November 5: 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.

November 5, 2020

Wandering the pebble beach at McLain State Park, I lose track of time. I walk from the car through a forest rooted in eons of compacted sand dunes to emerge above the water. Lake Superior eats her shoreline like a sea-creature and the edge of the forest drops into her maw. For now, Lady Lake’s waves loll like the tongue of a placid pet. All it takes is for another gale to blow and she’ll bulldoze rocks to shore with bare teeth.

I follow the sandy trail to where it dips down a slope. It’s too fresh and granular to hold a path, and with each step, my feet sink and launch tiny avalanches of sand. A few months ago, the base of this transition zone formed a ten feet edge of sandy beach. Now, long ridges of rocks ranging in size from mangoes to huckleberries bury the beach.

Chaos is not without order. I notice the uniformity of different ridges and note the ones most likely to contain agates based on size. I’m searching for bars of rocks the size of purple grapes. I look for hints of copper in the bigger stones and readily find a water-worn piece of basalt with nodules of pyrite. The mineral forms cubes; the water prefers rounded edges.

With all the time in the world, water wins over rock.

It’s November. Winter arrives early to the Keweenaw. In fact, we had our first 2020 gale on September 3, two months ago. Littered leaves and people clad in knit hats slide into descending temperatures and accumulating snow. Already, our jut of land surrounded by Lake Superior has measured 11 inches of snow. So, you might be surprised to learn that I came to the lake today to swim. We have a rare break in the plummet to winter. It’s warm-ish and sunny.

On my head, I’m wearing a thick cable-knit hat. I’ve layered a swim top beneath a t-shirt, thermal long-sleeved shirt, and a down vest with a wool lining. But I wore my quick-dry kayak bottom that extend to my ankles and water shoes. Already, my exposed fingers are cold and I’m thinking this is a bad idea. Earlier in summer when I played in the waves with one of my local friends, she told me that some years you can swim in Lake Superior in November. I was captivated by the idea.

Today, with a stiff breeze clipping off the waves, fingers, and exposed ankles feeling the cold, I’m less captivated by a November dip in the lake. Undaunted, or stubborn, I must try. First, I circulate my blood by picking sun-warmed rocks. Each stone I touch holds heat. My hat itches and my head begins to feel hot. Time to dip my feet.

Cold can burn all the way to the marrow of bone.

I clench my teeth and reason the pain will soon pass. What a ridiculous thought, like sticking your hand in boiling water, expecting to adjust to the sensation. There is a reason our bodies react with alarm to extremes. I tolerate the pain for a full three minutes deciding I’m not here to prove any masochistic tenancies. Whatever romantic notion I held about swimming in Lake Superior in November vanish. I can say, I stood in Lake Superior in November and froze my ankles. I escape with all ten toes still attached.

Not one to waste time at the shoreline, I walk the water’s edge. I pluck a few wishing stones and pick up favosite — quartz-fossilized coral from ancient seas that existed long before glacier came and receded. Some of the fossils retain the shape of their honey-comb heads and other glitter with crystals. I collect enough to hold in each hand and sit in the sun-warmed rocks, close my eyes, and follow my breath in meditation.

When I stand up, I find time had been sitting next to me in the form of a 1982 rubber watch still as brown as the day it was lost. Objects make great props in the hands of fictional characters. They can initiate a story or provide a twist. I ponder this 38-year old cheap accessory, realizing that someone in the 1980s might have treasured it.

Lost time is the stuff that fuels the imagination.

November 5, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about lost time. You can write a realistic scenario or something speculative. How does lost time impact the character of your story? Bonus points if you include a 1982 brown rubber watch Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 10, 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 now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Not Her World by Charli Mills

Ivie stashed her digital watch in a pile of discarded clothes, ready to dive into Superior. She waved at her dad and brother bobbing in the lake. When she emerged, her family had vanished, the beach became a sterile room. Medical equipment pulsed and wheezed. Nurses initiated a flurry of activity until the room swelled with old people claiming to be her relatives. Ivie requested her watch to check the date and time for herself. A bearded geezer claimed it was lost the day of her accident. That’s when she knew. Ivie dove through time to a strange world.


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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    There was no time lost by you in this latest MacLain adventure! You got 99 words and another prompt for us. I thought maybe the prompt was going to come from “Cold can burn all the way to the marrow of bone.” Funny when cold burns, but it does. I was at the waterfall recently, another perspective on the sunset (4:30!) and as always when there, thinking how “With all the time in the world, water wins over rock.” They know each other’s stories, Water and Rock. I heard them today from my kayak, murmuring, content. For now.
    Cool flash, but Ivie may want to take another dip.

    • Jules

      I remember dipping in freezing waterfall with black rocks in Maui…
      I go not recall if I dunked my head. But I did get in up to my neck – Once you are numb, nothing seems to matter. And then you get out and you freeze – even in Maui!

    • Charli Mills

      D., that’s a conversation I like to tune into, the ongoing one between Water and Rock. It happens at some fantastic places like that waterfall of yours (4:30 is sunset, now, eh?). We have an hour longer, being on the tail-end of your time. That cold burns, but I thought we’d wander timeless.

  2. denmaniacs4

    Time Bus

    “Been waiting long?”

    “I don’t know. Hour, maybe? Two months?”

    “What’s time’s it supposed to be here?”

    “Schedule’s on that pole. Didn’t look.”

    “How come? Not curious?”

    “Just didn’t, that’s all. Look, don’t look, it’ll come when it does.”

    “Makes sense. Think I’ll take a boo.”

    “Be my guest.”


    “Hmm what?”

    “That’s odd.”


    “Took a look…”

    “At the schedule?”



    “Well, it’s kinda confusing.”

    “It’s a schedule. They’re all confusing. That’s why I don’t bother.”

    “Not that kind of confusing.”

    “What kind, then?”

    “It says…Time Bus Leaving When It’s Your Time.”


    “What time you got?”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Oh, that’s a magic bus, but what kind of magic?

    • Jules

      Reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode where the guy gets off the train and finds himself in a wonderful town… The conductors and passengers though wonder why the guy… jumped off! The last scene was the ambulance loading the body…

      • larry trasciatti

        Willoughby….Next stop, Willoughby

      • Jules

        Yes, exactly!!

      • larry trasciatti

        Jason (‘Archie Bunker’s Place’ )Wingreen even played the conductor

      • Jules

        I am not good with TV or regular stars. I’ll take your word for it. I do recall The original Archie Bunker…Never saw the spin off. Just took a look see. Yup… a younger version though.

        I think we might be living in some Zone… not sure which one though. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      That’s not a bus I’d wait for, Bill.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Brilliant piece. Monty Python meets Rod Serling.

    • Norah

      Somehow I think we’re all going to catch that bus at some point. I’m not going to hang around waiting though. 🙂

      • denmaniacs4

        I live on an island where there is no public transportation yet that bus still keeps coming. A neighbour is waiting for it now…

      • Norah

        Take care. I hope the journey is peaceful for your neighbour.

    • Gloria

      A bit like the bus you might find in Alice in Wonderland! 🙂

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Time of Hands

    “Tellin’ ya Pal, I’m glad vacation’s done. It’s easier knowin’ how ta spend time when ya ain’t got so much free time.”
    “Thet’s true Kid. I thought it’d be a good time visitin’ my cuzzins, but ended up more like doin’ hard time.”
    “Ya spend any time at the Rodeo?”
    “Was gonna but time flew. You?”
    “Dang goats took too much a my time. I was ferever roundin’ ‘em up.”
    “Once upon a time thet’s how Shorty got started rodeoin’— ropin’ goats.”
    “She’s put her time in, fer sure.”
    “Yep. Her time’s comin’. Now move, Kid. Time ta work.”

    • Charli Mills

      I wonder if Pal lost time among turnips? Kid chasing goats is what I feel like I do every day trying to catch time. Time ta write!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        That’s for another spinoff serial- As the World Turnips

      • Charli Mills

        I’m mashing it, now! All Our Chives!

    • Norah

      I think that pair has too much time on their hands. 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Reckon that’s why Shorty set them up with a Saloon, trying to keep them busy.

      • Norah

        And look how that worked. ????

    • Gloria

      Reminds me of some of my cuzzins…hard work! :-0

  4. Liz H

    Still a little wobbly, as we all wait. But no matter the outcome on the upper levels, we still have our own work to do, down here…is it time lost, or time spent renewing sense of purpose?

    Time Lost

    Elbows on bent knees,
    Hands dangle between, wings on a gentle-breezed bird.
    Butt planted, chilly on Autumnal Earth.
    Grass spent, golden and crackling
    Under a sky sharp as blue porcelain.
    Leaves flicker down from balding trees,
    The memories still, cut deep…
    [Continue ]

    • Charli Mills

      Wobbly, perhaps, as we recognize the healing we need to do, the gaps we need to bridge and the work, we the people have before us. Good call to wait it out and recharge on the hilltop. Uplifting flash for our times, Liz.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Entrancing and beautifully imagined, Liz.

      • Liz H

        Thanks, Doug!

  5. Jules


    Your flash reminds me of shows I’ve watch where folks loose time because of accidents. We knew a gal who was in a bad accident, while she wasn’t in a coma, she did loose some memories as well as some of her motor skills and had to start a very long recovery process.

    I got just a tad lost in the mountains today. The hike up – as well as down I needed all of my concentration. I didn’t make the summit. But I did take some photos of the Delaware River. My story however continues my Damned Family series (I went were the prompt lead):

    (17) Damned Family

    Jesse paced the Presidential Suite, an escape gifted by Uncle Stan. The dishes in the kitchen sink was proof that she had made something to eat. But what it was she couldn’t recall. Or how long ago she had actually eaten – she didn’t remember.

    The curtains were closed, only minimal light illuminated the path that Jesse had created from the Master suite, around the dining table and the sitting area. She unplugged all the clocks, and landline phones. As well as turning off her flip phone. Sleep meant she might dream. Jesse wanted to lose time and some memories.


    • Charli Mills

      What a lovely hike that must have been, Jules. With the leaves gone, I bet the view was expanded. Head injuries have a long time to heal. The Hub’s high school girlfriend was struck by a car her first year at college. She was riding her bike, no helmets back then. It didn’t strike her hard but she hit her head when she landed. She’s been in a coma ever since. What would she think of the world if she woke up today?

      I like how your character is wanting to lose time and memories, deepening the mystery.

      • Jules

        If we had gone last week as planned there would have been snow! As it was we have almost spring like weather and many folks were out up the trail. We got one of the last parking spots in the lot we chose to enter. I did get some nice photos. Today we just went on a local sort of linear trail – easier on the knees. And one of my favorite photos was of a moth that paused just long enough for me to photograph it. We were hoping to get on the water (In a canoe or kayak), but well being November that option wasn’t on the table. So we’re back home.

        I cannot imagine a person being in a coma for so long. I think a while back there was a flurry of news about a family that had finally chose to let their loved one go… I think though there were other medical difficulties as well.

        I think perhaps our world is no stranger than if we had a great grand still living and we were comparing apples to oranges believing they were the same fruit. Certainly the world has more people in it… and the technology is like magic.

      • Norah

        Still in a coma! That’s tragic. ????

    • Gloria

      I read this on your blog just now. I see from the other comments that this is part of a bigger story? Interesting.

      • Jules

        Yes,… on the post I have a link to the series. Another Blogger challenged me to continue a 99 word story that I started earlier this month at Carrot Ranch and I’ve been adding to it. But I try and make the segments readable even if you haven’t read the whole thing… and you don’t have to. 🙂

      • Gloria

        Great idea. I should read the others so! ????

      • Jules

        Read them only if you’d like. You don’t have to comment on any of them… I write because I like to, and was encouraged to continue.

      • Gloria

        I would like to!

      • Jules

        ~Thank you. Before you go off on the links… Check your email please.

      • Gloria

        Got your mail Jules. Thanks ????

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      This flash does a good job of portraying a sense of lost time, that sleepy twilighty zone feel. (I’d rather be lost on a mountain)

      • Jules

        *I was lost on a mountain trail as a younger person… But I found my way back myself.*

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Leanne! Can you check your link, or is this not yet posted? I’ll check back.

      • Leanne

        Hi Charli! It’s not posted yet. I’m using this submission for two writing challenges and using this one for tomorrow’s entry.

      • Charli Mills

        Okay! I just wanted to make sure. Thanks!

  6. Doug Jacquier

    Here’s my take on this week’s challenge. Standing by for bonus points, Charli. 🙂

    The Brown Rubber Watch

    The Great Crisis of the History of the Universe included the collapse of the Daylight Savings Bank. Claims were made (but never verified), that people were seen leaping from the clock face of Big Ben, in despair at the plummeting value of their Time shares. The only asset holding its value was the Futures market, dominated by Brown Brothers, which had a history of bouncing back like a rubber ball, no matter the catastrophe. Elections and the virus disappeared from screens as the world settled into nervously searching for signs of recovery, later known as the Brown Rubber Watch.

    • Liz H

      Yeah, this definitely deserves those bonus points. Tricky!! 😀

    • Ruchira Khanna

      Bonus points well deserved 🙂

    • Norah

      You get those bonus points. No doubt.

    • Gloria

      Top marks for this one Doug!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Yeah. Take those bonus points to the bank. Quickly.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Why, do you think they might bounce? 😉

    • Charli Mills

      I have a new appreciation for the brown rubber watch, Doug! A well imagined use of the prompt, object found, and current events. May we all recover lost time. Bonus points earned!

  7. Hugh W. Roberts

    I love your piece of flash fiction, Charli. What an incredible piece of writing. And I enjoyed spending time with you on the shoreline of Lake Superior looking for pieces of time that were once lost but which were found again after the planet it’s all a part of has circled its star over 40 times.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Hugh! It’s good to share the Lake’s treasures with you.

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        No piece of flash fiction from me for this challenge due to a death in the family. ‘Lost Time’ was also right up my street. But I hope to be back next week, Charli.

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    So, what I did here was use Colleen’s ennead form of 6,5,11,6,5 syllables in three stanzas for 99 syllables but I kept going until I also got to 99 words, so sorry Colleen this is 128 syllables in 99 words.

    Give my watch back to me
    Lost since ‘83
    Relic of time— brown rubber band, hands that wind,
    Never thought I would see
    its face again; Sea

    scratched; etched and lined
    not so unlike mine
    Time-keeper losing faith; time come back to me
    Covering sands march blind
    measuring marked time

    Not for the watch these tears
    Thirty-seven years!
    It’s the time that went (foolishly spent) I want
    In a flash, disappeared!
    Suddenly I’m Here.

    Another flash, lost time
    No reason, some rhyme
    Give me my watch, give me back the time it’s seen
    Its stories, its drawn lines

    • Ruchira Khanna

      Loved it!!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Thank you but I see I messed up, but can fix it if I substitute “sand-blasted” for “scratched” in the second stanza.

    • Norah

      Wonderful, and timely.

    • Gloria

      I’m imagining finding an old watch of mine, and wondering what memories it would bring flooding back to me!

    • Jules

      You only messed up if you say so. Maybe you just misplaced a t, i, m, and an e? 😉

    • Charli Mills

      What a syllabic 99 treat! I think Colleen will forgive the added syllables for the 99 words. A wonderful plea for lost time.

  9. Norah

    You were so brave to test the November water, Charli. But sense won over the foolhardy, I’m pleased to hear. I thought I might try a dip in our November pool. The water was almost warm enough. Now we’ve had a drop in temperature and overcast days again, so I might be waiting for December as usual.
    I love the imagery you use in your post and was especially captivated by this: ‘Lake Superior eats her shoreline like a sea-creature’. How beautiful.
    I enjoyed your flash too. What a rude awakening.
    I’m wondering about the watch in your post though – do you think it may a done a bit of time travel? ????

    • Ruchira Khanna

      I agree Norah. Charli’s weaved those words beautifully when she was on the shore of Lake Superior. I too wondered what would the watch with the brown strap say? (An autobiography!)

      • Norah

        Will you write that autobiography, Ruchira?

      • Charli Mills

        Maybe memoir, Ruchira! “My Lost Time at the Beach” by a Watchful Observer.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Boom-tish 🙂

      • Norah


    • Norah

      Hi Charli,
      I’m back with my story.

      Out of Time

      “Time’s up!”
      “Not yet! I’m not finished.”
      Mallory stared at the page, blank except for some scribbles and a few false starts. Others smiled as they handed in their papers, earning accolades and rewards for tasks successfully completed.
      “Please, just a little more time?”
      “You’ve already had more than most.”
      “I can do it. Promise.”
      The timekeeper tapped the watch. “Five more. That’s all.”
      Mallory worked frantically until the timekeeper declared, “You’re out of time.”
      Mallory smiled, “It’s never too late to begin.”
      The timekeeper agreed. “But you could have achieved much more had you not wasted time earlier.”

      • Gloria

        The time keeper is right! 😉

      • Norah

        Thanks, Gloria.

      • Jules

        Much time is wasted in figuring out how to start. I remember on essay exam… I’d finished before everyone – got another blank exam book and rewrote it all pretty and still was done in half the time – and I believe I did get a good grade too.

      • Norah

        Well done, Jules. You’re the queen! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        A life lesson, but also a sign of a mind that might have trouble getting to the corral for the ride. I understand this kind of lost time!

      • Norah

        Time – sometimes we don’t know how precious it is until it’s gone.

    • Charli Mills

      Sense often has trouble keeping up with Foolhardy when I spark an Idea. Good thing, I’m satisfied to write out most of my ideas than to attempt them. What temperature do you prefer your swimming water, Norah?

      Ha! Yes, I think that watch has time traveled! But is it irony or destiny for time to travel thus?

      Thank you. I wish to show you the sea creature some day!

      • Norah

        I agree. I’d rather read about the adventures than test them out in person.
        I think 27-28 C (81 F) is a comfortable swimming temperature for my pool. I can do 25 if I’m brave. 🙂
        Irony or destiny? That’s a good question. Are you winding me up? ????
        I’d love you to show me that sea creature. 🙂

  10. Kerry E.B. Black

    What a fun speculative piece, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Kerry! Once in a while, realism crosses over. 😉

  11. TanGental

    Time Bandit

    ‘Here we are.’
    ‘Are you sure this is a new motel. It feels the same.’
    ‘There’s no ashtray.’
    ‘Small mercies. I’m losing track of time.’
    ‘You’ve never cared about time.’
    ‘Very Einstein, Morgan. What’s that even mean?’
    ‘You’re never on time.’
    ‘I’ve never missed a plane.’
    ‘What about that old brown watch? It was always fast.’
    ‘It meant I knew I had more time than I thought I did. What about you? Your watch never even went.’
    ‘At least it was right twice a day.’
    ‘Which is more than could be said for its owner.’
    ‘It was dad’s.’

    • Gloria

      Because I’m not a great time keeper (but much better than I was) my husband puts the clocks forward to fool me. It kinda works….even though I know they’re fast. I have myself tricked into being tricked! Hahahaha….

      • TanGental

        It works doesn’t it. I think it’s the underlying fear that this time it might just have slipped to the right time…

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Are these two growing weary of their time traveling the states?
      I like how Morgan shushed Logan.

      • TanGental

        They are stuck in a space time conundrum… not sure they will ever get away from the motel life… and where are the goats?

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        In the back of the rental car last I knew…
        Maybe the lads should get a tent, try camping for a change.

    • Charli Mills

      Punctual is so precise. It says a lot about a person but who is happier at the end of it all, I wonder. Philosophical, these two stuck in a motel time warp.

  12. Ann Edall-Robson

    Friendship of Time
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Whirr, bong, bong, bong. The old clock echoed through the dark house. He counted hollow sounds off in his mind. His trusted friend spoke to him hourly. And so his days and nights went. The mantle clock kept him in sync with the goings-on in the house. When the neighbour would drop by for his lessons in braille and sign language. When his family would come home from their day to lavish him with news and gossip of the world outside his personal cave. The accident had cost him, but he had not lost the friendship of time.

    • Norah

      I think it’s good to have time as a friend.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        I couldn’t agree more, Norah.

    • Gloria

      Interesting thought that. Time as a friend. Maybe I should think of time as being my friend rather than being a nuisance. As in…..I’m forever saying, ‘Oh no…is that the time already?’
      ‘I haven’t time for that.’
      ‘Where has the time gone?’
      I might change my mindset!

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Gloria, I think we all say those things at some time or another.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Those kinds of clocks are more rare these days. And town clocks, I like those too that bong at the hour. The reveal at the end of your flash reveals how important those time keeping ticks, tocks and bongs can be.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        And don’t forget the wind-up clocks that sat on the nightstand. Winding it up was the last thing you did before crawling under the covers and hearing its tick tick tick lull you to sleep.

        My grandmother used to say a colicky baby or an orphan calf that had to be brought in were much happier hearing the sound of a clock ticking. Something about it sounding like a mother’s heartbeat.

      • Gloria

        I find the ticking of a clock quite comforting.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Last time I shopped for a watch (ages ago) I was ticked that there were no wind up watches available. Yep, I remember those clocks you speak of, and that the puppies or kittens would be comforted by it. Here in the AFrame the clock on the wall, though battery powered, ticktickticks and it goes nicely with the flame in the woodstove. And no green or red glow in the dark lights, just that tickticktick and flickering flames.

    • Jules

      I like the positive outlook and befriending time!

    • Charli Mills

      As I ponder your story, Ann, I’m reminded of meditation. Slowly counting breaths in and out can be a calming exercise and I think about the clock this character hears and how it becomes a comfort, like breathing. well done!

  13. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    I’m not sure I filled in the form properly so here it is – a sad one this week:
    by M J Mallon

    Stan picked up an imaginary sand timer, turned it over and watched as the grains of sand ran. He didn’t say a word. His grandchildren were playing on the beach building sandcastles, oblivious to his moment of sadness. On his wrist, he wore a 1982 brown rubber watch. It was now 2020. The watch had long since given up ticking, but he’d never throw it out. It would be terrible to do so. The watch belonged to his beautiful wife and brought back happy memories.

    June died in 1983, was never fancy but always special.

    • Ruchira Khanna

      I loved it Marje. It had the right emotions sprinkled as the grandfather reminisces about his wife thanks to the watch.

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Aww thank you Ruchira. Feeling emotional, so perhaps this is why I wrote this.

    • Norah

      That’s sad but touching, Marje, filled with emotion. And you get the bonus points too.

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Thanks Norah. Always good to aim for a bonus. Lol.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Nicely done. Maybe time doesn’t heal all wounds. And bonus points for you!

    • Charli Mills

      The isolation of longing for a loved one while others continue on is keenly felt, Marj. And you did successfully upload!

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Oh good to know. Thanks Charli.

  14. Chel Owens

    What a beautiful description of your time at the lake, Charli. I hope all your toes are still attached!

    • Charli Mills

      One, two, three…yep! All good, no frostbite. Thanks, Chel.

    • Norah

      Lovely, Ruchira. I like the way you told it from the watch’s point of view.

    • Gloria

      Hi Ruchira. This one wins for me. It gave me a big fat smile! Well done. ????????

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, you did it — the watch’s memoir of that time. Well done, Ruchira!

  15. Gloria

    I remember those watches so well. Fun memories!

    Here my 99 words of lost time.


    Rose opened the shabby old shoebox.
    ‘All my favourite things,’ she said softly with her hand on her heart. ‘You kept them.’
    She rummaged through the box and lifted out a brown rubber watch.
    Laughing she said, ‘Matt gave me this when we were eight.’
    Nancy dabbed her eyes with her hanky. ‘I’m so sorry Rose…and ashamed. I’ve missed so much.’
    ‘We all have Mam. I’m sorry too, for staying away.’
    The doorbell rang. ‘Are you ready?’ Rose asked.
    Nancy nodded. Yes, she was at last ready to welcome her son-in-law Matt, and to finally meet her twenty-eight-year-old grandson.

    • Norah

      They have lots of missed time to catch up on. Nicely done – for bonus points too.

      • Gloria

        Thank you Norah!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      This happens. Such a shame. But what a positive story of making up for lost time; better late than never. That shoe box says a lot. Well crafted flash!

      • Gloria

        Thanks D. It really does happen a lot. Nice when people make up and move on. Life’s too short.

    • Charli Mills

      Did you have one, Gloria? I had to chuckle because I would have been that kid with a brown watch. Not now — I’m all about the bright colors.

      You fashioned a complete story, leading us from regret to hope. I like how you worked the brown watch into the treasured items from childhood. Well done.

      • Gloria

        I did have one Charli, but it was red! Good ole 80’s ????
        Thanks for reading and taking time to comment!

    • Jules

      Always did like a story with a bunny and farie…

    • Charli Mills

      A speculative twist! Yes!

  16. Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

    I’m glad you didn’t go in the water, Charli. That could have been you in your fun time-travelling 99-word story!

    Of course, we don’t have it quite so cold here but plenty of people do swim outdoors year-round, and there are various Christmas/New Year rituals where people take the plunge.

    As for that watch you found, it sounds very like one I still have – minus its plastic strap – which makes a very useful stopwatch (and cheap so no big worries about losing it). I’m sure I got mine a little later than 1982 but it would be that decade – all the fun runners had them for checking if we’d beaten our PBs (personal best). I now carry with me as a navigation tool.

    I’ve spent the weekend intensely focused on some tech for a promo which has sparked a rather silly/philosophical thingamajig on losing time.

    I’m hosting a six-novel giveaway competition – unfortunately only readers in the UK can claim the prize:

    PS. Time must be trying to tell you something as the date’s a week out in your image!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ha! Good eye! Her date’s way off, decades have passed since October.
      And now I’m off to annecdotal, a time churning rabbit hole if ever there was one. But I’ll pack a snack, leave breadcrumbs and return the wiser for the adventure.

      • Charli Mills

        I changed the date and still got it wrong, lol!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I’m back in a flash this week. And a fine fun flash it was, well worth the time.

    • Charli Mills

      We have a polar plunge in the winter, too and sometimes they have to cut away the ice to get to the water. I’ll just wait until spring!

      Anne, your watch does indeed sound similar to the one I found. I recognize PB. My son and daughter-in-law are both runners and in college PB was a thing that mattered. Are fun runners like cross country runners? I used to like to run a horse…

      This week, I think it’s still this week, who knows, I’m struggling with dates as you noticed, is finals and I have tech to set up and it definitly robs time and brain cells.

      Best with your six-book give-away! I’d rather buy your books anyhow. 😉

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        No, fun runners are generally road runners, which is why I now have dodgy knees.
        Thanks for your willingness to buy my books. I look forward to when I can return the favour.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Absolutely top of your game here, Davery. Looking forward to more in the future. These lines in particular resonated with me:

      ‘Never thought I would see

      its face again; Sea

      scratched, sand-blasted; etched, lined

      not so unlike mine’

    • Charli Mills

      I agree with Doug on that passage. The whole piece is worthy of time.

  17. suespitulnik

    Hi Charli,

    You’re braver than I am. My toes wouldn’t have made it into the water. I agree with the others. I’m glad you didn’t take the plunge. We need you.
    And there’s time. I waste too much of it in a day doing silly puzzles. At least I can say my mind is busy.
    I’m enjoying the rodeo results and thriving on everyone’s creativity. On to the prompt…

    Overcoming Obstacles

    Michael sat on the floor of the rehab room facing a young woman, wheelchairs beside both of them. Her leg stumps matched his. He said, “How did you pass the boot camp obstacle course? You appear too short to defeat the rock wall.”
    “You mean I was too short!” She stopped. He waited. “Another recruit showed me the trick.”
    “How long in hospital?”
    “Six months.”
    “That’s lost time, but if you’ll master getting into your chair from the floor they’ll let you learn to use legs back home.”
    “Nobody told me that.”
    “I just did.”
    “Show me how. Please.”

    • Jules

      Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.
      Just gotta listen…

    • Charli Mills

      It was worth a hope to dip once more, Sue! But, yes, too cold.

      Puzzles are not silly at all — good for the brain. I crave doing puzzles this time of year when I’m outdoors less.

      And thanks for tuning into the Rodeo results! I’m having fun gathering up and reading all the entries. Such great writing from everyone.

      Your story takes a turn and reveals the kind of perseverance soldiers need to carry their burden after the war. It’s a beautiful interaction you capture, when one soldier shows another the way.

    • Jules

      Sometimes just a little bit of attention at the right … time.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Larry! Thanks for joining in! I realized I already closed down the submission form and didn’t see your entry. If you want to be in the collection. Let me know and I’ll update it.

      • larry trasciatti

        Thanks I hope I can be in it please. It said the 10th but not a specific time of day

  18. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Frank!

  19. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Donna!

  20. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Leanne!

  21. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Anita!


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