Fathers 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.

June 22, 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.

Labor of Love by Whispering Thoughts

More often than not,

we call up our fathers

asking whereabouts of our mothers.

Some like me, end up seeking advice 

for sorting our professional messes. 

That’s about it.

The depth of our conversations

with our sires.

Stammered, hesitant splutters.

Not knowing where to start

and what to talk about.

Silent acceptance of his role. 

An unspoken understanding. 

Somewhere in the labor of steering

the family, 

fathers become that strict, sidelined

non-indulging parent,

nurturing dutifully. 

But ‘neath that tough, 

difficult facade, 

he is brimming with love. 

Gallons and gallons of love.

Strengthening us.

To face the struggles of survival. 

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Lost Fishing Creel by Charli Mills

You hooked a trout, and I lost my red fishing creel. I sobbed from the rocky embankment, scared for my creel as if it had a life purpose of its own. It spun around boulders, caught in the surge of a creek so steep it was almost a waterfall. I watched you, my daddy-hero, charge after the swirling canvas bag meant to hold fish. It held my afternoon collection of pinecone dolls. Would they drown? It never occurred to me that you were the one in danger, retrieving what a four-year-old thought priceless. I lost more than I understood.

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Checking In by D. Avery

In a time before he was my father, he had a pet crow.

His own hair was crow black, and was for a long time even after he had raised three children. His own eyes have always shone with crow curiosity.

Even as he grays and dims my father capers with corvid friends. From across the lake, I hear his ravens noisily sharing the treats he puts out for their breakfast. I know he’s smiling, watching their boisterous antics.

After, they fly over the lake, squawking as they pass over, and I smile at my father’s ravens checking in.

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It’s Been Six Months by Annette Rochelle Aben

When I started writing flash fiction, it was out of curiosity. I just wanted to see if I could write 99-word stories that someone else may enjoy. Much to my surprise, my biggest fan was my poppa. He loved reading everything from novels to newspapers, so I was humbled and encouraged to find that he liked my stories. Each week, he would ask what I had written since the last time we spoke. When I put the stories into a book, he was delighted! It became his greatest treasure.

I’ve not been able to write another since he died.

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Ways of the World by Frank James

“I will teach you the ways of the world,” a father says to his child. That point forward, he becomes his child’s rock.
He provides tools to triumph and picks his child up when he falls. A father corrects mistakes. He then tirelessly cheers his child’s success.

“You got this and awesome,” are enshrined in a father’s vocabulary.

With a heavy heart, he releases his child. If his child stumbles, he permits him to catch himself.

A father nurtures self-esteem and conviction while wading through life’s murky waters.

A father no matter the outcome, always says, “I love you.”

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Remembering Dad by ladyleemanilla

Years had passed but we still miss you
memories still in our hearts
children and grandchildren all grew

Burden and grief by fits and starts
you touched us all with your kindness
memories still in our hearts

Your cooking and loving-kindness
kare-kare and spaghetti
you touched us all with your kindness

From heaven threw us confetti
guided us through dreams and journey
kare-kare and spaghetti

Pain still there with sun or stormy
apple pies melted in our mouths
guided us through dreams and journey

All hungry for so many truths
twenty-four years since you were gone
apple pies melted in our mouths

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Father Than You Think by Bill Engleson

“So, what was he like?”
“My old man?”
“No. Your first dog. Yeah, your old man.”
We’re in a small motel on the outskirts of my father’s hometown.
Family reunion.
We’ve travelled together.
A first.
I’m curious about these farm folk he came from.
He’s got the urge to reminisce.
We’re sitting on separate beds. I can see he’s thinking about my question. Might be too tough.
His old man drank.
A lot.
Hard to do in Mormon country.
I knew about the guzzling.
I want more.
Grandfather more.
Not so much to ask.
Never got an answer, though.

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Fathers by Colleen M. Chesebro

My dad was born in 1921 on a rural Kansas farm. His childhood stories weren’t happy. Like everyone else during the Depression, he had to work.

One summer, he got a job working with the local butcher in Dorrance, Kansas. He performed all the nasty work and clean up. He told me his wages were $.25 a week.

On Fridays, he would come home, and grandpa would be standing there with his hand out. My dad had to surrender his wages to his father, who promptly left for the pool hall.

No wonder he had such bad childhood memories.

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Dad’s Lessons by Greg Glazebrook

The summer of ’63. Jinny and I talk about running off in that old Sharknose Ford. God knows what we’d have gotten up to in the flatbed. Me, a sixteen-year-old life support system for a boner and Jinny completely smitten. Nothing good could have come from two teenagers high on the hormones of youth.

“Patience,” he’d say gripping the keys in his dirt-stained hands. “You’ll be the driver someday.”

God knows where we’d be if he’d let us run wild. Dad’s gone but Jinny and me still look something spectacular sitting in the front seat of that old truck.

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The Kiss by Joanne Fisher

Jess and Cindy kissed. Unexpectedly the door opened: Jess’s parents were home early.

“Oh my god!” Jess’s mother screamed, seeing them together.

“I didn’t know you’d be back so early.” Jess complained.

“Obviously!” Her father answered.

*

“Please don’t tell my parents about last night!” Cindy pleaded when Jess’s father drove her home the next morning.

“Don’t worry, I know what your parents are like. Regard our place as a safe haven, if you need it.” He replied.

“Thanks!” Cindy replied, feeling relieved.

As he watched her go, in his heart he feared for both his daughter and Cindy.

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Wistful by Reena Saxena

She freezes at the mention of ‘Mother’, and abhors paeans being sung to motherhood.

She tried hard, very hard to recall a moment of acceptance, when her mother climbed up from her dinosaur mindset, and accepted her in a positive way. She couldn’t, however desperate she was to wish that such a moment existed.

Father was affectionate, kind and accepting, but silent. He acknowledged her being different from others, but chose to fall in line with others, just so that she was accepted by others in their social milieu.

How she wishes he’d been courageous enough to support her…

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XOXO to the Man on the Moon by Stephanie Mordi

Pour me that cup of coffee that isn’t coffee because you think I can’t handle caffeine. Sit at the table and ask tiresome questions about my day while I hum answers, eyes scanning through my phone. Take me out for ice cream at twenty-three and recite those jokes that have only you laughing wildly. Kiss me on my forehead while I try to evade, detesting being that little girl once again. Call me outdated pet names in front of my friends that cause me to redden with embarrassment.

You hear me, Dad? Stop sleeping and do it all again.

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Sad Reality by Sue Spitulnik

Fathers, Grandfathers, Uncles and stand-ins
When you’re young they are there
Sometimes you like your own
Other times you like your friends
They play such important roles.
When you get older you try your wings
Some fathers help you soar and others tear you down
Often on the same day.
Then when they are gone
You compare notes with childhood friends
You find not all the father figures
Were what they seemed.
Behind closed doors, some were angry and mean
Some were too friendly in an unacceptable way.
So take the good, leave the bad
And get healing counseling

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Olive Oil by The Sicilian Storyteller

My parents were extremely good-looking; both could have been movie stars. Mom seemed completely unaware of her effect on men.

Despite this, Dad was incredibly jealous and insisted Mom cancel her home delivery of olive oil because he believed Luigi, the delivery man, had a “thing” for my mother. She, of course, thought it was ridiculous but complied.

Dad was always at work during deliveries. The final olive oil day was extremely hot and Luigi wore shorts, something he never did. It was only then I noticed the heart-shaped birthmark behind his right knee – exactly the same as mine.

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Abujan – Father by Sadje

My father- Abujan, as called him, was both a mom and dad to us since we were small.

He was kindhearted, and gentle and had a great sense of humor. Always smiling and quoting poetry at us when he wanted to refuse our requests for something extravagant.

When I was able to afford nice presents for him, I’d ask what he’d like as a gift, he’d always asked for something small and cheap, thinking that he shouldn’t burden me.

We celebrated his last birthday three weeks before he suddenly passed away. How I miss him and his gentle love.

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Father Time by Sweeter Than Nothing

Father Time clicks his skeletal fingers and a star explodes, flinging the elements of life far into the universe. He collects these, nurtures them, breathes life into them.

We’re born and stand and grow; we learn and love and laugh together, under the ever-watchful gaze of Father time.

When our end draws near and our time has run out, our dear Father Time guides us away in his loving embrace.

The last grain of sand slowly trickles down its rugged path. Father Time turns the tables, new paths arise, new stars explode, new lives begin and the cycle continues.

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Substitute by Anne Goodwin

I’m pegging out my jeans and T-shirts when my neighbour’s daughter scrambles onto the dividing wall. “Danny, are the frogs at home? Can I come and see?”
A glance at her mother’s frown provides my answer. “They’re not here today, Ruby. Maybe next week.”
A frog hops onto a lily pad, as the mother shepherds her child indoors. I don’t blame her for being cautious, although it hurts.
Once, the girl slipped up and called me Daddy. Once, I mistakenly called her Ruth.
I check the mailbox but there’s nothing. I haven’t heard from the real Ruth in years.

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Wait Until Your Father’s Home by Kerry E. B. Black

The siblings trembled, anticipating the punishment they’d receive once their mother reported their misdeed to their home-from-work father. He’d toss his keys into the dish in their foyer. He’d kick off his shoes, yet his footfalls would still shake the wooden floorboards like a judge’s pounding gavel. His woodsy cologne would announce his presence when he’d embrace and kiss his wife.

“He’s gonna kill us,” the six year old whispered.

The eight year old chewed the inside of his cheek.

But when he confronted, their father surprised them. “Did you learn not to do that again?”

Their relieved nods answered.

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Life Begins and Ends With Fathers by Melissa Lemay

Life begins and ends with fathers. It begins with that first look of longing; and then that first look, eyes full of tears. It begins with big cradling hands and strong hands holding little hands for first steps. It begins with smiles, laughs, important milestones. It flows through daddy daughter dances, hunting trips, music recommendations, driving lessons. It never ends; sometimes it ends before it ever starts. A family is incomplete, for whatever reason the father piece is missing. So life just lingers on, a definitive, incomplete impression that encompasses and pervades, because life begins and ends with fathers.

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Lexi’s Baby Is Born by Sue Spitulnik

The day after finding Emma’s “lost” book, Lexi called Tessa. “Mom, my water broke. Can you take me to the hospital and keep Emma? I’ll call Adam and have him meet me there.”
“Of course,” Tessa answered.

***

That evening Harrison Michael let the world know he had strong lungs. When told his name, Michael nearly fell over. With tears in his eyes, he hugged the new parents. “That’s quite the honor. One I didn’t expect.”
Lexi looked adoringly at him. “Our son deserves the name of the grandfather who will nurture him just like he does our Emma.”

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‘Outer Limits’ by JulesPaige

Was there ever a time when Dad and I looked at the same horizon? Both fans of sci-fi, and lovers playing with language. Though it seems as if we were never quite on the same page. We had different ideas about life in general. I felt that some of the lessons I learned were opposites of what he believed or intended. I really wanted to make him proud, and I’m not sure I succeeded.

Death creates a different distance. One that the living cannot reach, only perhaps in dreaming, ‘real’ science fiction?

that flat line
always moves away;
horizon

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This Father Fell in Love by Duane L Herrmann

An emergency C-section and you were born. I was allowed into the room and saw you crying, alone under a too-bright light. I wrapped the blanket around you, picked you up and began to speak. After two sounds from my voice, you calmed and were content. This was a voice you knew, so things must be alright. I’d been talking to you for months already. In that instant, I fell madly in love with you and have remained in love for all the deacdes since. I never imagined anyone would love me as you have. Thank you, dear daughter.

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My Father the Hypnotist by Brenda Marie Fluharty

My father was a hypnotist. I recall the first time I saw him hypnotize someone. It was my sister’s boyfriend. I sat on the floor next to them and watched. I witnessed my father speaking quietly, telling him to monitor the watch. Swinging it in front of his face. My father helped him relax and go into a trance. My father walked him through his childhood. He remembered being in his mother’s womb. My father’s efforts to make him go back further were in vain as he got scared, and my father immediately woke him up.

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Bossing It by Geoff Le Pard

Leigh de Shipp and Dick Tayter vied to be elected Little Tittweaking’s big cheese, the grandest of fromages, the Father of the Town. Their campaigns were very distinct, but both ran into problems. Leigh was arrested when he took soundings without payment. Jerry Mandering bought Dick some votes which made residents cross, despite the Little Tittweaking’s ballot requiring ticks. Each was disqualified which left the field clear for the one remaining candidate. After a debate to determine if they were pro or anti noun, the Mothership and the Town’s Father’s posts merged under the direction of newly elected Pat-Ron.

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The Fatherhood War by Hugh W. Roberts

In a whirlwind of chaos, a father attempted to conquer the art of nappy changing.

Armed with wipes and a nappy that seemed to defy logic, he engaged in an epic battle against a giggling, wiggling baby. Hilariously mismatched socks were his battle armour, and a superhero cape decked his shoulders.

As he bravely dodged tiny feet, the father’s face turned into comical distortions. With a triumphant cry, he emerged victorious, the nappy expertly secured.

But, alas, victory was short-lived, for a naughty giggle signalled an incoming surprise attack. In the war of fatherhood, laughter was the ultimate weapon.

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Bean Pools (Part I)

“Kid, gonna try this dadnabbed prompt?”
“Reckon not, Pal. The writer’s away, Kid won’t play.”
“Jist gonna hang out then?”
“Yep. Anyways, we don’t know bout fathers an sech. Recollect, we’re fictional characters of uncertain lineages.”
“Could tell dad jokes I s’pose.”
“S’pose.”
“Ever hear bout the fam’ly all had diarrhea?”
“Nope.”
“It ran in their jeans.”
“Uck, that joke stinks. Hey. Pepe LeGume’s gonna be a dad.”
“Thet’s right. He spilled the beans on thet this past March.”
“Their little bambeano’s due same time as the Mills’ little sprout.”
“Thet ain’t fair, Kid.”
“It’s a fictional fact, Pal.”

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Bean Pools (Part II)

“Reckon Pepe’ll be a good father?”
“Reckon he will, Kid. He’s got a lot ta pass on ta his young’uns. An Logatha will be a great ma. She’s sure and solid, thet one.”
“I’m s’prised you ain’t snarlin an complainin at the prospect a little LeGumes bein aroun the Ranch, Pal.”
“I like young uns. Long’s they stay outta the bunkhouse. An the Saloon. An the barns. Outta my way in general. An they gotta be quiet, a course. An not all jumpy. Yep, young uns is jist fine, lotsa fun.”
“Fun? How would you know, Pal?”
“Whut?”
“Nuthin.”

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

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14 Comments

  1. Charli Mills

    Deep stories, tales of loss and courage, unexpected regrets, hope, and thank you Hugh, Geoff, and Anonymous Bean Pool writer for leaving us with laughter. My heart goes out to anyone who wrote or reads and is missing their father. thank you for sharing your talents, writers!

  2. Anne Goodwin

    Another great collection. These are my favourites this week:
    Checking In by D. Avery
    Father Than You Think by Bill Engleson
    XOXO to the Man on the Moon by Stephanie Mordi

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes, Anne, I think certain prompts at certain times open up writers. This felt like one of those collections where writers had a lot to express about fathers.

  3. Jules

    Fathers – in all shapes sizes and memories. We would not be here without them…

    I may not have always got along with my ‘ol man, but somewhere deep down I knew I was loved. So I display photos. I do miss that he ‘left’ too early… as it were. But there are some choices we can not make. Like Charli says; best to all who remember joy and even those who just remember…something good.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s vital, Jules — to know you are loved. Previous generations have struggled with emotions, especially men.

      • Jules

        My own – he was in that middle ground. Wanting to be more, but sort of still stuck…in the mud of certain traditional roles.

        T’is what it t’is. ~Thanks

  4. Gr8BigFun

    Hi Charli, did you receive my entry or did I just not make the cut? If it’s the latter, was it because it was a little too much on the edge or was there some other reason. That way I can adjust for next time.

    • Sue Spitulnik

      Hi Greg, Sometimes Charli is burried in other work, so I will make an attepmt to answer your question. Welcome to Carrot Ranch, a safe place to share your creativity and practice writting 99 word stories. If you don’t see your story, you could have filled out the form incorrectly, forgotten to hit the submit button or not followed the rule of 99 words, no more, no less. It could also have been a WordPress glitch that happens more than Charli likes. I’ve never known her to refuse a story that is written respectfully even if it is controversial. I visited your blog to read the story, but couldn’t locate it. Hope this helps. Sue

      • Charli Mills

        Thanks for keeping a watchful eye on our Writers, Sue! We had three veteran events this weekend. We celebrated Rich’s 75th birthday even though he’s been gone two years now. Thanks for your explanation, though I can’t explain where Greg’s story went. It’s wrangled and in with the rest, now.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Greg, you made the cut! Sorry to lose your story but I will blame the gremlins this time. I can’t find your submission in any of the stalls. It didn’t even turn in the poop pile we call spam. Give me a head’s up in the comments when you submit so I know to look for it and can tell you if I don’t see it before collecting. “Dad’s Lesson” is a great story and the young lust tempered by age makes it a tender tale. Better to be edgy than cliche. 😉

      • Gr8BigFun

        Thanks Sue and Charli for the quick responses. As always Carrot Ranch is top notch! Sorry for not responding yesterday but I was otherwise indisposed.

        Ding, dang, WordPress. Tough to keep the herd together when the gremlins keep opening the barn doors! I’ve had some responses to my blogs go missing too. I should know better, twice is always better than once when dealing with WordPress technology. I will add comments in the future.

  5. Sue Spitulnik

    Another fine example of how many different stories about fathers can come from the same prompt. I’m happy for those who had ones that were positive and nurturing. I empathize with those who didn’t. In our stories we can make them any way we need them to be for our characters benefit or demise.

    • Charli Mills

      There’s some breadth and depth to this collection, Sue. Lots of poignancy, thoughtfulness, processing of grief, wonderment, and goofiness. Kind of sums up a complex dad relationship. I appreciated your second submission, too.

      • Sue Spitulnik

        Thanks, Charli. I knew you would get it.

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