February 25: 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.

February 25, 2021

I feel like I’ve belly-crawled out of the frozen tundra, my jeans and flannel shirt shredded, my fingers stiff and calloused. Grilled cheese sandwiches and Girl Scout Cookies have sustained me. I left for the wilderness beyond the lights of friendly campfires and the warmth of humanity. I’ve been away on a long journey, herding 71,625 words into a publishable novel. I’ve had to ride alone.

Todavía estoy aquí. I am still here.

It began in seventh grade when Mr. Price encouraged me to write longer spelling stories, inviting me to read them weekly to my classmates. He gave me a purpose, a way to process the wealth of stories that filtered through my soul. He gave me connection, the opportunity to step out of my shyness. He gave me a glimpse of what it means to write for an audience.

Fast-forward through a life dancing with a love of writing. An undergrad degree in 1998. A dream to finish a novel started as an independent project. Twenty years waiting, waffling, denying until the decision to pursue an MFA. A career behind me. A career before me. Sinking into the minutiae of writing a novel that’s been a haggard WIP since conception in 2008 when I grieved a dog, before I lost my home, before his dementia, when I could still connect the dots to retirement when I would write novels.

Displacement. Homelessness. Cognitive malfunction. It may as well be mine the way it colors everything in my life. Even in the wilderness I have to answer its call, be the reminder, be the constant. I wanted a full hermitage but it’s not possible. I weep for what I have and I weep for what I’ve lost, and still I plow through, refusing to let circumstances freeze my dreams to ice.

I could have chosen an easier task. But Mr. Price lit the fires I had built. How can I be anybody else but me?

That’s the thing about writing. It is a Process. Capital P. No skimming the surface. And when you think you’ve plunged the depths of humanity, you have to go deeper within yourself. The minutiae. Always the details. In the details we are unique. We all have mothers and fathers. We all breathe. We all drink water and sleep. We have interests and dislikes. Oh, but the details, the perspectives, the actions, the words and the stories. So much color and diversity.

We process all those details when we write. We are filters as writers. Miners.

Let me explain Process as I’ve come to know it. It comes under different headings. There is Creative Process — the way we catch and express literary art (for words are our medium). There are Mental and Emotional Processes — how we use thoughts and feelings in our art. There’s Structural Process — the forms we give our writing (99-words stories or 28 chapter novels). There’s Craft Process — the elements we use to express literary art. There’s a Drafting Process (pants or no pants), a Revision Process, an Editing Process and each can be separated into layers that must come before others (you don’t proof words you will cut in revision, therefore you revise before you proof). There’s Personal Process — how we discover ourselves in the world through writing.

It’s no joke that writing a novel can be compared to brain surgery or rocket science. You can draft a novel-length work in a relatively short time. How long it takes you is relative to how much Processing you are willing to do. The more Processing, the deeper the work. Notice I did not say “better.” That’s a false comparison. Writing is not a competition, unless, well, you enter one. Then you must heed the Processes asked of you as an entrant.

My MFA Program at SNHU began Process on day one. It will continue until May 1. At least for me. It has challenged me to dig deep into all the Processes. I discovered weakness in my strengths, strengths in my weaknesses. I formalized Processes to be able to repeat them and write more novels. I blew my own mind with discoveries. For example — writing elements. Did you know you can apply them differently in different processes? “Show Don’t Tell” needs to be “Show or Tell But Know The Difference.” You can apply the Show/Tell element differently at the Structural Process, differently at Drafting Process, differently at the syntax level of the Revision Process.

I went into the frozen wilderness to sort it out into what they call our thesis — a publishable novel. That means we have to tick the boxes for industry standards. As of 5 am this morning (or “last night” to my perspective) I completed my novel according to industry standards. I fell behind my schedule. I worked earnestly at my thesis, not even taking a break. In September, I knew I would not make the deadline AND tick all the boxes. I chose to write to standards.

Early in January, I freaked out because I couldn’t execute the revision process to standard. It wasn’t until I realized the separation and integration of the Processes that I began to make sense of it all. I have, since seventh-grade, struggled most with the syntax level of literary art. I broke free. Free at last! When I saw how elements work different at each Process level, I began to understand how to use them

As of this afternoon, 18 days late, I officially had my thesis approved. My knees are wiggly, my head dizzy, and I’m tired of grilled cheese sandwiches. I looked yo from my crawling out of the wilderness to see an oasis. All of you at Carrot Ranch.

D. Avery, Kid, Pal, and Friends have managed the reins in my absence. H.R.R. Gorman has united us all in surrounding and celebrating a fellow among us. Hugh Roberts plunged into his column, as did Colleen Chesebro with a new poetry feature at the Saddle Up Saloon. This is an amazing community of people who happen to read, write and make literary art. You are water to my parched throat.

It is good to be back!

NOTE: This weeks photo is courtesy of 47th North Belly Dance on a frozen Lake Superior off the Keweenaw Peninsula 2021.

February 25 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word frozen. It can be descriptive, character focused, action driven. Go out onto the ice and find a frozen story. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 2, 2021. 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.

I’m going to do something different just for this week. I’m going to share a 500-word excerpt from Miracle of Ducks. It’s a nod to what I’ve been working on in my absence and I wanted to share a small bite:

SNEAK PEAK: MOD by Charli Mills

Campbell left after he instructed Danni to retrieve their archaeological field camp beyond the safe zone the next morning. They expected the fire to move west. Despite borate bombers, the Cary Canyon Fire mushroomed.
Her cell phone buzzed, and she recognized the earlier unknown caller. “Hello, this is Dr. Danni Gordon.”
“Dr. Gordon, this is Sheila McLeod, public liaison for SandStorm Security.”
“Yes? Is this about my husband, Ike? He’s coming home.”
“There was an incident. In Iraq.”
Danni’s body tingled. The radio report. “I heard three servicemen were killed.”
“Yes, Ma’am. US Army. A joint operation with SandStorm. Your husband remains unaccountable. We’ve monitored communications. No ransoms, no forced statements, no recent… beheadings. His body has not turned up. We’ve listed him presumed dead.”
Danni sank to her knees. “Presumed?”
“We’ll follow protocol. If we have news, we’ll call.”
How long she sat on her knees, she didn’t know. Her deadened legs stumbled to rise. She staggered to the arena and horse stalls. Several Apache Hot Shots leaned on the fence. Their yellow fire retardant shirts clean. They hadn’t gone to the line. Everyone waited for the fire to explode.
“Yá’át’ééh,” one woman said.
Robotic, Danni returned the familiar greeting from undergrad summers among the Dine. Not Apache, she thought. “Yá’át’ééh.”
The group laughed. “So. The bilagaana speaks Navajo.”
Danni needed Blackjack. She ignored the women idled at his stall and climbed the fence.
Another said, “Hey. That horse is blind.”
Blackjack nickered and Danni opened his stall to the arena. Without tack, she guided him to the fence with sounds and firm touches. Using the wooden slats, she mounted her horse. He pranced.
Soft clods cushioned his steps. Freshly turned earth smelled like a womb. No gopher holes, rocks or blow downs impeded his stride. She wrapped her hands in his mane, guided his direction with her knees, and let Blackjack fly. The black and white pinto swooped, a magpie on hooves. Winter races with Ginnie and Cricket had restored his confidence. Throughout summer, Danni coached Ginnie to maneuver a cutting horse, and Ginnie taught Danni to barrel race a blind gelding. Two women waiting for husbands to return from a war zone. Blackjack knew the drill. Danni galloped and released her soul from the confines of panic. She fled beyond thoughts and emotions. Only her and a horse and the thunder of earth beneath them. They rode as one in figure eights. They spun. He reared, and they danced. Numb, she loped to the stall, startled to see a crowd of fire fighters gathered. She heard someone ask, “Who is that?”
The District Supervisor said, “She’s our archaeologist.”
“Dang,” one of the Apache Hotshots said, “That bone digger can ride.”
People chattered about the horse, the moves, the rider. A distraction from the grueling battle against flames. Danni rubbed Blackjack, checked his hooves.
Freya pushed through the gathering and scrambled over the fence. She said, “Rangers’ wives never quit.” Freya had heard the news.

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  1. Sarah Brentyn

    Huge congratulations, Charli. Well done! ???? Great excerpt from MOD. (P.S. Amazing photo!)

    • Norah

      I second all of that. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks, Norah!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sarah! Oh, yes, the belly dancers in blue on that ice flow is a spectacular shot! I can’t wait until they release their video.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        That’s your daughter’s group, right? (It really is spectacular.)

      • Charli Mills

        Yes, it is. They have continued to dance distanced and on Zoom.

  2. D. Avery

    Welcome back.
    The fire is warm here.

    • Norah

      I second that too.

    • Charli Mills

      D. and Norah, yes, the fire’s warm here and I’m uplifted to be back among the tapping keys, crackling campfire, and conversation.

  3. floridaborne

    No place to enter it, so I’ll put my frozen entry here:

    “Water is the stuff of life,” Muriel said. “I never thought it would be my cause of death.”

    Her husband, Roger, seventeen years older, drew closer to her. “I’m sorry I whisked you away from your family.”

    “For love,” Muriel cooed.

    Wedged in a crevice between the bridge and a rock outcropping, they shared warmth until there was no more to give. Daylight surrendered to the stars, behind it a winter storm blew through the pass, dumping 9 feet of snow.

    In spring, they were found, frozen statues intertwined. Muriel’s stepson hid his smile: Six million in life insurance.

    • Norah

      Great story. What a way to go.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

    • Ritu

      Wowzers! Now, I want to know more about that step son, and his hand in this…!

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

        Sinister people can be found in all families. My feeling is that had they not frozen to death, they might have met another demise.

      • Ritu

        I reckon so, too!

    • Charli Mills

      Oops! Got that fixed, Joelle.

      What a sinister twist. Great use of description for the passage of time.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

    • LucciaGray

      Wow, that is a great story in 99 words. Brilliant!????????

      • floridaborne

        Thank you for the encouraging words. 🙂

    • Ann Edall-Robson

      Great interpretation of the prompt. I wonder, will this will be the beginning, middle, or end to an expanded story?

      • floridaborne

        It’s an idea anyone is welcome to expand upon.

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      Wowser! What a great story. I just want to slap the grin off the step-son’s face! LOL! Excellent!

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

        There are far too many people in the world like that step-son. I’d envisioned the father married to a woman just like their son, who divorced her to find his soulmate.

    • Jules

      Ohh…. what a twist!

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

  4. Rebecca Glaessner Author

    Yay! Congratulations on the completion. My heart sings for you Charli. This part you’ve shared from it is powerful too, strengthened by the literary depths you speak of in the post above, all the depths of a lifetime of experiences and years of research you’ve worked so hard to grow through.

    Looking forward to this prompt!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for celebrating with me, Rebecca!

  5. Norah

    Congratulations, Charli. May you never have to have another cheese toastie or Girl Scout cookie. Unless you want to, of course. I’m so pleased for you that you have submitted and emerged with wings intact and ready to fly like Danni did on Blackjack. What power they found together in their ride. What power there is in your writing. I felt the depth of despair and the energy of the ride. I know this Miracle has been worth the wait.

    • denmaniacs4

      My four boxes of chocolate mint girl guide cookies arrived today. My partner said, “What were you thinking?” I said, “I’m learning to be impulsive, besides Charli…” and she said, “CHARLI doesn’t know I don’t like chocolate…or mint.”

      I had to agree. But they’ll sure taste good.

      • Norah

        Enjoy! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! Well, I hope you ordered your partner some lemon cookies!

      • Jules

        …Oh… I’m jealous – I haven’t found where to order any!!
        Yum on the chocolate mints!!! I used to get them at the tables in front of the grocery stores.

      • Charli Mills

        Jules, I found a Girl Scout through the veteran community. You can use the local finder at girlscoutcookies.org.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Norah! This book has been through the wringer, my learning novel. It feels liberating to let it fly as Danni did.

      • Norah

        It will fly!

  6. barbtaub

    Absolutely stunning excerpt! I can’t wait to review your finished book.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Barb!

  7. Anne Goodwin's Sugar and Snails is free in February

    Welcome back, Charli, and congratulations. So much in your essay but picked out this line:
    In the details we are unique.
    You share so much of your uniquieness and celebrate that of others.
    Huge thanks to those, especially D, who have kept the campfire burning so we wouldn’t freeze in your absence.

  8. ellenbest24

    You got there, I never doubted for one second that you would. Well done. Anyone who remembers just a short time ago, the woman husband and dogs who won through, some thoroughly awful times. Homeless and sometimes absolutely ground down by circumstance of life you clung on to the shards of rock, battling the roughest of seas. I knew, we all knew you would finish this. Your part is done the outcome/ result is not yours to affect. I If the snippet of your work is anything to go by … You have success to come. Xxx well done. I know you have encouraged and inspired me and probably every person here. ????????????????

    • Charli Mills

      Ellen, thank you for acknowledging the battle of circumstances and reminding me that my part is done. It makes my day if you and others find encouragement and inspiration to go another day, another page. <3

  9. Ritu

    I am ridiculously proud of you, Charli, though I don’t know if I even have the right to be! Huge congratulations to you!
    And that excerpt? Fantastic!
    I’ll be back with my 99-word nugget!

    • Charli Mills

      Ritu, I’m blessed to have you feel that way! Thank you!

      • Ritu


    • Ann Edall-Robson

      Cute, but oh so true. Well done.

      • Ritu

        It’s definitely a worst nightmare!

    • Doug Jacquier

      Hilarious. Well done.

      • Ritu

        Thank you!

    • Charli Mills

      I was rusty coming back online and forgot the form and a few other details. I’m rested and it’s sorted! Thanks for your flash.

      • Ritu

        You’re allowed to ease your way in, Charli!!

  10. Hugh W. Roberts

    So good to have you back at the Ranch, Charli. It may have been busy here, but you were missed. But congratulations on getting through that time of grilled cheese sandwichs and Girl Scout cookies. You made it down the road that creativity sometimes turns in to what looks like a rocky ride ahead. But those rocks are words that aid our journey and feed our imagination. You saw the light at the end of the tunnel and can now look back and congratulate yourself.
    Thank you for sharing the snippet of what you’ve been working on — fire and ice all in one post that makes it an enchanting read.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for the welcome, Hugh! I have missed you and all the ranchers. I love your vision of the rock on the road as words to our journey and feed our imagination. Ha! Yes, fire and ice in one post.

  11. joanne the geek

    Congratulations with your course. It’s good to have you back, we’ve missed you.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Joanne! I have missed you and all the ranchers, too!

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Such a lovely story of one-sided love. I think we’ve all been there, haven’t we?

    • Ann Edall-Robson

      Any thoughts on continuing this story, Joanne? It opens the door to so many options.

      • joanne the geek

        Usually the flashes I write are one-offs. I tend to prefer to let others imagine how it will play out.

    • Charli Mills

      I like the snapshots you write. They stay with me.

  12. joanne the geek

    By the way, I can’t see the form.

    • Charli Mills

      I forgot! It’s updated.

      • joanne the geek

        I tried again a few days later and it was there.

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, good!

  13. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Write Time

    “Kid, why’s thet grin froze on yer face?”
    “Pal! Guess what?”
    “What Kid?”
    “I writ a story. It’s got mystery an’ intrigue but reads realistic like.”
    “Where’s it set?”
    “The Ranch.”
    “Yep, real realistic, virtually. Who’s in it?”
    “Unless I fergot someone, ever’one.”
    “Ever fictional character we ever met up with or made up at the Ranch. ‘Cludin’ my pet pig puglet Curly. An’ guess what else Pal. It’s gonna git published soon, at Story Chat.”
    “Congrats, Kid. Ya must be real ‘cited ta have folks read an’ chat ‘bout yer writin’.”
    “Shift. Kid’s froze with fear.”

    • Nicole Horlings

      Haha. That’s great. Love the punny title 😛

    • Ann Edall-Robson

      Can’t wait to read more about this intriguing conversation between Kid and Pal.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        It’s a true story that this fictional character, A. Kid, wrote a story. I think Marsha is putting it out in a couple days. It’s also true that Kid is dreading this. Too late now.

    • Charli Mills

      A. Kid wrote first, froze second. That’s the way to do it. Great mystery and I learned something about gut feelings. To trust the kind that aren’t like Pepe’s and to not trust Pepe’s. Glad no butchers were involved!

  14. pedometergeek

    How exciting, Charli. Congratulations on this (and all your other) accomplishments! ~nan

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Nan.

  15. LucciaGray

    Hi Charli!
    Congratulations on finishing your thesis to the standards you required.
    I’m in the process of editing my novel, so I can imagine how you felt trying to meet deadlines and feel proud of your work.
    Welcome back to Carrot Ranch

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Lucy! Wishing you the best in your edits. It feels good to get to the last page. It’s good to be back!

  16. Colleen M. Chesebro

    OMG, Charli! I burst into tears after reading your selection for this week from your thesis/book! Your writing is riveting! Thanks for the opportunity to be part of such a loving and creative community. We got you, girl! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Colleen, thank you for feeling into that piece. You and all the ranchers uplift me! We are part of an amazing community filled with love and creativity. Thank you for being an integral part of the wheels that turn here.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        I feel that here at the ranch. It’s nice to be part of a creative community that likes to create! ??????

      • Charli Mills

        Yes! It inspires me.

  17. reading journeys

    Hi Charli,
    Congratulations on finishing your thesis!
    And welcome back to the Ranch!

    Lots to reflect upon in your post & the excerpt.
    And the photo is out of this world!


    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Saifun! It’s good to be back! Oh, yes that photo is from a dance performance they filmed on the ice. I’ll be sure to share the link.

  18. Donna Matthews

    Welcome back – we missed you! And bravo for all the hard work!!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Donna! I have missed you all, too!

  19. Nicole Horlings

    Welcome back! I love the implicit message that it’s never too late to chase your dreams. The excerpt was fantastic. I was really able to feel the emotions alongside the character.

    Here’s my story for this week:

    A Necessary Part of the Proceedings

    “Sir Gilbert, on trial for treachery and desertion,” one of his guards announced as they marched him into the bright throne room. He squinted up at the Queen, who stared haughtily back at him, clearly annoyed at the distraction from her leisure activities.
    “Off with his head,” she said emotionlessly, stifling a yawn.
    Gilbert’s jaw dropped. “I have an explanation for my actions. Don’t I have the right to defend myself?”
    “This that really a necessary part of the proceedings?” the Queen asked her advisor.
    “It is,” he agreed.
    “Fine,” she sighed, rolling her eyes. “Then explain yourself, traitor.”

    • Charli Mills

      It’s good to be back, Nicole! Yes — it’s never too late. In fact, we mature into our dreams. I’m so glad you could feel the emotion of the excerpt. Thank you.

      You build great tension between the prisoner and the queen, letting us feel the shock and dismay of her bored dismissal of a fair trial. Well done!

    • Charli Mills

      Beautiful story, Leanne!

      • Leanne

        Thanks Charli!

  20. denmaniacs4

    The meter sucks, the rhymes are a stretch…but it’s a personal tale deserving of 99 words…Pine Point 1969

    It was a shock to the system,
    of this Frontier College guy,
    dropped into a snow-swept,
    tundra under bright northern sky.

    A teacher of the English language,
    and the warm-blooded tool crib guy.
    Fifty below with wind chill
    And death when the arctic winds fly.

    A backdrop of constant blizzard
    Soil that nothing grows in,
    Skin sliced and scissored,
    facial baby hair frozen.

    This was life in a barracks,
    Wild mining camp lore,
    an open-pit of errors,
    an environmental war

    Though now a disassembled ghost town,
    Not among the chosen,
    A wilderness of darkness
    And memories, stark and frozen.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Great piece. Would love to see a longer version some time about that open-pit of errors.

    • Jules

      More than a ghost town… reminds me of some of the looks my (RIP) FIL would not relate of when he was in WWII. I’m sure some of those frozen memories he had chilled his bones – and he would not share them.

    • Charli Mills

      Meters and rhymes be damned to the frozen tundra, this is a captivating 99-word piece. I can feel the wind slice to the frozen bone. Good one, Bill!

  21. Mr. Ohh's Sideways View

    Great stuff Hugh and Congrats

    Laughter Can be habit forming

    • Charli Mills

      Laughter is a good habit to cultivate!

  22. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    The Frozen Lake by Emma G. Slayton

    Kara was ice-skating on Greenwood Lake. She was in the middle of the frozen lake when a snow machine went by. She was scared and she fell and hurt her leg.
    The snow machine guy named Tom looked behind him and saw that she was on the ice and she was hurt. He went back to get her and bring her to the doctor. After that she had a leg brace. They became friends and then they went to college. After college Tom went to be a professional snow machine guy and Kara became a professional ice skating girl.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      (Emma above is my grand-niece)
      Here is my flash with a favorite evasive character:

      “Her Way Back”

      She was lucky she hadn’t broken her leg. But with a broken ski, and temperatures rapidly dropping at day’s end, making her way back would be nearly impossible. And she’d broken the first backcountry rule, hadn’t told anyone where she was going. Why bother?
      He had broken all the rules. Then left. He wouldn’t even know she was missing, wouldn’t be searching for her frozen body.
      Leaning against a hemlock she let herself drift into sleep.
      She dreamt strong arms lifted her, carried her to shelter and kept her warm.
      Spring arrived. She would remain with Sasquatch, safe, content.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        What an ending! I never saw that one coming. Brilliant!!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Ha! You’re too generous. I just wanted a Sasquatch story with this prompt.

      • Jules

        Good that Sasquatch gets some happiness too! 😀

    • Jules

      Well done Emma! I like happy endings 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Emma and Sasquatch! Now you’re really making me miss Vermont! Seems everyone is okay, nothing permanently broken. Good job, Emma!

  23. Gloria

    Welcome back Charli and congratulations on finishing your thesis.
    I’d love a grilled cheese sandwich now though!
    It’s interesting how you describe the Process. I’m going to copy and paste that paragraph and save it for myself.
    My Process during my novel writing was quite higgelty piggelty, but I’ve learned many lessons from my mistakes.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for the welcome, Gloria! Writing a novel is multilayered. We all learn as we go and never stop learning. Which is also part of the Process!

  24. Jim Borden

    congratulations on such an amazing accomplishment. I am sure all the struggles will help you to appreciate your accomplishments even more. I wish you continued success!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Jim. Yes, overcoming the struggles makes me appreciate each step made.

      • Jim Borden

        yes, thank heaven for struggles – although we may not realize it in the moment…

      • Charli Mills

        It tempers us, makes us more resilient. There are gifts to be found in the struggles.

  25. Jules

    Keep plugging Charli – we are all rooting for you!!
    I enjoyed the segment that you shared.

    I’ve got an odd match today a Limerick series combo – I couldn’t fit all the words into the Limerick, so I had to add a line… I honestly didn’t know what RUOK meant because I don’t text.


    Gaining Ground a Second Time Around?

    Once long ago was a great rumble
    Dino’s lost ground took a right tumble
    T’wasn’t till a good hard rap
    On their ground did man tap
    Bones found frozen in time’s ice bubble

    With time them dug bones from the ground, rose
    Folks drew up the look of dino’s nose
    Handled scraps with respect
    Deft, no piece to reject
    Some guesses accurate I suppose

    Hard to fix features a truthful way
    Of something that in the ground did stay
    Thousands of years frozen
    Some looks were just chosen
    So we could see ‘em somehow today

    …because RUOK looked prehistoric!


    I may not have followed all the ‘rules’ for the form… but I did the best I could.

    • denmaniacs4

      Ruok is probably the name of a primitive artist drawing on cave walls…or “Are You OK
      RUOK means “Are You OK?”. The abbreviation RUOK is used with the meaning “Are You OK?”, which is an interrogative phrase, typically used as a genuine inquiry as to someone’s wellbeing.”

      • Jules

        I’m guessing Miz Quickly was asking ‘Are You OK? on the prompt where it was given. I just took the prehistoric route. 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jules! I enjoyed your limerick ode to the dinos frozen in time.

      • Jules

        …And here I thought spring was on the way (I know I can’t complain about the weather to ‘Northerners ;)’ but dang it was 20 F this morning at around 7am!

      • Charli Mills

        Yikes! Well, I like to think it’s spring somewhere!

  26. Ann Edall-Robson

    Congratulations on your accomplishments, Charli. You make us all proud to be able to ride the same range with you. It’s good to have you back in the saddle with us.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Ann! I’m a bit crooked in the saddle but happy to be back in it.

  27. Ann Edall-Robson

    Wow! Frozen – that should be an easy one to write about after the recent -40F weather we endured. Not so much. I don’t think it has ever taken me as long to write 99 words.

    Gut Feeling
    by Ann Edall-Robson

    Inside the log cabin, a sharp crack silenced the voices of the couple sitting at the table. 

    “What the heck was that?”

    He leaned across the table, blowing out the lantern, putting the room into darkness. Grabbing his down jacket he headed out the door. “Get on the floor.”

    The snapping and groaning from the moon-bathed frozen lake hadn’t convinced him the noise they’d heard had come from here. Turning towards the silhouetted cabin, the sound of gunfire erupted at the same time that his face was sprayed with tree splinters. 

    Why hadn’t he just trusted his gut?


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      This was tough for me too Ann, maybe because I have so very many images and memories of frozen but not a suitable story in all that, not any I feel like telling anyway. I do know that tree popping sound! And snowshoeing on a bright sunny -30F day amongst them. And-

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Like a scene from the opening of a horror movie that’s going to keep me on the edge of my seat all the way through, Ann.

      • Ann Edall-Robson

        Thanks Hugh. I don’t think I have never written horror (anything). Carrot Ranch prompts seem to make us do things outside our box we have never entertained.

      • Rebecca Glaessner Author

        This prompt also had me writing horror! Right with you on the difficulty this week Ann.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      I agree, Ann. I usually stick to sci-fi, but it’s often had me writing real-life drama. I usually go with whatever comes to mind when I read the prompt. Sometimes, though, that draws a complete blank.

    • Jules

      Ann, you reminded me of a time I was frozen in a country cabin. –
      I was an unprepared guest and thought I would never warm up –
      I think my teeth rattled all night long.

      It’s been cold here, but I think the lowest we got was about -2F, but then you are further north. Stay safe and warm.

    • Charli Mills

      Nooo! That’s what I think of as Montana-cold. Can you imagine trying to stay warm back in the day? Hearty pioneers!

      I love your western, Ann. The feel of gunfire breaking the peace.

  28. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Here’s a haibun (99 words) that welcomed me to my neighborhood. I included photos on my blog: https://colleenchesebro.com/2021/03/01/the-neighborhood-haibun-flashfiction/ (This posts 3/1/21). I hope you enjoy. <3

    My first walk in the new neighborhood turned up some surprises. Across the street, a fast-running stream bordered the edge of the forest along the walking path.

    So, this is where the deer came from, I thought. We’d spotted deer tracks in the snow as they came right up to our front porch. A real Michigan welcoming committee!

    Around the corner, I spotted a pond, frozen beneath the afternoon sun. I day-dreamed about the frogs and crickets serenading us in the stillness of a long summer night.

    frost-bound pond glistens
    cattails rattle in the wind
    mourning dove calls spring

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Sounds like you landed at a nice place Colleen. I can hear it all in the haiku.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Thanks, D. I do love the neighborhood. It’s an entirely different feeling… when you finally find home. <3

    • denmaniacs4

      Wonderfully observed…

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Thank you. It should be fun watching the changes as spring takes hold. Much of the snow is melted. <3

    • Jules

      Best wishes to you in your new digs! Lovely haibun!

    • Charli Mills

      It makes me so happy to know you are home! The deer welcoming committee is just the beginning. Beautiful haibun, Colleen.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Thanks, Charli. This feels like home. ??

  29. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Chop Bustin’

    “Kid, yer a mess. An’ why’s thet puglet a yers wearin’ glass slippers?”
    “Jist let poor Curly in next ta the fire, Pal. Temper’tures dropped considerable. Ever’thin’s frozen. Almost.”
    “Whut happened?”
    “Me an’ Curly was skatin’ aroun’ a bit on the pond.”
    “A pig on ice?”
    “Her little hooves was goin’ ever which way. Fin’lly she got ‘em all under her. Then, whomp, all four legs sank through.”
    “A stuck pig?”
    “I yanked an’ tugged.”
    “Pulled pork?”
    “Fin’lly got her out but the ice clung ta her legs. Gotta git ‘em thawed out.”
    “Careful. Smells like smoked ham hocks.”

    • Ann Edall-Robson

      I love your play on words and how they just seem to go right over Kid’s head.

    • suespitulnik

      Ditto, what Ann said. Poor Curly.

    • Jules

      OOh…. git Curly warmed up!!!

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      …Smoked ham hocks! I’m still laughing. You crack me up, D. <3

    • Charli Mills

      Pulled pork! Oh, Curly will be raw temptation.

    • Jules

      Sometimes there is no map… but always good to let folks know where you think you are going!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ruchira! Time has swift wings, for sure! I remember feeling nervous like a kid on the first day of school. I love your idea of a Zoom party. I would love to celebrate with all of you.

  30. judeitakali

    Ah, this is splendid.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you join us sometime.

      • judeitakali

        I would love to do that,????

      • Charli Mills

        Good! 🙂

  31. D. Avery @shiftnshake


    Every visit I am grateful for the window, though it’s always shut tight against any air. Today tapered icicles hang down from the eves, their steady drip in the late winter sun inaudible through the panes, replaced by my mother’s hollow chirping.

    I sense my mother is afraid to come here alone. She tells me her granny enjoys seeing me but the old lady never even looks up. Says nothing. Just sits there.

    Feels like 80 degrees in this room. As always, Granny’s bundled in thick socks, a lap robe, and a shawl.

    Still she just sits there, frozen.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      What a great twist. Love it!.

    • Jules

      Dementia can be like that… coma’s too.
      Somehow, some way, the scientists and Docs say visits help.
      So hard when we don’t get any recognition.
      And our loved ones seem frozen in time.

    • Charli Mills

      Beautiful focus from the window to the grandmother.

  32. Sherri Matthews

    Frozen…ah. Thank goodness for Mr Price 🙂 Welcome back, Charli, and here’s to the rest of the ride. Amazing photo and love your extract. Wonderful post, thank you <3

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for the welcome, Sherri! That photo is a stunner. So exciting to our children’s art. Wouldn’t that be something if my daughter’s troupe danced to your son’s guitar! <3

      • Sherri Matthews

        Of course, Charli! It isn’t home without you 🙂 It truly is stunning. And wow, that would be something, let’s bring it on! <3

    • suespitulnik

      glad to have you join us. We have a few here that believe in fairies and their goodness.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      What a brilliant piece of flash fiction, Kathy. Your story really made me believe what you wrote is true. Welcome to the Ranch.

    • Jules

      Lovely. I believe! I’ve got an old cupola that I think the bunnies share with the fae 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kathy!

  33. Doug Jacquier

    Adding my admiration to all of the above, Charli, and sending you under separate cover my own 700 page epic on the forbidden love between a platypus and a dingo, for your early thoughts.

    In the meantime, here’s my contribution for this week.

    Frozen (not the movie)

    He mused upon his woes then
    He went out in the snow then
    In his ribbons and his bows then
    To find his status quo then
    and face his demon foes then
    No goal, just to’s and fro’s then
    Not following the crows then
    He felt the icy winter blows then
    Right through his winter hose then
    He couldn’t feel his nose then
    It spread down to his toes then
    He thought he’d have a doze then
    As everybody knows then
    That’s the way he goes then
    And there he sits all frozen
    Sadder but no wiser; so zen

    • denmaniacs4

      Excellent Doug…clearly you write what you sows, then…okay…my awkward…

    • Charli Mills

      I hope lightsabers and big trucks are involved in your 700-page epic of forbidden love, Doug! Now, to serialize it… 😉

      Ha, clever piece of frozen writing, then.

  34. suespitulnik

    I understand your weeping and am thrilled you have plowed through. You are such an inspiration. I salute you.
    I copied your description of show/tell and different processes to share with my local group. I’m positive it will open some eyes so the lightbulbs can glow brighter.
    We did miss you while you were away but we also appreciated the great job D. did for the community. I have lots to smile about, but Kid and Pal always improve the day.
    Frozen has given me an opportunity to bring The Band of Brothers back. To update new readers, Michael is the lead singer for this band. Thad is a 50/50, half American-half Vietnamese raised by his father, Mac, and stepmother, Nancy. He has no memory of his biological mother. Katie is Thad’s daughter.

    Frozen Emotions

    When Mac recognized the handwriting on the package, he froze. His body motionless, his mind raced back almost 50 years to visualize the young Vietnamese woman who had given him a son. “Colm McCarthy and descendants;” why was it addressed such?

    Later, with the family assembled, Mac’s wife, Nan, opened the package. She handed envelopes to the three generations, Mac, Thad, and Katie, then read a note aloud. “My husband has died. I would like permission to visit.”

    No one reacted.

    Finally, Nancy said, “Thad, her situation was forced. I think it’s a good idea.”

    Thad wasn’t so sure.

      • suespitulnik

        All depends on the prompt…

    • Charli Mills

      Sue, I appreciate how you commit to brightening the lightbulbs. I’m so grateful to D. and her cast of characters for keeping the community lit up. I’m grateful to you for holding it up, too.

      I like how your story has found the band as a focal point to spin off into the lives of its members. This story is a pivotal moment.

  35. Doug Jacquier

    A side note: If you’re ever tempted to click on the stories listed below as More on WordPress.com, let me suggest that life is too short. Check out this piece of pompous, pretentious, incomprehensible gobbledegook, aided and abetted by an adoring interviewer. https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/36005705/posts/23058

    • Jules

      I tried to copy and paste the link, and got nothing.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Don’t know what’s happening there. Works fine for me. Perhaps just click the link insteady of copying it?

      • Jules

        Ah… that worked. I do believe in breaking rules… hybrid writing can be fun.

      • Doug Jacquier

        I don’t have anything against hybrid writing, Jules, just gobbledegook parading as high art. 🙂

      • Jules

        Art comes in many forms… some of which I do not understand. Gobbledegook must have its own following. ????

      • Doug Jacquier

        So does Qanon 😉

      • Jules

        Holy Banana Cream Pie, Batman! I had to look that up! As Charlie Brown is oft to say; ‘Good Grief’.

    • Charli Mills

      My least favorite form of literary art. I believe literary art should be accessible to all. Pretension is a barrier.

  36. Sam "Goldie" Kirk

    The opening of this post was so evocative! I totally pictured someone who just got out of the battlefield and/or out of the jungle after being lost for weeks.

    CongratZ on finishing your thesis and doing it well!

    Thanks for sharing the story about your teacher back in the day. It’s really amazing when a person who has been called to be a teacher touches your life. The moment can be life-changing as you describe.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Goldie! I was lost for weeks. And grateful I was found so many years ago by a teacher. I had some good ones.

  37. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Holy Fishin’ Hole

    “Now what ya been up to out in thet cold, Kid?”
    “Decided since things is froze up I’d try fishing through the ice on the pond.”
    “Catch anythin’?”
    “No Pal, but I had what ya might call a mystical ‘sperience. Heard a voice from on high.”
    “Been at Ernie’s cookies agin?”
    “No, Pal. Ever time I’d drill a hole in the ice a boomin’ echo-y voice would speak ta me.”
    “Sayin’ what?”
    “Sayin’, ‘Don’t drill there. There’s no fish there.’”
    “Wait. Pond? Kid, where’s this pond at?”
    “Uh, that flat area below the cookhouse.”
    “Kid, thet’s a skatin’ rink!”

    • Doug Jacquier

      Hilarious, D. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Hope Kid doesn’t get run over by a Zamboni!

  38. pedometergeek

    Our New Cat

    Lisa called us about a stray cat that Marcia, a co-worker, had recently rescued. To be more accurate, the cat had found Marcia’s stoop on a wintry December night, begging to come inside. When she first saw the frozen, frightened black cat, he was backed into a corner by a snarling, hissing cat. Marcia opened the back door and the cat raced inside. Unfortunately, her husband’s allergies flared up, and the cat they had taken to the vet and named Graham had to go. The couple wanted a good family for Graham, and we fit the bill, adopting Regulus.

    Nancy Brady, 2021

    (A bit rusty, but here it is at the last minute)

    • Charli Mills

      Aw, Regulus gets a good home! Nothing oils the rust like writing, Nan. 😉

      • pedometergeek

        Charli, Congrats on getting your thesis done and the excerpt that you included. Excellent! I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to see it published. You have been missed, but your deputies were on the job, wrangling up stories and helpful suggestions. Still, it is good to have you back.

        Thanks, for your kind comment about Regulus. I have not been writing much in the last year. The time seemed to fly by each week and before I knew, I’d be reading all of the responses to the prompts. Where did the week go? I got into the habit of asking myself what day it was when I awoke each day or checking the calendar to verify what day it was. Some of the time was spent taking photos with my husband and learning how to use Photoshop, but the energy to write apparently wasn’t. Hopefully, this will be the first of many.

        Again, Charli, congrats!

  39. Charli Mills

    Thank you, Willow!

  40. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Rugby!

  41. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Marsha!

  42. Rebecca Glaessner Author

    A touch darker than usual, so I’ll just ping this week. Wonderful pieces so far everyone!

  43. Jules

    Sometimes dark is where we go…
    We all need a little saving sometimes.

  44. Charli Mills

    Turning on all the lights downstairs now! Dark, terrifying yet well-written.

  45. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jeff!


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