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August 22: Story Challenge in 99-words

The weather arrives. And she’s not who she used to be. She reminds me of a place who reminds me of a woman who reminds me of a Dream.

The Dream opens like this: a woman has dyed her hair red and the color has not yet set. She rubs her hair across the floor and leaves wispy streaks of rusty dye. She wakes as if in a stupor, surprised to learn that she left the ruddy trail.

The Dream shifts.

I’m in a truck, driving across a parking lot. It’s snowing lightly and the other vehicles have left tracks ahead of me. The pattern of these tracks mimics that of the wet streaks of colored hair. I wake up, inwardly hearing a Dream title: “Bad Hair Day.”

A Woman presumably having a bad hair day is a dream image I decided to practice with. She discomforted me and when I thought of her I chilled, thinking of creepy-crawly humans-like creatures from scary stories. I wanted to practice with an “intolerable” — a nightmarish image. When I got into an imaginal space, I held the Dream image and then let it live on its own. The woman appeared, her hair still wet.

Other images intruded over the woman like full head-to-toe masks — the moment you learn the John Saul ghost is evil; the creeper from The Ring slithers; the story you overheard one traveler telling another about a slasher movie. Dreamers have a Dream Council, though — protection. And Dreamers cultivate safe space within. Think of it this way — if you can conjure up the scariest character imaginable, you can call forth the Hero. So, instead of seeing snakes grow bigger in your dreams, imagine your pet mongoose feasting on snakes.

Once I caught the vibe of the image and my associations, I ask, “Who are you?”

“The Woman who doesn’t want red hair,” she responds. “It’s dangerous. Dangerous times.”

The Place. Two weeks later, as I’m waking up from a Dream listening to, “Sister Golden Hair” and looking back at a stylized hot pink scene completely unfamiliar yet I know it. I delay waking up to hang with the image. The band, America, continues to sing, “…when a woman sure can be a friend of mine…” Inwardly I feel like I’m squinting and losing the idea of this place. Then it comes to me, Carson Valley. I’m now standing in the vista looking down the valley from the Nevada side toward the towering peaks of the Sierras. Even though the image is like a work of art, I know each peak, slope, and river.

That’s when a big wind blew from the pass to the west. A slow-moving mammoth mass of hot pink air. It gathered forces, rose like a thunderhead, and rotated before punching past me in a blast of wind. The last thing I heard before waking was, “The weather has arrived.”

On August 20, 2023, I wrote in my Dream Journal: “The Woman Who Does Not Want Red Hair is the coming weather.”

Then I wrote:

The Weather
The weather forms terrain.
Geology exposes rock --
            wind & sun
                 water & fire
                     shapes mountains

Water gives life
Carves a cradle for humans fresh from the cave
Slowly, shyly, a world takes shape.
The weather is Sister Golden Hair before she lost her daughter
       known to the gatherers of wheat
             known to the cattle, sheep, and goats
Fire scorched, the weather goes mad when underground technology steals her daughter
      Nabbed in broad daylight
              Taken to restore balance from what the earth has lost in diamonds and die-outs of species

Crazed, she dyes her hair red, scared to be seen 
Changed, she hurdles down corridors
    And it begins
          a geological transformation

Who will pick my fossilized bones 900,000 years from now?

It surprised me to realize the Woman Who Does Not Want Red Hair is the weather. It felt like a weird artistic, poetic, mythic moment when hurricane winds blew across the mountains where I grew up. I wondered how the change in weather patterns was going to impact the shapes and sizes of land features which would change where water flows. I’m not one for watching the weather, but suddenly I became interested in Hurricane Hilary. I realized it was projected to make landfall in California as a tropical storm and sweep across the deserts bringing a year’s worth of rain to those dry regions.

Then I saw the eye of the storm was to head over Nevada. I began watching the areas where Todd and I have family. Last night, I went to bed and instead of dreaming, I woke up. This is rare for me. I usually sleep like an old greywacke. I tried to go back to sleep. Then I sat up and could feel a change in the air. It felt heavy and damp. I got up and looked at my phone to see where the rain was falling. What I saw was a rotating mass that not only stretched across Nevada and Idaho, but it had arced through Montana and Canada and was circling back stateside.

At that moment the remnants of Hurricane Hilary’s front had reached Lady Lake Superior and was engulfing the Keweenaw in mist. The same winds that stoked the deadly fires on Maui like a dragon and spewed rivers over deserts now evaporated over me. The Greatest of the Lakes received the rain clouds and sucked them dry.

The weather has arrived.

August 22, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the arrival of the weather. It can mean any kind of weather event meteorological or mythological. Is the weather personified, random, or calculating? Where does it arrive? Is it typical or epoch-changing? Who is involved? And if the Womam Who Doesn’t Want Red Hair shows up, well, ask her what’s happening. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by August 28, 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.


  1. Norah says:

    According to what I saw on the news, Hilary caused a lot of damage when she dumped all that water over California. I was pleased to hear no lives were lost. Seems not long ago California was battling firestorms. I hope your family were/are alright. It sure stretched a long way to get up to you.
    It’s funny that you write of the woman who didn’t want red hair. I’ve always loved my red hair and now pay my hairdresser to keep it that way. Both of my children have red hair, though my son’s become quite auburn in adulthood and now some don’t believe it was ever red (greys poking through don’t help). His partner also has a fair shade of red hair (strawberry blonde maybe) and both their children are different shades of red. My grandson has the most beautiful red hair that glistens under the light like fine strands of copper. He is the one who doesn’t like red hair and would like to dye it – brown. I guess there are some who don’t want red hair. I just wish we all didn’t have the fair skin to accompany it.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I love red hair, Norah! I was a true carrot-top complete with freckle fair-skin as a child but by the time I was a teen, the red darkened into auburn, and now it’s darker, less red. My gray arrives in streaks. Looks like I frost my hair, a look that was popular back in the ’70s, lol. But in my heart, as in yours, we are gingers! So much culture and superstition behind acceptance or rejection of red hair. You created a family of red hair. Hmm, makes my wonder what my grand-Boo will inherit! Funny that the redhead in the family would rather have a different color! California handled the Tropical storm efficiently, abut officials are concerned about a spurt of plant growth right before the Santa Ana winds and fire season return. I think it’s Canada that’s getting the devastation by flames this year.

      • Norah says:

        It’s interesting that your hair darkened to auburn the way my son’s did. He has a few greys poking through too. I keep mine well hidden. 😉😂 I look forward to finding out what colour your grand-Boo will inherit too. ‘They’ say that there needs to be red on both sides of the family as it is a recessive gene. I’ve accepted rather than researched it. I’m not sure how far we’d have to go back on either of my husband’s or my father’s sides for that to be true.
        I think it’s time we put a stop to sharing these dreadful weather events around. Nobody wants them so they should be decommissioned. If only …

  2. Liz H-H says:

    Can I just say? The first two lines of this post are show stoppers. Wow! Beautiful.
    Or maybe rainmakers? ❤

  3. Reaseaorg says:

    Great opening !

  4. Jules says:


    There are different ways to honor dreams. Some write down as much detail as they can. And like some prayers… burn those writings in a brass bowl. I’d like to forget some of my nightmares. I’ve read about that point in dreams when you realize it is a dream and try and control what is happening even though you can’t. But I forget what it is called.

    I really like your verse that you wrote. I added another prompt to come up with a simple fiction piece because some days simple is good. Years ago when I was still a pre-school teacher there was this little girl – she had another gem name, and she was very smart. While I will never know how she has grown up, I can only hope that she has put her ‘talents’ to good use.


    Ruby, Our Ruby

    We called her a hurricane. So full of energy. Everytime she entered the room a friendly type of chaos would ensue. One day she would take us by the hand, lead us through the darkness of impending storms of disagreements of how and who should live where and when.

    She came from us. We first whispered then shouted. Both amazed and proud. That smile from her lips that went across her face from ear to ear. Instinctively knowing that the future was her gift, all she had to do was engulf the present each and every single day.

    © JP/dh

    • Charli Mills says:

      Yes, Jules, there are indeed many ways to honor dreams. Dream tending is a formal process that includes the willingness to go deep into one’s psyche with a community of other “dreamers” not for meaning or prophesy but to become aware of who we authentically. It’s a psychological and yet extremely creative process. The collaborative or communal element is exciting. The tending is ongoing because images are living, can evolve, and be part of the world’s dream — the collective unconscious. As a story-catcher, I’ve always been open to dreaming (asleep or awake). I believe this is true for most creative people. Others honor dreams as spiritual or sacred. Some disregard dreams as “too much spicy food.” Children often don’t have cultural blocks to openly dreaming. Kids are honest and brave dream tenders! Great 99-word story about such a force in a gem-named child!

      • Jules says:

        I am not a good journaler… I use my verse and flash as my journaling/journeying…

        My dreams I can mostly relate to images that I’ve seen throughout the day. Especially if I watch or read a mystery before sleeping 😀

  5. Lately, there has been a lot of news coverage about the impact of the pandemic on Mother Nature. I have noticed an increase in wildlife activity during the nighttime, as the heat drives them towards civilization in search of water and food.

    This phenomenon is not unique to California, as other states are also experiencing similar changes.

    Attached is my perspective on this situation.

    • Charli Mills says:

      This is an interesting phenomenon to pay attention to, Ruchira. In some ways, it’s a call to recognize that we humans share this world with nature; that we are a part of nature. If you get the chance to add a book to your to-be-read list, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweet Grass” is a beautiful look at our dynamic and reciprocal kinship with Mother Nature. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  6. Blowin In the Wind

    “S’matter Kid? Why’re ya stormin aroun?”
    “Shorty sure dreamed up another tough challenge prompt.”
    “Jist do yer best, Kid. Don’t matter weather or not ya come up with a story.”
    “Har-har, Pal. Punny. My mind is too foggy fer this.”
    “Yer thinkin’ll clear, you’ll be right as rain in time fer the collection. Shift, Kid, it’s weather. It always arrives, one way or anuther. An you know how it often goes, doesn’t rain but it pours. Ya might git flooded with ideas.”
    “Might suffer from drought too.”
    “Might blow us away with yer weather yarn.”
    “Hope I do, Pal.”

  7. Liz H-H says:

    I think I got it! But the form was not accepting my url as valid, so I include it here:

    • Charli Mills says:

      Liz, I’ll get this updated when I return from Wisconsin. If you have a URL issue in the form, can you put it in the body of the story? I’m so buried under technology at the moment, I want to scream like a hurricane wind, lol!

      • Liz H-H says:

        I”m pretty sure I stuck it in there. 😅
        Scream away…sometimes that’s the only thing to clear the pipes. And then walk out in Nature. That helps, too! 😘

  8. Charli, your dream is pure poetry. I love the “Sister Golden Hair” reference, by the way. I think the red-haired woman is an ancestor reaching out to you from the liminal spaces. Maybe red hair signifies something else? Why doesn’t she want red hair? Although, your reference to a pink mass of weather moving toward the Midwest is pretty darn accurate!

    In mid-Michigan we woke up to high humidity, fog, and 74 degrees at 7am. That’s highly unusual.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Colleen, I was struck by the Sister Golden Hair as very Demeter-like, then thought of how she might have died her hair in desperation to go after her daughter Persephone. In a way, this is an ancient dream that still animates through the collective unconscious — the weather is like Demeter in her state of despair. I can’t wait to see the stories and poems that rise up from individual writers and how they will come together in a collection. The Michigan humidity is definitely the remnants of Hilary! My fog is now your fog, lol!

      • What a great explanation. I’ve just started reading Goddesses in Every Woman. It definitely resonates with me! We had tornadoes near us, Thursday night. Wild, wicked weather!

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