October 8: 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.

October 9, 2020

An early memory is getting a pair of little white kid gloves to wear at San Benito County Rodeo. Maybe they were cotton. But in my memory, they linger as fine kid leather. Not from the hide of Kid or a young person, but from the hide of a young goat. Why were goats involved in buckaroo culture? I have no idea. I tackled them, hog-tied them, licked them (unintentionally, I swear), and apparently, I wore their hide on my hands. Well, we could pick that apart as perhaps an unusual childhood. But authentically buckaroo.

California is a region of assimilation. I can only imagine what a place it must have been under the stewardship of the many and varied tribes that lived there for thousands of years before the rest of the world finding out about gold in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Did you know that Indigenous people practiced fire management in California? I like to think of buckaroo traditions stemming from the rancho culture that arrived with the missionaries and their Spanish horses and cattle. People whose ancestors managed mountains and forests and coasts took to horses with a special kind of wisdom.

They say buckaroos evolved out of the vaquero culture, but they fail to say how much earlier influence came from the original Native Californians. With the Gold Rush, people from around the world flooded into California. Among them, two sets of Basque 3rd-great grandparents. They ranched a small place near Paicines and later ran the hotel in Tres Pinos. Through marriages and descendants, I can claim Basque, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Brazilian, Flemish, and Dane. Talk about the Californian melting pot. Each one of those heritages came under the direct influence of the vaqueros.

And I had the kid gloves to prove it. Well, maybe not the gloves, but the early gear we used spoke of our heritage. My grandfather was a rawhider, and I learned the basics. I know how to make rawhide, string it, and braid it. We carried riatas (braided ropes) and rode with bosals to keep a horse from tossing its head. We had hefty horns on our beautifully tooled saddles because we roped cattle in a certain style. My grandfather was a figure-eight roping champion at this same rodeo grounds where I once won my own championship (okay, it was just a goat, but I won a trophy). This video gives you a glimpse of the style of roping and the land where I was born as a fifth-generation Californian

If you want to read an insightful essay about the buckaroo culture I come from, the Library of Congress recorded a bit of it here.

Our own Flash Fiction Rodeo is unfolding with a new event every Tuesday. Kerry E.B. Black is currently hosting Fables and Tall Tales. Colleen Chesebro is up next, and her contest is the equivalent of the figure-eight loop to syllabic poets. Kid and Pal hit the Dusty Trail last week, and I took over the Saddle Up Saloon to host TUFF, a progressive flash fiction contest. Part Two posts early Monday morning and offers the first twist to the sequence of word count reductions.

I’m going to do my best to keep up with all of you taking the weekly challenges, but I may be eyebrows deep in my thesis. The complete first draft is due by the end of the month, and then I’ll be using NaNoWriMo to revise it. That might sound like crazy-talk, but I do have a strategy in mind! My first draft is a mess. I want to use November to make it more cohesive and streamlined so that when I go into thesis revisions with my professor and peers, I have a better working manuscript. On a side note — Danni is the daughter of a Basque buckaroo from Nevada. Her life was much different from my own, but I wanted to use a culture I’m familiar with, and when writing about the West, I reached into my own back pocket. With kid gloves, of course.

October 8, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes kid gloves. A prop in the hands of a character should further the story. Why the gloves? Who is that in the photo, and did he steal Kids’ gloves (of the Kid and Pal duo)? Consider different uses of the phrase, too. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by October 6, 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.

Dressed and Ready by Charli Mills

Annabelle’s mother braided her hair so tight her eyes tugged at the corners. “Ma,” she wailed, “I won’t be able to see.”

“Get hair in your eyes, young lady, and you won’t see to throw your loop.” Ma was all business about rodeo events.

Already Annabelle had on her boots, jeans, frilled shirt, turquoise vest, and a hot-pink scarf with a concho slide. Ma zipped up the back leg on each side of her navy blue shotgun chaps and tightened the belt. Her brand-new kid gloves would protect her hands.

All this for a chance to rope a calf.

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109 Comments

  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    While others tended to rodeo events or cracked their WIPs, Pal took a vacation, time away from Kid. Just for a while. Pal even left Carrot Ranch. Just for a while, for it had been such a long while since Pal had seen Cousins Ash and Dusty Trales.
    Dismounting at their Turnip Farm Pal was greeted warmly. “Hey there, Cuz. It’s been a while.”
    “Yep.”
    “We gotta git these turnips harvested.”
    “I’ll hep.”
    “You’ll want gloves.”
    “Yep. Dang! These are Kid’s gloves! Ugh! I musta inadvertently took Kid’s saddlebag.”
    Even on vacation, Pal would be burdened with Kid’s baggage.

    • Norah

      Love it. No one wants to wear some one else’s sweaty gloves.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m impressed that Pal can say, “inadvertently”! Ah, bummer to end up with kid gloves, and kid pants, and kid socks on vacation.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        No kidding!
        Yep, Pal’s been readin the dicshunary.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! Pal is full of surprises.

    • joanne the geek

      They’re always welcome to stay at Jess and Cindy’s farm.

      • Charli Mills

        Kid and Pal would make a nice addition to Jess and Cindy’s menagerie of critters and friends!

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Wonderful! Good to see you’ve still got a rein on these two.

    • Jules

      So often it seems that way…we are saddled with others things. I read somewhere that if you get a gift, it is yours to do with what ever you wish. And the gifter shouldn’t ‘speck you to keep it iffin’ you don’t like it.

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Kid was skedaddling to the Saloon, for as you may recall Kid has some goats out back of the saloon. Bursting through the swinging doors, Kid saw— “Shorty!”
    “Kid. Shouldn’t you be vacationin’?”
    “Worried ‘bout my kids, what with that prompt an’ all.”
    “The kids are alright, Kid, the Ranch and the saloon are safe places for all.”
    “Okay.” Kid then took in the quiet saloon. Shorty was so busy writing she hadn’t noticed the goat feeding from a stack of papers. Despite assurances, Kid did not feel safe and vacated, goat in hand.

    • Norah

      I hope that goat wasn’t munching on Shorty’s manuscript!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        (Shh. I don’t have the heart ta tell her. Thinkin’ there’s gonna be a hole in the plot)

      • Norah

        ????????????

      • Norah

        🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I spy a new pair of kid gloves!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Mebbe they was jist editin as they et. Jist keep writin, leave the kids alone.

    • Jules

      Kin I borra them goat, their supposed ta eat poison ivy and not be bothered by it!

  3. Pete

    He never takes the gloves off. Ever. And if I try to make him a wrestling match ensues.

    “Germs are everywhere, Zia,” he warns.

    My brother, the six year-old scientist.

    He should have been outside playing in the dirt. Instead this Covid thing has really messed him up. I mean, it’s messed everyone up, but for him I fear it’s irreversible.

    When he’s asleep, Mom peels the gloves off, washes them with our masks. Once dry, she carefully works them back onto his stubby little fingers. Says they make him feel safe.

    Hmm. Maybe I should get a pair.

    • Norah

      It should be that easy!

    • Charli Mills

      The perspective you offer, Pete, give me great pause. If the adults are having difficulty with covid, what lasting impression will it leave on our youngest generation? Well done.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yeah. This tale of gloved paws does give pause; it sure is cause for anxiety.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      What a great topical take on the prompt. We’re heading for an epidemic of OCD.

    • Jules

      Kiddies, children that is need to eat a pound of dirt a year at least. Helps ’em to develop immunities – bein’ cooped up and worryin’ don’t help anyone.

      • Pete

        I hear you Jules, my response is fictional. People worry about things, whether it helps or not!

      • Jules

        Yup!

  4. Liz H

    Cuz something got me up before sunrise today, but it wasn’t technology!

    Home on the Range

    Cal coiled up his riata. He had no goals to improve on his already impressive rope skills, but granddaughter Flora required kid glove treatment these days.

    Grandson Jeremy had passed him up, carrying on the vaquero tradition through competition and education. Kids today wanted an excuse to put down their cell phones, to raise their faces to the sun. It was an unexpected but welcome blessing from the quarantine.

    Flora had kicked him out of the house early, even before his morning coffee. She wanted him out from underfoot while she attempted to wrangle the internet and home schooling.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Great piece, Pete. Very inventive and involving.

    • Norah

      Lots of substance in there, Liz.

      • Liz H

        Thanks, Norah!

    • Charli Mills

      You brightened my day, Liz, writing about a modern vaquero family. I also enjoyed the use of the riata as a prop in the hands of your characters. Nice job!

      • Liz H

        Glad you enjoyed. I aim to please!????????

      • Charli Mills

        On the mark!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Fitting title. This captures the family juggling for space and activity when schooling is from home.

      • Liz H

        Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word. And the kid gloves are slid on ev’ry day…

      • Charli Mills

        Someone is practicing for karaoke at the Saddle Up Saloon!

    • Jules

      I just can’t imagine having to do that. Though I did have to wrangle my grands for a few years before they were in school full time!

      • Liz H

        I think parents, kids, and teachers are being stretched to the max, and deserve all praise for the things they have to learn, on-curriculum and off-.

  5. denmaniacs4

    The Jokester

    I remember when it began.

    First grade.

    They abandoned me to a mocking mob.

    “Play nice. Make friends.”

    I tried, but what did they know.

    The rabble seemed as one.

    Bigger.

    Stronger.

    Maybe even smarter.

    One day, faced with aggression, I pulled off a sweet backflip. Landed it. Came up smiling.

    “Funny guy,” the bully said.

    My life’s river changed course.

    Tricks!

    Grins!

    Bigger tricks!

    Fatter grins!

    Decades of idiotic hijinks.

    Three marriages!

    Three divorces!

    “Too much,” each said. “Always over the top! Puns! Interminable, heavy-handed humour! Release me.”

    Now I get it.

    Life.

    Love.

    Both need kidding gloves.

    • Norah

      Kiding gloves. I like it. But in the right doses.

    • Liz H

      I can relate to the jokester, for sure.
      Flash magic!

    • Charli Mills

      A lifetime in 99-words. An impressive feat, Bill. And a fun twist on the phrase.

    • Jules

      Humor is big in my house. No kid gloves needed. Guess my hubby and I make a good ‘pair’.

  6. Jim Borden

    sounds like you’ve got a viable plan for your thesis – good luck!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for the encouragement, Jim!

  7. floridaborne

    After reading this post, I now know where to enter the contest, but I took a hard look at the topic and the format of it and have to admit: There’s nothing I’m interested in writing about in that genre.

    Kid gloves? I have an idea already. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      There will be other contests, Joelle. Glad you got a spark of interest in kid gloves!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Joanne!

    • Jules

      Children do change their minds don’t they. But then so do adults!

  8. Doug Jacquier

    The Flying Son

    Lucas had already reached the top of the tree, almost faster than his Dad’s eyes could follow. Now he gripped with only one hand as he waved in triumph. ‘I’m the king of …’ but his words faded on the wind as a freak gust hit at the same time. He sailed to the ground with his arms outstretched like puny wings until he landed with a dull thud in his father’s arms. When he found his breath again Lucas whispered to his Dad ‘How’d you do that?’ His Dad smilingly whispered back ‘With kid gloves, my flying son.’

    • Norah

      A fortunate, lucky catch. Well done.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Thanks, Norah. I think parents have a knack for predicting the future. 😉

      • Norah

        Sometimes. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Parents gain amazing superpowers with the fearlessness of little tree kings. Fun adaptation of the prompt, Doug!

      • Doug Jacquier

        Thanks, Charli.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Boom-tish 🙂

    • Jules

      Gotta what them little ones all the time! That’s why Mommies have eyes in the backs of their heads!

      • Doug Jacquier

        …an d some Daddies, like this one. 😉

  9. Norah

    Turquoise shirt. We know who this one is, but she’s tackling a calf rather than a goat. I wish you success with completing your draft and revising in NaNoWriMo, Charli. Every step is a step closer to completion. So much writing going on in this rodeo. It’s a whirlwind – it will be tough for anyone to keep up. I wonder how many will TUFF it out. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! You recognized the color, Norah. Calves would have been next had I a kid career in rodeo. Thank you, I’m hoping to find a way through, taking all the steps needed. Yes, it is a whirlwind of words this Rodeo! Time will reveal the TUFF.

      • Norah

        We’ll get carried along in that whirlwind of excitement.

      • Charli Mills

        Like a fast merry-go-round!

    • Norah

      Here’s my story: https://norahcolvin.com/2020/10/13/kid-gloves-flashfiction/
      Kid Gloves for Sale
      Wolf covered his sinister smile with a pleasant facade as he organised a stall between Little Red Hen’s Home-Made Bread and Pig Brothers’ Home Improvements. Dinner could wait. He was hoping for a killing of another kind — monetary — selling his home-made kid gloves.
      When an unlikely pair of cowpokes enquired about the origins of his leather, he was evasive. When asked his whereabout the previous week, he attempted to flee; but the recently deputised Pal and Kid were too fast and snapped on the hand cuffs. “We arrest you for the disappearance and suspected murder of seven little kids.”

      • Liz H

        Wow! Mystery sleuthed, masterfully solved!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Liz.

      • suespitulnik

        Great take on the prompt. I chuckle aloud!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Sue. I’m so pleased. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Great blend of tales, including the Ranch Yarns! Pal and Kid make good deputies. Very clever, Norah!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. Pal and Kid were deputised at the last minute. Literally. ????

      • Jules

        Oh, no not seven little kids! Nasty Wolfie.

      • Norah

        Yeah. He is. But you do know where our kid gloves come from, don’t you?

      • Jules

        …Ostrich or Roos?

      • Norah

        Kids. Are we any better than the wolf?

      • Jules

        Native peoples all over the world used every piece of an animal, not just the meat. But then some even asked the animal permission to kill it… so they (the people) could live.

        I knew a person who always made it a point when someone asked about her kids… to say I don’t have any baby goats, but my children are just fine thank you.

      • Norah

        I know. I’m not sure what other parts of the baby goats are used, or how their mothers feel. There are many ways of looking at it.

      • Jules

        Kind of like ‘road kill’ – I had read an article once where a family didn’t go looking for it… but if it was fresh enough they’d take it home, ‘dress it’ and use it – free meat.

        Folks have been known to eat rabbit, squirrel, other rodents, swab (pigeon), cat, dog and snake.

      • Norah

        All kinds of animals and plants.

  10. Jules

    Dear Charli,

    We all have unique childhoods. I think you gained much with yours. I don’t have any ranch experience so I went in a different direction with:

    No Kidding?

    The old woman kept her kid gloves on the table under the arc that divided the entryway of her apartment to the living space. It was not her intent to illude anyone. Unable to elude her own aging waiting for her own imagined ark to sail her permanently away into the heavens. She wore the kid gloves when she had company she wanted to allude to the perfect hands she once had, her fingers now knobby and bent from arthritis.

    When the young Cub Scout came to interview her, she smiled. He politely did not ask about her gloves.

    ©JP/dh

    All the definitions are at my post of illude, elude and allude.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, we are all unique souls with different experiences, Jules. That’s why voice is the one writer’s attribute that can set each of us apart and make creativity an endless succession of output. Follow what you know. Fun use of illude, elude and allude.

  11. H.R.R. Gorman

    That was such a cool video! Thanks for sharing.

    • Charli Mills

      It was like a window back in time and yet good to see it’s a culture that still has some keepers of the traditions. I know longer remember how to throw that loop.

  12. TanGental

    Another side to Logan, today…

    ‘Morgan! Where are you?’
    ‘Hang on, I’m… what’s got into you?’
    ‘Nothing.’
    ‘So why do you sound like you’re being mugged and why are you standing on a table?’
    ‘It’s… there… oh god! It’s coming…’
    ‘A spider? You’re an agoraphobe?’
    ‘Arachnophobe. Can you…?’
    ‘Squish it? Sure. I…’
    ‘Nooo. Just get it outside.’
    ‘What is an agoraphobe?’
    ‘Can we do this later? Please take it outside but don’t hurt it.’
    ‘You want me to use kid gloves?’
    ‘You can use lead-lined gauntlets if you’ll just take it outside.’
    ‘First tell me. Agoraphobe? Or I’m not going outside.’
    ‘Exactly.’
    ‘?’

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, no — this is a stand off! Which fear will be overcome? Which friend will succumb to the other? This reminds me that its the season for wolf spiders to get frisky in the basement.

      • TanGental

        now there’s a link I’m not sure I want to interrogate

      • TanGental

        ah, you know how to make a lad glow…

  13. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Unquenched

    He left them in the dugout without speaking. More than thirst might make his voice crack. Carrying the shovel, work gloves feathering out of his back pocket, he hoped he appeared confident to his family.
    He arrived at the spring, the once muddy surface now flaked, dried and split like old leather. He methodically pulled his gloves on, grasped the shovel and bent to his work, one scoop at a time. Each thrust of the blade was a prayer, each going unanswered until finally he stopped.
    Under a blistering blue sky he held his head in his gloved hands.

    • Charli Mills

      How we take for granted the taste of water.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Here it is in 59 words, another’s pov:

        She watched him go. As always his gloves were tucked into his back pocket, proud tail feathers as he strode off, shovel in hand. Swirling dust dogged his steps.
        She looked up into another cloudless sky. Her little girl had wondered could there be heaven if there weren’t any clouds.
        She prayed he’d find water in the sunbaked earth.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, nice! Thanks for showing folks how to use TUFF!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        It’s not so tough when it’s not Romance…
        In this case the second one came pretty easily and I was curious to see a different perspective on the glove story I’d attempted.

    • Liz H

      Pray for rain and dig for sweet treasure!

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      You capture so much in your 99 words and then trim it down to 59! Smart work and without even Kid and Pal looking over your shoulder.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Those two are out and about; you might look over your own shoulder.

  14. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    Charli, I’ve gone for a metaphorical take on kid gloves, along with a post linking the therapy journey with your hero’s journey. I’m sure you’ll be interested, but you might need to wait until you are less busy to check it out. My 99-word story is entitled
    The seven essential types of glove
    and here’s the post:
    The therapy journey and narrative structure https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2020/10/the-therapy-journey-and-narrative-structure.html

    • Charli Mills

      Now, that’s an interesting link I can’t pass up, Anne!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Thanks for visiting. Hope it didn’t drag you away from your thesis for too long.

  15. suespitulnik

    Hi Charli,

    Your young goat rodeoing sounds delightful. Your schedule now sounds frightful…I’m rooting for you to accomplish it all…

    Unused Kid Gloves

    Tessa called Michael’s sister. “I got my divorce papers today and when I put them away in the hutch drawer I noticed a pair of exquisite men’s goat skin gloves I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t want to ask Michael about them just in case…”
    Becca’s laugh stopped Tessa’s comment. “I gave those to him thinking he would wear them while learning to wheel his chair. He informed me he didn’t want prissy hands with no calluses and I never saw them again. I am flattered he kept them. If they’re in that drawer, I wouldn’t mention finding them.”

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sue! I’m wrestling a goat of a different kind these days. I laughed at the conversation between Tessa and Becca, but also understood Michael’s sense of pride.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      That drawer.. the one where things that never get used but don’t get thrown away go until somehow it jams and can’t even be opened.

      • suespitulnik

        Long ago prompt of “What’s in your hutch?” This drawer contains Michael’s PTSD triggers.

  16. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Anita!

  17. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Padre!

  18. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Frank!

  19. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Chel!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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