Ready for a Change

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 30, 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.

Change is Coming by Norah Colvin

‘Get up,’ Pauline whispered.

He rubbed his eyes. ‘Why?’

‘Shh! He’s here.’

He trembled. ‘Take Rabbit?’

Out they crept, sliding against the wall to the door. A shout from downstairs. They froze. Pauline turned the knob. Quietly. Quietly. She pushed the door. Gently. Gently. Then cool air. Silent toes pattered down the stairs. Across the grass they ran and ran. All three, hand-in-hand. Pauline in front. Rabbit behind.

Finally, they banged on a door. ‘Grandpa! Grandpa! He’s come.’

Grandpa was in the doorway, ushering them into Grandma’s arms, picking up the phone.

‘Hush,’ said Grandma. ‘Everything will be alright.’


Giant Change (Part I) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Hugo was unhappy. He’d been left in the tree swing too long. The swing, his favorite, hung from a branch of the biggest Douglas fir on Heffinger Mountain. A snack, a nap, a swing in the sack, and he’d be a happy boy all day.
Most times, once upon this time, all north-going and west-going breezes swung him merrily around. The goings-on of the villagers in the Hollow below kept him entertained until Mother returned from rampaging and pillaging, gathering him home to rejoin the family.
It was the best giant’s life.
Until the day she failed to return.


Giant Change (Part II) by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Mother hadn’t intended to abandon him. She’d tangled with the wrong giant blue ox, a mother with her own young to care for. In the end, Hugo’s mother lost, as always eventually happens, and Mother’s bones became playtoys for the young oxen.
Hugo sat in that swing for a long time, crying, his diaper soiled. Rumbles from his hungry belly rolled, and tears flowed down the mountain, flooding The Hollow below. The villagers, frightened, sent up a prayer.
It fell to the youngest demi-goddess of the Mountain to address the situation. Her first task? Hugo needed a diaper change.


Cottage by the Lake by Margaret Leggatt

They’re relieved to escape the city – its stink, the hovering smog.

They move in amidst a chaos of building rubble, but from their balcony, they can see black swans gliding in the shallows, and beyond, lush bushland and shadowed hills.

He discovers the joy of digging in damp soil to harvest home-grown vegetables; she takes evening strolls, stopping at lake’s edge to breathe in the salt-scented air.

The distant rumble of coal trains and the belching power station chimneys, just visible through the treetops, hardly register. They don’t notice the powdery black dust that infiltrates, drifts in, settling everywhere.


Bread or Circuses? by Doug Jacquier

The farcicality of a world where we are led by clowns, where fact is defenceless against belief, where reality is scripted for profit, where water has become the new gold, where famine has become background noise, where war addicts are on every street corner waiting for their next fix, where refugees flee into unwelcoming arms, where technology is used for being briefly famous, where health means more hospitals, where shelter is unaffordable, where elders are treated like beggars, where our children’s future is making and selling landfill, is a nightmare where dreams should live. I’m ready for a change.


I Was Ready for a Change by Sadje

When I was 54, I shifted with my daughter and grandson to Seattle. It was a big change for a person like me who had only once before traveled to America on my own.
I lived in Seattle off and on for 5 years.
This was a life-altering experience for me and I learned to look at life differently. I’d say that it was a pleasant and enriching adventure that was made easier by my willingness to embrace change and the support given to me by my family.
In the constantly changing circumstances of life, adjustment is the key.


In Search of Change by Saifun Hassam

I leaned against the wood fence. The rising sun was barely visible through the fog swirling around me. A new day, new thoughts.

It’s been great living in Lynn Valley. I’ll miss my friends, Hannah, Tilly, Sarah.

I became mom’s caregiver a few years ago when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Inoperable. When she passed away last January, my anguish was mixed up with relief. Relief for her, for myself. So many days when I felt I could not take care of her anymore.

For now, I’m heading into the Reading Trails. Not far from Carrot Ranch.


Charming by Simon

You again?
For a change.
You ask that everyday.
Because I’m looking for the change.
Don’t Lie. I’m married!
Then I’ll be a moon admirer forever.
He said sadly.
You know that’s wrong?
Admiring isn’t wrong, forever longing is a gift.
What if I lied?
About Marriage?
I wish it is, is it a lie?
Maybe what?
Maybe I lied, and I’m ready for the change.
You are not talking about coins now, are you?
She giggles, No charming stalker, I love you.
Don’t ever repeat this again to any passengers, will you?
I love Only you.


Love Is in the Heart by Frank James

Agnus sobbed as she flipped through photos of her and her late husband, Jonny. The phone rang, “Mom, you need to get out of the house. It’s been two years,” her son said.

“No, not yet,” she hung up. The next photo had Jonny kneeling as he proposed, “I couldn’t believe it.”

She slapped the album closed, “No,” walking away. Wiping away tears she looked at a tree they planted. A placard Jonny carved hung from a limb. She hugged the tree, caressing the sign.

“I know,” she whispered as she looked at it.

“Love never dies,” it read.


Aloysius’s Change by Nancy Brady

The day Aloysius found the strange looking blue jay feather changed him. The white cat just didn’t know it at the time. He thought the dark blue feather just looked different from the one that allowed him to fly.

Aloysius was right; it was an indigo bunting feather. Although it looked similar to a jay’s feather, it didn’t affect him in the same way. He tucked that feather behind his ear alongside the jay feather.

It wasn’t until he needed to lift the pigs to save them on that fateful day that he realized the feather made him strong.


Spring Ahead by Scott Bailey

“I’m freezing!” I hear them say all winter long as they cross the little bridge over the frozen stream. Back and forth, all day long, warm coats and hats yet still, “I’m freezing!”
No pity from me, nope. You think you’re cold? How about we trade places?
The sun seems to be working harder lately, adding a little warmth to my world. Their coats and hats look smaller. Days pass, a crow lands on the still frozen stream and pecks at a frog frozen below the surface. Not today crow, I’ll be thawed and safe underwater any day now!


My Hero (Part I) by D. Avery

I’m not necessarily ready for a change but here, for a change, is a true-life snippet: I live on an island.
I’m not referring to that summer resort island thirty miles off the coast of Massachusetts, but a little patch of high ground in my hometown that has been almost inaccessible lately because of the muddy rutted dirt roads. The roads thaw, freeze, thaw, heave, and continue to receive snow and rain. This is spring, a messy transformation.

The condition of the roads, the status of spring change daily, but I am called to venture out to another outpost.


My Hero (Part II) by D. Avery

I island-hop via my 4-wheel drive truck, in the cool mornings traversing ice-glazed mudholes and ruts, in the afternoons slogging back through slick bottomless goo. All so I can help a neurodivergent young man navigate simple tasks and responsibilities.

But he is not simple. He hopes, he dreams, he plans; he is ready for change, not just personally, but for the world. In his elaborate stories he’s the hero righting the wrongs—the 2016 election, bad cops, Covid.
From the passenger seat, he asks when change will come for real, when bad things will end.

I navigate the mire.


Johnny the Fool by Gloria McBreen

Winter gone, seasons exchange
Johnny so pale, was ready for change
April the first, the day of the fool
He took off his shirt, in a bid to stay cool
The sun beamed, gave him heat
He removed his shoes, to tan his feet.
With his flipflops flopping, his shorts past his knees
He went to the beach, it was 16 degrees.
He went home that evening, with a pain in his nose
He was up in the night, rubbing gel on his toes.
His wife was right, without a doubt
Ne’er cast a clouth, ‘till May be out!


Evolution Solutions? by JulesPaige

We’ve been waiting so long for the ceiling repair, thankfully it’s done! We had to pack up everything in that room. We’ve changed the furniture arrangements, where stuff can be found, where knickknacks are placed, trashed and given away more ‘things’.

We are ready for the next change… for me to get my official Old Lady Card. Then I’ll be able to join our local Gym for free in their Silver Sneakers program. I’ll be able to walk the track, swim in the pool and sit in the eucalyptus sauna. That will be an autumnal change worth the wait.


Cry Baby by Bill Engleson

There’s a buzzer. Handy sucker. I can easily press it. Don’t have to strain much. Sometimes they come. Most times, not.
I’ve heard them. They think I can’t, but I do.
“He likes to tweak us,” they say.
Of course, I do.
Doesn’t mean I don’t want them to come.
It’s so bloody damp.
Christ, I’m soaked right through.
Hate this, this…captivity.
They must hate it to.
Most days, I stare at the ceiling. A spawned salmon, bloated dead, run out of time, and ask myself, ‘how the hell did this happen?’
This’ll be my life till it ain’t.


Ready Or Notwithstanding by Gary A. Wilson Stories

Well, this is odd. I have nothing that must be done now.

I have time to sit, enjoy my tea, reflect, or just enjoy this bay view – ahhhh.

I wasn’t ready for college with everyone else, but when I was, I succeeded.

I wasn’t ready for a bride before outgrowing childishness, but then; she competed me.

I really wasn’t ready for self-employment without those years of experience but being laid off forced my successful attempt.

I wasn’t ready for fatherhood until that the ultrasound said I have 31 weeks to BE ready.

Wow — but he’s coming.

I’ve got this.


A Bike Ride by Donna Matthews

blank page. I’ve been stuck for months now, although it feels much longer. Writing isn’t as enjoyable as it once was, and more and more, I think about what it would be like to give it up entirely. But then I think to myself, why must it be all or nothing, and then, the existential questions start hounding me, and I seek escape. Spring certainly is a time for a change…maybe a bike ride this morning will clear my head.


The Insane and the Insanitary by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking welcomed Marcibanks Hazmat and his Dry Church, confident that another temperance operation was going to be no trouble. Even when he explained their credo: that man evolved from the sea in order to eschew all contact with water, they shrugged. Only when the first Great Change occurred did they recant. Coincident with the Spring equinox the Church’s followers, who’d been sewn into their cloths on the previous equinox, disrobed. The ensuing stench was such that the copious tears triggered by this malodorous unveiling washed the worthy clean, thus allowing them to being re-robed for another year.


The Other Side Of Change by Hugh W. Roberts

Having looked after her sick mother for the last fifty years, Shanaya looked forward to the change in life she’d often craved.

Caring for her mother had taken its toll on her. She’d missed out on making friends, having somebody she could call her lover, but most of all, having the company of different people.

Standing up, Shanaya looked change directly in the eyes and waited for it to reveal itself.

“You have been charged with the first-degree murder of Evonne Simmons, your mother. I sentence you to life imprisonment, Ms Simmons. Take the prisoner down,” declared the judge.


Amber the Vampire Familiar by Leonard Mills

Amber heaved the Master’s coffin open, grating stone reverberating off walls in the moonlit crypt.
She smiled. This was the safest place she could be.
Her Master slept peacefully. He’d seen potential, promised to change her within the year.
She prickled in anticipation, heart pounding – would she miss that when it was gone?
“What would you do to become a vampire?” he’d asked at the interview.
She paused, “sell my own grandmother?”
“Good start,” he’d smiled.
A body, bound and gagged wriggled on the moonlit cobbles.
“Sorry Granny,” she whispered, then turning, “right, breakfast sorted. What’s my next chore?”


Learning to be Married by Sue Spitulnik

When Tessa got home, Michael said, “I thought you’d be here when I got back.”
Tessa replied, “I never know how long you’ll be when you go someplace. I went to Lexi’s.”
Michael took her in his arms. “I guess I don’t know how to be married, but I’m ready to change that with your help.”
Tessa melted. “Invite me to go with you, where ever.”
“How about two nights in New York City next week on our way to D.C.”
“Absolutely! Broadway beckons.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t include you before.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t offer to tag along.”


Voting Day by Anne Goodwin

“Don’t we have enough on our plates already? Why take on another chore? Let the men delude themselves they can make a difference putting crosses in boxes. It’s we who make the world a better place. One lullaby, one wiped nose, one hot dinner at a time.”

I smile as my mother asks when I’m meeting the doctor’s son again. Smile as I nudge the placard under the bed with my stockinged foot. I accept her praise for the cake I baked for her visit. She isn’t ready for female franchise but I’ll fight until she’s allowed to vote.


Conclusions by Michael Fishman

They wake together, each alone. They roll over, and deep in dreamy thought question the other.

People think these decisions are impulsive, but they’re not. An argument that stretches out longer than the last one. Kindnesses lost. Excuses replacing apologies. Anxiety beginning to scratch a compunctious conscience that asks questions one never thinks of when they’re saying, I do.

Cold meals. Thoughts given voice. Little things that splinter a heart turned to stone.

Kisses forgotten; love evaporated.

A regrettable pair. Content in their complacency, eyes shut to the shifts, his and her minds tumble to their own illogical conclusions.


Making Change by Ann Edall-Robson

She stood at the end of the table next to the couple who had finished their meal. Laying the bill where the man could see it she started to count. Sixteen ten, and five, ten, seventy-five, one, and two, make twenty. The man nodded. Smiling, he handed her the money.

“Someone taught you well.”

She beamed.

“The cash register at my family’s feed store isn’t ready to be replaced. Whoever works there has to learn to make change and count it back, too.”

“Do you still work there?”

“Yes, sir, when I go home for the university’s breaks.”


Mask Up! by Ruchira Khanna

“Jeez! Why is everybody staring at me?” muttered Alisha as she chewed her gum frantically when she dragged a cart into the store, “Hope, I wore my pants?” and she quickly gave a downward glance at her legs, “Phew! I can’t forget the day when I stepped out to water my plants in just my panties.”

A tap on her shoulder, “Excuse me, Miss. You need to mask up!”

Alisha was apologetic, and with a gaped mouth, she quickly pulled it from her purse, “Gosh! This is the new norm, and it’s high time I embrace the new change.”


Coming Change by Duane L Herrmann

Human society is ready, ripe for change. And change is coming. Like the slow melt of spring, change is happening, though not all are aware of it. Change bringing equality to skin color and gender is sneaking under the surface. Changing expectations will manifest other changes: in equity, in freedom, in opportunity, in social relationships. Old ways die hard and will resist. This results in chaos and conflict. Yet, the human race as a species continues to advance, and will continue so. New social forces, new spiritual realities are in force and old, traditional, dysfunctional ways cannot stop them.


Ready for a Change by WTEK

You open your door, walk down the stairs, and turn right. It’s 24 steps then another right at the next corner. The bus stop that takes you to your job is just down the block from here. You walk this path five days a week. Each day you do the same work, eat the same lunch, have one of three weekly meetings, then go back home, stopping at the gym to get your cardio.

But maybe today is different. Maybe you turn left instead of right. What might you find in that direction? Only one way to find out.


No Way Ready Fer a Change (Part I) by D. Avery

“Dees i-Kid app could be good change. Thees would be an app that helps people do what Keed does. Keed, what ees eet you do?”

“Um, well it’s hard sayin, zactly.”

“Look, mebbe it ain’t a automated Kid she’s changing ta. Mebbe it’s sumthin else.”

“Oui, perhaps she ees changeeng from carrots to parsneeps. Ees catchy. Parsneeps for de people.”

“Reckon Shorty wouldn’t never change from carrots, LeGume. LeGume! Shorty’s always favored ya. She might change from carrots ta beans!”

“So? Bean Ranch. A rooteeng tooteeng place for readers and writers to be heard. Leave a mark.”

“This stinks.”


No Way Ready Fer a Change (Part II) by D. Avery

“Pal, there ain’t no way Shorty’s changing ta robo-writers or auto i-kids. An no way carrots’ll ever git changed ta anything cept more carrots fer more folks ta injoy. Only thing’s changed so far is you! Ain’t this bout the time when yer s’posed ta git me calmed down, put things in perspective? Mebbe Shorty’s switchin ta chickens!”

“Change’s skeery, Kid. A river a change is a rough stretch a water ta paddle. Reckon I’m grateful fer whatever paddle comes ta hand.”

“No shift!”

“Reckon no one ever steps in the same river twice no how.”

“That’s our Pal!”


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

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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    One thing that never changes is the wonderful writing here at Carrot Ranch. Thank you, again, Charli Mills for prompting, collecting and collating these 99 word stories. This was a great read!

    • pedometergeek

      I’ll second D’s comment. The writing is always wonderful with plenty of different takes.

    • Charli Mills

      I agree, D.! Great reading. Lots of surprises unfolded from this prompt with interesting intersections. I’m carrying your line like a mantra: “I navigate the mire.”

  2. Doug Jacquier

    Well, weren’t you lot ready for a change with this high quality of this week’s contributions (but, of course, I should have known, but I never see these things coming – anybody want to buy a quill?).
    Loved these bon mots:

    – Norah’s 99 told a lifetime.
    – Liz’s giant diaper changing left to the minions, as always.
    – Love the foreboding in Margaret’s ‘ the powdery black dust that infiltrates, drifts in, settling everywhere and
    – Scott’s ‘I’ll be thawed and safe underwater any day now’
    – Vintage D. with ‘he asks when change will come for real, when bad things will end. I navigate the mire.’
    – I’ll follow Gloria’s sage advice (adjusted for hemispheres” and ne’er cast a clouth until October. ( even if it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it).
    – Bill’s philosophical words hit home ‘This’ll be my life till it ain’t.’
    – Hugh had me screaming ‘No, let the prisoner free’.
    – Michael, so right with ‘Anxiety beginning to scratch a compunctious conscience that asks questions one never thinks of when they’re saying, I do.’

    Well done all.

    • Charli Mills

      Doug, I’ve come to look forward to your creative reviews on the stories that spoke to you. Now, when I’m scanning news headlines I can hear the ring of your opening in my ears: “the farcicality of a world…”

  3. Liz H

    What a bright bunch of Carrots the hands have brough forth!

  4. suespitulnik

    There were changes described in this offering that I hadn’t even realized were changes. Thanks to everyone who “dared” and to Charli for making it possible.


  1. nd 3.21 Evolution Solutions? 1p – Jules Pens Some Gems… - […] Carrot Ranch; Ready for a Change collection […]
  2. Flash Fiction Friday – The Other Side Of Change – Hugh's Views & News   - […] Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. […]
  3. The Disappearing Trick | Norah Colvin - […] Note: The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Ready for a Change can be read…
  4. #99Word Stories; Baby Ducks | ShiftnShake - […] sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Ready For a Change” collection from last week. And…

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