Swimmingly 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.

September 14, 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.

A Short History of Swimming in Little Tittweaking by Geoff Le Pard

No one swims in Little Tittweaking now. During the Wars of the Ripe Plums from 1791 to 1803, the Jam Makers Of Desultory on Scum were rounded up and forced to exfoliate in the River Titt using granite chips and overripe Victorias. Disgraced MP Callous Hardpustule was paraded through the town in spiked budgie smugglers before being dipped in Lake Peachtingle until severely wrinkled and scrotally perforated. Any reference to anything swimming related is to court disaster. Thus when Harold Understaine, at his 127th birthday said things were going swimmingly, everyone knew his days of twerking threesomes were over.


Life’s Mixture by Ann Edall-Robson

One foot in front of the other
Step, step, stumble, step, step
Sunrises, lofty clouds, sunsets
Picnics, bugs, wading in the creek
Hurt, love, joy, loss
Horses, rodeo, win, bucked off
No more, no less, 99 words
Blizzards, -40, skating snowballs
Marriage, divorce, first love
Print, cursive, computer
Seedlings, water, sun, harvest
Cozy mystery, novel
Children, grandchildren, nana
Thunderstorm, drizzling rain
Stick men, paint, watercolour
Write, edit, shelf, write
Flash fiction, 5-word sentence,
Stories, poetry, haiku
Baking, canning, recipe books
Animals, stories, children’s books
Trails, gravel roads, grounding
Cut up, sew together, quilting
My life’s mixture works


My Writing Process by Nancy Brady

When the writing prompt is posted, I start thinking about what to write. Ideas are considered and rejected. Once an idea comes, I write until what I wanted to convey is expressed. Then I edit, removing irrelevant words to reduce the number.

Sometimes the prompt doesn’t resonate at all. This is one of those prompts. Still, it kept nudging me, making me hyper-aware. I’d read something and the prompt would appear in it. Some television programs used the word. I heard people say it, and eventually, I decided to allow it to dictate this post, and it did, swimmingly.


Sink Swimmingly by Kerry E.B. Black

After a bracing breath, she marched into the bookstore, smiled at a harried man ten years her junior, and withdrew her book from her shoulder bag. “I think you’ll want my novel on your shelves.”

The shopkeep paged through the volume while she filled the near silence with her elevator pitch and nervous banter.

He closed the book and slid it across the counter. “I don’t think it’ll sell. Sorry.”

Her heart leaden, she thanked him for his time. In the anonymity of her driver’s seat, she steeled herself for the next bookstore, picturing the interaction finally going swimmingly.


Pixels and Petals by Reena Saxena

“Say what you may, but those forsaken futures at the end of the road live only in your mind. They have found their place somewhere else in the lives of people who walked that road.

Could it have been a swimmingly smooth ride, instead of the sanity-stretching sojourn to glamorous, glossy goals your life has been?

Whatever happened was concrete, cavernous – calamitous and cacophonous for some, canonical for others.”

I don’t know the stories she carried with her. I keep those pixelated pages and perishable petals on her coffin. It’s all I can do to convey posthumous acceptance.


Peter’s Story by Frank James

Peter, medic, swam into triage. He clamped a leg wound gushing blood. Off to surgery. He splinted a fractured arm, notifying Orthopedics. Peter took on a head wound, started an I.V sedating the combative soldier. He rolled him to surgery.

“I need a surgeon!” Peter hollered.

A masked man charged in, “Hi ho, let’s go!”

Back in triage, a leg amputation demanded Peter’s skills. He wrapped the patient in a blanket: anesthetizing and elevating the stump. He sat, “I’m here. You will survive. You are strong.”

A British soldier said, “You swimmingly treated them.”

Peter smirked, “A day’s work.”


The Hustle by Joanne Fisher

So we found two marks. They were a couple of successful businessmen. We pretended to be investment brokers who had discovered a way to get speedy returns. They were suspicious of us at first, but we convinced them to invest a small amount of money which we gave back to them shortly afterwards with some of our own. Satisfied, they then gave us a couple of million in briefcases to invest, which we then ran off with. It was all going swimmingly until we were suddenly surrounded by cops. It turned out our marks were undercover policeman all along.


Fabulously and Swimmingly by Kerry E.B. Black

She’d bobbed her hair, an affectation to blend with peers. With shortened skirts and a smear of lipstick, she might pass for a modern woman. If she lifted her chin and looked life fully in its terrifying face, that is.

The key, she decided, was to emulate fabulous flappers. Zelda Fitzgerald’s devil-may-care attitude or Dorothy Parker’s scathing wit. She straightened her back, hummed the Charleston tune, and approached the front desk for her interview. She thrust out her hand to shake.

He smiled around his old-fashioned mustache. “I like a good, firm handshake.”

She laughed. “I believe we’ll get along swimmingly.”


Deep Water Romance Woes by Bill Engleson

I like the shore.

Sure do.

Don’t talk about it much. Usually, when you’re on the shore, you’re headed into the water.

She’s out there. Where the horizon meets the rim of the sea. “Come,” she beckons. “I’m waiting.”

But I like the shore. The firmness of the stones and sand.

I smile back at her.

“You’re teasing me,” she says, her voice a smooth stone winging its way across the water, circular, a pleasing motion.

“I’m not a good swimmer,” I say.

She smiles back. “I’ll hold you.”

I dip my toes.

This first date is going swimmingly.


Reclaiming Summer, 1964 by Anne Goodwin

It was all going swimmingly until Doris went for her Woodbines. True, the coffee was bitter but their sense of themselves as they drank it was sweet. Matty blames herself. She should’ve known that the chap who flourished his lighter wasn’t a gentleman from his lanky hair.

But oh, how delicious it felt to skip away from the asylum unaccompanied except for her friend. To ride on the bus among regular people, to browse the menu in the burger bar. To be treated as customers, ladies who lunch. Whatever the consequences, no-one could take the taste of freedom away.


Swipe Right by Chel Owens

Stanley Klülez stared across the candlelit table at Cindy Titepaunts. She looked just like her profile picture -a rarity. Stanley had started making a game out of how much his dates would differ from their appearance, as girl after girl after ‘girl’ proved …surprising.

“So.” He cleared his throat. “Do you like the color pink?”

Cindy, dressed head to toe in varying shades of coral, salmon, and rose, blinked at him. “Obviously. Do you like bargain-shopping?”

Stanley puffed out his chest in his cuffed, oil-stained coveralls. “Of course!”

He smiled happily as she snorted. This date was going swimmingly.


A Wedding by Sadje

“Well, that went swimmingly”. Ali, the father remarked as the last of the guests departed. It was a small affair. The small intimate wedding function with just the families from both sides present.

There were no relatives of the relatives, no second or third cousins removed, no colleagues or even friends. The bride and the groom wanted to keep it simple and so it was.

Every detail was arranged by them both and the parents had little to do but to pay off the caterers.

“I wish every wedding was that simply done and was so hassle-free,” Ali said.


Kate’s Date by Hugh W. Roberts

Kate couldn’t believe how swimmingly her date with Vera had gone.

They may have both been in their eighties, but sixty years ago, when they first started dating people of the same sex, life was more difficult. You could hold hands without drawing much attention, but a passionate kiss on the lips was a no-go area. Murdering someone was easier.

Looking at Vera’s lifeless body, Kate carefully removed the poisonous lipstick from her lips and took a swig of the antidote to be on the safe side.

Murdering someone was still as swimmingly as it was sixty years ago.


Death by Jenny Logan

You’ve killed it. I am so relieved. It was like one of those ‘Herman’ cakes, constantly requiring attention. Feeding and baking. Feeding and baking. No end to its need. But too much attachment and guilt on my part to just chuck it out, however sick of yeasty cake I’d become.

Anyway, you did the decent thing and murdered my affection for you with one snap of your putrid jaw. It was misplaced anyway. Now I am entirely detached as though having an out of body experience. No doubt life will go swimmingly without your energy tugging at my own.


A Modern Conversation by Sue Spitulnik

Text from Lexi. “Mom, do you know what human chorionic gonadotropin is?”

Answer from Tessa. “No. Google it.”

Answer from Lexi. “LOL. I know what it is. It’s a hormone in a lady’s pee. You better sit down.”

“I am.”

“Good news. Adam’s little swimmers did their thing and I can put away all the red stuff.”

“Are you telling me you’re pregnant?”

“Yes! Isn’t that great?”

“Wonderful! Michael’ll want to know immediately. Can I tell Grandma?”

“Not for a couple months. We just found out.”

“Okay. I’m happy the red sheets helped everyone have a swimmingly good time.”


Swim Team Tryouts by Nicole Horlings

A plate of dinner was waiting on the counter for Alex when he came home, which he put in the microwave while waving bye to Jordan and his mom through the kitchen window.

“How did the team tryouts go?” asked Alex’s mom, putting down her Sudoku puzzle and walking over for a conversation.

“I bet it went swimmingly,” said Dad, guffawing to himself, and eyeing both of them, hoping for at least a light chuckle.

“It went well,” Alex said. “Coach said I have a strong backstroke, and I have a lot of potential.”

“That’s wonderful,” said Mom, smiling.


Word List by Duane L Herrmann


“What are you doing?” Rafiq asked Stan.

“Making a list of words.”

“That’s not a word,” Rafiq pointed to ‘swimmeret.’

“Yes, it is. It’s another word for a pleopod.”

“You’re weird!”

“A pleopod is a forked swimming limb of a crustacean, five pairs of which are typically attached to the abdomen,” Stan explained, but Rafiq had walked away.

Stan didn’t understand why none of the other kids wanted to be friends.

“Don’t be mediocre!” His father would say. Stan liked words, the more unusual, the better.


Disappeared 49 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The spell had been well-cast – he felt it to his core — but Bethany and family had seemingly disappeared. The Scottish Mage was alone in a dark, silent space. He barely felt support under his feet.

“Well, THAT went swimmingly.” He grimaced, bushy eyebrows raised as he fingered the cleft in his chin.

There was nothing else for it. He waited for enlightenment, presumably from the Fates; he could sense their delightful femininity at the edge of whatever reality this was.

He’d not say “Uncle.” Let them make the next move, as if it could be any other way.


Dad Is Going Swimmingly by Doug Jacquier

Courtesy of the pandemic and brain plaque, I can’t touch him anymore, not that he would know who I was anyway. All I can do is wave to him through the nursing home window and watch him wave back, like he does to everybody. His manners remain intact.

On his lap is an album of old photographs that he leafs through constantly. Whether the staff put it there in the hope of a spark or whether he clings to its importance without knowing why is anybody’s guess. To me, through the glass, he seems like a goldfish with Alzheimer’s.


Road Trip by D. Avery

“How did we get here?”

“In this shiny new red convertible.”

“I mean Here. This.” He indicated his oxygen tank, his medical bag, swept his hand through his thin gray hair.

“Oh. The aging thing. I’ve no idea. I remember signing a contract with a young handsome man… something about in sickness and in health. It’s gone swimmingly.”

“Yes. Gone. Swimmingly… up Shit’s Creek. Next stop, Death.”

“That’s grim.”

“What do you expect?”

“I expect you to paddle!”

Eyes on the road, blinking back tears, she clutched the wheel of the red convertible, her emotions tangling in the wind.


Gallium Goes Hollywood by Gary A. Wilson

“Mom – you were right. I love chemistry.”

“Well, that took all of two classes. What got you so excited?”

“Liquid metal – just like the Terminator.”

“Sweetie, that’s Hollywood.”

“No – it’s real. It’s a silver-colored metal named Gallium, that melts just above room temperature. It can be used to make robots.”

“I’ve never heard of it. We can make robots from it?”

“Yes, microscopic ones that move, swimmingly, through fluid. They could be injected into people to precisely deliver medicines.”

“Oh – I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

“Mom – don’t think ‘Hollywood’, think how they could have cured grandpa’s cancer.”


Don’t Mess with the Ranch Cook by Charli Mills

Freda stirred and poured. The cookshack steamed with pickling and canning. Putting up meant no one was put out when larders grew lean in winter. Ranch-hands fared according to the contents of Ball jars. She’d pickled beets, jalapenos, cucumbers, and dilly beans. She canned peaches with whole cloves and chunky applesauce with cinnamon. Fancy, them ignorant hands would coo, living high until snowmelt drove them back to the line-shacks.

When Freda caught Lefty and Juan snitching a jar of peaches, she said, “Thems’ flies swimming in the syrup, fellas.” Wide-eyed and untrained to spices, they let go their prize.


The Party by Colleen M. Chesebro

The conversation had not been going swimmingly, and I’ll take part in the blame for the chilly turn. I could not fathom why Marcy stayed with her boring husband. I rolled my eyes as Rob blathered on about nothing.

“Sorry, I’ve got to go.” I deposited my untouched glass of champagne on the table and walked out of the room.

In the hall, Marcy met me at the door. “Leaving so soon?” She slurred.

“Yes, I’ve got an early meeting.”

Marcy was plastered. It was a shame to leave, especially when it was obvious the party had just started.


Routing the Tarnished Signet by JulesPaige

gilded words
ran afoul, became
soft as eggs

Oozing, dripping, uncooked, contrived, or hard boiled. Jade saw through them straight to the green patina covering bronze. She would not go swimmingly into their false pretenses. She had worked up from the scullery, learned from the cook, would not become the next parlor maid. Silver shillings saved would buy her passage across the pea green sea. Dressed as a deckhand in brown stable boy’s clothes, as Jay, would escape those had been fed with silver spoons – The Master had lost his last bet and there’d be no fixing the castle.


Starting Over by Miss Judy

The day had come to a close, Howard left to turn-out the lights. He had maintained the hotel swimmingly for over 50 years, she was his baby. They were being retired. As he closed the door, a tear caressed his cheek.

Howard arrived home to find Martha busy preparing a king’s dinner – her king she said. He swung her in his arms, both giggling like school children.

As the flames died to embers, Howard and Martha knew they had unfurled a passion forgotten, a love taken for granted, understood but unspoken. The future was theirs; they were ready.


Fun in the Pool by Norah Colvin

A perfect summer’s day: azure sky with not a hint of cloud, a whispering breeze to kiss away humidity, children’s laughter sparkling like glitter; it was all going swimmingly, until … Kevin kicked furiously, and … the tube crashed.

Tina tipped heels over head, chipping Chelsea’s chin, as she smacked into the water.

Chelsea fell against Liam, who yelled, “Get off me!” as they splashed down.

The three resurfaced together, and grabbed the tube, catapulting Kevin overhead, arms and legs flailing, into the water.

“Wow!” “That’s fun!” “Do it to me!” “I’m first!”

It was all going swimmingly …


Swimmingly by Scott Bailey

Watching my Grandson, Puggsly, splash around the shallow end of the kiddy pool kind of reminds me of a nature documentary about a baby hippo spastically reveling in its first dip in the watering hole.

Puggsly’s twice the size of the other kids his age, no matter which direction you measure, but that’s okay, he gets along just fine.

One of the other kids, same age as Puggsly, is just the opposite. A small thin kid by the name of Lee, this kid is like a fish. The kids used to call him Swimming Lee. Go Swimming Lee, go!


Swimmingly by H.R.Allen

She stared at the blank screen, and observed the little line of doom blinking almost mockingly. She watched as white refilled the space where a few clumsy sentences once stood.

She scoured her brain, inspecting every nook and cranny for any flicker of an idea. When she came up empty, she decided to shift her focus to the space around her. Surely there would be an idea here, right?

Soon, she turned back to her screen, readied her hands for the next best short story of her generation and found…nothing.

“How’s the challenge going?” Her teacher asked.

“Just swimmingly.”


Rockin the Deep End (Part I) by D. Avery

“Phew! Nuther challenge met an corralled, Kid.”


“Still wond’rin why thet sidewinder Slim Chance was sidlin up ta the Saddle Up.”

“Say agin?”

“Was like he was spyin.”

“Spyin an tryin previous prompts. But Slim don’t git it, don’t git that the challenge is whatever anyone wants ta make of it, it ain’t no competition or nuthin.”

“Thet’s write. Practice amongst a frien’ly ‘preciative literary community.”

“But Slim says there ain’t no two ways bout it, ya either sink or swim.”

“Thet is two ways. But they’s a third way— float!”

“Yep. Floatin works swimminly fer me, Pal.”


Rockin the Deep End (Part II) by D. Avery

“Pal, d’ya think mebbe I float too much?”

“What’re ya gittin at Kid?”

“Meanin I’m mebbe more adrift than afloat. Shore feel washed up.”

“So start paddlin, Kid.”

“Feel like I’m jist thrashin aroun. That ain’t the same as makin a splash.”

“Ya ain’t here ta make a splash Kid. But ya done got yer toes in the water. Swim!”

“Cain’t Pal.”

“Whut’s thet Kid?”

“Said I cain’t swim! Never learned.”

“We’ll s’port ya Kid. Oof! Yer heavier then I figgered.”

“Found some shiny rocks. Mebbe I should empty my pockets?”

“Reckon lessons’ll go more swiminly if’n ya do.”


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

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  1. Colleen Chesebro: WordCraftPoetry

    Another fabulous collection, Charli. I chuckled at the word “swimmingly.” It felt highbrow to me and my story took on that attitude. Who knew a word could dictate an attitude? LOL!

  2. Doug Jacquier

    Nice to see you all wearing your floaties and waving not drowning in the shark-infested waters of Charli’s prompt. I noticed these in my Australian crawl through the pool.

    Geoff – ‘spiked budgie smugglers’ made me wince just reading that line.
    Ann – ‘My life’s mixture works Swimmingly!’
    Kerry – “I don’t think it’ll sell. Sorry.” Well, it certainly won’t if you don’t stock it, pea-brain.
    Reena – ‘sanity-stretching sojourn to glamorous, glossy goals’
    Anne – ‘She should’ve known that the chap who flourished his lighter wasn’t a gentleman from his lanky hair.’ Quintessentially English.
    Chel – Cindy Titepaunts? Sounds like a character worth developing.
    Hugh – I’ve heard of the kiss of death but this? ????
    D – Love where this saga is going but the corollary of being up Shit Creek is that you have no paddle. ????
    Charli – Reminds me of the old Australian shearers repartee about the cook’s latest offering. ‘Alright, who called the cook a bastard?’ ‘Who called the bastard a cook?’
    Norah – Delightful recall of summer ‘fighting’ in the pool.

  3. pedometergeek

    For what I considered a tough prompt, I am impressed. You all did swimmingly. Congrats to all.

  4. Norah

    Congratulations everyone. You took the dare, dived in and made it to the other side.


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