I’d Rather Be… Collection

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.

March 4, 2022

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to write 99-word stories. A collection of prompted 99-word stories reads like literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.

We welcome encouraging comments. You can follow writers who link their blogs or social media.

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

I’d Rather Be… by Ann Edall-Robson

I’d rather be
Waiting for the sun to kiss the top of the ridge
I’d rather be
Sitting on a hill embracing the vista before me
I’d rather be
Listening to my grandson’s laughter while we play silly games
I’d rather be
Guiding a pencil across uncharted pages collecting my imagination
I’d rather be
Splashing through puddles and feeling the rain on my face
I’d rather be
Where I can go anytime with my memories and pictures
I’d rather be
Where the window opens and nature’s sounds drift in
I’d rather be
Where my heart sings…Where I am


Diamante (from Diamante Stories) by Saifun Hassam

From the last of the sandstone cliffs, Diamante gazed out to sea. He turned to climb the mountain trail. It was fall, and he would return to his coastal village next spring.

“I’d rather be walking on the seashores,” he murmured ruefully.

The mountains rose between Diamante’s coastal villages and the Abbott’s monastery on the northern foothills.

He thought of the snow and mudslides this past winter when several earth tremors shook the region. Diamante admired the villagers for their resilience. At the monastery, he would learn more about earthquake preparedness, becoming the link between specialists and the villagers.


I’d Rather Be… by Colleen M. Chesebro

“I’d rather be reading,” than watching this stupid football game,” Stacy grumbled.

Her father laughed. “Now, you sound like your mother. Just relax and enjoy the game. You know this is my favorite time of year.”

Through the years, that conversation played out in Stacy’s mind regularly. Now that her dad was gone, she longed for the closeness they’d once shared.

“Mom, why do I have to watch football?” Stacy’s daughter, Alex, whined.

“Your grandpa and I used to watch football together. Those are my happiest memories of him.”

“It’s okay. We have our own great memories together, Mom.”


Not This! by FloridaBorne

We cuddled in bed after the best sex ever, his broad, strong shoulders protectively covering my back.

“I want you to meet the family,” he whispered.

Not this! I stiffened my back. “They’re a thousand miles away.”

“It’s just a visit,” he chuckled. “We’ll go there a day for Easter, and fly home the next morning.”

“I’m a city girl. If they want to visit, they can spend a day here.”

“I guess that’s it,” he said.

He stood up, put on his jeans, t-shirt and boots, slamming the front door as he walked away. That was too close.


Lonely Heart by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“I’d rather be swinging on a star than crouched over this bowl of stale pretzels,” Thomas moaned into his lowball.

The bartop was smudged, its worn wood scratched; on one corner of the counter, that nearest the bathrooms, a heart was carved, just large enough for two sets of initials, joined by a plus sign. He traced a grubby finger around the heart’s outline, and tossed back another whiskey, knocking the glass on the counter twice and waving his finger for another.

“No stars here,” noted the barkeep as he poured out another two fingers. “Time to head home?”


Lost Love by Charli Mills

I’d rather be riding a Roomba, like a spinning cat in a shark costume, flicking my tail at spectators and meowing a song of myself, hoovering the world’s woes. I’d rather be a goat in a banana boat, nibbling a buffet of shoreline plants, a remarkable critter, a kayak sitter. I’d rather be a chicken licking gizzard stones, finding gold like desert geologists tongue-testing rocks for potential ore. Or, I’d rather be a frog, part of a chorus on a log. I’d rather invent exuberant fantasies than face another night staring at the reality of your stark, empty pillow.  


The School Reunion by Leonard Mills

My heels echo around the abruptly quieted school hall.
My dress, judged by whispers escaping hastily erected social defences. Their scowls like trip wires as I seek a calm port.
I’d rather be in glorious Thailand, than Backwatersville, suburbia.
Finally, I locate my old crowd – aged versions of familiar faces. The mutually unpopular. We hid in quiet corners with salty fries and history essays. I different life ago now.
Will they close the bunker doors?
But hands beckon, smiles welcome. Bile settles. The years melt away as I glide towards them.
“You’ve changed David,” they say. “Love the heels.”


I’d Rather Be by Sadje

Ask a child and he’ll tell you that he’d rather be outside playing than studying
Ask a harassed mom, up at midnight and she’ll tell you that she’d rather be sleeping soundly
Ask an overworked office worker and he’ll inform you that he’d rather be hiking or skiing somewhere pleasant
When we are in an inescapable situation our mind drifts
And we dream of places we’d rather be in
Yet most of us stick to our hectic lives, dutifully
These pleasant dreams are kept hidden in our thoughts
Taken out once in a while to be appreciate and admired


Have We Been Here Before by Hugh W. Roberts

Five friends declared what they wanted from their lives while sitting around a table.

“I’d rather be sleeping with Angela’s husband than my husband,” declared Hilary.

“I’d rather be a loving housewife and mother than a successful sales executive who dies from stress,” stated Rose.

“I’d rather not be a murderer,” said Angela.

“I’d rather be anybody than Roses’ boss,” stated Claire.

“I’d rather be honest with you all,” announced Wendy, pulling out a gun. “I hate you all.”

“What’s the afterlife like?” asked a familiar voice from an unknown source. “I have five friends here asking the question.”


I Am by Anita Dawes

I am what I am
I make no excuses
Nor do I make changes
Yet there are days
when I feel like a non-entity
Grey, faded, invisible
to the world outside
These are my duvet days
When I wonder,
Can I give my mind a do over?
Introduce new thoughts
Not so easy,
the old grey matter is stubborn
It runs on automatic
pre-determined thoughts
Habits, like chewing your nails
Hard to break
These days, I imagine
So many kinds of me
None seem to fit
In the end
I would rather be…
Right where I am…


I’d Rather Be … by Norah Colvin

‘I’d rather be dead!’
She ran into the street in a downpour of tears, yanking at the sweater as if it crawled with monsters.
‘Don’t worry. She’ll be back,’ said Dad.
‘I only suggested —’
‘I know. But teenagers like to choose what they wear.’
‘She always did. Even a toddler — so dramatic.’
‘Like someone I know. Would you have worn your mother’s old sweater at her age?’
‘I did and was grateful for it.’
‘You were poor. We can afford to buy her a sweater.’
‘There’s nothing wrong with hand-me-downs.’
‘But The Bay City Rollers? Really?’
‘Well —’


I Would Rather Be by Myrna Migala

People are funny that way!
Noticing now in my prime,
when dreaming of what they would rather be doing.
The youth often thinks of something in the future—middle
age thinks of something in the present, and the very elderly
think of the past.
If I were ten, I would rather be swimming.
If I were sixteen, I would rather be flirting with the boys.
If I were thirty or forty, I would rather be on my vacation.
If I were sixty, I would rather be retired
If I were eighty-one or older, I would rather be done.


Breaking the Law by Nancy Brady

My favorite dream occurred when I was about ten years old. The next day I even tried to create the experience, but it didn’t work.

It was the one dream I would love to repeat nightly, but it doesn’t happen. I have dreamed it again once, maybe twice, in all these years.

The dream is so freeing. In my dream, I was running and suddenly took flight over my home.

In reality, it would never happen because of the law. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Because gravity is the law, I travel mostly by foot, but I’d rather be flying.


Ekushey February by Anne Goodwin

When Mahfouz suggested they visit the book fair, Anne thought she’d choose a novel for the long flight home. But the books were in Bangla.
“Of course,” he said. “The fair commemorates the language martyrs. Students protesting about the imposition of Urdu from Pakistan.”
She had thought she’d rather be at the airport. Or browsing Foyle’s thirty miles of bookshelves in Charing Cross Road. But no, she’d rather be here in Dhaka in the February heat, among the pilgrims at the Shaheed Minar, celebrating their right to read, write, speak and sing in a language unrelated to her own.


In Quarantine, I’d Rather be Doing by Leanne Lieu

6:04am. With a phone against her ear, Barbara was trying to get Jenny to stop jumping on the bed.


“Morning Jane. Jenny’s class had a COVID outbreak. Sorry for the late notice. I’ll keep you updated. Bye.” Barbara pressed her phone against her forehead, dwelling on Jane’s response. Again? she’d say. This will be unpaid leave.

“Sweetie, you have until 6:15 to get dressed, teeth brushed, and hair brushed. If I see you in the kitchen by then, your pancakes will have a chocolaty smile.”

I’d rather be going to Zoom school, crafting, and cooking with Jenny anyway.


Wistful Adventure by Kerry E.B. Black

The other mothers sipped wine while their children played in the fenced-in yard. Jen lingered near the sliding patio door. Her glass held water, which made the other mothers laugh.

At 49, Jen was the senior at the gathering, but with exercise, good genetics and diet, hair dye and cosmetics, she kept her age private. When she attended these neighborhood play sessions, though, she felt ages older than her peers.

A breeze caught dandelion seeds. The children rushed to catch them.

Jen envied them their freedom. Wistful, she realized she’d rather adventure with them than gossip with the moms.


A Moment of Lucidity by Irene Waters

“Hello Mum.”
“Who are you dear?” Leila sighed. These visits always went the same way, her Mother hadn’t known her for several years now. Lately, Leila had been trying her stories out on her as she could be whoever she wanted as her mother didn’t know the difference. The fabrication gave them conversation and allowed Leila to develop her characters for the book she was writing. Today she was going to be…
Her mother unexpectedly interrupted her thoughts.
“Who are you going to be today Leila? I’d rather be twenty again making my stories. At least they’d be true.”


I’d Rather Be by FloridaBorne

I’d rather be great than late.
I’d rather be strong than long.
I’d rather have wings than sing.
I’d rather be right than wrong.

I’d rather be selling my books,
Than lying around in my bed,
Except for the fact I’m still weak,
It’s better than if I were dead.

So now it’s time to start living,
To write, to walk… to pray
I’ll have at least one more tomorrow,
without wishing I had yesterday.

I’d rather be living each moment,
With expressions of kindness, and grace.
Illness has taught me to honor
The wonder of living in space.


I’d Rather Be in an Other Place by Doug Jaquier

Other people always seem on course,
Full Ahead to somewhere on the Sea of Life.
I am forever losing the compass
and forgetting how to drop anchor,
permanently adrift in an Other Place.
Occasionally I see harbour lights beckon
but I’ve decided
they’re probably home to the Pirates of Love.
Out here alone,
amidst the rocks and icebergs and whirlpools,
I still need essential supplies
but I have nothing to trade,
except for some shells which,
when placed against the ear,
whisper cryptic messages
from an Other Place,
just in case
other people
are in an Other Place


Michael’s Happy Ending by Sue Spitulnik

Michael sat in the living room, the cat and dog laying close by. Tessa was away, babysitting. Silence was no longer his enemy. He had come to enjoy having private time to think and pray. “Father, I’d rather be a married man with my own legs instead of metal ones, but I probably wouldn’t have left the service if that were the case. So, thank you. I feel I am right where I belong at this stage of my life. Married to my best friend, a step-dad and grandfather, still singing and happy to be of help to others.”


Living Where… by Duane L Herrmann

I’d rather be living in the country instead of this fishbowl of suburbia. Out there I can hear wind in the trees and the soft, gentle whish of air through bird’s wings. And, at night, the excited yipping of coyote pups when mom brings food home. They are so exciting to hear. And then there are the owls. I conversed with one once, made him angry, I was in his territory. I stopt before he swooped down in the dark moonless night to drive me away! And, living there, maybe deer wouldn’t so freely eat my flowers in spring!


I’d Rather Be… by Marsha Ingrao

“You look a million miles away, Snowden.”

Snowden shifted and poured himself another glass of water from the water cooler and stared out the 15th story window at the boats on the Chicago River.

“I’d rather be in one of those boats. Or better yet in a gondola riding up the Main Canal.”

Sheldon sat down hard in one of the plastic chairs, putting his head in his palms.

Not me, I’d rather be in a helicopter flying over the Hawaiian Island volcanoes. ”

So what are we going to do?

“I’d rather be employed,” the boss snarled. “Get busy.”


Be. Not Rather. by Goldie

“I’d rather play video games.”
“I’d rather go out with friends.”
“I’d rather smoke some weed.”
“I’d rather take a nap.”
I’d say when I was with her.
She’d smile and nod.

I chose not to see the sadness in her eyes.

After a while,
The sadness was replaced by nothingness.
But I wasn’t looking,
So, I did not see.

“I’d rather hold her tight.”
“I’d rather talk with her.”
“I’d rather laugh with her.”
“I’d rather be there for her…”
I say when I’m alone.
But she’s moved on

And I’m stuck in a box

Six feet under.


Lather Rinse Repeat by Annette Rochelle Aben

I’d rather be eating donuts than rice cakes.
I’d rather be that someone who was born with a perfectly formed body.
I’d rather be vacationing on some tropical island than having a staycation.
I’d rather have a significant other than to be single.
I’d rather be independently wealthy than having to work at a job until I am old enough to retire.
Because I’d rather be one of those people who can be happy with their life than to be depressed because there is something else I would rather be!
I choose to be a winner than a whiner!


You Talk Too Much by Michael Fishman

“…synchronized swimming and the coach so phenomenal but she got something called aquagenic urticaria and she retired and at that point I also left which was ok because my crane was never any good ironic huh and I still kept in touch with the girls well not totally true because I didn’t want anything to do with Becky Arnville because she was something else but I don’t want to bore you with that so I was seeing this guy and…”

Shawn stifled a yawn and stole a glance at his watch.

I’d rather be anyplace than on this date.


The Woodpecker by Donna Matthews


I put my hand up to stop X from walking any further.

“What is it?” He whispers.

“Up there, see her?”

High up, a black and white woodpecker is making her presence known by her insistent pecking against the pine tree. I love her song – I love everything around me…the trees, the path, the quiet of deep woods.

There’s nowhere I’d rather be.

And with that fleeting thought, tomorrow’s impending appointment comes crashing into my mind.

“No, no, no!” I think. I will NOT allow tomorrow into today.

X grabs my hand, and we start walking again.


Contented by JulesPaige

While I’d rather be on some sandy shore with warm ocean waves kissing seashells in a lazy way, I’ll take the creek there at the end of the yard on this oddly warm January day. I read somewhere that it’s just a little more than three weeks away from spring.

Out the picture window the maple buds have opened, and the daffodil’s at its base are poking the ground. This year it was too cold for the robins to stay, but I saw one earlier this week. That’s a good sign, right?

I’m enjoying here;
my home space


Selfhood by Gloria McBreen

I’d rather be what I am
Than what I thought I wanted to be
I wanted to be perfect like people I knew
Back then
Long ago
Not anymore
They weren’t that perfect at all you see
I’d rather be me
I have what I have
Because it’s meant for me
I’d rather the hurt that came my way
The experience of healing was mine alone
I’d rather not walk in your boots my friends
That road is yours
It’s not for me
The future is mine
It’s not for you
Whatever I do
May you stand by me


Slow Burn (Part I) by D. Avery

There was work here, but my daughters would rather be working in the city. They worked in the creamery for a little while before leaving, always complained, said the work was boring, mundane.

Said the same about farm chores, and that, as far as I’m concerned, is blasphemy.

You find the patterns, the rhythm of any task, do it well and mindfully, you bring that work to a higher level; your work raises you up! That’s how you get your wood cut and stacked, that’s what keeps your fire burning.

I’m sad my daughters never learned to appreciate that.


Slow Burn (Part II) by D. Avery

My daughters! Would stomp their feet and rail that they’d rather be anywhere but here. And they went, as soon as they could.

When they visit they plead with me to move away too, live closer to them. I can stomp my feet too! I remind them I was born here. They say they were too. Like I don’t know that!

And they harp on me about my wood stove! At least modernize, they urge.

No. I don’t do much anymore, but I keep the fire going. For the day they know they’d rather be home than anywhere else.


Will Goats for Broke by Bill Engleson

Before Will left town, he dropped in to flap his gums.
“Knew this girl once, Mac.”
“We all knew a girl once, Will. That’s the sad truth of it.”
He nodded. Can’t avoid universal truths when you run smack into them.
“Years ago. I was a kid. She wasn’t.”
“So why go chasing her? She could be…dead.”
“Happenstance. Been googling her about every year. Finally found her. Maybe. Raises goats.”
“Really! Goats!”
“Yup, goats. I’d rather be a guy who went looking for lost love ‘stead of never knowing.”
I wished him well.
Didn’t want to get his goat.


Choices by Geoff Le Pard

Horacio Dither and Persistence Progress, Little Tittweaking’s paramedics spent too long together to be a couple. When she forced him to make the decisions: coffee or tea; muffin or cake; cheese or ham, he hated it, fought it. Still it continued: blue or red; heels or flats; push-up or flatten? Then she offered her clenched fists: left or right? He choose the one with the ring; they were engaged. The choices kept coming: church or humanist; buffet or seated; wedding or elopement? On their wedding night, she smiled: ‘a, top; b, bottom?’

He didn’t hesitate. ‘I’d rather b…’


Dejection by Margaret Leggatt

“Not again,” she says. “Look around you.” She turns in a slow circle, her arm extended.

“I know,” he says, head bowed as if he bears the weight of the universe. “It’s perfection. But who wants perfection?”

“Nonsense,” she says. “People would die to have this.”

He looks up at the glittering expanse, the drifting cumulus clouds. He reaches as if to gather fistfuls of the amorphous mist in his hand. “See? Nothing there. No substance, no challenge.”

Below, countless billions grieve, rejoice, succumb, triumph.

“I’d rather be there,” he says, curling inward, enveloped in two enormous white wings.


Shift ‘n Snow, Snow ‘n Shift by D. Avery

“Hmmff. What’s this, the dang Yellow Submarine prompt? Kin tell ya, I’d ruther be unner the sea in an octopus’ garden then gittin buried by this dang snow. Agin. How bout you Kid? Kid? Ah, jeez, Kid’s already out in it, all I kin see is thet shovel tossin snow as Kid carves a path ta the barn. Agin. Once Kid’s finally got shoveled all the way ta the barn, dang fool picks up another shovel and cleans the stalls. Thing is, I don’t reckon there’s any place thet Kid d’ruther be then behin a shovel at Carrot Ranch.”


Thank you to all our writers who contributed to this week’s collection!

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  1. Charli Mills

    Come to the farm, they said. Have a stay-cation, they said. They forgot to mention the endless chores! I’ve milked a goat…massaged a goat udder to unplug a milk duct and washed her behind when she got messy. I’ve snowshoed the precipice of dangerous drifts for the thrill of getting chicken poop on my winter boots. I have goat hair stuck to the velcro of my parka, and two young dogs stuck to my hip. Roomba chased me, locked me out of the bathroom, and tried to eat my boot. A squash beetle crawled in bed with me and released its odiferous warning system when my bedmates (the puppies) tried to eat it. I have many stories about why it took longer this week to collect stories! But I enjoyed reading each one. Thanks for your patience this week!

    • pedometergeek

      Charli, it almost sounds as if you’d rather be….some place else, but your adventures sound like fun, sorta. Not sure I’d enjoy cleaning a goat’s behind. Taking a page from Kid…chore do sound like work rather than a vacation.

      PS. Enjoyed the variety of the stories…from contentment to wild wishes, some producing laughter and some tears.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Kid loves chores. Shoveling is way easier than writing, any day.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! Yes, Nan, it was a lot of shoveling and I’d rather be on campus. Which I am back! Whew! The collection unearthed a lot of responses.

      • Charli Mills

        Could’ve used Kid for shoveling!

  2. Doug Jacquier

    Quality collection this week. Unlike W C Fields, I wouldn’t rather be in Philadelphia when I can stay here and read these flights of fancy.

    Floridaborne – Loved your re-make of the one night stand.
    Charli – An avalanche of magical mystery suckering me into the gut-punch ending.
    Leonard – It seemed more than one thing had changed. Very clever.
    Norah – That’s it, I’m calling the welfare. 🙂
    Myrna – Wistful and wise and the ending so right.
    Irene – You sneaky devil. You take after your Mum 🙂
    Michael – I’m with yawning Shawn. High quality observation.
    Bill – You’ve got to be kidding. Very droll.
    Geoff – Somehow I think he’d rather b under c. 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing your flights, Doug.

  3. TanGental

    Now what a splendid set.

    • Charli Mills

      It went all over the place and back again!

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    What I always say— another great collection, amazing for the varied responses to the one prompt; the creativity astounds; etc. Because it is true. I am seeing the individual stories and the collection here for the first time and as always enjoy seeing the parts and the whole. I try to visit individual’s blogs to read again there, but, like Kid I suppose, I like hanging out here at the Ranch too, and reveling in the roundup. So many forms, so many perspectives. Look at all the poems! Many of the prose pieces read like poetry. (Who knew Charli Mills riffs like a spoken word poet?) Each of these pieces speak, and here sing, a lovely chorus of 99word harmonies.

    • pedometergeek

      I think I like reading them like this, too, D. I used to read them piecemeal throughout the week, but as a complete collection, there’s an emotional component that can’t be beat. I truly like this new time-frame and format. ~nan

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I like it, am getting used to it, any discombobulation is no worse than before and is more me than anything. I am also behind this week and have yet to get out and read. I didn’t think I’d have a story for the latest farm challenge but just managed, for better or worse.

    • Charli Mills

      I was surprised by the poetic responses, D. Some prompts bring out that rhythmic verse. Hay, even I piled on some barn beats. Thanks for reading each note and the collective harmony.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yep, caught that.
        You’re welcome Ms. Mills.

  5. suespitulnik

    Another great set of stories, some emotions we have all faced/felt and others so unique. I think Bill had the best time making sure not to get Charli’s goat.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Bill did travel that course. Thanks, Sue, I also enjoyed the variety of emotions and experiences.

  6. Sam "Goldie" Kirk

    Your submission was devastating, Charli…


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