Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » Flash Fiction Challenge » June 27: Flash Fiction Challenge

June 27: Flash Fiction Challenge

Everything is happening too quickly and not fast enough.

It’s the energy of the tail end of a comet after a near miss with planet earth. It’s the spin of a car that comes to rest without striking the tree. It’s ducking the claws of an owl. It’s that moment when disaster passes. Back up to the heartbeat before when catastrophy or near-misses are both yet possible. That’s what my life feels like right now.

I don’t know the outcome. In my bones, I feel hopeful. I’m the seal hunter on the ice shelf, ready to provide but not fully understanding the impact of melting ice. I raise my spear to strike. The shelf can collapse, or I can return to my village with the first food since the long winter. I’m so close to having a home, I can see it rising from the blowhole.

But the ice — the unknowns — don’t always favor the bold. If you really want to be happy, don’t have expectations. Don’t be the hunter whose happiness depends upon getting the seal. In fact, go back and order a shipment of food from Amazon drones and settle. Settle for what is, quit fighting for what could be better. No, that’s not right. Hunt. Go after your purpose, your dreams, your desire. Have wild expectations. Encounter both joy and sorrow.

The baby birds died. The home loan got delayed. And Sgt Mills says no way are we building a starling nest box. It’s times like these I’m reminded that it’s messiest before the end. Every fresh start needs an ending. Every hunter needs something to go after and bring back. Failure is imminent. Death happens. But life begs to be lived in a big way.

Did I think last week was hard? I hadn’t encountered this week, yet. Is the universe giving me some crazy unexpected mid-term exam? Do I really want a home? Pouring over 2017 taxes so I can complete FASFA to start my MFA, I don’t know how we made it. The breakdowns. The miles. We traveled over 7,000 miles to get to the Keweenaw. Our expenses almost tripled what my income was. I hadn’t baked in three years.

Sunday I made a zucchini cake. Chocolate zucchini cake with dark chocolate chips. Why not? Go big or go home. Home is my aim, my focus, my consumption at the moment. The world hinges on home. I baked because seven local writers were coming over to Roberts Street for a writing workshop. I changed the venue, so I could live the dream — to have a workshop in my own home. I had the dishes, the couch, the desk, and a pan for baking. Three years, and I felt inept making batter.

But it turned out. The cake, the workshop, having writers in my home! Almost home.

And then Monday came with the VA’s review of the appraiser’s report. We thought we were ready. We were not. No peeling paint. None. And we also needed to repair a damaged storm window and install a safety rail in the garage above the ramp into the basement. I looked up the codes cited in the VA Lender’s Handbook, a 622-page reference. It even covered economic hardship — that painting would not be waived if it created an impossibility.

And it did. On Monday, my daughter picked me up to help plant flowers at her place. She explained that she and her husband were not able to make the extra repairs due to time and finances, that we would have to pay for them ourselves or wait until after her husband’s summer jobs and her trip to France. Last week was waiting, and I was beyond waiting. I had already taken bids earlier that day, and the work would cost several thousand dollars.

Feeling disappointed beyond words, I helped her plant, blood, and tears spilling down my face.

“Mom, you have soil on your forehead.” It wasn’t; it was blood from a black fly, the tyrants of the north that only live three weeks but can cause terrible bites. She told me this wasn’t like before.

I re-read the letters from before. The letter from the landlord in Sandpoint, Idaho thanking us for being good tenants but that we had 30 days to vacate the premise. The letter I wrote back, crafting it carefully as if it were hostage negotiations. The delayed response — “the owners think they can sell the house better empty.” Two weeks and my world crumbled in ways I never thought possible. No safety nets this time. No savings. No spare change. Help from friends, a hasty trailer purchase that only made our circumstances worse. Nowhere to go so we lived in the wilderness.

I’m not going to rehash the failings of the VA. Not only are they once again putting up hurdles for us to get into a home, but spectacularly, they sent us a letter, received this day, stating that the Hub had no authorization to get his knee replaced and they officially denied his medical claim. My mind rushesd between past and present. My daughter says this is not like before and though I can already imagine the impact crater, she is right.

Even if we don’t own the home, we can live here. We have a strong and connected community in the Keweenaw and at Carrot Ranch. The Hub has advocates besides me — his doctor, counselors, and the surgical team at Aspirus. The meteor is not going to hit us. But it will stir up the dust.

The Hub got testy with the person whose phone number was listed on his big fat denial claim. A thick packet that arrived in the mail this morning. She told him it was his fault for not securing authorization and when he proclaimed he had, she said there was nothing in his record. She said, “Don’t kill the messenger.”

“I will if it sends a message,” he said.

I groaned. This is why veterans are difficult. Everything is a battle tactic. Even in his agitation, even with PTSD, moral injury and brain injury, he’s more controlled than any civilian. I still trust him wholly in a zombie apocalypse. I just can’t trust him to remember to paint all the gaps or find his own socks. The call went south after that. He was calm. We quickly made for CBOC (community-based outpatient clinic) in Hancock. He also called Aspirus hospital and asked to speak to Dawn. She checks up on him. Both places had his back — they had his “six.”

We then drove up to Larium to Aspirus. While he tracked down the copies he needed from Dawn, I visited an ailing Warrior Sister. From her bed, she made suggestions. We talked about her diet (clear liquids for the moment) and beating cancer. I told her gluten-free, and dairy-free food could taste good and be simple. I’d help. She wanted to help me with the house. Sisters in the storm, adjusting our sails.

By this time, I needed coffee. A cafe meil to be exact. When near Calumet, one must go to Cafe Rosetta. On the drive home, the VA called back. I guess they were getting hammered by the Hub’s doctors. We all had clear copies of the authorizations from the VA. They conceded it was a mistake. However the denial is official, so now we have to find out how to overturn it otherwise we have to go and appeal it, like court. VA court. Kangaroo court.

We got home, lunched and the Hub went to bed. That’s the thing — his brain can only take so much. If he has to focus, he talks rapidly and won’t let others speak, or he loses his train of thought. It’s not conversational, but we haven’t had good conversations for a while. I’ve learned to let him ramble and take find joy and humor in it. I miss the deep conversations we used to have. He doesn’t realize they are missing and that’s okay. Better only one of us feels bad about it. A morning that requires all that interaction makes him sleepy. He reset.

Me, I painted.

And I’ll keep painting until our next inspection. Monday. We now hope to close July 5. Down to the wire. I hope to leave for Vermont properly homed. If not, like my daughter tried to point out, it’s not like before. I’m almost home, and I’ll paint my way into it one brush stroke at a time.

June 27, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in need of a coat. What is being painted and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by July 3, 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.


Something Different (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Want some paint for that brush?” Danni smiled, remembering. Her brushing a mammoth tusk, Ike standing at the edge of the mud with his fishing pole. The first time they met.

A wet nose nudged her hand while she cleaned shards and the paint brush flew from her grip. It dropped to the concrete of the barn floor. “Det, you are a pesky hound.” She patted the dog and picked up the brush. Maybe she should paint.

If Ike wanted to do something different, then she would too. Danni left for the hardware store to pick out cheerful yellows.


  1. Norah says:

    You’re a fighter, Charli Mills. The VA will never be the same since coming up against you and the Hub. Lesser mortals would back away and curl up in a corner somewhere. Not you. You know your rights and the rights of others and you’re willing to get in there and fight (in the nicest possible way) to achieve them. I almost said dreams. But they are not dreams. They are rights.
    I love that you had a writer’s wordshop (that’s a typo but I left it cause I like it 😉) at your home. How wonderful. With a zucchini cake and all. A chocolate zucchini cake. With chocolate chips. I’m sure it was a hit, but not as much as your session would have been for the participants.
    I’m hoping we get to the happy-ever-after ending to your story real soon. I’m not sure how much more battering your characters can take, but they are a resilient bunch. It’s funny how a spot (or more) of paint can provide a cover up that then becomes acceptable. Danni is also considering alternatives with paint. Sounds like she has a plan in mind, too.
    Best wishes on being settled in your own home prior to heading off for your first writer’s refuge. My thoughts are with you. I wish they could be more.

    • Norah says:

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my story about an art class:

      Art Class 101—Portrait Painting

      The task completed, he took a fresh sheet of paper and sketched the teacher with an enormous warty chin and hair sprouting like an unravelling steel wool pad. He added her name and then, with a flourish, his. He nudged his neighbour whose stifled guffaws drew attention. When the teacher investigated, only the task was visible.

      Behind the papers, the portrait remained forgotten at class end. Until discovered by the teacher.

      Later, having no satisfactory explanation, he was sentenced to weeks of lunchtimes painting bricks.

      Years later, when he was a famous cartoonist, they delighted in telling his story.

      Here’s the link:

      • Charli Mills says:

        Hi Norah, as you’ve kept up in “live time” on FB you know all our hard work to paint paid off! Looks like there is now a discrepancy between bank and title company which needs sorting out tomorrow. If they move the closing (again!) to Monday, I may become a home-owner mid-flight! But the paint cover up worked and that’s what mattered most. I love your typo — wordshop! And your flash! Often the humor of children is raw and underappreciated by adults.

      • Norah says:

        Yes, I am so pleased with your cover up job, Charli. Now we just need the bank and the title company to shake hands on it. Mid-flight or not. It’s exciting news.
        I think all writers should attend wordshops rather than workshops. Let’s invent it.
        I think you’re right about the humour in the drawing. It takes talent to draw out the salient features.

      • 🙂 I enjoyed this.!

      • Norah says:

        Thank you, Susan. 🙂

      • Charli Mills says:

        Done deal — wordshops for writers (and I just taught it to Grammarly)! Now let’s fan the flames beneath the feet of the bank because they are holding it up taking an extended holiday. The local title company is meeting up with us on Saturday so I can sign papers since I will miss the closing on Monday!

        And yes, it does take talent to create both connection and humor.

      • Norah says:

        I’m so pleased to hear you’re teaching Grammarly. I got tired of fighting with it and went to ProWriting instead. 🙂 I’m not sure that it thinks any better of my writing.
        Fingers crossed that it’s all plain sailing from here, and then plane flying. Whoopee!

  2. Aweni says:

    Sounds like you have had a lot on your plate but you’re coping just fine.😊🤗
    Thank you for the Friday morning motivation.

  3. […] This was written with the prompt paint provided by the Carrot Ranch June 27 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

  4. […] Prompt: June 27: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  5. floridaborne says:

    Those are the kinds of things that the president might want to hear about. He’s trying to change the way the VA “works” (or doesn’t work). There should be no aid for others until those who fought for our country are taken care of first.

    As a writer none can present the case for “VA overkill” as well as you.

    • Charli Mills says:

      There is a White House hotline for veterans but I have not called it, skeptical of any action. In August, the Suicide Prevention Director has invited me to speak to VA staff and I want to use our own stories to open their eyes as to why veterans choose suicide. I always think about the ones who don’t have advocates or the families that break up under the pressure and no relief or the soldiers so morally injured they won’t even ask for help. Bureaucracy does not serve them, and many of our Iraq veterans are stretched so thin from multiple deployments, they are vulnerable to the ridiculous manner in which veterans have to fight for their own benefits.

      • floridaborne says:

        I lived next door to a couple who on the outside, looked like just another family. He was a vietnam vet with flashbacks and I found out later that his kids would hide under the bed an shake with fear as he beat their mother. Shortly after I moved out, he hung himself in the basement.

      • Charli Mills says:

        The greatest pain is among our Vietnam Vets. There are many theories, and all lead back to isolation. Even in military service, units were trained and then broken up in country, making it harder to connect like the iconic band of brothers. Many families and veterans suffered. Your story is all too common. These men had to create their own help and despite their damaged minds, Vietnam Veterans initiated the Vet Centers to get the help they needed. It’s called “readjustment counseling.” For some, like my husband and most the Vietnam vets, it’s for life. But it saves lives, marriages and is the only VA counseling we spouses (and children, too) receive. My heart breaks for our Vietnam vets and the wives who have suffered the war at home. We have to overcome the isolation and stigmas of seeking help and healing. It’s never too late until it is. Though tragic, thank you for sharing your story.

  6. […] June 27: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

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

    Happy reading! 🙂

  8. […] was written for the June 27th Carrot Ranch Prompt, paints. What I was going for here was the misconception/falsehood that native Americans used paint […]

  9. […] :- Thank you Charli Mills for running the challenge at flash fiction and also the photo prompt. The mission is to write in 99 […]

  10. kittysverses says:

    Hi Charli,
    It’s been long since I attempted one on Flash Fiction. Here’s my take on this week’s prompt :-
    Thanks for stopping by and reading.

  11. […] Thanks to Carrot Ranch for a great FF challenge. […]

  12. susansleggs says:

    I wasn’t expecting this challenge to be on time. I think your story has the ear mark of a Pulitzer Prize for the correct investigative reporter. I have just finished reading two of Terry Tempest-Williams books and I encourage you to do as she did trying to save Great Salt Lake and areas around it. May I suggest you keep all your Facebook posts, blogs and VA letters then insist of going to court to overturn the official mistake. Take all your “six” people with you and a videographer to record the idiocy of what getting a loan and care from the VA is often like for our vets. Then lets make it go viral….I would love to help. We could fill the seats of Congress as Terry did with her booklet. and let the facts be known. I do know some vets that have had good care from the VA, but the horror stories you are dealing with are more the norm. I’ll be back later with “paint” after I get calmed down. Hugs and good vibes….

    • Charli Mills says:

      It’s a good thing I write! Even before we ended up un-homed, I was writing about our misadventures to get the Hub’s knee replaced. Then it got serious, and the lack of services throughout our wandering was inexcusable. Here, in Michigan, we’ve received excellent care for the most part. But the bureaucratic nonsense continues to be a barrier to that care we have access to. Yes, I have all my FB posts, blog posts, and the letters I’ve written. It amounts to a lot. My biggest concern is for the veterans who don’t have intact families or communities; the ones who don’t have advocates. Ah, you are reading Terry Tempest Williams! An advocate for her home state’s environment and yes, her writing and fact collecting has made an impact. I do have a long-term plan, and I’ll share it with you in person! Sometimes I think the Hub and I deal with more outside the norm is because we fight back. I have met countless veterans on our journey who gave up, and those who get the care they need often are lucky by virtue of where they live and the regional system they are in. Been feeling your good vibes all week while I painted! And now it is done! Thanks, Sue.

  13. Repainted Landscape
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    It had been two years, but Tal remembered the day vividly. A wall of smoke and flames coming towards the ranch. Neighbours banding together to do what they could before everyone was told to leave. And then the wind changed in their favour.

    Tal stood beside his horse looking out over the valley at the still visible aftermath of that raging firestorm. The healing shades of green across the land accentuated the shards of brown-black. Haunting sentinels of burned trees left behind with the scorched fencing. The blatant reminder of Mother Nature’s power to repaint her landscape, anytime.

  14. Here’s mine Charli

    In our first house, we were fed up with grey walls in our lounge, so decided to buy a large tin of white emulsion and a colour syringe to tone it down a bit when we decorated.
    As it turned out, one syringe didn’t do very much to the white so we added another, stirred it all together and set to.
    We couldn’t have matched the original colour better if we’d tried. The only difference was the large smiley miley we’d put on the wall behind the stairs before starting which still showed through when the lights were on.

  15. Ritu says:

    Charli, you have both endured so much, my admiration for you is unwavering… and my prayers are with you too <3

    Here is my painted picture…

  16. Liz H says:

    Anyone ever tell you are excellent at the Cha-cha (one step forward, two steps back)?
    I am prostrate in overwhelm-ment at the intensity of your blog today. Keep painting, keep dancing…sounds like you have folks who have your back, that can catch and relaunch when the VA dancers do a surprise dip!

    • Liz H says:

      Or maybe that should be two steps forward, one step back? Either way, your supporters will help you launch ahead & gain ground. We’re your cheer crowd!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Surprise dips! Indeed! I’m ready to start dancing on some toes, though. We do have a great community here, and we knocked out all the paint repairs and danced our way through passing the inspection. Almost there!

  17. denmaniacs4 says:

    Paint Chips

    “They look–so colourful.”

    “Thank’s. That’s precisely the reaction we’ve been seeking. Try a few.”

    “There’s quite a selection, isn’t there? Its hard to choose.”

    “They look appealing, don’t they? That’s all a result of our community consultation. Our WORLD consultation, really.”

    “The world, huh?”

    “Our oyster, so to speak. From the get-go, we were out to corner the market.”

    “Wow! Ambitious! And all of it based on a person’s colour personality?”

    “You betcha. Very scientific. The four key elements, earth, air, fire, water, the primary colours, our magnificent colour wheel…”

    “Yet, they’re just potato chips?”

    “Crunchy, colourful and delicious.”

  18. traceyr1984 says:

    Odd how persnickety the VA is about home loans. The system obviously needs an overhaul. Sending you happy thoughts and prayers and keeping my fingers crossed for the closing to happen!

  19. […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction […]

  20. Standing In It

    “What’s goin’ on Kid? Why’s all the furniture out here on the porch?”
    “Stop right there, Pal. Don’t come in. I decided ta pitch in an’ hep Shorty spruce up the ranch. Decided ta paint the floor of the bunkhouse.”
    “Oh, yeah, thet looks real good, Kid. Looks like yer almost finished, too. Jist thet there corner left.”
    “It’s gonna be awhile, gittin’ this bit finished.”
    “Thet’s ‘cause yer standin’ in it, Kid. Ya done painted yersef inta a corner. Reckon you’ll be waitin’ on the paint ta dry.”
    “Yep. Reckon they’s worse things ta have ta wait on.”

  21. TanGental says:

    you don’t half take a knock or two, do you? Much like those kid’s toys that you push over and they right themselves each time. If there were Olympics for resilience you’d be winning at the donkey-stubbonness 400 metre pushback.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes, I corner the market ob donkey-stubbornness! 😀 I’m ready for the knocks to stop, but they have also given me much to say about systems that need changing for those who don’t or can’t get back up.

  22. Oh man, what’s going on in your life is very intense! I’m hoping for good news, because you certainly deserve to hear some. I’m glad that your outlook on life in general seems so positive, though, because that’s like half the battle of being satisfied, I think. It always seems, to me at least, that satisfaction is just one step away. It’s hard for me to look at a bird and be satisfied with the song I have rather than with the porch I don’t have, for instance.

    Blessings to you, and may your next week be filled with good news!

    ***Paints of Peace***

    99-word story plus title & byline (your name): “Dance well.” I stroke my fingers across my son’s cheeks, drawing symbols to praise the creator. “Please the gods and praise their creation.” The white paint of peace applied, I clean my fingers then swirl them in a blue paint made of crushed berries and buffalo fat. This will remain smooth through the day while the white clay cracks and falls. I hope my paints strengthen him throughout the ceremony.

    “It is excellent, mother.” My son in his ceremonial clothing exits the tent.

    A white soldier frowns and, through the translator, growls, “Why are you painted up for war?”

    • Charli Mills says:

      Good news is on its way as we passed inspection today! Funny, but I think I’ll be missing out on my own closing, but we can still make it work and I’ll be flying to Vermont as we gain a home. Something expansive in all that. I’m also trying to keep focused on the bird song. Your flash went deep, cutting across time and the cultural misunderstandings that justified atrocities.

  23. […] it, Bells and Paint? They both peel/peal. The Carrot Ranch June 27, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in […]

  24. Okay, I’m back. A triple play from Marge and Ernest is a click away.

  25. […] to respond to this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills This week, Charli has asked us for 99 words, no more no less… on the subject of painting.. I […]

  26. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (06/27/2019): In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in need of a coat. What is being painted and why? Go where the prompt leads!  Midtown Global Market Writers prompts: 3 mins on “seemed like a good idea at the time” and 4 mins on “The box was empty” […]

  27. Liz H says:

    We’re set to have miserable heat & humidity here in MN, but I guess that goes for much of the US , as well. So Carrot Ranch and and a couple of prompts from a local Saturday morning writing group has resulted in this. My apologies in advance to Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

    Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

    We’d started with a couple buckets of ice blocks, and another couple with dried ice. These’d cool down the backyard while creating thick fog in our North Minneapolis back yard. Full sun, tropical temps; we’d lost a bar bet around nude sunbathing in a semi-public place.
    [Continue ]

    • Charli Mills says:

      Be careful out there — the heat is supposed to ratchet up. If it’s too bad, I’m really close to offering Minnesotan writers a respite! Our Lady Lake who holds us captive with snow also shoves aside those high temps. Sam would have guffawed!

  28. Sorry the VA denied having the authorization, Charli. I hope the issue can be resolved without an appeal. I know how court case goes.

    Baking a chocolate cake with chocolate chips sounds therapeutic.

    Sending you the best wishes!

    • Charli Mills says:

      We have evidence and doctors on our side, so I’m hoping we can resolve this without a formal appeal process. The receptionist at our local clinic suggested that it was probably already being processed and that the error had more to do with the implementation of the new “Mission Act” to give veterans better care. An auspicious start!

      Yes, chocolate zucchini cake with chocolate chips is definitely therapeutic. Thanks, Miriam!

  29. […] post is for a flash fiction challenge over at Carrot Ranch.  In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or […]

  30. Thank you for all your efforts, Charli! The challenges are so great, and i hope my language skills will become better soon to follow. Zucchini cake with chocolate? 😉 Never heared before. Best wishes for the weekend! Michael

    • Charli Mills says:

      Michael, I’m impressed — I didn’t realize that language skills were a barrier. I think you should go for it! And if you want to send me something privately, I’d be willing to help you feel comfortable with your submissions. I love the diversity here, and how language can flex and artfully communicate across perceived barriers. Yes! Zucchini was made for chocolate. Thank you!

      • Thank you very much Charli! Very kind of you. Have to look for Zucchini chocolate here. Sounds a very delicious one. Have a beautiful day! Happy Independence Day! Michael

  31. […] 99-word short was written for and inspired by the Flash Fiction Challenge over at the Carrot Ranch. Stop by today and read other works the prompt […]

  32. […] response to this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills This week, Charli has asked us for 99 words, no more no less… on the subject of […]

  33. […] I wrote this for the June 27th Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  34. […] week at the Ranch, Charli Mills hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. […]

  35. Deborah Lee says:

    The VA is absolutely shameful. I know you must be so tired of all this, but I hope you fight tooth and nail, and leave some scars as you win.

    Here’s my take this week:

    • Charli Mills says:

      Ha! I will leave some scars! I hope to use Miracle of Ducks to talk about the issues that need to be addressed and suggest how. In August I’m invited to share my story with the regional VA. And some in attendance will be mentioned. Thanks, Deborah.

  36. tnkerr says:

    All your strife with the VA will pass. It sounds as though you are doing everything that they want you to do and they are the ones dropping the ball. Keep your chin up and press on. You got this.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Funny, TN, but the exact words of the appraiser yesterday were, “You did everything the VA wants you to do.” Hoping they don’t drop the ball again. I’d like to say we got this, but we don’t got this until we got this! Chin up and pressing on. Thanks!

  37. melrosette says:

    You deserve to be able to enjoy the home you’ve been building in peace! I’m sorry that’s been so challenging, it shouldn’t be. I hope good things come your way asap. Thanks for the warm welcome last week.

    Here’s my piece for this prompt:

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m so glad you could join us at the Ranch! The challenge is nearing the end. I feel it in my bones. And the experience has given me stories to help articulate the veteran plight. Glad to see you back!

  38. susansleggs says:

    Natural Beauty

    The bride stared at herself in the hotel room mirror, horrified. Her soon-to-be mother-in-law had insisted they go for a makeover. They had their hair painted with highlights and their faces painted to clown level, or so the bride felt as she never wore make-up. She and her fiancé were naturalists, working and playing in the wilderness.

    The door flew open, her benefactress strode in and handed her make-up removal towelettes. “My insistence you look like me was wrong. I apologize; we have enough time to get you back to natural, how my son loves you.”

    “Thank you. Mom.”

  39. […] Photo Challenge where the theme is “a state of independence” and to Charli Mill’s Carrot Ranch where the theme this week for 99-word stories is […]

  40. Pete says:

    Painting with my son is messy. Mom makes him put on too-small clothes. I change too. Once we’re sufficiently hideous, it’s to the backyard—to whatever we’ve thrown together from pallets I’ve brought home. Birdhouses, treasure boxes, last time I built a planter.

    We slap it on thick, until paint is slathered on our knees and we’re picking it off our fingers. I try to teach him to go with the grain of the wood, but my son is an against-the-grain type of guy.

    I like that about him. He’s not afraid to make mistakes.

    He’s taught me so much.

    • Charli Mills says:

      “Picking it off our fingers…” Yep, every day this past week! And on Saturday, my seven-year-old grand nephew arrived with his parents from Nebraska. He’s also “against the grain.” I showed him how to stroke, up and down. He shouted, “Look Auntie…!” And discovered across. His mistakes stood out. So did mine. And the inspector said, “Good job.” Life doesn’t always require perfectionism. Your flash reflected my experience.

  41. […] Carrot Ranch June 27, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in need of a coat. What is being painted and why? Go where the prompt leads!// Respond by July 3, 2019. […]

  42. Jules says:


    I am sure we are all so glad you are making it to the Home Stretch!
    I had an unexpected outing out of state. A day of travel on either side of, two days there – But I’m home now.

    I wrote this while away and tweaked the count. Enjoy: A Green Field

    In the room she never wanted, in the house too far from friends, Essie was allowed to paint one wall. It didn’t make up for not being included in what should have been a family decision. At least that’s how she saw it. So she took her time with her artistic eye spreading green.

    To add insult to injury, Essie’s father was impatient that his youngest was taking so long. “It’s not rocket science,” he shouted!

    Knowing that Essie would never win, all she could do was plot her escape. In the room that would now be her sanctuary.


    • Charli Mills says:

      “Plot her escape.” I know that feeling well. This weekend, my niece showed up from Nebraska and while her husband painted all the second story windows and my SIL did all the windows on the sun-porch, she painted the one first story window I couldn’t get to until I had help removing the storm windows. Her husband teased her, calling it her “Bob Ross painting.” But I’m glad she took her time. It’s my almost-front window and looks beautiful. The rest, including my work and the seven-year-old grand nephew’s, is sloppy. I’m liking your story of sanctuary.

      Jules! I get to see you next week! I’m so excited! Safe travels!

  43. Hi Charli,

    You are a warrior and a brave soul. While I keep you in my prayers…my take on this prompt! Hope this gives you some giggles 😉

    Love n Light

  44. OMFRlCKINGGGGG!!! I cannot believe what you guys are going through. Ron and I had our VA battles too and it took a VA doctor to go to bat for him. It was rough for sure. Please let me know how this turns out. I’m sending out waves into the universe to bring you and the hubs the positive energy you both need. July 5th it is!! SO MOTE it be!! <3 Hugs and love to both of you. <3

    • Charli Mills says:

      Actually, July 8th it is, lol! What a ride the VA has had us on. If they were an amusement park, they’d be the best. It really does take a VA doctor at your side, and we do have one. She’s steady and calm, and we all carry on. Feeling the positive energy! So good to see you, Colleen! <3

      • Huge hugs and congratulations! I’m thrilled that this is all working out for you. I’ve missed Carrot Ranch so much. It feels great to be back! I wrote my first flash in months! 😍❤️

      • Charli Mills says:

        And I’m so thrilled you landed and are re-rooting! You are in fine flash form.

  45. […] June 27, 2019, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in […]

  46. Pratibha says:

    First time here. My post :

  47. […] Word Count: 99For the flash fiction challenge at Carrot Ranch […]

  48. […] @ Carrot Ranch [ Flash fiction Challenge in exactly 99 words – Paint […]

  49. Hugs to you and your husband, Charli.

    Oh, Marshmallows!
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    Polish remover seeped through the cotton ball, chilling Ava before she swiped it across Mrs. Birdseye’s fingernails. The old lady smiled vacantly. “How much will this cost, Sweetie?”

    Ava patted the resident’s hand. “I’m a volunteer, Mrs. Birdseye. You don’t pay me.” Ava indicated the polishes displayed in front of her manicure kit. “What color do you like? Pink matches your sweater.”

    Mrs. Birdseye reached her trembling, unoccupied hand toward the bottles, upsetting them. Her eyes widened. “Marshmallows!”

    “Quaint cuss word,” thought Ava as she retrieved the bottles.

    “No, Mrs. Birdseye!” An aide brushed by. “Those aren’t marshmallows. Don’t eat the cotton balls!”

  50. […] This was written with the prompt paint provided by the Carrot Ranch June 27 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

  51. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in nee… […]

  52. […] was written for Carrot Ranch where we were invited to “write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in […]

  53. I’m so sorry you keep coming up against the cruelty of the system, Charli, and congratulations on keeping calm. And writing about it so movingly, especially the analogies in your opening.
    On a lighter note, I also make chocolate courgette cake (zucchini) in the summer – the only baking I did. But I’m still waiting for my poor plants to recover from the slug attacks and provide me some fruit. Teeny tiny hassles relative to yours.
    I’ve got a pictorial post today, but no paintings. I hope my flash about a misnamed butterfly raises a smile:
    Every picture paints a story
    And hoping you’ll have better news to share soon.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Sometimes I feel like I have to amplify my voice because I can write and so many others cannot even speak up for their own situations. Injustice is saying nothing to call out wrongs.

      But yes, on the lighter side of life there are hands in soil and flour and sharing bread and recipes. Slugs sound like a menace. I had aphids decimate my lupines so I did not get to enjoy the blooms. I’m reading up on what Monty Don has to say about the inconvenience of pests.

      Thank you for the smile! Good news is coming…

      • Oh, looking forward to that news, Charli!
        Yes, we have aphids too – the ladybirds are supposed to feast on them, but I ours never seem hungry enough.
        But don’t you have slugs over there? A common problem here, especially when it’s wet as it has been this spring. I know they don’t have them in Australia as I was chatting to an allotment holder recently he mentioned that an Australian who had taken over one of the plots learned about them in an uncomfortable way.
        Glad to say that with a week of sun the crops are recovering and had our first lettuce last night.

  54. Stay strong, Charlie and try to remember that part of the beauty of life is the journey, not just the destination. But, with that being said, my wish for you is that your journey forward has less bumps, more sunshine and a lot less changes in elevation. Hugs to you x

    My entry for the week:

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Kay. I’m often reminded how much I appreciate overlooked moments and hidden beauty because trials push me to go deeper and pay attention to more details. Or should I say, trails? I think it is smoothing out. We’ll see after Monday (7/8). Hugs back!

  55. […] was written in response to Charli Mills’ latest prompt at the Carrot […]

  56. […] week’s flash fiction prompt from Carrot Ranch was to write a story that involved […]

  57. […] was written in response to Carrot Ranch prompt- June 27, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that involves paint. It can be fresh, peeling or in […]

  58. Aweni says:

    Here’s my take on the challenge Charli😊.

    Ps. I really do hope things have picked up a bit for you. Hugs.

  59. […] June 27: Flash Fiction Challenge […]

  60. Hello Charli! Here’s my contribution. It took me longer than I thought to figure out what to write, but I finally figured it out once I thought back to some of the crazier parties I attended back in college.

  61. […] For Charli and her starling, and for this week’s prompt at Carrot Ranch. […]

  62. Once again, I am squeaking in under the wire.

    House Painting 101

    Julia always liked bold, bright colors, and she was tired of having walls of cream, beige, or off-white year after year. Just this once, she and her husband picked jewel tone colors for their new home.

    The living room was now midnight blue; the kitchen, burgundy, and the bedrooms, cypress green; even the den was turquoise. Still, the baseboards were painted white to match the ceilings.

    Their friends and family were shocked by the boldness. “How will you ever be able cover over the paint? If you decide to sell the house?”

    “We won’t,” they said. “Our heirs will.”

    Nancy Brady, 2019

Comments are closed.

A 5-Star Readers’ Favorite!

Be a Patron of Literary Art

Donate Button with Credit Cards

S.M.A.G. Kindness Among Bloggers

S.M.A.G., Norah Colvin, @NorahClovin

Proud Member

Stories Published Weekly

Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills


Follow Blog via Email

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,743 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: