Bones Collection

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 2, 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 Bone Collector by Charli Mills

Known by many names, let’s call her Bog. Ravens swoop between the red dogwood branches braced in her matted hair. No one knows its original color. Bog’s hair could be stony white, the color of chalk but oils and eons of grit hide any transformation. Dry oak leaves crown her head, tattered robes flutter about her stout body. “She eats the dead,” they whisper. Bog remembers the old songs. She rattles, drums, and chants.  Like a mother lifting a babe, she collects the bones the ravens clean. She feeds on root fungus and pounded granite, waiting for a blessing.  


Throw the Bones by Colleen M. Chesebro

The druid priest swirled and dipped in his spiritual dance to the sun’s return. His long white robes glistened in the moonlight, wraith-like.

Within the branches of the oak tree, another priest gathered the All-Heal (mistletoe). One swift slice with the golden sickle and the mistletoe fell into the shroud.

A vast pile of wood forged from the forest stood at the ready. It was time to light the fire to pay homage to the sun god.

“Throw the bones,” chanted the priest. The bones sizzled in the fire.

The next year, “throw the bones” was shortened to “bon-fire.”


The Bones Know by Margaret G. Hanna

She could feel it in her bones. Something was wrong. She chose to ignore it, avoidance was more palatable than acknowledging.

“Always trust the bones,” Grandma Ferris used to say, but then she believed in fairies and the power of the rowan tree. Old wives tales from the old days.

She pushed the niggling fear to the back of her mind and got on with life.

“What’s that?” her husband said one night; they were in bed.

“Nothing,” she replied. But she knew it wasn’t “nothing.” It was something.

She knew it was cancer before the doctor told her.


Bone Shakers by Jenny Logan

Bone Shakers were sweets sold in the UK during the mid-80s. They consisted of a coloured, plastic coffin containing tooth-breaking hard candy shaped like bones. The candy pieces could be fitted together to make an entire skeleton. I never managed this because several sets were required for completion and I always ate mine lickety-split.

My best friend, Melanie, and I were obsessed with them. We lived in a remote village in the Cotswolds and they were a rarity for us, nay a delicacy.

I wish they were still available and I wish I knew how to find Melanie again.


Good Bones, Ghosts and Black Cats by Miss Judy

Alice had always admired the old Victorian with its wraparound porch, pitched roof, and turrets. Vacant since the Frank’s moved away, people said it was haunted. Alice saw potential, a happy home for her and Tommy.

Home Inspector Willis reported, “It needs lots of work but has good bones.”

Offer accepted. Deal done.
Just days before Halloween, Alice opened the door to their new home, a cold wind permeated their skin.

“Wow, Mom, that was weird.”

To not worry Tommy, “No worries, son, probably a broken window.”
Then Alice spotted it, the black cat sat grinning on the stairs.


A Grave Concern by Eliza Seymour

Claire was in a cemetery, which was odd; she had no idea how she’d got there. The moon was hidden by clouds, but she could just make out the name on the closest headstone. It was her name. It was her date of birth. What was going on?

Two figures stood beside a nearby tree. The translucent man nudged the grey-faced woman wearing a bustle.

‘What’s wrong with her?’ the recently-deceased man asked.

‘Don’t mind her,’ the older ghost said. ‘Been here for weeks. Hit her head just before she passed. Short term memory loss – keeps forgetting she’s dead.’


No Bones About It by Bill Engleson

Gilbert woke up one morning and vowed to always tell the truth. He felt compelled to tell Lucille who replied, ”Seriously, Gilbert, no one wants to hear the truth. Truth is like teeth decay. It hurts. What planet do you live on?”

Suddenly Gilbert was concerned that he may not be living on the right planet. This was a new worry.

Gilbert, of course, had many things to worry about and the addition of one extra worry was concerning.

“The truth is, my darling, when I lie, my bones rattle.”

With that lie, his skeleton shook violently into dust.


Michael Plays the Age Card by Sue Spitulnik

Wearing Army t-shirt and shorts, Michael sat in a wheelchair on stage, his leg stumps showing so all entering the Walter Reed activity room could see. He spoke. “We soldiers share the experience of missing skin and bones. At twice your age I lived the hopelessness and depression you may be feeling.” He turned sideways in the chair, swung himself to the floor, and put on the prosthetic legs lying there. Then using the chair for support, he stood up and walked around. “I’m proof you can heal and become friends with whatever prosthetic you need. You’ve got this.”


Final Resting Place by Anne Goodwin

Fortified by Sarah Nelson’s famous gingerbread, we continued our pilgrimage to William’s grave. A balustrade of rainbow waterproofs blocked our view initially; we waited patiently for our turn. In the thirty years since we last visited the shrine, the Lake District and poetry had become much more diverse.

Shuffling forward, however, we saw it wasn’t Wordsworth who had pulled the crowd. We asked a woman taking selfies, “What did he write, this John Kent?” She seemed to think it a joke. Meanwhile, one of the kids had googled him: Britain’s Black policeman died here in this county in 1886.


Bones by Ann Edall-Robson

Fallen leaves danced in the breeze, tranquil thoughts of how their business dream came to life here. The crunching sound of dried leaves and grass filtered upwards as the couple strolled towards their new property. Inquiries in the nearby town came away with a mixture of what had happened to the man who lived on this land. They were not deterred. Stepping off the path to pick a dried seed pod, a snapping sound made her look down. Neither expected to see anything but a broken branch, and most certainly not bones blending in with the fall ground colours.


Bodies by Joanne Fisher

“So what can you tell me?” The Chief Inspector asked.

“It’s a burial ground for a large number of bodies. The oldest date back twenty years, some are recent. This city has had a serial killer for the last two decades we knew nothing about.”

“I guess it’ll be a while before any of them are identified.”

“We’re still digging up more bones. We have no idea how many people are buried there.”

“Okay good work. Carry on.”

“Yes Sir.”

The Chief Inspector walked to his car. He would have to find somewhere else to bury the bodies now.


The Ghost Bones by Hugh W. Roberts

When I returned, she wasn’t there; only her bones remained.

The floorboards still creaked, and Mrs Sinclair was still next door.

“When is your Aunt Marjorie due back?” she’d asked.

Shrugging my shoulders, I wish Mrs Sinclair had minded her own business, but I had invited her in.

The whiteness of the human bones wasn’t as bright as the white light that appeared when Aunt Marjorie killed me in her apartment or when I killed Mrs Sinclair for murdering my aunt.

Now we roam the earth as murderous ghosts. Yes, ghosts are murderers.


Something More by D. Avery

At the helm of Skipper’s boat, it’s more than chill headwinds bringing tears to my eyes. A corncob pipe rolls on the dash as the boat plunges and heaves, plunges and heaves through the chop.

A solid sure boat. Skipper built it himself.

“Boats— just skin and bones. And something more,” Skipper would say, twinkling.

Skipper’s light has gone out.

I idle the engine.

“Ashes to ashes.”

I dump his remains into the waves. Then his corncob pipe. I watch pipe and ash and bone bob and sink before steering towards shore with a following sea.

“Fair winds, Skipper.”


Fish Bone by Tessa Dean

As a very young child, I was eating what was supposed to be boneless fish. Whoever did the filleting missed a large piece of bone unbeknownst to my mom. She cooked the fish and served it up. I began eating quickly and suddenly felt something hard stick in my esophagus. I couldn’t swallow it down, and it wasn’t coming back up. I was in a full panic, as were my parents. I can’t at this time remember how they finally got that piece of fish bone out of my throat, but they did, or I wouldn’t be here today.


Wishes by Nancy Brady

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride…” which comes from a nursery rhyme is something Mom would often say when one of my sisters or I would express an outlandish desire or wish. Outrageous wishes often go unfulfilled, but that doesn’t stop us from wishing, and that never stopped my sisters and me from begging for the turkey’s wishbone every year at Thanksgiving. We’d make a wish, break it in two, with the winner ending up with the larger half. Now I save them for grandchildren; I currently have several wishbones. My wish is to see the grandkids soon.


Literalism Unbound by Geoff Le Pard

Norman-Alphonse Fornorfolk, Little Tittweaking’s resident literalist helped residents with all their metaphorical problems. When Ben Zardrine arrived, seeking the quietude, free bus pass and access to a badly maintained cemetery for which Little Tittweaking was famed he never thought he would need Norm-Al’s services. But the bones he harvested for his work as an ossification sculptor proved stubbornly resistant to his blandishments. He turned to Norm-Al Fornorfolk.

‘Why won’t they hold their shape?’

‘They’re bone idle, Ben.’

‘Why is that?’

‘No idea. But fear not,’ Norm-Al wasn’t easily defeated, ‘I’ll bone up on the reasons.’


Bones by ladyleemanila

In the spirit of the past
Pray that it was not so glum
Birds flew and events had passed
Some tune I couldn’t even hum
No need to run after me
Lost to the world but can’t be free
Willowy tree outside my door
Myths of failure that I could score
Growling dog calling for his bones
Water tricking down those stones
One two three and I’m off
Growling dog calling for his bones
Yet I am not ready to scoff
In the spirit of the past
One two three and I’m off
Birds flew and events had passed


The Bone Blesser by Charli Mills

Known by many names, let’s call her Hoade, the girl who stole an orox calf. No one in the longhouse heard her enter. She was a flame-haired orphan the Bone Collector salvaged after a raid. Hoade bathed in sacred springs, her head adorned with daisy chains. The calf nibbled at the daisies and grew. Across the middle plains, across the ocean, across the new lands, the eternal child and her ancient calf followed her people. Bog remained old-world-bound, fading into legend and bone dust carried by carrion. Hoade trailed the settlers, blessing the bones until they killed her orox.


Bone Surprise by Duane L Herrmann

Hidden in the grass, fully articulated, curled as if asleep, lie the bones of a fawn. It was not killed by a predator, in which case the bones would have been scattered, but, died sleeping. The deer here have a disease, now, which is always fatal. Will they all die off? No one knows. Sport hunters will be sad, as well as those who only watch for entertainment, but those who have crops, or flowers, will not miss them. And, there will be less wrecks, and human death, from deer collisions. How will this impact other spieces? Who knows?


Our Bones by Sadje

Most humans have 206 bones, the largest in our thigh to the smallest in our ears.

The importance of healthy bones becomes apparent as we grow older. Broken bones, deformities, and arthritic bones/ joints are what make us realize that we are aging.

Three fractures in my left foot, 3 years ago were a warning to me. Luckily it healed well In the stipulated timeline. But now I’m very careful and I have vitamin D, and calcium supplements to prevent further damage to my bones.

I would advise you all to look after your bone- health to live healthy lives.


“I think we are in rats’ alley, Where the dead men lost their bones” (TS Eliot The Wasteland) or Ode to Music Critics by Doug Jacquier

The Barbary apes of music seek to speak with the tongues of angels but they have not love, and are a mere sounding brass, a clanging cymbal of these times, mocking the heroes on whose shoulders they stand and instead playing jacks with their remains but The Day Of The Dead is coming to them and no-one will come to unwrap their paper-thin skeletons of ignorance and ponder the net worth of the chemical elements in their fatuous diatribes against the weight of things eternal because their words will be lost in the ashes of their unremembered empty souls.


Gus by Nancy Brady

When the builders dug the foundation of the new house on Sunset, the backhoe uncovered human bones. No challenge was made, and construction went forward.

The house belonged to Annie’s parents, who loved their new home.

One night, Annie went down to the basement instead of being in bed. There, she met a young man named Gus. He knew more about the toys down there than she did. He showed her a train, which was stored in a box.

Gus wasn’t scary; he was Annie’s friend. Nightly, she returned to the basement to play until one day she didn’t.


Make No Bones About It by Norah Colvin

“Go and get changed.”

“But, Muuuum —”

“You will not go to the party dressed like that.”


“It’s not appropriate.”

“But it’s dress up. It’s Halloween!”

“Yes! A skeleton or a ghost. Not a princess. Princesses don’t do Halloween.”

“If I can’t be a princess, I’m not —” The door slammed to punctuate her sentence perfectly.

Mum shook her head. She was teased enough, without being a princess on Halloween.
The following morning, when bones found in the middle of a mystery sticky stinky sludge were identified as her bullies, Margie and Mum gave thanks for their disagreement.


Calamity Cules! by JulesPaige

The rat ate the poisoned cheese. And being the prankster that I am, I let the body decay and hid the bones in a velvet sack in the storage area under the stairs of the abandoned home on the hill.

Everyone had hoped to find some hidden treasure. I found some old writing paper, and with India ink wrote out clues to the velvet bag. Then I, being up to no good, passed out the clues on All Hallows Eve. Let’s search on Halloween night instead of collecting candy! Only I knew the treasure was the rat’s bones! Bwahahaha!


Seeing the Invisible (a True Tale) by The Curious Archaeologist

He thought it would work, he knew the strange, invisible, light, affected a photographic plate, and if it did work, the implications were incredible.

He couldn’t do it himself, he had to operate the generator, so he went to the laboratory door and called for his wife.

“Could you put your hand there, my dear?” he asked.

She held her hand still as the machine buzzed.

An hour later he showed her the picture, Frau Röntgen almost fainted.

“I have seen my death!” she gasped, as she saw the bones of her own hand in the first X-ray photograph.


When Bone Goes Bad by Gary A. Wilson

“Nurse Elsa! It’s a nice day, let’s enjoy the porch.”

“It’s good to see you, Fredrick. Healthy still?”

“Yes, my surgery was a huge success. How are you? Your cane suggests…”

“I have the same condition.”

“Bone spurs in your L4 and L5? I’m so sorry to hear this.”

“The pain is crippling, but the surgery….”

“Ah, it scares you. It was your encouragement that got me through it.”

“So you said. My Henry passed, eight months ago, leaving me – alone. I thought of you.”

“Take my hand Elsa. It would be my honor to get you through this.”


Bones by SweeterThanNothing

“These old bones ain’t meant for working no more” the old woman’s hands were knurled, bent and broken by work and time. Yet still she soldiered on, creating the most beautiful dream catchers I had ever seen.

I wasn’t going to stop today, I don’t have the time or the money but something called to me.

The sight of that dream catcher in the window, golden beads reflecting the sunlight, bleached wishbone dangling beneath, swaying in the gentle breeze. It took my breath away. It’s exactly what I need to keep the nightmares away.

Tonight, I will finally sleep.


The Bone Transcriber by Charli Mills

Known by many names, let’s call her Nat. She’s schizophrenic, a modern woman haunted by stories inscribed in bones. Forgotten traumas. Periodically, they lock her up, but she returns to the streets. For a Starbuck’s macchiato, she’ll read your bones, heal the wounds of your ancestors. “Yester-years I collected the bones to clean them of suffering,” she explains to bystanders, police, and psychiatrists who carry the dirtiest of all bones. “I sent Hoade to bless the bones, but they killed her companion, creating profane monsters instead.” They wash the homeless woman’s dirty hair. Sometimes it’s white. Sometimes it’s red.


Here Lies; Lies Here by D. Avery

Kid set out ta corral a story fer the collection. Might a been a might skeered.

“Ah’m chilled ta the bone.”

But jist usin the word don’t make a story. So Kid pressed on, rode inta the gatherin gloamin.

“Gloamin? More like gloomy. Yikes!”

Kid found a graveyard!

“I found a boneyard!”

Kid had come upon the remnants a stories whut got started but not finished, parts a stories thet didn’t survive revisions.

“Whut’s this stone say? ‘Here lies the little darlins’.”

But Kid warn’t skeered. Figgered it were all a natcheral part a givin life ta a story.


Bone Pickin by D. Avery

“Pal, does that up there count as a story? Nuthin much happened. Was jist you narratin an me exclaimin.”

“Well, ya set out an ya come back. Even got over bein skeered. In 99 words.”

“That’s purty bare-boned, alright. Was purty tense fer a bit too. Still, now I’m tense bout the structure a that so-called story.”

“Git past tense. Relax, stories take all kindsa forms. Kin even be all dialogue. Ya wanna try basic story anatomy? Try the story spine challenge at the Cowsino. Kin go over 99 too.”

“Put some meat on the bones?”

“So ta speak.”


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

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  1. noelleg44

    Fantastic! I love stories about bones! You can’t be an anatomist and not like bones.

    • Charli Mills

      Noelle, what a delight to please the anatomist crime author! Thanks for reading.

      • noelleg44

        You are most welcome!

  2. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Wowser! What an excellent collection. ????

    • Charli Mills

      Good to write the bones with you, Colleen!

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        It was an excellent, theme, Charli.

  3. Rebecca Budd

    A fabulous collection!!! Enjoyed them all!!!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for blessing our bones with your reading, Clanmother!

      • Rebecca Budd

        You have a wonderful space that celebrates words and stories. I am enjoying following your post and look forward to connecting in the near future. Many thanks,

  4. Doug Jacquier

    No spineless collection here, make no bones about. These little piggies caught my eye.

    Charli – She feeds on root fungus and pounded granite, waiting for a blessing.
    Colleen – The next year, “throw the bones” was shortened to “bon-fire.”
    Eliza – Short term memory loss – keeps forgetting she’s dead.’
    Bill – Suddenly Gilbert was concerned that he may not be living on the right planet. This was a new worry.
    Joanne – He would have to find somewhere else to bury the bodies now.
    The Curious Archaeologist – “I have seen my death!” she gasped, as she saw the bones of her own hand in the first X-ray photograph.
    D. – Here Lies; Lies Here

    • Charli Mills

      Good calls on the bones, Doug. I have laughed numerous times throughout the day at the premise of Eliza’s story.

  5. Charli Mills

    Great collection, Writers! You bared your bones and crafted memorable stories.

  6. pedometergeek

    I guess a skeleton crew wrote these. While I haven’t read them all yet, I’m impressed. ~nan

  7. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Known by many names, let’s call them Ranchers. They picked over the prompt and found the marrow, succulent goodness, and shared their stories here for all to savor. Here their articulated 99-word stories dance upon the page.
    Known by many names, we’ll call her Charli. Here she is the Bone collector, the story arranger, here has pieced together a lively animated anthology for all to enjoy.

  8. Norah

    A great collection, everyone. Thank you for your stories. Some were scary, other creepy, and others still hilarious. I enjoyed them all and agree with the ones that Doug mentioned in his comment. I think memory loss after death wouldn’t be a bad thing.
    And three from you, Charli. That’s huge. Sometimes I’ve looked for yours and found none. This trilogy is bewitching.


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  2. #99Word Stories; Squeak | ShiftnShake - […] to read the complete “Wheels keep On Turning” collection from last week and the “Bones” collection from the week…

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