Lady Shadows 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.

January 27, 2023

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 Shadow Lady by D. Avery

I didn’t see her.
Only saw a raven,
black wings whispering over fog filled valleys
through winter gray sky,
lustrous shadow in flight.

Only the raven
roosting high in the pine
before dropping gracefully down to the snow
to dig for her cache—
she has been here before.

Creation’s shadow,
death and resurrection;
guide and messenger, she is light’s reflection.
Or, just a raven,
scratching familiar ground.

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The Moral Injury of War by Sue Spitulnik

The Band of Brothers was finishing a practice session at the No Thanks when two young women arrived. They purchased beers and went to the back corner, darkest booth like they were regulars. Soon, Kurt joined them.

They sat in the shadows long enough to have a second round that Mac delivered. At the bar, Katie asked who they were.

Mac explained, “We met them on Thanksgiving eve. Their MOS was the same as Kurt’s, but a generation later. They are discussing how to deal with things I hope you never experience nor volunteer for.”

“I won’t volunteer, Grandpa.”

Author’s Note: MOS stands for Military Occupation Speciality Code. In past episodes, it was revealed Kurt was an army sniper. Currently, there are less than 100 women in the Army that could be assigned the same job, but women are gradually becoming part of the front lines. It’s also a fact that only 10% of the troops deployed to the front experience combat. Others are mechanics, cooks, vehicle drivers, medics, etc.

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Shadow Talk by Hugh W. Roberts

I followed the lady’s shadow on her journey. She took me around the house and waited for me when I fell behind.

If rooms were dark, I’d flick on the light to see her. She talked to me on our journey and reassured me that everything would be okay.

When I heard the key in the front door, she had to leave, but another shadow took her place.

As I quickly took off my mother’s dress, pearl necklace and high-heeled shoes, my father’s voice called out.

“Are you ready, William? Time for you to hit the under-elevens football pitch.”

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The Shadow Woman by Elizabeth

You are not alone
Within you
There is a woman
The true version of yourself
The one that lurks in the dark
The one that steps side by side with you
The one that sees what you don’t see
But remains quiet
The one that talks to you through dreams and nightmares
The one that holds you when you need it most
You are not alone
Listen to her and evolve
The wise words of someone that sees the truth
The shadow woman
Carrying the experience of generations
The ones that were here before you
You are not alone

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Into Light by Chel Owens

The townsfolk knew she lived there; maybe. Sometimes Mrs. Beardy, nine miles North, said she’d seen someone hanging wash. Old Frank, the property South, couldn’t say the same -he didn’t pass Monty McCrae’s place for no reason, he’d said.

Or would’ve said. Maybe.

Old Frank wasn’t into talking, especially about others’ business. Everyone felt that way: leave someone alone if he wanted.

That’s why no one, not even Angelique (formerly Mrs. Monty) McCrae, recognized the lady in red who finally left a life of shadows, walked down the dirt path to a hired car, and rode away to freedom.

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No Shadow by C. E. Ayr

when you came
you brought no shadow
you just brightened
the wintry skies
and your light bathed
the cloistered corners
making darkness flee
from your approach

green springtime
became glorious summer
with blue skies
and rainbows
that held no hint of rain
you gave warmth
to the land
and to my life

then in the mirror
I glimpse a shadow
as soft and dark as midnight air
my eyes are slow to see the outline
of the space
where once you were

ah yes
when you came
you brought no shadow
but
now you’ve gone
that’s all
that remains

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Outside the Training Centre by Anne Goodwin

Clem passes the training centre five times before she dares to enter. How she detests this timid version of herself. What happened to the woman who single-handedly brought up four children? What happened to the woman who, when they were grown, moved to a town where she knew no one simply for the adventure of living by the sea?

She’s still there, she tells herself, as she pushes through the door. Crushed by injustice but continuing to breathe. A new skill is like medicine, strengthening her muscles, armouring her skin. It will launch her from the shadows, triumphant again.

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The Rock Star’s Daughter by Nicole Horlings

She lived her entire life in the shadow of her father. Always referenced, yet never personally spoken about. Her talent always eclipsed by whichever show he was performing next. Never famous enough to feel influential, but too famous to move elsewhere and reinvent herself. Courted by aspiring actors desperate for any claim to fame, or a spot in the tabloids.

After her father’s death, she was merely the silhouette the media used to keep his name in the magazines. They pitied her when she also released an album, seeing it as a pale imitation of what he had done.

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The Shadow by Ann Edall-Robson

For ten years she had lived within the small town’s shadow. She was known as the lady who spent hours in her garden and signed out books every other week, or so the librarian had once said. One month after she’d typed ‘The End’, she anonymously sent the manuscript to the news station. The team kept it under wraps while they investigated the damning, dangerous words only an insider might know. Stonewalled by vague obituaries and news clippings identifying a bystander killed in an attempt on the business owner named in several chapters, the author’s identity was still unknown.

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Living In The Shadow by Geoff Le Pard

Priscilla Ou-Ette, Cill to her friends was Little Tittweaking’s shadow puppet expert. She found fame as an Influenza when she launched, in a sneeze of publicity, a set of personalised middle-finger shadows for the discerning teen. Going mainstream, she wooed the monarchy with her royal profiling that removed any spare hairs from coins and stamps. Ennobled as the Lady Shadow for her work creating an award-winning diorama of every shadowy character serving in the Cabinet (all of them as it turned out) she died when she launched her life-sized fox logo just as the Tittweaking nocturnal hunt passed.

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Shadows by Miss Judy Writes

We met on the rocky, seaside cliffs. He was walking north, I was walking south. Our eyes met and instantly fell in love.

An ethereal shadow came to us on our marriage bed, a woman. She rustled the night air sending a chill that burned my sex glistened skin. He moaned, I knew it was not for me.

He lives with her now, somewhere a shadow. Mother and son, a bond never to be broken.

Me? You will find me walking along those rocky cliffs, sometimes north, sometimes south, searching for my husband’s shadow on the rocky shore below.

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Lady Shadow by Simon

Centuries ago, there was a demon believed to be lived amongst us. People scared to come out in the moon light as she lurks in the shadow of darkness. Rumours said it was lady shadow escaped from hell ate shadows to live amongst normal people, and people died had no shadows. Recent times after witnessing people die at moon light and has no shadows, is this possible? Is this the sign the lady from hell is back. If she living amongst us, who is going to save us?

The lady shadow posted her blogpost and smiled, a cruel smile.

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Revenge: The Shadow Woman by Greg Glazebrook

Lilith fretted. She was comfortable skirting the periphery. Biding her time and studying the beast. Plotting how to best secure its loyalty. She needed it to support her primary mission.

Years had faded since she last saw him but not her memories. His captivating charm, the lost hours and waking up disoriented. His voice mocking as she stumbled dazed and half-naked into the corridor.

He was the real predator, worse than this unholy beast. Still, she clung to her script, leaving the dark recesses unprepared could prove severely disastrous.

“Show yourself,” the beast snarled. Slowly the shadow woman emerged.

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Shadow Lady by Jaye Marie

I think I am invisible, and I must be, for no one smiles when I pass them by. No one answers when I bid them a good morning.
There is no shadow attached to my feet, and I never get wet when it rains.
I have no memory of what I am, or who I am supposed to be.
I walk the streets, hiding in dark corners, wanting someone to find me and tell me where I belong.
But the streets are empty now and I am cold, lost and alone, what did I do to deserve this fate?

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Lady Shadows by Joanne Fisher

Call me Lady Shadow, for that is my name now. I was queen of a great elven kingdom, but my heart was rotten and the Shadow Lord ensnared me. I began working with him to undermine my kingdom and neighbouring lands. Once my schemes were found out my throne was taken, and so now I help rule the Shadow World instead.

We work to shroud the entire world in shadow. I will not rest until I have reclaimed my throne and spread darkness through the land and in the hearts of my subjects. That’s how the Shadow World wins.

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Lady of Shadows by Kerry E.B. Black

Birdie stomped to her bedroom, threw herself across the mattress, and sobbed into her pillow. Nobody understood her misery. Classmates bullied her. Teachers picked on her. Worst of all, her own family treated her like she didn’t matter.

Somebody watched, not from the doorway, but from the shadows. Somebody Birdie couldn’t see but felt.

Birdie held her breath and blinked away tears. Although she strained, she saw nobody.

Still, gooseflesh raised along her arms and chills raced along her vertebrae. Her voice wobbled. “Who’s there?”

No answering voice. Nobody appeared.

But perfume drifted on an odd breeze, bringing comfort.

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Cold Darkness by heyaisya

I try to force myself to sleep. But then, I saw her. “Why you’re here?”, I asked her in desperation. “I’m the one who should ask you why you take us here. We could live happily right now with your son but you proceed to kill the woman when you found your husband was blackmailed by her”.

The lady in the shadow is a reflection of a wife charged with a murder sentence for killing her husband’s mistress. Until today, there are a lot of women stuck in prison with murder charges because of their husband’s own mistakes.

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Shadows by Reena Saxena

I hear sobs and curses amidst deafening applause.

Yes, the story of women in the British army being raped, and then misdiagnosed as suffering from emotional disorders weighs heavy on my thoughts.

It happens in other fields too, not necessarily in the army, as the sadistic diagnosis facilitates their elimination from active social and professional life.

The question I want interviewers to ask men is about the women behind them – women who were abused, discarded and silenced on their ascent to the pinnacle of success, or descent to the gallows.

Let’s face dark shadows before we applaud or condemn.

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She’s Invisible by Sadje

A perfectly running home, a family whose needs are all taken care of, food cooked and served on time, clothes washed and ironed and floors mopped and everything dusted.

The lady of the house, a woman who has given up a lot of her life to raise the children, maintain the household, and make sure that everyone’s life runs smoothly, is herself like a shadow. You see her yet she is invisible. She doesn’t demands anything for herself.

We need to see the woman casting this shadow, look after her needs, fulfill her desires as she has right too.

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Shadow Woman (Part III) by Colleen M. Chesebro

The witches tried every spell they knew. But rabbits appeared when Hilda coughed.

Finally, Glinda the healer said, “I know what’s wrong. Hilda’s shadow woman needs to be realigned. The Covidwitchitus affected her sense of self.”

Faeryn asked, “Shouldn’t we treat her cough, to stop the rabbits?”

“No, the shadow self is the parts of yourself you don’t want to accept. If we cast a spell for Hilda to accept that she injured the man, she should be cured,” answered Glinda.

The witches formed a circle and chanted, “Hilda’s mistakes don’t define her; how she puts them right does.”

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The Shadow by sweeterthannothing

“Come,” she beckoned me, cooking a finger in my direction.

“Who are you?” I questioned, mouth dry and heart racing.

The ethereal voice didn’t answer my questions, “come”, the obsidian silhouette of a woman crooned from my bedroom floor.

“No,” I tried to shout the word, but all that came out was a whisper of a breath, against my will my feet starting shuffling forward. “Please,” I begged, as I crept ever closer to that black figure.

As my feet touched hers I was plunged into an icy darkness, and I found myself laying on the floor looking up.

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Shadow Child by Margaret G. Hanna

I wonder what she would have been like, my little girl that never was.

A mother’s worst fear, a miscarriage, a child born too soon.

People said, “But you already have three children,” or “You can always have another.” How could people be so cruel? No one can be the same as this child.

I sometimes dream of her, what she might have been. Sometimes when I’m in my garden, or sitting quietly embroidering a pillowcase, I hear her voice, her laughter, and I look up, but no one is there. Only a ghost of what might have been.

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Reunion by Jenny Logan

She stepped out of the shadows.

“I’ll be taking her now.”

“What?” the other woman said. “Who are you? You can’t take my baby. What do you want?”

“Only what you stole from me.”

“I didn’t steal her. I’ve got adoption papers. She’s mine now. I love her.”

“She belongs with me,” she said, gathering the small bundle in her arms. She inhaled her scent and kissed her head.

“I’ll call the police!”

“You do that. You must have known she’d been pilfered.” She put her down and clipped on her lead. “Come on, Peaches, home. I’ve missed you.”

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The Terror of a Moment by MarlaPaige

Lost, scared and confused, he backed into a dark corner that smelled of urine.

They had been walking in this big new city, but he tried to pick something up off the ground. He let go… he let go. It was his fault he was lost.

Back against the bricks, he slid to the ground, knees tight to his chest; crying.

Hearing something, he looked up and saw the most beautiful shadow he had ever seen in his life. “Mommy,” he almost yelled with joy, leaping up and running full-speed into the waiting arms of the shadow’s grateful owner.

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First Date by Kate Spencer

Trees, trees everywhere! Anna was fuming. She was exhausted and starving and regretted ever coming on this miserable hike.

“Ralph, admit it. We’re lost.”

“Shush. I’m listening for Queenie… Hold on… Yes, I found her!” Ralph yelled, rushing into the woods.

“Hey, wait for me!” Anna hurried after him until they reached a hidden mountain stream.

“We made it.”

“Made where?” Anna asked.

“To Queenie,” he said pointing to the stream. “She’s the lady who runs in the shadows and never failed to guide a lost hiker home.”

“Hah! So, I was right. We were lost.”

“Oh, shut up.”

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Angora Advance by JulesPaige

Shadow mask
Cautious to evolve
Safe high up
In the tree
Until a furry creature
Becomes a cute lure

Emme wasn’t ready to come out of the shadows. At least she thought she wasn’t. Safe up the lone tree in the middle of this open field she could see far and hear nature. She must have dozed, when she woke, beneath the tree was a furry animal munching on something. Carefully she climbed down. The tame rabbit watched as the little girl, who after reaching the ground, sat down. Jane watched them both from the blanket she sat on.

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Chasing Shadows by Norah Colvin

Unable to catch their own shadows that stretched across the sand, they jumped on each other’s then dashed for safety in the tumbling waves. As they dived and splashed, the playful wind captured their laughter and carried it far.

Dragging their shadows up compacted wet sand, they compared footprints that waves would soon erase. Where it met dry, another’s shadow immobilised them as might a barbed-wire fence. They cast their eyes along the lady shadow’s length, then squinted upward at the face, obscure and unreadable, haloed by the setting sun.

“It’s time to go,” said mum.

“Coming,” they chorused.

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A Lady in the Shadow by ladyleemanila

a lady in the shadow
silhouette by the sea
on such a calm evening
some people having tea
sunset they are watching

a lady in the shadow
shadow covered the sun
on her way to see him
waited for her all day
her response to his hymn

a lady in the shadow
she’s as pretty as rose
others look as she walks
she says hi as she goes
invite her in their talks

a lady in the shadow
such a charming person
wish she could be my friend
will go dancing at night
have fun at the weekend

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Comin Ta Light (Part I) by D. Avery

“Stop gawkin inta the shadows Kid. Jist tend the fire, keep conversatin. This un needs time.”

“Is it a unwrit character, Pal??”

“No, ain’t no unwrit character.”

“Is it a character got writ an killed off fer the sake of a story?”

“Ain’t a character from no story, Kid. Thet person lurkin in the shadows is a story keeper.”

“Kin she speak?”

“When she’s ready. Ain’t sure a her voice jist yet. It’ll come. Put another log in.”

“What’ll we say when she does set down ta the campfire?”

“Same as you was told.

‘Howdy. Welcome ta Carrot Ranch’.”

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Comin Ta Light (Part II) by D. Avery

“Meantime, Kid, whut’s yer story this week?”

*Once upon a time on a faraway ranch thet was near an dear an accessible ta all, a ranch hand went wanderin off a-lookin fer inspiration. Went beyond the upper pastures, on inta the forest. It was gittin dark an shadows amongst the towerin trees were thicker an figgy puddin.*

“Figgy puddin?”

“Had some leftover, good campin food. Anways,

*Someone or somethin was in them shadows. Who could it be? What could they want? That ranch hand offered figgy puddin an sure ‘nough. She come forward an took it!*

“Who?”

“Sassy-squatch!”

“Hmmf.”

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Comin Ta Light (Part III) by D. Avery

“No ’fense, Kid, but that weren’t much of a story. An ‘thick as figgy puddin’? Ain’t thet a cliché?”

“If it ain’t, should be. There’s more ta the story, Pal.”

“Do tell.”

“See, Ol Sassy-squatch was hungerin fer more’n figgy puddin. Since she’d spied Carrot Ranch’s hairy-man, Sassy was in love.

“With Ernie?”

“Yep. Sassy squeezed hersef inta the dress that was lef behind an come outta the shadows feelin sweet as cherry pie.

“Oh my. Good thing Wanda’s on one a her sabbaticals.”

“Ernie’s got lots in common with Sassy.”

“Yep. Hairstyle, shoe size, an a reclusive lifestyle.”

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

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10 Comments

  1. ceayr

    Hi Charli, I thought I’d submitted a piece for inclusion here. Did I manage to get it wrong again? Cheers

    • suespitulnik

      Hi, Since Charli seems to be busy…in order to be included in the collection, you need to put your story into the submission form. I see you have already written your response to “dirty dishes” and put the link in the comments section. If you submit it in both places, folks can use the link in the comments to go to your site and read it, and if it’s also placed in the form, with the details, then it will also go into the collection. I hope this helps. Sue

      • ceayr

        Hi Sue, thanks for this but I was aware of the submission form and thought I’d put my story there, hence my question. Cheers

      • suespitulnik

        And after I wrote I saw the note from Charli that some stories escaped out of the barn. Cheers.

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for stepping in, Sue!

    • Charli Mills

      What was lost has been found, C.E.

  2. Colleen M. Chesebro

    These stories were phenomenal and very creative! Bravo to everyone! ????

  3. Charli Mills

    Many shadows eluded me but have been restored. Ugh. Be patient with me as this temporary backdoor collecting will be less than desirable for another month. If you thought your story was missing, yep, it was. Almost a dozen stories slipped out the barn. If you still don’t see your story please shoot me your response in an email. Thanks for understanding!

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    So many shadows chased and caught to alight on this page! Another wonderfully faceted collective whole that sparkles with its own rhythm. Thank you Ms. Mills, I hope you rustled and wrestled all of the gems from out of the shadows.

  5. suespitulnik

    Great set of stories, and so many forms of shadows that I didn’t think of. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and life’s pathways.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. #99Word Stories; Optimism | ShiftnShake - […] sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Shadow Lady” collection from last week. And there’s always…
  2. Optimism #99WordStories | Norah Colvin - […] The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Lady Shadows, including mine, can be read at the…
  3. #99Word Stories; Dishes | ShiftnShake - […] sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Optimism” collection from last week. And there’s always the…

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