April 11: 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.

April 11, 2022

Water falls. Maybe it looks suspiciously like snow, but it is water and it is falling from the buried sky. I stand outside and let it collect on the blue and white plaid of my flannel shirt. Water falls. Tiny snowflakes carved too perfectly to be believed cling to my raised sleeve. I’m mesmerized. Water falls and I let go.

It feels like I’m at the precipice with nothing left to do but go over the edge. It’s peaceful here, falling with the water. I’m a crystalized snowflake, a soaring mist, a droplet that once quenched the thirst of my ancestors. I’m part of a cascading waterfall on the ridge of the Keweenaw, wondering how long it will take for me to experience this fall again, trying to remember the last plunge.

Despite winter’s hold and the never-shrinking snow piles, signs of spring emerge. I can see black soil at the edge of my front pile of snow. I hear the robins whistling. I can smell an earthiness in the air, wet, saturated, and promising a change.

Driving into Hancock, someone has left an emerald green recliner by the curb. A freebie for anyone. A motorist stops, and in my rearview mirror, I watch the person test the mechanism. At the farm, I worry for the plants that are too big too early with no way to remove the mounds of snow in the greenhouse.

Water falls and I practice patience.

I remember thinking as a kid how much fun it would have been to ride the log chutes down the mountains to plunge into Lake Tahoe. I’m older and feel satisfied with a slower descent. Falling doesn’t have to be fast or wild. It can be dreamy.

Work snaps me out of my reverie and demands attention.

Some of my students will graduate soon. Most will return next August. All are preparing for final papers, projects, and exams. We are droplets joined and coursing in a single direction. They will flow and I will pool. None of us will be the same drop of water twice, but we will repeat some of these patterns. Water falls.

Where I can see a pool of rest, I plan to go deep. My writing time has suffered greatly and I feel the creative damn ready to burst. So much is ready to unfold. Maybe that’s the feeling the crocus have buried deep, yet but knowing the release is coming.

The Saloon returned with a game on Friday — the Cowsino. It’s just for fun, a way to practice the form of a story at its most basic. Yet, like all forms, it has complexity if you let it challenge you. Or not. You could relax and see what comes from your imagination. Next Friday, Colleen Chesebro and I have an announcement to make and I’ll be at the Saloon for it. No school next Friday, although snow is predicted and I have veteran spouses to be with. Coffee. Conversation. Tears.

Time to let go. Allow life to be this week. Surrender to whatever needs surrendering. It’s okay. Water falls like forgiveness.

April 11, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, water falls. Where is the water coming from? How does it shape a story? Who does it involve? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by April 16, 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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  1. Norah

    Sometimes we do just need to surrender, let life be and go with the flow. I hope the water takes you on a peaceful journey as it flows.

    • Charli Mills

      There is peace in accepting and letting go, Norah. I’m on the write path! 😉

      • Norah


  2. Liz H

    Oh Charli! I’m sending you a warm Minnesota hug, because even though another chilly, slushy spell is predicted, we know it will be followed by the Spring. We give what we can and send comfort your way. We know you have plenty of courage!
    Water falls. Waterfalls. Sone of my favorite things. Thanks for the gift of being able to ponder and create on this theme!

    • Charli Mills

      Warmer, Liz, warmer! Ah, well, I had my first crocus sighting along a south-facing wall on campus yesterday morning and by the time I left, five more crocus had bloomed. Snow predicted on Friday has canceled our softball game for Finlandia but water falls and yes, the waterfalls are coming!

      • Liz H


  3. Colleen Chesebro: WordCraftPoetry

    Charli, you always say you’re not a poet but this is some of the most poetic and poignant words I’ve read in a long time: “It feels like I’m at the precipice with nothing left to do but go over the edge. It’s peaceful here, falling with the water. I’m a crystalized snowflake, a soaring mist, a droplet that once quenched the thirst of my ancestors. I’m part of a cascading waterfall on the ridge of the Keweenaw, wondering how long it will take for me to experience this fall again, trying to remember the last plunge.” Pure Poetry/Pure Michigan. The song is a stunner and the words penetrated my heart. You got this, my friend. <3 P. S. I'm busting at the seams with our news. LOL! <3

    • Charli Mills

      If being a poet is writing from the heart and imagination then maybe I’ll concede to a bit of poetry in my writing. All my profs said to take up poetry as a practice. I love your take on Pure Michigan! And yes, we are busting out soon, lol! <3

      • Colleen Chesebro: WordCraftPoetry

        LOL! You are definitely a poet, my unicorn buckaroo! Poetry is always writing from the soul and sharing your truths. <3

      • Charli Mills

        Then, I am a poet! Thank you for framing that definition. <3

  4. Scott Bailey

    Charli, I’m new here and we don’t know each other but I got to say that intro to this weeks challenge was really amazing! You captured a mood and setting so well I felt compelled to rip off the general feeling of your story and post it in the challenge as my own work! Thanks! LOL!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Scott. Sometimes I have to “outgas” through my writing. I’m pleased you can further improvise the feeling and make it your own. That’s part of the dynamics of creativity!

      • Scott Bailey

        Thanks, Charli. As a fairly new writer I’m very happy to have found The Carrot Ranch and these weekly 99 word challenges. A lot of creative people here!

      • Charli Mills

        Creative people, readers, and the occasional unicorn sighting are all part of the Ranch. I’m glad you found your way to these writing pastures, Scott.

  5. Jules


    It seems like spring takes two steps forward and one step back. It was down to 30 last night for us. Though we aren’t as far north as you. I’ve got some ideas floating to the surface of my imagniation.

    Be well and to all happy spring holidays – which ever you celebrate! Peace, renewal and kindness to all. ~ Jules

    • Charli Mills

      I can echo your peace, renewal, and kindness to all this season, Jules. Sounds like you still have cool temps, too.

      • Jules

        …tomorrow we might get to 80F!!

      • Charli Mills

        A heat wave!

  6. Leanne

    Beautifully written and inspiring words, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Leanne! Water always seems to be inspiring in all of its forms.

  7. TanGental

    There’s an old English word for a waterfall – a force – which I think describes you, Charli. As Norah says, go with that flow, grab a stick and enjoy the ride.

    • Charli Mills

      And addling and watching the beauty unfold, Geoff!

  8. Liz H

    Another installment of Disappeared…the plot thickens!

  9. reading journeys

    Hi Charli,
    I remembered a quote “Into each life some rain must fall.” I didn’t know it’s actually a song, an “oldie”.
    Here’s the link to the version sung by Ella Fitzgerald and The Inkspots – from way back when…


    Not sure if I’ll get in a story this time.

    Go with the flow!


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