September 24: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

September 25, 2020

I’m in need of a munchy snack, so I stop at the Keweenaw Co-op. The drill is familiar — mask up in the car, cross the street, enter with an eye for proximity to others, wash hands, and shop the one-way aisles. I notice a woman fussing with her mask and she breezes past the sink without stopping. I stop and wash. She blows past me again, searching for some elusive item. An employee calls her attention and reminds her to wash her hands. A year ago, I would not have guessed that businesses would be policing hand-washing as if society had reverted back to kindergarten. But here we are and I want chips.

To access the chip aisle I have to go down one of two other aisles and back up the middle to find the Kettles. The Ranch-style stands out. Not only is it “ranch” but the bag is also turquoise. I accept the signs that this is my bag of chips. Next, I grab a fresh pear and cheese curds imported from Wisconsin. These days, that state is the wild west, complete with shootings in the street. My son and DIL live there and they assure me it’s tame where they are at.

Winter is coming and I’m about to be cloistered again.

Tossing my snacks into my backpack, I head to McLains. It’s McLain State Park, but locals call it McLains. I’m local, not sure I’m a local of anywhere, but like COVID, here I am. As a student, I have 2,666 words to write today so I take a seat on a metal picnic table at the edge of Lake Superior. It’s colder than in town 10 miles away on the Portage Canal that opens up past the breaker walls to my left. Birch, maple, and pines surround me, randomly dumping needles or leaves, reminding me why we call this season fall. I like to think that every time a maple drops a red leaf, somewhere in the southern hemisphere a blossom opens.

Chips are a snack for the anxious. Or so I read. Snacks that crunch are associated with stress-eating. I don’t feel stressed. Quite the opposite. My reward was to finish what needed doing with the wi-fi access so I could go out to the lake and write, away from digital and home distractions. I’m surrounded by trees and water. Fog is rolling in like mystical mists, and plovers are circling inches above the sloshing waves, piping as they fly. I think they could be snacking, too. Chips sounded good for the crunch but I think its excitement more than stress. I love the chance to office outside, to entwine nature’s outward beauty to my inner imaginings.

Turns out my pear is crunchy, too. Sweet as late summer, though. Pear and apple season is here. The fruit trees come to life on the Keweenaw with more varieties than a single store sells. My eldest and her husband have apple trees all over their 19-acre homestead, left-over from mining families. They harvested their squash — butternut and pumpkins. Mine is yet on the vine — two white mashed potato squash and a single butternut sheltered beneath a show of flashy cosmos. Further up the ridge, they’ve had numerous hard frosts. The temperature warmed but the fog I see indicates a clash with cold air.

Soon I’m past the chips and into the curds. My story is unfolding, solving a riddle of its own making. Despite the plotting and mapping, drafting still reveals surprises. I’m pulled into the flow and aware that it’s getting colder, windier, and that the waves are slapping instead of sloshing. The plovers are gone. It’s just me and the story. I’m cold, but keep writing until I get to the end. I’ve written over 3,000 words and now I realize it’s dark and I’m startled. The waves are crashing. Hastily, I gather my snacking remnants and computer, sling the bag on my back, and follow the path.

Though it’s dark, I can tell path from woods. My eyes adjust and I find my way. At the parking lot, I see only my car and it’s an eerie feeling to think I was so far into my story that the park closed without my knowing. I’m surprised a state park ranger didn’t boot me out of the day-use area. I’m glad for it, too or else I might not have made my discovery. Maybe it was the chips.

Before I go, I want to tell you that the Rodeo is coming. It’s a grouping of writing contests held throughout October with each one created and led by a different writer at the ranch. Our Rodeo Leaders this year are Colleen Chesebro, Sam “Goldie” Kirk, Kerry E.B. Black, and Marsha Ingrao. They have exciting plans to challenge writers. The Rodeo is a chance to do something different with the 99-word format and to stretch craft skills. I’ll also be hosting a four-part contest at the Saddle Up Saloon throughout October called TUFF. Next Thursday, we’ll release more details and kick off the season.

Kid and Pal plan to interview me at the Saddle Up Saloon next Monday (I hope they have hard cider on tap). Bill Engleson will post a Film Noir column on Tuesday, and after that our Carrot Ranch Columnists will take a rodeo break through November. Contests will launch every Tuesday in October, and we’ll announce winners week by week every Tuesday in November. TUFF will take place on Mondays in October and the winner announced November 30. I’d like to thank our columnists for the excellent posts they have shared here every Tuesday, offering a variety of topics. We will resume columns in December. Kid and Pal will be back to entertain and gather us in November. D. Avery has created a fun outlet for characters and writers alike. There’s nothing quite like her Ranch Yarns. I’m grateful to D., Bill, Anne, H., Ann, Sue, Norah, Sherri, and Ruchira for sharing their fine writing with all of us.

The Ranch is meant to be a community. A place where writers can gather and throw loops without any judgment on what kind of horse you ride. All genres, styles, experiences, and writers are welcome to craft a 99-word story each week. For me, its become literary anthropology. Our collections arrange different perspectives on a single topic to gather different voices for a collaborative expression. Every week, the collection surprises me and I realize creativity has no limits. That encourages me and I hope it encourages you, too. I want literary art to be something accessible so that we can read and write and discuss creative expression outside of formal settings and closed circles.

Writers who join in at Carrot Ranch are not under any obligations. You don’t have to show up weekly, although I enjoy the return visits and the consistency of a core group. If you blog, you can share links or pingbacks. If you just want to write for the collection you need only to submit through the form. You are welcome to read at your pleasure. We delight when you read and comment on the collection. But I am going to ask a favor of all of you in the community.

I’d like to create more inter-community engagement this Rodeo season. I’ve decided to keep the challenges and collections going weekly as I’ve noticed that many who enjoy the weekly challenges do not participate in the Rodeo. I will try both simultaneously. October is also going to be a tough month for me, keeping up with my thesis requirements. I will read everyone’s submission as I collect and arrange them, but I may fall behind on keeping up with comments. Would each of you who submit a story be willing to engage three other writers? Mostly, I don’t want anyone overlooked in the challenges, especially new writers. If some of our leaders — or lariats — would be willing to scan the comments for any missed writers, that would ease my mind, too. Thank you for being in community with me and making literary art a part of your life!

September 24, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking. It can feature crunchy snacks or creamy one. Who is snacking on what and why? How can you make this a story? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 29, 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 are now closed. See our latest challenge to enter.

Busted at Midnight by Charli mills

The crumple of a candy-bar wrapper woke the house. The cat stretched and hopped over to the couch. The dog laid her head on the armrest, silently begging. Martha heard Steve plod down the hall. She quickly shoved the wrapper with the rest down the side of the couch cushions, picking up her geology textbook and hot pink highlighter.

“Still up?” he asked, stifling a yawn.

“Mmm,” she replied, reading tectonics.

The twins and their older sister ran past Steve. Clara, hands on her hips, asked, “Mama, did you get into our Halloween buckets again?”

Martha sighed and swallowed.

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    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Reena!

  1. writefunnydramatrue

    Yay, for Rodeo and fall! I am new to cheese curds, but it’s something I intend to be open to (really, I’m open to all forms of cheese). Are they like cheese curls?

    • Charli Mills

      Pleased to hear you are excited for Rodeo season, Frank! Fall is an energetic time of year for me, too.

      And let me introduce you to cheese curds — they are the fresh chunks that develop in a vat during the cheese-making process. The whey is poured off and the curds are further pressed and aged into different varieties. But some cheese-makers (in Wisconsin) hold back some of the curd. It’s fresh, under-developed cheese (think cottage cheese but bigger chunks and firmer). And it sqeaks when you bite into it! Lots of Wisconsonites call it squeaky-cheese. It’s a great snack.

      • writefunnydramatrue

        I approve this message 🙂 I’ve had squeaky cheese before in Eastern Europe, but it was goat cheese. It’s interesting they have it in a cow variety too.

      • Charli Mills

        Sqeamish cheese if it’s goat! Thankfully it’s in cow variety and certainly looks and sounds like halloumi!

  2. Doug Jacquier

    Taking my inspiration for your writing in the woods, Charli.

    The Jabberwocky Revisited

    ’Twas rump-numbing, and the metal seats
    Did gyre and gimble in the McClains:
    All mimsy were ranch-style kettle chips,
    And curds and pears from out the plains.

    Beware-ing the unwash-ed ones!
    The jaws that blight, the masks dispatched!
    She forsook the jujube bird, and shunned
    The frumious butterscotch!”

    And, as in meringue-ish thought she stood,
    The Bar-of-choc, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the nougat wood,
    And coated as it came!

    But she did slay that Bar-of-Choc
    And shouldered arms, her foe now so brittle.
    O frabjous day! Get off my block!
    She said and scoffed her Skittles.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I love this revisited Jabberwocky, Doug! From henceforth I will call the chipmunks, the unwashed ones. 🙂 Brilliant writing.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Many thanks, Charli. Go for it on the chipmunks but I was actually alluding to the unwashed lady in the supermarket 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! Well, her, too.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Aw, shucks, many thanks, Davery. I’m either blushing or I’ve had one too many red wines 😉

    • Tyler M Deal

      This sounded a lot like my life until the very end. Then I realized that it’s all true!

      • joanne the geek

        I think it’s been many people’s life this year.

    • Charli Mills

      That could be relationship drama among many right now, Joanne!

    • Doug Jacquier

      You realise, of course, this is all part of the shape-shifters/Bill Gates/5G plan. 😉

    • Liz H

      Oh dear! Not looking forward to the next HARVEST moon!
      We’re doomed, I tell ya…

      • Charli Mills

        Thursday is doomsday.

      • Liz H

        Shine on, shine on Harvest moon, Up in the skyeee…

  3. denmaniacs4

    Nuclear Snacking

    Jimbo was my neighbour back in the city. Had a bomb shelter. Didn’t build it. It was there when he bought the house. Early 50’s vintage.

    “Only one in the neighbourhood,” he’d whispered to me.

    “That you know of,” I said. “Read where the first rule of good Bomb Shelter management is…Mum’s the word.”

    “I trust you, Buddy. Let me show ya.”

    It was cozy.

    Outfitted well.

    “Besides water, bandages, stuff like that” he noted, “We’ve got a year’s supply of chocolate bars and potato chips. And Pru’s dried apricots, of course. Trick, Marty, is to rotate. Takes commitment.”

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Bill, can you imagine sharing a bunker with those eating Pru’s dried apricots and potato chips for a year? I think I’d take my chances above ground! I often wonder what fantasy people are living out, so dedicated and excited about their bomb shelters? They were popular in North Idaho.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Lot of food for thought here. Not great food, but…

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Good for you, Ms. Mills! You put it out there. It is always a treat to have you visit a story and leave your comment, but I have wondered for a while if you simply don’t sleep to fit in all that you do, or maybe are some sort of superpowered human. That MFA program is very important so by all means let something go at the Ranch. For now. This is a strong community; we’ll get by, together. I’m afraid I’ve been a no show lately as life has been pretty full but will try to make the comment rounds this week. I missed it, but what a collection of mice stories.

    • Charli Mills

      The MFA is very demanding at the moment, but the Ranch is the hub for all the literary missionary work I believe in. Just need to find a difference balance and think about sustainabilty. I love the strength of this community and think we can encourage each other without asking too much. We all have seasons as writers, pickers, and humans. The collections are always my favorite part! Thanks for all you do here, D. Well, thank Kid and Pal, too.

  5. TanGental

    The boys take a break for their hunt for the ranch and reminisce…

    ‘Morgan, stop.’
    ‘I’m only eating crisps.’
    ‘It’s,like being in an aural hailstorm. Close your mouth.’
    ‘Oh, soz. I thought you wanted to ban snacking. That would be tough and a nasty reminder of
    ‘I was about fifteen, the head sent this memo about banning snacking. I was a bit of a lippy lout and wanted to protest, determined to stop it.’
    ‘It does seem harsh.’
    ‘Yes, well my class had to hold me back. I misread the memo. They were banning smacking.’
    ‘You weren’t popular.
    ‘Nope, they gave me a right old snacking for my pains.’

    • Tyler M Deal

      Hilarious! It’s always funny when you see those extremely specific memos.

      • TanGental

        It happens so often in my life!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m picturing the boys eating Honeycrisps, pulled over to look at a map. Morgan might be receiving another snacking if he keeps crunching open mouthed, though!

      • TanGental

        It’s such an awful habit

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ha, berry punny. With aural hailstorms, snacking truly should be banned.

  6. TanGental

    Re your request Charli, happy to help as I can. Just let me know what you need…

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Geoff!

    • Tyler M Deal

      Our cats usually ate on the go. We’d find beaks and tail feathers in the yard all the time.

    • Charli Mills

      Some can be voracious snackers, Joelle!

      • floridaborne

        To our horror. 🙂

  7. quiall

    The young boy sat back in his chair. A satisfied grin on his face. He enjoyed eating his snacks BEFORE his dinner. His mother wouldn’t find out this time. Nope, he had seen to that. With no warning, a tasty burb escaped his lips. He smiled. Something else he wouldn’t get in trouble for. Belching was considered rude. But his mother would never be mad at him ever again. Neither would his father. It amused him that neither parent had noticed the rat poison in their morning cup of coffee. I guess sugar really does cover up the taste.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Ouch! Thank goodness I’m not a parent of any humans. Great twist to your story, Quiall.

      • quiall

        Thank you very much Hugh.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, I did not see that twist coming! Well, the snack high will wear off, alas.

      • quiall

        Thanks Charli

    • Liz H

      Oh my! Desperate times call for…desperate measures?

      • quiall

        I hope this is an extreme measure. And I don’t drink coffee . . . ever!

    • suespitulnik

      Oh my. I’m wondering who is going to cook his meals and provide the snacks. Perhaps he will regret his selfish solution.

      • quiall

        Ah, the arrogance of youth. He didn’t think past the snack in his hand.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I’m betting he didn’t go to school that day either. This was delightfully creepy.

      • quiall

        hahaha. I am glad you enjoyed it!

    • Doug Jacquier

      A tasty ‘burb’ escaped his lips? Which ‘burb’ would that be? 😉

      • quiall

        The kind my mother would hate!

  8. Jim Borden

    I wish you a productive October!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Jim!

  9. Liz H

    Because snacks and picnic lunches always taster better at the family farm:

    Autumnal Trip

    They’d packed coffee and sandwiches, heading out, bike trails edging around lakes green with duckweed, geese and duck leaving their own paths as they nibbled, non-stop snacking to prepare them for the winter. The two biked on, through leaf-changing suburbs, under sharp-echoing freeways, until they finally arrived at Jack’s place.

    The orchard spread before them, multiple rows of red and green globes of goodness, a cool welcome after their long ride.

    “Took you long enough to get here!” called out Uncle Jack from the picnic table. “I was just about to grab a snack from one of these trees!”

    • Charli Mills

      Something Minnesota does so well is its trail system linking lakes and farms to population centers. I never felt the south suburbs were cities. Great flash of place, Liz.

      • Liz H


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      That sounds (looks, tastes, feels) lovely!

    • E.A. Colquitt

      I love this! I really feel like I’m there with the characters 🙂

      • Liz H

        Care for an apple?

    • Charli Mills

      One reason I love compiling the weekly collection is that it’s unscripted and yet it stories can sometimes answer the questions others raise. It’s so intriguing how that happens.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Dan!

  10. Hugh W. Roberts

    Don’t you just love how on this side of the pond, chips are something different to the other side of the pond, Charli? Glad you got your snacks. I hope you got plenty to last you over the next couple of busy months. I’ll be sure to leave comments on at least three other entries to the 99-word flash fiction challenges.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s fun to explore the differences across the pond. I never understood why a bag of chips went with fish in the UK until I realized it was a fish basket with french fries! But I did learn to embrace malt vinegar. I’ll get stocked up on my snacks. And thank you so much for helping out in the community, Hugh!

      • Doug Jacquier

        Venture further north to Scotland and you can have a deep-fried Mars Bar for dessert. 😉

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        And deep-fried pizza to go with it.

      • Charli Mills

        And I was just trying to convince folks here in the Keweenaw to combine cultural snacks and deep fry and Indian taco as a pasty. Pizza? A Mars bar? Wow!

      • Doug Jacquier

        Dearest Charli, French fries (really Belgian fries) are not chips, as UKanians and colonials would understand them. And in Manchester, fish and chips are incomplete without mushie peas. By some miracle, here in Australia chips refers to both what the UKanians call crisps, and chips, as in fish and chips. It’s all in the context, which makes AusEnglish so difficult to grasp at first. We’re very big on similes e.g. flat out like a lizard drinking = busy, busier than a one-armed paper-hanger = even more busy, drier than a Pommy’s (i.e. an Englishman’s) towel = very dry (sorry, Hugh).

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        No offence taken, Doug. I’m not English ????

      • Charli Mills

        What happened to those peas?

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Michael!

  11. Jules

    Dear Charli,

    I think it is a right of parents to snitch the goodie bags of our children. After all they shouldn’t get to have all of the cavities! October is going to be a busy month. I’ll do my best to peruse the regular ranch prompts and make some encouraging visits.

    I’ve got an image as well as three other prompts smashed into this haibun:
    Digesting the Situation

    I needed to divorce myself from my fears. The dark dismal city street appeared to be a place where zombies might jump out of doorways to snack on the likes of me. I had to convince myself that all I had to do was use Fifth Avenue as an entrance and Sixth as an exit. Just because I was no longer married and didn’t have a man to hang onto didn’t mean that I couldn’t do this on my own. I’d done it hundreds of times during the daylight hours.

    working late, again
    paying for independence
    fears dominate sense


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Well done P.L., I like how the narrator is the potential snack, even as she doesn’t allow fear to nibble at her resolve.

    • Charli Mills

      Jules, I agree! We are simply helping our children’s teeth. I remember I had my kids convinced that Reeses Peanut Butter Cups tasted terrible, and I offered to take those for them.

      Your flash took a darker turn. The cost of independence.

    • suespitulnik

      You nailed it! I believe any author can procrastinate when they want to, using food as an excuse, or very good reason.

    • E.A. Colquitt

      Nice story! I’d really like cheese now lol 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Maybe I was fantasizing about hidden chocolate in the house late at night, lol! Thanks, Allison!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Will you be back tomorrow… or 100 days from now?

      • E.A. Colquitt

        Lol I’m here now 🙂 actually, that reminds me – I need to take a decent picture of the apples for the post… that could take 100 days!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m loving apple season. A good crisp apple, a nice long nap!

  12. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Happy Trails

    “Kid, we been ridin’ a long time, I could use some a thet trail mix from yer saddlebag.”
    “It’s all gone, Pal.”
    “Whut?! Ya ate all a it?”
    “Didn’t eat none a it. We ain’t been on no trail, so I sprinkled it as we go so’s we kin find our way back ta the Ranch.”
    “Dang it, Kid, I’m feelin’ peckish.”
    “Uh-oh. Looks like birds an’ critters was too, they done pecked up the trail mix. Now it’s trail nix.”
    “Dang it Kid. Ya got any other snacks packed?”
    “Course, Pal. Have some carrot sticks an’ ranch dressing.”
    “Cain’t b’lieve ya wasted all our good trail mix, Kid.”
    “Ain’t wasted, Pal, jist got et by critters ‘stead a us.”
    “Hmmf. What’s thet yer snackin’ on? Thet ain’t carrots.”
    “Bacon jerky”
    “Ya are whut ya eat, Kid.”
    “How’ll we find our way Pal, now them critters ate my trail markers?”
    “Kid, we weren’t never lost. Kin range far an’ wide an’ still be on the ranch.”
    “Yeah, but—”
    “Come nightfall you’ll see, Kid.”
    “See what?”
    “The glow a campfires. An’ you’ll see stars shinin’ bright. An’ look off there. See thet cloud a dust?”
    “Rodeo’s comin’!”

    • Charli Mills

      Glad to see Kid and Pal out on the trail, beneath stars, riding the range. I hear that bacon jerky is good but takes a long route to arrive. Carrot Stix are always nearby. Yeehaw! Rodeo is nearly here!

    • Jules

      Oooh… clould of dust leading to the Rodeo! Gonna have to have snacks handy while writtin’ for extra brain power!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ha! That’s always a tough call, to keep sleeping or sit up and write.

    • E.A. Colquitt

      I like this second one – it’s quite wholesome 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Good recall, Joanne! If I think of a story near sleep, I have to capture it right away or it evaporates. This morning I woke up to Kid and Pal bringing back long-haired kittens to Shorty. I don’t want to know that story!

  13. Prior...

    Good luck with the rodeo and I will be on the sidelines trying to still do the weekly challenge- so thanks for keeping that going –
    And the post here was fun – hope you are doing well with your writing assignments
    And the photo of your chips reminded me of a season I had where kettle chips were my fav – (not the sweet kettle stuff but the hard and crunchy kind of chips) the avocado and olive oil options were a perk to get away from bad Oils

    Okay – wishing you a good day

    • Charli Mills

      These are the “good” chips, Yvette! They are from the co-op, they must be healthy! Thanks for letting me know you appreciate the ongoing challenges. You have a good day, too! Thanks!

      • Prior...

        And side note about the kettle chips – they are crunchy and harder than other chips (which is why they are so good IMO)
        Anyhow – I have encountered two folks who said they could not eat the kettle chips because of their bad “teeth” –
        One was a security guard and it reminded me that some folks ha e all their health care needs met but not dental- and dental health impacts everything so it should be included in this horrible “for profit” system we have in the US

      • Charli Mills

        Interesting point. I’ve often thought of dental as a dividing line between socio-economic groups in the US. Veterans do not get dental unless 100 percent service-related disabled. My husband had to pull his own tooth once before the VA would even give him antibiotics for the infection. He does not like Kettle Chips either because of their hardness.

    • suespitulnik

      So true that the habits of the one we are sure we are in love with do tend to be a surprise when the love-blinders fall off. Well said.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, yes! Thanks!

  14. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    I’m pleased you got your words written out at the lake. How wonderful to be so immersed in your writing that the dimension of time slipped from view and away from importance. I love that feeling, but often wonder where the time went too.
    I’m pleased your son and his wife are safe where they are. Your daughter and her husband’s farmstead sounds amazing.
    I love that you think of a flower blooming down here for each leaf falling. It makes us seem all the more connected even though we are so far away from each other in distance.
    The rodeo sounds exciting, and you are heading for a tough month that will be filled with TUFF writing. I think it’s a great idea to keep the weekly challenges going. I will do my best to read and comment but I’ve been slipping behind a lot of late.
    I enjoyed your flash. There is nothing like the sound (no matter how small) of a treat being opened to alert everyone’s ears.

    • Norah

      I didn’t realise this challenge closed earlier than usual, or maybe I got my times mixed up. Anyway, I’ve missed the submission portal but, no worries, I can still post my response here. I think that’s in keeping with the theme of my story, which misses the mark in more ways than one. 🙂
      My story is called Crunch Time and here is the link:

      Crunch Time
      “I really need this today,” she said.
      “Bad day?” asked the waiter, placing the coffee on the table.
      “Yeah,” she sighed.
      “Coffee’ll fix it,” he said. “I made it myself.”
      She smiled, thinking of all the I-made-it-myself gifts received over the years.
      With eyes closed, she scooped the delicious chocolatey froth into her mouth.
      Then her eyes popped. There shouldn’t be anything crunchy in a cappuccino. She pushed the crunchy bit out on her tongue.
      A fly! She spurted the remaining contents of her mouth over the table as a student and parent passed.
      “Are you okay?” they asked.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I missed it too Norah, but wasn’t even sure I wanted to put it through anyway. Dang near didn’t even write a response this week. Rehashed last week’s. (below)

      • Norah

        I’m not sure if I’ve caught up on last week’s yet. I hope to do so soon.

      • Charli Mills

        Sorry, Norah! I’ll grab yours and D.’s. I’m on such tight deadlines this week, I inadvertently shut it down early because I was gathering the stories earlier than I usually do. It’s truly crunch time, and I think I’d just swallow the fly, and carry on, lol!

      • Norah

        That’s okay, Charli. I understand. I know you’re under the hammer. I thought I’d made a mistake about the day.
        I didn’t swallow the fly. I spat it. It didn’t taste good so I don’t recommend it.

  15. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    We’re harvesting apples from three trees today and that’s going to take a while, so it has to be a labour of love for your daughter. I’m pleased you’re managing to churn out the words for your course – on a good day I’m happy if I get down a third of that. Maybe it’s down to the snacks.
    Loved your flash – when I’m scoffing cereal at bedtime, I often think how much harder it would be if there were children in the house! Here’s my 99-word story, along with reviews of a couple of novels that might interest you for different reasons:

    Food thrown in

    “You’re working for peanuts!”
    “They don’t farm peanuts. Besides, peanuts aren’t nuts.”
    “But you are, breaking your back for the price of a few rounds of drinks.”
    “How much would you pay for an all-you-can-eat buffet?”

    For better or worse (or much worse): An American Marriage & Soldier Boy

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ello, Pepe here. Ees a good point about de peanuts not being nuts; nor are they peas, but dey are a legume, and dat ees always good, as ees your flash.

    • Charli Mills

      Apple harvest is a labor of love! Although, a spring frost hit the blossoms so it’s spare pickings this year. I do love the fresh crispness of apples. Ha! It’s impossible to snack undetected late at night with young ears at the ready. Ah! You led us on with a cliffhanger!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Our apples have done well due to a lot of rain (I think). But the birds got most of the pears and a fungus got the plums, so it’ll be an apple a day from now on.

  16. suespitulnik

    Hi Charli,
    Your waterfront office looks sublime. I can imagine you so engrossed you wrote through closing time. That’s a gift in my opinion.
    So much happening with the Rodeo upon us. It will be a challenge to take advantage of every opportunity. I plan to make a game out of it. I do like deadlines.
    As others have said, take a step back from the weekly challenges if you need to in order to keep up with the hectic MFA and rodeo schedule. It will be an honor to help out by responding to stories.
    Thankfully, the mother in my serial is not someone I know…


    At their party, Michael heard Tessa’s mother make another snide comment about how many snacks Tessa had eaten. He wheeled over to Jenny and got right in her face. “Do you remember saying ‘My house, my rules’ when we were growing up?”
    “So long ago. But yes, I do.”
    “Well, this is my house and my rules. Your negative comments about Tessa’s eating are not welcome here.”
    Jenny shot up out of her chair, “Well! Then neither am I. Don, take me home.”
    “You can take the car.” Her husband handed her the keys and opened the front door.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Sounds like Jenny’s being called out on a bad habit. Thinking Don is a new fan of Michael who took a stand.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Sue! Oh, it sublime. I returned Friday for more writing and almost sat on a huge agate in the rocks. Got distracted after I glanced down and saw it. Found another huge agate. Have to stick to the sandy side of the beach or my brain goes to rock picking. Great idea to make a game of the Rodeo. Thank you for responding to stories!

      Woohoo! Michael set up the boundaries well with with Jenny. I like how he defended her and was backed up by Don.

  17. Jules

    Rules is rules. I remember some folks wouldn’t visit me and mine since I wouldn’t allow smoking in my home. Some who visited notice I didn’t have ashtrays and took it upon themselves to go outside. They didn’t even leave any butts!

    • Charli Mills

      No butts about those house rules!

  18. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “One after the other, I couldn’t help myself, even when I knew they weren’t good for me.”
    “I know what you mean, Ilene,” Kristof said.
    “In the end none satisfied. Too sweet. Too salty. Too full of air!”
    “But we’ve made healthy choices now, both of us.”
    “Hi girls.” Though late in joining Ilene and Kristof, Marge jumped right into the conversation. “What’s wrong with some greasy finger-licking cheese that goes crunch? With enough beer it’s all good.”
    Ilene’s brows went up, but she agreed with Marge. “Yes, beer helps. But Marge, we were talking about men, not snacks.”

    Rehashed last week’s response just to amuse myself. Should call it Cheat-Ohs.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! I’m enjoying these interrupted misunderstood conversations, D. Sorry about closes the barn door early. Got ahead of myself. I got your story. Hope Ilene is miffed.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        She’ll get over it. Sorry ya had to work for it, it’s okay to let things go. I was late.

  19. Prior...

    I guess my entry is late —
    for some reason, I thought I had until midnight on Tuesday – but I guess I need to double check the dates.

    anyhow, here is the Priorhouse entry for snacking – – 🙂

    Title: Snacking Curbside 

    Word Count: 99 


    “Um, you didn’t tell me club members would be here.”


    “There’s so many of them. And look!  Look who is at our table.”

    They paused as they reached their assigned table.

    “Honey, I can’t sit with them for two hours – especially when I’m famished.”

    “I just can’t….”



    Jim grabbed snacks from his truck and sat with Maria, talking on the curb, which provided succor.

    The ground was hard beneath them

    The sky had soft clouds above

    Conversation nourished


    “Yes, Yes I am.”

    both smiled

    wishing everyone a great week ahead and best wishes to everyone as the rodeo starts soon 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      No, I had other deadlines on my mind and closed it down too early. Sorry! I grabbed yours and those by Norah and D. I love the compassion to find a solution — “a conversation nourished.” A relationship, too!

      • Prior...

        Well I can imagine the crunch time is beginning to unfold as October comes (sending prayers and good thoughts our for the rodeo)
        oh and I watched part of the video you made about TUFF – you are so well spoken

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I like the hybrid form of this, it works for the story, of compromising and discovering.

      • Prior...

        Thanks so much! That was nice to read

  20. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Frank!

  21. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Hugh!


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