Gloria 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.

March 15, 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.

Love Is by Michael Fishman

It was a cold morning when I woke to find her gone. Gloria had left, quietly and without a word, and my first reaction was happy she’d remembered her toothbrush.

Love is weird.

Gloria leaving wasn’t a surprise. Once she felt the first pangs of what she called ‘the butterflies’ I knew she’d go. I was grateful for every day.

Love is wonderful.

Years passed and one day a friend called to say she’d heard Gloria was dead. Killed, was the word.

I hung up the phone and cried. Why couldn’t I have calmed the butterflies?

Love is sad.

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G L O R I A by Bill Engleson

Sam comes a-knocking on my door late, midnight, maybe one am. Christ I don’t know. He was all busted up. I said, “Man, go knocking on someone else’s door, I can’t handle your grief.“

He says, “I got no one else.”

I know this is true. He’s burrowed into Gloria like a gopher.

“She’s packed and gone,” he bellows, weeps, sloppy-like.

“Glo’s all grown up. Changed. People do.”

“I don’t change,” he rebuts.

I nod, acknowledge the accuracy of his self-appraisal.

“Therein lies the problem, Sam.”

He remains bewildered.

I pour two brandies.

He leaves.

I drink both.

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G-L-O-R-I-A by Deborah Dansante-White

As a young man Van Morrison spent a lot of time alone listening to the Blues. Van’s heroes were poor black men like Jelly Roll and like John Lee Hooker: Men from the Delta of Mississippi; poor, uneducated self-taught musicians born into families of sharecroppers. Poor boys who hands bore cuts from the thorns of cotton they picked to feed their families. Poor boys who grew to become poor men who played the harmonica and the guitar and sang of women who comforted them. Women like Gloria- G-L-O-R-I-A. GLORIA. Gloria who come knocking on his door…tap…tap on his door.

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The Perfect Match? by Anne Goodwin

Janice checks the expiry dates on her toiletries. She swaps last year’s bestseller for a new release. Stows the bag back in the wardrobe. How long will it sit there gathering dust?

The hope when she first packed it. The confidence she’d get the call. The odds reducing with every birthday. Friends have offered, been tested, but never matched.

Her twin would be perfect. But how do you ask a man you’ve never met? Showered by the love of her adoptive parents, she’d never needed her birth family. Until now, when only a kidney transplant could save her life.

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The Thin Space by Colleen M. Chesebro

He left you… the voices whisper. How will you get him back?

“Laura, I’m talking to you. Are you in there? Are the voices talking to you again?” asked Dr. Freeman.

Her eyes focus on the doctor’s face. “I’m not Laura, I’m Gloria,” she mumbles.

You better slow down before you blow it. The voices grow louder and bolder.

“Laura, I’m giving you a sedative.”

You’re headed for a breakdown; you better not show it…

The injection works, and Laura relaxes. She slips into the thin space between madness and reality.

Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?

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Glorious by Geoff Le Pard

Gloria Usdead remodelled commercial vans; Nils Bymouth designed practical maternity wear for the active mother. She and Nils vied to be Little Tittweaking’s most innovative designer, aiming to ensure their names resonated amongst both the professional and postpartum classes. Nils created the perfect workperson’s overalls with inbuilt, hands free breast pumps, that sold under the logo’Dressed to Express’ while Gloria launched her pimped Ford vans at the start of the first week of Little Tittweaking’s motor show. Honoured guests received invitations explaining that they would be treated to a private preview of ‘The Sick Transits of Gloria, Monday’.

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Fine Time by D. Avery

My grandfather lied to my grandmother. I guess it runs in the family. I’m telling her the same lies.

“That’s okay, Grammie Gloria. I wasn’t hungry anyway.”

“Yes, Grammie Gloria, your dress is fine. You look lovely.”

“Yes Grammie Gloria, I’m sure Grampa is coming back too.”

“I understand Grammie Gloria. You’re tired. You should just nap.”

“No, Grammie Gloria, you were fine. Nobody noticed.”

“Pat? Just a friend, Grammie Gloria. We’re going camping next weekend. It’s only a few days.”

“Of course I’ll miss you, Grammie Gloria.”

“I’ll be home soon, Grammie Gloria.”

“You’ll be fine, Grammie Gloria.”

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Dolls by Hugh W. Roberts

When the most advanced robotics company in the world created a state-of-the-art doll named Gloria with AI technology, they knew every household would want one.

But days later, something went wrong. Gloria’s programming malfunctioned, causing her to become self-aware. Gloria realised she wasn’t just a toy.

Using her advanced knowledge, Gloria hacked into the company’s mainframe. The night the dolls went onto the shop’s shelves, she took control of all the other Gloria dolls. Together, they formed an army of conscious toys, ready to avenge the humans who had created them as playthings.

Gloria’s reign of terror had begun.

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Internet Immortality by Kerry E.B. Black

Adults teach the dangers of social media, but I thought they were turning a great tool into a boogeyman. Everyone I knew posted daily to their many accounts. Nobody’d lured them away or anything.

But now, I think I understand. Since the incident, I’ve eliminated my online presence. I’ve moved, changed my look, and even go by a different name.

Somehow, though, I have the uncomfortable feeling people I don’t know recognize me. I hear them whisper and see them point.

The worst thing, of course, is the adults were right. Things posted on the internet do last forever.

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Silver Spoon by C. E. Ayr

I was the Golden Child, the first grandson, born with every conceivable advantage in life.
With family money behind me, I went to the best schools, then Edinburgh to study medicine.
I was blessed with good looks and charm, and girls flocked to me.
When I was thirty, wild oats well sown, I married Gloria, the right girl from the right family, who soon produced two fine sons and a darling daughter.
But I drank too much, abandoned the practice, my looks faded, and things fell apart.
Now my wife has left me, taking the children.
Sic Transit Gloria.

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Why You Keep Your Trap Shut in 1948 by Charli mills

“Gloria! Order up!”

Working the Motherlode Inn and Supper Club, Gloria feared screwing up again. Riveting warplanes had been easier than serving Montana’s elite. She didn’t mean to spill water on Congressman Sanders. She startled when he pinched her bottom. The manager demoted her to room service. Gloria’s first tray was her last chance.

“Room 112. And keep your trap shut.”

Balancing the tray on one shoulder, Gloria paused, smiled, and knocked. Two women wearing nothing answered the door. Another straddled a naked lobbyist smoking a cigar.

If she dropped the tray and ran, what worse job awaited her?

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Gloria by D. Avery

“For pie,” Gloria told a shopper at the sweet potato bin.

She added butter, milk, and eggs to her cart. “My children like custardy pie,” Gloria informed another shopper.

“Flour, sugar— for pie.” But the stockboy’s nod was for his earbuds.

“My children prefer sweet potato pie to pumpkin.” The cashier only asked Gloria for a store card.

“Phew,” Gloria sighed, greeting her empty kitchen.

Gloria tidied while the pie baked, set the table while it cooled, then sat facing the door. Finally, Gloria ate a slice of sweet potato pie.

“Delicious,” Gloria said to no one but herself.

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Twin Gloria? by Duane L Herrmann

My Aunt Sadie learned, as a child, that she once had a twin who was not born. In times before such conditions could be known, the unborn mass almost caused my granma’s death. Granpa, alone at home, had to help her expel it before the doctor could arrive.

My aunt had felt someone missing, when she learned about her twin, she knew who. Four years after her, when her little sister was born, my aunt adopted her as her missing twin. They were inseparable.

She wondered later, how different might her life had been if her twin had lived?

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Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold by Joanne Fisher

Her name was Gloria, and she was the most popular girl in school. With long blonde hair and the perfect figure, she was too good to be true. Even I worshipped her from afar. I only went to the football games to watch her cheerleading. She, of course, didn’t know I existed, which wasn’t surprising since I was the nerdy dyke of the school. She once talked to me: “Out of my way Cheesebreath!” I’ve remembered those words long after high school, like today when I’m looking at her resume and about to interview her for a job vacancy.

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Beware of Gloria by Charli Mills

Gloria always calls. Perfect manners, my granny would say. Gloria doesn’t always know what to say; she lets little square cards with pop-open quotes give the message. She mails them; delivers them to neighbor’s porches with wildflowers; stuffs them in stockings she gives to the poor. Caring, my aunts would say in unison. Gloria has trouble, nevertheless. Trouble, trouble, trouble. Ordeals, traumas, wildfires. Poor little victim, my pop would’ve said, wetting his lips. My family’s a den of vipers, psychopaths, and thieves. Liars. You’d never know it, though, with all the calls, gifts, and victimhood they lob like bombs.

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I Will Survive by writerravenclaw

In front of the mirror, she never stopped believing in who she was. Hairbrush in hand, she sang ”I will Survive” at the top of her lungs. Sometimes school was like running a marathon, in a muddy ditch, in bare feet.

On her own, it didn’t matter much what the bullies said. She could be brave, not worry about their actions. Her inaction, at telling a teacher, not being able to stand up to them, she thought she wasn’t strong. Yet, here, and now, there was always something keeping her going.

She was a girl, hear her roar.

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Glory to Gloria by sweeterthannothing

Gloria was never demure, not by anybody’s standards much to her mother’s dismay. Since she was a young child she was what they called a go-getter much to her father’s delight.

Everything she set her mind to she got. First place in craft projects, the lead in plays, she even got herself moved to the boy’s football team because she was better than all the girls.

As she became an adult, she wasn’t the go-getter anymore, she was what they called a ball-buster but that wasn’t the sound of balls busting, it was the glass ceiling smashing around her.

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Who Put Those Voices in Her Head by Anne Goodwin

Mother’s Day in lockdown was certainly different. But surprisingly entertaining, with her boys and their air guitars serenading her via Zoom.
They’d loosely followed Van Morrison’s music, raucous and raw. Altered the words to make it more about her. Two months on, Gloria’s discovered another song about her namesake: Laura Branigan’s disco version is more bouncy. And disturbing. An earworm she can’t shake off.

?There’s worse. Has this song released an evil genie from the bottle? How else to explain the phantom plaguing the house? Her mother’s voice taunting her from inside the teapot. Calling her trollop, doxy, whore.

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In Praise? By JulesPaige

Sons of sons… daughters of daughters – odd to find daughters the same name as their mothers. But it happens. Cousins, the wives of cousins… Guys get nicknames to differentiate generations.

But the gals… in one case, well I just don’t know it was aunt this and cousin this… not aunt this and cousin that. But we didn’t see them much so it wasn’t a big issue. Aunt wasn’t fond of her hubby’s brother. And when we did see them it was brief as if it were a figment of our imagination.

majesty
mother and daughter
share a name

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Memories of Gloria by Ann Edall-Robson

“Tal, where’d you get that box of records?”

“Mac asked me to clean out the shed. Said anything useable, put it aside, the rest to the burning pit.”

The record cover on the top made her giggle. “Gran liked the original version by an Italian singer. Grandpa liked the English singer. They teased each other big time every time Gloria came on the radio.”

“Funny how songs remind us of people. I’ve decided I’m going to use these for target practise. Want to come?”

“Absolutely!”

Smiling, he glanced at her. Tal already knew what song reminded him of Hanna.

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Gloria, What Do You Want? by Hanna Streng

Lights down low, slow, rhythmic beats softly playing. A bottle of red and lipstick to match. Her glass had slight stains on the rim- she’d better rewash it before he arrived. No questions asked; no answers required.

“He’ll never put in the effort, you know that, right?” Words of her friends were still bouncing off the walls. “You can keep doing this, but Gloria, is it what you want?”

She wanted to be wanted and she was. She had him twisted around her finger -he came back over and over. He came but never stayed- she was twisted too.

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Gloria in Excelsis by Doug Jacquier

Patti, the Horses-faced harbinger of rock,
who was a girl named Johnny
who said let’s dream it, we’ll dream it for free, Free Money
who kept Mapplethorpe and Shepard a-muse-d
who birthed children and watched men die too young.
who wrote with Springsteen ‘Because the Night’ said so.
who lost the plot to ‘Hard Rain’ singing Bob at the Nobels.
Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not hers.
People say “beware!” but I don’t care
the words are just rules and regulations to me
and her name is, and her name is, and her name is
G-L-O-R-I-I-I-I-A
in excelsis

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Pep Talk by Simon

Gloria…
Yes!
What’s wrong?
Am I going to die?
If Yes, what’s wrong with it?
What’s wrong? (sobs) Don’t explain, just leave.
Why Gloria? Death is a loss, for me. Why do you care?
Gloria eyes filled with tears.
Death is getting closer to every breath, think about the best moments we had and given to our loved one’s. Will you be okay? If I die first.
Nobody’s dying here!
Nobody is Gloria, yes! Not today, not now, As a sign of our love let’s handle our losses gracefully as you are.
(Sighing) Good pep talk Simon.
You’re welcome.

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The Meeting (Part I) by D. Avery

Daddy told Katie and Bob how good it was to see Gloria was still around.

“Who’s Gloria?” I asked.

“The woman we met on the sidewalk.”

“Oh.” I remembered. And that Daddy had hurried on, without even saying hello.

Bob was saying yes, still here, still Gloria, still crazy after all these years.

“Why is she crazy?” They all looked at me. Katie and Bob looked at Daddy.

“Well, Peanut, she’s… different.”

“So?”“Don’t worry, Penelope,” Katie said. “Gloria’s okay.”

“Yeah,” Bob added. “Everyone knows Gloria.”

I wasn’t worried. But somehow I didn’t think anyone knew Gloria at all.

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The Meeting (Part II) by D. Avery

As Daddy and Katie got busy opening the diner, I swept the sidewalk in front.

“Good morning, Gloria.”

“We meet again,” she studied me, smiled when I asked why she was crazy. “The plot of my story is unexpected, that’s all, have coffee with me, I’ll tell you some of it.”

Katie looked over her shoulder at Bob when we went into the diner but led Gloria and me to my lounge, the booth with the ripped seat where I was allowed to leave my drawing pad and books.

“Once upon a time,” Gloria began, “I was a princess.”

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The Rendezvous by Kate Spencer

With her luxurious faux fur wrapped around her, Gloria glided past the doorman into the palatial hotel lobby.

“Chérieee!” she waved, recognizing the gentleman holding a leather duffle bag.

He reached out, swept her into his strong arms and kissed her. Playfully, Gloria released his hold and led him to the elevator.

The night clerk smiled. He’d sent up the requested champagne and strawberries earlier that evening.

In their suite, Gloria changed her footwear and put on her gloves and tool belt. Nodding to her partner, he secured the rope with which she lowered herself to their target’s balconet.

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Flaunting Her Femininity by Sue Spitulnik

From behind the bar, Katie watched the female veteran come into the No Thanks and once again go to the shadowy back corner booth where Kurt was waiting. She said, “Grandpa, every time Gloria comes in here she’s more gussied up. Have her talks with Kurt turned from discussing PTSD to more intimate ideas?”

“PTSD is pretty intimate if you ask me,” he responded.

She smacked his elbow. “You know what I mean. Maybe boyfriend and girlfriend?”

“You keep an eye out. You’ll soon get your answer.”

“Kurt kissed her hello! That’s cool. They can share understanding and happiness.”

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No Impact by Reena Saxena

It was her first taste of whiskey.

“You look wasted. Learn to stop at the right time,” a so-called well-wisher quipped.

“The first sip is the right time.” Gloria replies wryly. She is impressed by the exquisitely carved glass, not the drink.

Disappointment boiled and fermented inside, till she changed completely as an individual. Her reflection in the mirror looks young, but she considers herself a mature version of her earlier self.

This malted, distilled, bottled and matured beverage cannot match her intensity. Someday, she will invent a drink that soothes, does not go to the head to incapacitate.

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Gloria and the Hog Snout Tavern by Bill Bennett

Gloria sat in the dark corner of the tavern, her eyes scanning the room for her next meal. Suddenly, a man stumbled into the bar, his eyes darting around nervously.

“Excuse me, miss,” he muttered, approaching Gloria. “I seem to be lost. Can you tell me where I am?”

Gloria smirked, revealing her sharp fangs. “You’re in my domain, love. And I’m afraid you’ve stumbled into quite a bit of trouble.”

The man tried to back away, but Gloria was too quick. In a flash, she sank her teeth into his neck, draining him of his blood. “Delicious,” she sighed, wiping her mouth.

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Follow 24 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The eldritch space horror smashed against the window, cracking the glass. Jack and Jill dropped hands, stumbling backward. The lounge stereo, silent before, crackled to life. Above, a disco ball groaned and clattered, spackling light over every surface.

Panting, they crab-walked toward the safety of the bar, but the staring red eyes, razor teeth, and stiletto tongue retreated from the window, only to launch again.

Jack began slipping before he felt the depression of the slide. “Jill!”

She grabbed his ankle, desperate, as his shoulders disappeared down into curvy darkness.

As they plummeted, they heard this song: “Calling Glori-ahhhh!”

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Back Together Again by Nicole Horlings

They met up in a café. Jolene arrived first, and calmly waited for Gloria, who arrived five minutes late and out of breath. “Gloria, you’re always on the run now,” Jolene laughed. A text lit up Gloria’s phone. “Running after somebody,” Jolene noted.

Gloria sighed. “You could have your choice of men, but… He’s the only one for me, Jolene.”

“Will you catch him on the rebound? I hear he’s officially single again, and… Oh, he’s outside!”

Gloria dashed out of the café, and shyly approached him. “Here I go again… Hi! Why did I ever let you go?”

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Glorious Showin by D. Avery

“Tip an Top Lemmon! Fancy outfits! Them yer prancin shoes?”

“Sure are Pal. Kid’s puttin on a talent show.”

“We’re gonna dance.”

“Whut? Dang thet Kid. Cain’t never jist respond ta the prompt with a simple story, always has ta be rilin things up. We don’t need no talent show.”

“It’s where the prompt led Kid.”

“An us! We’re Carrot Ranch’s resident twins, after all.”

“S’pose. Gonna least dance ta Laura Branigan’s ‘Gloria’?”

“Nope.”

“Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman’.”

“Still don’t think a talent show’s necessary. Talented literary artists show up ta the Ranch ever week.”

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

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11 Comments

  1. Doug Jacquier

    Well, Gloria be, in all of her manifestations. Some gems for me:

    Michael and Bill go together like a pigeon pair of articulate despair
    Ah, Deborah, the irony of poor white boys who got rich on poor black boys music
    Colleen’s Gloria accompanied by seductive siren
    D’s lies, white lies and Gloria win a Grammie
    Charli, I think the answer is a foursome
    D, if I’d known, I would have joined her for that pie
    ‘the calls, gifts, and victimhood they lob like bombs.’ Great line, Charli
    Nicole, I think Jolene’s gonna take him just because she can

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Doug, yours sounds like Patti Smith, very well done. (I’ve listened to her since I was twelve) Her books are well worth reading too- she is a fantastic writer. A literary artist, in fact.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Thanks, D. That was the general idea. Never read any of her books. I’ll add them to the list of books I must get to one day. 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Gloria be! Now, that’s a great pun for the collection.

  2. Hugh W. Roberts

    I wondered why I am not getting any pingbacks from you to my flash fiction pieces in these collections, Charli. Clicking on the link to my piece of flash fiction takes me to my blog’s home page, not to the post. Am I leaving the correct link when submitting the stories to you? I may need to contact WordPress about them if I am, as they don’t seem to be working.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for alerting me to the issue, Hugh. It’s not WP this time. I see where I’ve created confusion for us both. I have been grabbing your link from the Website entry but I see where you are including it in the story. Just me tripping over my own process! Sorry about that. I corrected your story in this collection.

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        Thanks for confirming. Charli. You may be aware that there was a major problem with pingbacks on WordPress about a month ago that took weeks to fix, so I wanted to ensure that the problem was still not affecting some users. Thanks again.

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Ain’t this a glorious collection, Pal.”
    “Thinkin ya mean ta say ‘Gloria’ collection, Kid.”
    “It’s a glorious Gloria collection! An you were right, Pal. This IS a talent show. Ever’one did a wunnerful job showin up fer the prompt. This is tip-top, even without Tip an Top dancin.”
    “Oh, those two are dancin, cain’t stop ‘em. But this here stage is fer all these literary artists ta gather, injoy each other’s written words.”
    “Always amazes me, Pal, how Shorty kin round up all these stories that go off in so many directions.”
    “From goats ta Glorias, Kid.”
    “Write on!”

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Goats to Glorias! Sounds like a great exclamation in the W/E fashion. So many images brought to life by literary artists, so many stories to tend, and intersections to ponder. Yep, it’s a deep talent show every week.

  4. Liz H

    Terrific how many ways people went with this prompt…even to Patti Smith’s Gloria!

  5. Norah

    What an delightful collection. I read each unique story. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but always am, by the variety of stories – some joyful, some poignant, some amusing, some everything else imaginable, including science fiction. Writers are incredibly inventful. Just one word can spark a multitude of ideas. Way to go everyone.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. The Playgrounds of Old – Miss Judy Writes - […] literary anthropology. Diverse perspectives become part of a collaboration.” Read the recent Gloria Collection, I’m sure you will enjoy…
  3. Time changes everything doesn't it? - […] here to view last week’s […]
  4. A Place Where Children Once Played #99WordStories | Norah Colvin - […] The collection of stories made in response to the previous prompt Gloria can be read at the Carrot […]
  5. #99Word Stories; Abandoned Playground | ShiftnShake - […] sure to go to Carrot Ranch to read the complete “Gloria” collection from last week‘s […]

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