Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » Flash Fiction Challenge » April 15: Flash Fiction Challenge

April 15: Flash Fiction Challenge

Be a Patron of Literary Art

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Stories Published Weekly

Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,581 other followers

Just when I was feeling despondent over how far my front potager garden has to grow to live up to its name, someone planted bunnies along its border. It’s spring-ish in the Keweenaw of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, give or take a few more spits of white rain. The snow smartens the landscape of leftover street grit, dead plant stalks, and mats of maple leaves that resemble road-flattened toads. As much as I want to have a garden that emerges from winter like the ones I see on Monty Don’s “Gardening World,” the truth is I don’t live in the UK.

The bunnies brought me cheer and a mystery.

Who planted the family of wooden bunnies, each painted gray or brown and detailed with artistic designs? Each bunny is a different size and mounted on a dowel to press it into the ground. I simply walked outside one day, and there they were. I posted the discovery on Facebook, certain the artist would claim their handiwork, but so far, no one has.

Some people sow seeds of generosity without an audience. I like the idea that it could be anyone on Roberts Street or beyond. Some artist is chuckling over their drive-by bunnying. It seems that would narrow the list of suspects but almost everyone I know on the Keweenaw Peninsula is artistic. As I clean up my potager, I look forward to creating bunnyscapes. As hard as it is to resist, I’m late with a rake in the spring. I want my bunnies in a pristine setting, but the garden wildlife need warmer weather to emerge from the leaves and winter stalks. Patience is my act of generosity.

Not that I have time to dig the dirt. Two and a half more weeks and I’m done with school. I’ve had classmates tell me that I’m in one of the most dreaded classes of the course. At least I know I’m not the only one struggling to understand it. The other course is a content and copy class and we are studying SEO. Shoot me in the foot. I get what Search Engine Optimization is. I don’t buy into its value or all they hype that it’s something worth mastering. Not to say it isn’t a worthwhile strategy for marketing content. I adhere to other strategies. SEO will never be WOM (Word of Mouth). The latter includes people, the human factor in marketing.

Regardless, one of my favorite professors leads the course. I wish it were a prof I didn’t like and I could feel more justified in my moaning and groaning. I also can tell a difference in my classmates. Many from the earlier part of the program have taken a break or left. It seems COVID has exacted a toll. People are tired, unhappy. More disconnected. One peer has been a shining light, though, and I’ve gravitated toward her generous feedback that has helped me get through these last two classes.

I’m learning to be generous with myself, too. I had wanted to forge ahead with plans after graduation. I tried my best to keep up with business development, coursework, and thesis writing. In the end, my focus narrowed to a laser beam on my novel. After all, it was the primary purpose of my MFA journey. I’ve received a generous amount of feedback from my advisor and began yet another round of revisions last week. To me, it’s exciting. I know to dig into the comments, read the resources she recommends, and roll up my sleeves and do the work. Like my garden emerging ugly, I’ve decided to find the beauty in the mud.

And to wait. I don’t have a deadline on what I plan to do. True, I have a tiny bit of savings, enough to see me through six months after graduation plus a small investment in my business. I want to shout it to the world because I am excited for my vision. But I’m practicing mindfulness and recognizing that my neighbors can’t possibly see the potager as it will be in years to come. All I have is shaping clay and I need to trust the process to make it into the artistic vision I see. I need to be generous and offer myself the gift of time.

According to a newsletter I subscribe to:

“One way to practice generosity is to give energy where it is needed, whether that is in the form of time, money or love.”

Daily Om, Planting the Seeds of Generosity

The gift of time spoke to me. Giving without thought of return is an act of generosity. Someone gave me bunnies, a work of their artistic hands, and my neighborhood is enriched. Every week, writers give me stories, and like a community table, I prepare a spread we can all taste and enjoy. How remarkable generosity is.

There is yet another way to consider generosity. Brené Brown counts it as part of the Braving Inventory from her book and process, Dare to Lead. I post a copy next to my desk, alongside my vision for my writer’s life. You can print off one of your own, scroll down this Workbook page to Downloads where you will find Generosity listed in the Braving Inventory.

“What is the hypothesis of generosity? What is the most generous assumption you can make about this person’s intentions or what this person said?”

Brené Brown

Do you feel what she is saying? That we can be generous in our thinking towards others. Instead of generalizing the worst about someone, we can extend them the best intentions. The grace we can give one another to co-exist with diversity of views, expressions, and lived experiences. The love and compassion we can all feel when the table is set generously for everyone, especially those who have experienced oppression and marginalization. The empathy we can extend recognizing individual traumas, healing, and scars. To sit and listen, to hold space for others, to witness — these are acts of generosity.

And they are as uplifting as shared art. In fact, the art you share, the stories you tell, they do make a difference in the world.

April 15, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think of generosity as planting a future outcome. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 20, 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.

Shared Between Neighbors by Charli Mills

Mara’s untamed yard tumbled toward Randal’s. He kept his edges squared, lawn clipped, and garden fenced. Dandelion seeds drifted and yellow globes emerged next door in spring. Mara offered to uproot the plants when Randal returned with herbicide. He scoffed. She persisted. He wavered. She mentioned cancer. Mara dug on hands and knees for three days, preserving roots and flowers. Order reigned over Randal’s lawn once again. She bottled the root tincture to control her menopause. In the fall, she gifted her neighbor a jug of sweet dandelion wine with a vintage label that read, From Seeds of Generosity.

🥕🥕🥕


115 Comments

  1. restlessjo says:

    You are a very enjoyable and thought provoking read, Charli. I enjoy gifting myself the time to read your pieces. 🙂 🙂 I hope your vision transpires. It sounds exciting.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree! Such a beautiful piece Charli. An imaginative and enriching perspective of the weeds in life.

    In literal terms, I had to battle these same weeds last season, with much the same type of – though slightly kinder – neighbour. His lawn is now clear, though I’m falling behind on our weeds all over again.

    Maybe it’s time to outsource!

    Looking forward to this prompt as always. Thank you for the regular challenges Charli.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If it’s any consolation, it’s not yet planting weather in the UK! Although the ground is drying out from winter rains we’re having severe overnight frosts. But enjoying these clear blue skies and the wonder of iced spring flowers. I love the generosity of your garden bunnies, just hope they don’t turn into real ones that will fight you for your salad crops.

    Yes, be generous with yourself. You’re nurturing future projects just by being you. Your leadership style is extremely generous, especially the way you encourage and compliment other writers. Perhaps SEOs for less generous leaders, also as you know you can have both.

    Love your flash. Makes me wonder if I should do something similar with the results of my wildflower meadows when the neighbours all have close-cropped lawns. Although, being lazy, I’ll pat myself on the back for sharing the butterflies.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Here’s mine – apologies I had to submit it twice as I omitted the ending first time. It’s called

      In the footsteps of Anonymous

      https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/interiority-the-performance-nervous-system

      Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Do iced flowers suffer a shortened life? The crocus and glories of the snow seem to do well with the cold and snow (four inches today). If apple trees bloom and a frost follows, we don’t get very many apples later. But we don’t have early blooming flowers beyond the snow-hardy bulbs. It’s quite drab this time of year with lots of browns. I marvel at UK springs. I’d love to be your neighbor and receive the gift of butterflies.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t know. The transplants die off with frost but the annuals seem to do okay. Apple trees bloom late enough here but the pear blosson can suffer from frost. Ours haven’t flowered yet. With the wet winter we have a fabulous crop of snake’s head fritillaries. Spring is glorious here but I’ve seen better in other parts of Europe. I’d love you to be my neighbour too!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Nice! I looked up snake’s head fritillaries and they are beautiful. I can order some in the fall and I may give them a go and see how they like winters full of wet snow. Funny to think that you have seen better gardens elsewhere when I imagine the best gardens in the world being in the UK. We’d make great neighbors, Anne. We could parallel play as we wrote, read, and gardened!

        Like

  4. Wonderful gestures with the secret giver’s gift of bunnies, and with Mara’s uprooting and wine delivery.

    And a glowing post of the various forms of generosity. Posts like this are akin to road signs for scenic views. Of pausing in the journey to soak in the view around us. Appreciate what others have given. Meditate on what we could give ourselves and others.

    Thanks for the thoughtfullnes you’ve put into this post and the fiction prompt. And best wishes on your class 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you for generously joining the journey to appreciate what we give and are given, Dave. We do have much to soak in around us. I like to pay attention to generosity. Thank you for yours!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. […] was written for Charli’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to write a story that seeds […]

    Liked by 3 people

  6. nightlake says:

    Hi Charli,

    Please find below my flash fiction for this week:

    Contentment – Flash Fiction

    Thank you so much for the opportunity.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. […] April 15, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think of generosity as planting a future outcome. Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 1 person

  8. nightlake says:

    Speaking of SEO, I started as a web writer. We were told to insert keywords, ‘cheap mortgage loans’ and ‘best mortgage loans’ six times in an article of 600 words. Thankfully, things are not so bad in the SEO world now:)

    Coming to the topic, Covid has indeed brought out the best in some people. Hope Randal understands Mara’s kind nature and generousity.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Just popping in to say I adore Brené. 🙂 (Couldn’t leave that be.) Great prompt!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Liz H says:

    Generosity, a fine topic that is quite timely in our little pocket of the world. So much hurt and so much fear on so many sides, that echoes and reawakens what we thought was getting scarred over.
    Can’t blame social media for all of it.
    May all our kind acts, both random and purposeful, help smooth our healing to a better-functioning body.
    Looking forward to Ranchers’ creativity!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Love your dandelion story, Charli! Have a wonderful spring; I sure remember how s-l-o-w-l-y those usually arrived in the UP:)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. […] two part response to the April 15, 2021, Carrot Ranch prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and […]

    Liked by 2 people

  13. […] If you want to participate, here’s the link:  CARROT RANCH […]

    Liked by 2 people

  14. floridaborne says:

    I had fun with this one. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. […] response to the April 15, 2021, Carrot Ranch prompt: “In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? […]

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Equity

    The guys even ranked on the new kid’s lunch.
    Surprisingly, Chet actually offered him his sub. The kid refused.
    “What? Ever… Loser.”
    I went and sat with the new kid. ‘Trade?’
    Honestly, mom’s sandwiches are as good or better than Chet’s deli subs. But don’t go thinking I’m generous or anything. Honestly, I just wanted to show up Chet.
    But the second day I choked down his bland bologna sandwich while he enjoyed mom’s egg salad— that was true generosity.
    These days I’m just having lunch with a friend. We split our lunches, sharing what we have between us.

    (And another flash or two here:
    https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/2021/04/16/crlc-challenge-sixsentencestory/ )

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      D., a good deed becomes a friendship when the generosity is shared.

      Like

    • Jules says:

      Some of the schools have tables for new students and encourage the regulars to welcome them. They have benches outside too to encourage others to visit with those who might be shy.

      Your story reminds me of a movie I saw where a mother kept insisting her daughter change and bought her clothing that was too small, but the ‘maid’ took out the seams as far as they’d go so the child would fit in them. Health is one reason, but not every body needs to be the same.

      Like

  17. Nothing Difficult Is Ever Easy

    The townspeople weren’t amused that the man whose farm was next door to the church didn’t attend services.
    When they desired to build a newer larger church, this farmer, Mr. Wolff, gave them a generous amount for the old structure.
    The townspeople weren’t amused when Mr. Wolff used the old church to shelter his sheep nor when he used the signboard in front:
    When you find your humor, God will find you.
    The townspeople concluded that it wasn’t easy to be good and they prayed for Mr. Wolff.
    Mr. Wolff whistled a merry tune as he tended his flock.

    This was originally a longer six sentence story but I got it down to 99 words because the prompt reminded me of this story.
    https://shiftnshake.wordpress.com/2021/01/01/distance-sixsentencestory/

    Liked by 5 people

  18. I know it’s unlike me to take the prompt and chew it up like a puppy but the Devil makes me do it.

    Seeding generosity

    On the critique site, ‘Jane Air’ nitpicked her way through my post, trailing pedantry and ignorance behind her as she dripped 500 words of bile on my 250 words of flash fiction. Finding one of her literary gems, I offered a generous assessment. ‘In a parallel universe, unicorns may well have had carnal relations with Vikings and faeries and created a dystopian apocalypse. You have seeded in me a blinding insight into the follies of representing the so-called real world in literature. Thank you for alerting me to the error of my ways. PS Keep on taking the tablets.’

    Liked by 6 people

  19. denmaniacs4 says:

    A Tolerance on The Loss of an Infant Unborn

    I stood there in the shadow
    of my spiraling desire,
    watched the fleeting rainbow
    shine on the communal choir.

    I know my own shortcomings,
    as clear as spring-scrubbed glass,
    as loud as heartfelt drumming’s
    that suggest this too will pass.

    Beyond my own meandering,
    I gaze into their mounting grief,
    side-step any sorrowed pandering,
    that bent to be a teary thief.

    I’ll offer discreet compassion
    should we meet in a public space,
    wordless, and, after a fashion,
    my own nod of silent grace.

    For this, I know,
    that such a loss,
    ‘tis a massive blow,
    time longs to cross.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Jennie says:

    Hi Charli. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I hope my submission came through.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Norah says:

    I love the ways in which you describe generosity in your post, Charli. There is definitely more than one way to be generous.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I loved your piece of flash fiction, Charli. I had no idea where it was going.
    Did those bunnies appear before, at, or after Easter? And did you check for any chocolate eggs?
    Spring is in full swing in our garden. I hope it reaches you soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      The real bunnies left suspect chocolate eggs which the new puppy discovered. The wooden ones appeared before Easter. Hugh, how I love UK gardens! I watch Gardener’s World with Monty Don and marvel. Enjoy! I have crocus in fresh snow. A repetitive spring theme.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Our crocus spring flowers have long gone, Charli. But we’re currently enjoying the tulips and daffodils. My partner watches Gardeners’ World every week. I sometimes join him. Mother Natures generosity of an ever-changing garden is something I like to sit and watch.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        We like to watch the same view! Mother Nature is a channel I never grow tired of watching. My daughter would enjoy chatting with your partner about gardening specifics. You and I could sit back, smile, and watch!

        Like

  23. […] new Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge is about […]

    Liked by 3 people

  24. […] for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join […]

    Liked by 3 people

  25. suespitulnik says:

    Hi Charli,
    Your bunny family is giving you much joy. Awesome. I see them as a gift that keeps on giving, as you do to this group. Kudos to whoever snuck them into your yard.
    “Generous in our thinking towards others.” What a powerful gift we have at hand to offer everyone we come in contact with if we recognize it. Thank you for the “lightbulb moment.”
    I’m counting the days till school is done alongside you and looking forward to the gifts you have in store for us at the Ranch. On to the prompt…

    Money or Time

    Three Sundays in a row Lexi found a gift bag for Emma on the front porch. In exasperation, she called her mother. “I appreciate Grandma’s generosity but she’s buying Emma newborn stuff that she’s too big for. And I don’t get the surprise factor bit.”
    Tessa sighed. “I guess mother is trying to make up for not spoiling you as a baby. She means well.”
    “I figured, but it’s a waste. I’ll invite her to lunch. I can tell her we would rather have her visit.”
    “An invitation to babysit would send her over the moon.”
    “Right. Got it.”

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Sue, I’ve been blessed with bunnies and carrots! 😉 I love gifts I can share, too. Like cake. I remember (fondly) the cakes you shared with us in Vermont.

      Ah, I’m glad that description of generosity resonates with you. It made me rethink the act of generosity. And the choice I can have in those moments. You took that idea and demonstrate it in your flash. Tessa helps Lexi to take a more generous view of the intentions of her grandmother. Well done! And it furthers your story.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, she’s got to stop the unwanted un needed gifts. And time will go both ways. Good one.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jules says:

      An enjoyable read. Giving folks the opportunity to be useful is something they’ll treasure!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. […] This was written with the prompt to write a story that seeds generosity provided by the Carrot Ranch April 15 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  27. […] Carrot Ranch April 15 April 15, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think of generosity as planting a future outcome. Go where the prompt leads! Respond by April 20, 2021 […]

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Jules says:

    Dear Charli…

    I really enjoyed your flash. I think one of my grandfathers made such wine.
    Time was getting away from me as I’ve been working on a project, helping family… and just general life. So since you’ve got the earliest dead line; here is a haibun:

    Plumb Bob?

    lessons are good seeds
    they can be invisible
    multiplied when plumb

    The seeds were planted by example. Do as I do, and they did. Some made professional careers out of helping the public, while still continuing to volunteer in multiple locations. While growing up the seeds blossomed by helping one on one with differently abled students, training for firefighting, leadership, counting replies, rescuing strays. Being involved with extra school programs to entertain the public to raise funds.

    Watching what their parents did, the children grew into adults worth bragging about. Though their parents were careful not to embarrass them…

    ©JP/dh

    Liked by 4 people

  29. […] *Carrot Ranch Prompt (04/15/2021): In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think of generosity as planting a future outcome. Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Liz H says:

    Needing a bit of cheer, over here. Please accept my offering, my wishes for a more spontaneously generous world, all in Mother Nature’s hands.

    [Continue ]

    A spring wind puffed and released tiny skydivers of cherry blossom every time she walked by. She couldn’t have helped it, even if she’d wanted to, which she really didn’t want to be able to do. Those sweet blossoms spread joy and peace to all who walked under its showers or over its flowers.

    Better yet, the effervescent blessing of that spring shower passed automatically on to anyone within five miles of those so affected. She was grateful the season was short; it was exhausting, being the origin of so much good.

    At least she got her Steps in!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Liz H says:

    Needing a bit of cheer, over here. Please accept my offering, my wishes for a more spontaneously generous world, all in Mother Nature’s hands.

    [Love Grows ]
    A spring wind puffed and released tiny skydivers of cherry blossom every time she walked by. She couldn’t have helped it, even if she’d wanted to, which she really didn’t want to be able to do. Those sweet blossoms spread joy and peace to all who walked under its showers or over its flowers.

    Better yet, the effervescent blessing of that spring shower passed automatically on to anyone within five miles of those so affected. She was grateful the season was short; it was exhausting, being the origin of so much good.

    At least she got her Steps in!

    Liked by 3 people

  32. […] by this prompt from the Carrot Ranch Literary Community: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds […]

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Here’s mine:

    The Queen’s Gift

    The Queen’s Gift

    The girls from the human village eagerly peered into the forest, some bouncing up and down in anticipation. When a bright light appeared from within the darkened space, they all respectfully stepped back and cleared the path. The Fairy Queen gracefully flew out, smiling at them. The girls held out cupped hands, and the Queen gave each of them a small handful of enchanted wildflower seeds. They curtsied and ran off to scatter their seeds around the edges of their family’s farms, where the Queen’s magic would bring luck and a rich harvest in the fall through the flowers.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. I didn’t know about the root tincture, but we have eaten the blooms as well as made wine from them and of course the greens. Roots like that are little plows in the soil opening it up to new depths and exchanging minerals. We know the joy of seeing the seeds in the wind. Yet the dandelion, such a generous plant, is much maligned.
    All this to say, “Good flash!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      I love your description of the roots plowing the depths, D. Those roots are medicinal with their minerals. The tincture is for crones and also stabilizes blood pressure and supports the liver.

      Like

  35. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that seeds generosity. Who is generous and why? Think … […]

    Liked by 1 person

  36. […] “Could a been, but fer his own perseverance and a bit a good luck an’ some generosity.” […]

    Like

Comments are closed.

A 5-Star Readers’ Favorite!

Writers Vision Planting

S.M.A.G. Kindness Among Bloggers

S.M.A.G., Norah Colvin, @NorahClovin

Proud Member

Readilearn

readilearn @NorahColvin @readilearn

Subscription at readilear.com.au

Healing Touch & Reiki

Kid & Pal Every Monday

Get Featured!

Poet Lariat of the Ranch

H.R.R. Gorman, Columnist

Anne Goodwin, Columnist

Bill Engleson, Columnist

Ann Edall-Robson, Columnist

Susan Sleggs, Columnist

Norah Colvin, Columnist

Sherri Matthews, Columnist

Ruchira Khanna, Columnist

“A delightful story of a conventional Delhi girl who finds herself in the eye of a storm, ‘Bowled but Not Out’ brings out a whirlwind of emotions through its pages.”

Cee’s Listing

Pure Michigan Lit

Charli Mills in the UP Reader

%d bloggers like this: