Carry On

Written by Charli Mills

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

November 18, 2021

Luggage or burdens, writers carry on to write the stories.

Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.

Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.

Advancement by Annette Rochelle Aben

Life doesn’t always play out the way you would like. There will be twists and turns even on the straightest of paths.
Corrie looked at herself in the mirror, almost not recognizing her own face. No longer the face of a child, the face of a young career girl, or even the face of a newlywed. No, this was a face of a woman who had been thought the mill, as they say.
As she pulled her hair back into a ponytail, a wry smile appeared. This is the face of a woman who has learned to carry on!


Carry On by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She placed one hand on her lower back and kneaded. He leaned rakishly against her neck, an over-familiar boyfriend, amorous and a little bit drunk. Both knew what was coming. Curling her shoulder to steady him, she swept her sleeve across her brow and looked longingly up at the near-bare deciduous.

He slipped off her shoulder and threw himself to the ground with a clang and shiver of tines.

She rolled her eyes. How he carried on! This happened every year. Exhilaration at the start led to wishing it was all over.

The snow shovel always replaced the rake.


Carry On by Jane Aguiar

I got married but a strange thing happened. My mother-in-law was sleeping with me since the day we got married, so we decided to meet outside.
We both lied to her and met outside. We went to a city lodge thinking that it would be safe but suddenly at noon the police raided the lodge.
My husband was very scared. When the police inspector asked for identity, I took out the marriage certificate and when they asked me to explain the reason, I told them the whole truth. The police inspector smiled mischievously and said, “You guys carry on.”


Where To Now? by Hugh W. Roberts

After witnessing the summer solstice and coming out to each other, Richard and Adrian face an important decision.


After witnessing the solstice, Richard asked, “What do we do now?”

“We carry on what we’re doing,” replied Adrian.

“But what if—“

“We’re young; we carry on who we are, not what others want us to be. Nothing and nobody can ever change us.”

“But my father, he’ll try. He’ll kill us. He’d never cope knowing I’m carrying on with another guy.”

“Carrying on? Another guy? Who do you love more, Richard?”

A long pause was interrupted when both young men turned and faced each other and spoke simultaneously.

“Let’s carry on being who we are. I love you.”


Carry On by Floridaborne

“Carry on,” the Englishman said, in a world war two epic.

My father replied, “Those were the days!” My father is dead.

I have, in the past, found a way to carry on,

Through family or friends.

My family? Dead. My friends? Dead.

While a woman who cares more about her bowels than my health feeds me,

Bathes my slender body in freezing waters, brushes my hair so hard

The pain would show were I able to speak, tears remain my companions.

While the doctor paid to look away says, “It’s only an allergy,”

I carry on in spirit.


Carrying On by Joanne Fisher

I loved her more than she ever knew. She meant everything to me, but one day she stopped talking and then she was gone. I gave in to despair and darkness, then one night I found myself in a warm bath armed with a sharp knife working away on my wrists till the bathwater turned red. How I survived that night I have no idea, sometimes I wonder if I did.

I know a part of me still hoped that things could get better; that the only way to survive all this was to carry on and eventually heal.


The Coffe Shop by Donna Mathews

“You know what I find so annoying?” she starts in just as soon as we sit down with our lattes.

“The damn text messages just out of nowhere – we will have just had breakfast and I’m sitting down to start work and then boom the, ‘We need to talk,’ text! What the hell! We were just together, and I had no idea there was even an issue!”

She takes a deep breath, a reload if you will, and starts up again. I sit there as she carries on and wonder if I’ll ever get a chance to respond.


Gotta Get the Groceries by Cara Stefano

Slumped over the table Liz sighed quietly as she readied herself for the weekly trip to the super market. With three children under the age of five and a busy single mom to boot, something as simple as getting groceries usually became an ordeal. Slowly she gathered everything she would need: masks and gloves, reusable bags, her carefully clipped and saved coupons, her hungry children, and her faltering courage. Promising snacks for all, it was time to go. Even in such uncertain times as this, all she could do was carry on.


Ineptitude by Reena Saxena

He trudges on in the desert, as the weight of the basket increases with every step.

Special boots do not help. The glasses he wears obstruct clear vision, The compass shows a certain direction, but he’s not sure why is he following that.

The ineptitude shows. He has never been trained for mental strength and clarity. Loyalty is his forte, and he does whatever the people he worships ask him to do.

The basket carries the fruits of his efforts, which are not sweet.

Yet, carrying on does not make sense, if one is not sure of the objective.


Duty, Restraint, Guilt by JulesPaige

Melekh had to carry on, after she died. After the family blamed him. When he had returned on their request… so she could be with her family. But he had two little girls to raise without her. And his parents could only carry on so long before they retired out of state.

After a ‘lifetime’ of discomfort, two more marriages, daughters grown and gone, he finally accepted that he didn’t have to live with physical pain and let the Veterans Administration help repair his hips. Who knows what mental anguish he still carried? And then too soon, he died.


Such a Carry On by Norah Colvin

He had no heart for foolishness. ‘What are you blubbering about? Stop carrying on. I’ll give you something to cry about,’ he’d say, unbuckling his belt. He’d never known compassion so felt no empathy. ‘Grow up. Be a man,’ he’d say, to son and daughter, both.
His strength, at first attractive, she now considered weak. It broke her freshly-opened heart when he crushed their children, infected with his unlovability. She wished their love would unlock his stone-cold heart, but the key was never found. When he passed, not one eye teared for loss, only for what they’d never had.


The Long March by Duane L Herrmann

My childhood was the war. My mother was the attacker. She attacked her abandonment when she was a tiny child. I was not her enemy, but just in her way. Suicidal first at two, by eleven I knew what to do. My Granma’s love saved me though, and now at seventy, I still carry on.
I made sure my children knew they were loved every day with a kiss and hug, and I let them play. I stood up to the pain of four generations. Though I’ve tottered, I’ve not gone down. Somehow I continue to carry on.


The Passage by Joanne Fisher

Talem was a technician. It was her job to ensure the ship’s systems remained functional. As a child, she used to like visiting the hold to see the frozen bodies. Now as an adult, she seldom visited it, and if she ever did it was to check everything was running smoothly.

She was a middle generation. There were generations before her and there would be generations after her ensuring the ship would continue to slowly move onwards to their new home, a planet Talem would never see. Yet she was essential if her species was going to carry on.


She’ll Carry On by Madeline Murphy

Imagine a five-year-old carrying on after her mom takes off for a long-term hospital stay due to a chronic illness. Then carries on as she takes care of that mother for the rest of her life. Twenty years into her marriage, the husband decides that maybe it’s over. The wife is shaken but carries on with her three children. Six years go by, and the eldest son dies suddenly at the age of twenty-four. She carries on with a sorrowful heart no mother should bear. One day she realizes she is a superhero with the strength to carry on.


Footpath Closed by Anne Goodwin

Mile by mile her mood lightens, until the signboard returns the clouds to her mind. FOOTPATH CLOSED. BRIDGE REPAIRS. FIND AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE. She’d stamp her foot if it weren’t already aching. She can’t trudge for an extra hour.
She’ll ford the stream if there’s a shallow spot. If there’s no-one around. But that hammering isn’t a woodpecker. That whistling isn’t a starling.
The sky darkens. The foreman bars her way. She’s ready to argue when he directs her to a hidden bridge, ten minutes upstream.
She’d sought succour in solitude. She found it in kindness she didn’t deserve.


Carry On by Rebecca Glaessner

“Done yet?” she sighs.

I drift for a moment longer before resurfacing. I take a deep breath of ocean air, damp and organic. Did it really smell that way?

She bangs on the door, “hello?”

I cut off the simulation, my droid lifts my blackout glasses. Dark walls rush in and I blink away memories of bright blue sky. What’s the world like now?

“I’m coming in,” she flings open the door, and we start our tense dance. Pills, limb adjustments, sponge bath.

I don’t react, focusing instead on the ocean, carrying me like my body no longer could.


Dad by Saifun Hassam

The large kitchen, lit by the morning sun, was his dad’s favorite place to draft his adventure novels. When he hit those mushy points in his stories, he wandered into the backyard, walking among the tubs of rosemary and basil. He’d return to the cottage, ready to carry on writing.

He missed Dad. He was very grateful for the short time they were together when Jason returned to Earth from the Martian and Lunar Wars. He was broken in body and spirit. His dad’s quiet strength was essential to him, to carry on, to move forward in his life.


Carry On Old Friend by Bill Engleson

I was on my way home from the ceremony. Remembrance Day. Veterans Day to some. Whatever you called it, it’s about not forgetting their sacrifice.

Halfway home, as I rounded a corner, I came across him standing on the edge of the park.

“Missed you at the ceremony,” I said.

He smiled, said, ”Guess you don’t remember. I never made it home…from there.”

I looked back at him closely. He looked so young. As young as he was back in forty-three.

“I guess I forgot,” I said.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “Carry on. See ya when I see ya.”


Somwhere in the South China Sea by TN Kerr

Weekly ops,
somewhere in the South China Sea.
Out on Sunday,
in Saturday around 1000.


Somebody fucked up. I’m not one
to point fingers, but
my normal watch rotation was
six hours on / 12 hours off.

It morphed into 6 days on…

It was Thursday night, maybe 2200 GMT
Our depth – four hundred feet
the Captain slid the pocket door open
found me leaning in the inboard forward corner.


“How long you been on watch Dad?”
“Five days,” I answered.
“Carry on,” he said, then backed out
back into the passageway
softly shutting the door.


Walking Wounded by D. Avery

“I’m sorry Nick’s such a dumbass about your leg Ilene.”
“Don’t you apologize for him Marge. I can handle Nick.”
“I’ll say. You’ve had him believing everything from alligator, to bear attack to chainsaw juggling.”
“Ha! Always says, ‘Really?’”
“Just tell him you lost it in Iraq; that’d be believable and it’d shut him up.”
“That’d be a lie.”
“You lie every time he asks about your leg.”
“I’m not a veteran. I could never claim to be. It was hard enough living with one.”
“Yet another man!”
“Loved that one. But I couldn’t carry on. Too many battles.”


Trouble Adjusting by Sue Spitulnik

During a Homefront Warriors gathering Tessa had been unusually quiet. Someone asked if she wanted to share what was troubling her.
“I’m embarrassed to admit, I’m having trouble adjusting to Michael not using his wheelchair. I know I should be thrilled he’s more mobile, but it seems with him walking everything happens faster. He’s busier now than before.”
Sally answered, “I’m hearing you say you wish he would make more time for you.”
“Perhaps that’s true.”
“I suggest you offer to join him in his activities or carry on keeping yourself busy like you had to in the past.”


With the Band by Michael Fishman

It had been Shawn’s dream since the first day he picked up a guitar to play in a band. So it wasn’t that he was unhappy with where he was at now, a steady gig and getting paid for making music, but the dream was more the Shawn Williams Band rather than guitar in classic rock cover band.

The house lights dimmed.

“Ladies and gentleman, give it up for “Not in Kansas Anymore”!”

The stage lights rose to mild applause. Tony’s eyes dimmed as he stepped to the microphone and started singing the lower harmony:

“Carry on, my wayward—”


Carry On, My Wayward Son by Nancy Brady

The phone would ring, and my son, who rarely calls, would be on the other end. “I’m being deployed,” he said. He would follow with the particulars of when, how long, his address, but never where.

Only later would I know, for sure, where my son was stationed during his time away. The first time it was Iraq for six months. The next three times it was Afghanistan even though they were shorter deployments.

For this mother, it was a time fraught with anxiety and worry. Yet, I had to carry on, counting the days until he returned home.


Sharing the Load by Charli Mills

The cheeky cursor blinked on the screen. The hopeful writer glanced at the time. 1:37AM. She sighed.

She squinted through the laptop’s glare without adding any words. She caressed the keys, hoping to somehow funnel inspiration from the depicted alphabet.


She reread earlier chapters, referred to her painstakingly created outline, and suppressed another gaping yawn. She recalled Kubrick’s lead in “The Shining.” This evening, no work and no play made her novel a “dull boy.”

Her vision swam. “Fine! I’ll try again tomorrow.” She closed the laptop. “But I’m adding today’s missed words to tomorrow’s required count.”


Carried on the Wind by Doug Jacquier

Sounds carry on the wind,

carry in the wind,

sometimes are the wind,

deafening the soul.

Sand carries on the wind,

in the wind

and sometimes is the wind,

stripping the paint.

Tears carry on the wind,

in the wind

and sometimes are the wind,

spreading desert rain.

Hope carries on the wind,

in the wind,

and sometimes is the wind

of whispered prayers.

Tomorrow carries on the wind,

in the wind

and sometimes is the wind

of soaring birds.

Writing carries on the wind,

in the wind

and sometimes is the wind

of Heaven, and sometimes just farting.


Full Circle by Nancy Brady

Traveling, we see vultures
riding thermals.
Harbingers of death
circling above.

There’s road kill ahead,
probably raccoons.

Rounding the bend, though,
a turkey vulture,
Killed, with wings askew,
Caught in the act.

For those above, is it carrion instinct
to cannibalize its own?
Or is it a vigil?
Mourning the loss…
Of a mate, parent, sibling, or child?

Do they mourn as we do?
Grieving from the loss of loved ones.

They continue to circle,
Others join in.
The vigil continues.

I will never know the answers,
if they mourn as we do.

I’d like to think they do…


Tug-of-War by Francis the Frenchie

Gavin was several steps away from the door—already late for work—when vicious barks echoed to the end of the court. 

He turned, shoved his key into the lock, and opened the door, half-expecting to find bloodshed.


“What’s going on?” Gavin asked his roommate.

The roommate seemed confused, “Nothin’.”

Cotton laid on the sofa.

When Gavin reached his car’s door, it happened again. 

This time, he opened the door to the world’s most vicious game of tug-of-war between his Frenchie and roommate. Apparently, this was the norm without Gavin.

Gavin walked out, “Carry on.”


Water Gun Play by Ruchira Khanna

I woke up to a loud squeak.

“What’s happening?” I inquired with urgency.

I saw my children play with water guns in the house.

“No! we don’t play with squirt guns.” I disapproved while staring at the wet couch and puddles of water everywhere.

“But why, mom. It’s summertime.” they protested in unison.

I took a deep sigh as if I agreed with what they had just said, directed them outdoors.

They both looked confused since the sun was over their head.

With a grin, I said, “Carry on! Make a mess; wet all that you want; it’ll dry.”


Work and Play by Kerry E.B. Black

The cheeky cursor blinked on the screen. The hopeful writer glanced at the time. 1:37AM. She sighed.

She squinted through the laptop’s glare without adding any words. She caressed the keys, hoping to somehow funnel inspiration from the depicted alphabet.


She reread earlier chapters, referred to her painstakingly created outline, and suppressed another gaping yawn. She recalled Kubrick’s lead in “The Shining.” This evening, no work and no play made her novel a “dull boy.”

Her vision swam. “Fine! I’ll try again tomorrow.” She closed the laptop. “But I’m adding today’s missed words to tomorrow’s required count.”


Witches’ Mushy Brews by Saifun Hassam

Will struggled with the dramatization of “King Lear.”

When his mind turned into mush while writing “Macbeth” he had gone for a late evening walk in the forest. In a clearing he saw three witches, stirring a noxious brew. Entranced by their chanting, Will’s story about murder most foul, fell into place.

Maybe he’d find those three sorceresses again. There! In the clearing, he saw the witches. The witches ignored him. “Carry on,” they cackled to each other.

Carry on, he muttered. The aroma of wolf’s bane awoke him. The play crystallized in his mind. Carry on, he cried!


Carry On by Kathy 70

t may just be time to carry on, not sure, my life feels like it’s a state of limbo, not here nor there just is. How do you move on from years being completely motionless and no place in sight to recover. Carry on.

What do I need to carry, my history, my future, my family? Carry on.

If I am not ready what’s my outcome. Left alone. Stay behind. Lie down.

Don’t you cry or sleep. Carry on.

Pack it in. Carry on.

Time to lead the way for others to follow. Carry on.

No choices. Carry on.


Riding Heard by D. Avery

“Kid, is it true Ernie an’ Pepe are workin’ on a anti-frazzlement product?”
“Yep. They wanna make somethin’ ta hep folks carry on an’ keep their thinkin’ straight.”
“Better not be along the lines a Ernie’s Green Garden Gummies. Thet candy ain’t a cure.”
“Relax, Pal. Aussie steered ‘em in a dif’rent direction. They’re workin’ with a gizmo kin connect ta the whole wide world.”
“A computer?”
“Yep. There’s some pitfalls, but push the right buttons ya end up unfrazzled.”
“Ya end up unfrazzled? Where ‘zactly d’ya end up?”
“Carrot Ranch! Among good friends.”
“Hear, hear!”
“Here yer heard.”


With A Little Help From Our Friends by D. Avery

“Hold on Kid. Computers has been aroun’ fer quite a while. So has the World Wide Web. Pepe an’ Ernie ain’t invented nuthin’.”
“No, but Aussie helped ‘em discover somethin’. Fact is, Aussie’s helped a lotta folks find Carrot Ranch, made ‘em feel ta home here. Reckon she’s been a real pillar.”
“Cain’t argue thet. But Shorty broke ground here. Put up the barns an’ bunkhouse an’ all.”
“Planted the carrots, stocked the cookhouse.”
“Put out the invites.”
“Yep, promptly, more or less.”
“So Shorty’s carryin’ on, creatin’ her own solutions.”
“Yep. She’s on the write path.”


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  1. joanne the geek

    Great collection. I hope you all carry on writing stories.

    • Charli Mills

      We will all carry on. You, too, Joanne!

  2. pedometergeek

    What a wonderful collection, with such emotion. Joyful, sad, upbeat, poignant are just a few of the emotions represented.

    Charli, I can’t believe you added my ‘carrion’ poem to the mix. Although I appreciate turkey vultures for their loyalty to mates, recycling, and clean up of our roads, I don’t think many people think fondly of them. They are pretty grossed out by their actions. As for me, I have written several poems about them, and this is one that I trimmed to fit into 99 words. I was only playing with the word.

    Thanks, and carry on! ~nan

    • Charli Mills

      The full spectrum of life, Nan, including turkey vultures. The cycle of life includes death. I appreciate literature that breaks through social taboos to embrace the fullness of the human experience. That would be an interesting collection of poems! Carry on!

  3. Doug Jacquier

    Congrats to all for carrying on to the finish line in true Ranch tradition. Special tin badges to Liz, Floridaborne, Donna, Norah, Rebecca and Ruchira. Now every one line up for a re-make of Carry On Cowboy, direction by Charli B de Mills and script by D and the Saddle Up Saloon gang.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! We got us a production company and our first feature! How fun! Thanks, Doug!

  4. Gloria

    Wonderful collection as always!

  5. Charli Mills

    Thanks for sharing, Rebecca!


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