    “Shorty’s Cowboy finely got inta the sawbone’s. Done got a new knee.”
    “YEEEHmmmmf. Oopfff.”
    “Tellin’ ya Kid, ya wake Shorty up whilst she has a chance ta rest, I’ll more ‘an cover that mouth a yers.”
    “Ah’m whisperin’. Shouldn’t Shorty be celebratin’? This is good news at last.”
    “Ain’t really news, Kid, more like the happy endin’ to a long story a the frustrations a gittin’ ta here.”
    “Reckon Shorty’s exhausted.”
    “Now Shorty’s heppin’ her Cowboy git on his feet after the surgery.”
    “She’s some sweet on that Cowboy. An’ he let’s her wear his shirt.”
    “Don’t be givin’ Shorty shit over that shirt Kid.”
    “Who’d ever give Shorty shit over a shirt that her sweetie shared with her?”
    “Mebbe a shithead thet don’t know enough ta look where he’s steppin’.”
    “Reckon Shorty’s Cowboy’s gonna have ta learn ta walk right agin. Pal, with jist one good knee ain’t there a possibility he’ll end up walkin’ in circles?”
    “Reckon thet’ll make it less exhaustin’ fer Shorty ta track him.”

  37. […] Carrot Ranch April 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? […]

  38. Making Hay

    “Hey. I’ve got dinner warmed in the oven. You’ve been haying since before sun-up till after sunset. You must be exhausted.”

    “No, just tired.”

    “What’s the difference?”

    “Hmm. Well, this is good work that matters. It had to be done, especially with the rain forecast. Luciene helped us then I helped him. Our cows are provided for and our families. I’m a little sore and tired but it feels good. Especially coming into this kitchen seeing you, knowing our Hope’s asleep upstairs, safe and sound.”

    “Hmm. Are you too tired? For more good work?”

    “Not if we’re working together.”

    A second response, a counterpoint perhaps. See them here:

  39. Thanks for the opportunity Charli, this one came way too easy…

  40. Get some rest, Saint Charli. We all love you.

  41. Hi Charli
    Kudos to you!!

    And a fast healing for The Hub and plenty of rest & “soul food” for you!

    My FF is in.

  42. New Blood

    “Ya saw Ornery, Pal?”
    “Yep. Ornery was missin’ Wanda. Complainin’, actually, ‘bout how she useta complain ‘bout havin’ tired blood. Says, ‘Tired blood kin be fixed by cookin’ with cast iron and dang it I’m the one fixed eggs an’ bacon in a cast iron skillet ever dang mornin’ fer us both’. Ornery swears he never got tired blood. Course he fergits how after he fixed breakfast he jist sampled his corn products while Wanda grew an’ cut the corn, gathered the wood fer the still, cleaned the cabin an’ fixed the other meals.”
    “No wonder Wanda wandered.”
    This came, kind of a combo of last week’s and this week’s prompts. Ornery first showed up in the raven prompt, over a year ago.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha! Been fixin’ eggs, sausage, and fresh spinach in cast iron for the Hub every morning before the nurse visits. No tired blood here. Fun to see Wanda and Ornery wandered back into a flash.

  43. […] On April 28, 2019 By The Haunted WordsmithIn Fiction Carrot Ranch […]

  44. Leyda Bien says:

    I really felt the full spectrum of your pain, frustration and exhaustion in this post–and I’m so sorry that people like “that guy” show up. I wish you and your husband all the best, and will keep you in my prayers–if that’s okay 🙂

  45. […] I wrote this for the April 25th Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  46. Your resilience under so much pressure is a huge inspiration for all of us Charli. Chin up, and carpe diem! Here’s my entry for the week:

  47. Violet Lentz says:

    Hi Charli. Thank you for this very welcoming venue. Here is my entry for the week. Hope your energy levels are restored and life is providing you with yet another tale to tell..

  48. Vashti Q says:

    I have yet to understand why some men react the way they do about a woman’s place. Women have accomplished so much through the years and yet there are jerks like this still around. There are trolls online waiting in the digital shadows for a chance to be mean to other people. Why? What do they get from it? I honestly don’t get it. Anyway, it’s a shame you had to go through all of that, Charli, especially with everything on your plate. Wishing your husband a quick recovery with his knee. Being a caregiver is incredibly difficult. I watched my mom go through it with my dad. You need to take time for yourself, mental breaks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help either, it’s too difficult to do it all on your own.

    • Charli Mills says:

      And some women don’t want to be shown their place! Vashti, I don’t understand the power play, either. It makes me even more determined to produce a book that focuses on the women in their husband’s shirts. I’m not a great caregiver. A fierce advocate for him, yes. We are having some tired laughs and I think he’s relieved to be more independent already. I asked my neighbors to visit him and some friends to bring over ice while I took an afternoon break. Thank you!

  49. susansleggs says:

    Charli, How exciting about the house on Roberts Street. Only you would have rooms for free. I admire how you are always giving back. I’m so glad Todd’s surgery is over and you have him home where he is understood and even more, that it went so well. Vashti Q. (above) put my thoughts into words. I couldn’t write about the being too tired kind of exhaustion because each idea was BOTS and very dark. May you come out reenergized and sunny when you’ve had enough sleep. And wear that shirt proudly…On to the prompt…..

    Bonding Via Fabric
    Lillian leaned on her cane and perused the only two shelves of fabric she had left. She needed four complimentary ones to make the project she had in mind. After trying many combinations she exhausted her options so limped to her chair and eased herself into the worn seat. After a little nap, she called her granddaughter. “Would you have time to take me shopping.”
    “I can on Friday.”
    When they returned from their excursion, Sally said, “My youngest starts school in September. Could we schedule time to sew together?”
    Lillian’s misty eyed response was, “Of course my dear.”

    • From empty to filled, shelves and more restocked. Nice.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Susan, I find it enriching to be around other creatives, especially writers. I have a vision for two of the rooms upstairs. One will be painted lilac and your unicorn wall quilt will feature! Just as you make quilts to gift to others, I’ll create writing space to give. The other room will be a ranch theme. And thar be krakens in the bathroom! It’s fun to think about it coming together, the possibility of home, again. I’m feeling more energized, especially now that we’ve both had a full night’s sleep.

      Your flash hints at the fulfillment we find in sharing our gifts with others, such as our skills to pass on. Time together is precious.

  50. […] Carrot Ranch April 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes […]

  51. I didn’t see the pingback. I know WP has been having problems with them. Here’s my take 🙂

  52. […] Dedicated to Charli, for this week’s prompt at Carrot Ranch. […]

  53. Sneha Ganesh says:

    Here’s mine for this week-
    Do let me know how you found it!
    Happy reading!

  54. […] This was written in response to this week’s carrot ranch prompt […]

  55. […] had my idea for Carrot Ranch’s 99 word flash fiction topic right away but couldn’t quite get it right. I tried four […]

  56. Exhausted 24/7/365
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    “You’re exhausted?” Hanna’s voice reflected her disgust.

    Tal lay stretched out in the shade next to the hay bales. His hat covering his face so he didn’t have to see the look in Hanna’s eyes. He knew what was coming next. She was right, but it still didn’t make it any easier to watch her work as hard as everyone else. She shouldn’t have to. She was a woman, but he would never tell her that.

    “You’d think by now you would have learned that ranching is 24/7/365. It doesn’t stop just because you think you’re exhausted!”

  57. Prior... says:

    whoa – that is a crazy story (not surprising – but shows how society – or people – can really react a bit rash and with bias).

    And Charli – this sums it up well….
    “Had he taken time to read my author bio he would have at least understood that I’m…”

    yup – he didn’t read jack and jumped to biased conclusions.

    Oh and saying a prayer for hubs’ full recovery and for you all as the next phase unfolds.

  58. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes exhaustion. Who is exhausted and why? Can… […]

  59. […] Prompt: April 25: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  60. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with all things social media. It can really be a swamp. Head held high, lady. 🙂
    Hope hubby is doing well.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I plugged my nose and got by the toothless alligator of the twitter swamp! The Hub is on the mend! One night of good sleep. We’ll see if we can repeat that.

  61. […] Sunday, April 28: Re-blogged Frank Prem‘s fantastic “(what if I hear them) whistle and cry.” And posted “The Author of a Long Night,” to Charli, hostess at Carrot Ranch. […]

  62. Oh, what a time you had, Charli! In the midst of so much going on with Hubs, you had to deal with a shirt-show! You did a great job keeping everything in perspective, and I’m happy to read that my fellow nurses treated you and your husband with respect.

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