Free Pie

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.

March 24, 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.

Free Woman by Liz Husebye Hartmann

It shimmered in the oven: double the fruit, delicate lattice work across the top, pattern broken once by carefully cut leaves, light glaze over the whole thing. She smiled, satisfied.

Her usual pie was two store-bought crusts slapped around some ill-cut apples, a palm-full of brown sugar, smothered in mounds from the bucket of bargain vanilla ice-cream.

It was every man for himself, which is why she always ended up with the pie pan leavings. And why she loved it when husband and sons went hunting.

She settled back with a favorite china dish and silver spoon, relishing freedom.


Free Pie Day by Gary A. Wilson

“Really?” We asked as painters for an industrial kitchen that produced millions of prewrapped junk-food pies, “as many mouth-watering sugar-bombs as we want — all we can eat?! “

“That’s the rule. Workers get free pies if eaten here.”

Tarps and brushes in-hand, we earnestly worked until lunchtime.

My mouth watered, just looking at the array of still-warm pies – all mine! “HEAVEN!”

But at the first bite – ugh! Horrible! 

We agreed, these were disgusting!

A laughing manager fessed up. “They may last for years on store shelves, but that recipe means they taste horrid for a month when fresh.”


Digging for Dollars by Michael Fishman

Derek’s after-school jobs had always been boring and unfulfilling, so landing a job at the Carrot Ranch grooming horses was nothing less than a dream come true.

He was a little surprised when he showed up on the first afternoon and was handed a shovel and told to clean out the stables.

“You mean… those?”

“That’s right.”

“But those’re… cowpies.”

“Well, those pies actually came from horses, son, so technically—”

“Yeah, but… it’s poop.”

“That’s what some folks call it.”

“And I… pick it up?”

“Don’t worry, no charge for these pies, son. Better get to work now.”


The Last Piece of Pie by Norah Colvin

Josie wished they’d hurry. It was past her bedtime.
“Blue’s the hardest,” said Adam.
“Maybe for you, but she got it before,” said Bridget.
“She got them all, dur.”
“What was her free one? Anyone notice?” said Dirk.
“Yellow,” said Ellen. “Definitely.”
“Here’s your question, Grandma,” said Dirk.
Josie’s eyes were closed. Her mouth was open. A gentle snore rumbled out.
“Is the right answer,” said Adam. Everyone giggled.
Josie snorted awake. “What did you decide?”
“It’s okay, Grandma. We declared you the winner.”
Win or lose didn’t matter in the pursuit of happiness. It was all rather trivial.


Be Free by Scott Bailey

Noble and righteous, this free pie idea, I was thinking as I snuck around the end of the cafeterias stainless steel food service counters. Into the kitchen and I was glad to see the cooks had gone on break before the rush of students poured into the cafeteria. There on a wall near the back door were row upon row of every type of pie I had ever seen, just sitting on shiny stainless steel shelves. This was my chance. I threw the door open yelling, “Be free, Pies!” Standing in the doorway, waving my arms, shouting “Be free!”


Free Pie by Sue Spitulnik

The Irish Dancers and their families arrived early at the No Thanks for their usual Saturday practice. Each person entered the bar carrying a pie. Mac and the three generations of his family were already at work in the kitchen. The house band members and families soon arrived with more pies. While the adults cut and plated pie pieces, the dancers made signs that said, FREE PIE ON PI DAY. In small letters, donations accepted, was added.

By the end of the unusual public practice, the pies were gone and donation buckets full. The dancers were off to competition.

Author’s Note: Mac, the owner of the No Thanks Needed bar and grill is a first-generation Irish-American. He and his house band are noted for Irish music and holding Irish dancing lessons at the bar on Saturdays. They have an annual fundraiser to offset the costs of the dancers going to a competition.


Tilly’s Cafe ( Lynn Valley Stories) by Saifun Hassam

Tilly and her daughter Gwyneth pulled out the twenty small cherry pies from the oven. Frenetic Frennie, the baker, stood patiently.

The irresistible aroma of baked pies rose into the air. Every pie had a tiny crater in the center, surrounded by a concentric circle of cherries.

Gwyneth and Tilly tasted one. Tilly gasped. As delicious as her pies.
Gwyneth grabbed a blackboard:

“Wednesday Special:
Free sample pies. Variations on a Theme.
Today: Crater Cherry Pie.”

The first twenty pies were gone in half an hour.

Gwyneth was an engineering and music major.

Frenetic Frennie AI Baker was hired!


Strawberry (I’m Drooling) Pie by Duane L Herrmann

I don’t know who made that strawberry pie – but I want it!! I’m sure it has no calories, no gluten, no sugar; they are all bad for me, but strawberry pie simply CAN NOT be bad for me! Is there a line? Hold my place! I’ll be right there!!!

I have to stand on one foot and hop backwards fifteen paces? I’ll do it! I want that pie! I NEED that pie!!!
It’s only for people born on even numbered days on odd numbered years? THAT’S ME!! The 30th of November, 1951. GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!

P L E A S E!!!!


Annie’s Pie Day by Nancy Brady

It was nearing Annie’s fifth birthday when her mom asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday.

“Pumpkin pie,” Annie said.

“That’s not cake; that’s pie,” her mom said.

Cake and pie were one and the same to Annie, but pumpkin pie was her favorite. Cake was okay, but she really didn’t like icing all that much. “Can I still have pumpkin pie for my birthday?” she asked.

“Sure,” and so it was that her mom baked a pumpkin pie for Annie on her birthday the year she turned five, and for almost every birthday afterwards.


Urgent Recall by Joanne Fisher

“Mistress, I have made you a fruit pie.” My new robot helper announced. I sliced into it, only to be rather surprised.

“Er, what did you put in this?” I asked.

“It has tomato, avocado, and cucumber. According to my database they are all fruits.”

“Well yes.” I conceded. “But fruit pies tend to have fruits that are sweet. Ones we actually call fruits.”

“I’m sorry. Have I erred?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“I’ve also made a casserole. There was an animal in the house, so I killed, skinned, and gutted it.” the robot stated.

“You mean my cat?”


Sisters In Arms by D. Avery

“Remember our playhouse?”

“Hiding from our brothers?”

She moved some loose bricks. “We made a stone oven.”

“Yes! We’d make the most fantastic stews!”

“Shh.” She traced her friend’s thin raised cheekbone. “Our brothers might hear you.”

“One time they threw rocks, trapping us inside.”

“But we had mud pies. Traded pies for freedom.”

Outside the Russian artillery continued to pound and pummel the neighborhood.

“I would eat a mud pie right now. Let’s gather some ingredients, make a stew.”

But there was nothing in their small shelter, just a sliver of hope, which they shared to the last.


Freedom Pie by Bill Engleson

I look towards the heavens,
I see the sunshine bright
I see the nights aglimmer
Carry me into the light.

Life is surely what you make it.
All you gotta do is try.
No matter how you slice it,
we all want a taste of Freedom Pie

We’re on the brink of battle.
Smoke and death are in the air.
Homes explode, then they tumble,
the devil hides within his lair.

Life is surely what you make it,
All you gotta do is try,
and no matter how you slice it,
we all want a taste of Freedom Pie.


Free Pie by Johanna Bradley

Free food! Refood. What a tremendous idea! Leftover sausages, eggs, cheese, perishables… anything can be turned into nourishment for empty stomachs. A raft of helpers. Willing hands.

‘Come on, Dan! There’s space at this table for all of us. Squeeze up, Ma!’
‘Just soup for me, please?’
‘Chicken pie, with gravy- my favourite’
‘Can we come again tomorrow?’
‘Dad gets paid tomorrow. We can buy our own food.’

I look on, sadly, remembering a time when the whole family gathered together at Grandma’s house. The table groaned with food. A celebration of life. Not simply existence, and free pie.


Making a New Friend Easy as Pie Annette Rochelle Aben

Everyone told me to be sure and meet Aunt Bett, a local treasure who should be showcased in a television program. A perfect suggestion, since I ran the local television studio.

That first afternoon I spent with her was magic. She entertained me with wit, wisdom and banged out ragtime music on her piano. Impressive for a 90year old.

All at once, she realized she didn’t have time to cook dinner and walk her dog. So, I offered to cook the meal.
She returned to find Shepard’s Pie waiting in her oven. Reaching for her wallet…

Seriously, Aunt Bett?


Free Pie by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Mom, where are you?” Helena burst into the kitchen, searching for her mother.

“I’m in the laundry room.”

“Miss Pickering baked us a pie.”

“What? Miss Pickering from across the street?”

“That’s her,” Helena said. “She met me at the bus stop. She said it was an Irish pie.”

“She hasn’t made an Irish pie in years.”

Helena pulled back the foil on the pie plate. “It looks like a pie to me, and she said it’s free, and told me Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Besides, I remember that Miss Pickering makes the best Irish Shepard’s Pie in Michigan.”


Rush Hour by Simon

Jumped from the building, crashes on a garbage bag. Slided by and catched the rail of a bus.

His skate shoes sparkles fire as it skid by the streets. Gentlemen frowns their eyebrows. girls stared, he drops some roses at them and winked.

Left the bus rail, jumped into the subway a jump to the left and slided on the step rails, checked his watch, 30 more seconds.

Crosses the road, missed the Mercedes by the hair, rang the door bell.

Sheperd’s pie Madam.

On time delivery! hubby is away for 2 hours ONLY.

Enough to show you heaven.


The Pie Scandal by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s resident poet developed a profitable sideline in protests to order. For a couple of quid and the promise of a favourable review of his poetry anthology, Godfrey’s Buttocks Are Coming Home, Plantagenet Flish would disrupt any planning meeting, blockade disputed footpaths and sabotage a rival’s leeks. His career ended when he joined in Nan Tucket’s Free Pie campaign only to be arrested for ripping the doors off the town jail in the mistaken belief the Pie in question was a wrongfully incarcerated individual with an unusual monicker rather than an unwanted pastry that Nan wanted to gift.


How A Leader Is Made by Frank James

Cadet John Cadell realized his four years at the academy condensed to one test. His instructor held the answers. His mentor explained Cadell’s decisions that baked the Freedom Pie Graph. He ordered correct platoon into battle, deciding right flank. This severed one group into two allowing support units to capture terrorists. Cadell then executed precise combat duration with no life or asset loss. He transitioned quickly to security mode, identifying correct Individuals.

He liberated village from terrorist group, permitting Blackhawks to fly refugees to processing camps.

The Master Sergeant saluted Cadell saying, “You earned your commission, sir.”


Riches From the Rich by Anne Goodwin

Encased in melt-in-the-mouth pastry, the fruity filling tasted of home. Even as Mama urged us to nibble like hamsters, our sticky hands reached for more.

We hadn’t heard of the rock star who brought this feast to the refugee camp but we vowed, when finally granted asylum, we’d be his biggest fans. We changed our minds later, holding each other’s hair back from our faces in the stinking latrines. No water to wash away the vomit or slake our thirst, we cried in chorus.

Mamma was right, the pies were too rich for starving stomachs. He should’ve brought rice.


Free Pies by Sadje

I’m pretty good at making apple pie. Whereas, a very good friend of mine excels at everything else. So it became a matter of pride for her to learn to make a perfect apple pie.

She asked for the recipe, but it didn’t turn out to be like mine. She then asked me to make it in front of her so that she can learn by watching.

But nothing comes for free. So I asked her to make her yummy pizzas in return for the apple pie demonstration lesson.

We both enjoyed a wonderful lunch that afternoon, eating pies!


Did Someone Say Apple Pie? by Miss Judy

Sally and Sammy live on Mr. Robert’s farm. They ride horses in the fields. Feed the chickens and pigs. And have a fort down by the creek where they swim and catch pollywogs.
Nearby is Mr. Marks’ farm, an apple orchard.
One fine fall day Sally and Sammy pick apples for the fort. They swim, catch polywogs, and eat apples.
Tired from their busy day, with full stomachs, they leave for home. By the time they get home their stomachs ache.
Mother, all cheery and excited, “Children, I have a surprise for you. We have apple pie for dessert.”


Pruned by JulesPaige

no longer
favorite son

Once a week Mom made two fruit pies. She used what was in season. My elder brother would go into the kitchen when everyone else was asleep and have one slice of one pie. This went on for years and no one said anything. Though, I think we all knew who the free pie thief was.

One summer Sunday he fell from grace. I figure he must have been going through a growing spurt of sorts. We all woke to see the two pie plates. But one was completely empty. Mom stopped making pies.


A Piece of Scarce Pie by Reena Saxena

It’s election time. Freebies flow down the gutter.

Every candidate offers something, and for once, the voters have a right to accept or reject.

“Why did you pick up that scholarship, son?”

“It will help my career, unlike the other things you’ll consume.”

“The money is not enough to pay for the entire course.”

“It still helps. Anything free helps afford something else you can buy.”

“Well, that’s sound logic.”

“It’s the only logic, when the pie is too small to suffice, yet is distributed free …. to see who grabs it, and can be fodder for the next.”


My Re-education by Doug Jacquier

I had eventually allowed hunger to over-ride my shame. I entered the hall and took a seat at the back. An educated voice came from a bedraggled man who carefully sat down next to me. ‘The first time’s the worst.’ Initially, I turned away to hide my welling tears of self-pity but eventually said ‘Is this where they have the free pies?’ A man and a woman, both in uniform, entered. The woman sat down at the organ and the opening chords of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ rang out. The man said ‘There’s no such thing as a free pie.’


The Runaway Pie by Reanna Ashburn

The little pecan pie sets upon the shelf waiting patiently. It looks back and forth until it’s certain the coast is clear. It wobbles it’s way off and out of the bakery. It begins it’s journey to better places.

It wobbles down the road as cars zoom around it. It has never seen cars before. It keeps going out of curiosity for what other wonders await. By sunset, it makes its way to a field full of beautiful flowers. It looks around in awe due to only knowing the baker and bakery. Now it can see everything it couldn’t.


Slices of Math (Part I) by D. Avery

“Hey Shorty.”
“Hey Pal. Where’s Kid?”
“Give Kid the slip, figgered it’d be a hep not ta have Kid’s hep if ya needed hep here at the saloon.”
“Everythin’s good. Just checkin the stage lightin. Come set a spell out on the veranda.”
“It’s nice an quiet, but it’ll be good ta have folks roun the saloon agin.”
“Speakin a quiet, what exactly is Kid up to?”
“I give Kid a free pi.”
“Pi. Said ta measure the circumf’rence of a pie real careful then divide thet by its diameter till the dividin was done.”
“Ha! Endless fun.”


Slices of Math (Part II) by D. Avery

“It’s a rare moment, Pal, the two of us relaxin in the sun. Oh, oh. Is that Kid headin our way?”
“Dang. There goes thet peace of pi.
Kid. Ya cain’t possibly be finished with thet division.”
“Pal, that was irrational! So I divided the pie a diffrent way. Sectors.”
“Them’s some mighty thin slivers a pie.”
“Yeah… but the fractions have ta be small so ever ranch hand gits a equal share. Sharin is carin.”
“Look you two. Everyone brings their piece of pie to the table ta make a beautiful whole.”
“Way ta sum it up Shorty.”


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

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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Free Pies, Y’all

    “No, Pal, I ain’t been putting lipstick on ma pet pig.”

    “Then ‘splain ta me why she’s all cherry red roun her snout.”

    “Cherry? Oh shift! The free pies! Curly must a got inta the pies I set out fer folks.”

    “Jeez Kid! Ya’ve really gone an done it this time.”

    “Ya gotta hep me Pal, afore Shorty gets wind a this.”

    “Phew, speakin a wind. Pepe LeGume jist blew in.”

    “Ello Keed, Pal. Dere ees only one teeng to do, and dat ees to do eet again.”

    “A free pies reprise?”

    “Oui. We weel get baking, no?”


    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! You must have been waiting to pull this one out of the oven, D.!

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        These yahoos are all over the place! I’m supposedly working so couldn’t keep an eye on them.
        I have read enough of the collection so far to know that Michael Fishman might want to look out for Kid, who doesn’t want to share in shoveling the cowpies and horse muffins at the ranch.

      • Charli Mills

        There’s plenty-a free pies at a ranch!

  2. Charli Mills

    I was late pulling the pies out of the oven this week but you will find a Collection worth waiting for. I laughed (Le Pard!, Wilson and Ranch Yarns), reminisced with many of you (Colvin, Brady, Chesebro, Aben), experienced surprise (Fisher!), felt hope (Dadje, James), felt despair (Goodwin, Jacquard), and enjoyed every story in this Free Pie Collection. You make good pies, Writers!

  3. pedometergeek

    What a wonderful collection this week, or should I say, the dessert was yummy. D. Avery’s story takes the cake, I mean pie. It was so poignant for what is happening in the world. I have to say both Rob and I teared up for those two (and for all those in Ukraine who are experiencing the same). ~nan

      • pedometergeek

        Me, too, D. Every day seems like another atrocity is reported.

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Ok, Shorty says Kid has to share the cow pies and horse muffins if Michael Fishman’s Derek and others want to shovel too. (stay tuned for an i-Kid if you need an app for that)
    Shorty also summed it up nicely in the Ranch Yarn when she said this collection is a beautiful whole. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
    These free pies are priceless and such delicious variety; savory, sweet, and bitter sweet; fantastic and funny. Why one pie even ventured out freely and sampled a slice of life! Each story was a delight. And only 99 words each!

  5. Doug Jacquier

    A pie-ping hot panoply of patisserie indeed.

    Particular crunch points for me:
    Liz – ‘a favorite china dish and silver spoon, relishing freedom.’
    Michael and his poo-pies
    Duane – ‘strawberry pie simply CAN NOT be bad for me!’
    Joanne’s true example of artificial intelligence
    Johanna – ‘A celebration of life. Not simply existence, and free pie.’

    Finally, the pedant in me kept screaming out ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ , not the array of creative spellings included this week. The Irish mothers who invented this creative way of dealing with leftovers would be taking a shillelagh to you. 🙂

  6. Scott Bailey

    This was a lot of fun, being fairly new to writing, new to the ranch, new to micro fiction I can see by the quality of the stories here that I really need to up my game! Can’t wait for more chances!

  7. restlessjo

    Such a privilege to appear here, and to read what my far more skilful mates have made of this. I enjoyed every last crumb. Thank you!

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake


    “Kid, what’re ya doin, hangin out here? Derek ain’t gonna do all yer chores.”

    eatin pies freely

    tastin life’s many flavors

    ‘neath poet tree’s crown

    “Dang it Kid, this ain’t the time or place fer yer buckaroo-ku! An stop eatin all the free pies! Yer worse then Curly.”

    soft sweetness

    unnerneath Pal’s crust

    fork it over

    “Tellin ya Kid, ya best git a move on. There’s a whole other challenge bout change. Ya ready fer thet?”

    half-baked is too raw

    change’ll come roun in due time

    fresh pie oven hot

    “Hmmff. S’pose we’ll put pies on the Saloon menu.”

  9. joanne the geek

    This collection confirms pie is good! ????

  10. suespitulnik

    Another great set of stories. I enjoy seeing the new names of contributors. It seems cherry won as the favorite flavor.


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