October 24: 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.

October 24, 2022

My fingers trace the nobby bones down Pegasus Sue’s back. Her vertebrae contrast with the fullness of her pregnancy. She’s a goat near term, carrying twins for five months. She leans her head into my hands and I cradle her jaw, massage her skull, and gently rub her back.

It’s a slow descent to winter on the Keweenaw Peninsula. We’ve had a few gales, some hard frosts, and even made national news with our shovable snow. But it has already melted and the lilac bushes cling to their green leaves as the maples shed their colorful canopies.

The sunny days we’ve had lift everyone’s spirits. We stay outside, hold bonfires, and prep the farm for winter. Well, the farmers do. I might cook a meal, or watch an episode of Bake with my daughter. It’s her birthday weekend and she wants to focus on her flower beds. She dug, separated, and replanted bulbs of irises, lilies, and hyacinths. I mostly hung out with goats, picking apples, and comforting an uncomfortable Pegasus Sue.

Molly, the younger doe of three at Ghost House Farm, already birthed her twins. Allison and Drew went out to the ghost-house-cum-goat-barn on Saturday and noticed a wee goat. I soon arrived — because my goat senses were tingling — to see twins still wet from birth.

Immediately, I swooned. I fell into full cuteness overload as this video demonstrates.

Fall seems an odd time to welcome babies to a farm in the Northern Hemisphere. Chip, the male goat, is also in rut which seems like even worse timing. The pregnant does want nothing to do with him. He hangs out with the herd of round-bellied kids from last fall in a separate pen and side of the Ghost House. The pigs are near time to go to market and the goats are birthing. Cycle of life and death plays out on a farm from day to day.

I wonder at the bones in this land. How many generations of humans and kin have fed the soil on this rocky spine? As Halloween approaches, I think of the different ways people around the world honor and bless bones. They say the veil thins at Samhain; a time for talking to the Ancestors.

As I comfort Peggy’s bones, I listen to messages on the wind. What stories lurk in the coming dark of the year? At least I know the light is somewhere. Thank you Australia and New Zealand for containing the light as the northern region of the world confronts the shadows. Day or night, North or South, the bones have a chance to speak their tales.

October 24, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about bones. It can be any genre or tone. Is it spooky, irreverant, poignant? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by October 29, 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 #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

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14 Comments

  1. Liz H

    Baby goatses!! Squeeeee!
    What a treat to see & hear. Thanks!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m still in squeee-mode, Liz! I need my baby goatses fix. So darn tootin’ cute.

  2. Norah

    Those little kids are definitely cute, and so able so soon after birth. Our spring/summer has been slow to come too. The seasons are reluctant, north and south, this year. What do they know? I think our summer starts on Wednesay with a 35 degree day (that’s 95 to you). We haven’t passed the low/mid twenties yet. Summer is not officially here for another month. It supposed to be wet. So far it is. Flooding in many places and hailstorms to boot.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Norah, Australia has been beset with so much flooding. I think there is uncertainty for both our hemispheres. I hope the goats bring a smile to you. <3

      • Norah

        Too much uncertainty everywhere, Charli. And we thought covid was bad. Smiles are accepted with gratitude.

  3. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Those goatses! I’m enthralled with how alert these babies are. Thanks so much for sharing the beauty of life with us, Charli. ????

    • Charli Mills

      They are so curious and intelligent and playful and I could go on and on, lol. Thank you for sharing in the beauty, Colleen.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Thank you, Charli. I’m always shocked at the beauty of nature. ????

      • Charli Mills

        That’s a good way to put it, Colleen. I never tire of sunsets nor have I ever experienced the same sunset twice. I love that the beauty of nature can still shock us. <3

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Yes… that makes it all so magical. It’s never the same, but always awe-inducing. ??

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Dunno Pal. It’s anuther tough one.”
    “Naw. There’s bones all over this ranch. Jist gotta dig a little.”
    “There’s bones? Yer spookin me Pal.”
    “Story bones, Kid. Beginnins, middles, ends.”
    “What? Who? How? Why?”
    “Well, sure, ya wanna have some characters an some conflict an resolution. You kin work thet out Kid. Jist make it up as ya go along.”
    “A story bout bones.”
    “Yep. Go where the prompt leads.”
    “Yer spookin me agin. Where the prompt leads? That’s limitless!”
    “Imagine thet’s so Kid. But there are some limits.”
    “Yeah?”
    “Gotta flesh out yer story in jist 99 words.”

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! Yes. Bones are everywhere. But Pal’s got the nose for sniffing out the story bones.

  5. Jules

    Charli,
    I think it is rather nice for you to be part of Farm Life. The little goats are adorable! It is my birthday week too! I’m enjoying the fall colors 🙂 I went in a different direction with the prompt… perhaps following in the footsteps of someone at Hogworts on holiday?

    Cheers ????

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