July 11: Story Challenge in 99-words

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.

July 11, 2023

Sticking a spade into the ground, I’m beyond chiding myself for struggling with a sense of linear time. July 11 is not ideal for planting but time escaped me and the rootbound plants in their pots whispered, “Plant me or bust.”

I don’t even know what the plants are, but judging by their blossoms, I’ll hope for squash. They deserve dirt and time to grow.

This is the worse case of scatterbrain I’ve had.

Have you ever panicked because you seriously don’t know what time it is? Or which day of the month? Have you left a room and forgotten why?

Earlier today I rushed out of the Rodeo Room only to pause because I realized I forgot to take my supplements (you know, the ones that are supposed to improve memory). As I turned to go back, I glanced into the Unicorn Room, longing to go do my yoga, but first I need coffee but before coffee, I need supplements. While I froze in place doing mental flip-flops, Todd exited the master bedroom and shut the bathroom door. “Noooo…! I have to pee!” Yep, that’s why I left my room in the first place. I stood dancing to hold it in the hallway, wondering what is wrong with my brain.

It’s disconcerting for a caregiver to someone with TBI issues to develop an unreliable brain, too. But I don’t believe there’s anything physically wrong. When my job at Finlandia University ended, I lost an important anchor to time and space. Though I’m thrilled to be working on projects and being home more, I need a mental framework. And I need to resume my daily meditation practice.

Having fallen off my unicorn, so to speak, I can attest to the importance of daily yoga, ritual, and meditation by experiencing its lack in my daily life. I’m learning that as a dream tender and story-catcher, I must be grounded in these practices that can feel out of time and body. It’s incredible to learn how to work within the imaginal, but equally, I need to remember to return my focus to here and now. Evolution, growth, and personal alchemy are good but we must embody what we are transforming.

Every transformation demands as its precondition the ending of a world — the collapse of an old philosophy of life.”

Carl Jung

Perhaps this is the state of the world. With world news and weather, it can feel as if we are at the end of the world. But what if we are at the beginning of its creation? Its renewal. Transformation of humanity into a more peaceful co-existence. I met with a friend for coffee to ponder this thought and share my dreams with her (it’s useful to tend dreams among dreamers because it amplifies the images the same way we expand the idea of a single prompt as a literary community).

She kept glancing at the plastic menu sign between us, her eyes widening as she listened. Her response was to turn the menu card around where someone had penned, “Destruction before creation.” We both laughed and got teary-eyed. Yes. The collective is feeling this vibe. What’s percolating in your imaginal?

According to mythologist, Renee Coleman, author of Icons of a Dreaming Heart, the imaginal is located in our hearts. That fits what I believe about creative writing, too. As readers and writers, we can tell the difference between something written from the head and something written from the heart.

“The heart is an organ of perception.”

Lama Surya Das

Indigenous people remember this form of communication, which connects us to Nature, to the Sacred. They know to heal a Veteran Ogichidaa (Warrior). Our Tribe at Keweenaw Bay is building a veteran’s healing center for Indigenous Ogichdaa, which I wrote about (from the imaginal) as occurring where I set my novel, Miracle of Ducks. A few VA Hospitals have sweat lodges and traditional medicines, but these will be located in the Tribal Nation for Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. And Rodney Loonsfoot is leading the way.

Notice that Rodney mentioned the time to process emotion as part of healing. You don’t often hear veterans speak of emotion. But emotion is vital to the perceived images of the heart. To heal emotion is to heal the heart wounds of trauma and suffering for any human. Healing involves a spiritual element, a recovery of psyche.

“There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.”

Carl Jung

This leads me to wonder what emotions hide beneath my bout of scatterbrainedness. When Finlandia University announced its closure, I knew it would be wise to find a therapist to guide my inner work. While I don’t like telehealth therapy for veterans (they need face-to-face), I was excited to find a plethora of therapists not bound by where we live. This is different from my caregiver-centric counseling. I wanted to go deep, transform, and create. I found my therapist in Texas, and she specializes in my needs.

Today, she helped me realize something about the fears that spark my struggles. We got down to emotion and relationships. She asked me many questions, but one was profound — “What role models do you have for parents of adult children?” Although I can think of families I admire, I don’t have any actual role models to show me how. It further occurred to me that I never fully grieved for the fledging of my children, and had been struck earlier this year by the postponement of grief at the loss of a twin when my son was born (thank you, Gloria!).

On October 31 (due date willing), I’ll be an elder, a grandmother, a gigi to goats and a wee bairn. But I’m not feeling confident as a mother to adult children. I have uncertainty and that’s not a good base to build a grandparent relationship upon. I know I’m a good mother; I know I love my children, but I don’t have an image of what it looks like and that gives me an underlying avoidance. What else am I avoiding? Is this really fear or grief or some untouched and unnamed emotion I have yet to face? The inner work continues!

In the meantime, I’m curious to know what we consider healthy, strong, and loving relationships between a parent and a grown child. And I’m curious beyond parent/child; it can be nephews or nieces, or children once taught or mentored. Did you have good role models to prepare you for later-in-life relationships?

And if anyone else is struggling with a sense of time and grounding, or if it has come up in your dreams, let me know in the comments!

July 11, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a loving relationship with an adult child. What happens when a significant child in one’s life becomes an adult? Think beyond a son or daughter — a niece or nephew, a former student, a grandchild. How did the relationship shift? What is the importance of the new dynamic? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by July 17, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

You May Also Like…


  1. TanGental

    Hi Charli. Not sure if it’s me but when I clicked on the link in the email WP sent me of this post it told me the post wasn’t found. However going to the Carrot Ranch home page led me here.
    Role models, huh. In a way my uncle was one because he didn’t change as he treated his children, nephews etc as adults. He was open and fair, admitted making mistakes and, almost uniquely back then apologised for his errors. He also accepted that he needed his children’s help and that would only increase: I’ve often thought that one thing you aren’t told as a child is that, one day you will become parents to your parents. If both sides understand that and embrace it, it can enrich and improve the relationship, because at no stage do adults know better or best – everyone has a contribution.

    • Jules

      I had the same issue, but since I have CR on my favorites list I just accessed it that way.
      WP gremils at work again…

      • Charli Mills

        Completely my doing, Jules! Daze needs to clear up soon!

      • Jules

        I have confidence you’ll figure out a new routine 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Geoff! Oh, the irony of a post that begins with me admitting scatterbrainedness. I didn’t mean to publish because I had to upload the icon, yet. When I realized the post was live I unpublished it forgetting that it would foul the link through the WP email. Glad you made your way to the Ranch! Ah, that’s good advice. First, I appreciate how your uncle stuck to how he treated his children+ regardless of their age. Yeah, communication. My eldest gave me a funny look today when I brought it up. I agree with what she says about the fact we have a great relationship, but I explained to her my struggle with the “how.” We actually had a deep conversation and we were both pleased I asked the question. We talked about grandparent things too. Maybe I forgot that it’s worth taking time to ask deep questions of loved ones. Thanks for sharing your life role models with me here because I’m already laughing in anticipation of parental role models in Tittweaking!

      • TanGental

        Ah yes I wonder what the Little Tittweaking adult nursery school will look like

      • Charli Mills

        Adult nursery school! Crazier than the original, I’m sure!

  2. Jules


    Hope your daze gets better. I took a different direction with (there are two images on my post);
    nd 7.11 Lingering Laments?

    Lingering Laments?

    flip the switch
    up is down; reverse
    hourglass drains

    egg in pot boils; soft then hard
    Möbius strip continues on

    flipping loop
    is an endless dream
    timeless path?

    Memories like unclear images of a life that could have been. If the grandparents could have been the mentors. If the parents had moved to that house in Florida right on the water.

    One can only move forward. Grains of sand flow down. Gravity allows us to fall. Not every fall is a failure. Those once doting grands, they will have their own speed of growing up. As elders slow down.

    © JP/dh

    • Charli Mills

      Daze! You made me laugh, Jules! Lingering Laments has a wonderful tumbling beginning in both rhythm and thought, then expands into memories, wishes, and clarity of insight. Well done!

      • Jules

        Sometimes it makes sense when I first write… then after a read through it seems a bit boggled. I’m glad it worked.

        But I am also glad to be where I am now. If’s can throw you off a good track 🙂

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Here ya are Kid.”
    “Come Hell or highwater.”
    “Reckon we’re settin this one out.”
    “ ’Parently, Pal. Less ya got kids?”
    “One Kid too many. Hey, lookit Curly.”
    “Yep, she’s heppin the donkey git adjusted, kinda bein its service hog.”
    “Curly ain’t a hoglet anymore, is she? She growed up ta be a fine hog, Kid.”
    “If she’s growed up, does that mean we’re gittin older too?”
    “Naw, we git ta stay the same age as we started. Benefit a bein a fictional character.”
    “Feels like we’ve growed.”
    “Benefit a bein a fictional character.”
    “With good prompts.”
    “ ’Parently.”

    • Jules

      Awe.. I didn’t fergit ya’s… see below. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Nice benefits to being a fictional character. Kid’s a parent of a grown hog, and a useful one, too (without being bacon). May hell and high water recede.

  4. Jules

    I’m a bit pressed for time… I’ll add this to the collection later –
    But, well, Y’all know what to do… (there’s 4 ‘shorts’) here:
    Harry’s Unique Muse and Mentors

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for making time, Jules!

      • Jules

        Added Harry’s continuing saga to the collection 🙂

      • Jules

        Hope you enjoy the stories 🙂

  5. Norah

    I know what you mean about losing track of time since leaving Finlandia, Charli. As a teacher, I was ruled by the calendar, the timetable and the schedule. I had everything under control. Knew all the important dates at work and at home in my head. Now that I don’t need to know what day it is (though I generally do know the day but not always the date), birthdays and anniversaries slip by unnoticed. I do put most of them in my phone, but I don’t look at the calendar every day, so that doesn’t work very well either. When I do think of the dates, I still remember the occasions, but I don’t think of the dates often enough. 🙂
    As for parenting adult children. I don’t think there’s much training for parenthood of any age. Lots of advice for younger ones and teenagers, but they write their own rule books that we need to figure out and follow. I love having adult children who are happy, caring, compassionate, successful and contributing participants in their communities and making the world a better place. It is such a joy to see them mature (are they allowed to mature if I’m still a six year old at heart?) into all those wonderful things. A special joy is to see what wonderful parents my son and his partner are. My daughter is not a parent, but she brings me joy in other ways. Another joy is the closeness they share. All these things (and more) are affirming, but it’s interesting that the children are best judges of one’s parenting skills.

    • Charli Mills

      Phone calendars don’t work for me either, Norah. It’s digital overload. Thanks for sharing that you struggle with linear time these days, too! And no, you don’t have to mature. Stay six! Thank you for reminding me of the joys of their maturity and happiness.

      • Norah

        Thank you for permitting me to stay six, Charli. I need to make more effort to be a joyous six year old every day.

  6. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Charli, Hugh mentioned that he can’t comment on Carrot Ranch anymore. I’ve had problems too. But, today I can leave a comment. Are you getting our ping-backs or are you not approving those anymore? We’re trying to troubleshoot some of our WP issues.

  7. denmaniacs4

    Ah, the miracle of social media…I too had to hunt…and I have to say my contribution is somewhat grimy…however, as always, it is what it is, though it could have been something else…Take care, Charli and Carrot Rancheros…

    • Charli Mills

      The joy is that it is what it is until next time, Bill!

  8. Anne Goodwin

    Ah yes, some unwanted emotion is sometimes at the bottom of things – often for good reason. I hope your therapist is able to tell you that, despite finishing at the university, you’ve got an awful lot on.

    Generally, I think the way you write about your adult children suggests you’ve got it sussed. Maybe feeling anxious about it is a good sign – that you recognise it needs work and can’t be taken for granted. I hope you’re going to love being a grandma.

    The prompt was interesting to me as it’s one of the themes of my WIP – another theme is kidney disease but I’m more conflicted about that – so I’m hoping to learn from the collection!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ruchira! Great writing to show how the passage of time changes the parental dynamic.

  9. Michael B. Fishman

    Maybe it’s just me, but the Rodney Loonsfoot video doesn’t work 🙁

    (Good prompt, too)

    • Liz H

      I also get a message that it doesn’t exist. Sad!

      • Charli Mills

        Oh, bummer! Let me try to fix that because it’s really an outstanding appreciation for Indigenous veterans.

      • Liz H

        We’d like that, Maybe embed or provide a link in the compilation?

      • Liz H

        I got his webpage, but no video?
        Sorry for the delay — been a busy day.

    • Charli Mills

      On it! Though I hope it has a fix. hanks for letting me know.

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading