May 9: 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.

May 10, 2019

Soon, I’ll be another year older. I don’t really think of birthdays in terms of age; I’m more excited about cake and the possibility of a champagne sunset on Calumet Waterworks Beach. The 1.2 billion-year-old rocks interest me more than contemplating my meager years. I’m a mayfly in comparison to a Lake Superior agate. Why waste life worrying about growing older?

On Wednesday, I attended One Million Cups and listened to an eighty-something gerontologist talk about her experiences of growing older. Before she reached a high number of decades, she studied the aging process. According to definition, gerontology is the study of the social, cultural, psychological, cognitive, and biological aspects of aging. This woman educates readers on what to expect during the natural aging process. And I’ll give you a hint — aging is not a sickness.

Writer, Jolayne Farrell, answers questions at her popular blog, On Growing Older just as she did for decades in her newspaper column. When she told her story, I picked out many instances of her willingness to take risks. She talked about discomfort and uncertainty, but she also lit up at the idea of pursuing passions. In fact, she passed out her business card attached to a colorful blank card with a red circle she called a life-saver. She invited us to write down our dreams and keep that card with us at all times.

We might not be spared growing older, but our life-saver will keep us alive.

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Gabriel García Márquez:

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

Jolayne shared with us her travels, work as a hospice nurse, and pursuit of what drives her own passions. She mentioned visiting other octogenarians in their mining homes (on the Keweenaw) surrounded by their memories. This made me realize how static we often try to make life. Do we think we can slow down the slippage of sand through the hourglass? I’m certain I don’t want my end-goal to be safe-guarding memorabilia.

My first year on the Keweenaw, I had a transformative experience at an estate sale. After the final owner of a home dies, a company comes in, working with the family, to clean out and sell the household items. I overheard a conversation at a sale — an elderly woman pined over a vintage set of glassware, commenting that they were “just like hers.” The woman’s daughter responded that they had downsized her belongings and she certainly was not going to get more “stuff.”

My heart ached. In part, I understood the daughter’s frustration. Likely, mom was living in assisted living or with family. She didn’t have the comfort of her old home surrounded by her memories. I felt the pining in contrast to the burden stuff can also bring.

When my best friend’s father died, and her mother went into a memory care facility, I helped my friend pack up her parents’ house. It was a painful experience, although we had plenty to laugh about (like all the teeth and hoard of toiletries we found in the bathroom). Sadly my friend died untimely of cancer. Is death ever timely?

Her children then had to sort through their mom’s and grandparents’ stuff. They were grieved and overwhelmed.

Yet, I felt for the elderly woman longing for her glassware. Sense of home stems from stuff surrounding us. I collect stories — books, rocks, and even broken glass. Other people gather family mementos or tools. One generation passes down glassware to the next. But not everyone wants great-grandma’s china. I have my great-grandmother’s recipes which I fashion into stories and serve along with the sopas or enchiladas. Yet both find connection to the past.

My imagination surges out west where the pining pictures pioneers unloading treasured household stuff to abandon glassware, dishes, and hutches along the Forty Mile Desert Trail across northern Nevada. The woman I briefly encountered at the state sale becomes one I imagine standing beside the wagon, gripping her apron as her husband deposits everything of hers deemed unessential on the blowing sand. The oxen stagger, needing water and hay. The children must walk in the sun, and they continue on, hoping the beasts don’t die to add their bleached bones to others. Once this woman makes it to Ragtown, did she dream of going back? In California, was she never satisfied, longing for her desert glassware?

Often, pioneers only had what they could take to remember home. Many would not see family again, and losing stuff adds to the sense of isolation. If you only had room for a few things, would you save a glass? Could you deposit your belongings in the desert if it meant your safe passage? Would you miss it years later?

I once saw a t-shirt that read, “Growing older is not for sissies.” It takes courage to balance what to take and what to leave behind; what to remember and what yet to experience. All the while we lose or sprout hair, find our posture slacking or our feet tapping out of sync. Did you know that a woman can experience hot flashes in her teeth? Yeah, no one told me that one, either. Digestions change and senses diminish. It’s the kind of transformation that signals the reality of change. Children grow up, waists expand, stuff matters more or less.

But Jolayne’s message was about embracing life. Not life at 20 or life at 50. But life. Life as it presents itself at the moment. Each day we ask, how will I live my best today?

The creative life is every day. It’s not when it’s now. On May 14, my middlest child turns 29, and a week later I’ll turn 52. It’s a middle of the spectrum age — it sounds young to some and old to others. It’s a number I can’t feel. I’m me, no matter what shifts. I have a robust imagination that sees beyond the day-to-day. Waly Disney said, “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”

So dream.

May 9, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing older. It can be humorous, dark or poignant. It can be true or total fiction. It can be fine wine or an old fossil. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 14, 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.

 

Old Bones (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“That bone is heavy as iron,” Ramona said, picking up a fossil from Danni’s workbench. Ramona no longer recognized the bone or knew its story. Nothing seemed familiar these days.

Ike put his arm around Ramona, grinning. “It’s old as you, Gran’ma.”

Danni was brushing glass shards, musing over what they might tell her about 19th century occupancy near her garden. She paused. “Ike, you know that’s a dinosaur bone.”

Ramona winked. “Well, if bones get heavier with age then that explains the numbers on the bathroom scale.”

Danni laughed. At least Ramona hadn’t forgotten her sense of humor.

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211 Comments

  1. denmaniacs4

    A Couple of Old Farts Flatulatin’

    “Then there was that fella…”

    “What fella, Whit?”

    “Ya know, Stewie…that European fella. It was on the news. Went to court. Changed his birth year. Made hisself twenty years younger.”

    “Ya can do that?”

    “Yup. Over there in Europe, you’re only as old as your paperwork.”

    “Ain’t that a wonder. Might give it a try, myself. Wouldn’t mind gettin’ an extra twenty years.”

    “Don’t quite work that way, Stewie. Yeah, you’re twenty years younger on paper…but nothin’s really changed. You’re still as old as you’ve always been.”

    “That don’t seem fair.”

    “Life’s chock full of weird wrinkles, ain’t it.”

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Ha, if only changing the paperwork had the desired effect on the mind and body! Great flash.

      • denmaniacs4

        A paper thin concept…thank you…

    • Charli Mills

      Great title, Bill! It’s as if your pen had been waiting for this prompt. You write with gusto from a life full of weird wrinkles.

      • denmaniacs4

        Not only my pen, Charli. My whole, and incredibly long (by some standards), life prepared me for your prompt…everything just fell into place…like time has a way of doing…

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! I hope you have more moments like this where a long-lived life fuels more words on the pages.

    • Susan Zutautas

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if changing it on paper made us 20 years younger looking 🙂 Great flash!

      • denmaniacs4

        Thank you, Susan…

    • Norah

      If only … Love this idea. 🙂 Trouble is, I’d look much older than my age.

    • Jules

      I’ve taken some of those – this is how old you are if you act like this… quizzes. Most often I think I’m just where I should be.

      I like that title! I once watch an Oprah show where she had a famous Doc on… said that passing gas is a very natural occurrence. But it may be that some perfume the air a bit thicker than others.

    • robertawrites235681907

      It would be nice if we had Mr Wonka’s pills that made us 20 years younger but with the same life experience. Great flash.

    • Norah

      Interesting poem, Joanne. Birthdays are often occasions for contemplating where we are and where we’re going.

    • Charli Mills

      A wonderful fit! The mall scene is one that seems to be fading as the malls I used to go to are being demolished (how’s that for making a person feel older?).

    • robertawrites235681907

      Interesting thoughts, Joanne. Having children is a job but life partners often don’t turn out as expected.

      • joanne the geek

        No but day to day realities of life shouldn’t stop us from yearning for something better.

        My niece in the poem was to contrast new life with the previous generation which is starting to age. She has her whole life ahead of her, while my sister and I are are ahead of her but still working out where we fit in,

  2. calmkate

    I’m growing old disgustingly and invite you all to join me!
    Let’s face it the alternative is worse …
    my creative juices are flowing over my chin, dipping south like everything else 🙁

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      A bib will catch those creative juices, Kate, although I’m sure you’ve found something better!

      • calmkate

        oh that’s a bit low Anne … and how about the rest of the body bits heading south …

    • Norah

      Congratulations on growing old disgustingly. Not everyone gets to do it!

      • calmkate

        exactly my point!

      • Norah

        🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I will happily join you in this disgusting venture, Kate! South is definitely the direction! 😀

      • calmkate

        lol that’s coz all the good people live there Charli … except you and Jules and D. and …

      • Charli Mills

        I definitely plan to visit all the good ones!

    • Norah

      I’m with Grandma! Wait! I am grandma. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! Grandmas who appreciate the improvements!

      • Norah

        Hehehe.

  3. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Happy almost-birthday Charli! I’ve been sixty for a few months which does feel like the beginning of old age, and there are reminders in small bits of officialdom, not necessarily in a bad way, such as automatic free prescriptions. But being lucky in my health and circumstances right now, age for me is something to celebrate.

    As a hanging-onto-things person, I could understand that woman longing for her glassware. And the abandonment of household possessions was one of the things that really stood out to me in the novels I’ve read recently about the Pioneer Trail.

    Aching teeth with hot flushes? Not had that but it does happen to me with heartburn – always seems strange.

    I love your flash – Ramona is so lucky to have people who will do her remembering for her. I’ll be back with mine in due course. It’s a far more cheerful prompt than sisi!

      • Norah

        Great flash, Anne. I think many would agree with its message. Interesting post too, but even better is the short story to which you link.

    • Jules

      Too often rules of inheritance make no sense. My hubby worked for a company that gave the eldest the reigns… and that child was the company’s down fall. Rule were meant to be broken. I enjoyed your flash!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Thanks, Jules. I think inheritance is weird even when it works. Family businesses can be a nightmare to work for, all the usual management troubles exaggerated by family tensions / sibling rivalries.

      • Jules

        Yes, the siblings aren’t the only ones who contest wills… Even the wills that have been so carefully and plainly laid out. Never mind the government wanting to take a share in Death Taxes. One has already paid so much when living why be double tapped?

        One seems to think of putting off planning an exit. But after seeing so much grief (with and without plans…) having a will and a plan seem a good thing to at least attempt.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        I actually have no objection to death duties/tax, unless the deceased has dependents, in which case I believe they’re usually waived. But I agree, it’s something we don’t plan well for as there’s a powerful motivation to put it out of mind.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Anne! The other day, I was helping some friends clean the apartment of a veteran who recently died. His almost-90 sister was there and sat in his chair and directed. My friends vary in age between mid-50s to mid-60s. I was feeling rather spry until the 20-somethings showed up! But there can be perks, too.

      I used to think that all the old things I found were abandoned. I suppose, in varying degrees, they were. Perhaps with attachment. Maybe that’s what gets me thinking about who was the last person to use this old broken bit of china? Who left this wagon parked along the horse barn and who once lived at this dilapidated ranch? I think women struggled most to leave belongings behind on the trail.

      Yes! I feel a flash (flush) rise and it hits my teeth, not painfully, but noticeably. Maybe it’s just me and that’s why I haven’t heard of such a thing! I’ve changed my mix of herbs and supplements and that is helping. I’m growing some herbs and intend to have a wise woman garden.

      Your flash fiction about a wife who has the capacity to remember for them both has long stuck with me. Even before I knew of my Hub’s condition.

      I’ll comment on your flash and thought-provoking over at your place!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Yes, people can be attached to things and through them we can learn about the person. I love the way you do that.
        I’m honoured that you still remember that FF. I wonder if you had some unconscious inkling that might be looming for you. But maybe an anxiety for all of us lucky enough to have shared our lives with a partner. Hope there are plenty to hold your hand when it comes.

  4. floridaborne

    Writing is my life saver. I’ll be 69 soon and inside I feel much younger. Wish my mother would stop looking back at me in the mirror. 🙂

    In many ways, these are the best years of my life. More experiences to write about, I can go into a store without some guy leering at me, and the things you can get away with saying when you’re older!

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      So agree, being older is so much more liberating, though very weird turning into our mothers.

    • Norah

      I agree with the mother bit, though sadly, I think I look more like my father (don’t tell Hub that!)

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Ha, my eyebrows are heading towards mimicking my father’s already.

      • Norah

        At least it’s the eyebrows and not the beard. 🙂

      • Norah

        Worry doesn’t stop anything so no point in it. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Great benefits of growing older, Joelle! My mother does not look back at me — I keep seeing my great grandma Kincaid, wondering, when the heck did that happen? Is it like babies and toddlers? One week they look like mom, the next like dad?

      And as far as eyebrows, I think mine are DNA evidence of my Scots heritage. The nose I grant to the Basque, the wild brows to my highland kin. What a fearsome mix in the cauldron of aging. 😀

      • floridaborne

        Ears and noses keep growing. After a while, it’s hard to tell what we once looked like.

  5. explorereikiworld

    Happy Birthday in advance,Charli. I too love birthdays for the cake and to be able to wear that birthday cap and act silly 🙂 Age is just a number for me, and golly! you don’t look a year older than 40!! Although on a serious note…I wish you the best cause only good people deserve it xoxo

    My contribution to the flash: https://abracabadra.blogspot.com/2019/05/a-year-old.html

    • Susan Zutautas

      I’m still laughing 🙂

    • Norah

      I love it! I won’t give away the secret but will just say I enjoyed it. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Aw, thank you, Ruchira! It’s young for the soul to act silly and eat cake. 😀 I have a plastic tiara I wear, too. I think birthdays also give us an excuse to celebrate life and accept the best. Maybe we should live as if every day is our birthday! Thanks for your fun flash!

  6. Pete

    The boy sat against a tree, watching the tall grass in the field. The sky held a few clouds overhead, clouds in no hurry to do anything but laze in the blue. A soft breeze, a whisper between leaves, scurried through the stalks without order or sequence, weaving and bending and—

    “Boy, what are you doing?”

    The boy stood, eyes down, face flushed. “Nothing.”

    “Nothing, huh? Must be nice. When you get older you won’t have time to watch the grass grow.”

    The boy took one last look back, at the dancing grass, and promised to never grow old.

    • Susan Zutautas

      Now there’s something I haven’t heard in a while. time to watch the grass grow.

    • Norah

      Yay! I like his choice.

    • Charli Mills

      Ahhh, yes! Stay young forever, and watch the wonders unfold. I love this one, Pete!

      • Pete

        Thanks, Charli! They quit mowing the fields at the campus where I work and I was out on my lunch break walk watching the wind blow through the grass, then I saw your prompt and it fit.

  7. Jules

    Charli,

    One side of our family more or less stops celebrating birthdays after one turns 18. Kind of a bummer. I think I’d still like a card or two. But hey I think of everyday as a gift so it really doesn’t bother me all that much.

    I like Ramona. Humor is everything! And I truly think humor helps to keep us young. 😉 I went partly fiction partly BoTS with my entry. Maybe a new word for some? It was for me… senescent.

    Senescent Sighs

    Only once did Aubrey feel the terror of aging. It was when she, as the second child was going to have her own second child. Because it was when she was about two years old her own mother died. Those two years of her second child went by quicker than she thought. Bountiful happy memories were added to her life.

    Without warning her second child became engaged. Where did the time go? The saddest thing though, to her was that child’s choice to be childless. We can only live our own lives and remember all the happiness we have.

    ©JP/dh

    • Susan Zutautas

      Very nice Jules!

    • Charli Mills

      Jules, it almost seems like a harsh coming of age to say one’s birthday is no longer worth celebrating. I’m all about the celebrating, nothing fancy, just a day for specialness — cake, definitely. Also hearing good wishes from others. Free dinner out (we have several restaurants that offer a free birthday meal). I’ve enjoyed my birthdays more as an adult than as a child. They don’t end at 18! <3

      Hmm, what if we started a birthday club at the ranch? That would be fun to send cards out, especially with our far-flung ranchers.

      Yes! A new word. Interesting way in which you used it, too.

      • Jules

        I would gladly send postcards or cards to anyone who wanted them – any day of the year. Though some might not like their address public. I have a PO Box, but not all do – since at one time I had a few pen pals… To have a safe place to share them (the addresses)- maybe a password protected page only for those willing to share their own address – with the respect due to not making public that which should be private?

        A birthday club does sound nice. But again – only for those who be willing to share their day and month – as the year is more or less immaterial. 😉

        I agree that Birthdays don’t end at 18 – but you can’t make another person make your day special if they don’t believe in the concept.

        Sometimes there’s cake if the timing is right. Just one family’s traditions…

  8. Ann Edall Robson

    This prompt made me think about one of the man of the house, and one of his favourite saying

    Older . . . Wiser
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Tal and Hanna watched the leathery, old cowboy walk slowly to the middle of the corral and stop. It wasn’t long before the curious young horse moved towards him, neck outstretched, sniffing. The man never moved, his voice barely audible. Each day was the same with little additions introduced to the routine.

    Over coffee one morning, Tal questioned the cowboy’s tactics.

    “Why didn’t you just rope that colt and show him who was boss right from the get go?”

    A lazy smile creased the cowboy’s face.

    “Son, there’s no use getting any older if you don’t get any wiser.”

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/older-wiser

    • denmaniacs4

      Lovely parable, Ann. Every day, I find myself juggling age and wisdom. I rarely drop the age pin. The wisdom one keeps slipping out of my hand. I’ll keep trying, though. No matter how you look at age, time keeps expecting you to pony up…

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Aging is a gift that comes with the wisdom of trial, error and ultimate learning.

    • Norah

      That’s true, Ann. You’ve shown it well.

    • Charli Mills

      Older cowboys often carry the aches of rash and youthful mistakes. And horses can be wonderful teachers. We humans are never boss. But if we are lucky, partners. Love that you could use this bit of wisdom, Ann!

  9. pensitivity101

    Hi Charli,
    Here’s my contribution

    Young at Heart

    Neil looked in the mirror, wondering who the old man was looking back at him.
    He pulled his cheeks in, brushed his teeth then put them in his mouth, changing the shape of his lips. He smiled, a gleaming cosmetic whiteness in a rugged face.
    It was an old face, accompanied by old joints.
    Old age was a bind.
    He could no longer do what he used to, or if he did, it took longer or he forgot half way through the task.
    He flicked on the radio and Ol’ Blue Eyes sang out Young at Heart.
    Yeah, right.

    • Norah

      Some things about getting older aren’t much fun, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

      • pensitivity101

        Hubby and I try to forget we’re in our 60s now, and act our shoe size, even if we are a bit stiff in our joints!

      • Norah

        Hehehe. We’ve got young ones who like to remind us!

      • pensitivity101

        Just us and the dog, and she’s keeping quiet!

    • susansleggs

      I haven’t seen your name before Paula. Welcome to the Ranch. Good response to the prompt.

      • Paula Light

        Thank you!

    • Norah

      I totally agree, Paula. None of us know how or when, we must make the most of every day we’ve got.

      • Paula Light

        So true…

    • Jules

      Very wise words. And a hardy Welcome!

      • Paula Light

        Thanks!

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, a good angle on the prompt, Paula!

      • Paula Light

        Thanks ????

    • Pete

      Love it!

      • Paula Light

        Thanks!

    • Norah

      Great story. Getting old isn’t all bad. 🙂

      • Ritu

        Many an older person I have seem, having great fun!

    • Jules

      Natural things occur. I remember reading somewhere that in the old south that when a woman said she was having an attack of ‘The Vapors’ and needed to leave the room in her hooped skirts hiding behind her lacy fans… that what she really needed to do was to ‘fart’!

      • Ritu

        Brilliant!!! ??

      • Charli Mills

        Seriously, Jules? Ha! Now I know what “the vapors” means!

      • Jules

        When I look up ‘what does it mean to have the vapors’ something else comes up… but I know I read the definition of passing gas… somewhere.
        However I also found this: Having the Vapors; That’s an old-fashioned feminine way to say that you feel faint. Or are over-heated. Or weak-feeling. Usually it was done with the woman fanning herself and having to sit down.”

      • Jules

        Oh…here this is more along the lines of what I was thinking…” It was explained to me by a woman from the American South that the vapors means internal gas.

        Starting in the Antebellum South, southern belles wore corsets. This made for an internal issue like gas all the more uncomfortable and potentially dizzying, to the point of being overcome by it; especially when being forced to control it, under those circumstances.”

    • Charli Mills

      That was a root-tooting fun flash, Ritu!

      • Ritu

        Glad you enjoyed Charli ??

    • Norah

      I agree. It’s all too quick. Well told.

      • Jewel Ingalls

        Thank you, Norah!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Jewel! Lovely flash!

  10. Kerry E.B. Black

    I hope yours is a happy, joyous birthday with a delicious cake, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Kerry! I taste-tested a small Mother’s Day cake from Roys. 🙂

      • Kerry E.B. Black

        That sounds delectable!

  11. dgkaye

    Beautiful post Charli. So you are on the cusp of Gemini? My birthday is 2 weeks after yours and I’ve been trying to digest it for some time now, lol. This post was timely, thank you. Happy almost birthday. <3

    • Norah

      Then I must be about two weeks after you, Debby – another Gemini. 🙂

      • dgkaye

        Woohoo! So much energy in the room! LOL 😉 xx

      • Norah

        Exactly! And all of it good. 🙂

      • dgkaye

        Absolutely! 🙂 x

      • Norah

        🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you! Between the three of us, there are six of us! 😀 Yes, Debby, I’m right on the cusp — a bullheaded twin. I think of you are one of those effervescent souls who only grow more vibrant with passing time. Happy Twin birthdays to you and Norah!

      • dgkaye

        Lol, you are too kind. Definitely 6 of us! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Your story is progressing nicely, Joanne!

    • susansleggs

      I haven’t seen your name before. Welcome to the Ranch. Nice reply to the prompt.

    • Jules

      Lovely message… And welcome!

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you, Kalpana! Thanks for your story!

  12. reading journeys

    Hi Charli
    A wonderful post — reflections about life itself : in your blog and also the FF already posted. Thanks!

    2 favorite quotes by Mark Twain, particularly the “hope tree”

    “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
    and
    “Lord save us all from old age and broken health and a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms. ”

    Thinking over ideas for the FF
    Saifun

    • Charli Mills

      Saifun, I’m a big Mark Twain fan and yet that hope tree quote is new to me. I love it! He was full of insight, inspiration and calling out truths. Have you ever read his War Prayer? I’ve visited his old office in Virginia City, Nevada where he wrote as a young journalist. Tourists go there for the recreated gunfights and Bucket of Blood Saloon: I go to pay homage to Samuel Clemens. Thank you!

      • reading journeys

        Glad to share what I read. I also keep finding new quotes and new perspectives in Mark Twain’s writings.

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch!

  13. Susan Zutautas

    Love the attitude on aging. Had to laugh at your flash fiction, Charli.
    I’ll be back shortly with my flash fictions.

    • Charli Mills

      We gotta embrace it, right? Thanks for sharing a laugh!

    • Charli Mills

      You’ve been busy, Susan! 🙂

      • Susan Zutautas

        Got a little carried away one day 🙂

    • Norah

      A gorgeous piece of writing and a great philosophy.

      • Dorinda Duclos

        Thank you very much! 🙂

      • Norah

        You’re welcome.

    • Charli Mills

      They are working, just a buckaroo delay!

      • Dorinda Duclos

        Haha Okay!! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Sometimes I forget to let the chickens out of the henhouse! 😀

    • Liz H

      Viagra-shmiagra…the written word is the true aphrodisiac! 😉

      • Michael

        Yes I think so too

    • Norah

      Hehehe. You’re never too old for love.

      • Michael

        So true.

    • Charli Mills

      Well done, Michael!

      • Michael

        Thanks Charli

  14. Norah

    An interesting reflection on what’s important in life, Charli. I agree with your suggestion of living our best each day but would add: even when it’s not how we wished it might be. Disney’s quote is wonderful too and a great reminder to live joyously, looking up and forward rather than back and down.
    I love the repartee between the three in your flash. It’s so sad when humour is lost. Even when memory fails, humour connects hearts.
    Thinking about age reminds me of something I read somewhere: You’re only as young or old as the man or woman you feel, and I haven’t been felt in a long while. 🙂
    I think our attitude to age changes as we age. As children, we think anyone over 18 is old. We gradually add on a few more years until, if we’re lucky, we realise that no one is really old. We’re all still young inside (unless we’ve grown old on the inside). I used to wonder at my old aunts (younger than I am now!) saying they still felt 20 inside. I couldn’t see how it was possible. Now I know.
    I read your prompt when the post popped into my inbox on Friday and had been contemplating how I might respond if time allows. Now, having read your post, I’m less sure of where it might lead and, since it is now Sunday evening, less sure if I’ll be able to make the time again this week. I’ll see how I go and am hoping that things settle down for me shortly.

    • Norah

      Hi Charli,
      Here is my story:

      Great-Grandmama’s Teeth

      The sound like freight trains roaring through a tunnel assured Billy Great-Grandmama was asleep. He turned the doorknob ever so slowly, pushed the door gently and slipped into the darkened room. A chink of light bounced off the glass at the bedside. He daren’t breathe as he tiptoed over. Three quick whistles and he froze. The cavern with wibbly wobbly edges stretched wide. Would she wake? No, but better be quick. He lowered his fingers into the glass and withdrew his prize. All that was left was to fool the fairies and he’d buy his Mum that birthday cake.

      And the link: https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-1nt

      • Jules

        Oh… how many children have thought to pull their own teeth much less… borrow others! A fun read 🙂

      • Norah

        Thanks, Jules. There are only so many teeth in a small child’s mouth …

      • Susan Zutautas

        Norah, What a smart and imaginative boy Billy is 🙂

      • Norah

        Thank you, Susan. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Norah, I feel like we are two ships passing in the night, catching glimpses as the other goes over the horizon! I’m hoping your schedule will lead to good things. I’m off my schedule but hoping this is the last big transition for a while. I need a period of stay-put-ness in my life!

      Yes, I agree that humor connects hearts. I shared a laugh with my daughter over her dad making us all spaghetti tonight. The SIL requested gluten-free pasta and it nearly did the Hub in, trying to manage it. I wanted to cry, that spaghetti has become so difficult, but beyond his momentary fluster, he doesn’t notice the difference. So, I was cleaning up the kitchen, telling my daughter it looked like World War Spaghetti occurred. She cracked a joke that Dad in the kitchen has become like the poem he used to read to them when they were little called “When Father Carves the Duck.” We laughed. I later shared the humor with him and he chuckled, too. Humor can soften us and stave off negative thoughts and feelings.

      Oh, I’m with you on understanding what your aunts told you about feeling 20 inside! You’re right about our attitudes evolving as we age. Old doesn’t seem as old once we get to some of those milestones.

      Thank you for making time to play! I love this image of Billy nabbing dentures to fool the tooth fairy. Even sweeter that he wants to buy his mum a birthday cake.

      • Norah

        I agree, Charli. I’m looking forward to a luxurious chat sometime soon.
        I love the spaghetti story. We have similar food issues in our family with many won’t and can’t eats. It’s so different from when I was growing up. If we didn’t eat what was on our plate, we went to bed hungry. I don’t know the poem “When Father Carves the Duck”. I must Google it. On Sunday nights, Mum would often say in response to the question, “What are we having for dinner?” “Bread and duck under the table.” Sometimes it was true. There was bread and not much more. But never under the table. 🙂
        I’m pleased you enjoyed Billy’s story. It didn’t turn out quite how I imagined it at first. The 99 word limit always clips the wings of my imagination. Hopefully it makes for a tighter story though. 🙂
        Have a wonderful weekend. I hope you are settled soon.

  15. Liz H

    Here’s mine, bittersweet where it becomes real. Hope it pleases!

    Runner

    Sophie gazed down the long oaken table, half-light of a dozen candle sticks melted to shining copper holder. She squinted to blur the face drooping at table’s end.
    [Continue ]

    • susansleggs

      Readjusting one’s dreams. Often difficult but necessary. Well done.

      • Liz H

        Thanks, Susan!

    • Norah

      Life is not always what we expect.

    • Jules

      After just seeing Camelot… staged. You have reminded me of the one song that Lady Guinevere sings that she wants beaus to fight for her maidenhood… and then in the end…actually sadly gets what she wanted.

    • Charli Mills

      Bittersweet, indeed, Liz. When women were chattel for status and compacts, a girl’s dreams mattered to none.

    • Charli Mills

      A fun flash, Net!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s never too late! Thanks for your story, Bladud!

      • Bladud Fleas

        Thanks, Charli.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Nicole! I’ll be careful who I invite!

  16. Violet Lentz

    With my 58th birthday approaching next month, this is a subject I can really relate to Charli. Thank you for the opportunity to share a character that learned one of life’s most important lessons at an advanced age but never the less, before it was too late.

    My offering this week combines the prompt: Sisu from last week in a sobering story about aging. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to share.

    https://violetslentz.home.blog/2019/05/13/ada/

    • Charli Mills

      Are you a Gemini, as well, Violet? The numbers start to seem bigger, but a new decade brings a sense of renewal…so far! Thank you for taking the opportunity to share your character.

  17. susansleggs

    Hi Charli, Many years ago I had an octogenarian say to me, “Thank you for talking to me. I may look old but I still think the same as any adult.” It was a lesson to give my elders a bit of my time. Now I understand her comment better as my thoughts are still young though the body has done it’s fair share of aging. I love your presenters idea, “keep living to keep living.” Hope your birthday is a happy, fun one. On to the prompt……..

    On Aging

    When I dream I am younger, energetic, and always thinner. There is excitement, intrigue, people I don’t recognize and fascinating cartoonlike experiences. There are animals, unlikely pets, a tiger on my bed, horses waiting at the window for an apple. I travel to exotic places, by sailboat, with a dark haired sexy partner. I go back to laughing about life’s entanglements and mistakes don’t happen. There is no pain, no memory loss, no pills to take, no hurt feelings, and no guilt for bad decisions. Then I awake. I am old and infirm, but still happy to be alive.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Susan, and thanks — I’m plotting birthday lunch and dinner out in addition to cake. When I was a child, I used to love to visit the old-timers. Shut-ins, we would call them today. They were so full of stories, and information! It never occurred to me not to think of them as adults. They had led such full lives and gained status (in my eyes) as elder storytellers. But I understand better now, the discrepancy between how we feel and look. Your flash is on point! And as fiction writers, we get to extend the dream onto the page.

  18. pedometergeek

    Hands Across the Years

    An early memory of Mom was of her wearing a yellow, full-skirted seersucker dress to the zoo on a bright June day. Her dress rivaled the sun and epitomized a young mother full of energy. I was only five at the time.

    Time aged us both, and suddenly, I was a mother myself. Visits to my parents brought both delight and sadness as I noticed her worsening rheumatoid arthritis. Her hands became more gnarled and disfigured through the years.

    Now, I look at my own hands for signs of aging and wonder what my sons see when we visit.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    • Susan Zutautas

      I often think the same thing with my sons. Great Flash!

    • Charli Mills

      Such a beautiful transition from what she sees of her mother to wondering what her sons see. I hope they each carry a memory with them as their mother holds of her mom.

  19. Susan Zutautas

    Hmm not sure what’s going on but just wanted to let you know Charli, that I left 3 links here and today I noticed they’re gone. Any ideas?

    • Susan Zutautas

      Sorry about that I see them now. It’s been a long 3 weeks.

    • Charli Mills

      Those were my delays in getting the pingbacks through. They bottleneck if I’m not attentive. I wasn’t attentive this week.

      Hasn’t it? Susan, I hope you are getting some rest. My patient is getting hard to keep down.

      • Susan Zutautas

        MIL has graduated to theraphy twice weekly now. She keeps improving each day which makes me very happy 🙂

  20. Deborah Lee

    What a wonderful post! I resonate in all sorts of ways. When hubs and I moved to Washington, we were in a hurry, moving into a small apartment from a 4-bedroom house, and left a huge amount of things in storage in Nevada. We’ve not been able to pull off a bigger house and I still miss my “stuff.” And feel guilty about it, because none of it is “necessary” (although I’ll argue about the book collection), but the things we surround ourselves with really CAN make it home. But on the other hand, at 57 I am seriously experimenting with finally letting my gray come in. I see it now as a badge of honor, something you have to EARN, and so many lovely women rock their gray.

    https://99monkeysblog.wordpress.com/2019/05/13/aging-out-jane-doe-flash-fiction/

    • Jules

      I’ve never worried about my silver and white strands…
      Always thought I earned each and every one – just like my laugh lines 🙂

      Glad I don’t have to deal with the job market anymore…

    • Susan Zutautas

      I had someone say to me, Oh I love your streaks, when did you do that?
      My answer was they’re not streaks it’s the gray coming in. Love my gray. I too am glad I no longer have to deal with the job searching.

    • Charli Mills

      Downsizing is one of those hard decisions not everyone has to make. To leave stuff behind is hard. I’ve carried with me a bit of home at my desk with familiar items and small gifts. I do look forward to expanding, but plan to keep some of my minimalist ways! Ah — the book collection! That’s tough. My books are not one of the priorities. I brought my research books with me so I have those. Embrace the gray! I have a patch that is turning silver and I hope to start developing a Cruella Deville streak! 😀

  21. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Clodhopper

    “Jist ‘cause D. Avery’s been ridin’ herd on her family we git left behind? Tellin’ ya Pal, we gotta part ways with her, do our own writin’. We cain’t always be waitin’ on her. I ain’t gittin’ any younger.”
    “Good thing, ‘cause the prompt’s ‘bout growin’ older. Ok, Kid, what’s yer idea fer the prompt?”
    “Uh, well, nuthin’ yet.”
    “Try haiku.”
    “Bless ya.”
    “Haiku!”
    “Bless ya agin. Jeez.”
    “No, Kid, haiku. Like this:

    Bunkhouse floor dirt tracked
    Every clod has a story
    Time swept clean away”

    “That ain’t haiku, Pal.”
    “Ain’t it?”
    “Naw, that there’s buckaroo-ku.”
    “Yer cuckoo, Kid.”

    • Jules

      Love it buckaroo-ku!

    • Susan Zutautas

      lol! Love it when a flash can make me laugh.

    • Charli Mills

      Every clod has a story! You might have to start writing more buckaroo-ku! Hope your trail drive is going well

  22. pedometergeek

    Flash

    Flash is our cat. Born in April, 2001, she is now eighteen years old. What that exactly equates to in feline years, we can only guess. According to the veterinarian, she is probably a centenarian.

    Despite her geriatric status, Flash has always acted like a kitten. Even now, as she deals with minor tooth infections and cloudy vision, she still manages to act like the feisty little kitten she once was, racing and meowing through the house as if hellhounds are chasing her.

    Flash has aged, but so have we. Her time is limited, but then so is ours.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    Usually I only post once, if at all, but this prompt just resonates with me.
    By the way, Charli, Natal Day Greetings…wishing you all the best.

    • Susan Zutautas

      Wow, that’s pretty old for a cat, no?

    • Charli Mills

      A Flash feline flash! There’s a rhythm to acting younger than blurred vision and spotty teeth. Great description of what we call nightly “jungle catting.” Yes, we are all on limited time. Race while we can. And thanks — I like the phrase Natal Day!

    • Charli Mills

      A fun one, Stevie! Thanks!

    • robertawrites235681907

      Woops, Charli not Stevie. Read the comment above – must be old age [wink]

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! I might adopt a new moniker! I ran into a friend at the hospital a few days ago and I called her Roseanne — her name is Maryanne. Close. She told me not to worry. As we get older we all share mis-names. 😉 Thanks for your flash!

  23. tatjanathefirst

    I may be late for this, I don’t know. I liked this prompt and couldn’t resist the challenge. Hopefully, since this is my first ever post to this community, you will show me some mercy and my transgression can be forgiven!

    ************
    Hope trudged through the market, lost. Traders shook their heads; some yelled at her to get lost.

    At the last stall, she said, defeated: “I came to buy forgiveness.”

    “What will you give me for it?” asked a girl.

    “The only thing I have – a handful of silver,” Hope said.

    The girl nodded. As it was customary, they shook hands. Without a flinch, Hope reached up and pulled out a thick strand of her own, silver hair. The girl held it up, inspecting it, and with the satisfied smile placed it in her pouch.

    She’d made a good deal.

    • Liz H

      Welcome! And a sharp, unique, excellent take on the prompt!

      • tatjanathefirst

        Thank you! I thoroughly enjoyed writing in this format, so I think I shall stick around 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch! No one is ever late if they show up to the campfire with a story. And what a great story you have.

      • tatjanathefirst

        Thank you, Charli! It is refreshing to be around like-minded people; right now, I am binge-reading everyone’s blogs/stories, thrilled there is such an immense backlog to go through 🙂

  24. octoberamanda

    I love, “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

  25. Scriblerus

    “It’s a number I can’t feel. I’m me, no matter what shifts.”- insanely true!

  26. susansleggs

    Too true. Well done.

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Dorinda!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Marje!

  30. Charli Mills

    Thought-provoking, Kate!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kelly!

  33. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!

  34. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Debby!

  35. Liz H

    Wibbly wobbly timey wimey, Dr. Who in the spirit of gifts for Mom? <3

  36. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Hugh!

  37. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  38. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!

  39. Susan Zutautas

    Ah yes, we can’t forget menopause. Liked your flash!

  40. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  8. How Did I Get This Old – Flash Fiction | Susan's Place - […] This was written for a flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch. […]
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  10. Carrot Ranch May 9: Flash Fiction Challenge | M J Mallon YA/Paranormal Author - […] https://carrotranch.com/2019/05/10/may-9-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  11. May 9: Flash Fiction Challenge – The Note | Morpethroad - […] Written for: https://carrotranch.com/2019/05/10/may-9-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
  12. Ageing Disgracefully – aroused - […] Carrot Ranch Challenge, May 9, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing…
  13. Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – Bloggers, Authors, Music, Health, Food and Funnies. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine - […] the second story was in response to Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills on the subject of…
  14. Becoming 100 – authoranonblog - […] Count: 99 Word/Idea: Growing Older For the flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch and inspired by my really saucy…
  15. Runner – From the Valley of the Trolls - […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (09/09/2019): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing older. It can…
  16. Flash Fiction: To Be Old Again | The Dark Netizen - […] Carrot Ranch May 9: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  17. The Old Man and the Attic | the moon is rising... - […] written for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community Flash Fiction Challenge, May 9th. […]
  18. Ada | Thru Violet's Lentz - […] This was written for a combination of prompts provided by Charli at Carrot Ranch. The prompt calls for a…
  19. Aging Out (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) – 99 Monkeys - […] week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: ” In…
  20. Aging Out (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) – 99 Monkeys - […] week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: ” In…
  21. Wisdom of the Ages – Flash Fiction Challenge | Jo Hawk - […] Wisdom of the Ages Source:  Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt: Write a story about growing older Word count:  99 […]
  22. #FlashFiction Challenge - Growing Older - 99 Words - CarrotRanch - […] hopped on to Charli Mills’ Flash Fiction Challenge for this week: May 9, 2019, […]
  23. Can you fool the tooth fairy? | Norah Colvin - […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills discussed important things in life including attitudes to aging. She challenged…
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  26. Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge | Stevie Turner - […] Carrying on from my last blog, here’s a little ditty about ageing that I’ve written today for the 99…
  27. #Flashfiction – Aging – Roberta Writes - […] The above 99-word flash was written for Charli Mills’ weekly flash fiction challenge. You can join in here: https://carrotranch.com/2019/05/10/may-9-flash-fiction-challenge/…
  28. ‘It Always Seems To Be Breakfast’* | TanGental - […] week’s Carrot Ranch prompt […]
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