Two Can Keep a Secret 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.

June 1, 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.

Who Keeps a Secret by Duane L Herrmann

He hugged the tree. Tree was silent, strong. The tree held him. He needed the tree, the security. The tree needed him, to breathe. Together, they were a pair. They could take on the world, the impossibilities around them, the dangers of every day. At night he slept under her branches. She never slept. He talked to her. She answered softly. As seasons changed, so did her voice – a little harsher in winter, when there were no leaves, softer as spring and new leaves came, and rustling in autumn as leaves dried. She did not tell his secrets.


Tales My Mother Told Me by Dianne Borowski

I was her secret. They already had three children and money was tight. He was always tired. They didn’t talk much. After work he would take his fishing pole down to the lake. He would stare at the lights so far away and dream of having a farm, raising sheep, planting corn. He hated the dirty, foul smelling factory.

When she could no longer keep her secret she followed him to the lake one evening. We’re having another child, she told him. He left. Many years later he returned. We walked to her grave together.

“I’m so sorry,” he said.


Do You Want to Know a Secret? by Norah Colvin

‘Wanna know something?’
‘A secret.’
‘Billie said I couldn’t tell anyone, but you’re not just anyone. I’ll tell you, but you mustn’t tell anyone. Okay?’
Josie bent close and cupped her hand around Daisy’s ear. ‘Swzh, swzh, swzh.’
Daisy giggled and automatically swiped her ear, accidentally hitting Josie on the nose.
‘What d’you do that for?’
‘It tickled. Tell me again, but don’t tickle this time.’
Billie loomed over them. ‘Hey. What’s going on?’
‘Um. Josie’s just telling me something.’
‘Um. It’s not your secret.’
‘It’s another Billie.’
Josie kicked Daisy, purposefully.
‘Why’d you do that?’


Sharing by D. Avery

“Everyone has a secret,” Dauna said. “What’s yours?”

The women, hitchhiker and driver, saw that they were close in age and close in appearance. They discovered they even had the same name. That was as much as Donna wanted to share. But Dauna was a talker who wanted her companion to talk too.

After hours in the car together, Donna was finally worn down.

“Okay, I’ll tell you my secret,” she said as they stretched. “But then I’ll have to kill you too.”

Dauna’s laugh was cut short.

Donna pulled out of the overlook alone. High overhead vultures circled.


I Know What You Are by Joanne Fisher

Bridget awoke and walked home stealthily. As she lived by the forest, she was able to slip into the house unseen. Megan, the woman she lived with, was waiting in the hallway with her arms folded.

“I didn’t think you’d be up so early.” Bridget remarked.

“I know it’s you.” Meg stated.

“I’m sorry?”

“All the people found mutilated when there’s a full moon. I know what you are.” Meg answered.

“If that’s true, you better watch what you say.” Bridget replied.

“Is that a threat?” Meg asked.

“Just saying, the moon will still be full tonight.” Bridget warned.


What You Can’t See by Hugh W. Roberts

Jake and Scott found solace within their secret haven in a world of stifling judgment.

Their hearts intertwined; they danced through life’s labyrinth, concealing their secret love from prying eyes.

Behind closed doors, their passion ignited like wildfire, unapologetic and genuine.

Their whispered affections became a sacred symphony known only to them.

Society’s chains threatened them, but they held firm, protecting their secret.

Side by side, they painted rainbows of resilience, unyielding in their love’s brilliance.

Together, they vowed to endure, guarding their secret with unbreakable devotion, knowing their love was a beacon in a world longing for acceptance.


Care Costs by Anne Goodwin

“You won’t tell anyone?” Beneath her surgical mask, Denise’s face was flushed.
“Why would I blab about it?” said Irene. “It was my idea.”
“But I’m in charge,” said Denise. “I could go to jail.”
“Now you’re being paranoid.”
Denise refreshed the website. The numbers grew before her eyes. “What choice have I got?” The care home couldn’t afford those prices. But they couldn’t scrimp on PPE. And Matty had money to spare.
“It’s an emergency,” said Irene. Creative accounting, not stealing: Covid revised the moral code. Who knew when knowing the boss’s secret might save her own skin?


Little Girls Love Secrets by Miss Judy

Sisters, Marcy and Melinda, love secrets. In a small suburban home with mother, father and 4 siblings they share a bedroom huddling under the covers to whisper secrets – young girl’s dreams, “I’m going to marry Tommy Fisher,” or schoolgirl gossip, “Ms. Davis said, Karley can’t make cheerleading.”

Sometimes it’s big and not to be repeated. Such was the case one summer evening. Passing the Wilson’s, Marcy heard, “Get out, get out now. I’ll shoot!” Shocked, she ran to her sister and related the story. Trembling, they Pinky Sealed their secret and spent the night huddled together in fear.


“It’s Okay” was Her Secret by Stephanie Mordi

Mum can’t keep a secret, it’s always been like that. Everyone knew what she knew. In one instance, she told Dolly about how I didn’t stop peeing myself till I was eleven. Dolly calls me leaky Mickey now. So do our three kids.

“I can’t tell mum”, I decide, idling away at the park. I think to tell Dolly, but she’d already taken on too many hours.

A month later, Mum dies. “Cancer”, the doctor reveals.

She left me a letter, “It’s okay…”.

And it was, I got a better job. Regrettably, Mum kept a secret better than me.


Power and Illusion by Reena Saxena

rockets of misinformation
planets jump out of orbits
perceive invaders
as messengers of God
spelling doom

rockets hit the Sun
unplanned self-immolation
but remnants of lies
scattered in the universe
fake orbits
to house planets
who misinterpreted

It destroys the source
yet lets the impact remain
-polluted mindsets
carrying imprints
of what ceased to exist
memories ago

Power and Illusion
shake hands
it’s their best kept secret
so far … but
not so good

-let people see
what suits power suits
-let people hear
voices of doom
and seek protection
from so-called well-wishers
and be doomed forever


Secrecy by C. E. Ayr

You said it was love at first sight, but I’m not sure even you believed that.
I think it was more about lust, about the secrecy and the excitement of stolen moments – forbidden afternoons in cheap hotel rooms, on a blanket on that secluded beach, or even in the back of your new car – that put two marriages at risk.
Well, neither marriage survived when your brakes ‘inexplicably’ failed as you swept into the always deserted car-park above the gorge.
I met his wife at the funerals, of course.
She seems nice, and in need of comfort…


A Secret Shared by sweeter than nothing

Eyes met for the first time in over a decade, yet the circumstances were incredulously similar. 

Another foggy, rainy morning, another small muted funeral, another parent dead. 

So similar but so different.

The siblings were no longer close, no longer in cahoots.

 A secret they had shared, a secret had wedged between them, a secret had destroyed them. 

A nod in passing and a sigh of relief; another loose end in the ground, now only each other knew.

“She deserved to be free.”

A painful, twisted trust held them together, the memories tore them apart.

“He deserved to die.”


Messages by The Sicilian Storyteller

She’s in the autumn of her life now. While all her friends are winding down, she’s still going strong. A couple of seemingly innocuous messages led to the start of a crazy, sexually charged and mutually intoxicating long-distance liaison. No attachments, no commitments, no worries. Something that could end as quickly as it began but would never be forgotten. Games with one roguish, audacious and charming devil who’s as insatiable as she. Is it love? She laughs at that silly thought. It’s the secrecy, the excitement, the extreme lust. For right now that’s exactly how she likes it.


Beelzebub by Bill Engleson

“Don’t slam that door, Davey D. Your Momma’s gonna be mighty perturbed.”
The little ragamuffin pulls up short, trying to squeak out a smile but something else is riding that boy’s tail.
“What’s the matter? You look like the devil’s been chasin’ you.”
He looks at me like I was the smartest old woman he has ever met. Then he starts shaking, sputtering gibberish.
I see the scratches on his arms and face and ask, “Did Beelzebub do that to you again?”
He don’t answer, but I hug him, say, “Don’t worry, I won’t tattle on that old puss.”


Secret by cyrus

I didn’t realize it, but the moment I met her was the day I started keeping the world’s biggest secret. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. I haven’t but I’m on the edge of doing so. Having her stay at my house every other night just to get away from her own hurts me. Seeing her layer herself in foundation hurts.

I don’t know if I can keep it a secret anymore. She lives next to me, and the quiet screams are unbearable.

I have to tell someone, but I don’t want to lose her. She’s my best friend.


Abusing Secrets by Geoff Le Pard

Through a network of Chinese whispers and Russian Mumbles distressed Secrets make their way to Connie Fidenshall’s Secret’s Shelter where the suppressed and misheard find a welcome. The address remains undisclosed; even the front door keeps itself to itself, eschewing regular Thursday selfie opportunities. Inside Secrets relax, opening up to those who’ve been kept in the margins of polite society. Illicit love poems meet whistleblowing memos for evenings spent reading out loud. Baby Secrets have showers whenever they want. Even Secrets with violence, cruelty and deception at their heart are included: it’s not the Secret’s choice to be captive.


Zach Kane and The Handmaiden by Nicole Horlings

Zach Kane, investigative journalist, was frustrated. He had exhausted all available leads for his current case, but still hadn’t solved it.

There was an unopened letter with ZK written in gothic calligraphy on his desk when he entered his office. Inside, someone offered to reveal a relevant secret to him, and signed off as ‘The Handmaiden’.

He followed her directions to meet her at a local department store. When a sales associate approached him, he used the coded phrase. That associate was confused, so he walked off, wandered around, then approached a different one, who did reply in code.


Frenemies by Chel Owens

“I left my wife for a younger woman.” How dare that fat, ugly, stupid, self-centered husband of Barb’s consider that cliché phrase; how dare a younger woman consider him??

Maybe it was sour grapes, like Barb’s mother hinted.

Maybe Barb was better off, as Barb’s best friend, Lillith, stated.

The most useful response, however, came from Barb’s greatest enemy since childhood, Phoebe. “You know,” Phoebe said, “If you knock him off before he files for anything, you get it all.”

So, much to Barb’s surprise, she found herself plotting with Phoebe. It was like first grade all over again.


Brothers to the End by Josh Hagen

We exchange a glance as the yelling continues. I wink. You wipe your eye.
I hear the usual complaints. The usual threats. They’re disappointed.
No phone for a week. I’m grounded. But that’s okay. I can take it. That’s what big brothers do.
They say I’ll have to pay for the damage. What was I thinking? How could I?
I’ve heard it all before. I don’t mind. I know you make mistakes. Accidents happen.
They storm out in a huff. You run to me and I hug you tight.
I smile and remind you that cars don’t fly.


Secret by Joelle LeGendre

The man standing just outside my front of my door said, “Mr. Jones…”

Hmmm… by the stance and frown… a military man. “I’m not interested in buying anything from Fuller Brush.”

“I’m not a salesman,” he chuckled. “We received a call from this residence reporting you were abducted by a UFO.”

“World War Two is over,” I said. “German’s are the only aliens I’ve seen.”

“Thanks for your time,” he said, tipping his hat.

I only told my wife. There’s more rope left in the shed, I know a lonely road and the perfect place to dig another grave.


Spring Secret by Kerry E.B. Black

She drapes herself in camouflage, dulls her shine and silences her song. Her work for this season involves subtlety. Secrecy. Safety.

Her man, meanwhile, puffs out his chest, proud in dress, vibrant of personality. He greets each new morning with whistles and a sparkle in his unfathomable eyes. Those who care to look – to really observe – would notice the depths he disguises with joviality. For he participates in her secret. Cleverly, he uses noticeability to distract would-be assassins. He misleads the eye like a master magician. He sings out his presence, a decoy designed to protect what will hatch.


Secrets Are Too Hard Keep by Sadje

With a loud noise the crystal vase shattered. Both the sisters playing in the room turned pale, mom would be so very angry. This was her prized possession.

Sandy hurried and got the brush and the dustpan. In minutes, all evidence had been gotten rid of. Now how to tell Mother?

It was a stroke of good luck that they had guests that day. And somehow Mom never noticed the missing vase.

On her deathbed, Mom smiled weakly at both her daughters, “you thought I never noticed that the vase was broken, missing? I kept your secret till today”


The Secret Marriage by Margaret G. Hanna

“How was your visit with Claire?”
“Fine, Mother. We had a good time.”
“Paignton’s a long way from Penzance, just to go for a few days. Is she married yet? Where did you stay?”
“No, she’s not, and I stayed with her at her boarding house.”
“What did you do? I hope you didn’t get into any trouble.”
“No, Mother, we didn’t. We did the usual, walked on the beach, shopped at Rossiters, had tea, talked, went to the Paignton Picture House.”
My sister smiled. She knew whom I had met in Paignton and why. And she wasn’t telling.


Our Secret by Joanne Fisher

“Brianna, I feel so bad about it. I should go to the police and confess.” Sylvia said.

“You didn’t mean to kill Dave, it was self-defence.” I replied.

“But people will notice he’s missing.”

“He was a drunk who beat you regularly. No one’s going to miss him. They should give you a medal.” I told her.

“Still, I think I should tell the police…”

“I helped you bury his body. I’ll be arrested as an accomplice.”

“I won’t tell them about you.”

“They’ll find out.” I insisted.

I watched her leave. This could be a problem, I thought.


Secrets Between Them by Jennifer Russo

A perfect marriage? Almost… Just a few idiosyncrasies that marred the otherwise harmonious existence between them. A little coolness at the other’s touch. A snappy retort at the other’s constructive criticism. If only they had disclosed the demons of their past. [Skeletons lurking beneath the surface. Their grins wide and mouths gaping with stories untold.]

Kindred spirits they were, yet the reticent couple never knew that their partner had endured an upbringing of comparable unfortunate circumstances. A deeper connection and great empathy would the couple have realized from a simple transaction of shared secrets. [Nothing is simple about secrets.]


An Excellent Secret by JulesPaige

The brides’ Mother was the ‘Momzilla’ planning her younger daughters’ wedding. The bride knew that the whole ‘affair’ wasn’t really for her or her groom, it was for her parents. The groom broke at least one tradition. If he couldn’t see the bride’s wedding gown before the wedding only he and the groomsman were going to know what their tuxes were going to be like. Mother wasn’t at all pleased, the bride had to hide her giggling. It was an excellent secret.

The wedding photos were very picturesque. Even with the slight snarl and teeth gnashing from the “Momzilla”.


Sitting on a Secret by Charli Mills

I’m an impatient loon on a nest. By rules I never set, I must sit. And sit, and sit, and sit. Sure, my partner does his fair share of sitting, giving me a break, and covering our secret. He spends his hours in solitude, avoiding the gossipers. We both thrill to the animated stories of Mink, but if Mink knew our secret, it would be his next tale. No way Eagle can know. None of us on the lake trust that bully and his friend. They’re so worried about extinction they forget their advantage over us. Over our secret.


Secretive Writing Blocks (Part I) by D. Avery

“Hey, Pepe.”
“Ello Keed. What ees up wid you?”
“Havin trouble with the prompt. Thought mebbe you’d have some ideas. Cause yer so secretory an all.”
“Gotta write a secret story. Yer kinda a expert on secretion.”
“Keed, Mees Shorty said ‘secret’. You seem to be theenking ‘secrete’.”
“Oh. Shift. Well what d’ya s’ppose her secret is?”
“Dat ees hard to say. She ees a very open person, no? Not secretive.”
“Don’t like secrets Pepe. Ain’t good at keepin em, either.”
“I am de same way Keed. No matter how hard I try I always speel de beans.”


Secretive Writing Blocks (Part II) by D. Avery

“Hey there Kid. Hello Pepe.”
“Hey, Frankie.”
“Mees Frankie, Keed ees haveeng trouble writing a secret story.”
“Maybe Kid did write a secret story but just didn’t tell you. ‘Cause it’s a secret.”
“No, I haven’t Frankie. Gotta write a story bout a secret.”
“Intriguing problem Kid.”
“Do you know any secrets?”
“Yep. Lots.”
“Tell me.”
“Wouldn’t be a secret then, Kid. My lips are sealed.”
“How’d ya come ta know these secrets, Frankie?”
“Envelopes aren’t always sealed as tight as my lips. Tell ya what, Kid. I’ll do yer writin fer ya this week. It’ll be our secret.”


Sticky Fingers: Secretive Writing Blocks (Part III) by D. Avery

“I cain’t let ya do my writin fer me Frankie, thanks anyway. I’m gonna head back inta the bunkhouse an try an git something down. Now, where’s that key? Pal got me some plastic pig poop ta hide the key in. Aw, there it is. Oof. Nope.”
“The door’s locked?!”
“Yeah, when I was out travelin the world I saw that a lot a folks lock their doors when they’re out.”
“Why? Ya hidin secrets in there?”
“No. It’s jist what folks do. Mebbe this’un. Ick. This un’s not plastic either.”
“Wanna know a secret Kid? Door ain’t locked.”


Secretive Writing Blocks (Part IV) by D. Avery

“Heehee. Keed. Dat ees funny how you keep putteeng your hands into de poop of your peeg.”
“Ain’t funny at all, Pepe. I’m swearin you an Frankie ta secrecy.”
“You said you deed not like secrets.”
“Yeah, Kid. Nuthin ta hide.”
“Come on, you two. This’s embarassin.”
“Which part, Kid, that ya put yer fingers in pig poop or that ya shut yer front door ta all yer friends here at the ranch. Don’t ya trust us?”
“Of course I do. It’s just that…”
“Kid, here’s a secret ta happy livin: keep an open door an a open heart.”


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

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  1. Sadje

    Thanks for sharing

    • Charli Mills

      The fun is found in the Collection, Sadje. Thanks for contributing!

      • Sadje

        Indeed, so true. It’s a pleasure

  2. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Pal? What’re ya doin down here in the comments? Figgered ya ta be up there in the yarns, but ya weren’t even mentioned.”
    “Kid did jist fine with Frankie an LeGume. Anyways, I been busy with a project.”
    “Ain’t tellin.”
    “A secret?”
    “More of a s’prise.”
    “You kin tell me Pal.”
    “You kin keep a secret?”
    “Pal. I keep company with Sassysquatch. The best secret keeper there ever was.”
    “But ya jist told bout thet.”
    “Only ta you.”
    “In the comments. See ya next week, Ernie.”
    “Tell ya what ain’t no secret, Pal. This collection’s outstandin.”

    • Charli Mills

      Ernie’s right! It’ll be interesting to learn Pal’s secret surprise, though.

  3. Colleen M. Chesebro

    What a wonderful collection of secrets!

    • Charli Mills

      Secrets we can share! 😉

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