June 13: 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.

June 13, 2019

Many hands make light work. Women converged on Lady B’s yard, a twisting wreckage slammed by flood and debris last year. Someone — maybe a county worker — laid down straw last summer which snow matted like unruly hair. Depressed and unable to muck out her yard, Lady B expressed sadness. That’s when we formed an informal rake brigade. With six women and six rakes, we piled leaves and straw, collected debris and shattered ceramic pots. Lady B, 86-years-old, fussed over all of us with graciously served cups of sweet tea.

On Saturday, I’m looking forward to returning with annual plants to splash color in remaining pots, and give my friend something to water and care for each day. My daughter will join her hands with mine to plant, and other women plan long-term garden solutions. Approaching a year after the Father’s Day Floods, my community remains Copper Country Strong.

Across town, all hands are on deck to celebrate the Vet Center’s 40th Anniversary. A BBQ fires up, women set up tables laden with food — sloppy joes, taco salad, fruit salad, cheesy potatoes — and the color guard stands at attention. Vietnam Vets and their spouses stand to receive recognition pins.

But let’s back up past WWII, WWI and the American Civil War to better understand what the Vet Center is all about. President Abe Lincoln made a promise to the surviving soldiers and families of the Civil War. The following opens Miracle of Ducks, my novel-in-progress:

In his second inaugural speech, President Lincoln delivered a remedy of justice to those who have served a nation in times of war, understanding that the price paid by soldiers and their families comes at a cost to the nation:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

To this day, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs operates under a solemn commitment made to those injured in service and vows to take care of the families whose soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice. Less than one percent of US citizens ever serve, giving the entire group of veterans an obscure and minority voice. Veterans rarely speak up for their own justice, making it difficult to receive their benefits for what they endured. It is important that we speak up for them. That we welcome them home, understanding they won’t fit in with the civilians they protected. That we do the one and only thing they ever ask for — “Please take care of my family when I pick up arms for you.”

Those who marry these veterans are loyal. A service to nation that often goes unrecognized.

Miracle of Ducks gives voice to veteran spouses through the story of Danni Gordon. This character has evolved with my own understanding of the service spouses give to the nation. Mary Gauthier, a songwriter who works with veteran families to capture their experiences in song, sings about the War After the War. Here are the lyrics that resonate with the “invisible” spouses:

Who’s gonna care for the ones who care for the ones who went to war
Land mines in the living room eggshells on the floor
I lost myself in the shadow of your honor and your pain
You stare out the window as our dreams go down the drain
Invisible, the war after the war
I’m a soldier too, just like you
Serving something bigger than myself
I serve unseen, caught in between
My pain and the pain of someone else
I’m stronger than you think I am, I’m right here by your side
I am not your enemy I don’t want to fight
There’s no going back in time I know you’re not the same
But you are not the only one for whom the world has changed
Invisible, the war after the war

Yet, the price soldiers and their families pay comes at a cost to the nation. In subsequent wars, US citizens paid taxes to fund war efforts, which is why great thought was given before entering into such a commitment. Those who stayed home planted victory gardens, learned to cook and eat rice so that grains could go overseas to soldiers, went without nylons and other items to ration resources. When soldiers came home, citizens rejoiced with ticker-tape parades. And then came Vietnam, an unpopular war during a time of civil unrest. Soldiers became objects of derision.

The Hub remembers when Georgia hated the Army Rangers. They were barred from businesses and snubbed by society. Grenada changed that attitude and made the Hub wary of fickle views of citizens. He enjoyed getting a parade and allowed in establishments previously off-limits, but he still feels annoyed when someone says, “Thanks for your service.” I’ve tried to understand because I recognize that most people are sincere when they give thanks.

But consider this: Post 9/11 “War on Terrorism” has been the longest US war in history, and yet the smallest percentage of population serves. The toll on physical and mental health is high because of repeat tours. Giving thanks is not what Abraham Lincoln intended. The nation — its citizens — must bear the burden of the cost of war. What does this ideal look like in practice?

Soldiers get medical and mental healthcare without stigma, shame, or pressure to soldier up and take the pain and suffering in silence. That’s the VA’s job. On the homefront, soldiers get readjustment counseling to improve quality of life. That’s the Vet Center’s job. So what do citizens do? They can hire veterans, prevent homelessness, and break down barriers that cause veteran isolation. Isolation kills. Even though veteran suicides have dropped from 22 a day to 20, the VA reports that 14 of those suicides never sought VA services.

And I can tell you why — the VA is difficult to access and penetrate, staff often minimize or ignore concerns, funding goes into marketing a suicide prevention hotline instead of programs that encourage veteran inclusion and fitness, homelessness prevention is nonexistent and does not actually help veterans, and moral injury continues after service. Today, at the open house, I expressed my views based on three years of homelessness and 35 years of VA medical neglect to the regions suicide prevention coordinator. I gave her the view from the other side. And as a spouse, I don’t soldier up, I advocate.

My hands are not alone. As Josh Groban sings in The War at Home, “they are a million strong.” I stand beside my Warrior Sisters. Today, I wept as those of the Vietnam era were honored alongside their husbands with pins that represent their courage and indicate a grateful nation. My husband sat beside me and wept to see his Vietnam era Brothers honored and welcomed home. The Vet Centers exist because the Vietnam vets insisted on helping one another if their country wasn’t going to. The Vet Center exists to keep the promise Abe Lincoln made. It is the legacy of the Vietnam Vets.

Many hands make light work. Won’t you join me in bearing the burdens found in our own hometowns? A better world is not just about veterans. I know we are a global community, but each of us can see and meet the needs of others around us — helping a new mom, visiting the elderly and writing down stories, breaking barriers that isolate vulnerable populations, seeing the humanity in a homeless person, fostering community beautification, giving voice to the voiceless, taking on stories bigger than ourselves. We can all be of service.

June 13, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the work of many hands. Is it a cooperative effort or something else? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 18, 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.

Difficult Decision (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Hands reached out to Danni as she slumped in her chair. “I can’t do it alone,” she said. The women in her group, surrounded her.

Roxie patted Danni’s shoulder. “What do we need to do? I’ll bring my vacuum cleaner.”

Everyone offered to help Danni tackle Ramona’s empty house. She wanted to be angry with Ike for his absence, leaving her to make the decision no one in his family wanted to make. Ramona’s dementia progressed beyond Danni’s ability to keep Ike’s grandmother safe.

“Will she hate me?” Danni asked.

“Nah, she won’t remember you,” said Roxie. “We’ll help.”

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    • Charli Mills

      Beer in the stew sounds delicious, Joelle! 😉 It’s sad to miss out on grandparents. Some pass away before we are born, and others are distant. I imagine Danni loving the fun parts of having Ike’s grandmother and feeling dismayed by the aging realities. Hilarious flash — I think Mom had a purpose, including her mental health. Too many hands, indeed.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

        Being with different generations can be stressful. You can be 60 and your mom will still treat you like you’re 14.

      • Charli Mills

        Ah, yes!

    • Charli Mills

      You are so right about a mother needing many hands! I’ve always appreciated the meaning behind “it takes a village.” Thanks, Reena!

      • Reena Saxena

        You are welcome, Charli!

  1. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Charli.. you and your community and the Vet Centres do an amazing job and are inspiring to us around the world. As I watched the D-Day 75th remembrance services it brought home how the burden of services was still etched upon the hearts and minds of those still alive in their 90s.. who will never forget… thanks for the new prompt and will get on it right away.. ?

    • Sherri Matthews

      Beautifully put, Sally…the D-Day 75th rememberance services brought tears to my eyes <3

    • Charli Mills

      Sally, it’s moving to be among those whose experiences are etched as you aptly describe. For me, watching the Vietnam veterans come out of their hardened shells is something special. Maybe as we age we grow more nostalgic, but no matter, we need to give space to remember. The WWII vet I met had to be in his 90s. Thank you!

  2. H.R.R. Gorman

    Oooh, so many questions this week, Charli.

    1) Where the heck did you get sweet tea that far above the Mason Dixon line? Lady B is obviously a hero and a saint.

    2) Just out of curiosity (and I suppose a touch of laziness while I don’t look it up myself), is veteran healthcare not covered outside the VA? Can you choose a provider not associated with the VA and get help paying for it if you wanted?

    Ok, I’m going to let it go there because I know you have a ton of things to do and stories to read!

    I came up with an answer quickly. Hope it’s fun!


    ***More Than Meets the Vein***

    One technician injected a mouse with the target and collected the antibodies. A few others tested the results and transferred the loops to a human antibody. An army of scientists and several dozen mice tested the biotherapeutic. Engineers transfected the gene and planned the manufacturing process at the clinical scale.

    FDA agents, scientists, engineers, clinicians, and volunteers ran tests on the new drug. Once declared safe and effective, teams of engineers, construction workers, and GMP trained workers made the first batch for sale.

    A doctor injected the first patient with the life-saving drug. “Thank you, Doctor,” said the patient.

    • Norah

      So true. But sometimes, they don’t even thank the doctor, they thank god instead. 🙂

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        I suppose that’s not the worst thing! We could be forced to thank our overlords!

      • Norah

        True! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Clever title, H.R.R., and an expansive point of view I appreciate for teaching me something about your profession. Ah, questions! I have answers —

      1. Lady B. is from Detroit and likely her family part of the southern immigration after all the wars. We northerners do not appreciate sweet tea enough.

      2. (Good question) So — VA is always changing this one, not an easy one to answer. VAs tend to be in urban centers, and veterans tend to migrate to rural places. In order to get outside VA services outside the VA was complicated and not all outside services want to be paid VA prices for services. As of June 6, the process has become easier, but again, practitioners have to be willing to accept VA rates. We are lucky where we are because the Aspirus healthcare system accepts veterans and that’s where the Hub had his knee replacement surgery that lagged in the VA for years and years.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Thank you for the responses! I’m really glad some changes have made it easier for y’all. With such a small percentage of the population being soldiers or spouses, though, you’d think they’d be able to pull their acts together and pay for it. But, alas – something I’ve found to be a problem with programs and policies is they tend to favor the urban or suburban people who need help, and that leaves a ton of rural dwellers high and dry. I guess I understand the concept – help the most people you can on the smallest dime – but it feels discriminatory in its own way.

      • Charli Mills

        Yes, that is the overriding goal — help the most at the smallest cost.

  3. Sherri Matthews

    Oh Charli…I remember when I met my American G.I. at a time when Vietnam Vets were still derided back in the US and I couldn’t understand it. He came in a few years after the war had ended. Some years later, married to a Correctional Office working for the State of California, we knew several Vietnam Vets in the same job. None were able to access help despite severe depression and PTSD; two committed suicide. What you, your community and your Warrior Sisters are doing is vital, how wonderful that both the Vets and their spouses are recognised. Your story will give voice to so many. I applaud you and all who stand with you. Will return. And just gotta add on a lighter note: I do miss a proper American barbeque…taco salad and sloppy joes? Oh mama… <3

    • Charli Mills

      That was a hard time to be enlisted, Sherri, and no picnic as a young wife from across the pond, either. I’m sad for those Vietnam vets who didn’t make it past the time when there was no help for depression and PTSD. Those who did, honor the ones we lost by making Vet Centers what they are. Today, our younger generations shy away. Michelle is trying to focus programs on building up the warrior mindset — Crossfit, horse riding, even gardening. Okay, that might be a stretch! Warrior gardeners. 😀 But it’s better than promoting a hotline that leads to brick walls. Ha! Oh, I’m doing a proper American BBQ tonight with potato salad and corn on the cob. I love taco salad and that key ingredient Western French Dressing which culturally is so misnamed! And sloppy joes are a mainstay for potlucks! <3

      • Sherri Matthews

        Okay, now I’m drooling lol 😀 I had no idea what sloppy joes (or tacos, come to that) were when I first moved to California…but I soon found and out and learned how to make them! Ha…I love the sound of Warrior Gardeners…count me in! It can be dangerous with those rose thorns 😀 And they do look so pretty climbing a brick wall 😉 Seriously though, yes, what a marvellous service your Vet Centers provide which hopefully will begin to reach the younger generations. Keeping the focus from those dead ends is vital. Lest we forget goes a long way, doesn’t it? Thanks, Charli <3

      • Charli Mills

        Tacos must have seemed a strange food! But, I can’t go long without them. We’ve had refried bean conversations before! Such a western go-to food. I do wonder at sloppy joes, though — where did that recipe come from? I think it’s a midwestern thing. But so tasty! Ha! The Warrior Gardeners versus the thorny roses! Well, today, while trying to get the house approved, my warrior trampled through the flower bed I took over from my daughter. It looked like a bull went through it. He felt bad, said he didn’t know it was a flower bed. I have no idea what he thought it was! And yes, keeping the focus on what gives us life. <3

  4. Norah

    There are important messages embedded in your post, Charli, and you sum it up nicely with your prompt of ‘many hands’. Many hands raise us up and offer support when we are down, it takes many hands to complete some tasks, and others are just better done in good company. You are a strong voice advocating for the Veterans and Veteran Spouses, and for any who are not getting a fair go. Your introduction to MOD is a reminder of the great spirit on which your country was founded – a spirit that gives humanity a backbone.
    I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at the end of your flash. Danni is hurting at having to make the decision to transfer Ramona to a nursing home, alone. Her question shows the depth of her feeling. Knowing that she won’t remember, remarked so flippantly, will at times give relief, but mostly cause pain for what is lost. I hope she finds peace with her decision.

    • Charli Mills

      Many hands are what we need and to be a part of the offering, too. I’m not surprised you were uncertain how to react to the flash ending. It’s not on target yet — hard to show dark humor, especially to make the point that combat veterans who have a morbid sense of humor rub off on family members. But yes, meant to be both funny and sad and show how the wives are often left on their own with big decision. Thanks for reading, Norah. I hope you had a wonderful week, especially on a particular day! <3

      • Norah

        Sometimes humour helps in difficult situations. Sometimes it just exacerbates the darkness. It all depends on the mood at the time.
        I did have a wonderful particular celebration. Thank you for thinking of me. 🙂

  5. Jules


    This Danni piece hits close to home for me with my own step-mom in the place where the present and future mean very little as far as her memory goes. There will come a time I think when she will not remember her ‘family’ but we will remember her…

    I combine my piece with one other prompt that seemed very fitting. Please enjoy:

    Is the Universe Listening?

    Is the Universe Listening?

    I ask for strength to carry another.
    I ask for the patience to listen to the repeated stories
    Of whatever they wish to share –
    Mostly though they will not speak old haunts –
    While they accept the gracious offerings of many hands

    For mine alone are not the only pair needed
    To promote the success of the healthy and honorable
    Existence they should be able to comfortably abide.

    I ask for nothing in return –
    I ask for the weather to be calm and clear
    When errands include any number of appointments
    For pleasure or health…
    This is my universal prayer.


    Another verse/prayer for my neighbor in his mid-nineties; A Vet who is quite grateful for the many hands that assist him.

    While yes, I have returned home safely… It will take me a bit to catch up. Thanks for your visits and patience. ~J

    • Charli Mills

      Such a strange transition, isn’t it Jules? We take for granted that we make memories and therefore get to keep them. But sometimes, we get lost in them, no longer making new ones or looking forward to what comes tomorrow. At least she will have those who remember her. You wrote a beautiful prayer to lend hands to another.

  6. pensitivity101

    Here’s mine Charli

    Dance of the several pots

    My kitchen is small, but not as small as the one in our first house, and definitely gigantic compared to the one on the boat!
    However, Many Hands may make light work, but Too Many Cooks spoil the broth.
    I appreciate help in the kitchen, preparing, cutting, cooking (ish) and clearing up.
    In a small space, this can be chaotic, but we got round that by always remembering to move to the left. It was like a ‘cuisinal’ ballet, graceful and effective, nobody getting stabbed or burnt, and dinners prepared on time with dishes being washed as we went.

    • Nicole Horlings

      I really love your story!

      • pensitivity101

        Hi Nicole! Thanks for commenting.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, no, I’d get stabbed in that cuisinal dance, Di! I always confuse my “step to the left,” for “step to the right.” What a fun take on the prompt and a clever way to maneuver small kitchen spaces.

      • pensitivity101

        We had to do something else we’d be crashing into each other so came up with that. Funny though, the kitchen on the boat was the smallest space ever, yet we never had a problem!

      • Charli Mills

        You must have had your sea legs in the boat galley!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ritu! And your new author headshot is looking sharp!

      • Ritu

        Gee, thanks, Charli! ????

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Leanne!

  7. denmaniacs4

    Fingers Aplenty

    I suppose I could write about ‘many hands’ if I was in the mood. The ones that make ‘light work’, eh!

    They surely exist. Seen a few in my day. Been in a couple.

    My scout troop for example.

    Okay, cub scout troop.

    All that dib dib dib dob dob dob doowah stuff.

    Once, our Akela decided we needed to climb a mountain.

    We were young, game.

    Except Box-head Bobby. Polio had whipped him badly.

    “Can’t go,” he whimpered. “Just can’t.”

    “Sure, you can. We’ll help ya,” we said, not quite believing our bravado.

    Not quite believing…until we did.

    • Charli Mills

      Isn’t that the way of it, Bill? False bravado until we realize we really can do it when we work together to help another.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joanne! I enjoy seeing how Aalen’s story is progressing.

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Handing Down

    Kevlar vested cops have guns in their hands. We come out, single file, hands over our heads, newscasters already there, microphones in hand, reporting this latest shooting. Videos capture relieved parents’ hands stroking their children’s cheeks. Some parents’ hands flutter to their own cheeks. Some of us sit on the ground, heads in our hands, disbelief displaced by our knowing. Some put their hands together in prayer. Some of us stand together clasping hands, our grief becoming anger.
    You let assault weapons end up in the hands of our classmates then tell us the world is in our hands.

    • Charli Mills

      Wow, powerful story, D. The action of all the hands make the scene all too real, and then the message found the last line. What a crazy-mixed-up world when hands can too readily grasp assault weapons.

    • Charli Mills

      Cults? That sounds like a dark dive into humanity, Anne.

      • Charli Mills

        It’s a topic I find both fascinating and repelling. On one hand, how can anyone follow the likes of Jim Jones? On the other, I want to find out!

    • Jules

      This also reminds me of any ‘Civil War’ where brother fights against brother. So sad.

  9. Ann Edall-Robson

    Storm Coming
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    The radio announcer was telling Mac old news. He had been watching the horses and saw the insects scurrying. The storm was expected by mid-afternoon.

    The hay crew had finished baling the night before. This morning the fencing crew and the cow barn crew had been sent to the hayfield. They needed to get every bale under cover before the storm hit.

    Behind him, dust tails from trucks pulling trailers were the result of a call to a neighbour. Mac knew if they could, they’d come. He would do the same for them. Moccasin telegraph handled the rest.


      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Thanks Nicole. It has been fun writing each week using Charli’s prompts and the same characters.

    • Charli Mills

      Wait a minute…where’s our young protagonist? This is an extended cliffhanger, a switch to building more tension. Ann, you got a page turner going but we need more pages! 😀

      Ranchers can read weather and seismic activity through horses. And getting that hay in is vital. What next, what next?

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Truth is, I wrote two submission for this week, and this is the one that made more sense to share (for now).

      • Charli Mills

        A-ha! Okay, just know you have a riveting serial with compelling characters building.

  10. tnkerr

    I’ve been known to tell people who thank me for my service that they should be careful… they don’t know what I did.
    Thank you and yours, Charli for picking up the torch.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! The Hub would like that answer. And while it makes me laugh it’s also sobering to think that we do ask our military to do the unthankful tasks, often at the cost of moral injury. Civilians really don’t want to know what your service entailed. I think they are thankful because it’s socially popular right now. They don’t think about what it really means to be thankful. Me, and mine, we see you and yours. Thank you, TN.

  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Flying Leaps

    “Shorty! Pal! What’s going on? Why are all the Ranch hands under the poet tree with that big cowhide rug? Did Kid get stuck up there again?”
    “Howdy Ranger. Kid’s up the tree agin, but doesn’t claim ta be stuck. Jist wants ta take a leap.”
    “That’s right. And when someone takes a leap aroun’ here, the Ranch hands are gathered ‘round ta catch ‘em.”
    “Hmm. Takes trust. ”
    “Yep. Ranger, ya think we’re crazy?”
    “Yes. And I want to go after the Kid.”

    *Pen falls to paper
    Words tossed wildly in the air
    Story catchers break the fall*

    Funny thing about these prompts, you never know what will pop into your head. Then in the midst of doing what I am supposed to be doing the Kid got to thinking about the Inuit game of blanket toss. (Ok, back to work.)

    • Charli Mills

      Blanket toss with a cowhide rug! That’s definitely the Rancher version. Okay, Kid, leap so your writer can finish her school year.

    • Jules

      I did forget that up north the school year is longer… well just different.
      Round these parts even the non-graduates (non-seniors who get out even earlier) are out by the first week of June. But then the holiday breaks in these parts are shorter.

      Hope you have had a great school year and the winding down is easy.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Robert! What a great idea!

  12. susansleggs

    Hi Charli,
    I’m thinking I want to move to your town. The sense of community you tell about in the clubs, the Vet Center, and in the neighborhoods is much more cohesive than it is in my city and burbs. I do try to help in my own way.

    For those that don’t know, currently in the U.S. we have a relatively small active duty military force, so the same groups of reservists are sent into war zones multiple times. It saves the govt. money, but it destroys the lives of those that go with moral injury, and the lives of those left home to carry on (partly because they don’t have a military base and it’s amenities close by for a support system and their neighbors have no idea what they are dealing with.) What Charli says about the VA being hard to penetrate is so true.

    My flash today is a total rant. I’ve learned that this is a safe place to vent and I needed to get the following off my mind before I return to the group I’m writing about, which I will leave nameless…….. Thanks for listening.

    Many Hands

    Many hands
    thank God they don’t all have a brain
    A small group of people
    all with the same interest form a club
    They have officers and by-laws
    they don’t follow them
    They bicker and take stands on what’s good for the group
    common sense stays at home
    They gather in their cliques
    with misplaced loyalties
    Change is the enemy
    when someone new is asked to lead
    Maintain the status quo
    whether it’s a good idea or not
    because their hands can’t see
    So many hands
    showing a microcosm of government
    bogged down by half the number of opinions

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sue, you’d be welcome here! It’s such an interesting mix of people here with the generations after the miners, the stronghold of the Finns, the tourists who become residents, the Michigan Tech and Finlandia students, including a large international population, and, of course, a large segment of veterans. Maybe because of the diversity, maybe because of the snow and remoteness, community is strong here. What your flash describes is what I’ve seen as “closed” communities, even groups that don’t want diversity or change, and thinking is not required. Status quo and perceived power is the aim. I’m glad you felt like you can vent! Writing can be a good outlet for that and who knows where it leads — a twist in our stories, an insight.

      The National Guard is hit hardest. They come home to communities, not bases and their families often have no support while they are deployed. And they have endured so long. Fewer people serve than ever before. We need to shoulder support for those who are. Thank you for mentioning the plight of our Guard.

    • Jules

      Susan I think your rant is a true telling of any group that attempts to have civil policies. Like the Volunteer groups I belonged to. Most of the rules only applied to the ‘minions’. Very annoying. Which is why I am less than more involved these days. I did my ‘time’ and I’ve had enough double talk.

      • susansleggs

        Jules, You are so correct. My rant wasn’t enough of a release. I sent a group email a day later. Now I’m wondering how many feathers I ruffled and how high……..

      • Jules

        I used to rant… ruffled a bunch of feathers. But politics just doesn’t stop, or the progress is just too slow in most any organized group. Well maybe not at all here at Carrot Ranch. So now more of my days are left as an outsider doing what I want when I want and really not caring about others opinions of me not living up to their expectations.

      • susansleggs

        My gut is telling me the people that recruited me to be president expected a puppet, now they aren’t sure what to do with me.

      • Jules

        Oh…yep, been there done that. Good luck. You can always resign and leave them to figure out their mess… I really disliked being thought of as a puppet.

  13. Pete

    The news anchor said “defaced”, but the city defaced the wall. We’d merely fixed it, working through the night, ducking delivery trucks or the occasional police car. Then, dawn spreading over our historic downtown, shining on bronzed shoulders of generals facing south, we’d gathered our paint cans and hit up Waffle House.

    Defaced? Not by us. Not by the hands we painted—brown ones, white ones, black ones—clasped in unity over a giant battle flag, a confederate threat slapped onto brick when my grandfather was in school, when schools were forced to integrate.

    We’d simply integrated the flag.

    • Nicole Horlings

      Fantastic writing!

      • Pete

        Thanks Nicole!

    • Charli Mills

      Excellent, Pete!

  14. jsackmom

    Oh Charli, I have missed reading the magic of your words. You make me feel like I’m really there in the moments you describe. I’m excited about writing something for the Carrot Ranch again. ????

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you at the Ranch, Jeanine! I look forward to reading what you write!

      • jsackmom

        Thank you Charli as I look forward to writing it for you. ????????

  15. pedometergeek

    A Stitch in Time

    Julia, Mary, Elizabeth, Susannah, and a few others from the group were discussing the books they were reading. There was also a bit of gossip going on across the table. The air was filled with their chatter, and laughter broke out here and there.

    Still, that did not deter Julia and her friends from their mission. With so many hands to stitch the pieces of fabric together, they were making another quilt for the veteran’s home. What once was their monthly quilting bee for themselves had become a way to give back to those who had served their country.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yes — this is how we serve, this is sharing the burden. And what a fun way to chat and give back something made by many hands. Lovely, Nan!

      • pedometergeek

        Thanks, Charli. How many quilts can one person use? Better to share with others. ~nan

      • Charli Mills

        Good sentiment!

  16. Susan Zutautas

    Charli and everyone here. I have to apologize for my absence (even though I have contributed) here. Life has just gotten so busy lately and I’m truly sorry that I’ve not been around much. Hopefully, things will calm down for me soon.
    Here’s mine for this week. http://susansplace.blog/2019/06/18/working-together/

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Susan! I do hope things calm down for you. Follow the joy of writing when you can. How is your mother-in-law doing? I’ve been thinking about her. Take care!

  17. Liz H

    Beautiful blog, Charli.
    Was talking with my 25-year-old son,yesterday, about post-war PTSD; he told me of a fellow student who was having so much difficulty solving a class problem set, that he snapped his laptop in two–over his knee–and exclaimed “You all look like dead soldiers to me!” My boy was shocked, but he got the damage, and the lesson, immediately.
    We marveled at all the previous generations that had no formal help available at all, & the stories of men returning from (even Civil) war and never fitting back in. And the ways in which their small community/town tried to take care of those that never recovered. Maybe the many hands of a small home-town community had something vital there to offer, both to returned soldiers and their family.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Liz, and for sharing your son’s story with a classmate. The Vet Center calls its service “readjustment counseling.” And yet, as you point out, it is the many hands in home-town communities that can have the greatest adjustment — anything to break down the isolation of those who feel they can’t fit in.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kay!

    • Charli Mills

      It is rewarding for us all, Nicole! Thanks!

  18. Native and the Cave

    Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life.: love it and is true in the world where i am.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s all good, Joanne, no matter the order!

  19. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  20. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kelly!

  21. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  22. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Theresa!

  23. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!


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  7. June 14, 2019 Flash Fiction Challenge: The Work of Many Hands – Read and Write Here - […] everyone! This week’s flash fiction challenge comes from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch. This week’s prompt […]
  8. Gates of the City (flash fiction) – joanne the geek - […] This was written with the prompt many hands provided by the Carrot Ranch June 13 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]
  9. Smorgasbord Short Story – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Many Hands by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine - […] time of the week when I participate in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills This week in…
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  13. The Craftsman – The Haunted Wordsmith - […] This 99-word story was written for the Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction challenge. […]
  14. Many Hands Make Enlightened Work | Chelsea Ann Owens - […] for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this […]
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  16. Working Together | Susan's Place - […] was written for a flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch.  In 99 words (no more, no less) write…
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  18. The Work of Many Hands – The Memory Cellar - […] If you want to participate, here is the link: https://carrotranch.com/2019/06/13/june-13-flash-fiction-challenge/ […]
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