Well’s Gone Dry 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.

June 1, 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.

The Well Has Gone Dry by Rob Smith

When my father retired to Georgia, he had a sixty-eight foot well drilled at the base of the mountain that was his backyard. One dry summer, the well nearly went dry, but there was a spring higher up the hill. Cutting through undergrowth, he laid plastic pipe and brought water to the house. Eventually, he drilled a second well. Now he had two wells and a supply of spring water for flushing the toilets. He never did write an owner’s manual, and in the end, my brother and I had to sort out the pipes and valves and memories.


Now It’s Your Turn by Hugh W. Roberts

“Every second of his days had been like hell. Even when he had slept, his dreams would not allow the agony to subside. He’d have to wash his bedding every other day because of the hot night sweats, but they had been the least of his problems.”

Turning to the middle-aged man beside her, Tanya continued talking.

“You can all be like him if you want. You can stand up and face head-on the problem you all have in common. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Wells, and Wells’s gone dry. He conquered being an alcoholic. Now it’s your turn.”


Well’s Gone Dry by Norah Colvin

Having lived independently for years, when they moved in together, they had two of everything and needed nothing more.

At their public celebration, they advised, ‘No gifts, please. Wishing well contributions appreciated.’

With well-paying jobs, they had no immediate need of the well’s contents, which they didn’t inspect but agreed to keep for a ‘rainy day’.

It sat untouched for many years, until it didn’t just rain; it poured.

“Must be all notes,” they said when it didn’t jingle. There was but one note: “Always carry an umbrella in case of rain.”

The well remained the only thing dry.


A Marriage Tale by Duane L Herrmann

The marriage had not been easy. Each felt they were carrying the load. Neither could be supportive of the other. She held a job that supported the family. He was emotionally supportive of the children and his spouse. Though not a builder, plumber, or electrician, he built a house for the family to live in while also filling role as cook, house-keeper, etc. Though suggesting the move to the country, she insisted on selling the house and moving to town. After that, his emotions were flat. “The well’s gone dry,” is all he could say when asked why.


Desperation by Michael Fishman

I said, “Let’s give it another try?”

She said, “No dear, ‘cuz the well’s gone dry.”

I said, “But we’ve got lotsa history.”

She said, “Yes dear, and it’s all blistery.”

I hung my head and I started to cry.

She said, “You’ll forget me in the by and by.”

There was one last hug one tender squeeze, and I let out a whimper that sounded like, “Please?”. I begged, “Ya think that some time I might drop by?”

She said, “No dear, ‘cuz the well’s gone dry.”

I gave it a try. Nothing left to say but goodbye.


Homage to Dr. Clair Stelzenmuller by Sue Spitulnik

James listened as Michael and Ben talked about being in Walter Reed. Michael said, “You ran my well of ideas dry trying to convince you it would be worth learning to walk again.”

Ben nodded. “Those were some dark days. I appreciate you and Clarice not giving up on me.”

“I took some convincing too. That’s why I offered to help.”

James asked. “Who’s Clarice?”

After Michael and Ben explained about their doctor, James said, “I’m hearing the names Clarice, Doc, Chance, and Feisty in the first set of dogs we train.”

Michael laughed. “She’d be good with that.”


Disappeared 18 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

He looked into the boy’s eyes, mistaking him for his own image from years past. The arch of his brows, wide green eyes, the cleft in his chin – clearly, he was someone else! He snapped out of the decade-plus years of enchantment — a spell he’d brought on himself — and realized he should be somewhere else. “Well’s gone dry,” he whispered. A memory, an Appalachian ballad, nearly toppled him; he had to find a way back home to her. But he also had to be right here, right now.

“Just wait a bit, son. Help’s on the way.”


Where Has the Water Gone? by Sadje

The tap was silent except for a few drops of water. Frantically she ran outside to check if the water tap with the direct connection had water. That tap was dry too. In frustration, she sat down and shed a few angry tears. When people were told not to waste water by washing their cars, or watering their lawn no one listened. Now the well’s gone dry and children are thirsty for freshwater. Resignedly, she picked up an earthen pot and started for the next village. They had a tube-well and perhaps she’ll get some drinking water from there.


Endurance by Joanne Fisher

“Well’s gone dry.” Sarika stated. Both her and Kali stared at the dusty ground.

“We’ll have to dig a new well then.” Kali said. She knew if they didn’t find water, then they would have to find it somewhere else, but water was scarce in this parched valley. In fact the whole world seemed dry now.

“If we don’t find water, then we die.” Sarika stated. This was the constant reality all survivors now faced.

“Then the sooner we build a new well the better.” Kali replied trying to sound upbeat. They went to find the others to help.


Warning Note by Simon

In this cold hearted desert, there was a well of love. It has gone dry, well’s gone dry my dear, it will soon disappear, warrior is reborn. It wasn’t painful, the day she shoved that large knife next to my heart, the way our enemy laughed at me. The moment I pulled out the large sword out of my chest and used it against both of them, and beheaded her and the commander. I am still not satisfied, this desert should wet only with blood. The rage began, the entire kingdom of King the IV, I’m coming for YOU.


The Source by Tzvi Fievel Schnee

The well’s gone dry, and the cisterns are empty. The land is devoid of its precious nutrients, and the once fertile soil is depleted. How much more so does the earth echo the dwindling inner reservoir of our souls, malnourished on toxic ideas, partial truths, and outright lies. The sources of our well-being are often insubstantial, as ephemeral as the clouds, and inconstant as the rain. If we proceed along the avenues of selfish endeavors to procure for ourselves, what cannot be acquired solely by our own efforts, then, the well of salvation will be hidden from our eyes.


Well’s Gone Dry by Anita Dawes

I had planned this pilgrimage for a year

A sacred well, 140 mile walk

Could take a week

My father told me about it

To drink from it, brings good luck I need some

The trek hard, my feet blistered

My back broken

The scenery beautiful

So many birds I had never seen

Camping at night, early morning pilgrims

Walking down, their faces grim

I thought little of it, except the walk had been tough

Then a couple told me the well’s gone dry

I continued, disappointed, however

I was still hoping to hear the whisper from the well…


Wishes by KL Caley

Lena made her wish as she tossed her coin in but there was no splash.

“There’s no splash!”

“What?” her sister, already unimpressed by the detour responded.

“Well’s gone dry.” Lena’s voice wobbled. “Do you think my wish will still come true?”

Her big sister looked into her watery, pleading eyes. “Depends what you wished for I suppose?”

“If I tell you, it won’t come true… but it was something for us both,” Lena said with a smile.

“Well, then I definitely think it will come true.” The girls linked arms and left the well to do its magic.


Well’s Gone Dry by Ann Edall-Robson

“Is this a sign the well’s gone dry?”

“Why do you ask?” Laying the pencil on the grid-lined pad, she smiled.

“There’s been nothing new sprouting from you in a while.”

“Just because the pages aren’t filed with words doesn’t mean I’m not productive.“

“Looks like the only thing you’re germinating involves expanding the garden next to the horse pasture.”

Leafing through a seed catalogue, she stopped at the Heritage Collection and scribbled more notes on the pad. “You’re wrong, it’s research for a book.”

He winked and said, “Yes, dear. Glad to hear the well’s not dry.”


Alone by Reena Saxena


is all-in-one

when I come together

gather different pieces

to make a whole

to make sense of it

I dissect dreams

to see

what one part of my psyche

says to another

and it’s so engrossing…


is what all others

don’t like

it leaves them out

excludes them from

control rooms

Separates their ego

From my the glory

of my individuality

those who respect me

respect my alone-ness

Lonely is only

when I pine for company

other than my own

It’s a well gone dry

looking for irrigation

Alone is all-in-one

Alone is complete

Alone is bliss


Fill in the Blank by JulesPaige

useful muse taps sleeps’
dream bin when the well’s gone dry;
intertwines life’s truths

When the days’ passages seem to differ little, when headlines’ constant news is bleak – That’s when some seek escape in sleep. Where are the visions of sugar plums, the unicorns and fae? When the head rests on the pillow and eyelids close one can only pray nightmares stay far away.

Creative muse can you bring forth a well of words to overflow? Help me fill in the blanks with some sense. Some words that bring a difference to the sameness of my days


At What Expense by Frank James

“You thought the well was dry!” Johnson hollered at his brother, Bruce.

“Yes, it’s full,” Bruce said with sullen face.

Johnson pointed at the churning oil rig where a cornfield once was. Workers flared methane flames into the blue sky. Bulldozers pushed black sludge into pits burying it. Protesters chanted at the gate, “Fossil fuel is a dinosaur.”

Bruce’s wife strolled up, pointing at new shoes. “Thank you for discovering our new wealth.” Bruce shook his head.

Johnson tapped a clipboard, “We need to negotiate selling price.”

Bruce’s face winced, “At what expense?”


Well’s Gone Dry by D. Avery

in wind-stormed time of drought

nothing shines but rust

silt and sand swirled colors of the silent muse

faded promise wrung out

sunbaked bone and dust

in hard times, hard to trust

to shake fear and doubt

to beseech again and again be refused

one must do as one must

seeding one’s own clouds

with faith of rooting sprouts

breaking through the crust

dream of green catching glistening drops of dew

if muse gasps, one must shout

wake up dreams long hushed


The Coming of Petrichor by Doug Jacquier

Well’s gone dry and Adam stares at the grey-black clouds that cluster like a bunch of stuck-up girls at a school dance that turn him down every time.

So he flicks on his solar batteries (powered by the daily hell-fire Sun), powers up his Hendrix-like stack of Marshall amps, loads his player with Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’, turns the volume up to 11, hits play, picks up the microphone and in synchronicity with the soaring strings, the bells and the cannons, screams “Send ‘er down, Hughie!”

As his tears fall like rain into the dust, his nostrils fill with petrichor.


Glossary: ‘Send ‘er down, Hughie’ – Traditional Australian prayer to the heavens to deliver plenty of rain Petrichor – The earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil, a term coined by two Australian scientists.


Welling Up by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s Devil’s Well became famous when a bottle of its water turned into a potent gin one wet Bank holiday. So potent was it that many said a drinker would forever after pass ‘a particularly muscular urine’. To combat the town’s inebriation, the incumbent, Roger Andoubt turned the well into a temperance hotel. New visitors were turned away with a mournful ‘Well’s gone dry’. On his death, Clover, Roger’s widow, had his casket lowered into the well. It came back as a crate of absinthe. Each year, on his death day, Roger’s absinthe was toasted by grateful locals.


Well’s Gone by Scott Bailey

Old MacDonald had a farm and the well’s gone dry. The sun had driven the water table too deep, a shady spot fifty feet away looked better. He removed the well-head and hooked his team of four huge Clydesdales to the solid steel pulling hooks driven into the rim of the well. On his command the horses leaned hard into their yokes, pulling and snorting, hooves scraping against the dirt. Shoulders and flanks rippling sinew as the chains fought against snapping, slowly the well inched across the yard to the target spot. There, water started filling the well.


You’re Done by Gary A. Wilson

So, I’ve decided. You’re done hurting me. You’ve eroded my finances, my health, my self-respect. You’ve insulted my family, my friends, and my God. You’ve broken my trust, my body, and my good name. You’re always quick to apologize, but your good intentions quickly fade. Yes, I have already forgiven your last loss of self-control, but you need help I can’t provide. I no longer want you in my life. That well’s gone dry. I filled it in with the rubbish that you left of my life and when I leave, I’m starting a new one, completely — without — you.


An Ordinary Day by Nancy Brady

It was an ordinary day until it wasn’t. Another mass shooting, in a small Texas town, this time. Twenty-one dead: two teachers trying to protect their students and nineteen young children. Each family, in minutes, losing the future they thought they’d know. A town left to grieve. Hardened news reporters turning away from the camera, returning to say, “I’m sorry.” The country is sorry. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Dayton’s Oregon District, Las Vegas, and too many others still resonate, reminding of callous, indiscriminate gunfire, more loss of life, more grieving families, and more tears until the well’s gone dry.


My Well’s Gone Dry by Bill Engleson

My well’s gone dry

And my heart is empty,

I don’t know why I ain’t got plenty

I don’t know why I ain’t got plenty of love…

I ain’t as spry as when I was twenty.

I swore I could fly like my darling Jenny.

Swore I could fly like my darling Jenny.

Fly into the sky… fly in the sky.

You know I’ll try

To find a shiny penny steal or lie to try to find any,

steal or lie to find as many.

Whatever it takes to fill my well,

heaven or hell to fill my well.


Diggin Inta Pre-Herstory by D. Avery

“All thet pencil tappin tells me yer still drillin, Kid.”

“Looks that way Pal. Well’s gone dry after all. But I ain’t whinin, it’ll come.”

“Thet’s the spirit. Meantime, I’ll tell ya bout a character come through here one time, a water witch a sorts she was…

This was way back when the ranch wasn’t a ranch, was jist a seed rattlin roun young Shorty’s head, could a been mistaken fer stardust, it was so small at thet time. Anyway, this water witch come through an took out her dowzin rods.”

“Lookin fer water?”

“Nope. A well a creativity.”


“Did that water witch character find creativity, Pal?”

“Ya kiddin, Kid? Them dowzin sticks was dancin a jig all over the ranch.”

“Ya said it weren’t the ranch yet.”

“Shush Kid.

This entire area was a vortex a creativity; the site a the saloon, the comments, the collection. She had Ernie dig a well at the challenge post. Ernie was smart, commenced ta digging whilst wearin a blowup uni-corn floatie roun his middle.”

“What fer?”

“Cuz he knew thet well was gonna gush!

Sure ‘nough, ol’ Ernie come ashootin up outta thet hole he dug like a bottle rocket.”


“What happened ta Ernie’s unicorn?”

“They say thet uni-corn floatie come ta life thet day, thet it kin yet be found wandrin the place thet come ta be Carrot Ranch. As fer the water witch, she moved on, said she’d left her mark.”

“A watermark?”

“Shush Kid.

She went on her way but assured one an all, past, present an future, thet the creative wells would always be full at this magical place, long as folks kept dippin an sippin. Ever since there’s been a rainbow over the place.”

“A rainbow an a north star!”

“Yep. Shinin on ferever.”


All’s Well That Ends Well by A. Kid

Once upon a time Pal disappeared, an Kid too, but only ‘cause Kid had ta save Pal. Ever day Kid and the intrepid puglet, Curly, looked fer Pal. Until Curly figgered mebbe Pal had fallen inta the well. Because of that Kid an Curly run ta the well an looked in only ta find the well had run dry. Because of that Pal wasn’t drowned but got knocked on the rocks. Because of that Pal may or may not be sure if this is a true story or not. Finally, Kid an Curly pulled Pal up outta the well. 


“Kid, I’m happy fer ya thet yer creative well is flowin agin, but thet ain’t a true account at all! Heck, it ain’t even good fiction. D’ya think mebbe ya shoulda changed the names, put in a disclaimer bout co-incidennal similarities?”

“Change the names? Pal, we’re already fictional characters, so… Anyways, reframe yer comments. Cain’t ya say anything positive?”

“Well… dispite the unlikely hero, I do like thet ever’one come out okay. An I like how ya used the story spine like folks’ll use at the Cowsino ever first Friday of the month.”

“Heehee, yep. Jist primin the pump.”


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

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  1. Becky Ross Michael

    Great writing pieces, here, and so interesting the different ideas that stem from the prompt!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s what always keeps me going, Becky — the endless possibilities of creative writing even in 99 words and to the same prompt. I also love watching the growth among writers as they challenge themselves in their craft. Thanks!

  2. Doug Jacquier

    Did I ever tell you the story about the three holes in the ground? No. Well, well, well.

    Favorite lines this week.

    Rob – He never did write an owner’s manual, and in the end, my brother and I had to sort out the pipes and valves and memories.
    Norah – pun of the week – With well-paying jobs, they had no immediate need of the well’s contents
    Liz – He looked into the boy’s eyes, mistaking him for his own image from years past.
    Anita – I was still hoping to hear the whisper from the well…
    Reena – Lonely is only when I pine for company other than my own.
    D – in wind-stormed time of drought nothing shines but rust
    Geoff – Each year, on his death day, Roger (Andoubt)’s absinthe was toasted by grateful locals.
    Scott – Shoulders and flanks rippling sinew as the chains fought against snapping
    Nancy – and more tears until the well’s gone dry.
    Bill – Whatever it takes to fill my well, heaven or hell to fill my well.

    • Jules

      I knew what petrichor meant…but I didn’t know how it came to be. Cool beans. Thanks.

    • Charli Mills

      You made me snort-laugh, Doug! I enjoyed your selection of favorite lines. Thank you for the time to study each story and focus on craft. That’s a good way to improve our own writing when we do that.

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Pal, I jist don’t know bout this here collection.”
    “What’s ta know, Kid? Folks wrote, even you did, an Shorty blended em all t’gether fer a real fine readin ‘sperience.”
    “Thinkin Shorty’s misrepresentin. False advertisin.”
    “Whut are ya on about Kid?”
    “Well’s Gone Dry Collection?!”
    “Yeah, thet was the prompt. Thet’s whut all these folks has writ about.”
    “Zactly. There ain’t no dry wells around this ranch! Creativity flows like sweet spring water.”
    “Thet’s a fact, Kid. Thet’s a fact.”
    “Yep, folks done so good goin where the prompt led em, this title’s misleadin.”
    “Jist let it go Kid.”

    • Charli Mills

      We got a fine well flowing at the Ranch. Kid’s right (write?).

  4. joanne the geek

    Oops accidentally published my comment before I had finished. I was going to say this this collection shows no ones wells have gone dry here, but D. Avery beat me to it! Great responses everyone.

    • joanne the geek

      Please remove my earlier comment if you can.

    • joanne the geek

      Hopefully I’ll write a better story next time.

    • Charli Mills

      I thought it was a fill in the blank, Joanne! No one’s wells have gone dry here (well, except maybe mine, lol, but I know the season will pass). I’ll toss your quickdraw comment into the well and make a wish.

  5. pedometergeek

    I second (or actually third) D’s comment (joanne the geek actually seconded it) about the creativity of this group, but then I am always impressed by the breadth and depth of the responses. Well done!

    • Charli Mills

      That is the beauty of this collaboration among individual creative writers, Nan!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, no, Hugh! It was unintended and I’ll get it corrected! Thank you for letting me know!

    • suespitulnik

      Great Story, Hugh. Using Wells as a last name. I wish I had your view of the unobvious.

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        Thanks, Sue. I had no idea that Wells could be a boy’s name. Thank goodness for the internet. It certainly helped me with this writing prompt.

  6. Jules

    I don’t get to comment on every piece every week. I read ’em all this week and some were real wells, others emotional and some fanciful. Reminded me of The Well at St. Augustine Park in Florida… where the Fountain of Youth is supposed to be. I even tasted that bitter water. I’ve always been young at heart with an old soul.

    Thanks to all who wrote.

    • Charli Mills

      The Fountain of Youth, Jules! That’s how you manage it, eh? Thank you for reading, too!

      • Jules

        …only that one time. The rest – must be good genes!! Stay well! ????

  7. Scott Bailey

    24 writers this week, I’m impressed. I liked Charlis’ prompt, as I could see certain categories any given story could fall into right away. I saw the obvious “relationship gone bad”, and the “creativity dried up” categories, and they were well represented. Then there was the “well as actual well” category, again well represented (my story is in that one), there was some poems, too. All in all, a real bumper crop of good ideas and clever writing. I will, however, name one story as the most flat-out crazy (and I mean that as the highest of compliments!) story of the week; Simon’s “Warning Note” Wow, that was really surprising! I mean, I’m dragging a well across the yard (which I thought was rather odd) and you’re cutting peoples heads off, yikes! Well done!

    • Charli Mills

      Yes, Scott, I enjoy sorting and connecting and contrasting the categories, characters, tones, genres, and on and on. It’s a well of its own, sifting drops of water and yet appreciating the full drink.


  1. Memorial #99wordstories | Norah Colvin - […] The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Well’s Gone Dry, including mine, can be read…
  2. #99Word Stories; Memorial | ShiftnShake - […] sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Well’s Gone Dry” collection from last week. And there’s…

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