March 19: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

March 19, 2020

A rabbit hopped across my roof. Of course, he did; these are strange times.

When I came downstairs, I could see the rabbit’s tracks in the crusty snow of the lower roofline. I pulled aside the lace curtains, thinking it must be an illusion. Perhaps wind pocked paw-like holes in the snow or chunks of ice fell in a gust that made a track. It’s been intermittently windy and snowing, the cold seeping back at me through the pane of glass as my mind imagined the possibilities. There had to be an explanation.

Later in the day, the Hub asked, “Did you see there was a rabbit on our roof?”

Okay, I didn’t imagine a hippity-hopped trail. The Hub set out to investigate. Like Davy Crocket, he picked up the rabbit’s trail where one would expect it — on the ground. The rabbit hopped over from Mrs. Hitch’s house, through the upper branches of the lilacs (upper branches because the snowbanks are still four feet deep), onto to plowed trail and up the stairs of our deck. From there, the rabbit took the kind of leap of faith known to artists. Impressively, he went for it and lept up to the banister and across the broken gutter to land on the edge of the roof. He hopped over to the side of the second story, cut a trail across the roof.

In the tracks, you can see the rabbit’s hesitation. He paused at the edge, paws gripping the roofline. It’s a good thing we still have deep snow because I don’t think he would have survived a summertime landing. The Hub tracked his giant leap into the snowbank from where the rabbit ran off. No evidence of pursuit from the ground. No past sightings of gabled hares. No explanation. Just a bunny with four lucky rabbit’s feet.

And thus, I step across the threshold into a new era.

A friend suggested that humanity will likely look back at March 2020 and remember our last moments before the world locked down the way some remember what they were doing when an assassin shot President Kennedy, or how others recall where they were the moment of 9/11. We will remember what preceded the shift, maybe develop nostalgia for that last day of innocence when we went out for drinks with friends, not yet believing the toilet paper was gone from our town. Not our town. Not us. The oldest myth alive — not me. Yet, here I am, coughing, spiking a fever, asking to be tested. Denied.

Only celebrities and the critically ill get tested.

My before moment came last Friday when five of us rode up the peninsula in a friend’s crew-cab truck. Three women, giggling in the back while the two men up front talked. We all pointed out the winter deer and watched the waves leap over ice heaves along the snowy road. Spring will come, we said. We celebrated a friend’s birthday at the Fitz, famous for its sunsets and smokehouse dinners. The waves rushed the ice, splashing and catching the colors of the sinking sun. The horizon grew orange and pink, melding into brilliant copper. Those colors imprinted our minds and hearts, crystalized within the waves. We toasted with honey-mead and watched for the green flash. Darkness followed, and we drove back down the peninsula.

We were people without a curfew, people who believed we’d be seeing Monday morning like other Monday mornings after the weekend. People making plans. The birthday celebrant and I stayed in the truck when the other three stopped at a small grocery store in Calumet for a six-pack of beer. We talked about writing fiction, how it finds a way into truth. She told me something deep and personal, saying she could never write it, and I turned it around for her as a miner’s story. She got it. She understood she could write about the painful places in her life without feeling she had to confess to the world. We wrote stories in the air. The world spun.

Wallace Stegner believed that fiction writers have no other agenda than, to tell the truth. He said, “We write to make sense of it all.” Stories and characters are a way to draw out the ideas, experiences, and emotions from our heads to examine them in greater detail and apply conditions to see what happens. To understand. Or teach. The writer and reader meet on the pages of stories and connect intimately in private to work through what was and could be. We need truth-seekers in the world — the poets, memoirists, and fictionists. We dare to go to vulnerable places and shadowlands, looking for answers or carving art into the bones of life.

Driving home, we sat with toilet papers on our laps, laughing at our good fortune to buy beer and find a stack of TP. We felt giddy as teens up to mischief. Later, over birthday cake, we told stories. The next morning Wrangling Words canceled when the library shuttered despite its efforts to remain disinfected and open. The Hub went out to coffee for Frank Sinatra morning and later to the brewhouse where he met up with some of our friends. Sunday night, he commented on a tickle in his chest.

Then Monday morning arrived, and I woke up unusually early. The Hub had run out to grab coffee and claimed it was “martial law.” He’s a veteran. They all fear martial law and think it’s “coming” the way a zealot believes the end is is “near.” What was actually happening is that the State of Michigan canceled all schools and restaurants and bars were to close at 3 p.m. that day. Not zombies or martial law, but upsetting to those who suffer PTSD. My own hypervigilance kicked in, and I went to the co-op to order 20 pounds of jasmine rice, and for good measure, I bought dried elderberries and roots to make tonics.

Then I insisted he called CBOC (our local VA clinic) because of the tickle in his chest. Normally, I wouldn’t have even noticed. He had to call the VA hospital because CBOC was not answering, and the call center was so overloaded it took three attempts to get through. By then we checked, and he had a mild fever. Once he got through, the VA screened him for Covid-19 and passed him on to a different call center where he sat on hold for thirty minutes. They screened him and said a nurse would call back but that it wouldn’t be until the next day because they were so backed up.

Later in the day, I started to notice an uncomfortable tightness in my chest. Barely Day 1 of Social Distancing, and already we were sick. I remember thinking, great this must be how the slow caribou feel when the wolves close in before getting a chance to run. We fired up the sauna, fixed dinner, and prepared tonics. We encouraged each other to drink lots of water. The nurse called back that night and told us to stay home. I asked about testing, and she said only if we were critical.

The next day we both felt tired, my chest still tight, and his cough worsening. CBOC called to check on him, and it was a nurse we knew, so, again, I asked about getting tested. She told us straight up that they had no tests for veterans. If we wanted to be tested, we had to go to the ER, but the ER was closed to all but emergencies. Through digital means, friends assured us that we lived in the UP, and no one had tested positive. Inwardly, I grumbled because how could anyone test positive if no one was being tested? I had a few dizzy spells and experienced my heart revving up like a stuck throttle. We saunaed and rested.

Wednesday morning, I woke up and felt good. Then I learned that my daughter and SIL were both coming down with something, too. Out of the blue my fever spiked, and my heart raced. I went out to my sun porch to cool off. My neighbor was in my back yard so I stepped outside to tell her we were quarantined and from a distance, discussed how to handle egg deliveries. We worked out that she’d leave them on the front steps without having to touch any door handles. That made me realize I had to clean the door handles for our UPS driver. She then said, of course, they were testing people and go get tested.

Thus, I tried a different route outside the VA for myself. It took 20 times to call the local clinic. After several holds, I got screened and placed on hold so long that the local nurse followed up on my call before my original call was ever answered. She was concerned about my heart racing but told me not to go to the ER unless I was “certain” I was having a heart attack. Well, that wasn’t comforting. So, Todd has to be not breathing, and I have to be in cardiac arrest before we get tested for the thing that has us all shutdown, isolated, and quarantined. Am I missing something in this healthcare strategy?

Maybe I am, when I think of others involved — the practitioners themselves.

The stark reality is twofold — one, we don’t have enough tests, and two, we need to protect our healthcare professionals. If they get overwhelmed or sick from mild cases like ours, they will be worse off when severe cases start adding up. But I really hope they don’t. There’s still an innocent part of my brain that thinks we are all going to experience a normal Monday next week. That everyone will get a wimpy heart-fluttering mild fever, cough-cough, and say, “That’s it?” Truth is, I still think we are perched on the threshold. Let’s keep distancing, give our healthcare folks support, check-in from a distance with neighbors, and plan to wash our hands and doorknobs indefinitely.

This morning, I washed my toothbrush. Spring cleaning will be intense. I’m tired and panicked about how it’s Thursday, and finals are due Sunday. My focus has flown out the window. But the tightness in my chest is gone, and my heart settled down. The Hub scraped ice, and we both agreed we felt better. We likely do not have The Virus, but we are acting as though we do. For an introvert, my life is not all that altered. For the Hub, an extreme extrovert, he’s bemoaning the lockdown. We will shift. To what, I don’t know.

But if I have to be quarantined someplace, I’m grateful to be in an intact community. And maybe this is a chance for other communities to heal. We can’t heal the world without first healing the smaller place we call home. This is our challenge. And literary artists will be the ones pressing inward to define and explore what needs expression. Troubled times often clarify deeper truths.

It is dark now, and a rabbit was on my roof. It sounds like a good place as any to start the work of writing. Be well. Be safe. Write.

March 19, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rabbit on the roof. Or many rabbits. Why are they there? Explain the unexpected, go into any genre. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 24, 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.

Rabbits on the Roof by Charli Mills

A hummingbird with wings green as shiny jalapenos flit between foxgloves. Caleb stilled his chubby hands. Marta couldn’t say her neighbor would’ve approve of foxgloves where he once mowed lawn. He would’ve hollered at barefoot urchins digging in his yard. Those who survived, claimed it as a community garden. His house served as a schoolhouse. Not like the old institutions. Marta taught all ages how to garden with pollinators. On the rooftop, they raised rabbits. The neighborhood had two milk cows. Three years after the Great Calamity, no one hungered. Humanity reclaimed what it lost. The Industrial Revolution ended.


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  1. floridaborne

    We did one on tapping last week.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Indeed we did. Charli’s fever must be getting worse 😉

      • Charli Mills

        Good cover — yeah, the fever!

    • Charli Mills

      My brain is tapped out! It’s rabbit on the roof.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

  2. Liz H

    Yikes! The prompt listed is about tapping…?

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, rabbit pellets!

      It’s fixed now. Good thing it isn’t print.

      • Liz H

        Another advantage to online publishing! 😉 <3

      • Charli Mills

        Errorists more easily contained!

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    That is a scary post and a lovely flash. For a moment I thought you were going to be tapping out some farfennuggen, but you pulled a gem out of a dark hat. Keep well, you and yours, Perfesser Mills.

    • Charli Mills

      Dropped the hat but plenty to give me the chance to get the trick right! Stay well.

  4. susansleggs

    Hey Charli. So sorry you are sick and frightened. Every time we cough, we look at each other, questioning. Hope you heal quickly. I think you would want to know You inadvertently put in last weeks prompt at the end of your essay. Hugs to you and Todd. Sue

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sue! Yes, an unfortunate time to get sick as we all worry about getting/spreading sickness. The rabbit has now replaced last week’s prompt! Thanks! Big hugs back (good thing we all give virtual hugs here).

  5. joanne the geek

    I’m sorry to hear how you’ve been feeling. I think it’s going to be like that for the next few months: any cough, or fever, aches and pains we have we will wonder if it’s the virus.

    I’ve had a high temperature for the last two days. Though it’s not unusual for me, this time it’s making me wonder. So far all the cases in my country have been from people returning from overseas and there’s no direct evidence of any community transmission here yet. Yesterday my country closed it’s borders in the hopes to keep the spread as slow as possible. A couple of days ago I went to the supermarket and a lot of shelves were stripped clean. It does seem like things are getting serious now.

    I hope everyone here takes care of themselves.

    • robertawrites235681907

      Stay safe, Joanne. We have had some internal transfers of the virus now in South Africa. It is a real worry in Sub-Saharan Africa where people millions of people live in squatter camps and have no running water and share communal chemical toilets.

      • joanne the geek

        That’s going to be a nightmare if the virus sweeps through those.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Yes, Robbie, if we think we’ve got it hard it’s a death warrant for those in overcrowded camps unless they can develop some immunity. Bad news for refugees the world over.

      • Charli Mills

        In a world so interconnected that we can share a pandemic, let’s hope we can be as quick to share resources and compassion.

    • Charli Mills

      We are starting to feel better. I hope you are, too. Stay home and get well! We’ve already lost the battle to contain the virus in the US, but we can limit the spread by continuing to self-isolate. We will get through this. Today, I planted garlic bulbs from a few cloves that had sprouted and it felt like a hopeful act. Take care, Joanne!

  6. robertawrites235681907

    I am so sorry to read you have been sick, Charli, and the Hub as well. My boys and I have all been sick too with chest infections and sinus. The symptoms are the same as COVID-19 but we also can’t get tested. I don’t believe that is what we have had as we haven’t had contact with any travelers and we became ill before the figures of the infected started climbing here but one does worry. WE are also isolated because of my Michael who has already been very ill and is on his third course of antibiotics. I am grateful we can isolate.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Sorry for you and your family, Robbie. Poor Michael! Let’s hope he’s well enough for stories.

      • robertawrites235681907

        Hi Anne, yes, he is listening to audio books. He is doing better today but the antibiotics make him feel nauseous.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s hard for a parent to worry about sick children, and I hope Michael overcomes his illness soon. That’s miserable to also feel ill from the remedy. Steam has helped the Hub and I breathe easier. I’m glad you can self-isolate and get those boys better! Maybe you’ll get a new book out of this.

      • robertawrites235681907

        Thank you, Charli. Everyone is doing better today. We are all isolated together, my parents and my family, so its not that bad for us.

      • Charli Mills

        I’m so glad your family can be isolated together, Robbie! I think it’s so hard on people to not get to be with friends or family in such times. The technology to stay together helps.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Two minutes is pretty impressive, Robbie, and I think you’re the first with your 99 word story. Like Laura, sometimes we just have to take care of the smaller things we can control.

      • robertawrites235681907

        Thank you, Anne. This just came to me as I read Charli’s post and I wrote it down. It was great fun. I hope you are well.

    • Charli Mills

      That was zippy! I loved how the character decided to help the rabbit in light of her isolation and feelings over it.

      • robertawrites235681907

        Thank you, Charli. I hope you and the Hub are doing better now.

      • Charli Mills

        Getting there! Thanks!

    • Norah

      Great response.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      We’re all in a dark place, but you found a shred of humour.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Doug. We are getting better. Dark shadows often call and it’s honest to follow after them and write. Dark humor!

  7. nightlake

    In Singapore, the scare started in January. I had a sore throat for a week and was so scared imagining all the possibilities…Thankfully, it was gone after a week. But, the situation is still bad. Despite being an introvert, I can’t imagine being quarantined, though it might happen anytime soon here. It must be so difficult for ‘outdoor’ types… Saw some people fighting for groceries in a store. It was like dystopian fiction coming true. Hope you all stay safe.

    Btw, like the idea of wind making paw-like holes in the snow. Creative.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Padmini! Such an odd thing that all around the world we share a common concern for the common cold symptoms, dreading what else it could be. The food insecurity is alarming, too. I planted garlic bulbs and basil seeds today, just to feel that sense of provision. Thanks for calling out the wind in my post! Take care and stay well!

  8. beth

    love the rabbit story and please feel better soon – this new normal is anything but normal.

    • Charli Mills

      Abby-normal, my mother would have called it! Thanks, Beth, feeling better today.

  9. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Sorry you’ve been unwell, Charli, but good to know it probably wasn’t the virus. Here there aren’t even enough test kits yet for health workers so who knows how many of us are staying home when we don’t need to and going out when we should be at home. It’s a slow process of adaptation. My last social contact was Monday and, with all the panic buying, I dread going to the shops.

    And yet I’ve written a post on the coronavirus silver linings! Not like me at all.
    As for the roof rabbits, we get squirrels but never seen a rabbit get so high. There’s a reality check in you both having seen it but, you know, in these strange times, and with a fever … my flash has taken me to the same territory as last week’s.

    I hope you’ll forgive me for poking fun at your rabbit sighting – I love the optimism in your 99 word story and so hope we can build a better world at the other side of this. But I think I’d slap someone – if it weren’t for social distancing of course – who groused about the foxgloves in my grass!

    Silver linings: 9 good things about the coronavirus pandemic

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      You did it again. I laughed. Fun tail. Tale.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Anne! Thanks for the humor! And, hmm, good point — we both saw the rabbit event and yet we also both confessed to fevers. I saw your Tweet indicating shortages, so it seems you did venture out to the denuded shelves of your local grocer. I’m boiling more sap today and have extra eggs, looking to barter for some honey. I also planted seeds and garlic bulbs thought about where I could stake out that milk cow. In the US, distribution has already become problematic because truck-drivers have nowhere to fill up on coffee and later let it pass. Amazon Prime’s two-day service is now a week to two weeks out. I’m planting! Dreaming about better days and foxgloves. Your post is brilliant. Thank you!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        I suppose, since you both saw it, it might have been follie a deux, but who am I to question your reality?
        I’m assuming/hoping the distribution chains will be sorted eventually and I’m sure we can change our diet in the meantime to make use of what we’ve got, but it’s frustrating.
        I’m planting too but haven’t yet get all the seed I need. Sadly had to give up on garlic a while back as there’s white rot in the soil.

      • Charli Mills

        I had to look up ” follie a deux” and was surprised to learn that hallucinations can be shared. That’s something! Ha! We might share psychosis by the end of our lockdown. The Governor issued a “stay at home order” for all but essential duties or tasks. We went to the co-op and I was impressed how well they were managing Covid-19 protocols, providing gloves at the door and giving a practical estimation of distance by using the floor tiles as a guide. Their stock was good, and they even had toilet paper and a limit on purchase. It was really awkward, though. We’re a friendly sort in the Keweenaw and yet every time we’d make eye contact, both parties would look away like we didn’t want to breathe toward another person.

        I bet Monty Don has a solution for your garlic, Anne! I have several of his books and he maintains that its all about creating balance. Right now, I’m growing garlic in a container! I need seeds, too, and was happy to see them at the co-op.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        I think I misspelled folie a deux! I don’t think I’ve actually come across it and I imagine it’s not far removed from seeing the Virgin Mary in a potato or following coronavirus advice from Donald Trump.
        I’m hoping shopping will get easier here now we’re in official lockdown but we are managing for the moment with what we’ve got. Regarding gardening advice, I’ve practised crop rotation for years but in a small space bacteria are easily carried between my raised beds on tools and boots. But you’re right, I could probably try garlic in a container – if I can get some compost delivered.

      • Charli Mills

        I’m going to break quarantine if we both see Mother Mary in a potato! I don’t know, it’s mass insanity to listen to trump. Maybe you could get some rabbits and make your own compost!

  10. Norah

    Oh, Charli. I’m so sorry you and the Hub have not been feeling well and especially hope that it’s not the virus, though it seems unlikely if no one else in your area has it. It’s frustrating to not be able to get the support to know for sure though. I understand your anxiety as I tend towards that myself and it takes not a lot for me to become overheated with a racing heart and thoughts out of control. I’ve just had to cancel a big family reunion that I’ve been planning for three years due to the social distancing ‘rules’, but especially due to concerns about contracting or, worse, spreading the virus. Your story makes me fearful as well as hopeful. Sounds like the end of the world as we know it and a new beginning for a few survivors. Maybe like the Day of the Triffids?
    I love that you saw a rabbit on the roof. Alice saw one go down a hole. Why not a roof? I can’t wait to think of a story to go with it. All I can think of at the moment is Fibonacci’s Rabbit Problem. 🙂
    Look after yourself and the Hub. As you say, isolation’s not so difficult for us introverts, but it’s not much fun when it’s enforced. It’s even less fun for extroverts. The end is not yet in sight. There are more problems to be encountered before we see how this one ends. Take care.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        For Alice that is. I’m sorry for your family reunion. People are having to contend with disappointments and derailments, but those tough decisions are for the best.

      • Norah


    • Charli Mills

      Hi Norah! The first day I didn’t feel well, I kept thinking it was in my head, but the Hub’s cough worsened and I knew we had something. I just read a statement from a hard-hit community back east explaining that the concern is about a shortage in respirators, masks, and scrubs. For every mild case tested, they use up those precious supplies. Have they always been disposable? What happened to laundered scrubs or sanitized and reusable masks and respirators? At any rate, I get the point. It would be useful, though for post-virus testing. If I have the antibodies, I can go out among the sick and be helpful. My son said there is a paper out but it has not gone through peer review yet on that subject. Oh! What a heartbreak! I recall that you have had this reunion in the works. I worry about my son’s wedding this summer. It might be on Zoom. And think of the money they’ll save if everyone joins in at a distance! The Hub is better today. We’ll see how we both survive isolation! Take care, too!

      • Norah

        I’m pleased to hear the Hub is feeling better. I hope you are too, and that you both return to and stay in good health. I see what you mean about knowing if you have/had the virus. It would be useful to be able to go out and help others. A local scientist here who won a Nobel Prize for his work with immunology expects that no one should have a recurrence, but it’s still too early to tell. Here’s a link to the article if you’re interested.
        The cancellation of the reunion is disappointing but we have no choice – it is for the greater good. I’m pleased we made the decision before we had to. Everyone has to make sacrifices. It’s just part of what we do. I hope things are in a better position for your son’s wedding. Wouldn’t a cure be wonderful?
        Look after yourself/ves. If we all only did that, we’d be looking after each other too. ????

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for the article, Norah! Yes, I hope for a cure, too. These scientists are amazing. They’ve been so maligned these past few years and now we realize why we need their insights!

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Sorry you had to cancel your event, Norah, but very responsible of you to do it before it was enforced. Very disturbing photos of Australians congregating at the beach this weekend but we were as bad here with crowds clogging country roads.
      Stay safe, presumably you’re okay doing lengths of your pool?

      • Norah

        It’s disappointing that we had to cancel, Anne, but it took a world pandemic to close us down. 🙂
        I don’t get what people don’t get. Why can’t they see the seriousness of their actions? Gah!
        The pool’s a bit cool for me now. It’s 24 degrees. That’s probably super warm for all of you over there. ????????

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        That is super warm, Norah, but we had 19° in Wales yesterday. I think what’s been confusing for people is the advice changing from protect yourself to protect the health care system. So many still think that if they haven’t got symptoms they’re okay. A bit easier for us now we have in lockdown but there are still huge grey areas – for example whether work and still continue in the construction industry outdoors.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Having come back to my comment after reading your post, it’s also because people don’t understand exponential growth which I’ve seen only recently articulated in the media here. Your rabbits explain it beautifully – you fancy doing a public service announcement?

      • Charli Mills

        We are starting to see exponential numbers in the US. 🙁

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        But in Italy the rate of increase is in decline. Hope we all make it through to the other side.

      • Charli Mills

        The US now has more confirmed cases than any other nation, including China. 🙁

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Yes, the POTUS has blood on his hands. Meanwhile our PM has the virus (possibly down to not heeding his own social distancing advice).

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my Fibonacci story, What Rabbits? I hope you like it.

      What Rabbits?
      “Wassup?” He knew something was when she stopped rocking.
      “Nothin’.” She continued rocking.
      “Musta bin somethin’.”
      “Nah. Thought I saw a rabbit on that roof, is all.”
      “I ain’t never seen no rabbit on a roof.”
      “You ain’t never seen nothin’.”

      “Thought there was two rabbits on that there roof.”
      “That’s crazy.”

      The rabbits multiplied, but she never stopped rockin’ and she never said nothin’.

      One day, he stopped.
      “Shhh. I hear somethun.”
      “Sounds like …”
      A multitude of rabbits exploded from the roof, landing all around, even in their laps.
      They kept on rockin’.

      • Charli Mills

        Lots going on that roof, Norah! Thanks for your post, too. I’m afraid our president need to understand exponential numbers. He’s crazier than a march hare.

      • Norah

        Who needs rabbits when you’ve got exponential denialism? Good luck to you all! Stay safe. ????

      • Charli Mills

        What a phrase, Norah — exponential denialism!

      • Norah

        I looked denialism up. I wasn’t sure that it was a word but it fits perfectly. 🙂

  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Wow, some quick draw flash. Here’s mine.

    Feed Your Head

    Leaning against the chimney, he put in his earbuds, listened to Jefferson Airplane while polishing his pocket watch. Unless the girl tripping around below suddenly became quite tall she would never think to look for him here. And anyway, she was much more interested in the March Hare, mad as he was. But it mightn’t be till May that the March Hare be less raving mad.
    Yes it was much the most interesting. The chessmen, all white too, were maddest of all, falling about with no direction.
    Smiling, the rabbit flung his pocket watch into the endless blue sky.

    • Charli Mills

      Groovy quick draw flash, Pardner! Know I have the earworm to go with this story. I hadn’t thought about that white rabbit until now. I should have thought to go ask Alice!

  12. denmaniacs4

    The Late Afternoon the Rabbit Died

    “It’s too high, Charlie. I’ll break my legs.”

    “You won’t break no bones, Pearly,” I tell her.

    I don’t know a course.

    “It’s just an old barn. You land right, problem solved.”

    “There’s got to be another way. I never was a good climber.”

    “I’ll git you up there. Don’t have to worry about climbin’. Just jumpin’.”

    “Maybe we should wait a little while?”

    “Pearly, we wait much longer, you be showin’ like a fat old momma sow. Then everyone’ll know.”

    She gives in.

    I boost her up.

    Foolish bunny.

    Don’t matter to me which way the rabbit dies.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Oh. My. I’m thinking she’s been foolish and misguided at least twice now. A foolish bunny indeed.

    • Charli Mills

      Dramatic times among the rabbit population, making decisions like teenagers without forethought of consequences. It could also be that the trickster is trying to cover tracks. Well done, Bill.

  13. Jim Borden

    I am sorry to hear you have not been feeling well, but it sounds like you are on the mend. I wish you and your family, and all the members of this community healthy days ahead.

    • Charli Mills

      We are indeed on the mend. Stay well, Jim!

      • Jim Borden

        that’s good to hear, Charli!

  14. Nobbinmaug

    Well, that took a dark turn. Rabbit on the roof. Hehehe. BOOM! Coronavirus scare. I hope, whether it is or not, that you and your husband are well on your way to recovery. It’s like many a disaster movie when a cough is an “Oh shit!” moment.

    What you’re missing in the health care strategy is rule #1, which is profit above all. It’s also rule #2-10. My best friend/roommate has to go to work because her job has been deemed essential. She works in the medical field… as a biller.

    I know what you mean about the quarantine being life as usual for the introvert. The sad part for me is that I’ve been working on a web series, and I’ve been social for the first time in my life. Then, the world shut down. Now, everybody wants to be like me, sequestered and germaphobic.

    Here’s mine:

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, ouch, Nobbinmaug — seriously, your friend’s job is essential because she’s a biller? That’s as bad as all the official reports last week and everyone saying “the tests are free.” Yes, they might be, but they are not available. A reporter back east explained today that the shortage is in the protective gear healthcare official wear so we don’t want to risk those precious items for mild cases to leave them short with critical cases. Free market at its worse. I hope this situation forces us to create better structures. Good luck as an introvert and congratulations on being right all along about germs. 😉 Soap, my friend! Soapy, soapy soap!

      • Nobbinmaug

        I saw something about that. Who’s going to take care of us if the medical professionals get sick? More importantly, who’s going to collect if the billers get sick? Tax preparation has also been deemed essential.

        Being germaphobic has assured that my house is not hurting for soap or sanitizer.

      • Charli Mills

        In the UK, I heard they are asking for test kits to deem who has overcome the virus (thus having immunities and Covid-19 antibodies present). If they can do that, then people like me who suspect they have or had it can prove safely that we did and we can become the ones who help when others are sick.

  15. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Smokin’ Caterpllars

    “Kid, yer grinnin’. Figgered ya’d be scowlin’ over this wild prompt.”
    “Didn’t ya hear? Shorty’s gotta surprise comin’.”
    “What is it?”
    “Dunno, jist that it’s a surprise fer me an’ you.”
    “Huh. Prob’ly hookin’ the bunkhouse up with television. It’s rabbit ears she’s on about!”
    “That’s receptive of ya, Pal, but I don’t think so.”
    “Then what the heck is up with a rabbit on the roof?”
    “Mebbe thet hare went over the rooftop ta see what it could see. It’s a unique rabbit. Ya know how ta catch a unique rabbit, Pal?”
    “Ya ’neak up behind it.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      “Smokin’ caterpillars? Thet better be a litter-airy ref’rence. An’ look at us, comin’ in behind thet dang D. Avery. Kid, what the heck is goin’ on?”
      “Jist chasin’ rabbits, I s’pose, Pal. Been kinda hard ta focus lately. An’ now I’m jist so excited ‘bout Shorty’s su’prise. Cain’t wait. Mebbe after the weekend we’ll see it.”
      “Hmmf. Yer chasin’ rabbits alright. D. Avery know anythin’ ‘bout this su’prise?”
      “Cain’t say Pal, not knowin’. We kinda drifted apart, disassociated, like. All I know is Shorty said it’s bigger’n a bread box, an’ it’s fer us ta take care of.”

    • Doug Jacquier

      I think you may have hare fever. ????

    • Charli Mills

      Might be a hare-brained idea, but Shorty’s making an announcement come Monday. Kid and Pal down with that (but not all the way down the rabbit hole)? Haven’t heard the “unique” joke in ages!

    • Susan Zutautas

      Rabbit ears … totally forgot about those. lol

  16. Donna Matthews

    Gosh…I hope y’all feel better soon!! And the snow to melt…warm weather brings healing of mind and body!

    • Charli Mills

      The sun is shining today, Donna and we are feeling better! Stay well!

  17. H.R.R. Gorman

    A rabbit on the roof? That’s one rodent absolutely dedicated to fun (or the star of the next Jackass movie)!

    I’m glad y’all are getting over the crud. Testing really does need to ramp up if they’re going to have even half a chance at limiting this spread, and your experiences seem really bad (even if you didn’t have it).

    Anyway, on to writing stuff – I could only think of anthropomorphic rabbits, so I combined that with my love of history to come up with this:

    Have an excellent week, and don’t get the REAL CRUD.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Well, there are jackrabbits! And, as I understand it, there are shortages of protective gear. Seems mindboggling that in our modern world we would be short on what seems like basic medical supplies. I’m staying away from the REAL CRUD and I’m all set with my magic potions (aka elderberry syrup and horseradish vinegar). I love where you took the prompt, H.R.R.! You have an excellent week, too.

    • susansleggs

      Roofers using thorns for nails…love it.

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        It’s true, though! The pioneers were incredibly resourceful when iron was at such a premium. Fantastic stuff.

      • susansleggs

        Thanks for the clarification. Thorns would make sense, I hope the rabbits are fiction!

      • H.R.R. Gorman

        We can only hope, eh? 😉

    • Charli Mills

      It feels too much like live research for post-apocalyptic fiction. We are feeling better. Stay well!

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch! The 99-word constraint becomes compelling. Some say it’s magic, some addicting; I maintain that it’s brain science for creativity. We are in such a great community. Thank you for whatever essential services call you back in to work. I work from home so isolation is easier! Nice flash!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      What does that mean, to finish your isolation? How do you know, are you tested? I only ask because I know nothing anymore.
      I mean welcome to the Ranch! I liked your first flash.

      • cafereading

        I went on holiday to category two countries a couple of weeks ago. This means if I showed any symptoms I needed to isolate and, at the time, wait until I’d been tested. However, since then, the rules changed and there will be no testing and I merely had to wait seven days. Given i no longer have symptoms and i can’t work from home, I am returning to work. It’s okay to ask it’s a bit confusing at the moment 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for sharing your experience with the protocols. I think they are confusing for all of us. Now we are dealing with what is or isn’t essential for work.

  18. Lisa A. Listwa

    I can only imagine your particular stress and concerns, but I do relate. Living immunocompromised is a real thing every day – and a real fear that’s always sort of not there/there in the back of your mind. I am high-risk in all of this. Two close relatives (actually more, now that I think) are very high-risk. Family in law enforcement and healthcare. The anxiety is real.
    My sister and I have over-analyzed every cough, sniffle, ache, etc. for the last week. I’m not convinced I didn’t have this already in January and February – remember my weeks and weeks of inexplicable illness that just wouldn’t quit. Gives one pause and I’m not the only person thinking that. Who knows this has been around lurking but not addressed because truly…who knew?
    Hope you’re both feeling OK. I’ll be here working on my words with the help of my loyal desk cat.

    • Charli Mills

      My instinct is that this virus has been with us longer than we think. And lots of experts agree. I also have other friends who had a similar illness in February, and that “just wouldn’t quit” describes what the Hub and I have. It’s not bad, in fact, I’ve had head colds that were worse. But what concerns me is how I feel it moving and my body fighting it. It’s hard to give any proof because others interpret what I call instinct as anxiety or psychosomatic. I now fully comprehend how precious the medical supplies, personal, and protective gear are and that’s a big reason not to test. In fact, I heard we didn’t even get tests in our region until very recently and we have very few so they are withholding. But I would really like to get tested for the antibodies if I do/did have this so me, and others can be called on to help with essentials because of our immunities. But, as you say, who knows? It shouldn’t be a guessing game.

      If you did have it, congratulate your body for fighting it off! We all have so many to worry for and know so many who are stepping up to do essential jobs to keep us from falling into chaos. Stay well, Lisa!

      • Lisa A. Listwa

        As you said, there’s no way to be sure. I find it hard to believe my compromised system would fight very well. But. I’ve managed through the H1N1 and a couple of other nasty bouts of flu over the years and I’ve soldiered strep more than once. Maybe my immune-boosting eating habits work??!!?? Hell yes I’d take that win! But in seriousness, I’d be very curious to be tested for antibodies because the more I think and read on this the more I’m convinced.
        I’m fearful for so many reasons right now. I’m trying to focus on what’s good, to count my literal blessings. I’m trying to strike a balance between informed and saturated. I’m trying not to bite the people who live in my house because surely all three of us together is a gift so many do not have right now.
        I hope that your body is doing its job and that you emerge safe and sound on the other side of whatever has you in its grip. Now off to finish with my rabbits.

      • Charli Mills

        That would be a win, Lisa! Like you, the more I read about others’ experiences (those tested) I think it’s possible. Stay well and find peace in sheltering together! I thought I’d go nuts with the Hub not getting to go socialize, but we’ve adjusted, and are having fun.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Jess and Cindy had a farm, e-i-e-i-o! Every farm needs critters. .

  19. Susan Zutautas

    Charli, I Hope that you and Todd are feeling better. My son has a really bad cold that he can’t seem to shake and he’s staying away from people as best he can. Mother in law should be back from Florida soon and we’ll have to make sure she self-isolates. We’ve been trying to tell her for weeks and weeks now that she should get her butt back to Canada but she’s a stubborn one. With my lungs I get a little concerned but then Al calls me Teflon Sue 🙂
    Anyways here’s mine for this week and I hope everyone here at the ranch is feeling okay.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, I’m believing you are indeed Teflon Sue! If your MIL comes back to stay with you, follow all those protocols because they are not adequately testing in the US and some of the symptoms, especially when mild, are strange. I’m starting to read stories of those who have recovered and I can understand why they didn’t think they were sick. Those who got critical seemed to do so rapidly, following mild symptoms. There’s so much for us yet to learn. But the protocols are important! You stay well, Teflon!

  20. Jules


    I’m going to have to get back to you on this prompt. I am hoping you are well.
    We’ve already been on shut down for a week. My hub has been working from home. His job is awaiting whether it is essential (it is support more than less for those business that are essential…)

    The new normal will not be supplanted by the old normal. Other diseases still are demanding attention and life. We just had a death in the family due to cancer. Thankfully the immediate family was able to fly in from across the continent to be there…

    I think I will enjoy escaping to a roof full of rabbits. But not just yet… May sanity stay with us and to all; Stay safe. ~Jules

    • Charli Mills

      Jules, I’m hoping all is well with you and your family. The new normal is not one we understand, yet and everyone has concerns regarding stability and loved ones. And, as you say, death marches ob from other illnesses as well. I have a good friend battling cancer and she had to be hospitalized last night. What’s going to happen to other critical needs as the virus become critical? It’s disconcerting and I hope our healthcare professionals get what they need. Stay well and sane!

      • Jules

        Best thoughts to your friend…

      • Charli Mills

        Thank you! Her daughter texted us a photo of her mom in the window of her hospital room.

  21. Jules


    Had to go where the heart lead: Wishes…

    across lily pads
    thick enough roofs for baby
    bunnies in this wood

    away from foxes and hounds
    within the fairy forest

    just one wish of three
    to allow those cotton tales
    another day to live

    Still have two left. Though perhaps only one. Within minutes his son made it to his father’s bedside. Our son using his emergency vehicle raced in record time from the airport to the hospital. After a flight connection cancellation to the local airport made a time shift later on arrival at another, further airport.

    Third wish? A fantastical quick cure for our present disease…


    • Charli Mills

      Jules, the way you weave in the natural elements with the family’s predicament is such a stark contrast and though heartbreaking, it holds beauty, too. We are there for one another.

      • Jules

        Thank you…

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yes, the fairy tale aspects add power and hope to the other tale.

  22. papershots

    Hi Charli! Hope you’re well. We’ve been quarantined for 2 weeks now here in Italy and will be till April 3 (probably extended, we don’t know.) It seems it’s working, and Nature is finding its way back into our lives, which is wonderful to witness. Stay safe and don’t panic. Panic, in whatever form, is definitely not the answer. I’ve been writing about this virus and i’ll use your prompt to connect the two. Thanks. Glad to have come back to this challenge after a long time. Take care.

    Here’s my take:

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you! Oh, I had seen some photos of dolphins in the canals at Venice. There may yet be some stunning revelations for humanity as we all experience the global impact. You’re so right — panic doesn’t solve anything although the dog mushers here say if you do, panic forward. Are you writing about the virus at your blog or on Medium or elsewhere? Glad to see you taking up the challenge! You take care, too!

      • papershots

        Yes, dolphins in Venice and Sardinia, and other “wild” animals in other cities. The air is purer and the birds are having the time of their lives! I’ve been writing a sort of personal blog about the virus. You can find it here (if interested). Thanks <3

      • Charli Mills

        Wow! That must be something to see! Thanks for sharing your link.

  23. reading journeys

    Hi Charli
    Hope you and your family are feeling better.
    As always your blog is thought- provoking. Perhaps even more so at this time.

    I ended up writing 2 FF stories! A first for me.

    And the ideas /inspirations came from the comments/FF stories of that great and diverse group of writers of the Carrot Ranch!
    Thank you Charli and thank you, all the writers at the Ranch!
    Keep well, everyone.


    • Charli Mills

      Hi Saifun! We are feeling better and now we get an extended quarantine, so we will continue to hunker down, though we got a reprieve today, going to the co-op. Wow — two stories this week! Good job for following the inspiration. Yes, I find everyone’s stories, thoughts, and comments part of the greater real of inspiration for writing. You stay well, too!

      • reading journeys

        Thank you for posting both the stories!

  24. susansleggs

    Charli, I’m glad to hear you and hubs are on the mend. Each cough has us wondering also. New York state is on a 2-week “pause.” Only essential business open. My husband works in big construction so is essential, but we moved his office home yesterday as he is in multiple high-risk categories. The cats can’t figure out why we are both home, but doing our own things in different rooms. I would have loved to see the rabbit footprints on the roof. I love the idea of a saloon near the Ranch! On to the prompt..

    New Life – flash fiction

    Trying to focus on paperwork in the Iraqi heat had Michael agitated. The only positive, he was inside. Then he heard the words, “The babies are out.” He grabbed his binoculars and joined the parade leaving the building. They raced passed a lone guy loading a truck, went to the far fence and raised their glasses. Michael enjoyed the moment then returned to the loader. “I’ll do this, you go have a look.”

    “Thanks, Sarge.”

    The newbie joined the group and after guidance, saw the hares playing on the burned remains of a jeep roof half-buried in the sand.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sue! I’m glad your husband can work from home. I think a lot of cats are confused, perhaps some even delighted. My daughter has been working from home and her cat likes to drape her furry body across my daughter’s laptop. Your flash gives such a sharp image of the scene. Soldiers look for signs of life, I think. It must offer such hope in light of what they experience. Well done! See you at the Saloon!

      • susansleggs

        Thanks Charli

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yes, that would be a welcome big deal, I imagine. When my brother was over there in the first Iraq war (airforce, mechanic) he caught a desert hedgehog that he kept as a pet, not exactly cuddly, but cute enough.

      • susansleggs

        That would be an interesting pet.

  25. Liz H

    Challenge accepted…this was a head-scratcher for sure! MAy it bring us all some little joy?

    A Wild Hare: Post-pandemica

    I looked in the mirror, unsure. Six months quarantine, but now it’s safe to go out. I stepped out back, hesitating to shake free the sheet full of recently cut hair. Could this be used?

    Out front, the neighbors laughed and called to one another. I jogged around to join them.
    [Continue ]

    • Charli Mills

      Challenge well-executed, Liz! I appreciate the perspective and humor. Or maybe we’ll all be spinning buns on top of our heads!

      • Liz H

        Time to stock up on…or plant! more carrots!

      • Charli Mills

        Definitely carrots!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Hugh. We are starting to see more melt and blue sky. Hopeful signs. Hope you are all well and safe in your corner of the world!

  26. eLPy

    Thanks for this post Charli though I’m sorry you guys aren’t feeling well, and I’m sorry you weren’t able to get tested. It sounds like a mess and very frustrating. I am glad to hear you’re feeling better, I hope that’s still the case. These are scary times. I appreciate you sharing your experiences from top to bottom as well as the reflection on veterans. I hadn’t thought about that, how some of them may be experiencing these executive orders. How are you doing now?

    I also really enjoyed your remarks about writers working with the truth. It’s so true that we use our art to explore truth, facts, and real life even as the elements may be far from real life.

    Nice job with your flash fiction piece. I like the idea of taking back the community, the image of reclaiming and a beautiful one at that. 😀

    Here’s my take:

    • Charli Mills

      We are feeling better, thanks! I think the mess is across the US with ridiculous federal protocols preventing the testing during the most crucial time to test. Now it feels like we all wait. Thank you for a wonderful post that reaches out to literary artists to write through these times. Enjoyed your story!

  27. Lisa A. Listwa

    I think I may be too late for the collection this week. So I’ll post here instead.

    Rabbit Run
    by Lisa A. Listwa

    Liz stared hard into the darkness. There was that familiar sound, just enough like someone walking in the attic space above that it made her start. Every time.

    Probably a squirrel or a bat or the pair of mourning doves who lived in the neighbor’s tree.

    Still, the sound frightened her. Not because Liz believed it was anything sinister, but because it always set her mind racing. Faster they came, fear after fear crashing through her brain, a line of rabbits increasing as they passed.

    Tonight would be a long night.

    Near morning the eagle’s grasp would save her.

    • Charli Mills

      Got it, Lisa! It was a late night for me. 🙂

  28. Jennie

    Scary times, Charli. I’m glad you are better. Lives are in a whirlwind.

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Anita!

  30. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Tracey!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Dave!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!


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