March 21: Story Challenge in 99-words

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 21, 2022

It’s too hot. It’s too cold. The world stands in perfect balance and the southern hemisphere welcomes winter. The northern hemisphere readies for spring. And Finlandia University can’t regulate its boilers.

The pond outside my front step is four inches deep with a skim of ice. The hulking banks of what was snow wither into gravelly carcasses four feet tall, seeping water from beneath. It’s chilly enough to wear a coat but once inside the corridors of the university where I teach and tutor, I’m sweating.

Students are wearing sundresses and shorts. It’s a confusing time of year on the Keweenaw Peninsula because it can be any weather at any given time. The boilers kick out heat because of the cold mornings but soon feel like a sauna (pronounced sow-na, in the Finnish dialect) by noon. The snowbanks outside melt in unison with us humans inside.

The melt came on fast. Monday, I appreciated the hulking snow sculptures peeking over rooftops and by Tuesday I saw they were gone. Some witnessed moments of release. A colleague told me he pulled into his driveway after work just in time to see the packed snow on his roof let go with a whoosh and wallop. He couldn’t pull into his garage and the pile was too deep to shovel. He has to wait for it to melt further.

A friend had her entire vehicle buried in snow when the rooftop of her apartment complex dump all its snow. All the signs posted around town that read, “Beware of falling snow and ice” are intended for this time of year. The strangest thing that happened because of the swift melt was when two faculty cars collided — both vehicles had been parked when the ice beneath broke up like glaciers and one slab slid into the other.

The equinox has me ready for a change. I wonder what it will be?

March 21, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story to reflect the theme, “ready for a change.” Who is ready and why? How does the change unfold? What happened to initiate the change? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by March 26, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts in social media.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

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28 Comments

  1. Anne Goodwin is bringing Matilda Windsor home

    i remember as a student the snow sliding from the roof sounded like someone breaking into the flat.
    We have a tamer version of your weather here right now: heavy overnight frosts melting into unusually warm days.
    Happy Soltice.
    PS. Weren’t we expecting news of some changes at the Ranch around now?

    • Charli Mills

      I know that sound, Anne — the prowlers of spring are often the snow and ice of winter leaving. Solstice has arrived with its promise of change, for sure.

      Yes, I’m getting the details finalized. As much as I want to spill the beans, I also have committed to not sharing until certain ducks are in a row and I can share a timeline. As a writer at CR, expect an email from me today with updates. Thank you for your patience!

      • Charli Mills

        Ack! I have a few more details to iron out. I’m waiting on an email from the state and a few answers and then I can get my email out to the columnists and we go from there.

  2. Gloria

    That’s really strange weather. If we get snow here in the Wrst of Ireland, it usually melts the same day. We wake up to snow and a blue sky.
    The Midlands get better snow. But 2-3 days is the longest it stays. We get plenty of rain though.
    I didn’t get round to writing about a piece of pie! Busy week here with St Patrick’s Day and an extra bank holiday.

    • Charli Mills

      Your weather must be why you have so much green, Gloria! I hope you made the best of your bank holiday. And I always wondered how St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Ireland.

  3. Miss Judy

    “hulking banks of what was snow wither into gravelly carcasses” that’s quite an image and aptly portrayed. I remember those from Upstate NY.

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, very similar to that region, Miss Judy!

  4. Norah

    Your stories of snow fascinate me. I have no experience to relate them to. The thought of vehicles colliding because the ice beneath them melts just boggles my mind. I think we’re all ready for a change. I hope it’s a good one.

    • Charli Mills

      I think it boggled our minds, too Norah! Extreme snow is the norm here, but not extreme melt. I hope your transition down under is a pleasant one.

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. We’ve got a lot of rain down here and flooding in some areas again. They haven’t even recovered from last month’s flood yet. I’m okay, but others aren’t so good.

  5. Jules

    I think the world is indeed ready for some positive changes.
    May we all contribute to that! Even if all we can offer is our smile.

    The weather is an unpredictability we have to learn to live with in our own locations. In my parts the snowbells, crocus, mini iris, and daffodils are blooming. Other early spring bushes are exploding with color, but our frost free day isn’t until the middle of May!

    Happy seasonal changes everyone!

    • Charli Mills

      I love the early bulbs, the first color of spring, Jules. We had early buds last year, too, and then a cold spell. It killed part of my mock orange and no one got cherries in summer. But let’s enjoy the blooms of today and remember to smile for one another. We all need kindness as we face changes.

      • Jules

        Indeed!

  6. Sarah Brentyn

    Happy Spring, all! ????????

    • Charli Mills

      Happy Spring, Sarah!

  7. denmaniacs4

    And here I went with the changing seasons of life, a somewhat morose take on the wintry prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s all change worth writing about, Bill.

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Gobble, gobble. The spring turkeys are out foraging.

    • Charli Mills

      Spring birds are as delightful as spring blooms, D. I heard a local story about turkeys on the Kewenaw that began spring foraging but met one of our massive snowplows. There was turkey stew in many neighboring homes that evening.

  9. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Airin Fears

    “Ello Keed. Pal. Change is in de air, no?”
    “Sumthin’s in the air LeGume. Jeez, kin ya least stan downwind?”
    “Pal, whyn’t ya change yer curmudgeony ways? Choose kind.”
    “Cuz I kinda don’t wanna, Kid. Whyn’t you change, you an yer stanky frien? Stop annoyin me.”
    “Better stanky then cranky. What’s really troubling ya Pal?”
    “Ain’t ready fer change, Kid. What if we do have ta change our ways?”
    “Change steenks, no?”
    “You know it Pepe.”
    “Yeah! Last week she was pushin robo-writin. Matter a time afore we lose the hosses.”
    “Aye, Kid.”
    “Ayiii! An i-Kid? That’s in-app-propriate. Shorty!!”

    • Charli Mills

      An i-Kid sounds like a questionable app! But stank might be better than crank. Depends, lol.

  10. Liz H

    Before I forget: ? the pic for this week!

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! I feel like it’s a fun representation of embracing change full-on with quirks proudly displayed. Thanks for mentioning the pic, Liz.

    • Charli Mills

      There is a loss of depth perception with snow, Ruchira and all that white can be disorienting. Place the link on the Collection next time! Hard to track all the changes. 😉

      • explorereikiworld

        True! Glad our Mother Earth is filled with colors since one bland color can be very deceptive 😛

        I have placed my link in the above collection. 🙂

  11. Hugh W. Roberts

    Sounds like significant changes in scenery on your side of the pond, Charli. It must be lethal if the melting snow freezes again at night.
    Spring has well and truly sprung in Wales. She has come out from behind the winter curtain and is putting on her display of spring flowers for us.
    I missed the free pie, and robotic writer prompts. Spring got a hold of me and had me doing other stuff, but I did;t mind the change.
    Happy Spring!

  12. Liz H

    We have blustery winds and hail flying sideways right now. I’m ready for a change to Spring, but know we often get snows until Mid-April.
    So, better to lose myself in microflash, instead. Just posted my set of 2 linked 99s. That’ll have to do for now…

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