Commitment in a Can 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.

August 3, 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.

Canned Energy by Norah Colvin

The shelves were bursting with cans of almost everything imaginable: the purest air from southern oceans, sparkling water from ancient underground springs, and even sunshine from Australia. She wasn’t sure what she wanted until she found it. For years she’d joked she’d make a fortune if she could can a toddler’s energy. Now someone had. She loaded her basket and dashed home. If only she’d read the small print. She was soon cartwheeling across the lounge room, star jumping on the bed and preparing to fly like superwoman. If she did, or didn’t, fly, she’d be committed for sure.


The Return of Nanjo Castille by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Step right up, ladies and gents, to the newest wonder of the modern world! Straight from the rainforests of Borneo, where wonders never cease! In my hand, I hold the answer to all your energy needs, your point of concentration, the tiller of your soul!

Careful, ma’am, don’t get too close. This stuff is explosive!

I swear on my mother’s grave, Coca Castille Kola is commitment in a can! Only $29.99 buys you a ticket to the stars in a single gulp! Write that novel, win true love! This product’ll change your life, or my name isn’t Fernando Castille!

Author’s Note: Apologies extended to newer ranchers who hadn’t run across our friend Nanjo before. He popped up at the Ranch under curious circumstances, and is part of the collective unconscious. Just ask Charli!

Editor’s Note: Nanjo returns! He certainly is a living image in our collective unconscious. This real-life character from our Ranch Spam once submitted a 99-word scam. Even the dark side appreciates literary art. Here’s our original collection.


Hand Drawn by Greg Glazebrook

It was hot as Sadie stepped into the barn. Her grass-fed organically raised family, back from a day in the pasture. The herd lowed as she pulled on her boots and gloves. Bessie was waiting as always for Sadie to set the stool at her side. A few fruitless tugs and then relief as milk began to flow from her engorged teats.

There were pumps, feed and other technology designed to increase yield and productivity, but Sadie found something relaxing about the sound of milk ringing against the interior. “Wholesome, sustainable farming, our commitment freshly expressed into every can.”


Fire in the Soul by Margaret G. Hanna

She’s sleeping now.
A fiery one, committed to making the world a better place
     for her community
            her family

Knowing she had our backs
we had confidence to try our wings
            to succeed or fail
and always she was there, rooting for us
            “You can do it!”

Where did that drive come from,
            that fire that burned within her?

We found a Burns lard pail in a dusty corner of the basement
 – “Perfect! She’ll love it!” –
brushed off the cobwebs
washed and polished it.

We put her ashes in the can, snapped on the lid.
“Sleep well, Mom.”


Good Work Doesn’t Go Unnoticed by Frank James

Jack was just released from prison, finding work on a masonry crew. He delivered materials to masons, laying bricks. He hauled large cans of mortar, bricks, or sealant.

One mason noticed, “Good work keeping us supplied.”

“I didn’t turn my life around for nothing,” he said lugging a large can. The team worked so hard that they finished the job in a day. The boss took the crew out for dinner.

A server offered Jack a beer, and he declined. “No, thank you. That’s a commitment in a can which I can’t keep. Iced Tea is fine,” he smiled.


The Commitment by Joanne Fisher

“This is your commitment to beating addiction. It’s commitment in a can.” The doctor said. His success rate was extremely high. I placed the can on a shelf. Later I thought: what harm would another cigarette do? I then smoked most of the pack. I woke up in terror. There were large black spiders crawling all over me. I hated spiders. They were streaming out of the can, so I threw it outside. Next morning the spiders were gone, but the can was back on the shelf. My phone rang. “Next time it will be worse.” The doctor warned.


Helping Isn’t Always Easy by Sue Spitulnik

Michael opened the letter from his former Colonel and read. Tessa watched her husband’s face turn from interest to a frown and ending in tears.

She took his hand. “What is it?”

“My last boss’s son was gravely injured in an IED explosion. He wants me to visit him right away.”

“You visit with the injured all the time.”

“Yeah, but I help get them out of the wheelchair, not the bed. And I know this kid. Very different.”

“Sure is.”

“I always say, each invitation renews my commitment to help. This is gonna bring back tough memories though.”


Commitment in a Can? by Sadje

Lifting the heavy can of water, the boy trudged the distance to his home. It was his job, his commitment to his family to bring them clean drinking water every day since he had become old enough to do it. This was one thing he’d willingly, happily do for his family. Living in a poor country where clean drinking water was not readily available to everyone was his reality. But he planned to change the lives of his people when he grew up. Every home will have access to clean water one day. One day, he’ll do it too!


Fueled ‘Can’? by JulesPaige

Flying in any plane takes skill, and often seems like a big commitment in a ‘can’ that is held together with a few rivets and maybe a competent complement of Captain and crew. This night, like most red eye flights, would be quiet. Passengers tend to try and sleep. Just get to the right altitude with the right attitude and the sky is a deep velvet with stars.

in a can

Commitment to any destination comes after the stars and with the welcome of dawn. The realization liftoff is great, flight is beautiful, landing safely is good.


Can Do Till I Don’t by Bill Engleson

Yes, I will,
Yes, I can
Do the time
follow the plan. Silent ‘til
I touch the land,
life without frills,
just struggle and sand.
I got the sand,
fills my jar,
lifetime of grit
near and afar.
Work my tail
down to the bone-
friends galore
and all alone.
Battles high,
dreams never low.
Soar to the sky
and the sea below. Yes, I will,
yes, I can
stoke the fire
flame the fan. Beat the bush,
raise the child,
won’t be crushed,
always be wild. Yes, I will,
yes, I can,
do the time,
follow the plan.


Can’t Knock a Hag’s Happiness by Charli Mills

It’s not easy being better than everyone else. Especially when others are stupid enough to not recognize their own inferiority. Take the old woman next door. No matter how many times Kendra pushed the hag’s mailbox with the bumper of her Lexus while the neighborhood slept, it’d be upright by the time she prepared her first Keurig. No one complained. No police sniffed around for clues. And that wrinkly bat kept smiling, gardening, and eating beans from a tin. How could Kendra understand a hag’s commitment in a can meant letting go of attachment to things and social expectations?


My Cruise in a Coffee Can by Dianne Borowski

When I was going through cancer treatment in 2008 I decided if the cancer returned I would dye my hair purple when it grew back in. I also decided I would take an old coffee can and throw my extra change in, and if and when I reached a certain age I would take a cruise. I would need a vacation by then.

Well, that certain age has come and gone. My hair is still brown but the money in the coffee can won’t get me anywhere. It really doesn’t matter. I’m just happy to be here.


Canned by D. Avery

He actually put his phone down, then pulled the lever of the recliner, launched himself forward. “What?”

She recognized it as a ‘what’ of disbelief, not of not hearing, for he even repeated what she’d said.

“You’re unhappy? You’re leaving me?”


Again, “What?” Then, “You’d can everything? What about commitment?”

Then he drew a conclusion, came up with a cause to help him understand this incomprehensible situation. “There’s someone else.”

Then she snorted. “You mean someone besides you? Yes. There really is someone on the planet besides you.”

“Who is it?”

“Me,” she said softly. Then louder, “Me.”


The Drive to Write by Ruchira

The emotions stirred by every breath we take in life motivate us to rise each morning, take action, and express gratitude to the Universe for filling us with vigor and affection. 

These same emotions inspire me to write down the diverse stories of individuals, exploring themes that celebrate the beauty of humanity and life. 

I draw inspiration from the issues that trouble our minds and am committed to the craft of writing. Every character I create undergoes a thoughtful journey, making my novels a source of contemplation for readers. 

I’ve penned down a dozen contemporary fiction novels at:


Don’t Judge a Can by its Label by Gloria McBreen

Committed to being an attentive daughter-in-law, Maud always made a Black Forest gateaux when Teresa came to dinner.

‘No gateaux today, Teresa, because Colm ate the cherries—again!’ The two women glared at Colm.  

‘How can I stop him from stealing the cherries, Teresa?’

‘I have a plan,’ Teresa replied.

Next time Teresa was due a visit, thoughts of juicy cherries bursting between his teeth made Colm drool. He caved.

When he lifted the ring of the can and peeled back the lid, the sight and the smell of beef and liver dogfood, put him off cherries for good.


Was It Only A Dream? by Hugh W. Roberts

‘Commitment in a Can’ were the words on the small silver tin with a picture of a doll.

Opening it, I found something much more sinister. A tiny, shrivelled doll holding a piece of paper that said, ‘This is your commitment. You are bound to me.’

That night, I woke up to someone whispering. “You are bound to me by your commitment.”

Screaming, I tried to run, but the doll grabbed my ankle and dragged me out of bed.

It was only a dream, yet I felt it was waiting for me.

‘Commitment in a can.’ It’s a warning.


Bottling The New You by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking prides itself on its innovations. Rather that compete with the huge industries and universities research budgets, it focuses on areas otherwise unexplored. One such is the nascent attitude applications industry being developed by a team of thought leaders under the guidance of Perce Sonnality and Lou Minaries. There were successes: the Eminence Grease skin cream did oil the wheels of commerce and Bigwig hair restorer did, as promised, turn muppets into mullets; failures included the Mighty Psyche brain food which caused constipation and Commitment in a Can which flopped when the innovators refused to guarantee its success.


17 Harry’s New *Canon by JulesPaige

Harry was committed to getting home, even if he wasn’t quite sure where it was. He gently lay Quill down and took a stroll out of the Saloon to rest under the Poetree. There was a little rubber duck that looked like Superman. The black curl on its forehead and the cape, made Harry smile. Near the Poetree was a picket fence with a can of white paint and a brush. Looks like someone had started a job and got called away. Harry thought he’d help, so he picked up the brush (hoping it didn’t talk) and began painting.


Ponderin Preserves

“Dunno bout this commitment in a can prompt, Kid. Doesn’t seem fittin.”

“S’pose. Now, tuna, that belongs in a can.”

“Well, there ain’t nuthin like fresh grilled tuna.”

“How bout corn? Canned corn makes sense.”

“Not if ya kin git fresh corn, grill it in the husk, eat it right off the cob.”

“Canned beans, that’s a staple.”

“Homemade beans is better, mebbe do em up in a dutch oven.”

“I know you use a crockpot, Pal.”

“Hmmf. Jist thinkin mebbe commitment don’t belong in a can neither. Mebbe it needs ta be served fresh.”

“Or least ways reconstituted.”


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

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  1. Liz H-H

    ????????????? Love you guys!

    • Charli Mills

      Lots of free-ranging uncanned love roaming about the ranch leading to canned commitment to a journey we get to share, Liz! Lots of love to you and all the Carrot Ranchers! Aanii!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      No one can know Nanjo like you know Nanjo! So fun to see him again.

      • Liz H-H


  2. Jules

    Very good reads. Some sad, some happy… some commitments down right scary!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jules! Now we have an idea of what precedes the opening of a can of worms!

      • Jules

        Hopefully we don’t get that spring coil in a can!

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! Beware spring loaded commitments.

  3. Norah

    That’s quite a can of stories, a variety can with a little of something for everyone.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I enjoyed yours Norah. (Um, where can I find this shop?)

      • Norah

        I’ll let you know if ever I find it!

    • Charli Mills

      Norah, I’d even take a Nanjo knock-off of your character’s canned energy!

      • Norah

        You’re not the only one, Charli! ????


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