Confidence 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.

October 21, 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.

Capitalizing Characteristics by D. Avery

“Hello. I’m Confident.”

“Yes, I see.”

“No, that’s my name, Confident. Confident Lee. My parents, Frank and Constance, wanted me to always be confident.”

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Always confident?”

“I haven’t yet changed my name.”

“Haven’t yet… so you’ve considered changing your name.”

“Well…”

“You’re wavering!”

“It’s such an unusual name! My brothers, Willen and Abel, have it much easier!”

“Confident, you’re shaking.”

“Well, how’d you like being Confident all the time?”

“I wouldn’t mind more confidence, but no, I wouldn’t want to be Confident. Look, I’ll see you next week Lee.”

Then Confident Lee he left.

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Confidence by Ann Edall-Robson

A memory of herself standing behind the podium looking out into a blackened room. A few whispered words escaped through her lips. Would she ever get past those first words?

?Clearing her throat, she looked up from the notes lying on the wood. The audience didn’t see her suck in a few deep breaths. The confidence butterflies flittering around in her stomach found a place to land. The words came easily, projecting her strong voice that had found itself somewhere along the way. When had that happened? Where was that other person?

“Thank you all for coming.” Applause erupted

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You Can Walk Again by Sue Spitulnik

Michael, wearing shorts so his leg stumps showed, was speaking to new amputees. He looked forlorn, sitting on the platform between his wheelchair and prostheses. After being introduced, he started talking in an unsure voice. He demonstrated how to get in his chair and then how to attach his legs. Continuing to share his story with a stronger voice, he stood and took one step at a time across the platform. He finished with, “If I had walked in with the confidence it took me two, yes, two years to gain, I would have intimidated you rather than helped.”

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Fall Swing by Mario Milizia

Luke is the shortest person on his Little League team. His fielding skills aren’t up to everyone else’s. To ensure that he made the team his best friend was on, he made his father take him to the batting cages twice a week.

Now, in the playoffs against another team from across town for boys thirteen to fourteen years old, his teammates are counting on him for solid hits.

After fouling off five straight pitches and seeing the frustration on the pitcher’s face, he’s sure he knows what pitch is coming next. The pitch is released and he swings.

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That’s Confidence by Norah Colvin

When Bec was little I ran play/educational sessions for children and their parents at home. I worked hard preparing the room, dedicated for that purpose, for our sessions. Finally, everything was arranged, with various art and craft materials organised in boxes and tubs.

Bec, 2½ years old, was excited. ‘Of course,’ I said when she asked if she could make something.

I’d only moved away for a moment when her excitement drew me back: ‘Look what I made!’ Her face beamed.
She’d upended nearly everything (exaggeration, only slight) and glued one cotton ball onto a piece of paper. Wow!

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Just Another Day by Frank James

A man sat at the bus stop watching construction of a skyscraper. A bus stopped and Abe walked off greeting the man,

“Hello, Sam.”

Abe put on his hard hat, walking on the job. He hopped in the cage elevator, soaring one hundred stories high. Sam cringed as Abe confidently swaggered across an I-beam.

“Ooo,” Sam cringed as Abe dodged flapping birds. Abe stopped at the tip, wobbling as he leaned over the edge, grabbing his welder. He squatted over a joint, welding it.

The whistle blew, “Just another day,” Abe told Sam as he stepped on the bus.

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Be Brave and Beautiful by Sweeter Than Nothing

“Come out Lexi, strut your stuff.”

Lexi looked at their outfit in the small changing room mirror and grimaced, “Are you sure? Isn’t this skirt a little… short?”

“That’s the point, I’d kill for your legs!”

Lexi took a deep breath in and nervously stepped from behind the curtain to her sister cheering loudly. “You seriously look so good, get the skirt, it’s on me.”

“Do you think mum would be disappointed in me?” Lexi asked.

“Not at all,” Amanda said to her once sibling, now sister and best friend, “She’d think you were brave and beautiful, no matter what.”

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The Kick of Confidence by Sadje

The kick of confidence

I was very shy when in school. My father and teachers recognized my weakness and set about to correct it by encouraging public speaking.

My father would help me write my speech and I would learn it by heart and recite it to him. He would correct my expression and pronunciation.

The first few seconds of my speech were pure torture, as my legs, hands, and voice all shook with nervousness. But afterward, I’d gain confidence and deliver the rest of the speech with aplomb.

With their support, I became the class orator, and acted in school plays too.

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A History of Bottling by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s vibrant bottling industry began when Marj Oram-Poultice transitioned from cans to bottles for her herbal treatments for gout, viral conniptions and political irascibility. Recently, though cheap imitations from China and the western edge of Sodor have led the Oram-Poultice dynasty to diversify. Never lacking ambition Marj commissioned a wide-ranging survey that identified five main elements people most wanted bottled: hope, will-power, resilience, confidence and smooth bowel movements. Her first attempt was full of confidence but the smell was too strong so it was withdrawn. Despite this the press labelled her failure a classic case of bottling it.

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Lost and Found by D. Avery

“I lost my confidence.”

“I’ll help you look for it. What color is it?”

“It’s sky colored.”

“But the sky is many different colors.”

“Exactly.”

“Wait, what’s all this stuff?”

“Hmm. Courage, optimism… should be here somewhere.”

“Determination, perseverance… resolve… all good stuff, but I don’t see confidence. Retrace your steps. Where’s the last place you remember having it?”

“Oh, I don’t know… a long time ago it seemed it was just always around.”

“Like the sky?”

“Exactly.”

“Maybe it’s just clouded over. Hey, what’s that?”

“That? Next to trust and surrender? That’s faith.”

“You sure?”

“I’m confident. Hey!”

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I Don’t Fit by Nova Martin

Head up, they say. Walk with confidence, they say. People will love you, they say. They are wrong, so wrong. To them I am just another person in a place I do not belong. Everyone says they will get used to me and it won’t be long before everyone knows who I am. How can they get used to this? Compared to everyone else I stick out like a sore thumb. Everybody knows of me and they know my name but nobody my story. Nobody has asked because no one cares. How can my ancestors be so wrong?

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Frightfully Optimistic? by JulesPaige

daintiness
stalwart quality
in rose hips

Drink that soothing autumnal tea stirred with a cinnamon stick, with the confidence of a raised pinky – not haughtily, but graciously polite. Especially while in a costume, dressed and masked for a Halloween Ball. While others with long white gloves or blood red painted nails inches long – seek out all the desserts before you even get the chance to find that hauntingly good chocolate cake frosted with brown and blue icing to look like a vine grabbing at tree roots that’ll handily look to grab your fork before you can take a slice!

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Noble Concept by Duane L Herrmann

“Noble have I created thee,” Bezur remembered how the phrase began. “Yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.” *

He was created noble! What an idea, Bezur thought, as he walked along, slightly bouncing in the light gravity. His confidence contributing to the bounce. He was NOT a sinful, wretched creature as so many people back home had been taught. What if everyone on this new planet knew they had been created noble? How would that change things? They didn’t want to replicate Earth’s problems. Not here! No! We can do better!

*Bahá’í scripture

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The Grief Chart by Bill Engleson

Some truths you just don’t want to think about. I don’t anyways. I can live without knowing some things, who loves me, who doesn’t, who’s planning my demise, who doesn’t care a whit.

I just don’t think about those things. Each day is a complete set. I work out how the morning goes, what I can do to make it through, what might trip me up.

I keep a grief chart. It measures the pain the world experiences daily. I’m very visual. Always have been. As each day passes, I see my reason to weep. There are always reasons.

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The Audition by Anne Goodwin

Little Miss Flawless went first. The piece was tough and, like her teacher watching from the wings, her face was all frown. She stared at the score which shook in her hands. But her effort paid off: her performance was error-free.

Little Miss Playful came next. In hand-me-down clothes, she’d come to the theatre alone. The crotchet and quavers were hieroglyphics to Little Miss Playful and she mis-read most of the words. But she fixed her ears on the pianist, her eyes on the director and beamed as she blasted out the song.

Little Miss Playful got the part.

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No Contest by D. Avery

Velma Valentine, stopped at the four-way in her vintage Buick, was met by Daryl McGreely.

Driver door to driver door, he grinned through rolled down windows and revved his engine.

“I’ll lift my hood if you lift yours.”

Velma neither grinned nor revved.

“A lady doesn’t lift her hood.”

“Race? My Olds against your Buick, winner take all.”

“I don’t want your old-mobile.”

Daryl retorted by again revving his engine, which backfired.

“Daryl McGreely! Your old-mobile farted. Right in downtown.”

Daryl watched as Velma pulled smoothly and slowly away from the four-way.

“I probably would have won,” Velma mused.

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The Moor by Nicole Horlings

The grey gloom cast by cold clouds had settled heavily upon the empty land.

The carriage ride across it to her uncle’s estate had been long and boring. As she looked out the window, she became more confident that she would be thoroughly miserable in this place.

But without a pandering servant keeping her entertained here, she had learned to explore life on her own, turned her attention towards that which had been deliberately overlooked, discovered joy, and shed her contrary attitude.

The warm afternoon sun highlighted the beauty of the various grasses and flowers that filled the moor.

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Wishes and Witches by Liz Husebye Hartmann

“You sure about this, Jimmy?” Thora pulled the white forelock rising from her scalp, wishing.

“I am,” he whispered, playfully tugging the errant lock. That white spume rising up from her auburn waves had assured him from the day when first they’d met.

“Because I’ve told only you, in confidence. No one else knows,” Thora fretted. “If this doesn’t work, I’ll never be accepted.

They’ll blame me, and drive me away.”

“Have a little faith,” he soothed, feeling the magic of her wish spread and heal the community.

All that was needed was her strong love and fondest wishes.

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Ghostly Advice by Joanne Fisher

“This is the first time you’ve haunted anywhere?”

“Yes I’m new to this. A family has moved into my house and I’ve made creaking noises, but they haven’t noticed.”

“You’re right to start small. You need to build up your confidence. Can I suggest you start moving things around randomly? Like keys or remotes? Items hard to find once moved.”

“I see.”

“And if they have a cat keep it entertained so it watches you for long periods. That will freak them out.”

“What about doing an apparition?”

“That’s really advanced. Just focus on the small things at present.

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Who’s Talking? by D. Avery

“Maybe you wouldn’t text her, but I would, and will.”

“Texts are too flippant, a woman like that deserves better.”

“She’s seen me around, she’ll be delighted to get a text from me.”

“You’re certainly confident, but don’t you think, if you’re serious about getting to know her, you should, you know, actually talk to her?”

“Funny advice coming from someone who can hardly speak to women because of his lack of confidence.”

“I’m confident she’ll turn you down, but if you insist on texting her, here’s her number— she gave it to me after she asked me out.”

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Procrastinationland by Kerry E.B. Black

Fake it ‘til you make it, right?

Even when you’re staring down a deadline, having painted yourself into a corner without the necessary tools. You can’t cry foul. The fault lies squarely on your imposter-syndrome-clad shoulders. Doubt bogs down the process. You self-sabotage, misplacing important parts of the project and stumbling over tiny obstacles. You work on other things instead.
That is until you land here. Smack dab in the furthest corner of Procrastinationland.

You can’t give up, though. You promised yourself even when others don’t believe in you, you’ll champion yourself. You have God-granted talent. Don’t waste it.

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The Boss by Dianne Borowski

The kid was a new hire. Something about him was off. He had a big fist and an even bigger mouth.

I told him, “watch yourself. They don’t want no trouble here.”

“Back off, old man.” he said and give me a hard shove!”

Kid was mean. Started messing with Jonah. Jonah’s big but slow.

I told the boss, Lou, about the kid.

Lou said, “I heard. Stay away from him.”

Kid went too far. Jonah was bleeding bad. Lou come up behind him and shoved a pistol in his back.

Lou said, “Get out!”

She’s one tough lady!

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Off She Went by ladyleemanila

She always said she’d be brave. She was sure that it would build her confidence and might be able to help her forget about him. He, the one who hurt her.

Today was the start of the new her. She signed up for some adventure training and today they were going to bungee jump from the top of the cliff. The tall crane was set up, They were given some instructions. As she stood there, she was determined to make it. So she counted quietly in her head, said a little prayer, controlled her breathing and off she went!

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Airin Concerns by D. Avery

“Holy shift! Kid, why’s LeGume runnin so fast? Oh. Went inta the privy.
“Hey, LeGume, hear bout the fam’ly’s all got diarrhea? Runs in their jeans.”
“Dat ees not funny, Pal. Dees ees nerves.”
“What’re ya nervis bout?”
“Ello? Soon Logatha weel have our leetle bambeano.”
“I’m confident yer gonna be a fine papa, Pepe.”
“Tank you Keed. But eet ees confidence een our writer I lack. She knows notteeng about writeeng babies.”
“No pressure, Pepe. Yer a tertiary character, sure ta be upstaged by Shorty’s sprout.”
“I jist hope the expandin LeGume fam’ly’ll be staged downwind.”
“Shush, Pal.”

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Rank in File by D. Avery

“Turdy-airy?”
“Tertiary, third level. Pepe doesn’t need ta feel the pressure a folks readin all bout his parentin, cause prob’ly won’t much git written. We’ll jist assume this fictional family’s doin great.”
“Now jist hold on, Kid. First of all, LeGume here’s least secondary.”
“Number two?”
“Zactly. An, LeGume is yer friend, Kid, a friend who has come ta live here at Carrot Ranch. We ain’t jist assumin nuthin. We’re gonna pitch in an hep his fam’ly out cause he’s part a the Ranch fam’ly.”
“Yer right Pal. Think our writer can keep up?”
“Ain’t so confident bout thet.”

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Their Writer Speaks by D. Avery

D. Avery, Ranch Yarnist here, with a rebuttal:

“Ha, rebuttal.”
“Shush, Kid, I wanna hear this.”

I understand Pepe’s nervousness and agree that my lack of experience with what he and his family are now committed to— because of something I carelessly penned months ago—

“Shoulda capped thet pen.”
“Shush Pal.”

— I’m confident that this imperfect storyline will work out because I have confidence in these characters. Pepe and Logatha will be good parents. Kid and Pal and all the others will step up. The littlest LeGume will find her role among this extended family.

“Kickin an screamin.”
“Shush.”

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Ravel Rouser by D. Avery

“Shift on a short stick, Kid’s goin an gittin all po-litical agin.
“Kid! What’re ya rallyin bout now?”
“Been thinkin Pal. It’s all well an good that our writer has confidence in us, but that don’t undo our vote a no confidence in her. Pepe ain’t gotta worry bout how she writes his family— she won’t be writin bout the birth or child at all.”
“Why not?”
“Child labor laws, that’s why not. Cain’t be exploitin the LeGume’s bambeano fer the sake of a 99-word yarn.”
“No one’s gittin sploited, Kid. I vote ta let the yarns ravel on.”

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

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13 Comments

  1. Melissa Lemay

    Love them!

    • Charli Mills

      These 99-word stories stood up and showed what their writers are made of — the confidence to create!

  2. Doug Jacquier

    Congrats to all and good to be back at the Ranch. Highlights for me were:
    Capitalizing Characteristics by D. Avery – A confidence trickster, I see. 😉
    That’s Confidence by Norah Colvin – Ah, the play’s the thing.
    Ghostly Advice by Joanne Fisher – Yes, the host should practice a little before giving them the sheets.

    I did write a piece but having been away a while I messed up submitting it. 🙁

    Anyway, while I have your rapt attention, I’ve set up a new site called Witcraft https://witcraft.org and I’d love to see some humorous submissions from you fine folk, between 200 and 1000 words.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Doug, good to see you! You’re a “local” to the Ranch. Shoot me your submission if you want it in the Collection. Ah, yes, I’m trying to recall where I left my funny bone to share wits with you!

  3. Liz H-H

    You know, a birth scene with the Familia Legume could be a real gas, D. Don’t lose the opportunity!

    • Charli Mills

      There’s a possibility that idea might stink, Liz!

      • Liz H-H

        We must make sure it is un-matched!????

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! Dare we light a match?

      • Liz H-H

        Go ‘head then. It’ll be a real blast!

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    I can confidently declare this to be a wonderful collection of fine flash fiction. Well done, everyone!

  5. Norah Colvin

    I vote to let the ‘yarns ravel on’ too. Such a great collection – so many different ways to be confident. Well done, everyone.

  6. pedometergeek

    I’m late to the party (eh, reading), but I am impressed with the diversity of the stories and how well written they are. Congrats, everyone!
    ~Nan

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