Fish Out of Water 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.

February 1, 2024

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.

Out of Time by Joanne Fisher

It was during a storm: a high wave deposited a fish upon the shoreline. It flopped around uselessly, unable to breathe. Eventually it grew legs and learned how to breathe air. It’s scales became skin. It strode forwards.

One day it learned to stand on it’s hind legs and grew hair. It lived in caves, then began to build simplistic shelters that over time became more sophisticated.

It kept on striding forwards until she found herself on a busy street corner.

“Why do I always feel like I’m a fish out of water?” She asked herself gazing at the skyline.


Tanks Big Guy by Dianne Borowski

I’m just a tiny goldfish living in a bowl. When my water is clean I can see another world out there. Guess what? They don’t live in water. Why not, I wonder? Soon two more goldfish join me in my bowl. It’s getting pretty crowded in here!

Sadly, my two companions don’t live very long and now I’m alone again. Lots of people look at me in my bowl. I have no privacy!

One day the big guy brought home a big tank. It’s my new home! The water is clean! It’s filtered. Tanks Big Guy!


Another Fish Tale by D. Avery

“I wish you’d let me go.”

“Aren’t I the one who gets to wish?”

“I wish you wouldn’t do this. I’m not certified yet. My training hasn’t been going well.”

“I wish you’d stop talking already.

“Hello? Fish? Oh… Darn, one gone. Wish I hadn’t wished for that.”

“That’s two wishes gone. One more and you have to let me go.”

No sooner had the man wished for more money than he could spend in his lifetime than a Brink’s truck careened off the road, killing him instantly. The fish was thrown clear and landed safely in the lake.


The Apple Could Fall Far by Kate AKS

The only tree in the garden which didn’t give apples could be an oak. It also could be a birch or a maple.

When you are out of the garden, you are out of water. As fish in the aquarium. Only without the water.

Everyone in your family has a custom-made case for their musical instrument. When they exit from the house, it looks like the migration of an orchestra.

You just need to wait a moment until their posh cars will rustle over gravel. Then you can wear your helmet and start the engine of your self-made bike.


Farm Writer by Duane L Herrmann

I wanted to make stories, but had a baby sister to care for, and mother who needed help. When it came time to go to school, more problems arose: I couldn’t read. My jobs at home increased, there was no time to make stores. At 13, my father put me on a tractor to farm with him. No writing possible there. Then he died and I left home. After raising my children and retiring from exhausting jobs, I finally have time to write. But, I go out to the farm as much as possible – and writer there too!


When Considering Evolution, Once Is Generally Enough by Geoff Le Pard

For centuries the River Tweak met all Little Tittweaking’s riparian needs from hydration, laundry and mindless pleasure, meandering contentedly. When the Tiddle appeared one spring, the Tweak tried to divert it, then opened negotiations on a possible future confluence. The rivalry grew bitter and users were asked to take sides. When the fish refused, swimming rights were removed. The fish had no choice but to evolve. It had been done once before, so why not now? A grand landing was planned, which took place recently and proved one thing conclusively: there are reasons why fish aren’t the apex species.


dif-fer-ent; or new fish by Melissa Lemay

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish
Would not accept this rather new fish
He was dif-fer-ent from them
He could do things others can’t

He could talk, lived in a pot
An instigator he simply was not
Per-pet-u-al-ly paranoid
Living with that girl and boy

Standing up and walking ‘round
Staying in or crawling out
Reprimanding young Sally and Dick
Who thought this fish was quite a p…

And so when characters were chose
For a book whose first line goes:
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish
Carlos K. Krinklebine was not included


The Outsider by Kerry E.B. Black

Siobhan always felt like the proverbial fish out of water. No friends. Even her own family seemed more dissimilar than familiar. They enjoyed sports, hikes, and camping. She preferred to curl up under a quilt and lose herself in literature. At gatherings, she’d share bits of herself, humble offerings of things she enjoyed, only to be at best teased and at worst humiliated behind her back. She swallowed tears, certain the “wrongness” must be her own. They all got along. They appreciated each other and enjoyed the same things, whereas she was always the pitiable, the strange, the outsider.


Not Fitting In by Sadje

Harry never felt like he was a part of his family- the spirit of belonging wasn’t there. His family was outdoorsy and he was a nerd. They loved socializing and he preferred to stay at home in front of his computer.

Their taste in food and music was different from his. He started thinking that he was adopted.

But as fate would have it, his brother fell seriously ill and the doctors told the family that he needed a kidney transplant.

Everyone was tested but only Harry was the exact match.

In donating his kidney, Harry finally felt connected!


Culture Shock by Sue Spitulnik

When he arrived, the eleven-year-old visitor stared at his new surroundings with trepidation and awe. Being raised in the New York City projects, he had only seen pictures of a modern log house surrounded by grass, fields, and a pond with a zip line. He never dreamed he would get to stay in such a place until he learned about the Fresh Air program.

The first two days of his visit he barely spoke because he was overwhelmed by the differences, but by the end of the two weeks, he was “family” being invited to return the following year.


Annie’s Party Gaffe by Nancy Brady

Annie was still wearing her school clothes when her Mom arrived home. She should have changed to a dress because Annie was going to Betsy’s birthday party, but Annie forgot. Running late, Mom said, “It’ll have to do,” as she and Annie left.

Suddenly, Annie noticed all the girls wearing party dresses. One girl even asked Annie why she was still wearing her skirt and blouse. Annie felt like a fish out of water, the only one inappropriately dressed.

“Never again,” said Annie to herself. This began Annie’s lifetime of insecurity, always worrying about making the perfect clothing choices.


Viva, Las Vegas! by Anne Goodwin

The receptionist said Elvis had a window at midnight. She scorned our request for a simpler style. But I hadn’t come to here to prance down the aisle with a bouquet in a kitsch church dressed in white.

Glumly, we left the strip and queued at the City Hall for a licence. Our spirits lifted when they said someone could do it for us across the road. The doorman our sole witness, the registrar asked us to repeat her words. A piece of paper wouldn’t change us, I thought. Yet tears welled in my eyes like a sentimental bride.


Ostracised by Reena Saxena

“It’s only your interpretation. We don’t hate you.”

Someone tries to calm the agitated woman.

“You don’t …. But you expect me to be like you for acceptance with open arms. And that is not going to happen. Neither am I born like you nor will I make any effort to be there.”

Silence follows.

It does not take an official memorandum to ostracize someone. It is done sweetly, subtly with covert actions to undermine the rebel. Cut off resources, make disparaging comments, negate achievements ….

“We are a liberal family”, smiles the patriarch.

What then is mental abuse?


I’m A Fish out of Water by Margaret G. Hanna

What am I doing here, married to a dirt-poor farmer, in the middle of nowhere? I should be back in England, living in style in a house on Regent Square in Penzance, sipping tea out of a bone china tea cup, telling my domestic servant to polish the silver or mind the children. I should be attending Mrs. Paynton’s “at home” every Tuesday afternoon.

But no, I’m living in a squalid little house with two screaming children and a husband always tracking in mud. I don’t belong here. Yet, here I am, for better or worse. Hopefully, never worse.


The Escape by Carole Warren

CeCe swam around the fish bowl for decades. With friends, colleagues, family, and eventually by herself. At first, her dips in the bowl were once in a while. After yard work, at happy hours, a toast at celebrations. Slowly, the water in the fish bowl unknowingly became murky. The murkier the water, the more isolated she became. Meandering through the cloudiness, CeCe struggled to breathe. Day after day, the need to swim more, swim faster…

“WAIT! Am I really swimming that much?”

In her awareness and desperation to escape the poison, she took a leap of faith and jumped.


Fish Out of Water by Ann Edall-Robson

She sat at her desk shaking her head. Ugly office sounds everywhere. Here she was a fish out of water. Closing her eyes, she transported herself to a breathtaking view. Butterflies land on wildflowers nearby to the tune of insects buzzing in the breeze. Droplets of rain create reflections of tiny orbs. The pungent aroma of wet leaves and moistened dirt penetrated the crisp clear breathing space. The place she connected with. The calm it brought. A place she longed to be, away from the voices and clatter. Somewhere to wander trails, listen to her heart beat with nature.


Saving Coy Koi By JulesPaige

Meena enjoyed a koi pond for three seasons, but when the deep cold of winter came she didn’t want icicles from the nearby garage to fall and pierce those flashes of gold, some who’d had babies. So she set up a tank in the kitchen…took what she could get with a net, some of those pretty flashy fishes, briefly out of pond water and into the bucket to take inside. Some would be left to fend for themselves. Maybe bury themselves deep in the mud below the lily pads that provided shade.

hard glass like water
winter swords


Miss Salmon by Bill Engleson

She was new that summer. One of two female missionaries. Our first women missionaries. The other one was from Salt Lake City.
Very citified.
Miss Salmon was from southern Utah. Moab. Didn’t know that place. She said her hometown was tiny, dry as dust, ‘red dust that soothed’.
She played Volleyball in college and arranged for some of the older boys and girls to play at the elementary school gym down the road from our church.
She lasted three months.
Married a local fisherman.
Scuttlebutt was she was always getting seasick.
Finally returned to Moab and the pacifying desert.


Red, Go Pee by Charli Mills

Red was like a fish out of water. His first night out of a cage came with an odd command. “Go pee, Red.” He watched the other dogs who swam the fishbowl of indoor living so easily. Dogger snuffled a bush before lifting his leg. Shiloh circled until she squatted. Mause trotted straight to a favored spot. Pee? That was for walks in the desert when shelter volunteers took him out of his kennel. He held his pee. What was this ritual to go? The house beckoned, but he felt too shy to leave his leak with the school.


Glass Behind Me by Rockstar Girl

A fish out of water leaving the glass empty and seeing the real world without any lenses because the glass fogged up my vision

But now I escaped and left the bowl leaving the water I swam in behind because I want to be on my own and explore another part of the ocean

But I want the experience beyond the glass instead being told by ear what real life is like because all my life I never once learned to swim through all the currents because someone was always telling me the right way that I should go.


Are You Coming Tonight? by Ruchira Khanna

Sarla asked, “Hey! Are you coming tonight?”

There was a slight pause on the other end.

Sarla urged, “Oh! Come on, the pandemic is over. We all have to meet in person. Everyone is coming!”

Macy sighed heavily before responding, “What’s the point of meeting? We talk on the phone every day. I have nothing new to add.”

There was a lack of enthusiasm in her tone.

“I understand where you’re coming from, but we must bring the fish out of the water. Let’s cherish the moments of physical touch and not let technology take that away from us,”


He Is Coming by Simon

Fish out of the water”
Impossible! Who sent this msg?
It’s a self destructible email.
We must go underground.
Boss, doubting our soldiers skills?
I’m saving their life.
We can handle this boss.
One man, blasting 80 factories. With a Red Notice. More than 100+ beheading. It’s a long story short. We are dealing with a living Demon.
Who is he?
My Son.
Your son?
Don’t waste a second. Prepare the helipad. I must leave this place now.
Walkie talkie tuning noise.
He continued walking ignoring the sound.
He stopped as soon he heard
“Didn’t you miss me? Dad!”


Kid’s Fish Tale by D. Avery

“All right, Pal. I’ll write.

“Once upon a time, there was a magical place, with a beautiful flowin stream an a beaver pond. All kinds a critters, ‘cludin uni-corns, drank from these waters, an herons an sech come by fer the fish.
One day, a big ol’ fish was sunning itself on the bank a the stream.”

“Whoa, Kid. A fish outta water? Thet ain’t natchral.”
“Shush, Pal. Weren’t no fish.

“It was only half fish!”

“A mermaid?!”

“Shush already!

“Was half fish an half cow. A mer-cow.”

“Mebbe a hodag!”

“Mebbe. Either way, no-one’s ever wrangled it. Yet.”


Mythed Agin by D. Avery

“Thet a challenge?”
“A challenge? Ta wrangle the mer-cow? Naw, we best leave it alone, Pal. Though I sure would like ta see this critter. C’mon!
“Shh, we don’t wanna scare it off. Look. There. Over on the bank.”
“Kid, thet’s just a log.”
“Oh. I see. Now. Okay, we’ll head upstream ta the beaver pond. Stop. There it is. It’s huge!”
“Thet’s a mossy rock, Kid. Jeez, yer eyes are horrible.”
“Okay, but look beyond that rock. It’s movin! It’s slippin inta the water.”
“It is indeed, Kid. An— thet’s Curly.”
“My mer-pig.”
“No hodag, jist da hog.”


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

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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    This turned out swimmingly. These fish out of water stories are all in good, like company, yet no two alike. Great job everyone!
    (My flash has somehow escaped the collecting pond and is swimming in waters unknown, but I bet Charli nets it eventually)

    • Charli Mills

      Caught it in Wyoming! How in the world your flash turned up in those waters, not sure!

  2. Sue Spitulnik

    Charli, What a great trip you had. I can’t imagine a dog that has to learn it’s okay to go pee with the pack. I’m happy for Red and for you all. It’s not fun to feel like an outsider.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sue! Red has a tank for a bladder, and when he releases it’s like a fire engine hose. He’s much less shy about it now and are working on that last pee of the night so we aren’t walking at 4:30 am. No, it’s not fun to feel like an outsider but sometimes it’s an opportunity to observe and realize we have more in common after all.

  3. Sue Spitulnik

    Thank you to all the submitters in this collection. Every one is different but the wanting to be one of the crowd is universal.

    • Charli Mills

      Well said, Sue!


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