April 16: 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.

April 17, 2020

It’s crazy but the Hub and I polished off a jar of summer raspberry jam in less than a month. Last August, we had a prolific crop of raspberries on the canes and the Hub picked more than he could eat, filling our freezer with zip-locked bags. We had barely closed on the house with a smattering of furnishings and enough household items cobbled together to cook and clean after three years of homelessness. The Hub was finishing up a round of cognitive processing therapy to help with his condition before we were to at last fetch our stored belongings from Idaho. Then coronavirus shut down the world.

He finished CPT at home with phone sessions and I dug out the raspberries and made jam.

In solidarity with the world, we’ve been going stir-crazy at home. Oh, but what a lovely sound the word home makes! It rolls off the tongue from the heart. It fills the spaces between us and offers a foothold on the slippery slope the world has become. Home smells like flapjacks on the griddle and tastes like sunshine from red raspberries. I feel home beneath my feet as I pad from room to room, knowing the framework is solid storms although not impervious. I ponder yonder, gazing out the age-warped windows, wondering how many dreams those panes have witnessed in a hundred years.

It drives me crazy that I can’t share my home. If homelessness taught me anything, it was the value of community and the power of love. Not romantic love or familial bonds, but the kind of love that stretches like fog from a river of emotion, transcending expectations and conditions, seeping into all our bones with the hope of goodness for us all. I have seen despair. I have seen death. I have felt the plunge of betrayal’s blade, tripped over the bully’s foot, and faced deceit. Yet, it all pales to the goodness I’ve witnessed.

Yes, I want home, but I also want to be out in the world loving others. From afar, I can wave fondly. I know I’m not alone in my belief in the ability of goodness to make a difference. If you need a dose of love in these times, or any time, catch Some Good News:

In some good news from World Headquarters of Carrot Ranch on Roberts Street in the Keweenaw, the Unicorn Room is fully painted, appropriately pink. It’s a soft shell-pink. You might think I’m crazy, but this is the fulfillment of a specific dream born of the vague desire to just play and write for the rest of my life. Yeah, yeah, yeah — writing requires long, focused work and constant mastery of craft, and a writer needs to generate income and flex with industry trends, but who says I can’t have fun doing all that?

Let me introduce you to some crazy fun in my Unicorn Room.

First, let me explain the theme and its connection to Carrot Ranch. This place exists as a sandbox, a safe place to play with literary art in its many forms. When we got started back in 2014, I witnessed what “safe” meant when writers relaxed enough to let their creativity lead, understanding they weren’t going to be criticized for not staying within the coloring lines. Ever since then, I’ve encouraged, “Go where the prompt leads,” because that is where every writer will discover their voice. However, after a particular run of prompts leading to dark stories, I thought I’d lighten it up with a rainbows and unicorns sort of prompt.

And those were some of the best stories, where the contrast of something fantastical met dark shadows. The unicorn became an icon, and has found its way into numerous other prompts (did you notice the shield of last week’s knight in the prompt photo)?

The Unicorn Room proudly expresses the theme of “go where the prompt leads.” One wall is for story-weaving — two large corkboards for building plot lines, subplots, and character arcs, and a large whiteboard for exploring, coaching, or holding individual W-storyboards. A small, spare desk big enough for a laptop sits below the boards with a gilded chair (of course, a Unicorn Room needs a gold throne) next to the radiator and large window with a turquoise curtain.

A single row of book shelving runs along the next two walls draped beneath with turquoise tule and starry lights over the reading nook — a large lavender shag carpet with unicorn pillows. A colorful agatized tapestry inlaid with gold forms a backdrop in the reading nook and will serve as a recording space. This room is for creative play, reading, and daydreaming. I also have my yoga mat and meditation pillow set up in the nook where it’s fun to go sit on the floor.

A small white bookshelf beneath a beautiful unicorn hanging quilt (created by our talented Susan Sleggs) is along the final wall next to the closet door where I hope to store all my research and portfolios that are yet in storage. The bookshelf holds candles, rocks, sage, books, writing games, and inspirational cards. Since my genre is women’s fiction and my subgenre women of the West, most of the reading material is from my collections of nonfiction and fiction books relating to women and history.

I plan to use the Unicorn Room for one-on-one strategic coaching, day use for local writers, and my daily play space. It’s a crazy little dream come to fruition. Something to celebrate.

The MFA rolls along the crazy-train tracks. I’m feeling more like a weaver than a writer, taking threads of plot, subplots, and character arc, interlacing scenes that move the story or grow the character. The loom is my trio of storyboards so I can create a pattern that will be my novel. I admit I might be hooked on plotting, or story engineering as I’ve come to know it. Weaving sound more artistic to me. And I have some books to recommend from this term’s reading:

  • Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
  • The Language of Fiction: A Writer’s Stylebookby Brian Shawver
  • Architecture of the Novel: A Writer’s Handbook by Jane Vandenburgh
  • Publishing: Principles and Practice by Richard Guthrie

Indeed, these are crazy times, but we can still play. Write it out. Don’t hide your crazy!

Submissions closed. Find our most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.

April 16, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something crazy. Laugh like crazy, show the setting of stir-crazy or go off the rails on a crazy train. Have fun with the word and the situation, but go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 21, 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.


Plucked by Charli Mills

Hazel plucked an avocado from the tree in Granny Clemmie’s yard and skipped on bare feet down the tarred road toward the canal. It stunk like ripe garbage, which was better than the constant snort of dust back in Oklahoma. California burst with crazy abundance. Model T’s rattled out of fields stacked with fruit crates. Only problem were them busybodies pestering mama about her kids being little malingerers. What was a child but a wild wanderer, laughed mama? Crazy thing, they ended her freedom that day, shipped her back like a burlap of walnuts to the Oklahoma Girls School.

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  1. robbiesinspiration

    A lovely post this week. It is tough to be forced to stay at home and I personally think that people should have a choice about whether to stay home or take their chances and continue to earn a living, especially in countries like ours where the social help is limited. At this rate, even socialist and wealthy countries are going to find themselves unable to pay social grants and maybe even pensions in a few months time. It is quite scary and the inability to earn money to pay for your life escalates the anxiety a great deal.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Yes, it’s really hard for people unable to earn a living right now – even here, where there’s an 80% bailout for employed people the self-employed can’t get anything from the government until June. And while I’m delighted that our definitely not socialist government is providing financial support, I imagine it’s the poor who will end up paying it through years of austerity when we get to the other side.
      Unfortunately it can’t be about personal choice whether to chance it or not. If we’re out and about we can easily pass on the virus to others even if we’re not sick ourselves. It’s mostly to protect the health care system that we have to stay indoors, which must be even more vital in poorer countries.
      Wishing you and your family well in these dreadful times.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Robbie! It’s a terrible dilemma and all around the world, we will have to find innovative ways to recover financially, socially, and for our health. This crisis reveals inequities and follies, but the bottom line should be the value of all human lives. I hope you and your family are okay.

      • robbiesinspiration

        Thanks Charli, in South AFrica social unrest is spreading and their have been food riots. Churches and schools which are distributing food parcels to children and their families are being looted and in some cases burned. 50 schools have been badly damaged to date. People are starving and are taking action to try to survive. They are not isolated as they can’t be because of they way they live. The promised government food aid has not materialised. These facts make it different here to elsewhere in the world where people get help from government. We are okay but the social unrest is very worrying. People get attached and killed by looting mobs. I don’t make my comments because I am selfish and don’t care about other lives. I make them because the current circumstances were obvious when our economy locked down because millions of our people live from day to day. It is a tragedy.

      • susansleggs

        Robbie, Your situation is much different than here in the states though our economy is tanking quickly. I wish you safety and good health. Thanks for sharing the facts so we know.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Oh my god, Robbie, your situation is truly crazy. Be careful.

      • Charli Mills

        Forgives my ignorance, Robbie. I can’t even imagine. I’ve complained about the loss of less and yet there are so many safety nets in my nation. People in the US did not starve or die in riots during the Great Depression, and we are holed up during a pandemic in luxury with food and internet, not even capable of fathoming what real distress and lack are.

      • robbiesinspiration

        Hugs, Charli. We are trying to do our bit through food donations, one can only try. We are also paying all our staff so that they can help other in their communities.

      • Doug Jacquier

        My heart goes out the wonderful people of your country, Robbie, whom I have had the privilege to visit, including the townships. I can easily envisage the scenes you describe and weep for them. And just to follow up on Charli’s comment, The Grapes of Wrath reminds us of the chilling indifference and cruelty shown towards the victims of the Great Depression.

      • Charli Mills

        Robbie, I saw an article today how healthcare workers are going out in South Africa to hunt down the virus.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Nailed it, paleface 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Of course! I like how the you used the doctor in this scenario.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Reena!

  2. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Well, you got me wondering, how long does a jar of jam last in our house? We must have had over a dozen from this summer and finished the last jar a couple of weeks ago. We must be spreading ours too thick!

    I’m smiling at the craziness of your unicorn room, but hoping it will spark imaginations before too long. It makes me even happier thinking of you padding around in your own home after so much hardship.

    I liked your 99-word story and – perhaps because we can’t grow them in the UK – loved being reminded of the pleasure of plotting an avocado from the tree. The book I’m reading at the moment is partly set in California and the mention of Lake Tahoe (although I don’t think they go there) reminded me of you.

    It’s lovely for your character to have had that burst of freedom but there must be lots of kids stuck at home at the moment desperate to get back to school!

    I had a post waiting – actually a rant – so I’m in fairly quickly with my 99-word story. I’m afraid it’s not a fun version of crazy, but I followed the prompt where I needed to go:

    One Thursday evening

    Out they poured from their houses
    Paused on their doorsteps
    Ready to proclaim
    Their support
    The ritual way
    With their hands.
    Primed by the media
    The government briefings
    The slogans targeted at their hearts,
    They knew what was needed,
    They’d done it before.
    In common cause with their neighbours,
    Albeit socially distanced
    In their separate booths,
    They picked up the pens
    They marked their crosses
    In the box
    For the party that promised
    To rid dear Blighty
    Of the infection
    The virus
    The scourge of immigration
    Of social justice
    Of healthcare free at the point of delivery for all.

    My post: I’m fuming (furious, irate, incensed, enraged, seething, mad, livid, cross) https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2020/04/im-fuming-furious-irate-incensed-enraged-seething-mad-livid-cross.html

    • Doug Jacquier

      Oh, come on, Anne, say what you really think 😉 Love it.

    • Charli Mills

      It was a big jar of jam, Anne and we were slathering it all over buttermilk pancakes. Avocados are something I do miss from childhood, growing up in California (near Lake Tahoe, so we didn’t actually grow them, but went over the mountains to get valley produce).

      My flash is based on my mother’s cousin who enjoyed such freedom until caught by authorities. Her mother had been sent to live with a childless couple in Texas at age 12, and her mother had children by three men by her early 20s. It’s a sad broken tree limb I often poke around in to understand the maternal hardship. My mother’s grandmother seemed to escape only to be struck down by a car in San Fransisco in her 40s. I let their stories rattle around, thinking a character or more might emerge from the puzzling.

      Your post felt like a good release of anger. I vented, too! Your flash captures actually moments from our times that feel like scenes from the Hunger Games. I might go read those books. Thanks for seething.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Interesting history to feed your fiction.
        Sometimes need to let that anger out to make room for other feelings (maybe).

      • Charli Mills

        Anger needs its expression too.

    • Charli Mills

      Good jam begins as a dollop and pours out from there! I’m so excited to have a physical playroom, Ritu. I feel like a kid!

      • Ritu

        I just wish I had my own workspace at home! ????
        Right now, with Him homeworking, and Them homeschooling, I’m either on my bed or the sofa. What I wouldn’t give for a study, or a creativity room, as I’d call it!

      • Charli Mills

        One day, Ritu, one day! I remember the family “desk” that I longed to claim as my own. It’s so quiet once they’ve gone. And then you take a room and make it your creativity room (love that name)! Today the Hub helped me hang shelves and curtains and storyboards and then I cried. It felt like creating a nursey for my inner child-writer. I know the longing, and can tell you it will be worth the wait!

  3. Doug Jacquier

    Crazy but true.

    An Australian on the road in Tenby (Wales)

    At the Buccaneer Pub, inside the walls of the old town, I’m drinking with ancients like myself, pretending to be interested in rugby, while they pretend to be interested in cricket, but neither of us fakes their distrust of the Royals. Although it must be said that the man in the top hat and overalls, feeding his bar-stool-perched water spaniel some crisps and Guinness, is a little less harsh than his mates. He would allow them to take their own lives come the revolution. ‘Your round, convict lad,’ smiles Top Hat, ‘and mine next if the dog thinks you’re funny.”

    Bonus continuation beyond 100 words from the same story, at no extra cost.

    Drifting from a woman behind me comes:
    ‘I already told you what I want but you didn’t want that!’
    I turn to hear her man,
    all country-tied up and jacketed with leather elbows,
    red of face and spaniel-eyed, shout
    ‘Two more of the same, thank you, landlord’
    and I wonder how long it will take before he notices
    she’s been in the Ladies an awful long time.

    • Charli Mills

      Great pacing to your crazy but true story, Doug. It makes it flow and the image come to life. And how about that — a freebie, too! Thanks!

      • Doug Jacquier

        Thanks, Charli, much appreciated as always.

  4. Sarah Brentyn

    Well… When you ask for unicorn stories, what do you expect? Rainbows and sunshine? ???????? (That this magical creature has become a writing icon is so special. I remember the very first unicorn prompt and how dark that went. So fun. Unexpected from some of these folks.) Love this!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I was so innocent back then, Sarah! So full of sun rays and kitten purs. Then the unicorn stories rolled in with thunder and lightning. It spawned much even from unexpected pens. Unicorns are legend now.

      • Charli Mills

        D., are you the Grinch who refused to ride uni-corns, lol?

  5. Jim Borden

    I also enjoy watching “Some Good News”, and what a perfect prompt for the times we are living in!

    • Charli Mills

      Isn’t Some Good News delightful? It’s amazing to see professional Broadway singers/actors on Zoom! That precious girl. I feel for all the kids not in school right now.

      • Jim Borden

        it was amazing that they could get all those people together!

      • Charli Mills


  6. Pastor Cathy

    n some good news

    Publishing: Principles

    • Charli Mills

      I hope those resources gave you a lift!

  7. denmaniacs4

    Hmmm! Occasionally I use a very long title to set the scene. This would be one of those times. Of course, I may have been a trifle obscure with my point, assuming I had one…I’m gonna have to start eating way more jam to keep up with you, Charli…

    In the Time of COVID-19, Two Guys Remembering the War Measures Act of 1970

    ‘He was straight as a friggin’ arrow. Can we say that?’

    ‘Don’t know. Doesn’t really matter. Who’s listening, anyways?’

    ‘Yeah, well, that’s a whole other story.’

    ‘I remember the way he was back in high school. Couldn’t get a peep out of him.’

    ‘It was crazy the way he was. Teenagers are supposed to go a little nuts. Cut loose. Do something wild.’

    ‘How’d it happen that he suddenly became…?’


    ‘I was gonna say crackers.’

    ‘His family did have this anti-government thing.’

    ‘So un-Canadian.’

    ‘So were armed troops in the street.’

    ‘Better get used to it, again eh.’


    • Charli Mills

      I challenge you to a jam-off, Bill! I’m going to have to work it off and take up pickleball when we get let loose. A pointed title and a thought-provoking flash. Who knows what comes next.

  8. Jules

    Oh, Charli…

    I could never understand why parents sent their children away… So hard to retrieve that air of graceful freedom once it is squashed like spoiled fruit.

    I played here with a poem: Delightfully Daft

    I have a little fairy
    she plays on my chandelier
    upon her dress is printed a message;

    wonder, explore, seek;
    “Plunge boldly into the thick of life.” – Goethe
    She goes where I cannot…
    to the opening between the rocks –
    to converse with other fae

    Am I crazy to dream
    that when she returns… she’ll
    share her adventures with me?

    I have a little fairy
    to remind me to fantasize
    about kind dragons
    that will slay my dis-ease
    of what may lurk in shadowed caverns

    though I am beyond
    the time to entice magical unicorns…
    am I crazy to believe?


    • Charli Mills

      Jules, I think many have had it tough over the generations, and the 1930s were similar to right now. We aren’t hearing from or about those living rough. I thoroughly enjoyed your Delightfully Daft.

      If it works, this is where the real-life Wilma (I called her character Hazel) ended up in 1930 as an “inmate” (what a thing to call a child):

      Oklahoma County Home for Girls 1836Oklahoma County Home for Girls 1836 Sun, May 17, 1936 – 15 · The Oklahoma News (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com

      • Jules

        Thanks for the link… but it’s too faint to read when I try to get it. People did strange things with the family members they didn’t want to deal with. Wives to sanitariums… even selling children – claiming parents (aged or young) aren’t fit…

        Amazing lady to care for all those children.

      • Charli Mills

        I think you can click on the article and it will give you an option to zoom in. I’d like to think it was a good place to be, but they called the girls “inmates.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Jules! There’s heroes and magic in this, a timeless classic.

  9. Colleen M. Chesebro

    What a fun prompt! Keep up the good work, Charli. You’ve got this. <3

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Colleen! Hugs!

  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake


    “Pal, ya reckon I got a beautiful mind?”
    “Aw, Kid, here we go agin. Ya ain’t got a mind a yer own, ‘member? Ya come outta you know who’s mind.”
    “Oh yeah. So I’m not crazy, but…”
    “Jist leave it alone Kid.”
    “Well, heck, Pal, ya seen her lately? Jammies an’ slippers all day long, sure looks like she’s in the cuckoo’s nest.”
    “So Pal. If’n I did have a mind a my own, d’ya think it’d be beautiful?”
    “Oh sure, Kid, purty an’ colorful like a Flea Circus. Now git ta yer chores, yer drivin’ me crazy.”

    • susansleggs

      I read this one out loud to the Hub. A good laugh for the day. Thanks.

    • Charli Mills

      Purty enough, Kid! Don’t mind your writer. She’s doing her best in isolation.

    • Jules

      Awe, dang… chores.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        These two just have ranch chores- all good, and good for ya.

  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Horn Blowin

    “Shorty’s on ‘bout uni-corns agin. “
    “Shorty’s crazy ‘bout uni-corns.”
    “I ’member the second uni-corn prompt, February 22, 2018? Was you ‘roun fer the first, June 4, 2014?”
    “Course I was ‘roun the Ranch. Jist nobody knew it yet. Kin tell ya thet was Shorty’s 100th Carrot Ranch post ‘an her 14th 99 word challenge. If’n ya read thet post you’ll see how steady she’s been all these years. ‘Ceptin’ fer the uni-corn thing. She suggested, ‘snap the halters off our inner unicorns’. Hmmf.”
    “Well, Pal, it don’t git more free range ‘an that. Mebbe uni-corns ain’t so crazy.”

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        And the response to those:

        Worked Out In the End

        “Frankie! Long time no see. I been keepin’ an eye out fer ya.”
        “Et tu, Shorty? Where is everyone?”
        “Dunno. Oh, here comes Pal, but Kid an’ Pepe been kinda scarce. Might be the prompt. Talk a unicorns always makes Kid skittish. An’ the Saloon kin be a distraction. How ya doin?”
        “Alright, but spring’s sprung on the other side a the mountain an’ ol’ Bert got inta someone’s flower garden, ate so many flowers an’ blooms he’s poopin’ in colors.”
        “Rainbow colors?”
        “Yeah, Pal. Why ya laughin’?”
        “Kid an’ Pepe think Bert’s a uni-corn.”
        “Don’t tell Kid.”

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Suckered you into writing a whole herd of uni-corn stories. Especially love the phrase “horned hosses.”

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Ha yersef. Suckered you into reading them!

  12. Norah

    I just love the sound of your unicorn room, Charli. What a delightful place to be – for you and your guest writers. How creatively inspirational. Yes, I loved those unicorn prompts. The unicorn became a symbol of escape for my character, Marnie. Your unicorn room sounds like a wonderful place to escape into imagination, creativity and writing. I can fly on my Pegasus wings to enjoy the room with you.
    Your community has done well to stay connected and safe during lockdown. I’ve seen some things in Michigan on the news that look rather crazy from here. I hope the craziness stays away from you up there.
    Stay safe and well, and be as crazy (creative crazy) as you want.

    • Charli Mills

      Fly over any time, Norah! Marnie’s unicorn became so memorable and even an icon of triumph over trauma. All the crazy stuff is downstate from us, for now. Except for the creativity kind of crazy! You stay well, too.

      • Norah

        Thanks for the invite, Charli. I hope to accept it one day. I probably won’t do a cruise anytime soon, though. They’ve been the main bearers of our coronavirus cases over here. I’m pleased you’ve coralled the creative crazies and kept the others at bay. May it long be that way.

      • Charli Mills

        I’m sad about the cruises, and that they caused the spread to your country. I had dreamed of going on writer cruises, but not now. It would be wonderful to have you in the Keweenaw on day!

  13. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    This story follows two previously posted stories that begin here:


    “Guess we’ll pack up,” said Bill.

    Of course hunting was off. Aaron noticed they’d removed the bolt from his rifle. “You guys must think I’m nuts.”

    Harry spoke. “Dad’ll know what to do.”

    Always ‘Dad’; not ‘my dad’, or ‘our dad’. ‘Dad’. But theirs. Not Aaron’s.

    “Guys, let’s go sledding down Bear Hill. Like that time.” He saw the brothers both smile at remembering a long ago weekend at this camp with their dad. And with him. Aaron remembered having a crazy idea then that he could be their brother too, could say the word ‘dad’ capitalized, fully formed.

    • Charli Mills

      A strong father-son theme running through this sore spot. Sometimes crazy just needs loving acceptance.

  14. Susan Zutautas

    Ah, jam! One weekend I was visiting my step-sister and we were having breakfast. For some reason, maybe we were both famished we sat eating toast and jam. I swear we went through an entire loaf of bread. That was after eating eggs and bacon.

    Love the sound of your unicorn room, Charli. There’s nothing quite like having space or a room where you can let all those creative juices flow.

    Here’s mine for this week. Actually a true story that happened to hubby when we first moved into our home years ago.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! It must satisfy a deep craving! I told the Hub it tasted like summer. Thanks for your story, Susan!

  15. susansleggs

    Hi Charli, I would say a jar of homemade raspberry jam lasting a month was a long time. I’m glad it brought a bit of summertime to you.
    I too want to play in the unicorn room. I can feel its welcoming zen from here, and imagine one accomplishing a lot in the delightful workspace.
    I’m sad that we are all going without company at this time, but I worry more about the businesses being closed and whether they will be able to make it financially. These indeed are crazy times. On to the prompt…

    Crazy Expectations

    “Hi Michael, it’s Clare.”
    “A phone call! What’s up?
    “I need your help. How about a road trip?”
    “Medical or musical?”
    “Medical. Remember when you called me crazy the first time I asked you to get from the floor into your wheelchair on your own?”
    “Well, I have a young lady that added ‘bat s__t’ to the crazy part. She’s fully capable, but won’t even try. I think you’d be able to get through to her. Besides, I want to meet Tessa.”
    “You know Tessa’s name?”
    “Yes, from your Mom’s Facebook page.”
    “Figures. How soon are we traveling?”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      They’re filling out these characters. In a good way. And I’m guessing not married- yet. Airing their grievances at the saloon maybe was good for them.

    • Charli Mills

      Sue, I’d love for you to come over and play and see your quilt hanging. I think innovation will help businesses find their way back. I talked to a friend who works in the egg industry and they had to dump some crazy amount of product because of distribution so instead, they donated food boxes to 39,000 people! Smaller businesses like our in the Keweenaw range from shutting down already to recreating their business. It will be hard. But like your Clare, we need that push when we think we can’t do it.

  16. explorereikiworld

    First off raspberry jam is my fav and lasting for a month at your place would be considered a long time 🙂

    The unicorn room seems to be everybody’s fav. I would love to get a peek of it.

    I agree having a home is such a blessing. I have been so thankful of my four walls lately and also the dishwasher, the washer, the dryer, the fridge, the cooktop, the oven.

    My take for your prompt is a true version of what happens in our home on a daily basis 🙂


    • explorereikiworld

      How can I forget to thank the Internet and the Television and the electricity, and the good health.

      Call me a cuckoo but lots to be thankful of esp during this time.

      • Charli Mills

        Ruchira, you are so right how much we have to be grateful for! We have so much to keep us comfortable. Especially jam!

  17. Hugh W. Roberts

    I love that the hub grows fruit like raspberries, Charli. We’ve had a go at growing blueberries, and gooseberries, but with little success. I don’t think our climate is hot enough for them, but I’m no gardener so that may be wrong.

    I love your outlook on what ‘home’ means. I enjoy being home because it always makes me feel safe and secure. It’s the place where I find I relax the most. And, of course, relaxation is good for our minds and bodies.

    Now, if only Doug, Sophie and Mike could get a little bit of relaxation in their lives. I feel sorry for the situation I’ve put them in (with the help of your prompts), but it’s certainly giving my imagination and creativity a good workout. Thanks so much for that.


    • Charli Mills

      You gave me an insight, Hugh! I came to realize how home provides stability as you have said. But once feeling secure and relaxed in such a space, you can safely wander the shadows for your stories. Ha! I feel like an accomplice!

  18. reading journeys

    Hi Charli

    Still mulling over FF ideas.
    “Crazy” – Stumped until I reread “the Unicorn Room.” Then mind mapping took over. And some thoughts emerged…
    Just sharing: “crazy” lines of thoughts; not-a-poem!!
    Unicorn Room – a kaleidoscope,
    “Crazy” – Juxtaposition – disparate quilt of things, ideas, changing perspectives
    “Crazy” – “crazy with joy” and ‘crazy with grief”
    Thinking outside / beyond the box – Real life stories like Paul Barton playing the piano, Mozart, and Bach, to blind elephants in a sanctuary.
    A pandemic turns things upside down, crazy.
    Somehow Shakespeare comes to mind, his sonnet
    “Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
    But sad mortality o’ersways their power.”

    A challenging prompt for me. But cannot quit! Crazy.

    Thanks as always for a great blog!


    • Charli Mills

      What a kaleidoscope response, Saifun! I especially like the pandemic juxtaposed with the Bard. And funny, but I’m having a ball mind-mapping with my Unicorn Room whiteboard.

    • Charli Mills

      WONDERFUL! I cried, watching Captain Tom make his rounds. That is inspirational.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Unashamed to say ‘me too’.

  19. An Aki

    That little flash fiction was very well written. Great post!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for stopping by the Ranch!

    • susansleggs

      I’m with Mom on that one. No Kardashian’s for me.

      • Robert Kirkendall

        I don’t even know what they did to gain fame.

      • Doug Jacquier

        With my burgeoning stand-up career stalled for the moment by the recent unpleasantness, let me share a snippet from one of my routines. ‘I read the other day that the first person to live to 150 has already been born. Let’s all join our hands together and pray that it’s not a Kardsahian.’

      • susansleggs


    • Charli Mills

      You found a good way in, Robert!

      • Robert Kirkendall

        Awesome! My aim was true 🙂

  20. Ann Edall Robson

    The raw beauty of a country can be deceiving when it rains. Life for an off-road trucker can get real interesting in a flash (no pun intended).

    Crazy Eight Hill
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    The cattle liner slowed, dust swirling. Three days earlier, Crazy Eight hill had been a rutted, rain-drenched, slimy road. It had taken every bit of sinew in his arms to maneuver the loaded truck safely to the bottom. Delivering the cattle to the ranch on the other side of the river below was his goal.

    This was the third load from as many auctions. His reputation assured the new owner that the heifers would arrive in good shape. Thankful it hadn’t started raining again, he started the tedious eight-mile descent to the hairpin turn onto the bridge.


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Got a feeling’ anything could happen here…

      • Ann Edall Robson

        And I’ve got a feeling it probably will…

    • susansleggs

      Beautiful scenery, both the nature type and the trucker’s arms…

    • Charli Mills

      Kinda hard to see the raw beauty of the countryside when ya gotta be the brawn behind the wheel.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, H.! The crazy train is steadily moving toward that day.

  21. Sherri Matthews

    Unicorn room! I love it! I came in just after the unicorn theme…but not long after lol. And look how far Carrot Ranch has come. Wow…that’s crazy enough, isn’t it? A wild crazy roller coaster of a unicorn ride. Yes. Now we’re talking. Bette Davies and her exhortation to fasten our seatbelts and all that… stir crazy we are and it’s bumpy all right but we’re writing and weaving and plotting and plucking and other things besides…that’s the beauty of the Ranch. Bravo, Charli, Bravo! <3

    • Charli Mills

      You rode in on a proper pony, whippin’ and a sprurrin’ Sherri not long after the unicorns arrived. It’s been a wild ride and will continue to be. What a crazy time to be actively seeking an agent, eh? Thank you! <3

      • Sherri Matthews

        Haha…and the whippin’ and spurrin’ continues! Yeah…couldn’t make it up, but here we are! Thank YOU, Charli! <3

  22. Pete

    They say the world has gone mad. But maybe it’s the people who’ve lost their balance. On this giant planet two tiny ants play chase on a stalk of grass, blissfully uninformed. Two butterflies thrash about in silent beauty while a woodpecker calls out with a maniacal laugh. A stream races over the rocks, in a rush to join broader waters. Flowers bloom.

    The world we knew months ago has changed, but the trees still bend and whine in the gusts. The squirrels still dash between limbs. And the sun still rises in a spectacular way… if anyone’s looking.

    • Charli Mills

      Beautiful perspective, Pete! I’m looking.

  23. Gary Holdaway

    Hey, this is my first entry here. Really enjoyable challenge! I can’t wait to participate as often as possible and read around everyone else’s entries! Such tiny pieces of fiction are rare for me so it was fun to try something new 🙂

    Here’s mine: https://gdholdaway.com/2020/04/21/argh-chute-a-flash-fiction/

    • susansleggs

      Welcome, Gary. You’ll find the Ranch a safe, fun place to play and create. It’s a place with plenty of inspiration and no judgement. Hope to see you regularly, or when life allows.

      • Gary Holdaway

        I most definitely will be around again! Hopefully not at 1:30am when I can’t sleep again though ????

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to the Ranch, Gary! I hope you find that tiny pieces of fiction can produce big results!

  24. Lisa L.

    Home is indeed a lovely word, no matter how we interpret it. It can mean so many things to so many people, and our definition of it can change over time, depending on circumstances….yeah. I’m so happy you are blooming in yours and that your unicorn room dream is coming to fruition.

    • Charli Mills

      Home is a homey word to each of us, and I’m glad to explore what it is to me from the Unicorn Room. 🙂

  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Joelle!

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Hanna!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Anita!

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Dave!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!

  30. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Robert!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Geoff!

  33. Charli Mills

    Crazy beautiful place!


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