February 13: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

February 14, 2020

Coursework on plot scatters across my dining room table as if I were translating old Medieval letters, seeking the alchemy of novels. How do I turn base pages into golden books? I’m overwhelmed with formulas so I draw pictures in the margins. My stick-figure protagonist ends up with a knot in a box with wheels, and I have the slightest shift in understanding. I can visualize what I’ve been trying to do with my W-storyboard for years.

Of course, it helps that with each a-ha of chemical compounds to create a novel in a lab, I have fellow mad-scientists to work with and Dr. Frankenstein to guide in our critique. The hard work of my MFA has arrived and I didn’t know my writing could be pushed to such depths where heat and pressure crystalizes material. Will strands of gold emerge? Time will tell.

Needing to relieve some of that pressure, I suggest to the Hub that we go to the cheap-seats night at the movie theater and catch 1917. One of the plot techniques I’ve studied is the Blake Snyder Beats. Save the Cat! is a website of diverse writer resources based on Blake Snyder’s series of books for developing screenplays and novels. His genres include Dude with a Problem, and that’s what 1917 is — a movie about a soldier with a problem. I justify going to the movie because after I can read the Beat Sheet and learn more about novel alchemy.

The movie rolled on from opening image to closing image with a single blackout break. Otherwise, the viewing experience remained intense. If you have not seen the movie, know that the 1917 Beat Sheet reveals spoilers. If you have, it’s worth comparing what you viewed to how the beats apply to the screenplay. In order for my thesis to be accepted, I have to complete a detailed plan including plot and character development. At this point, I’m reading books and watching movies to study the plans beneath.

That doesn’t mean my mind has avoided windows or playtime. In fact, I feel my imagination is heightened. I worried that if I gave in to plotting I might lose the fun of discovery in pantsing, but I’m finding that discovery exists in plotting, too. I’m starting to see stories emerge more quickly, which is a huge relief given my propensity to stare. I still get to window-gaze. The flow comes faster.

This week, Mental Floss posted a list of antiquated words or phrases associated with Valentine’s Day. One is sugar report, which is what soldiers in WWII often called mail from wives and girlfriends. This made me think of the character, Schofield, in 1917, and his reluctance to see his family on leave because he’d have to leave them again. It made me wonder how the sugar report was received in WWI. It’s a phrase that can be applied to modern sweethearts, too.

I’m not full of insights this week, adjusting to the absence in our home and working toward that thesis plan. If you were here, I’d invite you to the Parade of Confections tomorrow at the Finnish Heritage Center. I’m a newly appointed Board Director for the Copper Country Community Arts Council and this is one of our big fundraising events. I’ll be pouring wine and helping to keep the appetizer trays full. In the future, I look forward to bringing literary and other artists together for learning and collaboration.

Somewhere in all of this, I’ll find transformation. I hope we all will. In the meantime, let’s write love letters to the frontlines, no matter where a sugar report might turn up.

February 13, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes a sugar report. Use its original meaning of a letter from a sweetheart to a soldier, or invent a new use for it. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by February 18, 2020. 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.

Submissions closed. Find our latest weekly Flash Fiction Challenge.

1917 Sugar Report by Charli Mills

In 1916 it wasn’t clear if America would send troops overseas, but if they did, John Kellerman was enlisted and ready. His mother refused to say goodbye the day he left their Midwest farm. She was a widow against the war. His kid sister ran after his bus, waving proudly. She sent him letters scented with pink roses from her victory garden. Kellerman let his squad believe he had a sugar report from home, enjoying the minor deception. When he was killed on the frontline, they buried him and his sister’s letters beneath a white cross. Nothing sweet remained.


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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “She didn’t forget you this week, Dougie.”
    The lieutenant handed out the mail, watched as the steamy jungle faded and the men disappeared into familiar kitchens, old neighborhoods, into embraces remembered or imagined.
    “She didn’t forget you this week, Dougie.”
    The lieutenant handed out the mail, watched as the steamy jungle faded and the men disappeared into familiar kitchens, old neighborhoods, into embraces remembered or imagined.
    Then his radio man was at his side. He didn’t need to tell his men; they were folding their letters, tucking them into their breast pockets, some kissing them before putting them in the band of their helmets. The jungle was back in full focus.
    “Time to draw straws.”
    “Don’t bother Lieu. I’ll go.” Dougie took point, his crumpled letter left behind in an MRE can.

    • susansleggs

      It seems that “sugar report” was a “Dear John.” Oh so sad for Dougie.

    • Charli Mills

      If it were deliberate, it could be a neat technique for repeating a reverie until broken by some boon or disaster.

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake


    “She didn’t forget you this week, Dougie.”
    The lieutenant handed out the mail, watched as the steamy jungle faded and the men disappeared into familiar kitchens, old neighborhoods, into embraces remembered or imagined.
    Then his radio man was at his side. He didn’t need to tell his men; they were folding their letters, tucking them into their breast pockets, some kissing them before putting them in the band of their helmets. The jungle was back in full focus.
    “Time to draw straws.”
    “Don’t bother Lieu. I’ll go.” Dougie took point, his crumpled letter left behind in an MRE can.

    • Liz H


      • robertawrites235681907

        That isn’t nice in this situation, Miss D. Very sad.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Robbie, I’m unclear. The hiccup is my difficulties in putting this story into the comments.

    • Charli Mills

      Such a great moment to make the jungle fade. The drawing straws or tossing coins are an example of insidious moral injury particular to Vietnam vets. Some still live with the guilt. And some were lucky to return home to women who waited. Yesterday, we celebrated the anniversary of one vet who proposed on Valentine’s Day before leaving for the jungle. She said yes, and is still with him. Yesterday, we also surrounded another wife who has lived with the survivor of a drawn straw but facing her own battle with a third tour of the cancer ward. Life fades in and out of us all and sometimes we storytellers are called to bare witness. You did good.

    • Sascha Darlington

      Well done, D. We knew exactly what was in that letter from his reaction.

    • Lisa A. Listwa

      This is beautiful, D.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Reena!

  3. floridaborne

    My dad was in England during WWII. He’d married my mom in 1943, they’d enjoyed a few months together (if that), then he was shipped off to England.

    He arrived back at the states 3 years later. He stood at the port, wondering if he should travel back to a wife in Arizona he hardly knew, or go back to St. Louis where his former girlfriend of a decade had waited patiently for him.

    Dad hadn’t seen “D” since he’d entered the Army in 1941, the year he’d met my mom as a new private. He hadn’t counted on “D”s relentlessness.

    It must have been hell on my mom: She hadn’t married until the age of 29 and believed that dad, 3 years her senior, was the right man. Yes, dad had chosen to travel into her arms and, yes, he’d told the woman in St. Louis he wasn’t returning to her. But the letters still arrived from “D”, begging him to return.

    It was only when mom became pregnant with my sister a year later that the letters stopped.

    My twist on the “Sugar report” is a what-if.

      • floridaborne

        They were the perfect fit together. She was his lighthouse in a storm, and he was her rock of safety.

    • Charli Mills

      What a family story, Joelle. I hadn’t thought about how disruptive the war must have been on prior relationships. I wonder at the woman who was so relentless and couldn’t move on. I look forward to reading your what if scenario.

      • floridaborne

        Mom didn’t know about her until after the war. I wrote her memoires on my blog word for word a couple of years ago. It’s all under memorabilia on my blog if you’re ever interested in reading it.

      • Charli Mills

        I read through #4, Joelle. I’ll be back to read more. Family history fascinates me. I like how your mom picked apart her dad’s story. We have a similar family history with half-truths. It’s fun to uncover the real story.

    • Lisa A. Listwa

      Wow, that is quite a story! Proof that real life is often more dramatic and intriguing than fantasy.

      • floridaborne

        It does us no good to try to bury the truth about our past. There were a lot of marriages that happened “on the fly.” Mom dated him for several months before marriage, determined to find just the right man. Being 29 was old for marriage at the time.

  4. Jules

    Oh, Charli….

    Love lost… by any war is devastating. I enjoyed your flash and hearing about how you are involved in your community and coursework. I did a bit of research for Valentine’s day that you can find at my post. I was able to link up with my Banking story in 99 words here:

    #100 Letter of Intent

    from what I could tell
    Valentine was up all night
    go on grab hold – love

    such a brief message, he sent;
    healed, my faith – sentenced to death

    who could judge my heart
    such a sugar report those
    lines restoring faith

    While reading about Valentine, Lee imagined the blind girls’ thoughts. Did Ife, her guardian spirit whose name meant woman of love; was Ife also helping to restore the faith of those who had lost so much? The Judge who sentenced Valentine to death, could he have imagined his role in the modern holiday.

    Ife’s rose scent wafted gently through…


    • Charli Mills

      Jules, your clever way of giving Lee a chance to re-imagine the thoughts of Ife in response to her ancient valentine sugar report, broadens the history for all of us. Well done.

      The community event was fun and we raised an exceptional amount for the art center. I enjoyed my role as a wine server. I especially had fun with those patrons who favored the bubbly as I’m a fan of bubbles, too. I told people I was pouring them glasses of joy bubbles! Some cakes went for as much as $350! I bought two $3 cupcakes, more within my budget!

      Coursework continues…

  5. Sarah Brentyn

    Happy Valentine’s Day, Charli. ???? (Happy International Book Giving Day, too!)

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, yes — Happy International Book Giving Day, Sarah! Both holidays celebrate love. <3

  6. denmaniacs4

    I do have a sweet tooth, Charli, but I may have not totally groked “sugar report”. In any case, a lot of Canada’s rail transportation is down these days courtesy of groups of protesters. On the lower mainland, commuters from the Fraser Valley who travel by West Coast Express were up in arms courtesy of those self-same protesters. I have always loved train travel and movies such as The Mac

    • denmaniacs4

      To continue…The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit which showed train commuters travelling in packs to the big city to work in tall buildings. It guided my take this week on your prompt.

      Dispatch From my Third Floor Cubicle

      Darling, what a lovely surprize. I’d expected nothing more this Valentines Day than my usual excruciating hour commute, often as not sitting next to that irritating millennial, Dulcie Ditherspoon, the new HR manager from the fifth floor, who just happens to board at the next station to ours and never fails to find a seat inches from me.

      Today, she was clutching a dozen roses and a box of chocolate, and saying, “My sweet Riley, he’s so woke. I’m so quiche. He’s so goat.”

      I almost tossed my cookies.

      Your valentine-shaped peanut butter cookies.

      Work is such dense warfare.

      • Charli Mills

        Okay, Bill — your flash has me chuckling, too. I got sidetracked by watching the first 15 minutes of the movie and now it’s incentive to finish my work. Having read your flash before I watched the opening, I could see your story in Gregory Peck. The home life with the chicken pocks was oh-so-peanut-cookies comfy cozy.

    • Charli Mills

      Groked is a great word, Bill! Ah, I had been reading about the train disruptions in Indigenous News but did not realize you were feeling the impact in your corner of Canada. When we lived in Idaho, we had international train traffic, and I loved watching them. I’d be willing to hop a train and travel and write for weeks on end.

      I looked up The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and found a Gregory Peck introduction and trailer. The logline reads, “gripping tale of the horrors of war, marriage and life.” I had to chuckle — horrors of marriage? 😀 The entire movie is on YouTube. I might try to watch it if I get coursework done by tomorrow.

  7. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Frankie Rides. Again

    “Thanks agin fer the sugar cubes Kid. It’s got Burt eatin’ right outta my hand.”
    “Reckon it’s another busy week fer you an’ Burt, ‘ey Frankie?”
    “What d’ya mean, Kid?”
    “Deliverin’ mail. Last week all them consolation cards, this week Valentines an’ love letters— sugar reports as she says.”
    “Kid, I reckon those consolation cards and notes was letters a love too. Funny thing about mail. It’s all jest somethin’ in a envelope, ya jest don’t know; could be sugar, could be salt, looks the same. An’ some a this week’s sugar reports are sure ta be bittersweet.”

    • Charli Mills

      Some letters with familiar print and return addresses are always sweet (unless secret spidy messages are shared). Not bittersweet, just a bit dark. Glad to see Burt getting some sugar cubes.

  8. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Charli, I’m in awe of the eloquence of your opening – and your 99-word story is very moving.
    Re: Save the Cat, I do see how a fair bit of what makes film work is also transferable into fiction but personally I feel shortchanged when the creative writing industry uses this heavily as a teaching method. By all means, let’s draw on other art forms but page and film are not the same and wouldn’t writers feel a stronger affinity to the format?
    I couldn’t find anything to say about the real sugar report and have gone to the ups and downs of my youthful solo travels and the pleasure of picking up mail from home in the days before email. Now I feel a bit embarrassed as if I’ve equated the horrors of the trenches with the sometimes loneliness of cross-cultural travel!
    A few things I’ve learnt through my first foray into self-publishing with a short story e-book freebie https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2020/02/a-few-things-ive-learnt-through-my-first-foray-into-self-publishing-with-a-short-story-e-book-freebie.html

    • Charli Mills

      Anne, I was feeling the stress of overwhelm with thesis work this week that I hadn’t realized I wrote anything eloquently! If only I can apply that to novel work.

      All these techniques and methodologies are why I never wanted to learn to plot. They make my head swim to figure out that character A must achieve plot twist F by page 37 so that plot twist G leads to revelation B with character C by the end of the First Act which must happen between the pages of 103 and 111. As one professor said — there are a thousand ways to plot. They want us to know at least 9,999 of them it feels like!

      To stay sane, I challenge myself to how would I do this method using the W storyboard. And what is liberating is that I’m finding my way through the methods by applying what I know works for me. I believe in a flexible system that can adapt to writers and their craft. But the beats are fascinating to study. I don’t care about where they happen, but that they happen is interesting. I used a questionnaire from the Snyder Beat Sheet to develop my plot last term and was really pleased with how it turned out. Now I’m tasked with creating subplots and combining character arcs and outlining the entire thing. I’ve come up with my own method but it’s yet to be approved or tests, so we’ll see.

      I’ve been enjoying reading Somebody’s Daughter in between required reading and yes, I’ve been finding beats in your work. 😉

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Well, I think your openings are generally eloquent – you’ve got the magic touch with descriptions.

        That’s a sensible way to approach your learning, Charli, seeing how it builds on what you already know to work and feel comfortable with. I don’t feel quite ready for the Beat Sheets, but I’m definitely more open to the logic behind them.

      • Charli Mills

        Anne, I’m pleased to say I turned in my first draft of a plot outline, tonight and I made some interesting discoveries and shifts. It really changed the scope of the story and I have scenes to write now. I don’t think I’m up to timed beats, but I initially used the Snyder Beat Sheet to create a framework of what happened next. I also use a tool called Super Basic Shit (I kid you not)! I was skeptical but it formed the first basic foundation. Nor sure I want to claim I built my book on a foundation of shit, but there it is. Overall, I feel like I have an area to explore.

  9. H.R.R. Gorman

    I hadn’t heard of the “beat sheet” before – as a terminal pantser (and someone unlikely to go back to school; three degrees are enough for meeees!), I haven’t thought nearly enough about structure. But that one seems very do-able!

    Anyway, I’m just going to leave a pingback this week because the post is scheduled to come up tomorrow.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi H.R.R.! Well, I got through all kinds of plot methodologies and tonight I turned in a draft for a plot outline — my very first, although earlier I had used the framework of the beat sheet. I’ve come up with numerous subplots and plan to list each one individually, then use my storyboard to organize the scenes. I like having all this structure for my rambles. I was overwhelmed by Thursday, feeling on top of it by Sunday. I’m sure I’ll keep falling and rising. I’ll look for your pingback.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        Hope it came through – if not, that’s ok!

  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Another 99 words found me.

    Getting Back from Iraq?

    Since at least the second World War
    And all wars after and all before
    Now Iraq, or Afghanistan
    It’s sweet words of home sustains a man

    That you send comfort shows your strength
    You’re the one deserves parades of thanks
    You speak to me of a life at home
    Thinking me the man you’ve known

    And I know you say you love me still
    But I began to die with my first kill
    Your letters delivered to my hell
    And I reply but cannot tell

    I want to die, yet Death I refuse
    Because of you, my Living muse

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        That is so freaking sad, D. During the Vietnam debacle, my hubby received a “Dear John” letter from his childhood sweetheart whom he’d married after high school, saying she wanted a divorce. In the military, this was not unusual. Your piece really touched me.

    • susansleggs

      Well put D., almost like you’ve lived it yourself.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Not even close. Just playing with words. Glad if they worked.
        Thanks, Susan.

    • Charli Mills

      A story well caught, D.

    • Charli Mills

      Good for you to chase down the prompt and find choices at the end, Susan. I like this one!

      • Susan Zutautas

        Thanks, Charli!

  11. Sascha Darlington

    I like the way you wrote this, Charli. Very powerful.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank, you, Sacha! Your flash has lingered with me — I keep thinking of that last glimpse.

  12. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Here is my post that will be live tomorrow… The photo at the bottom of the post really tells the story. LOL! I’d never heard of a sugar report, Charli. It was a brilliant prompt!

    It’s been a difficult month. I’ve fought temptation the best I could, to no avail. My sugar report for this month is a bust. I couldn’t fight the temptations. I gave in to my demons.

    My weight loss journey has been fraught with many ups and downs. One day, I meet my goal without breaking a sweat. The next day after a three-mile ramble, I’m starving and willing to eat every carb in the house. And, I do.

    Some battles just aren’t worth the fight. My mom said for special occasions, just go ahead and just eat the cake!

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Right? Actually… I saw that photo first and knew I had to make it work. A sugar report sounds like my Weight Watcher’s daily food intake. LOL!

    • Charli Mills

      It was a fun word to come across, Colleen! No sugar reports in Vietnam? Your flash had me laughing! I’m doing a masterclass and learning to “listen” to what my body wants. I kid you not, I sneezed and I heard my body say, “Ice cream.” I offered up a kleenex instead, lol. I don’t know this is a battle I can win. Just eat the cake! 😀

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        I was still in high school during Vietnam. I enlisted in 1976 missing the Vietnam cutoff by one day! LOL! My hubs is 10 years older than I am. He got the brunt of it. Actually, his first wife wrote him a dear John letter when he was stationed in Thailand. I do love the name, Sugar Report. <3

  13. Norah

    The learning sounds challenging, Charli. Incoming information churning up the old. Soon you’ll be patting it into sweet butter balls.
    Beat sheets sound interesting and I hope you find them helpful as you learn to plot more than you pants.
    I do hope you feel your work benefits from the stretching you are undergoing. It sounds somewhat tortuous but I also hear hope in your voice that it will all be worth it in the end.
    Your story is very sad. Unfortunately, many families would have lost their sweetness during the wars.

    • susansleggs

      I agree Norah, torture is the right word. What Charli is sharing makes my head swim with a need to escape.

      • Norah

        I agree!

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, I wanted the mental conditioning so I’ll say the program is stretching my brain! I have plots in my pants now and I’m feeling accomplished like I just baked my first cake. It’s explaining my struggles with revision. How can you accomplish something if you know you don’t know how? I’m taking in all I can. In the past few months, Danni’s story has evolved in ways I didn’t see coming, so I know that plotting and character development allow for discovery.

      Many losses during the wars. It’s astounding that we ever get to such a place as war, especially such massive destruction as in WWI and II.

      • Norah

        I know you will make the best of everything, Charli, as that is always your way.
        I look forward to reading developments in Danni’s story. She’s a determined character. Like you, she doesn’t give up either.

  14. susansleggs

    Charli, Congratulations on being the new board director of CCCAC. I know you will give it your all. I hope you had fun pouring wine. My admiration grows as you explain more about the real work it might take to plot, plan, and execute the written story. I just wrote mine with none of the knowledge you are learning. No wonder it’s a dresser drawer novel. And yet, I watch movies that I wonder who thought they were good enough to put on film. I guess there’s something for everyone. On to the prompt…

    Send ‘Em a Letter

    At the Home-front Warriors meeting, Tessa’s father asked, “How do you communicate with your service member?” He was surprised all the answers involved electronics. “Doesn’t anyone write letters anymore? In my father’s era, they were called sugar reports. Do you realize if your loved one pulls out a phone in a war zone, the enemy can track the GPS coordinates.”
    There were murmurs of surprise and dismay.
    “I challenge you all to write a happy, newsy letter. One that can be carried in a pocket and reread in silence reminding them they have a reason to get back home.”

    Note: Technology today is a two-edged sword for the service person. Yes, they can communicate more regularly, more personally and face to face with loved ones at home, but revealing where they are is a real problem and they get lambasted with all the realities at home; broken down cars, fights with family, etc, and it can distract the mind from focussing on the job at hand on the front. It may be the letters sent during WWI were generally full of love and good news, and not the family problems, thus the name, sugar report.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Good points. They deserve the time and thought of a handwritten letter that as you say can be savored and safely.

      • Lisa A. Listwa

        I’d have to agree. Letter writing of decades ago is very different from the way we can communicate now. It’s hard to resist that immediacy and to hold back the day-to-day troubles. A very good point here.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Sue, and yes, I had a blast pouring wine. This opens up a whole new side of art for me. One of my duties as a board director is to host a gallery show (the Art Center does 1-2 a month). We work with visiting artists to Finlandia, Michigan Tech University, and Isle Royale National Park. This opens up to our Carrot Ranchers who visit headquarters. We will have a robust Artist in Residency program with so much for any visiting writer to experience and collaborate with our community. I’m excited to see this come together.

      Letters are always welcomed as are Slim Jims! I think each base Commander sees to the issues with cell phones. You can’t use them in the field, as there’s no service, but I’ve also heard that the GPS tracking can be used to “map” a base. So it depends where they are. Such a good point to keep the communications to sugar. I can’t imagine the stress of dumping home-life issues on a deployed soldier. That was something I think letter writers of old better understood.

      • susansleggs

        Your Art Center sounds like a place I’d love to visit. Have fun.

  15. Lisa R. Howeler

    Good luck with all the studying. Reading about it makes my head hurt a little! I wish you didn’t have to get used to that change in your house 🙁 It’s heartbreaking, I know. Here is what came when I thought of the term “sugar report.” The term makes sense to me because my mom’s family is from the south and my Grandma used to tell me to “Get over here and give me some sugah!”

    Alex’s Sugar Report

    “Warner. Mail.”

    The sergeant tossed the letter at him on his way by. Alex snatched it from where it had fallen on his bunk. He smelled the perfume before he even saw the return address.

    A smile tugged at his mouth. He closed his eyes, pictured her smile, her green eyes, remembered her lips warm and soft under his.

    “What’s that, Alex? A sugar report?”

    Alex let out a long sigh. “Indeed.”

    “What’s it say?”

    Alex read the words. The smile faded.

    “Bad news?” Matthew asked.

    Alex laughed. “No. The best news ever. I’m going to be a dad.”

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Lisa! We are dog-sitting for a friend this weekend, and that will be nice. What a sweet memory of your grandma! Your story is well told.

  16. joanne the geek

    I’m having real difficulty with this one. I’m not into war movies, or war fiction for that matter, so I’m not sure where to go with this. I’ve tried looking at it from other angles, but no story is coming.

    • Charli Mills

      No sugar, eh? Sometimes, I take apart an idea. Like, what is something instead of war? Going to the playground. What is could a sugar report be there? Counting sticky lollypops discarded on the ground. What of it, why does that matter? Maybe a little girl rallies a “squadron” of friends to clean up and surprises somebody in the process. It’s like a word/story assembly game. But I understand — the prompt doesn’t always release the horses.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! You found a story!

  17. nightlake

    Hi Charli, Even though the soldier managed to fool his fellow soldiers with the sugar report, there is a great deal of sadness in this story. Also, it is evident from your writings that you feel deeply about the topic of war.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Padmini. Yes, there is bound to be sadness in a war story. There’s an analogy for who soldiers are. People are like a flock of sheep living on peaceful pastures. But there are wolves out there which represents the evil that preys on the flock. Sheepdogs are the protectors — the soldiers. But the flock is uneasy having dogs among them. Yet, they have spouses who are not mentioned in this analogy. We are invisible. But we nurse the wounds of old sheepdogs and keep them from being lonely, rejected by the sheep they protect. That’s what I feel deeply about — that someone has to help carry the burdens of a nation that goes to war. I’m actually against war. But I protect the protectors. Thanks for noticing. 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Padmini!

  18. Hugh's Views and News

    A tough prompt for me this week, Charli. How on earth was I going to include something about a sugar letter into my ongoing story? I think I just about managed it. Well, I hope I did.


    Thanks for pushing my creative brain to its limits. I think I’ve now entered the outer limits. ????

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Hugh, I love what you are writing. It gets sweeter and sweeter as your brain stretches!

  19. Sherri Matthews

    Hi Charli, well, I made it and how wonderful to be back at the Ranch once again. I think I messed up though on my submission. The title is supposed to be, ‘Sweet Lamb’ and the entry as follows:

    My dearest Harry,
    How I miss you! It’s raining here, the puddles by the barn are knee-deep. Father’s out there now with Lucy, remember her, the old, fat sheep we didn’t think would lamb? Well, she did, a boy. Father let me name him Harry, after you, the most handsome lamb I’ve ever seen. If only you were here, we could sneak into the barn like we used to. Come home soon, my dearest love, so we can marry. I think we’ve got our own little Harry on the way and Father is getting suspicious. Your darling, Daisy.

    I think I got my ‘dearest Harry’ and ‘darling Harry’ mixed up and one came out as the title…sorry for the confusion! I’ve still got 1917 on the brain!

    All the very best with your thesis, Charli. I know you’ve got a huge amount of work ahead of you, but I have every confidence that you will break through <3

    • Charli Mills

      Got it, Sherri and it’s tweaked for you! Good to see you ride in and with such a tender letter. How such farm life must have seemed surreal to the soldiers. That was something 1917 did so well — to show the setting, so devastating, so opposite sweet sheep and a farmer’s daughter. Thanks, I’ll push on! <3

      • Sherri Matthews

        Oh thank you so much, Charli! I was so excited to be back here, I LOVE flash fiction, as you know! You knew which film played through my mind as I wrote that <3 I loved your flash too, meant to say, and your post, as always, beautifully poignant <3

  20. Lisa A. Listwa

    Well this one was a real challenge, but I finally came up with something! Here it is… http://www.themeaningofme.com/sugar-report-code-red/

    Charli, I don’t know if formatting translates on your end, but I have some italicized parts in mine. Give me a holler if you have any questions? Thanks.

    • Charli Mills

      Yay, Lisa! You tracked one down. Thanks for mentioning the italics. I got it.

  21. Jim Borden

    I’ve never heard of the phrase sugar report; thanks for the lesson. and good luck with your coursework.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a sweet phrase. Thanks, for the coursework encouragement, Jim!

  22. Jennie

    I need to see 1917. It’s about time WWI was included among the great war movies.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s well worth seeing, Jennie!

      • Jennie

        Thank you!

  23. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Gordon!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jacquie!

  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Anita!

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks, H.R.R.!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Marje!


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