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August 15: Story Challenge in 99-words

An eclipse of moths bounces in broad daylight. Their wings beat like floppy puppy ears. I like to think of the moths as goofy puppies when I’m shooing them away from my head. I have no idea what species of day-breakers I have all a-flutter on Roberts Street. I tried to investigate moths of upper Michigan and the closest match is the “Gets Wifi” moth at Bird and Moon.

What if these moths are providing wifi? No wonder it’s intermittent.

The moths appear harmless even if they have forgotten to be nocturnal. I’ve forgotten my way, too, blinded by the bright lights of what I expected or others expected of me. I flopped and fumbled and floundered until I came to rest. On my back in the mown mix of plants I call lawn, I rested next to my broken puppy. Don’t worry, she’s fine. I call her “broken” when she whines to go out only to flatten her body to the sunkissed earth. Nothing budges her. She sprawls and I laugh, jokingly calling her a broken puppy.

I rested beside Mause. I was not tired. Nor sick. I was as well as an 18-month-old German Shorthaired Pointer, learning to sprawl in the middle of the day. Learning to flop my awkward wings and fly like a day-blind moth. I watched a few white clouds shift for position in a blue sky we all know but can never aptly describe. I felt a cool breeze beneath warm sun rays. I felt my skin breathe, my bones settle. When we rose for no particular reason, I felt refreshed and alive.

I’ve been through something. It’s too early or too long-enduring to say what but I feel released. No reason why other than the floppy moths came to town.

I kayaked to my heart’s content only a few weeks ago. In another week, I’ll be flying out to upstate New York to explore, visit, and write in Sue Spitulnik’s corner of the world. When I return, I have three English Comp classes (ENG I and ENG II) to teach. Finlandia also hired me as a professional writing tutor and my schedule is sweet because I knew how to set it up this year. I have office hours, writing time, Carrot Ranch time, and for the first time in three years, I don’t have to work so hard.

It’s okay to flop, I’m learning.

I’ve often told writers we all have seasons and not to fret. I knew I was having a season and I knew I had to shatter my life to remake it. I let go of everything and it became something new. I’m cautiously optimistic that we are finally having breakthroughs in understanding Todd’s condition and a few small adjustments are making a universal difference. The VA Caregiver Support Team at Iron Mountain is phenomenal. I had so much training between December last year and April that my brain felt at capacity. They helped me get an appointment on September 7th that I gave up ever getting after almost four years of trying. I taught a creative writing workshop online through Caregiver Support and now I have a monthly writing group at the VA. My world is recalculating.

The pieces have started to come together as if floppy little moths picked each one up and arranged a pattern I hadn’t imagined. The imagination perceives beyond the primary senses but even then it’s impossible for one person to see all the possibilities. Week after week, my joy is bringing together story ideas, perspectives, and expressions beyond my grasp. Creativity is endless. It is not fleeting or weak. I witness what capacity creativity holds each time I compile the collection to a challenge.

Sometimes, creativity lies dormant, soaking up what it needs. Life finds a way.

And so will our stories, our words, our characters, our visions, our art. They say we need to know that wilderness areas exist — places of pure natural possibility. As writers, we need wild spaces to be. Not to be competent. Not to be judged. Not to be corrected. Not to be compared. We need places where we can recall the raw wild beauty of why we write. Writers need places to simply be.

Welcome to Carrot Ranch. Where creative writing is accessible to everyone and the range is wild. Maybe today is your day to dare. Every day is yours to write. Or rest on the lawn next to a puppy beneath moths wobbling on a blue sky day.

August 15, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that uses the idea or phrase, “floppy as puppy ears.” You can be explicit or implicit with your response. What is floppy and why? It doesn’t have to be about dogs at all. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by August 20, 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.


  1. “Hey Pal.”
    “Kid. Reckon this’ll be an easy prompt fer ya.”
    “Yep, yer likely gonna write bout thet dang hog a yers.”
    “Yep. Yer likely gonna remin folks as how ya was tricked by Slim Chance inta thinkin the piglet hog was a puglet dog, then ya kep her anyway once I convinced ya she was porcine.”
    “*Porcine* Pal? Okay.”
    “Yer bacon eatin days were done after thet.”
    “An ya took thet puglet ever’where’s, jist like a pup.”
    “Don’t fergit her ears, Pal.”
    “Thet’s fer you ta write bout Kid.”
    “Ya kinda left me speechless Pal.”
    Charli! Excellent! You have the wisdom to follow Mause’s lawn lying lead. Wait a minute… is the Robertts Street Writery now the Roberts Street Flop House?
    (And yes, Kid and Pal know this yarn doesn’t count. They like getting things going in the comments, even if it means more work for me.)

  2. LaShelle says:

    “Sometimes, creativity lies dormant” That line is SO true. sometimes ou have to wait for the stories to come to you. Beautiful post!

  3. Jules says:


    To live the life you have to the fullest that you can. May you continue to be creative, supportive and encouraged by your pup to relax. (((Hugs))).

    Got in early this week… It just worked out that way.

  4. I suspect you may have unknowingly been visited by Mothra and her luminous fairies.

  5. Norah says:

    Charli, I’m so pleased you got to ‘rest on the lawn next to a puppy beneath moths wobbling on a blue sky day’. Yes, we all need to flop sometimes. Sometimes it is all we can do. I’m pleased your world is ceasing to wobble and that your stars are shining a clear way to your North Star.
    I didn’t think I’d be able to respond to this one, but managed it anyway. It may differ from usual, but it’s given me an idea to work on. Creativity is not only where we find it. It’s where we make it.
    Hoping all good things work in your favour.

  6. Jennie says:

    “Sometimes, creativity lies dormant, soaking up what it needs. Life finds a way.” That is powerful. I keep reading it. I’m so glad to hear about you, and your creativity. The stars seem to be aligning.

  7. suespitulnik says:

    Charli, I’m happy to hear that small adjustments with Todd are making a world of difference. It puts me at rest along with you.
    This prompt was difficult to fit into my serial, but as you say, the writer found a way.
    Here in Western New York, we so badly need rain, but I’m hoping for sunny, warm days while you are here so I can show you vineyards, the Finger Lakes, and cemeteries with the wind in our hair (via a Mini Cooper convertible.) My writing groups are anticipating your arrival as I am. Travel safe with no inconveniences.

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