March 25: 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.

March 25, 2021

Like a dusting of powdered sugar, the snow returned. It covered the humps of gritty snow and carpeted Roberts Street in white. For hours last night not a single car tread marred the glistening cover. Until midnight, rain and wind lashed the windows. I thought spring had finally arrived. The waterfalls broke through their icy cages along the ridge we call the Keweenaw Peninsula. So ravenous is the water, the falls gobbled the snow and continued to blast toward Lake Superior.

My streets reveal pavement. The sky remains hidden. Whites, blues, morph into grays. I want to burst out of this fog, heavy as any steel bars. Where would I go? How would I go? Ducks never fret. They simply fly.

I saw ducks on my way to get jabbed with the Moderna magic potion. Mallards. They were all drakes with bright green heads to attract female counterparts. By the time snow and ice recede from the marshes and smaller lakes, it’ll be mating season. More ducks will arrive. Canada geese, too. Loons. I won’t expect to see loons until after empty nests. Swimming with loons is kinda my thing.

They swim better. I tumble and bob in the waves, flounder and flit for rocks. My motions don’t add up to swimming. I flail. But I love to flail. Especially when I can watch loons bobbing and ducking across the crests of water. On a flat-water day, they glide powerfully across Lake Superior, staying parallel to the shore. When there’s surf, they often hunt the prisms of waves for churning trout or whitefish. Loons pass and then fly low to repeat the path.

Spring snow makes me long to pick rocks on the beaches. Instead, I clean and sort my house rocks, and remember why each was such a treasured find. I have large hunks of weathered basalt with agates embedded like marbles in cement. I have granite, quartz sandstone, jasper, epidote, pink feldspar, prehnite shaped like a flying fish, and crystalized fossils of coral. Stories frozen and tumbled in time.

Stuck in my spring cage, I write. I’m the time traveler’s wife. My husband recedes back into time. The past has become his here and now. It’s not my present and I yank the bars of this duality. He leaves me for journeys to the past. It’s like he’s examining his life and working backward against the tide of progression. I progress and feel guilty, like I’m directing my boat away from his. We drift. He doesn’t seem to notice. We watch Netflix at night trying to connect. I fix dinner and he chops salads.

The salad thing is a weird neutrality. It takes him thirty minutes to chop and layer two bowls of lettuce, spinach, olives, pickled beets, carrots, fake crab and shredded Parmesan. For a person with zero focus and the impatience of a two-year-old, it fascinates me that he can chop and layer with precision. I understand he can do that with reloading because its muscle memory. But when has he ever built green masterpieces? There are no clues in his past. I enjoy his salad skills, however they came to be.

Mause needs a cage. She’s begun to dismantle my radiator hardware. I think they are flanges that fit around the pipes to block the holes through each floor. She’s figured out how to open the metal pieces and get them away from the pipes. Like the Hub’s salads, I have no idea how it occurred to this puppy to endeavor to release the radiators from their captive cuffs. They clunk as she bats them across the hardwood floors. Steampunk dog toys.

Waiting for the weather to lighten is my least favorite time of year. I’m a grumpy bear coming out of hibernation. When I found out that a clinic two hours away was offering to give Covid vaccines to veterans and their spouses, I was over the moon. But when I realized the press propaganda failed to list the correct phone number, I tore through the Michigan Department of Veteran Affairs like a raging, spring-hungry grizzly.

The first time I called, pressed the listed extension, the person on the other line knew nothing of such a clinic. I read her the post from our local VSO, instructing veterans and caregivers to register. I wanted to sign up. Nope, she said. Wrong number. I tried to contact our VSO. Since Covid, getting a live person over the phone is like trying to call hell. I did an internet search and found countless news releases, congratulating MI for taking care of its vets. They all listed the same number and extension. I called the city where the clinic was to be held and they knew nothing and told me to contact my county. I called the Michigan governmental offices who gave me another number to call who directed me to the Michigan Department of Veteran Affairs. Finally a live person claimed to know about the clinic and happily connected me to registration.

The original wrong-number operator answered. I told her how dehumanizing the whole system is. I have fallen through ever crack to qualify for a jab. Our local CBOC (rural VA clinic) will only jab veterans. I’m the wrong age, unessential, and without healthcare. She tells me her dad was a vet and the place she most hated to go with him was to the VA. She got it. But she didn’t know about the clinic I sought. But she researched and found the registration portal. She said none at her call center had been advised of it and she’d make sure her supervisor knew. That’s what it took to get registered.

To get jabbed required a car rental, puppy sitter and a four-hour drive. Not only was the phone number wrong, so was the address. We spent an hour walking the Northern Michigan University campus, asking at various buildings. No one knew. Finally, a student said the Army was in a building across the street. We found the building, and by the time we were both ready to give up, I spotted desert camo fatigues. Relief rushed through me. I could see the cogs in the wheel.

The Army needs to be in charge of vaccinations. Once we reached the soldiers everything was efficient. Everyone had a role. If someone didn’t have an answer, they directed us to the right person. Everyone was calm. Some were even funny. The Hub slipped back in time, talking about former duties, recalling patches, making the right jokes to the right people. Maybe he’s just a lost cog, my time traveler. He had refused to get jabbed until he saw the sea of uniforms. Then it became his mission. I was twice relieved — we both got our first Moderna shot and go back for our second on April 19.

Some days we want to escape. Be a mallard in a pond, free to fly away. But here we are. This is life and beauty is waiting to be revealed. Don’t give up hope.

The truest, most beautiful life never promises to be an easy one. We need to let go of the lie that it’s supposed to be.

Glennon Doyle

March 25 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write an escape. It can be daring or subtle. Who is escaping from what and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by March 30, 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.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Wish to Escape by Charli Mills

Soothing and stirring, a rush of water tumbles over Hungarian Falls, carrying Beryl’s life. Not her body or soul, which remained firmly planted in her boots at the water’s edge. She didn’t scream, gasp or lunge for her cell phone when it slipped from her fingers. My life, she thought. The roar covered the sound of cracking. She imagined the screen with her fingerprints smashed to bits on rocks. Who was she without a phone? The water churned. Her thoughts lifted. Her soul escaped the hold of technology. Had she really tossed it to make a wish? She had.


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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    That’s a very fine flash, Ms. Mills. I like that take on escape.
    You got jabbed! A complicated process but you got jabbed, and himself too.
    Seeds and sweet potato slips are on the way here so it must be spring. Geese and ducks arriving daily in the fields and what bits of water are open. I am excited to be here ahead of the loons! That will be a day when they return to my lake. But for now, melting snow, lots of mud, and dripping sap.

    • Anne Goodwin's next novel is out May 28

      Agreed, a very fine flash indeed. It’s amazing how quickly this technology has become an extension of ourselves (though not me).

      Not as dramatic as the loons, but the mallards returned this week to our small garden pond. It won’t be proper spring until the frogs start copulating, however. (I think the ducks come for the spawn.)

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for inspiring the soothing and stirring flash, D.! Yep. Himself got jabbed. He saw those uniforms and complied. No fuss. Telling you, the Army needs to be in charge. Though Daughter #1 and Hubby also got jabbed today at the Watersmeet Nation and they think the Native Americans need to be in charge. Evidently, the tribes are effectively issuing vaccines and monitoring surpluses, inviting non-Natives to their efficient clinics. I’m so happy to get the shot!

      I’m going to try making my own slips. I like to explore like a writer (what if…). I have been far more interested in what you are going to plant! And yes, I’ve been thinking about you awaiting the arrival of the loons. Stay hopeful for a successful pair this year.

  2. restlessjo

    Hard to e-kuate to your world of ice and slush from where I am, Charli, but your writing soars. (sorry- I’ve lost the letter _ on my keyboard).
    It may not be appropriate to ask it here, but Sue hasn’t published anything in over 24 hours, and I’m becoming anxious. Do you know anything, please?

    • Charli Mills

      It’s good of you to ask after Sue. She did post some photos today. My understanding is that her son will post her passing. For now, she graciously enjoys the gift of life. I enjoyed her March 21 post. She wrote that it goes to show us, no one can predict the future.

      Where are you at with no snow and a missing “q”? I love your ingenuity to overcome the keyboard!

      • restlessjo

        I have been awed by her spirit, Charli. She is a beautiful soul who has touched me deeply. Thank you so much for acting intermediary. I hope she is at peace.

        I live in a lovely town called Tavira, in the Algarve, southern Portugal, with my husband and a battered old keyboard. Better than having a battered old husband, though he’s no Spring chicken 🙂 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        I love the connections we can make through writing and the technology that allows us to experience those connections, even with a battered old keyboard. Sue has demonstrated peace, life, adventure, community, courage, and so much more. She has truly shared her gifts with us.

  3. Doug Jacquier

    Hi, Charli. It is beyond comprehension that all governments seem to have been sitting on their hands waiting for a vaccine before figuring out how they were going to distribute it, as though it was an unexpected lottery win. As for Hub, enjoy the salad days. Finally, ‘On Golden Pond’ introduced me to loons and their inevitable connection with loonacy, as in your propensity to swim with them. 🙂
    For once, I’ve gone a bit seriousy with the prompt, just to keep you guessing.

    • Jules

      Reach and teach?!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Doug, yes, I’m going to enjoy the salad days. Thank you. Ha! You mean flail. I flail among the loons. Wonderful wild birds with a call that strikes the soul. Even if it sounds mad as, well, a loon. As for nations, the Native Nations are setting the example of how to manage, reach, and share vaccines. Free Birds is seriously a stunning piece.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Thank you so much once again, from a fellow flailer. 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        We know how to make a splash!

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake


    “Ya gotta git back in thet saddle and write Kid. Look’t this prompt. Ya could tell more ‘bout my ‘scape from thet mineshaft.”
    “Ya didn’t ‘scape, Pal, you was rescued.”
    “Well, ya could still lean on thet prompt an’ write ‘bout a deep wish ta ‘scape ta some wunnerful, magical place.”
    “What fer? Don’t git no better’n where I’m at. Nope, ‘fraid this prompt ani’t promptin’ me neither.”
    “Dang it.”
    “What’s it ta you Pal?”
    “Ya never jist go silent inta thet dry write. Yer gonna be whinin’ and complainin’ all week. Hmmpf.”
    “Me, Pal? Pal? Huh. Pal ‘scaped.”

    • Jules

      We go where we sometimes don’t wanna be.
      ‘escapin’ another’s reality…

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Hey P.L. Jules. Did you catch how Pal got rescued in the Deep Wishes prompt?

      • Jules

        I’m gonna have ta mosey on back for that… I thought I got some of them wishes read. I’ve been a bit distracted by household stuff this here month. Thanks for re-directing me!

      • Jules

        I wunderlusted on back. I knew it were familiar. I ended readin’ some in the round up.

        Our internet’s been foggy as they update stuff, still aren’t quite done. Appliance’s been going south. Some have been able to receive parts ‘n others just need replacing.

        And in the garden the local Chapfae are pointing out weeds that need pulling.

        Iffn’ it t’ain’t one thing its another.

    • Charli Mills

      Hey Kid, the P.L. has us ‘scapin’ to the weeds! More like maple mulch at headquarters but plenty of chapfae waking up to inspire. Hope the snow come-and-goes are soon gone and the sun shines a ray of inspiration at your writer.

  5. denmaniacs4

    A very powerful, painful post, Charli…I guess my little creation is trying to lighten the mood a bit…the notion came to me in a dream so I probably should have vetted it more carefully.


    “You want to report a what…?”

    “Don’t know what you’d call is…a reaction, I suppose?”

    “To your Covid-19 vaccine shot?”


    “What was this reaction?”

    “Okay. But you’re not gonna believe me. Don’t know why I’m even bothering…”

    “Just tell me…”

    “Fine! I got the shot and went home. I was a little tired, rested a bit, and then started binge-watching Cagney and Lacey.”

    “Who’re they?”

    “Old TV Cop series, two women…great show.”


    “Suddenly, I’m there. Actually with them in the TV. Having coffee in Precinct 14.”

    “That’s nuts.”

    “I’m thinking it’s the AstralZeneca vaccine.”

    “It’s AstraZeneca.”


    • Jules

      AstralZeneca – great line.

    • Anne Goodwin's next novel is out May 28

      In my loyalty to AstraZenica (perhaps they’ve had a bad press because they’re the only one offering the vaccine at cost rather than for profit), I didn’t notice that pun on first reading. Came to you in a dream? Love it.

      • denmaniacs4

        Tis’ a finely honed pun, Anne. One l of a pun, one might say if one had little else to mention…

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      An L of a flash and an L of a place to project to. But zen, why not?

    • Charli Mills

      I love dream-fed stories, Bill. I had completely forgotten about Cagney and Lacey! Now I want a shot of AstralZeneca to coffee with those gals. Thanks for the laugh!

  6. pensitivity101

    Here’s mine
    It was all a matter of timing, patience too. They both knew that.
    One looked smugly out from within, the other longed from without.
    They were never friends, one forever teasing the other but the tables could so easily be turned, and that time was fast approaching.
    Now, totally alone, the cage was nudged, generating a gentle sway, and the die was cast. A furious flurry on the inside ensued an erratic momentum thus becoming more dangerous for the trapped, who didn’t want to escape or be freed.
    The question was who would dine and who would be dinner?

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      That was a fun perspective. With underlying tension and suspense.

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes the escape leads to more danger. I can picture several scenarios and appreciate the open-ended characters in your story, Di.

      • pensitivity101

        Thanks Charli

  7. Anne Goodwin's next novel is out May 28

    I like picturing your husband constructing his salad. It must be very satisfying for him to be able to achieve it. But frustrating for you as the time traveller’s wife.
    Glad you both got vaccinated but. I’m ashamed to say that I was irritated I had to drive 2 miles to get mine rather than walking across the fields to the hospital (as my neighbours were able to).
    We have mallards visiting our garden pond no loons in this country.
    Loved your FF. I wrote my flash before properly checking the prompt and I realise I’ve written about not escaping.

    • Jules

      Anne, your post reminds me of an aging relative who believed her parents had left here in their home all alone. She couldn’t remember exactly how old she was – though I think she was in her late 80’s at the time. Chilling how different the mind can be ‘stuck’ or regress.

      • Anne Goodwin's next novel is out May 28

        Thanks, Jules. I’m not looking forward to that stage of time-travelling between different versions of myself. I can already anticipate how it might be.
        Poor Henry. He’s actually meant to be the ‘sane’ one in this novel.

    • Charli Mills

      We had another fine salad construction last night. I do think the Hub is enjoying a sense of contribution. I would have preferred to walk to our shots, too! But, I got to see the mallards in their bright feathers at Keweenaw Bay. Lovely flash about Henry. And the prompt doesn’t mean escape is essential.

  8. Jules


    Your flash reminds me of when my first flip phone took a dive in the creek out back. It wasn’t intentional. I’m sure it’s still buried in the mud! I might end up with a smart phone one day… but I will not become so attached to it that I cannot function. We recently had to replace our washing machine. The dryer is still fine. But here’s a giggle; the washing machines can now be programmed when they have a ‘matching’ mate dryer to know what setting the dryer should be on. We’re not hooking that puppy up! I also do not need a refrigerator to tell me what to add to my grocery list!

    Anyway I did a humors verse (it does look just a tad better at my place being centered); a haibun with a tau ku:

    “Hanging Around”

    “Hanging Around”

    Soon it will be full fledged time
    To escape the laundry room
    The clothes have been drying
    On inside lines and racks
    When e’re twere possible

    Still in the washer they will tumble
    But on the outside lines
    Sheets, towels and bedding
    As well as other unmentionables
    Will flutter in the warm spring breezes

    Unlike the fierce March wind now blowing
    That is knocking dead wood out of trees
    A strong westerly pushes reverse ripples
    Upon the muddy creek waters
    That are now livened by ducks and geese

    allow our homes’ foundation
    to grip
    ground secure – we’re still staying put!


    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I love to line dry the wash outside! Soon.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! I’ll be impressed with mated washers and dryers if they can communicate efficiently enough to not lose any socks. 😉 We are going to have to escape our smart houses to commune with the mud and sky outside. I enjoyed your hai bun and tau ku! I’ll remember to center your 99-words for the collection.

      • Jules

        Thought I entered it…Thank you. WP is up to sumthin’ agin’. I think I missed one or to collections, believing that I had entered correctly. Esh! I’ve been having some issues with WP taking away likes… so I have to do that again (especially if I add a comment through my notifications at the Dashboard).

        You loose socks in the washer —over the rim and down the drain. The poor dryer gets the blame…

    • Charli Mills

      Here’s to hoping you replenish over the weekend, Ritu!

      • Ritu

        I’m trying, Charli, but I fear replenish will be in August, once school is done for the year. The next couple of breaks will be busy with impending house move!

      • Charli Mills

        That’s a ways off, and I wish you the fortitude to get there! I hope the move is a happy one.

  9. Mr. Ohh's Sideways View

    Journal Entry Date Unknown

    I have to get out of here. Sure, the walls are cloth but they might as well be iron bars. The giants have trapped me here and until I find a way out, I must suffer the indignity of my prison.

    I have asked Mr. Dinkle but he seems to have gone dumb, and hasn’t uttered a word since the giants used that odd language of theirs. I know they speak English; they use it amongst themselves. But to me It’s always Goo Goo and Gah Gah.

    Oh, how I wish the teddy was smarter.

    Fact, Laughing cures many diseases

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! The indignity of giants baby-talking the hapless prisoner. Fun take on the prompt. A fun cure.

      • Mr. Ohh's Sideways View

        I had fun with this one. I was trying to get the best prisoner of all

      • Charli Mills

        You got it!

  10. suespitulnik

    Oh Charli, Your description of hubs traveling backward and you forward has me in tears. No one deserves to deal with such a situation especially you. I wish I could do more than agree it is unfair.
    And what a hassle getting your jabs. The media are too often not our friends even if they mean to be. I’m glad you finally found the military machine that was efficient and worked in your favor.
    I have no advice on the puppy situation. I’ve never heard of a dog taking apart radiator thingies. Good Luck with that one. My band of Brothers has a suggestion as to how to deal with the frustrations…

    Music For All Occasions

    When Katie arrived at the No Thanks to stock before opening, she was surprised to see all the band member’s cars except Mac’s. When she stepped onto the macadam she could feel the thump of a bass and hear muffled sounds of a heavy metal band. Strange! She went inside and recognized Tyrell’s cousins playing the extra guitars. Michael was pounding on the piano like it was an enemy. When the song ended she looked their way. “What gives?”
    Her father grinned. “Just an escape. Playing out our anger at how the VA can screw things up so easily.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ha! Work on the lyrics for the next Karaoke gig at the Saddle Up.

      • suespitulnik

        Now that’s a challenge!

    • Charli Mills

      That must have been an intense song, Sue! I can feel its reverberations. Art is a good outlet, and I can see the physicality of music adding a layer of escape. We are doing the best we can. All of us. Even a radiator-reverse-engineering puppy. Thanks!

    • Jules

      Sue I remember watching the movie about Mr. Rogers staring Tom Hanks (who actually is/was distantly related!… any way Fred Rodgers had a grand piano at both the studio and home… and would pound out his frustrations – but never at a person!

      • suespitulnik

        I saw that movie. It was an eye opener and well worth seeing.

    • Jules

      Joanne – we should all be so free as to be who we are without other second guessing us!

    • Charli Mills

      Hoping this becomes a successful escape. Thanks, Joanne!

  11. TanGental

    Since the arrived back from their USA sojourn, Morgan and Logan have been in quarantine. Now they are about to escape. Time to reminisce?

    ‘One more day, Logan.’
    ‘Yes, thank heavens.’
    ‘It’s been a blast, hasn’t it?’
    ‘What has?’
    ‘Don’t be obtuse. America, hunting the ranch, fostering two goats…’
    ‘That bloody Kid. If I ever see him again…’
    ‘He was a character.’
    ‘Oh sure. You couldn’t make him up.’
    ‘And you think ten days of quarantine has been fun?’
    ‘We’ve had a chance to do all sorts.’
    ‘I didn’t think it possible to binge watch every episode of the Simpsons without losing your mind.’
    ‘Hidden depths.’
    ‘More like exposed shallows. There’s one thing I’ll miss.’
    ‘No, of course not.’

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Look out, they’re back!
      Good one! (I liked the part with Kid and the goats)

    • Charli Mills

      Like Kid, Morgan and Logan are quite the characters, too! Wonder what came of the goats? Welcome home, boys!

      • TanGental

        Maybe Dede will advise us on their fate

  12. willowdot21

    I did like you story Charlie. The ambiguity of whether it was Beryl or her phone flying over the falls. We all get caught up by our phones and laptops ect. I hope she managed to sustain the break or did she rethink and use the insurance to replace it the next day?
    I also loved the introduction piece, the nature the husband the up and downs of life informed and touched me.
    Here is my offering.

    • suespitulnik

      The twist at the end of your 99words was very unexpected. Creepy, but very well done.

    • Charli Mills

      Good questions, Willow. I think in the moment of losing the technology we feel relieved, but alas, the structures suck us back in when the waterfalls are left behind. We’ll have to wonder what came of Beryl. Thanks for your offering, too!

      • willowdot21

        I really liked your story Charli it took my imagination. I enjoyed writing my story too thank you ????

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Here’s 99 that follow the two Robert flashes linked above:


      They watched Robert place the mouse nest into the stonewall.
      “Silas, do you think he’d be doing better if Mary Eliza had waited for him? She seems to take good care of Elija.”
      “Robert escaped that trap, far as I’m concerned. I don’t credit that girl to be able to see Robert’s wounds. And he still has more common sense than Mary Eliza, her pa, and Elija Jones combined.”
      “It’s been over a year Silas. He hasn’t left the farm.”
      “Give him time, Anna. Robert’s a part of this farm. I reckon it’s a part of his healing too.”

      • suespitulnik

        This helps us remember all veterans go home with wounds. Lucky for Robert his parents understand and don’t push. Well done.

      • Charli Mills

        There’s healing in working familiar land. Robert has good folks who understand the healing he needs.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Susan!

  13. Nicole Horlings

    Here’s mine for this week:

    For Tradition and Appearances

    The glass patio doors had been opened wide, but the room was stuffy. Eliza was held prisoner by tradition for appearances and her parents’ reputation. They were very much aware that she strongly disliked their current company, and that she had made previous plans with a friend. Yet, here she sat, amongst conversation that excluded her in its topics and jargon.

    “What a wonderful meal!” their guest declared.

    “Just wait until we pull out the dessert,” her mother winked.

    “I’ll go get it,” Eliza offered, standing up. In the kitchen, she was finally free to drop her fake smile.

    • Charli Mills

      The pain of that fake smile! I could feel it in Eliza, Nicole.

  14. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Escape With a Sense of Direction”

    “Jist a-sittin’ by the old still stream Ernie?”

    Cut! Do you mean “old mill stream”?
    So is the stream still? Shouldn’t it be streaming? Soothing; stirring; tumbling even?
    “It’s Ernie’s still stream. Where he used ta make moonshine.”
    Oh. Action!

    “Hey Pal.”
    “How’s things without the still?”
    “Got plenny a chimes on my hands.”

    Cut! The expression is ‘time on my hands’.
    “That’s mebbe how I’s able ta schedule turnin’ my copper still inta wind chimes.”
    Wind chimes?

    “Shame there’s no wind.”
    “Wait fer it.”
    “T’ain’t forecast.”
    “Pepe’s comin’ by soon.”
    “I should check on Kid.”

    “Redirected Scents of Escape”

    “Pal! Yer back! Ya jist missed Pepe.”
    “Don’t never. Ya sure seem in a better mood Kid.”
    “Yeah, that Pepe. He’s a breath a fresh air.”
    “Wouldn’t describe him like thet. But yeah, LeGume’s a gas all right. Did he hep ya with the prompt? He knows ‘bout escapin’. He’s always lettin’ somethin’ loose.”
    “Pepe said ta me, ‘Kid, sometimes ya write, an’ sometimes ya don’t.’ Told me not ta worry ‘bout it. Then he give me a wheel a cheese, said, ‘Here Kid, have some cheese ta go with yer whine.’”
    “Cheese? Yum. Where?”
    “There. Pepe cut it.”

    • Jules

      Fun, funnier and funniest!
      My Dad always did the ‘Quick, pull my finger…’

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Glad you enjoyed the Yarns. I don’t know what is going on up at Ernies, but that’s how that one got written. Kid seems oblivious to Pepe’s faults (and fault lines), Pal didn’t have to endure the visit, and all seems well in their world, so, phew. Meanwhile I am stirring my pot of homemade baked beans. On a school night no less.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Did you find a stage director for the Ranch Yarns? 😀

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yes, they’re out of the old Woolworth’s building in Calumet.

      • Charli Mills

        Yes, they are!

  15. Liz H

    Sometimes we make our own escape in the place where we are, sometimes we

    Cut and Run

    Scrubbing her hands over her face, she replayed the voicemail. Listening for clues that said otherwise, she accepted that nothing had changed. She was to comply, absolutely.
    Her chair creaked protest… [Continue ]

    • Charli Mills

      It often builds up to that point, Liz. Great use of details to set the tone.

      • Liz H


  16. Norah

    I hope those ducks are a good sign, Charli, even if spring hasn’t finally settled in. I look forward to your tales of swims with the loons.
    I’m so pleased you and your Hub have got your first jabs. May you both stay safe. Interesting the way he responded when in the company of soldiers. Do the vets wear their fatigues (is that what you call them?) when they get together? I wonder if it would make a difference to their ability to communicate. If that’s where they feel most comfortable, most valued …
    I understand how distressing it must be for you when the divide between you deepens. And you’re still so young.
    I enjoyed your flash. Beryl was brave to toss out her life. We often discuss the fact that our whole lives are on our devices. Sometimes, I think they carry too much power. At least Beryl’s won’t fall into the wrong hands. She is now free.

    • Norah

      Here’s my story for this week

      First Flight
      One day followed another — everyone in uniform, head down, following unwritten rules known by heart. Only Olive questioned, “Why?” She longed for adventure. Blue skies whispered promises on gentle breezes that rustled leaves and tantalised with sweet exotic perfumes. Her tastebuds rebelled. She couldn’t, wouldn’t, take another bite. She crawled into a shell and hoped to sleep for ever. Kaleidoscopic dreams flitted in a mash of memories and futuristic movie scenes. What was real and what imagined? She awoke renewed, seeing the world as if from other eyes. She unfurled her wings and flew to kiss the welcoming skies.

    • Charli Mills

      Very true, Norah — Beryl’ needn’t worry that her phone ends up with those who’d mine her life for numbers and accounts. It’s a natural freedom! I’m going to take the ducks as a good sign.

      Some vets keep their uniforms. Only those who stay in the National Guard or Reserves wear their fatigues. Todd has a single field jacket. I used to like wearing it. In fact, my headshot I use on social media is that jacket with his Army Ranger emblems. It’s close to 40 years old and worn so we retired it. Then another special forces veteran from a similar era sent me his jacket and I wear that with pride. It’s an honor to be recognized as a veteran spouse with such a gift. Even if it’s not my spouse!

      I love your take on uniforms!

      • Norah

        Yes to so much in your comment, Charli, especially the ducks being a positive sign. I do know that headshot in the Ranger jacket. Sadly, I also remember questions being asked about your right to wear it. I’m so pleased you were able to put them straight and continue to wear it with honour. And so you should!

  17. suespitulnik

    Carrot Ranch has a lot of new names, ranch hands, writing along.
    Welcome to a safe place to write and grow. The barns and fields are full of positive vibes and scenery. Enjoy.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for noticing and welcoming new writers to the community, Sue!

  18. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Douryeh!

  19. Kerry E.B. Black

    Helen’s Prospects
    Written by Kerry E.B. Black

    For her sister Helen’s graduation, Augie bought a huge bundle of helium-filled balloons, each proclaiming pride in the attainment of higher education. Springtime gusts worried them like windchimes, braiding their strings, as she crossed to her car, a storm-blue Prius. Pushing them into the back hatch proved tricky, each poking out like ‘whack-a-mole.’ Driving with the encroaching bunch also presented challenges, as they obscured her rear view. Upon arrival at the celebration, Augie threw open her hatch, but another energetic wind whipped the hard-won strings from her fingers. They soared high, as unstoppable in their escape as Helen’s prospects.

  20. Charli Mills

    Love the imagery of this story, Kerry and the escape of the balloons.

  21. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Willow!

  22. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Donna!

  23. Liz H

    Sweet sobriety!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Jez!

  25. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Rebecca!

  26. Charli Mills

    I second D.’s welcome! Glad you found your way to Carrot Ranch!

  27. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Dr. Grimes!

  28. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Dave!

  29. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Kate!


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