June 20: 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 21, 2019

Wait, I tell the starling.

Last year, Whirligig — a showy, loud and aggressive starling — showed up to the neighborhood, driving out the woodpeckers and entertaining my neighbor and me with his antics. This year, he spotted a hole in my SIL’s roofing job. A small triangular peak over the porch was missing a small chunk of fascia beneath old cedar shakes. Not a priority, my SIL was waiting to finish the job when the siding plates arrived.

Whirligig waits on no one. In an afternoon he nested into the space behind the facia, a small area of trim beneath the porch roofline. My SIL wasted no time in patching the hole. Whirligig found and expanded another. Nesting began in earnest with all of us dodging straw and string debris as we entered and exited the porch.

I’d go outside and Whirligig would fly from the porch eave to squawk from the lightpost across Roberts Street. “Stop nesting in my house,” I’d tell him. Some days, I’d be weeding or lugging my watering can and he’s be making Star Wars robotic chirps and songs. Despite his annoyance, I couldn’t help but laugh. Flowers bloomed and Whirligig courted.

We weren’t too concerned with his nest, waiting to boot him out after mating season. Starlings often build several nests. We didn’t think a female had joined him, only seeing Whirligig. Our conversations continued.

And then the VA home loan appraiser showed up. We didn’t think he’d be overly impressed with our flighty neighbor in the eaves, but given that the gap was in decorative trim and not structural, the SIL focused on finishing the siding plates popped off during last year’s roofing replacement. The Hub mowed the lawn, scrubbed the basement (hopeful man-cave) floor, and I cleaned the house, including places the appraiser never looked.

Instead, he looked in places like the defunct attic stairs. One of the first home-improvements the SIL completed in 2016 was to seal the attic with insulation. The stairs now go to nowhere. But the VA has a rulebook and rule 497 or whatever states that safe stairs have handrails. After the inspection, we learned the VA would not approve a loan on a house missing the ever-so-vital handrail to nowhere. They also don’t like peeling paint, or nesting starlings.

In a panic, we put out a call to our community. Did anyone have a handrail from a remodel (lots of people remodel  these old mining homes)? Could someone help us paint where the Hub couldn’t reach with a ladder? And who was willing to evict Whirligig? Copper Country Strong responded. Within hours, one of the veteran wives drove to town, met us at the building store, and declared her housewarming gift to be a handrail and hardware. Worried about the price, we said we didn’t expect her to pay if it was over a certain threshold. We laughed to find out it was only $14!

The Hub scraped and painted as sloppily as I imagine Tom Sawyer white-washing a fence, but at least it was no longer “peeling.” The SIL, who was supposed to leave for an alternative energy fair, finished work late and came over that night to finish the porch trim. My daughter and I scrapes and caulked the garage windows. I snapped three 100-year-old window panes, ripped my hot pink rubber gloves to shreds (I have no idea how) and got paint chips in my bra, deciding I’d rather write about home-improvement jobs than experience them.

The SNL nailed shut the gap Whirligig used and I couldn’t help but feel low. I know what it feels like to be shut out of a home for no good reason. Why was my home more important than his? It felt unfair and somehow too American — the arrogance of claiming home while denying it to others permeates our history. I did not enjoy being the evictor.

Over a late evening BBQ, the SIL assured me that the nest was an empty one. He couldn’t reach it, but nothing had hatched if there had been eggs. Later, after everyone had left, I stood on the front steps and watched Whirligig, silent on the lightpost. All I could offer was, “I see you. I hear you. I am sorry.”

He flew away.

It sucks to be disenfranchised in America. The process of trying to get recognized as a resident after being homeless is near impossible. Those who are chronically homeless or living rough on the streets or uncounted as they sleep in cars and drive across state borders when they get gas money are doomed to never rise from that lifestyle. The state of Utah recognized the plight of the chronically homeless in Salt Lake City. They realized that it was more cost effective to turn abandoned buildings into independent residences with no costs, no paperwork, and no strings attached. In Kansas City, a group of veterans invested in tiny houses for homeless veterans outside the VA system.

Just trying to get our driver’s licenses has been an ordeal. In Michigan, you have to prove citizenship with a birth certificate. Never mind that the Hub served his nation in combat. He has to prove he was born in the US. I brought our important  documents with us, but with all the transient stops we made at VAs across the western US, the Hub lost his birth certificate. He likely gave it to someone to photocopy to get service at a VA hospital and never got it back. But we prevailed and both have Michigan enhanced driver’s licenses.

Next are 2016 and 2017 taxes. When you cross five different states across two taxe years and have no permanent address, things get complicated. I wrote for clients and he worked for six different companies in five different states and sought medical care from eight different VAs. The IRS has a homeless veteran program but good luck talking to a live person. I filed 2018 taxes claiming Michigan residency, using my daughter’s address. As of January, the Hub is 100 percent disabled. Which gave me the education benefits to go get my MFA in creative writing.

Except — and there’s always an exception with the VA benefits — they don’t pay tuition. I was so devastated to find this out, but then I said screw it, I’ll go deeper into education debt. Ah, yes, but FASFA wants my 2017 taxes. I feel like I’m constantly grinding in circles. I didn’t know what to do next, but this place has good people and someone knew someone who had a CPA who could help. I felt skeptica, having inquired with other CPAs, but this guy, he was willing to take on all my complications. He jokingly told me he needed a good challenge after tax season.

Getting him all my documents, though, made me relive the events of 2016 and 2017. That awful day in March when I froze in panic after the landlords so casually told us we were “free to go” because the owners wanted to sell the place still feels cold in my blood. When the appraiser told us we’d have to fix a few things on the house my daughter told me not to worry. She said the same thing when the landlord sent us a 30-day eviction notice before we had another home to go to. I still don’t trust that I will have a home. The waiting right now is awful, and I think of that silent starling as a personification of my pain.

It is what it is.

This morning I woke up, stepped outside and heard chirping. I looked around for Whirligig but he was gone. With horror, I realized the chirping was coming from inside the porch eave. I sat on the steps and cried. The Hub came home from PT and he asked what was wrong. “Just starlings,” he said. But he saw my pain. And as gruff as he tries to be, he wishes no harm on anything. Without further words, he got a ladder and some tools.

Our daughter came over on her lunch break and found her parents ripping up the front porch. The Hub decided to remove the fascia because that was down where the SIL couldn’t reach. Our daughter chastized him for climbing a ladder, but held it sterady for him. I grabbed a moss-lined flower basket, emptied it but the lining and the Hub pulled the nest with its string and straw anf feathers into it, including two newly hatched birds and one pale blue egg. The birds heard our voices and gaping maws opened hungrily.

But Whirligig was gone. I dug up a grub (looking for worms), mashed it, and filled a dropper with water. I fed two babies and wondered if it were the right thing to do. After the Hub replaced the fascia, I hung the flower basket below the porch eaves. The babies chirped loudly and I hoped Whirligig and his Lady could hear. The robins and sparrows flitted about, and the bird community seemed distressed. Or maybe that was just me. I told them to find Whirligig. The Hub said the starlings had already abandoned the nest and wouldn’t be back. My daughter gently reminded me that nature would take its course.

After a late afternoon appointment, I came home and listened for the babies. I could probably hear them a mile away, they chirp so loudly. And to my relief and delight, I watched Whirligig land in the basket with a squiggling insect of some sort. I decided right then and there that if this becomes our home, we are building Whirligig a nesting box.

Meanwhile, we wait.

June 20, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about having to wait. Who is waiting and what for? Think about how the wait impacts the character or the story. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 25, 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.


The Beginning of a Long Wait (from Miracle  of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Waiting for the phone to ring, Danni started a batch of cookies. She stalked over to the phone. “Ring, damn it!” She picked it up to check the dial tone and returned to the kitchen. She started a pot of macaroni and cheese. The phone range and she jumped, answering.


“Hello. This is the National Coalition for—”

Danni slammed down the receiver. She needed tea. Instead of boiling macaroni, she poured the water over a Lipton tea bag, watching the stain spread. Danni waited to hear if Ike lived after the attack on his convoy in Baghdad.

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  1. Norah

    It can’t be fun having to play the waiting game, Charli, and even less when you have to jump through hoops. I’ve never experienced what you are going through and can’t even imagine the pain and distress. You do well to hold it all together – you and the Hub, and now Whirligig. You all deserve a comfortable nest to call your own. Why can’t people use compassionate eyes to see beyond the triviality? Surely, to be habitable, a home doesn’t need to tick all the boxes. I can’t believe you have to play the waiting game – again. And we wait with you and alongside you. I just wish there was more I could do. I feel so far away.
    Your flash encapsulates the agony of waiting well, unsure if you want to hear the answer in case it’s not the answer you want to hear. I hope you both get good news. And that Whirligig does too. Sending warmest wishes for a positive result.

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my contribution. https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-1po

      The Waiting Game

      Her entire life, she’d waited:

      To be old enough, big enough—

      To have left school, completed her degree—

      To have enough money—

      Until after the wedding—

      For the birth of her children

      For her children to have started school, left school, left home—

      When would be the time, when she could choose what she wanted, for her, no conditions imposed?

      In the waiting room, she contemplated these things and delivered her own answer—never! Death was knocking, refusing to wait. She’d hoped to live before she died but life got in the way.  Ah well, the waiting was over.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, Norah — waiting is never easy, but as you point out in your flash, sometimes we wait too long! Whirligig waited too long to return and sadly the chicks did not make it. We can’t wait any longer and are doing the “repairs” ourselves. I’m so uncrafty it’s almost comical watching me do things like set the paintbrush down, or drop the scraper beyond reach. At least I’m doing something more than waiting! It’s so close, I can taste home again. My daughter thinks we should be patient and wait until a better time but I feel like that person in the waiting room, wanting that unconditional time. It never does come so we make the best life we can every day we get.

      • Norah

        Woohoo! You’re in charge, Charli. You stated the message of my story so succinctly: “It never does come so we make the best life we can every day we get”. To do anything else shows lack of respect for the little time we have.

      • pedometergeek

        Excellent, Norah.

      • Norah

        Thank you. 🙂

  2. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    I feel for you, Charli. Moving house is so stressful – it ought to have been easier when you were actually staying in the same place and just transferring ownership, but it seems the trauma continues. If it’s not the buyer finding some kind of fault in the fabric of the building, it’s the lender – but yours is taking it to the extreme fussing over chipped paint, especially when the new occupiers often redecorate when they move in. And your hassles with documentation and tax are a real nightmare, and would naturally trigger the panic of being homeless once again.

    The parallel with Whirligig is too close for comfort – I can imagine how dreadful you must’ve felt when you heard the baby birds. But against the odds, it’s had a happy ending and we can only hope your story does too.

    You’ve captured the tension in your flash too. Poor Danni. I wrote mine. also featuring a phonecall, before I read your post, with no idea whether it would fit. I’ve gone for humour in Your call is important (surprisingly to me) but might do a second darker one if inspiration calls. I’ve linked it with a post I put out a couple of days ago regarding my own feelings of helplessness in relation to British politics, and although I’m fortunate in not having to deal with it on the domestic scale also, this has echoes with your post:

    Is the #ToryLeadershipContest a fascist plot to demoralise the Left? https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2019/06/is-the-toryleadershipcontest-a-fascist-plot-to-demoralise-the-left.html

    • Norah

      The frustration of being put on hold – indefinitely!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Yes, I hate to think the wait for the politics of kindness will never end 🙁

      • Norah

        I agree. May the wait be short-lived and the kindness long.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s all gone topsy turvy, Anne. The hatchlings didn’t make it and the “repairs” to the paint turned out to be more extensive in the report and our kids don’t want to bother with it right now. So we are at odds because I don’t want to miss this window to own the house. The Hub and I are taking on the repairs and I can tell you, I’m not handy! We have the loan of a power washer, paint and I think I’m getting better at caulking. So onward we go. A cousin out in California is in real estate and has an idea for getting around the issue with the VA. Nothing is definitive yet, which means anything is possible. But that makes me think of politics, too. Nothing seems settled in that arena, either. But one day, I will build a nesting box and hopefully help a starling family next summer. It’s never too late to do something worthwhile.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Sorry it didn’t work out, Charli, but you need to get things straight for yourselves before you can sort out the birds. Must be hectic right now. Hope the outcome’s better than it’s looking likely to be politically.

    • Jules

      One would think that cell phones have become as much as an extension as wearing jewelry or a belt. I so dislike automate phone holds. One can’t seem to reach a human much these days. It is either hurry up and wait or get snagged by a telemarketer for something you don’t need.

      Politics… I can’t go there. My own country is pretty much flushing itself down the toilet by those who are supposed to be in charge.

      Humor is always good. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Michael!

  3. Susan Zutautas

    Charli, I’m sure you know that we are all pulling for you. You and Todd have been through so much and you guys deserve this home. After many disappointments, something has to break and go your way.

    Earlier in the Spring, we had a blackbird trying to make a nest right outside our front door in and around a light. He or she probably thought it was a perfect place as it has full coverage on the porch. He tried and tried and we kept taking down the nesting materials. Finally, we put up a windchime and that worked. I felt bad for taking down his hard work again and again.

    Try and stay as positive as possible even though sometimes it’s hard to do
    Wishing that all good things come to you two. <3 <3 <3

    • Charli Mills

      We’re still waiting for that break, Susan and I appreciate the good company while I wait! When we lived in Idaho, each summer I’d nock down the mud nests of the barn swallows from the porch rafters. Usually about three days of hosing it away, they got the message — porch closed. But I couldn’t stand the thought of those babies all boarded up! Sadly, they didn’t make it through the night, but I do plan to build a starling nest box. Well, after the waiting period which is now extended to July 5. Thanks for your flash story!

    • Charli Mills

      Waiting does suck. Today we are a flurry of activity which is better than waiting, but the resulting report doesn’t want us to have a flake of chipped paint. Wishing you the best in your waiting!

      • floridaborne

        It truly sounds like government over-kill. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        It is that exactly! How much simpler it would be if the rigid rules could be applied with common sense and prudence.

  4. denmaniacs4

    Hang in there, Charli.

    Tom’s Time

    They didn’t call him Tom Hates-To-Wait Torrance for nothing. From my perspective though, a casual acquaintance of Tom’s from Primary School on, it was often nothing much of anything that emphasized his impatience.

    While his home life was a mystery to me, others noted that his parents had a large collection of clocks and Tom himself wore a wristwatch on either hand.

    Occasionally, he also carried a pocket watch in the blue leather jumpsuit he was fond of wearing.

    Tom, ever jittery, usually found a way to get to the front of any line.

    Few stood in his way.


    • Susan Zutautas

      Obsessed with time 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hanging in there — power washing, too!

      What an interesting character, this jittery, time-consumed non-waiter.

    • Liz H

      Chilling tale!
      But truly, quite original and touching! <3

      • Reena Saxena

        Thank you, Liz!

    • Charli Mills

      Good one, Reena!

      • Reena Saxena


  5. Jules


    Your post is one of those good news, bad news ones. I admire your fortitude, determination and compassion in all that you have to face. Your entry with Danni – reminds me of what my hubby often said when he was out on a fire call – “No news is good news.”

    I am wish for you, your birds, garden, family, hub and community all the positive vibes I have. The force of positive energy from the Carrot Ranch Community will make all the negative forces quake and disappear.

    I’ve got a Lucy Lockett (yes sometimes I forget the extra ‘t’…

    Lucy Lockett: Opposing Summer?

    no wolves in my sight
    waiting for the strawberry
    moon in a stale sky

    Lucy Locket, fills the docket
    By reading quotes, in a book that she totes
    Hartly says; “The past is a foreign country…”, brings to mind a cold memory
    “…they do things differently there.” That old summer home, lost, somewhere.

    Now she just waits, …on her table to clear used paper plates…
    From the crowd that has dispersed, in sporadic spurts
    From the picnic reunion that many waited for; a delightful chore
    What will be different in the next year? Will she be even be here?


    Opposing ; Adjective 1. in conflict or competition with a specified or implied subject.

    • Jules

      Also to note: Lucy Lockett was inspired by a drawing of a very old Lady – Maybe in her late 80’s or even late 90’s – so I’m sure just like my elder neighbor who is 95 – these folks of a few years have these thoughts of not being here for the next this or that.

    • Charli Mills

      The military wives also go by that adage of no news is good news. Danni will not be accustomed to that culture and find it unnerving those times she doesn’t hear from Ike. We still wait for our news, having days filled with scraping and painting. I’m none too quick but have finally developed a process instead of not knowing what I’m doing. Yes, you bring up that end of life season for folks who wonder if they’ll be here for the next thing. I guess I don’t take for granted that I will be, not because of age but because life is never as certain as we believe. It’s short, brief and beautiful. Among the muck, ha, ha!

      • Jules

        Life is always a mystery from the very first breath… to the last. So we take our muck and make rainbows when ever we can.

    • Charli Mills

      I hope Whirligig is not too much of a mirror because she lost everything! Babies did not make it. But I’m taking a cue from her and I’m giving it all I’ve got. The amount of scraping and painting is beyond us, but I’m trying anyhow. A wing and a prayer! Thanks for your story, Ritu!

      • Ritu

        Poor Whirligig…
        I should say some of your life mirrored hers…
        Thanks Charli ????

  6. Paula Light

    It’s insane. I’ve hardly stepped foot out of the U.S. since I was born, yet it was such a freaking ordeal to get. RealID driver’s license here in California (which we will need to board a plane starting October 2020), due to my keeping my married name post-divorce and not having my original marriage license. Who keeps that when your marriage dissolves? Even while we were married, idk if I could have found it. I couldn’t prove I was the me on my birth certificate. Everything is nuts.

    • Jules

      Not only do you have to renew your regular driver’s licence… my hubby went to a place that didn’t do the Real ID and also only took cash –
      Found the real ID location that asked for more funds. So the total of the real ID is twice as much as what the renewal for a regular divers licence was and is only available in certain locations. What a bunch of bull-marky. I’ve got a passport that’s good for another year or so. So I can wait on the ‘real ID’.

      • Paula Light

        Ughhh it’s ridiculous!

      • Jules

        All of the driver’s licence places should be able to process the New ID and take any form of payment. But… that’s not the way the government works. You’d think each office was independently owned. Especially when it seems everyone takes lunch at the same time. You’d think they’d overlap lunches so all the desks were manned, especially at the busiest time of the day.

      • Paula Light

        I took a day off work to deal with them.

      • Jules

        That’s got to be annoying. The waiting is really a pain. I got there early to renew my regular licence and was maybe the third in the door and still there was a line and I must have waited over an hour or more. And that was with pre-paying! All I needed was the updated photo.

    • Susan Zutautas

      What the hell happens to those that cannot drive? Insane.

    • Charli Mills

      Ugh, Paula, I know it is such a ridiculous situation. It took us two years to finally get our Michigan driver’s licenses because of all the documentation we had to have, and for women, the marriage only adds more to it. We did get the enhanced which serves as both RealID and for crossing the borders. The Hub had to send away for an original birth certificate, yet he has all his military ID. Do they really think a non-citizen served in the Army? I’m sorry it was such a crazy hassle for you as I’m sure it will be for others when they realize they need a Real ID to fly. How bizarre to have to prove your own birth certificate! Identification might be a fun prompt to play with. When life gives you nuts…

      • Paula Light

        I finally did get it, but yes, such a hassle. Ughhh

      • Charli Mills

        Hopefully, you won’t have to go through it again.

  7. pensitivity101

    Here’s my effort Charli


    Hurry up and wait.
    Waiting, watching life pass us by.
    Hours wasted, waiting for someone else.
    Time is money,
    But not to those waiting.
    God’s waiting room, that’s what they call this place.
    Take a seat.
    Someone will be with you shortly.
    But how long is shortly?
    The clock ticks on.
    Time waits for no-one.
    Yet we are expected to wait.
    It’s only polite to do as one is asked.
    Joints seize, breathing shallows,
    Eyes close,
    Dreams waiting.
    The mind drifts, the spirit leaves,
    Looking down at those souls waiting,
    Shells of humanity,
    Waiting for something to hurry up.

    • Charli Mills

      Time waits for no one…so true! Di, I like the perspective your flash gives, the waiting for something to hurry up when we should be using the brief time we have for living fully.

      • pensitivity101

        These days we seem to waste so much time waiting for something or someone else.

  8. Miriam Hurdle

    I can’t imagine what you have to go through just for preparing the home for appraisal. It’s so stressful for you and the Hub tried to do the impossible even clean the area where the appraiser might not look. Sending you the good wishes and hope you get a lot of help in the process. I was fortunate that the only home we sold was a three years old home and moved into an older home.

    I’ll be back in a flash.

    • Charli Mills

      We are having to do so much exterior paintwork right now and in such a short time, it’s daunting but we’ll get it done. Our neighbors have been encouraging — they say at least we won’t have to worry about painting again for a while! Thanks, Miriam.

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Great! Do you think you can have a painting party?

      • Charli Mills

        We are having one on Saturday!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joanne!

  9. H.R.R. Gorman

    Your story about Whirligig was so fascinating. When you discovered the babies, I was like “AAAAHHH” but also like “SAVE THEM!” So glad Whirligig did not abandon them!

    Just going to leave a link this week:


    Hope the loan comes through!

    • Charli Mills

      Whirligig gave it her all, so impressed with her flurry of activity and feeding, but the babies didn’t make it through the night. I felt better about it, knowing she didn’t abandon her nest and returned, though sad for the outcome. We yet wait another week and have paint “repairs” to complete. I’m not giving up.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Whirligig didn’t give up – neither should you! Best of luck getting your nest in shape.

  10. Chelsea Owens

    Aw, Charli. You made me cry. I hope both your Starling families are able to settle in.

    • Charli Mills

      Well, more tears this week as the babies didn’t make it and we have paint repairs beyond what we did, and more delays. But I’m painting, and not giving up. I will have a starling box and we’ll get on with it.

      • Chelsea Owens

        🙁 I’m sorry! I do hope he tries again next year and the delays resolve.

      • Charli Mills

        Next year there will be a home for us both.

  11. Jennie

    Your every story is gripping. Thank you, Charli for yet another wonderful story!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for reading, Jennie!

      • Jennie

        You’re welcome, Charli.

  12. Sascha Darlington

    Two years ago we were staying at our beach house. Every year a starling builds a nest in the opening where the piling meets the house. Since we always go in late spring, we hear the chirping of the babies. I didn’t know that we were now participating in a pest program when the guy showed up to spray. I asked him not spray by the pilings. He was talkative. I don’t know if he had already done it and just didn’t mention. Two days later, I saw the starling squawk. She flew off erratically. Perhaps it was the writer in me, but I’m sure it was because she was heart-broken because her babies died due to the pesticide. I know this because that loud chirping you mentioned was gone. Yep. I hate pesticides. I warn everyone against using them, especially in spring when baby birds, rather than insects, can be the victims. So I was especially moved by you making sure the baby starlings were unharmed. ????

    • Charli Mills

      What heartbreak! If we allow, there’s a natural system in place. Insects might be “pests” but the attract birds who eat them, solving the problem. Pesticides kill birds and bees. And what for? I would think the squawk and erratic flight was brokenheartedness. My Whirligig lost hers, too. I imagine she slipped away in silence.

      • Sascha Darlington

        I feel like people are always looking for a quick solving for everything–so me, me, me. But it’s been that way of centuries. It would be amazing if we could step back and see what a toll it takes on us, the creatures, the planet. We wouldn’t even being talking about climate change (presumably) if we weren’t so extremely needy. (I’m afraid a rant is oncoming…if not here already. I’ll stop. )

      • Charli Mills

        When I get a case of the rants, I go outside. There is nothing more calming and harmonizing to me than to actually experience the wonder of the natural world. Today, I paused to memorize the color of the ephemeral oriental poppies that look like faded linen tinged peach and watched a bumblebee fumble with asparagus pods until he found one in bloom. How different the world is when we join it instead of forcing it to provide. I understander, Sascha!

  13. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Hello. Ernest and Marge have returned to further their tale. It’s furthered further on their page at my site, but here’s the 99 word version.

    Game, Set, Match

    “Marge, your she-shed is finished. The waiting is over. Go to your prince.”
    Nard smirked. “Ernest’s just waiting for Marge to get back in charge.”
    “Ilene, the wedding’ll be in the garage, get started on decorating. Lloyd, you get ordained, get some words together. Nick, invitations. Remember, I can barely stand you most days, so take care who you invite from the dealership. Kristof, since you still claim this peckerhead as your boyfriend, you’ll be involved too. You and Nard’ll take care of food. Ernest, we’ll need a lot of beer.”
    “Ernest, you poor thing. The waiting is over.”

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see these two are still hanging out in your head!

  14. reading journeys

    Hi Charli

    Prayers for you and your family. Hope things work out fine in the end.


    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Saifun! Things are progressing and I’m working in paints.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! A good car chase enlivens anything.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Melrosette! Welcome to Word Press and Carrot Ranch. This is a good place to start. Fine flash you wrote.

    • susansleggs

      Welcome to the Ranch. You’ll find it a safe place to grow your writing and learn about meeting life’s challenges.

  15. gayatriswaminathanblog

    Great great topic! I dont know where to start 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Are you waiting? 🙂

  16. Pete

    It began with a tearful goodbye. With a sleepless night, then two, then a week until it just was. It clutched her heart with every knock at the door. Her eyes stung when she watched the boys play baseball in the street with another kid’s dad. It ruined Christmas.

    The waiting grew heavy. It promised tomorrow. It made her feel selfish. It consumed her.

    Then it did the unthinkable. It broke its promise.

    It came with too many casseroles and a folded flag. It left broken, her boys in the street, waiting for a pitch that would never come.

    • susansleggs

      WOW. Non-military families have no idea of this type of wait. You described the pain to a tee.

    • Charli Mills

      A writing home run, Pete. This line: “It came with too many casseroles and a folded flag.” That will echo in my veins for a long time. It says so much — the other women who wait are always willing to fix a meal.

      • Pete

        Thanks, Charli. My son is really into football right now and we were playing in the field at the end of the street. Two boys were in town, visiting their grandmother. They were having trouble throwing the football and their mother made the comment “You can tell their father has been overseas for two years, huh?”

        She said it with a laugh but it hit me hard. Not that a mom can’t teach a kid how to throw a ball, but that comment stuck with me. Such sacrifice.

  17. susansleggs

    I can only imagine the roller coaster of feelings while you try to comply and wait at the mercy of others. Some government regulations and workers make no sense at all. I pray the 27th ends with champagne. I’m so glad you have so many that are willing to pitch in to help on a moments notice. I know that’s what you teach us at the Ranch and I’m thankful to be a part of it.

    Some Wait

    The couple watches the birds. The cardinal pair arrives together but she eats first while he waits on a near-by branch. The Flicker waits for no other, he lands at the suet and others skedaddle. The chickadee waits; darts to the unoccupied feeder then takes his prize elsewhere. The squirrels try to invade the feeder but fail, falling to the ground and making a thumping sound that satisfies. The husband waits also; for his wife to stop complaining about something that happened days ago. If only he knew a way to help her let go of what angers her.

    • Charli Mills

      Sue, I might start drinking on the 27th, but no go on the close until the repairs are inspected. And so I paint. The Hub has to install another safety rail, this one more complicated in the garage with cinder blocks. Someone dropped off a power washer, and Saturday we get a bucket truck and a paint sprayer for the upper gables. Meanwhile, I paint everything within reach of my three-step stool. The goal is to get the inspection Monday and the clear to close July 5.

      Your flash had an unexpected twist, from the joyful antics of the bird feeder to the wife’s anger and her husband’s inability to help. Good one!

      • susansleggs

        Good thoughts coming your way for all the repairs and an inspector with a heart.
        The bird story is my own, but I came to my senses when a friend posted a memory of his wait in the hospital for a new heart, not knowing if one would become available in time. There is always someone else that is worse off. I must remember that.

  18. Liz H

    A little moonlight, a little romance, and patient devotion:

    He Waits

    He waits on the bridge by the lagoon, staring down at the moon, a pale and wavering contrast in dark water. Further down the shore, a splash and pop, followed by crunching, draws his attention. A moose shakes its ears in greeting and turns back to its evening snack.

    She’s late. He worries about her, and for the moose.
    [Continue ]

    • Charli Mills

      A winning combination, Liz!

  19. Miriam Hurdle

    Hi Charli, I’m back with my post.


    Take Turns to Wait

    “My dear Heather, would you marry me?”

    “Oh, yes, dear Jason.”

    “We must have our engagement party soon and the wedding in six months.”

    “Well, we’ve been dating for seven years and I didn’t know when you’d asked me to marry you.”

    “I needed to save up money.”

    “You know that I applied for several grad schools. The one accepted me with big scholarship is in New York.”

    “It’s only five and a half hours flight from Los Angles.”

    “Now, your turn to wait for two years.”

    “I know. Let’s have our engagement party ASAP.”

    “We can do that.”

    • Charli Mills

      Miriam, I like the idea that they can take turns waiting and have much to look forward to!

      • Miriam Hurdle

        Yes, good for them and now they have two kids!

      • Charli Mills

        Good things come to those who wait!

  20. Ann Edall-Robson

    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Watching the truck and trailer leave the yard, Liz played Mac’s call over in her mind. He insisted Tal be the one to bring the rig. The anguish in his voice when he told her he needed a medivac NOW, continued to send chills through her. He’d fill her in when he got home. Cell service was minimal at its best near the falls.

    Liz tried to remember who Mac had sent to check on the cows out there. Stay busy she told herself. Then she remembered.

    Ranch life could be a torment to those who had to wait.


    • Charli Mills

      Oh, and here it is the next segment, and wait again we must to see if Hannah is okay. This can be a life changer.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Charli, It’s a wait and see game with me, too. I have had the thought that it might be time to wind down Hanna’s Story. But, then I get the next prompt from you, and off I go again.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Nicole!

  21. Sherri Matthews

    You and your Whirlygig will nest again, Charli…and what a marvellous day that will be <3 Hope I'm not too late. Thanks for waiting, if not 😉

    Never Never Land

    Months we’d waited. We took our seats towards the back of the stadium with a clear view of the stage. Men and women, some in their twenties most middle-aged and wearing black, like me, filled the stands. Others strode towards the standing area armed in sleeveless leathers, long hair and tattoos, fired up for the mosh pit. We waved to three of them before they disappeared into the mosh pit. My boys. The crowd cheered for the first band, but roared when the headliner came on. Metallica. This was it. Off to never never land with my adult kids.

    • Charli Mills

      Rock on, Sherri! What an experience and to get to share it with your kids. Ha! I remember the mosh pit at Flogging Molly and being in the surge with my then-teens. What a time! I don’t think I’d venture to one now. The energy of the crowd must have been electric — Never Never Land! And never too late at the Ranch.<3

      • Sherri Matthews

        Oh what a great memory, Charli. Electric is the word…I’m still buzzing and we’ll keep rocking in Never Never Land…and never late, thank you!! 😀 <3

  22. pedometergeek

    I probably waited too late to post this, but here is my procrastination attempt at this week’s prompt.

    The Time Between

    She was waiting in the airport, sitting in those uncomfortable chairs. She was waiting to board the plane that would take her away from the life she’d known.

    No one had ever told her that most of her life would be spent waiting. Waiting for appointments, waiting for the mail, waiting for her children to be born, her grandchildren to be born…just waiting, waiting, waiting.

    And in that waiting, she began to see her life unfold, a little at a time. She saw her mistakes, her triumphs, and all her losses. Her days waning, she finally lived without regret

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    • Charli Mills

      I waited for you, Nan! Actually, I’ve been painting and trying to problem solve an impossible deadline, but I’m determined to get it all through. Like the character you wrote about this week –live without regret.

  23. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    I’m just catching up on the goings on at the Ranch this morning, Charli. What an ordeal you’ve been going through! I am praying that all will be resolved and your waiting will soon end – with a desired outcome, of course! Your flash this week evokes the angst that I can only imagine you must be going through. I’ve been working on reducing my tendency to worry recently as there are changes coming to our household, too. My husband has resigned from his job which frees him from the ‘golden handcuffs’ of corporate America, but reveals to me how addicted I am to money and benefits. Taking a deep breath and trusting that the world will keep spinning on its axis. Hugs!

    • Jules

      There are various formulas for retirement… I just read one that stated if you wanted to retire early you needed to save 50% of your income.
      And some 30 and 40 somethings are doing that! Prudence and practicality? Maybe if you don’t have any other family to worry about.

      I get that wanting the benefits of a regular health care program and being able to not have to watch every penny. I just had some regular annual tests done. But now there’s always a disclaimer say that 97% might not be good enough. Or you might need another test your insurance doesn’t cover.

      I feel like I’ve been doing that all my life… waiting to live – sometimes anyway. So while hubby still has a job (at least for a few more years)… we are taking advantage of our time to do some traveling while we can.
      We will never reach the same independence (or status?) as perhaps others who take three and four vacations a year and don’t have to worry about Social Security – until such time as maybe we win the lottery.
      While I wait for that golden ticket – I’m gonna live as best I can. 🙂

  24. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections

    Thanks for your response to my comment, Jules. The key is to live now, isn’t it? My husband has a job interview next week that he’s excited about. If he gets the job it will be less intense than his prior situation. I’m hoping for some energy left over for him to include more fun in his life. We’ll see….

  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Joelle!

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Carol!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Richmond!

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Paula!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Leanne!

  30. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Marje!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Susan!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thank, D.!

  33. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Anita!

  34. Liz H


  35. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!

  36. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Sally!

  37. Charli Mills

    Thanks for including Carrot Ranch in your roundup, Sally!

  38. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  39. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!


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