May 21: 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.

May 21, 2020

When I was a young child, I believed my Great-grandma Fernandes was a day older than me. Never mind, I was barely able to fill out the smallest of cowgirl boots, and she had wrinkles galore. My elder was born Clara Irma Kincaid in 1903, to a Scots rancher whose family pushed cattle from Missouri to California during the Gold Rush, and a Basque justice of the peace in a little town called Tres Pinos. They were a Catholic family, and Clara was smack in the middle of 16 children. She married William Michael Fernandes, a Portugues cowboy, and they had half as many children as her parents. My dad was one of three children, and I’m an only child. We’ve been on the DNA reduction plan, evidently.

The reason I thought Great-grandma was a day older than me is that she was born May 20 and me May 21. Yes, today is my birthday. I have a bottle of Cava, a proper cake from Roy’s, and a kayak. After I water the growing gardens, I’m headed to Lady Lake Superior for the day to test drive the new Tribe (hopefully, I don’t test the new life vest, but I’m prepared). Cake and cava are later for the sunset.

Born into a buckaroo family (sixth-generation) on the cusp of Taurus/Gemini under the laidback number one hit of 1967 (Groovin’), I rode horses before I could walk. Like any ranch child, I was tossed on the back of every critter that romped, including goats. At some point, I must have licked one because I can’t stand the taste of goat cheese. I had my own pony, Barney, by the time I was three. Ponies are good starter horses because they provide a shorter fall and lighter weight when they step on you. And Barney threw me and stepped on me several times. I was five when I got my first horse, a mustang named Acorn. Sadly, he went blind.

That fact recently resurfaced as I’m drafting Danni’s story for my MFA thesis. My peers and I are writing query letters, and an agent who interests me likes animals in novels but in unusual ways. When I wrote the letter, I included that the protagonist had a blind horse. It was a surprise to me — often, the author is the last to know of these details. I remembered Acorn and how we didn’t ship him off to be dog food (a reality in the not so distant past of ranching). In fact, most of our horses came to us as auction rescues. Buckaroos are known for horse skills and can rehabilitate troubled horses that others dumped for low prices at the sale yards.

We gave Acorn a second life, turned out with the main cattle herd in the huge grassy pastures on the Paicines Ranch (this was definitely not our ranch, but where I spent a good chunk of childhood as my grandfather, Clara’s son, was the foreman for many years). Paicines was an old Mexico land grant spread where Clara’s grandparents ran sheep during the Gold Rush. I didn’t have any ’49 miners in the family, but kin who followed to feed them. In those pristine valleys, Acorn stayed with the cattle — mane and tail growing long, walking in circles. I’ve been researching blind horses and discovered that they are ridable. Once blind, if they trust their rider, they can still be ridden. It’s the going blind that causes the greatest difficulties. And, some interesting details to carry out a plot.

At its core, Miracle of Ducks is about trust and loyalty. Secondary characters help stretch the protagonist along her arc and further the plot points. Danni’s horse, Blackjack, was a dink Ike picked up cheap. Dann had the skills to soothe the horse and built a trusting relationship before realizing the animal was going blind. This has opened up much of my western heritage, passing my experiences and stories to Danni. It also brings back much of the language associated with my roots, which is a challenge as a writer. I know what is accurate, but my peers (my first readers) do not. Therefore, I have to find a balance between authenticity and clarity. The horse becomes an analogy and a canvas for me to paint the western colors of people and place.

I’m learning the deeper meaning of what writing 99-words has taught me — writing is exploratory. When we arrange words to tell a story, we shift our own perspective and uncover new details. This is what I love about creativity — the unexpected discoveries. I also think this is what artists fear losing. If we have to color within the lines or punctuate according to the rules we might miss the treasure we know is buried in our process. The difference between pantsers and plotters is how much of that creativity you allow to drive. Plotters try to control it, and pantsers ride with the wind.

In the end, you need to be both. You won’t lose your gems or that connectivity to the creative impulse if you learn the rules of craft or plot our novels. A plot, by the way, is also a work in progress. There’s flexibility for discovery. In workshops, we have to be as open to play as we are here at Carrot Ranch. When a professor assigns us a curveball –write our next scene as a dream sequence — you learn to just do it. When your peers suggest structural, plot, or character changes, you give it a go. You don’t have to keep the revisions, but I’ve found, just as I have with regular practice of writing 99-words, that I’m a more nimble writer — a plantser.

It’s good to reach a level where you are no longer offended by critique. Some people have a better page-side manner, and I firmly believe that critique must be productive. A poor delivery of good points doesn’t help a writer grow. But learning how to deliver feedback with kindness will make you better at your craft and appreciated among your peers. Now, when I go into workshop, I feel excited. I know my peers are going to challenge me on clarity and craft. I know they will let me know what is working, but they will also make suggestions for improvement. Going back to the scene for revision no longer feels painful as it once did.

I have a blind horse to lead the way.

(Disclaimer: I am not 100 today! But what a gift to live 99 years plus one.)

May 21, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about 100 candles. What do they light, and why? Think about contrast or symbolism. Are the candles large, small, or stars in the night? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 26, 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.

A Light to His Darkness by Charli Mills

A degenerative disease robbed Blackjack of his eyesight. When a moose busted through the pasture fence, fear drove Danni’s blind horse to follow the two old Percherons who embarked on the equivalent of an equine joyride. They had wandered back to the barn without Blackjack. Now it was dark, and Danni could barely see in the murk of the forest on a moonless night. She found him snorting, blind eyes wide. He smelled her and whinnied. “Steady.” He remained still. Each step home was a light to Blackjack. Danni counted one-hundred candles by the time they reached the barn.

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114 Comments

  1. pensitivity101

    Happy Birthday Charli. My Mum would have been 98 tomorrow.
    Have a lovely day.

    • Charli Mills

      Clara, me and your Mum — what a three-day birthday trio! Thank you, Di. And I hope you take some time to recall your favorite momements with your Mum.

      • pensitivity101

        Every day Charli. We lit a candle, and remembered her funny ways. Take care.

      • Charli Mills

        You take care, too!

    • Kerry E.B. Black

      My husband also shares this special day! What fun! And my S-Bear celebrates on Wednesday. (The littlest boy is 10 June, so there’s lots of birthday cake and singing in these parts. haha) I hope you’re all happy and healthy, safe and satisfied! (And Charli, at one of the barns where I volunteered, we had a blind gelding. He was so trusting and gentle.)

      • pensitivity101

        thanks for commenting Kerry and a belated Happy Birthday to your husband.

      • Charli Mills

        Happy birthday to your hubby! I love May celebrations and, of course, cake.

  2. Sarah Brentyn

    Ha! “they provide a shorter fall and lighter weight when they step on you.”

    I ride with the wind, for sure. Have always been 100% pantser. Never much for plotting. I’ve realized, over the years that, perhaps, one could probably do with a little bit of both.

    Happy Birthday!!! ????????????????????

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, and I think some of the falls were my young failings at properly cinching a saddle. 😀

      I’ve struggled so much with the containment side of writing, but now I’ve come to see plotting as the constraint and the feedback-revision loop as the buffer. And it’s not as painful as I thought it would be. But I love to pants!

      Thanks, Sarah! <3

  3. cheryloreglia

    Happy birthday Charli! Great prompt! C

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Cheryl! Thank you!

  4. Sam "Goldie" Kirk

    Happy Birthday, Charli! Enjoy your special day.

    You are spot on regarding creativity and planning vs pantsing. The challenges thrown at me at the Ranch have deepened my well and built underground tunnels to who knows where. Thank you for that!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Goldie, that’s exciting to know you’ve discovered your tunnels! Keep exploring. Thank you, your words encourage me.

  5. denmaniacs4

    One Step at A Time

    “I might make it,” I said.

    There I was, zooming with Fred Fluster. It’d taken COVID-19 to reconnect us. Two 60’s degenerates in two government run homes for the nearly departed.
    Three provinces apart.

    “You better start now, buddy. Helluva milestone. To get there, well, how can I say this nicely? Few couch potatoes have the fixin’s.”

    “You sayin’…?”

    “You’ll be lucky to crack eighty. And that’s being optimistic.”

    I stood up to give him a good look at how time had treated me. “Fit as a friggin’ fiddle, Freddie.”

    Would I make one hundred?

    Time would surely tell.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Like your term ‘nearly departed’. I hope the care homes in Canada are safer than ours in the UK!

      • denmaniacs4

        In three provinces, Ontario, Quebec, and BC, the virus played havoc with long term care facilities. The virus has certainly shone a light, a long overdue light, on how we service our elders…

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        As bad as here then, where the virus was exported from hospitals to care homes, with no overall structures to coordinate privatised services. Enfuriating.

    • Liz H

      We can only do our best to take care of the vehicles we were given, and drive as safely as possible…
      Nice Flash!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I’ll light a candle for you, Bill. (What’s the pool up to?)

    • Charli Mills

      I remember how Facebook brought people back together after years apart — classmates, old friends, distant family. Zoom has had that social impact, too. I think Friggin’ Fit Freddie has a shot!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Leanne!

    • Liz H

      This made me smile…Thanks!!

      • Ritu

        Happy to make you smile ????

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Ritu! It was good!

  6. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    I hope you have a great day. What a gift you’ve given all of us with another fine post and challenge. I too enjoyed the company of both my great grandmothers, neither of whom saw a hundred candles, but they both lived pretty well right up to 99 years of age. 99 is a pretty good number.
    Thinking that horse is going to be a good partner for Danni as she finds her way through her story. Your flash does well in revealing their relationship. But you knew that.
    Happy Birthday Boss.

    • Norah

      99 is a great achievement. In Australia and the UK, and perhaps elsewhere in the Commonwealth, centenarians receive a letter from Queen. Do those reaching a similar age receive a letter from the president in the US? When my uncle passed one month before his 100th birthday, some joked that he wanted to avoid the letter.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        President? I don’t have a president. (It is a very sad -tragic really- situation.)
        But what a lovely thing for a queen to do for centenarians.

      • Norah

        It is a lovely thing to do, but not everyone agrees. I hope I live long enough to receive the accolades, but it won’t be in a letter from the queen. For once, I’m too young! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Good question, Norah! Though I agree with D., nonetheless, I was curious. I had to laugh when I found the answer, so I’ve copied it:

        “You don’t even have to get that far, though —the White House will send birthday cards to citizens turning 80 (and veterans turning 70), and then follow up at 85, 90, 95, 100, and every year after. … (Bonus: If you flip the script and send President Obama a birthday card, he might send you a thank you note in return. Aug 1, 2016”

        Sigh. Those were better days in the White House.

      • Norah

        I wouldn’t bank on getting a pleasant response at the moment. 🙂
        Thanks for looking it up though. It’s interesting.

      • Charli Mills

        I would want a response from President Obama, not the current resident! He’d probably write, “They say I’m great, and I know I’m great, very, very great. So great I wrote you this letter.”

      • Norah

        ???????? You nailed it!

      • Norah

        PS. Did you mean ‘president’ or ‘resident’? I hadn’t noticed the similarity before. I think without the ‘p’ was probably your intention.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, D.! It was a fine time of getting off the Roberts Street block. Your greats lead the ideal number of years, no more, no less.

      Blackjack is proving to be a worthy secondary character.

  7. tnkerr

    Happy Birthday, Charli.
    Do you believe in coincidence? We were discussing Trees Pinos at work, just yesterday. It’s a small world, I’m guessing it’s 99 words (no more, no less). You’ve shown me that that’s enough.
    Thanks

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, TN! What? Tres Pinos?! That’s not a town that comes up in conversation often. Do you know someone from there? Might be my kin! My aunt, who still lives there, shared this song with me, so I’ll share it with you: https://youtu.be/w-2-R4NXxns

      • tnkerr

        Yeah one of the guys I work with is from Tres Pinos. His name is Efren. He’s a big guy but he has an even bigger heart.

      • Charli Mills

        Really? Small world! I don’t recognize the name, but ask him if he knew Sonny Paullus. He was my grandfather. Tell him I used to ride in the rodeo at Bolado Park. I was a goat-tying champion! 😉

  8. Simon

    Happy Birthday Charli ????? Great Prompt!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Simon!

  9. Reena Saxena

    Happy birthday, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Reena!

    • Charli Mills

      Such a pulse of hope in your flash, Reena.

      • Reena Saxena

        Thank you, Charli!

  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    The Night Their Pens All Lit Up

    “I don’t git up here on this bluff much, Pal. Never at night.”
    “Mind yer step, Kid. Now set yersef here an’ you’ll have a good view a the stars.”
    “Under this pine branch? Cain’t hardly see the sky in this spot, Pal.”
    “Look down. Ya kin see the whole wide Ranch from thet there spot.”
    “But ya said ta git a view a the stars.”
    “Yep. Down there, all ‘roun’ the Ranch. Look at ‘em sparklin’ an’ glowin’.”
    “I see them twinkly lights Pal. Why there must be a hunnerd of ‘em! Ranchers lightin’ candles?”
    “Yep. Stars all.”

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yes and no, they’ve done the like before. Taking a reflective perspective on the Ranch does tend to take the burrs off their blades.

    • Norah

      Beautiful!

    • Charli Mills

      Ah, yes, all stars, those twinkling ranch writers!

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      And there’s a perspective I didn’t consider! Glad you had fun with it, Joelle!

  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Earth In Mind, D. Avery

    “Sofie! Marlie! There must be 100 candles on that cake!”
    “There are Mommy! That’s how Sofie does it, for when she gets to be 100 years old. But we’ll only light nine of them today.”
    Marlie held her Destiny doll up so she could see Sofie’s birthday cake shouldering its phalanxes of candles. “What do you think, Destiny?”
    When the doll responded it was in the deep round voice of Madame Destiny, the prophetess. “Light all the candles.”
    Liz’s eyes sought help from her husband and Sofie’s mother who walked in just as the decree was issued.
    “Brilliant idea!”
    #################
    “Bill! That’s absolutely dangerous!”
    “Not on the patio.”
    “Toni, are you sure you want this man homeschooling your daughter along with my wild child?”
    “You should have seen the math your girls did today with those hundred candles. It’s all play to them. Guided play.”
    “Guided play… sounds like a good way to learn, Bill. And, honestly, I’d like to learn what Madame Destiny has in mind. Let’s light a hundred candles!”
    With each candle they lit the two girls wished another hundred birthdays for Mother Earth.
    “10,00 more! She’ll be old, Mommy, but we’ll take care of her.”

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Glad someone’s gonna take care of the earth. The grownups haven’t!

    • Charli Mills

      Now, that’s a great Destiny Doll — a prophetess. And with math skills and compassion she might declare a brighter future for these girls.

  12. wallietheimp

    Wallie and my response 🙂 Happy birthday, Charli! Wallie and I love Carrot Ranch–and horses. I’m so glad everything turned out alright for Blackjack. 🙂 🙂

    A Dream of Light

    He lit the candle and the golden glow, even half-shadowed, was immediate. It overwhelmed the light from the Aasfresser’s lamp.

    “I’ve seen candles,” said the girl.

    “Sure you have. But a hundred at once? That’s what it’s like, the sun. It’s like the light of a hundred and one candles. It’s wonderful warm.”

    The girl stood looking down at the candle in the man’s lap. “Will it ever come back?”

    “Of course it will.” The man coughed and gave the girl the candle, covering his mouth with his arm.

    “When will it come back?”

    “Soon,” he said. “Very soon.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Grim yet hopeful. Unless I’m reading it wrong. It might be hopeful yet grim.

      • wallietheimp

        That is a very good way of looking at it 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, both kindly! Blackjack might be blind but I think he’s a good guide for Danni in other ways.

      Your flash is haunting, the generation who doesn’t know the sun’s warmth and glory.

  13. TanGental

    happy birthday, Charli! Hope you didn’t sink!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Geoff! I should have responded soon so I didn’t think I was visiting Lake Superior’s ice water mansions. I stayed close to shore.

  14. Sascha Darlington

    Beautiful story, Charli. And happy birthday, once again. You get wished too many times can you?

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Sascha! Wishes and cake — may they long be on the lips. 🙂

  15. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Happy birthday, Charli, hope you had fun in your kayak. Interesting you’re going back to the dialect of your childhood in your novel as I’ve done the same with Matilda Windsor (although, unlike you, I’m not always confident have got it correct) but I agree about the tricky balance between authenticity and what works for the reader. And lovely how your blind horse has crept into the novel – and in your fine flash fiction story.
    I’m celebrating a book birthday right now and for my 99-word story I worked out my four books will reach their collective centenary in 23 years’ time. So I wrote about that and about missing my choir:
    https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/my-locked-up-novels-lockdown-bookbirthday-and-virtual-choral-singing

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Anne! I did have fun in my kayak — what a great way to see birds, too. Interesting — I also find the accuracy of my own childhood dialect challenging. Some words I’m certain about and others I’m not so sure. Then, I have professors and peers from different regions and they question other words I didn’t realize were unknown. I’m sure your dialect will come across as authentic. Were there strategies that you used to help the reader understand different words or phrases?

      The blind horse was a pantsing discovery but I fit him into the character arc. This plotting is not so bad after all!

      I miss people. Even cashiers and passers-by. I can understand how you must miss choir.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        I’ve tried to have in mind what it’s like for me reading novels with non-English words thrown in (or even reading American) and write it accordingly. Just sent it for editing today, so we’ll see what Sara thinks.

        My local choir has been singing Shoshone Love Song this week. Thought of you!

  16. TanGental

    A bit of Morgan and Logan on their travels to the US

    ‘What are you doing, Morgan?’
    ‘Hiding.’
    ‘My bad. I…’
    ‘Did you say, “my bad”?’
    ‘Sorry. Why are you hiding?’
    ‘I was at the store…’
    ‘Shop?’
    ‘We’re in America. This guy asked the cashier if he had small arms. I said that was a bit rude and he gave me a look and showed me this gun.’
    ‘I don’t blame him.’
    ‘He looked pretty upset. I thought I’d better hide.’
    ‘And that’s why you bought the Doritos and 100 candles.’
    ‘If he cuts the power we won’t be in the dark.’
    ‘Any these toilet rolls?’
    ‘He was very scary, Logan.’

    • Norah

      I’m not sure if the candles will make any difference, Geoff. 🙂
      Good one.

      • TanGental

        He remains a committed optimist!!

      • Norah

        I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I want to know where Logan found the toilet rolls! Doritos and guns. Yes, I recognize these two are in America. I feel apologetic. Maybe come back later when we’ve sorted out ourselves.

      • TanGental

        Nah, I think they’ll stay until they’ve found you guys…

      • Charli Mills

        Just be careful in Wisconsin. Wild West over there, I hear.

  17. Jules

    Charli,

    I sent you an email on your Birthday… check spam… if you haven’t gotten it.

    Anyway, a sort of unexpected trip to accompany hubby for business is going to make my ‘in loop’ time limited due to several travel days – since we are driving. And additional challenges with what’s going on and being a holiday weekend to boot.

    So I smashed some prompts and went with a sober flow here:
    consternation conscripted

    (99 word haibun)

    rheumy eyes water,
    no roomie, in roomy home
    no celebration?

    perhaps he thinks it’s enough
    to be alive and breathing

    This Memorial Day weekend, some waists may expand. Others may feel the waste of space – due to social distancing. All the flags, placed…perhaps hundreds of candles lit to remember those who have fallen. Maybe that will be enough help win this new war on the world that keeps us sequestered and separated?

    Navy man bucks up
    thankful for all of his friends
    as he sits…alone

    Maybe he’ll make it three more years for his own hundredth birthday to celebrate…

    ©JP/dh

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      This certainly gets at the aloneness; well done.
      Safe travels, Jules.

    • Charli Mills

      I got it, Jules! Thank you for your kind birthday email. I’ve been offline and outside. Now I’m paying the piper, catching up. I think waists already expanded with the lockdown baking we seem to be doing! I hope your neighbor is doing well.

      • Jules

        As well as any almost 97 year old who doesn’t want to give up his home…

  18. Liz H

    This went a bit dark, but plague and “acceptable” sacrifice seem to be an omnipresent condition of the times. Hope others come up with some brighter responses:

    Necessary Sacrifice

    The spellbook was specific: one hundred candles to draw and light the circle, less one for each sorceress. Fewer, and the plague would continue. Once fully lit, the circle could not be crossed. Back to back, the three worked quickly, coaxing flame from dry wick. The twins moved clockwise, junior apprentice Bella counterclockwise.
    [Continue ]</a

    • Norah

      Clever.

      • Liz H

        Thanks!

    • Charli Mills

      First rule or Ranch Club, go where the prompt leads. It’s amazing to see the diverse responses each week. You wrote an important story that parallels our times.

      • Liz H

        Looking forward to reading the full Ranchers’ batch!

      • Charli Mills

        It’s a good batch, just hatched!

  19. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    Happy (belated now) birthday. I hope you had a wonderful celebration and stayed upright in that kayak.
    Your family tree sounds a little like mine, but I’m not sure of the numbers back before my grandfather. Maybe I’ll have to check them out. My grandfather was one of 16, my dad one of 9 and I am one of 10. Now I have two of my own and two grandchildren. I think our DNA might be on the downward decline too. I guess that can even happen in the best of families. I watched the movie Lincoln recently and was interested to do just a little research. I think we wondered about his descendents and what they might be doing. I was surprised to discover that his family tree is no more – no more in the Abe Lincoln line. It makes it all seem quite final doesn’t it? I have a friend who is an only child and who himself has no children. No more in that line either. I guess it will happen in more families as they become smaller and many decide to not have children.
    One hundred! What a fabulous age. I used to tell my class that I was 99. I thought we all knew it was a joke. That is, until it was my birthday and they thought I was 100! I do remember being young and thinking everyone over the age of 23 was old! One hundred candles. Great prompt.
    I enjoyed your post and, as always, learned something new. Thanks for sharing what you are learning too.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Norah! I stayed upright and D. gave me some tips for staying drier, getting in and out. I’m now practicing the butt-scoot-boogie where I start on dry land and scooch to the water. I do the same getting out. It’s kind of fun. But it probably looks funny.

      So fascinating how lines can end like that. We are all born to survivors (and thrivers). My dad’s surname dies with him.

      Ha! The joke backfired, eh?” So, you’ve already celebrated your 100th!

      Thanks for reading! I enjoy sharing my studies. It helps me process the lessons, too.

      • Norah

        Please get someone to video your butt-scoot-boogie. What fun. We could all do it together in a zoom session and make it the official Ranch dance. 🙂
        My dad had four sons, three of whom have one son each. So far as I know, no sons of sons yet. Time will tell.
        My hub is the last Colvin in his generation. We have one son and he has one son. Once again – only time will tell. Son’s partner has kept her name and given it to her (their) daughter. That might be a new trend to keep the lines going. However, I don’t think it was just the Lincoln name. I think there were no more descendents.
        And I thought you were sharing your studies for our benefit. ????????

      • Charli Mills

        I’m not sure my form is recordable but I think the Hub would video it. Ha, ha! We could make it the official Ranch Dance! Maybe each rancher can give it their own interpretation just as the 99-word stories.

        Our eldest kept her last name, too. They discussed him changing his last name but he said it was part of his identity. Thus he understood her name was part of her identity. They also discussed creating a name to build a new identity together. I think people are more mindful, yet others feel attached to tradition so it will probably be a mixed bag.

        Ha! I am! But I benefit, too!

  20. reading journeys

    Hi Charli
    Happy Birthday!

    Thought of a beautiful poem by Joy Harjo, US Poet Laureate.
    “Remember ” by Joy Harjo ; Copyright ©1983
    A few lines:

    “Remember the sky that you were born under,
    know each of the star’s stories.
    //Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
    to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
    her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
    Remember your father. He is your life, also.
    //Remember the dance language is, that life is.”

    https://poets.org/poem/remember-0

    All the best every day, every year.

    Thank you for a great blog – as always, a lot to think about!
    Saifun

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Saifun! What a great poem to share. I love Joy Harjo’s work! The best to you, too.

  21. susansleggs

    I’m sure you had a wonderful birthday. Thank you for sharing your video on Facebook. My family doesn’t have the longevity others have spoken of, but I’m happy to know a couple of WWII vets that are older.

    By Candle Light

    Michael sat on his back porch enjoying the created shadows and smell of citronella candles. He wore his number 10 football jersey from high school. It was a happy remembrance that still fit over his muscle-bound upper body. His favorite number had switched from 10 to 100; 100 days until the docs told him he was out of the woods after the bomb and 100 days to build the nerve to ask Tessa to come to his home. He would have 100 various sized candles burning to welcome her. He hoped the romantic scene would bring him his desire.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      The repetition (and increasing positivity) with the number 100 is effective. Wait a minute… are those 100 candles all citronella? While helpful in mosquito season, somehow it seems less romantic.

      • susansleggs

        100 citronella would make anyone gag…LOL

    • Charli Mills

      It was indeed wonderful and I’m still basking in the glow. Like Baxter Black wrote, “You can’t hold a candle to the worth of a friend.”

      I like how Michael takes on the significance of 100 in your flash. Things are turning around for him I hope Tessa knows what she’s signing up for and that they can have hundreds of happy moments among the healing.

  22. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    And then I did whittle it down to 99 words:

    Since time began, the stories always started— the old stories about the keeping of these little eternal flames, The Hundred Candles. Though the details and specifics were largely forgotten, most people still recalled that the candles had to do with ancient ways and longstanding mores.

    Nobody actually believed anymore that if the Sovereign failed to keep The Hundred Candles burning ill fate would befall the people; neither did they believe a Sovereign would ever not keep this custom.

    The few left to recount the circumstances of that time begin their stories, When time stopped and the world forever changed-

    • Charli Mills

      A cautionary tale, but caution seems to be falling victim.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joanne!

  23. H.R.R. Gorman

    Happy Birthday! I hope it was a good one. I loved the little tale about Acorn – though the ponies for children bit reminded me of Gone With The Wind and made me shiver a little!

    (Hopefully I’ll get time to jump back on the wagon soon!)

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, H.! Oh, that’s right — Scarlette’s daughter and the pony.

      The wagon’s always rolling! Any time!

  24. Lisa L.

    Happy birthday to you again!
    Doing the forehead smack over here right now… I read this a few days ago. Made my note about the topic, jotted ideas, etc. And then the long weekend happened and I am thinking TODAY is Tuesday and I still have time to write. Whoops! Even in a stay-at-home pandemic world I can’t get back in the game right after a Monday holiday! LOL 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Lisa! And if you have a story, I’m still catching up from my own extended weekend! You can still submit one.

      • Lisa L.

        I might have something finished this afternoon. Let’s see how it unfolds.

  25. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Happy belated birthday Charli. Tell me what a cava drink is please. I know what it makes me think of but I doubt they are one and the same. You have reached a milestone when you don’t fear critical comment. It is certainly the way to move yourself forward whether it be writing or another aspect of your life. Sorry I haven’t managed to get here earlier. I have had to spend days with the anonymous chat man to work out why I couldn’t comment or like any one elses post. Finally done and finally here. Mine for this week https://irenewaters19.com/2020/05/27/100-candles-99-word-flash-fiction/

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Irene! It’s not belated because I like to stretch out the birthday celebrations long as I can, though asking the Hub to fix breakfast “because it’s my birthday” has now run its course! It’s so good to see you back at the Ranch! Glad you got the glitches sorted. Lovely flash, tinged with sadness.

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Rugby!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Donna!

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Dave!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks for the goosebumps, Jo!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. May 21, 2020 Flash Fiction Challenge – Read and Write Here - […] This week’s Flash Fiction Challenge comes from Carrot Ranch. […]
  2. May 21: Flash Fiction Challenge – The Big Birthday | But I Smile Anyway... - […] Carrot Ranch […]
  3. Birthday Celebration – The Bag Lady - […] https://carrotranch.com/2020/05/21/may-21-flash-fiction-challenge-2/#like-25289 […]
  4. Hope – Reena Saxena - […] May 21: Flash Fiction Challenge […]
  5. Everything's Gonna Be Okay | DJ Ranch - […] Author’s Notes: It’s a Friday. It’s a story. Call it Friday Fact or Fiction. Some stories will be 100%…
  6. 99 word prompt : 100 candles | Two on a Rant - […] If you want to participate, here’s the link:  CARROT RANCH […]
  7. Earth In Mind; CRLC Challenge | ShiftnShake - […] May 21, 2020, Carrot Ranch prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about 100 candles.…
  8. A Dream of Light | Wallie's Wentletrap - […] in response to Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Check it […]
  9. Flash Fiction: The Pit - […] Prompted from Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge at: https://carrotranch.com/2020/05/21/may-21-flash-fiction-challenge-2/. […]
  10. The (Other) Woman - Sascha Darlington's Microcosm Explored - […] Many thanks to Charli for this provocative prompt. If you’d like to join in, please click here. […]
  11. nd 5.24 consternation conscripted 3p – Jules Pens Some Gems… - […] Carrot Ranch May 21, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about 100 candles.…
  12. Light And Dark #carrotranch #morganandlogan #flashfiction | TanGental - […] piece of fluff was written in response to this week’s #carrotranch […]
  13. Necessary Sacrifice – From the Valley of the Trolls - […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (05/21/2020): In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about 100 candles. What do…
  14. The Hundred Candles #SixSentence Stories | ShiftnShake - […] title, The Hundred Candles, is inspired by the May 21 Carrot Ranch prompt, but there’s no way I’m whittling…
  15. 100 Candles (flash fiction) – joanne the geek - […] This was written with the prompt 100 candles provided by the Carrot Ranch May 21 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]
  16. Kaidan – Flash Fiction Challenge | Jo Hawk - […] Kaidan Source:  Flash Fiction Challenge Prompt: Write a story about 100 candles. Word count:  99 […]

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