April 30: 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 30, 2020

My bare feet pad across the cool boards of faded decking, relishing the warm places where the morning sun has touched. It’s spring in the Keweenaw, that season ever hopeful of summer. I’m arranging all my pots for planting, having saved mushroom trays all winter. With four drill holes, they make great pots for four seedlings. Last weekend, I cleared the deck planter my SIL built for my daughter but was too big to move. This is my first season getting to plant it and my kales, Yankee mixed lettuces, and nasturtiums have arrived, awaiting a push into the soil. But first, I must decide where to plant the garlic, snapdragons, and peas and which kind — dwarf sweet, snow pods, Tom Thumb, or purple.

These small decisions distract my mind from the fact that 60,000 Americans have no say in what happens next in the pandemic. I plant to the memory of all those around the world who have lost their lives to a virus that cares not what our favorite food is, or whether we prefer mountains to ocean surf. I can’t claim my potager as a Victory Garden as many did in WWI and II. There is no victory in surviving a worldwide pandemic, but I’m going to declare my veg, flowers, and fairies a Hope Garden.

I’m as excited about the fairy garden as I am the unicorn room. Both offer space for play, an important element to any creative person. Already, I’ve been using my room to work out scenes and develop secondary characters. Just when you think you’ve “got” this fiction writing down, another layer emerges to work seamlessly into the overall design. Secondary characters need to be as round as primary ones — the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s). Does your book need a villain? No, but you must derive tension from somewhere. The purpose of an antagonist is to agitate the areas the protagonist doesn’t want to touch. A situation, place, society, or self can all stand in as an antagonist.

Right now, I’m building an arsenal against my garden’s anticipated antagonists — slugs. Every morning, I crack fresh farm eggs for scrambled, panakuchen, or buttermilk pancakes. I then crush the colorful shells of cream, green, orange, and rusty-speckled in a spent paper bag from our monk-coffee. I’m building up a supply to mulch around my slug-vulnerable Brussels sprouts this year. I’ll also set out some Keweenaw Brewery Widowmaker, a dark ale, to entice the slugs to drown their worries in a saucer of beer. I’ve also hired a garden pixie to watch over the potager. She’s set to arrive next week from an Etsy shop that specializes in fairy gardens. I’m serious about my play.

Somehow, opening up to play reminded me of my great-grand Uncle Fred Paullus and great-grand Aunt Myrtle Nuñes. They were in their seventies and still ranching in Tres Pinos, California when I used to go play with them. It was before kindergarten when my mother would go off to work in her mini-skirts. I think they were family tapped to babysit me. Whatever the arrangement, I loved my Uncle Fred and Aunt Myrtle. He was a cowboy from Idaho who had ranched in California since the time of the Spanish Flu, the great-grandnephew of Cobb McCanles. Aunt Myrtle was the grandaughter of vaqueroes who had lived in California long before it ever became a US state.

One particular memory became my uncle’s favorite story to tell. At that time, I loved riding with them in the truck to check on the cows and calves. Uncle Fred had a water-trough where the cows would come out of the oak and grass-covered hills to drink. On this particular day, we got out of the truck and walked up to a gruesome sight — a dead calf, bloodied and torn. I’d seen death before on the family ranches, but not one so violent. My Uncle Fred scratched his head under his Stetson, looked over to Aunt Myrtle whose eyes had gone wide behind her cat-eye glasses, then looked down to me with a kind expression and said, “Lil’ Charli, ‘fraid a mountain lion got this little fella.”

That’s all he had to say. My five-year-old brain kicked into survival mode, and I ran. You know the saying — you only have to run faster than the slowest in your group, and at pre-k age, I discovered I indeed could outrun two seventy-year-olds. I ran to Uncle Fred’s truck, scrambled inside, rolled up both windows, and locked the doors. For the next 30 minutes, my Uncle tried to convince me to unlock the doors. I would feel more shame as an adult that I left my beloved relatives to fend for themselves if it weren’t for the fact that Uncle Fred found the incident funny. He thought me a clever girl for thinking to lock out the big cat that had taken down a calf. They also instilled within me a sense of play based on a curiosity that I still retain, as I realized their humor eased what could have been a traumatic incident in my young life.

Have you ever wanted to curl up at the feet of a good storyteller? Draw a blanket around you like an eternal child, burrow into its warmth, keep an ear out to hear, and a hand to hold a mug of coffee. Well, maybe kids shouldn’t be drinking coffee, but I long to sit blanketed and child-like at the knee of my friend and captivating storyteller, Myra Möyrylä. Since the pandemic, she’s stepped up on Facebook to entertain the community with memories of her ancestors, writing detailed, heartfelt stories of the people from her past who taught her sisu and other values in their adjustment to the New World from Finland to the Keweenaw. Some of her kin remind me of mine though we both came from such different regions and cultures.

To give you a taste, Myra writes the following caption to this week’s challenge photo:

Long boards aren’t only for surfers?????????????these cross country skis from Finland are well over a hundred years old and serviced a lineage of ancestors for their transportation needs. They were last known as Great Uncle Vic’s skis. Before cars and roads people walked were they needed to go and in the winter laced the leather straps to their boots and set off on skis.????????? Sisu, sauna, farming, cross country skis and a love for the outdoors and strong coffee came over with our families ???????????? good memories during these complicated times??????????????

This is the first time I’ve seen cross-country skis so long or heard the phrase long boards for skis. In addition to surfboards, I’ve heard of long skateboards, too, and can imagine the phrase extending to snowboards. Who was the first human to decide that a board was good transportation upon water, frozen or deep?

I wonder the fate of Uncle Fred’s things. I know he had tools made by his Grandfather Riley, a Union soldier from Tennessee. People like Uncle Fred or Uncle Vic learned to do with what they had, and innovate for what they needed. Women like Aunt Myrtle and Myra’s family made homes and passed down values like sisu and endurance. It is an interesting time to consider what we have from our past that we can use in our future. Perhaps the stillness a pandemic offers is a gift to revise old stories in new ways, plant heirloom seeds for future harvest, and laugh away the fear. This is life. And we are the ones who write about it.

April 30, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features long boards. They can be used in any way you imagine, including a name for sporting equipment. How are they used and who is using them? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 5, 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 most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.

Precautions Not Needed by Charli Mills

Sam King parked the Willys Jeep in first gear. “Get the long boards,” he told his daughter.

Gripping the roll bar, Danni swung out the open side. Near the gate, the Lazy T Ranch kept long boards for crossing the boggiest parts of the high-meadow springs. Using her leather gloves, Danni moved one board at a time, setting each through the open space in the backseat. They stuck up at an angle. “Dad, you want me to tie a bandana on the end?”

Sam laughed. “We’re not likely to get rear-ended, Kiddo. The bulls are all down at headquarters.”

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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    You could start the snow peas now and have them use the lilac bushes as their support. Those skiis are ridiculous! Pretty hard to carve a turn in those! That’s a fine post and a long challenge, Lil’ Charli. Hopefully I won’t come up short.

    • Charli Mills

      OH, YEAH! That’s a great idea! He CUT them back, so I definitely have “posts.” But each one is cut how you told him. 😉 Sarge listens to you.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I didn’t tell him the height. I thought he’d leave some height…

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Um, that’s an awful lot of all caps, Cap.
        (they’ll grow back

      • Charli Mills

        Not much height! We hauled the branches out to the stump dump today, and he’s proud of the lilac’s high and tight. 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Christine!

  2. Liz H

    I really like the idea of a Hope Garden. Will keep this image in mind,along with long boards, and see what springs up!

    • Charli Mills

      A Hope Garden is fitting. I feel hopeful every time I start playing in the dirt. So, would yo ever go out on skis so long?

      • Liz H

        Yeah, standard length for tour skiing, old school.

      • Liz H

        i just looked closely at the picture here…Lol. Must have been a pair from the Frost Giants!

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! Right? They remind me of an old style station wagon to bring along the whole family! But it was a single user. Uncle Vic musta been a Frost Giant! Myra is quite tall, too but those skis tower over her.

  3. Nabeela

    Nice post….

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Nabeela. Welcome to Carrot Ranch!

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “They’s openin’ up a ennertainment an libation establishmint over ta the Slim Chance Ranch.”
    “Huh. We run sech a place.”
    “Slim’s callin’ his place the Longboard Lounge. Claims ta have the biggist a ever’thin’.”
    “Aw, Pal, jist big talk. Bigger ain’t better. Don’t ya go worryin’ none ‘bout the Saddle Up Saloon.”
    “Bigger pours, bigger portions…”
    “We’re big on fun, Pal.”
    “He’s offerin’ discounted prices.”
    “An’ we ain’t never ast no one ta pay, Pal.”
    “All ya kin write, he says.”
    “An’ we say 99 words. Refreshin’ an’ satisfyin’.”
    “Reckon thet’s the long an’ the short of it.”

    • Charli Mills

      Write on, cowpokes! 99 words at a time, unlimited fun, good folks to hang out with without expectations.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Monday! Karaoke! (Without the sound… just bring yer own lyrics ta a familiar tune)

      • Charli Mills

        I’m working on a song. It’s work, not my area of writing expertise!

    • Jules

      Bigger ain’t a tad bit better if the folks you wanna see ain’t thar.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joanne!

  5. Becky Ross Michael

    I love the idea of a Hope Garden, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Becky! We all need to plant hope right now.

      • Jules

        Meant to tell you I’ve stared some plants from seed. So far three plum tomatoes and four red peppers have come to the party 🙂 Not ready for the raised garden – but I put out the parsley I saved from last year and that seems to be doing OK 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        That’s all hopeful, Jules!

  6. rishabh kumar

    kids shouldn’t be drinking coffee, why not…. hmmm… anyway.. I would love long boards and skii… really useful in such days…

    • Charli Mills

      When my elders poured me a cup as a kid, it always came with the warning that it would stunt my growth. 😉

  7. Hugh W. Roberts

    I love that you have a garden pixie on the way who is going to protect your plants and look over your garden, Charli. I’m sure it will do an excellent job and keep reminding you to keep those eggshells and protect the Brussel sprouts.
    Here in the UK, Brussel sprouts tend to be a winter growing vegetable. We don’t see much evidence of them in our summer months unless they come in a bag that says ‘South Africa’ on them.
    Thanks for the idea of what to use mushroom trays for. I’ll be passing on that idea to my partner.
    Now on to longboards and what use they will be to Doug, Sophie and Mike.

    • Charli Mills

      Hugh, my daughter and I love to watch any kind of gardening show with Monty Don. We marvel over the growing seasons in the UK. It seems like the perfect place to grow veg and flowers. Our season is so short but I’m determined to use the creativity of a potager to have both beauty and function. Yes, those mushroom trays work wonderfully well and easy enough to drill, turning the whole stack upside down and placing four holes. I might use the garden pixie for a prompt!

      I thought of your characters and wondered where you’d take them (or they take you) with long boards. Seems you sorted it quickly!

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        Monty Don hosts a weekly gardening show – Gardeners’ World – (between the end of March and mid-October) here in the UK, Charli. Even during the current pandemic, he’s still creating a show, although he’s now also had to become a cameraman and sound engineer.
        His weekly shows never fail to be on our TV screen. He also has his two dogs, Nigel and Nellie, who join him every week.

        We’re lucky to have such a long growing season, although I rather eat the fruit and veg than get my hands dirty planting it. I don’t have the ‘green fingers’ of any keen gardener (as my partner tells me).

        Enjoy your upcoming growing season on the Ranch. I hope there are many more stories to harvest from all the planting going on there.

      • Charli Mills

        That gives me even more respect for Monthy Don! I just looked on Amazon Prime and Brit Box has Gardener’s World. Oh, I just might do that this winter.

        Every gardener needs someone to appreciate the fruits of their labors! I realized yesterday as I was planting seeds, feeling worried about whether or not they’d sprout of if I was too early or too late, that the doubts off garden feel like that of a writer! Yet in the end, we make something bloom.

    • Doug Jacquier

      A tribute to all the pimply-faced youths who’ve been sent to get a tin of striped paint, a left-handed screwdriver, a dozen sky hooks or (in my case) a barrow of long weights.

    • Charli Mills

      I know the pain of finding out you’ve been had for the butt of joke. Great flash!

    • susiecarm

      Love that last line. I think maybe the boy got the last laugh.

    • Jules

      Yep that and older scouts sending younger ones to get a snipe…

  8. Norah

    Planting a garden is planting hope. It’s looking to the future – planting seeds of hope to harvest in future days. Teachers are sowers of hope too. We plant seeds from which others will harvest in the future. A fairy and hope garden sounds so peaceful and serene, at one with the world, a sanctuary.
    Charli, I laughed so hard when you said about racing to the truck and locking the doors, keeping your aunt and uncle out. Thank goodness that cat didn’t turn up. 🙂 I’m pleased you settled down enough to let them in, eventually.
    I enjoyed meeting Danni’s father Sam. I don’t think we’ve met him before, or have I forgotten? It’s interesting to learn a little of her backstory. I wonder who the bulls might be.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, Norah, teacher plant hope and I praise all the teachers out there who continue to plant their gardens despite the shutdown of classrooms. Teachers, like gardeners, find a way to make sure fragile seedlings get enough of what they need to grow. We all need sanctuary right now. I hope for the Marnies of the world that they will come out of this pandemic into the hands of great gardeners. They will need their teachers.

      Thanks for laughing with me! It took some time to settle down. I’m so glad my Uncle Fred got a kick out of the whole event. Aunt Myrtle was so sweet and she always let me play in her pantry, pretending to cook.

      That is the first I’ve named Sam King. He’s featured a few times in backstory. I just had an impulse to write one from when Danni was young. The bulls were the ranch bulls! But they were always kept on their own except when needing to do their duty.

      • Norah

        I appreciate that you continued the metaphor of teachers and gardeners, Charli. I hope everyone is able to benefit in some way from lessons learned during this pandemic. Though sadly, too many are not given the chance.
        Uncle Fred and Aunt Myrtle – they sound like characters from a fairytale, and I get the impression that they may have had that effect on you.
        Thanks for clearing up Sam and the bulls for me. It was fun to read about ‘little’ Danni.

      • Charli Mills

        They did have a magical persuasion over me.

  9. wallietheimp

    Wallie and me had a little fun with this. “Playing Pirates” — 99 words:

    Two long boards made a very comfortable walk, and Tom appreciated the space to turn around, even though the boards were bendier than he liked. This was the moment he made his grand speech to the evil pirates before plunging into the watery depths of the sea.

    Tom was about to speak when the boards suddenly creaked. He lost his balance and instead of drowning, sat down hard on the carpet.

    The outrage from the pirates in their coffee table pirate ship made the boy rub his bruised elbow and glare.

    “I thought you said that plank was safe!”

    • Doug Jacquier

      Love it. Clever and funny.

      • wallietheimp

        Thanks! 🙂

      • wallietheimp

        Thankee, Cap’n! 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Thankee fer the thankee, but I be but a Yankee, sometimes jolly, Roger, but ne’re the cap’n a this or any ship.

    • Charli Mills

      Delightful, what you and Wallie came up with!

      • wallietheimp

        Thanks 🙂 🙂

  10. denmaniacs4

    Sometimes, Charli, I think it might be better not to go where the prompt leads. However, a writer has certain obligations…


    She slowly peels the potato, lightly catching the skin. I pull her apron string.

    “Not again!”

    This time, she’s not smiling.

    “I’m bored.”

    “Go outside. Play.”

    “Too hot.”

    “Play in the shade.”

    Outside, a buzz saw whines.

    I peer through the fence.

    Mister Jack is cutting 2 X 4’s.

    I crawl through, watch, wait for silence.

    He looks up, winks.

    “Hot day, eh!”

    My feet shuffle in the sawdust.

    “Wanna help?”

    I beam.

    “Good. In the shop, then.”

    I follow him in.

    The door closes.

    In the dark I hold my breath.

    He hisses, “Let’s play our game, sweetie.”


    • Liz H

      Oh dear! That got quite dark, quite quickly! 😮

    • Charli Mills

      You upheld your obligation, Bill, and wrote a powerful, yet tragic piece. As Liz said, you flipped it fast at the end from playful to dark. So many thoughts bouncing like buzz-flies in my head — the distracted mom who wants her child to buzz off, the bored child looking for attention and activity, the next-door neighbor all too conveniently ready to groom the child’s vulnerability. Argh. RAINN has stated an increase in calls for sexual abuse since the stay-at-home orders and most of them are children locked-down with their abusers. The pandemic did not create this social ill, but it is exaserbating the problem.

  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Board Games

    He skated into the park on the longest longboard any of us had ever seen; stood nonchalantly mid-deck, told us his name was Tuku.
    He held everyone’s attention as his due, reveling in the anticipatory silence as we clutched our boards, shuffled in our Vans. Like a patient teacher, Tuku waited for Sammi to follow suit, but Sammi just kept rocking in place, tip to tail.
    “Catch me, Not-So-Ku,” she said, and was instantly on the rail, landing after a double kickflip. We breathed, grinned. Nothing had changed.
    “Come on,” we invited Tuku, and followed Sammi best we could.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes!. No, wait — this is a new character? Ah, well, Sammi is in good company.

      • Charli Mills

        The world needs more Sammi’s to follow!

  12. TanGental

    They are serious skis; blimey how do ever get moving with those dinosaurs. Intriguing post and prompt Charli

    • Charli Mills

      Apparently, with pine wax! I’d love to see them in action. Thanks, Geoff!

      • TanGental

        Quite, they are the daftest looking things

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ritu!

    • Charli Mills

      It does, doesn’t it Ruchira? It’s in the act of planting something for the future. Thanks!

  13. D. Avery @shiftnshake


    The old wooden skis had hung on the wall ever since I could remember but that night Granpa’s eyes twinkled like stars on a winter’s night as he announced they just needed fresh klister, already warming in a crucible. Smiling through his snow-white beard, he spread and scraped the molten wax onto the bases of the skis, rubbed it smooth with the heels of his wizened hands. He told me he had waited his whole life to make these longboards sing.
    I held the door. Then SWISH! Granpa was kicking up fresh powder, carving tracks along the Milky Way.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Wow, this is such a magical tale. For me, it has a festive theme. I saw Granpa as Santa.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Oh good, I’m glad you liked this. He can be Santa if you want. Whatever you need.

    • Liz H

      Klister! It’s been awhile since I heard that term. Must’ve been fresh snow and warm temps. Wheee!

    • Charli Mills

      And sing, they did! Such a magical song along the Milky Way.

  14. cadencerage

    “Just when you think you’ve “got” this fiction writing down, another layer emerges to work seamlessly into the overall design.” — that’s exactly what I’m going through right now, Charli! I love how after a certain point, one’s characters and world begin to grow on their own, and we’re just the caffeine-dependent lifeforms documenting it all 🙂

    I haven’t written to prompts in a while, I do hope I can rise to the challenge! I’ll get cracking and will get back to you soon (with something coherent, hopefully).

    • cadencerage

      Here’s my take! I love going the (slightly) unconventional route with these prompts. Hope you enjoy it!

      He’s lazy. Insubordinate. I ought to have him terminated.

      The poor fool, I sigh as I pace on the long board above his resting head. It’d be a mercy, really.

      I detract a claw.

      Bleary eyes suddenly behold me, and a grin lights up his simple face.

      “Who wants breakfast, Mr. Meowgi?” His fingers send waves of warmth down my spine.

      Ah, but they are sweet creatures — silly and lumbering though they are.

      Perhaps I will keep him, I muse, completing the sacred dawn ritual as I knock over his drinking cup.

      He is, after all, my incompetent fool.


      Here’s a slightly longer version of the story: http://www.cadencerage.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/of-long-boards-and-loveable-fools/

      • Liz H

        Definitely the cat’s meow…beware!

      • cadencerage

        Haha! Thanks, Liz 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Your unconventional route delivered a fun flash! I like the internal thinking of Mr. Meowgi. I wasn’t able to access your longer story, it says “Page not Found.” Thanks for writing!

    • Charli Mills

      I love that girl with the Destiny Doll!

  15. Liz H

    Here’s my attempt, based on the prompt, here, and another one from another group. The longer version includes a bit of hopefulness in a young troll’s heart. Hope either or both pleases!

    Long Boards Too Short

    “I’m sure there’s an old pair of your mom’s long boards…skis…here, with the children’s skis. Like you, she was full grown when she fostered with us. They should work for you, too.”

    Hjordis twitched her troll’s tail as she peered past the snow giant’s thigh. “Sorry I didn’t bring mine, Magnhildr. When the Berserkers raided my home, I had to run.”

    “I don’t imagine the horse you stole would’ve been happy galloping with a pair of skis on his back. Ah! Here they are. Hold your arm straight up.”

    “They’re too short!” Hjordis grinned.

    Magnhildr cursed. “That’s…inconvenient.”

    [For the rest of, and a different take]

    • Charli Mills

      I love your tales from another time and place, interspersed with the past history of Nordic raids, too. It’s as if the legends could have succumbed to those violent times. Now I’m off to read the longer version, Liz!

      • Liz H

        Bring your ski poles…the way gets a little twisty in them mountains!

  16. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Good luck with the eggshell barrier, Charli, I’m afraid it hasn’t worked well in the past for me. Although it could be that we don’t eat enough eggs. But it’s great to be able to get out into the garden, isn’t it?

    I was stumped by your challenge so left it too Matty to come up with something. She might have a different crisis in mind to the one the rest of us are experiencing, but she does know what it’s like not be able to close the door on guests who have overstayed their welcome.


    • Liz H

      Sounds like perhaps mutual ‘tolerance’/ mutual nightmare?

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, perhaps that is key as slug defense — a deep enough egg-shard barrier, Anne. I never intended to be a slug-slayer but fate has it thar be slugs here! Matty is getting out and about. Good for you that she’s not feeling shy leading up to her book debut.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Our slugs are sleepy at the moment as it’s been warm and dry, but I’m expecting them to revive when the weather changes.

        I’m fascinated by how Matty has started to separate from me in these last few weeks. It almost makes me want to go back and begin her story again.

  17. Sascha Darlington

    I loved this. Love the idea of a Hope Garden! I’ve been growing a lot from seed, more than last year. Your story about your grandparents reminded me of when I was a little kid and the old farmer down the road gave me this heavy hose to water his garden and he said, chuckling, not to drench Louise, his wife. And guess what I did? I was so mortified, I ran away and hid.

    Here’s my offering for this week: https://saschadarlington.me/2020/05/03/surfer-girl/

    Thanks, Charli! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I can imagine the reactions you got, but I understand the horror of being that child! Sascha, there’s something grounding and hopeful about seed planting. I think it’s just as important in our writing, too.

  18. Jules

    Charli, I’ve seen some long boards like you describe at construction sites too!
    I thought of something I could relate to in my entry:

    Alley Oops

    Alley Oops
    (reverse haibun)

    long boards down the lane
    oiled for a game of ten pins
    are alleys open…

    We’ve played other versions too. Duck and Candle Pins. Each just slightly different, but still fun. We used to be in a league and still have our lockers at the local alley. I think hubby’s bowling shoes are at least half a century old. I used to get intimidated looking down those long boards. Shifting slightly left or right, hoping for a strike or spare. All the fears gone though – as now we just play for fun. I wonder is the Alley even open?


    • Charli Mills

      Those long boards are pretty handy, Jules! But your game! Huh, what if you could create your own backyard alley? That could be fun to roll a bowling ball down the boards toward soda cans!

  19. susansleggs

    Hi Charli,
    The new seedlings and flowers all to bring hope and to be looked after by a fairy. I’m calmed just sensing what it would be like to sit on your deck and overlook the situation. Throwing the childhood memories of better times in your essay was also calming and reassuring. I appreciate the calm.
    We have a picture of my father walking between 8 foot high snowbanks pulling a “flying saucer” (Metal plate-shaped disk to slide down hills on) with bags of groceries on it because the cars were still buried in the drives and he had walked to the store. I had never heard the term longboard. I do enjoy learning and playing at the Ranch…

    First Kiss

    Tessa stomped snow off her boots before going into her parents’ house. “Is our toboggan still around? The choir kids want to go sledding.”
    Her father answered. “I’ll get it out if you promise not to allow co-ed rides.”
    “Why would you say that?”
    “I seem to remember my teenage daughter coming home all flushed because she had been kissed while in a jumbled pile after a toboggan mishap.”
    Tessa’s eyes widened and she laughed aloud. “I haven’t thought about that in years. Wait till I tell Michael you remember that.”
    “Your feet didn’t touch ground for a month.”

    • Liz H

      I loved those saucer sleds! (Un)Controlled chaos!!????

    • Prior...

      you captured this sweetness with the opportunistic smooch!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sue! I’m glad the imagery of the hope garden in progress is doing its job. If things get un-calm, I tend to my seedlings or go play with Stella, the garden pixie. I thought about planting a herd of wild horses throughout my garden beds, too! If I get carried away, I might even buy some old Tonka trucks and put in a sandbox, lol! I think we need playtime right now. Do what needs doing but take time to play, especially within our writing. Oh, I remember flying saucers! What a ride that must have been, trying to hold on to groceries.

      I love the sweet remembrance of a first kiss in a toboggan jumble! Of course, a father would remember it and with a different emotion. Fun take on the prompt, and I see how you are reaching out to include secondary characters to tell your bigger story.

      • susansleggs

        I know your garden is life-size but your talking about wild horses and Tonka trucks reminds me of my grandson’s sand box. Plastic horses to fit the size of your pixie would be awesome, me thinks.
        My father always planted a petunia in the onion patch in honor of the skunk in “Bambi.” Not sure I have the correct movie.

  20. Ann Edall Robson

    Dad told of how they made skis to use rounding up wild horses in the winter.
    They would break them to ride and then sell them. it was a common way to supplement their income back 85 years or so ago.

    Winter Roundup
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Full moon night
    Twenty below
    Spooked by a holler
    From downwind
    Horses charge
    The chase begins
    Handcrafted longboards
    Replace saddles
    Leather bindings
    Cinched down tight
    Lariats hung snug
    Across chests
    The stud horse nips
    At rumps and withers
    Wild horses
    Are running hard
    Cowboys push
    Keeping up
    Down the hill
    Through spruce and pine
    Frozen ground shakes
    Branches snap
    The pawed meadow below
    Corral wings loom
    Into their path
    Guiding the herd
    Swirling, snorting
    Freedom flight lost
    Gate rails slide home
    Ropes snake out
    Horses shy
    Nostrils flare, blowing
    Winter full moon
    Skiing cowboys
    Wild horse roundup


    • Liz H

      Skis on cowboys? How cool is that?!

    • Charli Mills

      I”m echoing Liz’s thoughts — this is the coolest cowboy story I’ve heard in a while! Working around horses makes folks innovative, yet swift and calm. You’d have the terrain up your way to make such a roundup. Out Nevada way, they used box canyons or built juniper flanking fences to drive the herds into an enclosure. There they’d make swift work of sorting the keepers. Thanks for sharing, Ann!

  21. Prior...

    The Move

    Movers came and went.
    Packaging tape screeched across boxes.

    “Yes, I want them.”
    “Mom, you have the other box already. One bedroom, remember?”
    “Okay. Charity then.”

    Rooms emptied.
    Piles dissolved.
    Later, a mover held up an old skateboard, “Keep or Donate?”
    “Keep” we all exclaimed.

    Unwrapping the cover, the wooden longboard was bent – clay wheels cracked. In the 1950s, when waves were flat, this longboard let grandad screech across the land.

    “Isn’t that how he scarred his arms?”
    “Yup, clay wheels were dangerous.”

    The house was completely empty now – but finding grandad’s long lost longboard – filled us immensely .

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a grandpa who will be long remembered. We often forget our elders were once young and lived adventurously, too.

      • Prior...

        That is a good point – we forget that they had these other phases – thanks for adding that. I was trying to weave in the history of the longboard (I read they had clay wheels until the 70s and started by those surfers in Hawaii that were bored when waves were flat) anyhow – such a great theme this week and need to finish reading the entries – and Charli – feels wonderful to have written some flash fiction – something inside is smiling because I needed it

  22. Charli Mills

    Thanks for joining in the challenge!

  23. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Joelle!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Padre!

  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Dave!

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks for the bonus klister!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, H.!

  28. Susan Zutautas

    I still have my shoes and ball from when I was in my early 20’s. Miss bowling 🙂

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jo!

  30. Charli Mills

    I was terrible at it, Susan! I once managed to throw the ball backwards.

  31. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chelsea!

  32. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Susan!


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