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July 11: Flash Fiction Challenge

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

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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.


107 Comments

  1. tnkerr says:

    Have fun, kids.

    Liked by 4 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.”
    “Nope.”

    Liked by 9 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 9 people

    • I love the koala theme, Norah. I have my photo holding a koala plus koala on the tree.

      Liked by 4 people

    • What a great idea to send a proxy, Norah, and your thoughtfulness and generosity is nothing to be embarrassed about. And perfectly apt to have a prompt in your honour.

      Liked by 6 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Norah, you have been such a wonderful part of our refuge! Sorry, we’ve had a few accidents with your proxy! Koala is living the adventure, that’s for sure. Hope you know that we all appreciate your generous spirit and welcome you here. ❤

      Liked by 6 people

      • Norah says:

        Thank you, Charli. It was important for me to feel a part of it, even if I couldn’t be there in person. Now you’ve got me wondering what happened to my proxy!!! I hope the adventures included some laughs. Adventure goes best with laughter. 🙂

        Liked by 5 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        Your proxy went on a golf cart, hikes, kayaking and guarded the bowl of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Norah says:

      The children and I all wrote the beginnings of koala stories. This isn’t the one I started then, but another one to add to the collection:

      A Kingdom for a Koala
      “Bring me a koala!” The king bellowed, sending servants scuttling.
      His zoo was complete with all, except a koala. The omission stoked his anger daily. He wouldn’t accept that his destruction of eucalypt forests had decimated their population.
      From the shadows came a tiny voice. “What will you give for a koala?”
      “Anything!”
      “Your kingdom?’
      “Yes, my kingdom! Anything! Just get me a koala.”
      “I have a koala. First, your sceptre and your kingdom.”
      Blinded by rage and desire, the king complied.
      The koala removed her mask. The king gloated pre-emptively.
      “Throw him into the dungeon. Free the animals!”

      Liked by 8 people

      • Norah says:

        I’m back with another koala story to add to the mix:

        Surprise Party for a Koala

        BANG! BANG! BANG!
        Little Koala’s eyes pinged open.
        There it was again. BANG! BANG!
        She stretched, clambered down the tree and headed towards the noise.
        She stopped under possum’s tree and peered into the branches.
        “What’s going on here?”
        Possum peeked out, glancing left and right. “Nothing.”
        “Tell me!”
        “Nothing. Go away.”
        Koala scrambled up the tree. “What’re you doing?”
        Possum grimaced, pointing to a sign.
        “You know I can’t read yet.”
        Possum placed a crown on Koala’s head. “It was supposed to be a surprise. Happy birthday.”
        Koala felt special as a princess when all her friends arrived.

        Link: https://wp.me/p3O5Jj-1r8

        Liked by 2 people

    • susansleggs says:

      I’ll tell what happened to Koala. She fell off the back of a moving golf cart, but was caught mid air, so preserved. Someone had the idea you might have bugged her so you could hear what was going on. There was loads of laughter but you missed the reading of a horse point of view story about carrying her cowboy while he was calf roping. It was mighty near erotica and the word of the day was titillating….Like I said, loads of laughter, and learning, and loons, and water, and new special friendships. We all talked to you during our stay.

      Liked by 3 people

    • floatinggold says:

      I apologize for not replying to the right comment, but I don’t see the “Reply” button in the corresponding one.

      Actually, you cannot hold or even touch a koala at Taronga in Sydney.

      Liked by 2 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 7 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 2 people

  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 4 people

  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 3 people

  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 2 people

  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!
    https://butismileanyway.com/2019/07/12/july-11-flash-fiction-challenge-koalas-kingdom/

    Liked by 4 people

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

    Liked by 3 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.

    ©JP/dh

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Sounds adventurous as same as the Ranch.

    Like

  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. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. […] I wrote this for the July 11th Flash Fiction Challenge […]

    Like

  18. tnkerr says:

    OK…
    I messed up a couple of things. The link to my story is wrong in the submission. It should be
    https://tnkerr.wordpress.com/2019/07/14/fascinating-stories-from-science-i/

    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
    https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/mammals/drop-bear/

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

    Liked by 3 people

  19. […] in response to the Carrot Ranch July 11: Flash Fiction Challenge . The challenge this week was to write a story in 99 words on a Koala in a […]

    Like

  20. 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 🙂 https://jagahdilmein.wordpress.com/2019/07/15/a-gift-fit-for-royalty/

    Liked by 3 people

  21. […] flash fiction of 99 words was written for a challenge over at Carrot Ranch. The prompt word being: […]

    Like

  22. […] This was written with the prompt to write a story about a koala in a kingdom provided by the Carrot Ranch July 11 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

    Like

  23. I thought this would be a difficult one, but I came up with a story surprisingly quickly: https://jedigirlblog.wordpress.com/2019/07/16/jill-the-pirate-and-the-koala-king-short-fiction/

    Liked by 3 people

  24. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a koala in a kingdom. You can create a character … […]

    Liked by 1 person

  25. […] was written in response to the, frankly bizarre and challenging Carrot Ranch prompt this […]

    Liked by 2 people

  26. denmaniacs4 says:

    A day or two in the life. Pretty Seinfeldian, I think.

    Up to here with Koalas

    Aussie stuff’s ringing out loud and clear today.

    An Australia bound Air Canada hits a vortex and plummets’ down.

    Or up.

    It returns to the nearest land.

    Honolulu.

    Two day earlier, I wheeled a wheelbarrow of scrap, crap wood and punctured skin. I go to the Doctor for an infected hand. He gives me some Australian Papaw Gel.

    Charli posts “My Kingdom for a Koala.”

    My Kingdom, such as it is, a little ratty by regal standards, is overflowing with Australian minutae.

    Then I remember that my cousin once got deported.

    Weed, eh!

    Koalas!

    Cute, maybe, but unbearably pushy.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Enjoy the adventure! I hope the retreat “blossoms” into more stories (and prompts) for the Ranch!
    Thank you, Norah, for inspiring that wonderful prompt.

    I ended up finding a kingdom for Koala in a past FF of mine — Green lake habitat … I could not get the Vermont woodlands out of my mind!

    Saifun

    Liked by 1 person

  28. floatinggold says:

    That sounds heavenly. I’d love to join Some Day.

    Like

  29. […] “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a koala in a kingdom.” [Extra points for pulling off a BOTS (Based On a True Story)] – a prompt for this week’s CW piece. [Source: @CarrotRanch] […]

    Liked by 1 person

  30. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (07/11/2019): “My kingdom for a koala!” In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a koala in a kingdom. Can you pull off a BOTS (based on a true story)? Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Like

  31. Liz H says:

    What is wrong with me? 😮 LOL
    Hope you enjoy this bit of naughtiness:

    So Hot

    Sweat slid down between her breasts, over her taut belly, dipping into her round navel and dampening the fabric of her summer shorts. Her sports bra was soaked, unable to absorb more sweet summer effusions.

    After having mowed the lawn in 80% humidity, there were plenty.

    She tipped her head back and downed the last of her water bottle, shaking it for the final shivering drops. Leaning back on the cement stoop, she peered at her boyfriend, Ted, sipping an icy Koala Cooler.

    “I’m parched, Ted. My Kingdom for a Koala!”

    Waggling his brows, he tossed her a bottle.

    © Liz Husebye Hartmann (2019)
    [Continue ]

    Liked by 1 person

  32. susansleggs says:

    Charli, I feel blessed to have been able to attend the first Nature Retreat. I left some major issues at home in order to be there and during one solo writing experience I was “given” the knowledge I was exactly where I was supposed to be on this earth at that given time. An epiphany of sorts. I arrived with questions about my WIP and I left with, not only answers, but a plan to move forward. Thanks doesn’t say it all. May many other Ranch Hands get to attend in the future and may these retreats become available to all, no matter their location. You are an inspiration.

    Peace of Mind
    When young I could stare at lake water long spans of time noticing the passing boats, the size of or lack of white caps, or a splash made by a fish jumping to catch its supper. Often there would be just the surface to watch; the ripples changing direction with the breezes. This past week I got to do the same in an unfamiliar, beautiful location. I again experienced a peace of mind, free of all other thought. I wonder if it’s the same peace a koala might experience in its kingdom in the tops of a eucalyptus tree.

    https://wordpress.com/post/susansleggs.com/10831

    Liked by 3 people

  33. floridaborne says:

    Been on a bit of a hiatus myself — on a mission during a family emergency just to arrive home feeling the effects of air travel, fighting a migraine and then losing to it badly yesterday. I’m not sure what to do with koala’s but I’ll think of something.

    Like

  34. That is wonderful. 😊 I am so happy for you all. Have an amazing time! (Lovely that Norah can be there in Koala spirit.) 🐨❤️

    Like

  35. D. Avery says:

    “Sure is nice, layin’ out here under the stars.”
    “Yep, Kid, it sure is. Big skies an’ fresh air.”
    “Hear that, Pal? Frogs croakin’. Listen. Don’t it soun’ like they’s callin’ fer Shorty? Shorty. Shorty.”
    “Kid, thet ain’t frogs. We’s on the Ranch, not some lake back East.”
    “Then what is that sound?”
    “D’ruther not say, Kid, ‘ceptin’ thet after two weeks a beans mebbe the air could be a might fresher.”
    “Oh. Yep, I smell what yer sayin’. But hear that call, Pal? Gotta be loons.”
    “Coyotes, Kid. We’s on the Ranch.”
    “No loons here?”
    “D’ruther not say.”
    ***
    “What d’ya s’pose Shorty an’ our writer’s up to? Ya’d think our writer’d be writin’.”
    “Oh, she done turned that writers’ refuge in ta a writer’s refuse. Refusin’ ta write, claims doin’, seein’ stuff ya cain’t make up gits in the way of fiction writin’. Cain’t shape her WIP.”
    “Shorty’ll whip ‘er inta shape.”
    “Mebbe, mebbe not. Heard Shorty’s unner some kinda Green Mountain spell now too. Either thet or she’s jist been out in the Vermont hot sun too much. Gittin’ kinda looney.”
    “Shorty ever comin’ back?”
    “Reckon. Even those twisty gravel roads cain’t keep Shorty from Home.”

    Liked by 1 person

  36. “Sure is nice, layin’ out here under the stars.”
    “Yep, Kid, it sure is. Big skies an’ fresh air.”
    “Hear that, Pal? Frogs croakin’. Listen. Don’t it soun’ like they’s callin’ fer Shorty? Shorty. Shorty.”
    “Kid, thet ain’t frogs. We’s on the Ranch, not some lake back East.”
    “Then what is that sound?”
    “D’ruther not say, Kid, ‘ceptin’ thet after two weeks a beans mebbe the air could be a might fresher.”
    “Oh. Yep, I smell what yer sayin’. But hear that call, Pal? Gotta be loons.”
    “Coyotes, Kid. We’s on the Ranch.”
    “No loons here?”
    “D’ruther not say.”
    ***
    “What d’ya s’pose Shorty an’ our writer’s up to? Ya’d think our writer’d be writin’.”
    “Oh, she done turned that writers’ refuge in ta a writer’s refuse. Refusin’ ta write, claims doin’, seein’ stuff ya cain’t make up gits in the way of fiction writin’. Cain’t shape her WIP.”
    “Shorty’ll whip ‘er inta shape.”
    “Mebbe, mebbe not. Heard Shorty’s unner some kinda Green Mountain spell now too. Either thet or she’s jist been out in the Vermont hot sun too much. Gittin’ kinda looney.”
    “Shorty ever comin’ back?”
    “Reckon. Even those twisty gravel roads cain’t keep Shorty from Home.”

    Liked by 3 people

  37. I know all about Some Days and am so happy you are living yours!!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Paula Puolakka says:

    The Two Koalas

    She was born in the year of the Koala (so did the new wave Japanese astrology hippies say,) and so was her son. Together they went everywhere, the tender mom and son, and teasingly she called him “Bubba,” but he replied, every time, “I am not your Bubba, but you are my momma,” and together they laughed.

    Their kingdom was the God-given world. They loved the flowers, ancient trees, and the lakes, but unfortunately, many of their favorite places were violated by the aggressive building projects.

    Yet, wherever the two went, people said: “Their Koala kingdom is the best.”

    Liked by 3 people

  39. […] Last week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a koala in a kingdom. You can create a character … […]

    Like

  40. […] This flash fiction was written in response to Charli Mill’s July 11, 2019, prompt: “My kingdom for a koala!” In 99 words (no more, no le… […]

    Like

  41. Aweni says:

    Hi Charli😁
    Here is my take on the prompt.
    https://aweni.net/2019/07/23/who-did-it/

    Liked by 1 person

  42. 16 weeks has been a pretty good run for Hanna, Tal, Mac and Liz . . . Koala Range will be the last of Hanna’s Story I will be sharing with you (for a while).

    Koala Range
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Mac stood leaning on the fence, one foot resting on the bottom rail. He came here when he needed to think without interruption from humans. This was the pasture the retired horses were turned out in to enjoy the rest of their days, the old-timer’s kingdom. A tradition his grandfather had started, and one Mac was happy to carry on.

    “Remember son, you never turn your back on the ones that made you the man you are.”

    A soft nose pushed at his hand looking for a treat. Mac’s favourite gelding waited for attention.

    “Here you go, Koala.”
    https://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/koala-range

    Liked by 2 people

  43. […] Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge – The Koala Kingdom […]

    Like

  44. Here is The Koala Kingdom:

    https://theshowersofblessings.com/2019/07/23/carrot-ranch-flash-fiction-the-koala-kingdom/

    The Koala Kingdom

    “Welcome to the Round Table. The top agenda today is on Koala.”

    “We had that six months ago.”

    “I’ve met with Koala King. His concerns are about the millions of acres of their kingdom being destroyed.”

    “By the developers for housing?”

    “And the wildfires too. There’re no consistent legislation or adequate resources from the government to protect them.”

    “What do we do?”

    “The researchers suggested upgrading the Koala status from Vulnerable to Endangered. We’ll recommend that the government declaring the Koala habitat a sanctuary.”

    “Yes, the Koala Foundations will jointly go to the government for securing the Koala Kingdom.”

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Nothing like posting at the last minute (and considering there was even an extra week in there)…nonetheless, here is my entry:

    The Encyclopedia Kingdom

    Julie loved picking up random volumes of the encyclopedia, discovering new animals. It was there that she found entries for wombats and koalas. Both were from Australia, but she’d probably only see them in pictures.

    One Christmas, however, she saw a Moore’s ad with a stuffed koala bear on sale, ninety-nine cents. She circled it and hoped the hint would be taken.

    On Christmas morning, Julie was excited to open a package containing the little koala. It looked less like the pictures, but she was happy.

    Years later, she saw koalas at the Cleveland Zoo. Wombats? Fingers still crossed.

    Nancy Brady, 2019

    Liked by 1 person

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