Taking Charge

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.

April 2, 2020

An attribute of leadership includes taking charge. Like a boy herding piglets, leaders must find a balance with other qualities, including awareness, compassion, and a sense of doing what is needed at the moment. For the boy, the moment called for courage to overcome shyness. Taking charge happens in a moment and can have fun results to a lifetime impact.

Writers have a full interpretation of the prompt each week. They explored what taking charge means from different perspectives.

The following are based on the March 26, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story in which a character takes charge.

PART I (ten-minute read)

Time Trapped by Anita Dawes

Time trapped in a rain drop.
The watch maker said it was beyond price.
More precious than silver, gold, diamonds?
It has been here from the beginning
His wish was to take charge of it.
He did all he could, his experiments.
To outsiders looked daft, a waste of time
The watch maker replied, time trapped there
In one drop could unleash a mind full of magic
Unknown to this world.
Imagine who bathed in it, what could they tell?
Water has a memory
I need to find out how to unlock it
Find the wisdom that hides inside…


Taking Charge by Joanne Fisher

The explosion tore through the starship. Trisha struggled through the wreckage to access the bridge. Once there, she found most of the crew were either dead or injured. Pushing the Captain away, she checked the starship’s diagnostics and managed to reroute all remaining power to the shields, life support and whatever drive systems still worked so all the crew still left could survive. Thankfully she found the controls were still responsive. She piloted the ship away heading for neutral space. The enemy starships held their fire allowing the crippled starship to limp off. Trisha breathed a sigh of relief.


Rubble Takes Charge by Cara and Mikey Stefano

“Rubble on the double!” says Rubble. Rubble is rebuilding a broken cabin. It was smashed by a rolling observatory, which is for watching the stars. “First let’s clear away all the rubble!” says Rubble. All his friends rush to pick him up. “No, not me!” he laughs, “all this!” So after they all rebuild the cabin Rubble says “Hey Rocky, can you put some bolts in the walls and the roof so it doesn’t fall down again?” Rocky says “Green means GO!” Uncle Otis says “Yeah! You pups work fast! Thanks”


If you are offered a bull, do not ask how much milk he will give.
by JulesPaige

Taking charge of the road.
That was what he had to do.
Had to get the son to his father, fast.
Picked up his charge at the airport and flew…
The hour and a half ride was sliced by about half.
Told the folks he was doing eighty…
But the passenger said the speedometer needle
Swayed further right passed that number.
We’ll just call the driver a hero.
One of many in these trying times who
Took the proverbial bull by the horns and flew…

within what limits
we do what needs to be done
riding the wind true


Taking Charge by Faith A. Colburn

You wouldn’t call her meek, but Hazel avoided confrontation when she could. Standing on the doorstep of the home place, though, an old neighbor told of a time when she didn’t.

“I was helpin’ out at your place at dinnertime. Dad had said I wasn’t to eat there, but she sat me down at the table. Well, here comes Pop, rarin’ mad. Hazel met him on the step. Told him, ‘On this place, if he works, he eats.’

“Now Pop was used to getting’ his way, but he shut up and waited for me to finish Hazel’s apple pie.”


Taking Charge by Ann Edall Robson

The community came together as it always did when one of their own needed help. Someone organized a social. Food and music were donated. Items contributed for auction were sold, only to be re-donated and sold again. The potluck lunch served at midnight refuelled the musicians. Schottisches, polkas, waltzes, and two steps kept the crowd going until the wee hours of the morning. Finally, as the sun started to rise, the familiar smooth strains of Irene Goodnight took charge. Glide, step, glide, turn, glide, step, glide, turn. The old fashioned home waltz announced the end to the evening.


Stumbles by Michelle Wright

In the beginning, Liza would admire Jack at the improv class meetings. Admiration escalated. When the improv prompted them to hold hands, the blush on her face was real.

“Mighty fine couple,” Greg said while in character, greeting the newlyweds.

“We should be,” Liza blurted.

“Should be and are,” stated Jack, remaining in character, and clueless to Liza’s mistake.

At the end of the class Liza took a deep breath, marched up to Jack then shouted, “I want to go out with you!”

Jack stumbled around and knocked over chairs. He picked the chairs up, smiled, then said, “Okay.”


Let Go by Sascha Darlington

Within a week, I called friends, figured out how I could get Joe to Toronto. The one thing missing from my equation was Joe.

“I can’t run,” he said.

Have you ever looked at someone you loved and wanted to beat his beautiful face? I did.

“It’s not running away. It’s saving your life.”

He nodded, his eyes sad. “But, Jilly, if I run away, what will we have? I can’t come home? See the folks?”

I looked up at my cowboy, “We can visit.”

“Aw, hon, my friends have already gone. It’s my turn.”

I let him go.


Meg Takes Charge by Susan Zutautas

Ian was running a high fever, had a scratchy throat, and had lost his sense of taste.

“Ian, I think you should go to the hospital and get checked out.”

“What good will it do? Honestly, Meg, I’m far better off here with you.”

“Well you have the symptoms of Covid-19 and if you have the virus, I may have it too. I think it would be the responsible thing for you to go. Behind the hospital they have drive-up testing set up, you don’t even have to go in. Now get your coat on, we’re going right now.”


Ducks in a Row by Donna Matthews

“What are you doing?!?”

“What do you mean what am I doing…I’m moving these ducks over here,” Sally grumbled

“No, no, no…the ducks don’t go here! They go on the north end of the pond!” explained Dorothy.

“The north end?? Are you crazy? The wind is too brisk, and the oak trees have lost all their leaves…the ducks will be exposed if we put them there,” reasoned Sally.

“We put them at the north end, Sally. The north end is narrow, and that’s how we’ll keep the ducks all in a row,” an exasperated Dorothy explained.

“Ohhhhhhh, I see!”


Taking Charge by D. Avery

She cracked the front door, her face a bruised sunrise. “I walk into doors,” she explained. “I’m learning I should shut them tight or open them wide.”

“I would like to speak with the man of the house.”

Over her shoulder, thin pale legs scampered up the stairs. She blocked the rest of the view into the home.

“He’s not here.”

“When shall I call again?”

The woman paused, straightened. “He had to go away.”

“When will he return?”

“He didn’t say. Now, do you want to talk to the man of the house or to who’s in charge?”


The Lonely by Paula Puolakka

Fern took a few steely steps up the cliff. She greeted the lonely crooked pine, after which she went to talk to the large spruces and junipers.

Today, people had been told to stay 6.561 feet away from each other and to avoid public spaces. However, when Fern had gone out, she had seen more pedestrians than yesterday.

Fern started humming “Reincarnation:” the song by Roger Miller. The state of the world was saddening, but at the same time, she thanked the Lord for everything. The pandemic had not changed the historian’s world: the trees still needed her attention.


Taking Charge by Pete Fanning

We welcomed Mom back to our quiet, clean house. Dad had one elbow and I had the other, our voices forced and careful and sounding anything but like our own.

She’d been gone for two months. It seemed like so much longer. Meanwhile, I’d started sixth grade, found a new best friend, and had taken charge of the household. Now, I had so much to tell her. Even as the doctor said it would take time for her to adjust, much less notice all the clothes I’d washed and folded.

But that’s hope for you, stubborn as a stain.


Charge! by Norah Colvin

As if a starting gun had been fired, the children scattered, looking in grass, under rocks, in branches of trees.

“What’re you doing?” asked the playground supervisor.

“There’s eggs, Miss. Easter eggs — millions of ‘em. Enough for everyone.”

“How many’ve you found?”

“None yet. Gotta keep lookin’.”

After a while, the searching slowed. “How many’ve you got?”

They showed empty pockets and empty hands.

The supervisor said, “Who said there were eggs?”

They shrugged.

When the punishment was handed down, the instigators explained, “It was just an experiment to see how many’d be sucked in. We meant no harm.”


Desert Dreams by Chelsea Owens

Swirling nighttime sand pummeled and rocked the old Suburban. Sequoia made for a poor windbreak, but Clara knew that was all they’d get.

“Mama?!” little Janey cried. “Papa?!”

“I got ‘er,” Dan said, stumbling over cans, blankets, and sleeping bodies to reach their youngest.

Clara settled back against the cold car wall. She needed to think. The endless roar of haunted desert souls echoed the wails in her mind, of the dying world they’d left behind.

“So,” Dan sat next to her and laced his fingers in hers. “What next?”

Clara narrowed her gaze, resolute. “I have a plan.”


Little Mouse Goes West by Wallie and Friend

Once upon a whisker, there was a cowboy who bumped into luck and fell down hard. It was the kind of fall you don’t get up from easily. Mouse, who had followed the cowboy’s dust for miles, didn’t like it at all.

So the mouse climbed up on Petie’s knee and told him so. She was squeaking loud and clear, and Petie didn’t dare argue. He got up and Squeaky slid into his pocket. There were crumbs in there and it was warm, and the cold morning air tickled her nose.

It was the perfect day for an adventure.


Welcome at Last by The Curious Archaeologist

A brick smashed through the window, glass fell on the praying sisters.

“Why do we stay, Mother?” Asked one of the newly founded Anglican Order of Sisters. “No one seems to want us.”

Then – Cholera.

No one knew how it spread, people fled and the rest died alone, no one helped – until the sisters took charge.

They cared for the dying, comforted the living, and became beloved by the people of Plymouth.

A little later a small women came and asked.

“Can you help me? I desperately need nurses.”

The Mother Superior smiled “Of course we can – Miss Nightingale.”


PART II (ten-minute read)

Walter by Bill Engleson

Walter beat me in by a day.

I became de facto number two.

Told myself that, anyway.

Who else would!

First thing Walter said was, “You’re a baby.”

I tried to deny it.

“No!” I sputtered.

“No offence, kid. It’s just, I’m me.”

And he was.

He was thirty. Fit as a friggin’ fiddle.

He’d been a soldier before.

East Germany.

Then he escaped to the West.


The next few days, our training troop filled up.

Most were like me.

Babies from the Canadian landscape.

Walter became our natural leader.

Later, we learned how crazy twisted he was.


In Which a Character Takes Charge by Papershots

Ministry of Health. Under25 Secretary slips into an office, “People are gargling with bleach.” What? “They’re afraid of the virus.” What? (Jokes have been going round because of the pandemic.) Some laugh, flabbergasted. “We need an official communiqué.” Now they all laugh. No one’s sure what’s going on. Typing, calling, “put me through, I said!” Under112 Secretary Never-take-charge-but-follow-orders takes it seriously, though; at her computer she designs a fake news bulletin warning people about gargling with bleach. It goes viral. The crazy are saved. The price of bleach goes back down. Stocks normalize. The world is a better place.


Who’s In Control? by Hugh W. Roberts

“A gun? Who’s got a gun?” murmured Doug, as he tried to take control of his body which felt like a block of concrete. “And where’s Sophie?”


Two floors below, Sophie’s eyes moved from the twitching nose of the rabbit to the back of the mysterious woman’s head. “You’re not as in control as you think you are, Sophie,” giggled the woman.


Forced to close his eyes, to protect them from the paint dust, the tapping noise Mike heard suddenly stopped. Opening his eyes slowly, he was stunned to see the face of a woman looking down at him.


Hometown Hero by Kelley Farrell

Joe showed up drunk, still clutching a fifth to his chest.

Hattie wrinkled her nose.

“The great hometown hero.”

Sam wore an unholy combination of rotten fish and garbage for cologne.

“It’s been a long night.”

“What did you guys do?”

“Oh, just me. I don’t know where he’s been.”

Hattie refused to see this get away.

“Help me get him up. We’re heroes and I’m not going to let our group get embarrassed like ths.”

“I’ve been up all night fighting crime.”

“Ok.” Hattie tossed the rope into his waiting hands. “We’ve got tug o’ war to win.”


The Gym’s New Sheriff by Dave Madden

There he was, again, flexing his middle-aged muscle to a team primarily consisting of young, amateur fighters. The handful of pros half-heartedly listened, but they, for the most part, tuned out his droning, senseless rambles and did their own thing.

Coach Tim didn’t have a clue what he was doing; everyone knew, but only Kelvin, the most experienced of the bunch, voiced the obvious.

“I think it’s time you go,” Kevin announced before Friday morning’s sparring session.

Echoes of agreement struck the gym’s walls, and the door hit Tim like a roundhouse kick on his way out.


Taking Charge by FloridaBorne

“Mrs. Jones,” her doctor said. “You’re pre-diabetic, and have heart disease. Go to the gym…”

“But I can hardly walk.”

“You’re going to be dead in a year unless you take charge of your health! Walk your dog!”

She cried all the way home, and searched the fridge for comfort food.

Just when she started to take a bite she yelled, “No!”

Her Pitbull knew what to do. Each time she tried to eat, he barked, and his paw forced her arm downward.

She lumbered toward his collar and leash, the first of what would be many more walks.


Reluctant Guide by Kerry E.B. Black

Troop 435 lost their map, and their compasses, emergency GPS, and telephones remained inside the leader’s tent. Ten boys bickered about fault and what to do next. They squinted at moss on tree trunks and the direction of streams. Their disagreements frightened woodland creatures into watchful silence.

The eleventh scout, Arnold, identified with the subdued critters. He trailed his troopmates, noting what they overlooked.

Fighting introversion, he faced the others. “This way.”

Ronnie, the troop bully, scowled. “Why should we listen to you?”

Arnold shrugged and stepped onto a deer path. Without turning, he knew the others followed, even Ronnie.


Diabolical Deer by Nobbinmaug

“You’re not the boss a me.”

“I’m older. That means I’m in charge.”

“I’m tellin’ Mom and Dad when they get back.”

“What if they don’t come back?”

“They’ll be back. Won’t they?”

“You never know. There’s a lot of bad shit out there. Robbers, murderers, diseases, deer*…”

“What if they don’t come back?”

“We fend for ourselves. It’ll be up to me to take care of you.”

“They better come back.”

“They probably won’t.”

“Mommy! Daddy!”

“Hi, guys. Is everything O.K.?”

“Yeah. How was the movie?”

“It was really bad. Lucas should have never sold Star Wars to Disney.”


Saving Lives by Charli Mills

Rhonda didn’t bother with her boots. She’d wait for calving season to end before cleaning the floor. When the National Guard recalled Jess, she took charge of their small spread. A neighbor came over to help. News of the virus dominated the stations, and Rhonda couldn’t get a weather report. She ate a bowl of Spagettios, then returned outside to relieve Tony. Around midnight the last calf arrived with a spring blizzard. While Jess saved lives as a medic in a makeshift hospital 300 miles away, Rhonda snuggled a calf all night in the kitchen with the wood-stove blazing.


at mercy hospital by joem18b

my heart took charge this morning and my mind did not fight it. i dressed, had a light breakfast, and rode my bike to the mercy hospital emergency room. there was already a line. i was a candy striper at mercy in high school and i still have connections there. the staff was glad to have me but did warn me about the infection rate among those exposed to the virus. i spent the day bringing donated coffee and pastries to those waiting and listening to their concerns, both the ill and their families. we’re all in this together.


In Charge Now by Ritu Bhathal

“I’m sorry,” she wheezed, as she slowly picked up her bags, after switching off her computer.

“You’re sick. Just go. Don’t worry, we are here. Now remember, you need to rest up for at least seven days, do you hear me?”

I watched the retreating figure of my Headteacher and grabbed a cloth and the. Disinfectant spray. After cleaning her desk, and chair, I sank down on it.

Oh, man, this meant I was in charge of a school, still open, in a pandemic.

Three members of staff, and a clutch of children would be relying on me now…


Fear Makes Us Strangers by M J Mallon

It’s Friday night, the weekends coming. Yeah!

I dread what the queue might be like.

Each time I shop, I become more afraid. I pray I don’t see someone I know. Social distancing has become social avoidance.

I’m done quick, rush to the nearest till and am amused to see the vicar talking to the check out assistant. I’m still thinking of their cheerful conversation and the smiling vicar. The lady at the till demands that I step back further. I do, but I can never get used to this.


Shopping for Essentials by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“What the heck is that?”

“A new recipe for Stay at Home.”

“What you got in there?”

“Beans, tomato sauce, dark brown sugar, Tabasco, the last of that lunch meat…”

“The stuff that was getting slimy?”

“Cured Mystery Meat, so no expiration date! Anyway, I scrubbed it off and it kind of…shredded. So it’s fine. And then I added the last of the Velveeta, a can of water-packed tuna, and whatever was left in that carton of Half and Half.”

“What’s that floating on top?”

“The white stuff is cauliflower, green stuff is Kale.”

“That’s it! I’m going shopping!”


Feeding Bodies, Feeding Minds by Anne Goodwin

Although overqualified for retail, this was her dream job. Five floors of books and hordes of readers, hungry for literary advice. As the virus bloomed, sales did too, until nonessentials were forced to close. Lockdown had a silver lining: communing with her own bookshelves.

She read in the bath, on the patio, in the snaking supermarket queue, but her focus floated away. Abandoning Moby Dick in her trolley, she approached a security guard. From a distance of two metres, she begged to go inside. Soon her PhD (in creative writing) had charge of a checkout, keeping the nation fed.


Hannah – A New Direction by Saifun Hassam

COVID-19 spread rapidly. Lynn Valley restaurants provided only take-out or delivery services. Hannah and her staff decided to close “Spuds Restaurant.”

The Farmers Market Association requested Hannah to co-ordinate the collection and distribution of fresh produce to the Lynn Valley Soup Kitchens and Food Banks. She immediately agreed. The farmers dropped off produce at The Market which was closed to the public. Hannah worked with staff from the Soup Kitchens and Food Banks to sort and deliver requested supplies.

Hannah’s mother, Bev, had passed away a few months ago. She would have been at her side helping without hesitation.


Take Charge of Yourself by Susan Sleggs

The church teen choir started practicing without Gaylan. He joined them ten minutes later and the group came to life.

Tessa’s father, Don, running the rehearsal, after dismissing all but Gaylan, asked: “Would you say you respect this group?”


“Do you attend by choice?”


“Do you understand belonging comes with responsibility?”

“I guess.”

“Do you believe your continual tardiness proves your answers are the truth?”

Gaylan hesitated. “No, sir.”

“Michael wanted to ask you to take charge tonight but didn’t trust you to be on time. Show up early from now on and you’ll earn that trust.”


Sherlock in Charge by tracey

Time for my every ten-minutes check on the family. Dad was still staring morosely at a blank television screen. My boy was fixated on a screen and clicking on a mouse. I don’t know why he called it that, it sure wasn’t a mouse. Mom was wiping down the kitchen counter for the eighth time, no sign of her cooking bacon. Darn. I decided it was time to take charge. I grabbed my leash from its hook and started barking and jumping around. “Great idea Sherlock,” said Mom and she yelled out “time for a family walk, right now!”


Kid’s Dilemma by D. Avery

“Pal, whut’s Shorty done charged us with this time?

“Charged us with? Why, nuthin’ Kid.”

“Nuthin’? That prompt’s gotta lead ta sumthin’. Always does.”


“An’ asides that, ain’t we in charge a the Saloon?”

“Could say thet, I s’pose.”

“An’ we still gotta discharge our reg’lar ranch duties.”

“Yep. Purty sure there’s discharge in the barn fer ya ta shovel now, Kid.”

“Bullshift, Pal, why’s it always seem like yer in charge a me?”

“I jist take yer bull by the horns is all.”

“Mebbe I’ll grab them horns. Take charge a ma own self.”

“Yep. Mebbe, Kid.”


Tootin’ Rootin’ Round Trip by D. Avery

“Lookin’ rough, Kid. Where ya been, anyway?”

“Checked out Slim Chance’s outfit.”

“Why ever for?!”

“Took charge a m’sef. Yer always bossin’ me aroun’. Shorty’s s’posed ta be in charge, but she’s always nice, jist says ‘go where the prompt leads’; well Slim Chance tells folks where ta go an’ how ta git there.”

“Git where?”

“Where he wants ‘em ta go.”

“Real take charge sorta guy?”

“Sure ‘nough. Says, ‘Drink this kool-aid, it’s the best’, where’s Shorty jist has carrots out, fer folks ta take or not.”

“Yer back though?”

“Ferever. Ta re-charge on root crops.”




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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Yep. There it is. They were pretty when I read them at six foot intervals, but even more so here together, this whole sum gathering of stories.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I hadn’t thought of our individual readings as distancing!

  2. beth

    great offerings here. i especially enjoyed the gym’s new sheriff

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for reading, Beth! It’s always a surprising variety.

  3. Jim Borden

    another wonderful collection; hopefully that school with the new headteacher has since closed!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jim! Maybe there will be a sequel to that story.

  4. Ann Edall-Robson

    From across the miles and around the world, another great job from the ranch hands at the Carrot Ranch.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, I like that intro Ann.

  5. Colleen M. Chesebro

    What a great read. I’m missing my flash fiction! I’m finally starting to feel better, Charli. I did end up with the nose pillows, like Todd has. I hope to be back to writing tomorrow. Great job everybody! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, I’m so glad you are feeling better! and that your nose has pillows for your comfort and skin protection! Thanks for reading. Look forward to your writing. <3

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        I had issues keep that darn thing on! The first one looks like a dominatrix gadget and the other one looks like a headband. So crazy! LOL! Thanks for all the help, Charli. <3

  6. Lisa A. Listwa

    Missed the boat for the collection this week, but I did manage to get it up on my blog. I love the variety here, as always. I really love to see what others do with the same information and prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      You didn’t miss the boat if you wrote, Lisa! I always enjoy this part, to see the creativity together.

  7. Norah

    Another wonderful collection, some topical and some not. Great fun.

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