October 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

October 8, 2021

Take a walk in the cemetery with me. Come on, it’s October, a time of seasonal transition in both hemispheres, and I’m itching to catch stories. Gravestones contain the tales of people who once lived where we do. History for those who can read between the rows of marble and lines etched in stone.

Many writers tingle at the mention of a local bookstore. Others revere libraries. Me, I’m a cemetery geek through and through. And what could be better than a local National Park offering a tour of the dead and buried? A tour led by a local historian and fellow graveyard geek.

Meet Ranger Lynette of the Keweenaw National Historic Park.

Full disclosure: Ranger L is my hero. She not only researches, she gathers stories and allows them to haunt her the way writers work with characters. I could sit late into the night and listen to her collected stories of the Keweenaw.

When the KNHP advertised fall tours of Lake View Cemetery on the fringes of Calumet, I felt a jolt of excitement. I knew October was going to be a busy slog into the long winter, so I decided to take a guided evening stroll among 35,000 buried stories. The cemetery is so large that our tour clocked over a mile of walking.

We began at the veterans section where one stately memorial honored soldiers of the Civil and Spanish Wars and a block of granite acknowledge the burials of other soldiers with missing markers. Ranger L pointed out the marker of Louis Schweigert. Behind his white marble veteran’s grave were the plots of most of his family. Except daughter Caroline, who remains buried at Schoolcraft Cemetery on the other side of Calumet. On June 17, 1873 the seven-year-old girl was found murdered, leading to several accusations and one questionable confession by a teen nephew who later claimed he did not do the foul deed. To this day, her murder remains a mystery. I find it sad and curious that she is interred alone elsewhere. I foresee a headstone hunt in the abandoned cemetery next spring, and archive diving over winter. Ranger L has been researching the murders of women in the Copper Country.

Justice whispers on the wind through the cemetery trees.

Lake View is divided into two cemeteries, one Catholic and one Protestant. Immigrants on both sides abound. The copper mines attracted families seeking work and a better life. That life didn’t always turn out. For the first time, I paid respects to the victims of the Italian Hall Disaster.

Copper mines took advantage of workers and families lost homes when mining accidents claimed the lives of husbands. The company owned everything — the land, the ore, the houses, the stores. Miners went on strike for fairer conditions in July 1913. By Christmas, children were suffering the impact of the strike and Big Annie gathered other women who had fought along side their men to host a Christmas party for the children at the Italian Hall. Mothers and children from various faiths and countries attended. When a thug yelled, “Fire!” a crush of women and children fled and perished in the stairwell. This disaster still hangs over the Copper Country.

Stories from cemeteries are not all horrific, though. We can learn much through the observation of icons. Hands, for example. It’s common for one spouse to hold hands with another on a grave marker. Have you ever noticed different cuffs? One is a wife, the other a husband. Today, we could have same cuffs on a grave which society would have denied. Some hands, like the one below, reveal secret handshakes. Today, we could engrave fist bumps.

Someone took great pains to decorate a marker with pebbles from Lake Superior (and ,yeas, I examined all the rocks eagerly). Ranger L referred to such markers as folk art. Today, cemetery associations forbid home-made gravestones, including hand-carved slabs of Jacobsville Sandstone.

Some cultures included porcelain photographs on gravestones. They are not common to the cemeteries I’ve studied out west, but Lake View has several.

Veterans are often buried in family plots beyond the military section. I keep an eye out for the bronzed or marble markers. I feel a sense of relief when I see a person lived beyond their combat era. Those who died in combat compel me to look up their units and battle records. Of course, I’m always keen to find military graves of women.

The occasional beer can shows up and I wonder if the resident chipmunks had a party while gathering acorns or if a friend left a cold one.

Cemetery humor is a must for breaking up the sadness of life and the spookiness of wandering among the dead. I laughed when I saw the last name of Geist so proudly proclaimed. Is this where they buried Polter? I hope not! Moving on I noticed the curious coverings on more modern graves. Ranger L explained that families often “winterize” graves, urns and solar lights. I also look for character names. Bessie Bloy is a great name, don’t you think?

Stories are the hallmark of any cemetery. Ranger L’s astute sleuthing uncovered not only the grave of a Titanic survivor, but that of one buried at sea. The story goes, Anges Edwards of Cornwall had a grown son working the mines of Kearsarge (near Calumet). Recently widowed with two sons at home, one a boy, the other a young man of 20, she sold her home and bought passage on the Titanic. She awoke when the ship struck the fateful iceberg. The stewards told her to remain in her berth but curiosity drove them to go up deck. She and her boy were placed in the third lifeboat. She begged for them to let her older son come with her. The boat was hardly full and when lowered, other men, giving into their instinct to live, climbed or leapt into the lowering boats. Her son, Joseph Nicholls, died that night. His marker rests beside hers.

As we neared the end of our tour, Ranger L pointed out a tombstone with a book that read, “Mother.” I took a writerly interest in the feature although it likely symbolizes that Mother’s book is complete.

The final whisper of the evening came from the living. An elderly man reached high into a tree to pluck seed pods. Curious, I asked him about it. He broke apart the pod to reveal the seeds of hophornbeam (ironwood). He told me that he plants tree seeds where the mines left behind barren poor rock. I found that an interesting act, to plant something one would never live to see. An act of faith. Appropriate ending for our tour. Thank you for joining me!

October 7, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes whispers. It can be beautiful or creepy and any genre. Where are the whispers, who are they from, and what do they say if they say anything at all. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by October 12, 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 are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Whispers by Charli Mills

Jane swung, pumping her legs to gain height. The wooden swing her father hung grew in the red oak her great-grandfather planted as a teenager. Jane never knew Romeo Tonti, an immigrant, but when she reached high enough she heard him whisper through the rustle of leaves. Jane learned the family recipe for spaghetti – use fresh rosemary – and how to splice a crab apple into a honeycrisp tree – for pollination, nipotina. Her mother proclaimed to the other soccer moms that her daughter was a cooking and gardening prodigy. He father would smile and wink. He heard the whispers, too.

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100 Comments

  1. Rebecca Glaessner Author

    What an array of cultures and lifetimes in a single cemetery. It’s like a collection of stories. A library of lives to be felt and experienced in a different way to books. I’m not keen on cemeteries though I’m curious to discover how a tour helps reveal a cemetery’s unseen mysteries.

    This prompt is a curious one too. I’ve pre-chosen an image this time to see if it’ll prompt me further (and to save time finding one during publishing after).

    • Charli Mills

      Rebecca, I love your phrase, “a library of lives.” Yes! So many stories in what is said and left unsaid. That makes grave markers flash fiction in a way. Perhaps, poetry. And so many are left unmarked. My favorite place to be alone as a child was an abandoned cemetery. It didn’t spook me. I was curious about all those previous lives and their stories. Because I moved so much with my husband, I’d find the nearest and oldest cemetery to feel rooted and connected to its past so I felt less of a stranger to its present.

      Good tactic! Glad your pre-pic gave you an entry point that worked quickly for you. That’s what I’m working on with my students — quick draw writing on any topic! It is a remedy for resistance.

      • Rebecca Glaessner Author

        That’s an empowering way to centre yourself in a new place. I never considered cemeteries that way. Being the first generation born in Australia to a large European family, cemeteries were always just another place where children were seen and not heard, and no questions were ever answered, and no emotions explained. Everything was taboo. Left me not seeing much beauty in cemeteries.

        How coincidental that I pre-selected a picture this week in line with your own real life teaching. I think that’s great! And it did help, immensely. It’s going to be a regular addition to my weekly process now.

      • Charli Mills

        What a great way to expand your creativity into different expressions. I find that a dynamic vibe.

  2. denmaniacs4

    At the end of a summer of touring Europe in 1963 with 300 Canadian youth, I spent two weeks with a wing of my mother’s family in Weybridge, Surrey, twenty or so miles southwest of London. Elizabeth, mother of 4 daughters and a second or third cousin of my mother, generously catered to my whim of spending a day or two (I can’t quite remember exactly) visiting churches and adjoining church cemeteries. Where my interest in graveyards came from I have no idea. I did enjoy reading obituaries…however, most of the rest of my fantastic European summer was devoted to the sorts of gratification you might expect from a pleasure-seeking sixteen-year-old male.

    I still read obituaries but have shied away from cemeteries for the most part.

    • Charli Mills

      I think if you can see cemeteries as a collection of stories or have a curiosity for the past, they open up as Rebecca said, “a library of lives.” I find them full of connections. I would have been right there with you! What a great trip to take as a teen. Obituaries are interesting too!

  3. robbiesinspiration

    This is a lovely post, Charli. It is sad to learn of the women and children who died in the stampede because of a jokester. That was a very evil thing to do. I like this week’s theme.

    • Charli Mills

      It was evil and intentional. Perhaps the thug did not intend to kill people that night, but the fact that the mining companies have never apologized or shown remorse for what happened is the greatest evil.

      This week is a befitting theme for you!

    • Charli Mills

      Power struggle in these lyrical battles, Reena.

      • Reena Saxena

        Yes. Thank you, Charli!

  4. Richmond Road

    I’ve always found cemeteries to be, in principle, a bit annoying. Especially those ostentatious headstones trying to make more noise than everyone else and still taking up space they don’t need. Military cemeteries I object to even more – making exhibits out of the cannon fodder in an attempt to justify the atrocity.
    *
    A call to arms. Another land
    Ideals I did not understand
    Unknown soldier. Unknown truth
    Ideals are not bullet proof
    A fallen hero. Fallen son
    Lost to what could not be won
    An epitaph to bold and brave
    Here etched in stone upon my grave
    Words of praise, of noble fight
    Not words that I would ever write
    Don’t search these graves. Don’t ask the dead
    Search within your souls instead
    No heroes here. Please move along
    Go back to where you come from
    There is no honour, only fear
    Death the only message here
    I was a soldier, was a fool
    Do you see honour? More fool you.

    *

    • Charli Mills

      Nothing like endless rows of stark white marbles to drive home the human capital of war. Most cemeteries where I lurk lack ostentatiousness, which is curious now that you bring up such markers. Certainly, you notice the finer markers of mine captains versus the hand-carved slabs of the souls who met their deaths in those tunnels to line someone else’s pockets. But overall, you see the book, the chapters, the stories of a place. We give names to those who volunteered for war (or those who didn’t). We see the intersections of cultures, the intermarriages, the point in time when a family name has its last burial. Where did descendants go? And if you look hard enough, you can hear the whispers of women and find hints of identity beyond patriarchal confines.

      Your flash reminds me of a condensed version of a book Mark Twain once wrote called The War Prayer. It was the antithesis of the false nobility of war. I don’t honor any war. I fight to hold my nation accountable for the harm war causes. I do honor those who served and carry the burdens other citizens discard or disregard.

      • Richmond Road

        I certainly do not seek to dishonour those who wore uniforms in war (no matter what side they fought for) but the word ‘served’ sits uncomfortably with me.

      • Charli Mills

        I understand what you are saying, Richmond. I use “served” because it is the word preferred by those who did serve. I just now asked my husband about the word (he’s a wounded combat veteran) and he says it’s a good general word to include different branches and duties. Service means doing a job for your country and fellow citizens. That is how he explains it. I hope it expands thoughts on the use of the word. Thank you for the discussion!

      • Richmond Road

        I am certainly honoured by any such comparison, Doug. The Pogues did a great version too.

  5. Norah

    When I saw your post was about exploring cemeteries, Charli, what jumped into my mind was something my mother used to say to me: You’ll be the death of me. ???? But I do know how much you love exploring cemeteries for the stories they tell and the secrets they hold.
    I remember you telling us about that Italian Hall tragedy before. It is so sad. I wonder if they ever found out who called ‘fire’ and why. The movie should be very interesting. I enjoyed the trailer.
    The few short stories you included in your post are interesting. Perhaps I need to start reading cemeteries too – I’ll add them to my list. Do they come as ebooks? ????
    I enjoyed your flash. Both Jane and her dad are able to hear the whispers from the other side. Perhaps it is a gift. Perhaps they just listen well.
    Enjoy your busy month of October.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s funny, Norah! Now I’m thinking of the haggard moms! Cemetery reading is a lifelong passion, as you already know. And, no, they never had a person to hold accountable for the tragedy. The mining companies shrugged it off. They were the ones who hired thugs to make the striking miners and their families miserable. If anyone died, the miners were blamed for the strike. Seeing the markers brought that story back to me fresh. Especially the one marker with mother and child.

      This post was the closest I could get to a digital version for you!

      • Norah

        Thank you for the digital version. It was excellent with lots of detail, though tragic.

    • Norah

      Here’s my story: https://norahcolvin.com/2021/10/13/whispers-flashfiction/

      Whispers
      She watched from the side, longing to join in, fearing being ignored. Or worse, banished. Determined to beat her shyness, she’d shuffle one step forward, then the old insecurities would immobilise her, reminding her she didn’t belong. One foot forward. Stop. Another foot forward. Stop. She was almost there when the game paused, and they looked directly at her. She froze. They feigned whispers hidden behind hands. She didn’t need to guess. She ran and hid behind a tree, wishing for invisibility. “I’ll never belong!” Soon one face appeared, then others. “Please come and play with us,” they chorused.

      • Charli Mills

        This one strikes a chord with its painful experience but introduces a different ending. The one we can learn to adapt.

      • Norah

        It would be good if we could.

  6. noelleg44

    A great post! When researching my historical novel, I visited a number of graveyards in the Plymouth, MA area, finding the burial sites of some of the second generation of Mayflower passengers. Also, cemeteries are lovely places to take a walk, especially in the spring and fall!

    • Charli Mills

      What a terrific way to research. Do you feel it gives you a visual for the history you seek for your books, Noelle? It sounds fascinating to trace multiple generations. And yes! I love the beauty of burial spaces. Many were intended to be park-like to invite the living to regard the dead.

  7. Sarah Brentyn

    I adore cemeteries. Always have. I could spend hours wandering through them and always find/visit them when I travel. Happy Friday!

    • Charli Mills

      Kindred spirits (or geeks), Sarah! If you understand the draw, it’s a strong one!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        It is a strong one. (And, I joke, genetic. I got it from my grandmother and one of my sons heeds the call…) 😉

      • Charli Mills

        Such a fine calling to pass along! I was beaming the day my middle child posted photos from a trip “down” to Norway from Svalbard and she included a high mountain hike to an old cemetery.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        That’s so cool! 🙂 Whenever I travel, cemeteries are one of the first things I look up. Imagine coming home and knowing you ate lunch *right* next to a gorgeous cemetery and didn’t know?! The horror! (Har. Sorry.)

      • Charli Mills

        No that’s a horror story, Sarah!

  8. Jules

    Charli,

    I like the enchantment of your flash fiction. And that the father and daughter perhaps share that secret. While I am not a big fan of cemeteries and at one time I avoided them, I no longer fear them. There are several small family plots – once I took flowers to a small fenced in yard that was left by a highway… very hard to get to. Another plot that has maybe three or five markers is in the library park. Now I am curious to the dates there…

    Anyway I morphed a whispered section of something I’ve written from the directions of the prompt I smooshed this one with. There’s more at my post to explain (A Room with a View; two stanza – The word Stanza comes from the Italian for room):

    Un cuarto con vista
    (two five line stanzas; two rooms)

    All that was left of the ‘vanity,’ Great Aunt Something
    Or Other left her – No real value, just took up space
    Left to collect dust in the corner of the room
    The Dust Bunnies claimed it for their own and multiplied
    As did her stress for trying to figure out what to do with it

    Looking in the mirror, she saw her Great Aunt’s face
    The lips kept moving without making any sound
    So she sat on the cushion stool, stared, waiting
    then hearing the faint whisper of music
    She saw the lovers waltzing at the Grand Ball

    © JP/dh

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Maybe that vanity was worth the wait. There’s some magic here.

      • Jules

        I think magic and imagination go hand in hand 😉

    • Charli Mills

      What a view, Jules! Dust Bunnies guarded an ancestral portal to a dance of love. It was valuable, after all.

      We’ve had a great exchange before over cemeteries, Jules, and you find interesting remnants in your neck of the woods. That was kind to take flowers to forgotten markers.

      • Jules

        There are hidden stories in stone – that much is true!

  9. Doug Jacquier

    My favorite headstone is that of inspired Irish comic genius Spike Milligan, which reads in Gaelic “Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite” , which translates as ‘I told you I was ill.’

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Ah!
      That is almost a Japanese death poem, that Gaelic quip.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Last time I looked Spike was Irish but he would be pleased with being considered a Milligan-san. 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! The final, I-told-you-so. I guess Spike got the last word.

  10. Michael B. Fishman

    I love Arlo Guthrie and it was a treat to see him show up randomly in the video you posted. I miss him. Because of a religious superstition that said one doesn’t go onto a cemetery when one’s parents are still alive, except for funerals, I had no experience with them and hadn’t been to one to just walk and look around until well into my adult life. Then my dad died and I started taking afternoons and visiting some local cemeteries. My recurring thought was how could a place that had been taboo be so beautiful? And so peaceful. And for the religious, so close to God? I agree that there are stories in the stones, but some of them – the children and the newborns – are too difficult to look at and think about.

    • Charli Mills

      Michael, I missed out on that taboo but had a friend who didn’t. I never could convince her to explore with me. I see signs that people make cemeteries comfortable for the living, like planting (or using flower urns), placing benches, leaving tokens, and even designing landscapes to be peaceful parks. God is found in resting places, in the tears of grief, and the peace of loving memories. Ah. The stones of children and infants. That’s where I hunt for the stories of women. It is painful, and yet we are witnesses to mark the loss.

  11. Doug Jacquier

    My contribution for this week.

    I Told You I Was Ill

    The cracks appear in the plaster
    and they start to match up with your mind,
    because the foundations have slipped.

    You ask not for whom the telephone bell tolls
    because it never tolls for thee.

    In the silence you can hear Death whispering
    and your doctor says ‘take these’.

    Your children, with their clever minds and dumb hearts,
    are deaf to your rhythms and your reality
    and suggest you take up yoga.

    If only you knew one thing you were sure was true,
    for now and for ever,
    instead of watching the cracks spreading
    in all of the plaster.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Oh my.That last stanza, especially “If only you knew one thing you were sure was true…” Grim, and well done so.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Thanks, D. Grim but the reality for so many.

    • Charli Mills

      That image of watching cracks appear and then spread is a stark look at unstoppable decay for a mind with nothing left to ponder.

    • Charli Mills

      Spooky, Joanne!

  12. Hugh W. Roberts

    I enjoyed the walk with you; thank you, Charli. I especially enjoyed the story about Anges Edwards and her sons because of the Titanic connection. It’s a piece of history that has always interested me. Seeing those lifeboats less than half-full must have been heartbreaking for everyone.

    I never thought about finding names for characters from a walk in a cemetery. Bessie Bloy is an excellent name. I wonder what her history was? It puts me in mind of a local lady called Peggy Peach who recently passed away.

    Cemeteries hold so much history that I don’t know why people don’t visit for reasons other than pay their respects. So many lives of those who came and went before us and who lived where we now live our lives.

    • Charli Mills

      I thought of you, Hugh, when I learned of the Titanic gravestones, remembering your column and the story, “A Night to Remember.” It touched so many lives.

      Oh, I like the name Peggy Peach. Gravestones can help with historical names, revealing common and unusual ones from a specific era or region. I researched Bessie. Her parents came from England to Red Jacket (the old name for Calumet). Her father was Richard Pearce, her mother, Elizabeth Jacka. Her father was a stagecoach driver. Bessie married the undertaker in town. He sold furniture and prepared people for burials. One newspaper account reported a horrific accident at the Calumet and Hecala Mine and that the body was brought to the Bloy’s funeral home where an inquest would take place. Now, I’m thinking, what a fabulous character because Bessie would have been privileged to know details of the deaths of locals. Bessie Bloy, undertaker’s wife, who solved mining town murders? Hmmm. There’s potential!

      Yes, I agree. So much history to read in situ.

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        I agree with that story potential, Charli. Reminds me of the British TV show ‘Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.’ Patricia Routledge played Hetty and solved local murders. Did you ever see that show? It’s from the late 1990s.

      • Charli Mills

        I might need to look up Hetty and “research” my options for Bessie!

  13. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Pig In a Pond

    “Why ya whisperin’ Kid?”
    “Whisperin’ ‘cause I’m a pony.”
    “Whut?!”
    “You know, a little hoarse.”
    “Jeez. Why’re ya hoarse, Kid?”
    “Been hollerin’ fer my hoglet. Tryin’ ta git Curly ta come home.”
    “She’s still hangin’ out with them beavers?”
    “Yep. Swims in their pond, heps with their dam, even dives down an’ gits inta their lodge with ‘em.”
    “Amazin’!”
    “Tell ya what hurts me most, Pal. I walked down there an’ she slapped the water with her tail ta warn the beavers I was there.”
    “Thet little curly tail couldn’t a made much sound.”
    “Jist a whisper. Still hurts.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Whisperin’ Waters A Change

      “Kid, mebbe hollerin’ ain’t the way ta git yer hoglet ta come ta ya.”
      “S’pose Pal.”
      “Look, Kid. Ya were always wantin’ this hog ta be yer fur-baby, even though she ain’t got fur; made her a pet but not much of a pig. Well mebbe she ‘dentifies more as a beaver.”
      “Mebbe. Beavers is real smart, like her. But Pal… I cain’t say goodbye.”
      “She’s right there in the pond.”
      “But that tail slappin’…”
      “Yer gonna have ta regain her trust Kid. Meet her where she’s at.”
      “In the pond?”
      “Respect her beaver-being.”
      “I’ll be a beaver whisperer.”

      • Charli Mills

        Sensory overload! I’m laughing over yelling not being the way; the truth or regaining trust; the image of Culy slapping a pigtail on the water! This is a goodie!

  14. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    When the water whispers to the rock I hear rain drumming within my chest and know it to be my heart. The rock laughs quietly with the water, thrumming deep within my heart and I know it to be my soul.

    Water and Rock drum and sing for these ones who come dancing from the moon, chant and pray for these ones who carry water for the Earth, these whom I know to be my mothers.

    These ones carry the dreams of all that live— fish, birds, grasses, trees, four-leggeds— those I know to be my sisters and brothers.

    • suespitulnik

      Beautiful Dede. A fine ditty to repeat while walking with the water carriers. What an experience that would be!

    • Ann Edall-Robson

      This speaks volumes. Lovely.

    • Liz H

      Poetry that flows. Love this!

    • Charli Mills

      You were tuned in, D.! I love this water whisper.

  15. Marsha

    I enjoyed your informative post about cemeteries, Charli. Both my husband and I love to explore old cemeteries. I’ve done a couple of posts on ones we’ve found. I hope you are doing well.

    I finished and thoroughly enjoyed the lovely book you sent. Her descriptions were out of this world, but after a short time, the story overpowered them and pulled me along for the ride. And what a bumpy ride the protagonist had. It reminded me of a little of the Glass Castle because the parents were a little crazy around the edges and the children seemed to turn out well anyway.

    Thanks again for sharing it with me. I hope you are doing well. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you, Marsha! What’s the most memorable cemetery you’ve explored?

      Oh, good, you read Theresa’s book. She was on the Water Walk this weekend and carried it past her gram’s house in Mason.

      • Marsha

        How fun! I’ve done posts about a couple of interesting cemeteries. One was in Ferndale in Northern California. It’s famous and huge. The other one was in Prescott at the end of Acker Park. That was a recent post.

      • Charli Mills

        I will look up your posts, Marsha!

  16. suespitulnik

    Charli,
    Thank you for sharing your love of cemeteries with us. I was taken with the Rangers project of researching the women who had been murdered. How interesting.
    When I walk the cemetery in my hometown I remember all the people I sold girl scout cookies to, door-to-door, as a youngster. It’s like visiting old friends and family. And I can still see the Patriot Guard surrounding the perimeter to pay their respects and keep away the protestors during the funeral of a young female Afghanistan war casualty.
    On to the prompt…

    Seeking Peace

    The two men sat on a strategically placed bench shaded by a majestic maple. Each leaned forward with their elbows on their knees, looking down or gazing up at a pink marble headstone, remembering. The older one wore a Vietnam Veteran ball cap. The younger one, an Afghanistan. His prosthetic legs shouted disabled veteran. They took turns talking, just above whispers. They could hear each other, but certainly, no one else would have been able to. Ending the conversation, the older touched the younger’s arm, “My daughter died doing what she wanted.” Michael cried, releasing unfounded but real guilt.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Another step forward for Michael, thi releasing.

    • Liz H

      Such a powerful, emotive picture you’ve penned. Visceral.

      • suespitulnik

        Thanks Liz.

    • Charli Mills

      What a powerful memory etched in your mind of the Patriot Guard surrounding the perimeter. So, when I got to your story, I still had that in mind. The two veterans are contemplating in a way few experience. You captured the essence.

      • suespitulnik

        Thanks Charli.

  17. denmaniacs4

    The Ageing Wind

    I hear the wind whistle through the trees,
    a soft and gentle whoosh through the air
    venturing down my spine to my knees,
    blossoming in the late evening glare.

    I find myself drifting into twilight,
    floating as the breezes vacillate,
    twisting here and there in the darkened night,
    ready to accept my coming fate.

    Here in the shadows of my timeline,
    ancestors whisper their each and every name,
    who was begat from whom, where I align,
    each step along my genealogical frame.

    And though there are limits to my rhyme,
    All I am seeking is solace in my time.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      An age old theme- the old-age poem
      the realization we’re all goin’
      yet though there are limits to our time
      there’s yet solace through our rhyme

    • Charli Mills

      I hadn’t thought of the wind aging as it gains more whispers from ancestors. Comforting thought, Bill.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Jane!

      • Jane Aguiar

        Welcome, thank you too ??

    • Charli Mills

      That phrase, “…built over their bones…” makes me pause and remember that the trees long spoke to others before the colonists came.

    • Charli Mills

      You are not forgotten, Myrna! And if I do forget, just send me a gentle reminder.

  18. Ann Edall-Robson

    Voice Calling
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    Craggy tips awakened by the sun. Visible after the wind pushes the blanket of unfriendly clouds away. Mother Nature confirming her beauty is for those who patiently wait in their search of the early morning sky. She continually baits ones visual appetite for more. 

    Moments seem like hours before the simmering palette begins its play among the snow dusted rocks. A powerful vision emerges, eyes comprehend the massive loneliness before them.

    And there is a voice calling. Wind moaning, whispering, baring the soul of the stoic rocky crevices. Telling tales of past sunrises relived in stories of the moment.

    https://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/voice-calling

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      It’s a fine morning to watch the clouds roll off a mountain, to hear the mountain begin its tales.
      Beautiful Ann.

    • Charli Mills

      Beautiful imagery, Ann, like one of your photos come to life.

    • Charli Mills

      Forgive me your story’s placement in the collection, but I found humor in Comfort Cooking placed before Windy Night. But not to discount the poignancy of the last line. I feel that the two stories carry elements of intertwined relationships.

      • Liz H

        No worries!

  19. pedometergeek

    Aloysius Saves the Day

    Aloysius heard the whispers of his people. He didn’t eavesdrop on their conversations, but his hearing had become more acute since his adventure in the fountain.

    His hearing was augmented by violets, which clung to his fur that fateful day. Months later, Aloysius still could hear the slightest sound any of his family made.

    Lily, the youngest child, decided to run away from home because she was mad at her parents. Lily packed underwear in her backpack, walked to the corner, and cried.

    Aloysius came to Lily’s rescue, sitting with her, comforting her, purring, and finally leading her home.

    ~Nancy Brady, 2021

    • Charli Mills

      Aloysius continues to discover natural magic and be the feline superhero.

    • Charli Mills

      The whispers still continue!

  20. Anne Goodwin is bringing Matilda Windsor home

    Been a busy few days and I won’t make today’s deadline. But enjoyed your cemetry tour and always good to hear from Woody Guthrie. Was reminded of a cemetry tour we did in Moscow some years ago. Lots of stories there.

    • Charli Mills

      I hope your presentation went well. I’m glad you could stop by for a bit of song and cemetery meandering. Lots of stories in Moscow, I’m sure! I realize though, that markers are not permanent. Passing tales.

  21. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Joelle!

  22. suespitulnik

    There is definitely magic in any forest floor. I’m glad the youngster got to experience it.

  23. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Donna!

  24. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Hugh!

  25. Charli Mills

    It was a dark and windy night…

  26. Charli Mills

    Thanks for joining us, Francis!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Whispers Remain – Rebecca Glaessner Author - […] October 7: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that…
  2. 99 word prompt: Whispers | Two on a Rant - […] If you want to participate, here’s the link: CARROT RANCH   […]
  3. Battles – Reena Saxena - […] https://carrotranch.com/2021/10/08/october-7-flash-fiction-challenge-2/ […]
  4. nd 10.8 Un cuarto con vista 2p – Jules Pens Some Gems… - […] Carrot Ranch Oct 7 October 7, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that…
  5. Just another life. – Richmond Road - […] at The Carrot Ranch Community I stumbled upon an article about cemeteries. It is a very well written article…
  6. Short Story: Forest Floor Magic - DJ Ranch - […] Carrot Ranch is a dynamic online literary community for those practicing their craft, reading stories, and discussing the process.…
  7. The Whisperer (flash fiction) – joanne the geek - […] This was written with the prompt whispering provided by the Carrot Ranch October 7 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]
  8. Whispers In The Cemetery – Literature World - […] This post is part of https://carrotranch.com/2021/10/08/october-7-flash-fiction-challenge-2/ […]
  9. CRLC Challenge; Whisper | ShiftnShake - […] This is yet another of my Tisquantum (Squanto) tellings which I talked about while in the Saddle Up Saloon’s…
  10. Sardines – Hugh's Views & News   - […] for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join […]
  11. Windy night | Michaelsfishbowl - […] From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s challenge. […]
  12. Comfort Cooking | Valley of the Trolls - […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (10/07/2021): In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes whispers. It can…
  13. The Jetty – Carrot Ranch | Sound Bite Fiction - […] Carrot Ranch Challenge:In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story inspired by […]
  14. That Damn Dog – Francis the Frenchie - […] Prompted from Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction at: https://carrotranch.com/2021/10/08/october-7-flash-fiction-challenge-2/. […]
  15. Whispers #flashfiction | Norah Colvin - […] This week at the Carrot RanchCharli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a…

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