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July 11: Flash Fiction Challenge

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The Ranch is open, but I’m on hiatus at the southern edge of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The unpaved backroads, hilly terrain, links of lakes and ponds, woods, and the Green Mountains disorient me and yet feel familiar. Several times, going around a bend or glimpsing the humps of ancient wooded mountains, I have anticipated a memory, experienced the feeling of recall only to remember I’ve never been here before.

As if that’s not surreal enough, I’m driving around in D. Avery’s truck. I’ve met her mom at the Juedevine Library where we introduced Wrangling Words in 99 words to Vermonters. I had a beer with her brother at the local American Legion where he’s a big mucky-muck very important person. I fed her dad’s chickens and survived a jaunt through the woods when her friend, a local librarian at the Craftsbury Library, said the trail was how to get there. I’ve never hiked through the woods across a mountain ridge to get to a literary event but, hey, I’m game!

Right now, D. has Vermont beans in a crockpot and is visiting with JulesPaige across camp on Greenwood Lake. She baked sourdough buns, and I made a green salad with tarragon dressing, using honey Jules brought from Pennsylvania. We are waiting for Ann Edall-Robson to arrive from Canada and Susan Sleggs from New York.

Pinch me. I’m living the dream of Some Day.

Some Day I was going to lead a nature writing retreat, call it a refuge because it would be a place to rest the writer’s soul and fill up the creative mind. The Refuge, like the Ranch, would be a safe space to explore Writing Dreams, and further craft, platform, and publishing while learning from the Nature Writing Greats who have influenced me over the years. I wanted to be like Annie Dillard or Wallace Stegner and have a special place from where I could write and inspire others to do so, too.

Greenwood Lake is D.’s special place, and she’s sharing. We had a day of getting to know each other, a day to build trust. The next day we played out loud going to the center of a waterfall, witnessing loon choreography, chasing loons and herons in kayaks, chatting up lake neighbors, and discovering mysteries in old cemeteries. I can imagine a young D. accompanying an uncle as he researched their old family ties here, running off and finding a curious obelisk. I can picture her opening the metal cover on the side, surprised to find a mirror inside. The mirror is gone but not the memory.

Lots of things did not happen before I stepped onto the plane to come here — I’m still waiting on final word with home and MFA. But never mind. I’ve come to the Kingdom, and it’s time to focus on that Some Day and share this Refuge, get it going to become an annual event. We welcome Ranchers tonight, including as koala proxy standing in for Norah Colvin. She also sent us treats and sparkling notebooks. Perfect for the realm.

Collections are going to back up as I’m on hiatus, but I will return to “home” by the 24th when D. and I are reading from last week’s responses to the microhistories. Thank you for joining us in that activity! I’ll return after that with good news and catch up with each of you and publish the collections (last week and this one). Because of my time away, I’m setting up the July 11 prompt to have an extended two-week deadline. I hope you have fun with it!

July 11, 2019, prompt: “My kingdom for a koala!” In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a koala in a kingdom. You can create a character out of Norah’s koala and give it a Vermont adventure. Or you can make up a story however you want! Can you pull off a BOTS (based on a true story)? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by July 23, 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.

Koala in the Kingdom by Charli Mills

Koala jangled plastic hips when the morning sun hit her solar panels. She danced with a big grin while three loons circled in a pattern like a watery Celtic knot. She guarded the birding binoculars from her book perch beneath wildflowers. Koala stood in a mound of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, watching the Lead Buckaroo sneak bites when she was supposed to be fixing dinner. Koala smiled when the card from her Australian writer connected the gathered Ranchers from the Kingdom to Down Under. In 99-words, no more, no less, Koala bore witness to literary art and writerly friendships.


  1. tnkerr says:

    Have fun, kids.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Yeah, yeah. Pal, where are we? I don’t know if we’re here or there.”
    “Shush Kid. Mebbe it ain’t about you or even me.”
    “Reckon they’s havin’ fun?”
    “Yep. The Poet Lariat is right there by a real live fire, an’ sure ‘enough she’s a real live wire. An’ hear thet? The Prentiss’ have jist arrived fer fireside chats. Hey, here’s Shorty. An’ Jule’s hub. OMG ain’t this cool? Could this git any better?”
    “Sounds like we’re here.”
    “Right here. Jist heard Ann Edall-Robson’s on her way too. Then Susan Sleggs.”
    “Think they know we’re here?”
    “Doesn’t matter.”

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Norah says:

    Sounds like you’re already having a marvellous time and it’s only going to get better when everyone else arrives. Thanks for the mention. I hadn’t thought of it going ‘public’, then what could I expect from a writer. Now I just have to figure out how to spell ’embarrassment’ in 99 words. 😂😊 Perhaps my grandchildren will help. They’re coming over to play today.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Sounds like a great time you’re having. I’d love to do something like that some day.

    Since starting my WordPress blog around 20 months ago I’ve met so many other writers. I used to feel quite isolated but now I feel part of a community of like minded people. It’s my dream that one day I’ll meet some of the other writers whose work I have constantly read over the last year. However I’m in New Zealand and I have no money for travel, so at this point it’s just a dream for the future.

    I hope you all have a wonderful time. Hopefully it will be quite creative ❤

    Liked by 6 people

  5. I’m excited for you, Charli! Your Someday is not too far off.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That sounds lovely! I remember the first time I went to Vermont. It felt like going home although I’d never been before. I tried to make it home but fate intervened and rightfully or wrongfully, I listened. I hope you all enjoy the writing retreat…wish I could be there. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Sascha, I’ve not had such a strong feeling of having been to a place I haven’t. Fate leads us down unexpected paths but I’m finding as long as we show up for the daily ride, it can be amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think all of the green–there is so much, even the license plates!–must have reminded me of my childhood, going for summers to West Virginia which was also green and wooded, a place I missed and loved.


  7. […] Princess Koala at the Kingdom Diner was written for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Liz H says:

    Enjoy your visit to the waterfall and woods of creativity and rejuvenation–sounds like a little slice of much-deserved heaven!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Seems you’ve had a warm welcome, Charli both in the landscape and its people. I’m sure all the ranch hands are with you in spirit. Hoping you all have a marvellous and productive time and looking forward to hearing more. And photos!

    Never seen a koala, but will be back with my contribution eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pete says:

    Hey Charli, Sounds like you’re having a well deserved good time! Funny, I’ll be at Lake Champlain next week, on vacation with the family.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sounds like an awesome time Charli!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ritu says:

    Sounds like you have had a wonderful time Charli! Here’s hoping it’s all onwards and upwards for you!
    Managed a BOTS one!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. It sounds like you are having a smashing time, Norah. I am so happy for you all.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Jules says:

    In one of the few quiet moments I’ve penned;

    In the Greenwood Kingdom

    Sheila Koala took a walkabout in a different outback. She needed a solar recharge… she wondered if even the coming full moon would be enough to allow her to dance with all the words she was planning to pen to paper. Just imagining how to listen to the wild strawberries and decode the lightning bugs, and luxuriate in the loons compelling call… this is a strange new world.

    At the waterfall the sun not quite out, the trail slick from the previous days rain. Moss was growing brown veined white quartz. These are things that would also help renewal.


    Liked by 2 people

  15. Sounds adventurous as same as the Ranch.


  16. Jennie says:

    Your time in Vermont must be the best! Thank you for all the stories of what’s happening there. I”m so glad Norah sent along something special. 🙂


  17. tnkerr says:

    I messed up a couple of things. The link to my story is wrong in the submission. It should be

    There was also a link to the Australian Museum embedded in my story. It doesn’t appear to have made the jump into the submission. It should be

    I’ll try to get it right next time. Prolly won’t though, but I’ll try.


  18. Awww, that sounds like so much fun Charli, wish I could have joined in 🙂 Here’s my entry for the week. Hopefully, I won’t be disappearing for long periods from now on 🙂


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