Carrot Ranch Literary Community


I See the Light in You Collection

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.

Henry Could See the Light by Colleen M. Chesebro

Henry the cat, lived at the nursing home for over two years. He was a typical tabby cat, adored by the patients.

The first thing I noticed about him was his connection to those who would soon pass. The cat had the uncanny ability to see the light in people. Somehow, he noticed the shadows of death gathering, as if their life-light dimmed in intensity.

The next thing I noticed was that Henry stayed with his patient, offering comfort with a cuddle and a purr, keeping vigil at their bedside.

Today, Henry curled up beside me. I felt peace.


Gran’s Inside Light by Norah Colvin

Jamie squeezed his hands and clenched his knees, as if that might still his churning belly and stop his heavy heart from falling. Like recycled paper, his thoughts were all mushed up. They said Gran was sick. She mightn’t get better. What did that even mean? Gloom dragged his face into a frown.

“You can see her now,” said Mum. Jamie looked up, questioning. Mum simply nodded. Jamie tentative step-by-stepped, hopeful, fearful, step-by-step.

“Gran?” he whispered. Dull eyes flickered. This isn’t Gran. Gran’s eyes sparkled.

Jamie trembled. “Where’s Gran’s inside light?” Mum hugged him. “In you and everywhere now.”


A Shining Light by Sadje

It’s easy to see the light in an innocent heart of a child. They are pure, uncorrupted by worldly desires and ambitions. I am always attracted by their sweet smiles, their naughty and mischievous looks, and their total faith in those who they trust and love unconditionally.

My oldest grandson is almost 13 now. He should be more worldly-wise now, but he has this naivety that’s so endearing. He trusts everyone, often to be hurt when they betray him. He is everyone’s well-wisher and sometimes is snubbed because of his well-meaning advice. But his light keeps on shining bright.


Bringing Light and Joy by Nancy Brady

My first child, a son, was perfect, making me a mom. The best advice I got was from my obstetrician. When asked, he said, “You feed him, you change him, you hold him, and you love him.”

In those first few weeks, when unsure, that’s what I did; it worked. My child became the light of my life. He brought joy and laughter, and my nickname for him said it best.

He and his wife recently had their first child, a son. Does he have the same insecurities as I?

off-key lullabies
will my son call his son


Someone Sees Your Light by Gary A. Wilson

“Oscar? You’re upset. What’s wrong son?”

“The boys at school again. They said that I’m DS-broken. I don’t feel broken, but I want to be normal.”

“I’m sorry. Do these boys trash-talk others?”

“Yes, they do it to Shelly who’s black and Curtis because of his wheelchair, but neither of them need special help with fractions. Maybe I am broken.”

“Nah – they’re just jerks. They mock for fun and ignore the loving and hard-working side of someone, which reminds me, Mazie’s mom called to thank you for helping her with multiplication tables. Sounds like proof that you’re not broken.”


I See the Light in You by Christine Bialczak

Billy walked sullenly, head hung low. 

He hadn’t meant to look so stupid in front of his friends.

How could a book report turn into a horror show within minutes?

Dennis was how!

Billy didn’t know they were reading the same book and he certainly didn’t know that his abridged version was not only the easier version but it kept some of the best details out! Sharon ran up to Billy as he walked along.

“I thought your report was better! You enjoyed reading and it showed! I see the light in you when you talk, more than Dennis!”


An Encounter by D. Avery

She searched her reflection in the bathroom mirror, looked deep into her own eyes. She didn’t like what she saw. Still…

‘Aanii,’ the old woman had said. ‘I see the light in you.’ What a strange way to greet someone, someone you don’t even know.

“I don’t see it,” she said to her reflection, her sad dark eyes staring back at her. But she couldn’t forget the twinkle in the old woman’s soft gaze.

She had seen a light in her.

That was something.

She put the pills back in the vial, put the vial back in the cabinet.


You Glowed by Duane L Herrmann

I was sitting in a room with chairs in a circle, only about half of them filled. A person came in who none of us had seen before. He looked around, then sat down beside me. We became friends. Later, I asked him, why did he choose to sit beside me.

“Because you glowed.”

Me? I’m not a light bulb. I wasn’t even having a good day. Two publishers had canceled three book contracts, an editor sent a scathing response to a manuscript, and my private retreat space had been visually invaded. I was miserable. Yet, I glowed???


The Light Long Lost Down Time’s Tunnel by Bill Engleson

I so wanted it to be that way, to see the light shining in you. How beautiful that would be. There would only be the glow of the other, not the inferno of mistrust, of envy, but, rather, a human brilliance.

I did want that.

We sat at your table once, devoured your offerings, and radiated communal friendship, me, with her, you with her.

There was a bond.

A link between.

That evening often reappears.

In memory.

Memories crossroads.

I cannot speak for you.

Our tongues do not intersect these days.

For me, however, I will feast on that.


Him Indoors by ladyleemanila

by the light of the moon
you and me in trance
in your arms I swoon
after all the dance

you and me in trance
as we rock with the boat
after all the dance
together we’re afloat

as we rock with the boat
ring in hand you kneeled
together we’re afloat
tears in eyes I yield

ring in hand you kneeled
the moon as our witness
tears in eyes I yield
grateful for life’s sweetness

fly me to the moon
harvest moon like a dream
together we dance
feeling the chills in our bones
gorgeous night with you


The Hunger Game by Hugh W. Roberts

It was the light in her eyes that lit up my life.

As she gently dragged her long fingernail over my adam’s apple to the hair on my chest, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I’d undone the buttons for temptation, and it worked.

I wasn’t shocked when she hissed, as the light in her fed our desires. I gasped when she revealed two fanged teeth behind the bright red lips of her closed mouth, even though I knew what to expect.

She never saw the wooden stake I was holding.

Now I could feast.


Killers are People Too by Anne Goodwin

Matilda’s mother would have been shocked to learn she was sharing a room with a murderess. But Matilda’s mother never had the chance to discover that killers are people too. Although Doris seemed surly on the surface, Matilda sensed the loving spark within. When they’d shared their stories, they’d bring light to their dismal cell. They needn’t rush: they’d have months, years, to compare motives, weapons, plans. Once Matilda had taught Doris her letters, even her mother would struggle to tell them apart. They’d both broken the fifth commandment. Despite their incarceration, they’d both found freedom in their crime.


The Night Visitor by Joanne Fisher

I woke up in the middle of the night with my neck sore on my right side. Opening my eyes, I saw there was a dark figure standing over me.

“You again? Why are you always feeding on me?” I asked.

“Because I can see the light in you.” The vampire whispered in answer, which was an unexpected response.

“I thought you vampires were creatures of darkness.” I stated.

“Yes we are, but we are still always craving for the light.” The vampire explained leaning over again. I felt her cold breath on my neck as I drifted off.


Unreachable by Charli Mills

Unwilling to medicate, you say profit-seeking pharmaceutical bullshit billionaires invented diabetes. I have no healthcare schedule to follow. There’s nothing you will consider. The optometrist leans in, showing scans of your damaged eyes. “Sight goes quickly. What about your shooting matches?” He knows you are unwilling to accept a disease you don’t believe is real. You listen. My hope surges until you say your blood sugars only appear high because they changed the test again. TBIs alter cognition, mood, and, apparently, the endocrine system. No matter how much your brain changes, I can still see the light in you.


I See the Light in You by Jenny Logan

In my experience, focusing on people’s better sides can go one of two ways. It can lead to them living out the version of themselves one chooses to see and speak over their lives, or it can result in one being exploited.

Talking to a friend recently, we both concluded we prefer to avoid becoming cynical and we will keep trusting our acquaintances, hoping for the best and accepting any negative consequences as “things we cannot control”.

Maybe the light in others—even at their worst—is to serve as a test of our commitment to press on regardless.


Aanii by MarlaPaige

You speak of your video games and how you want to share that with me, even though you know I have never enjoyed the activity. I watch as you morph from the stoic adult that I know into an excited child; words cascading from your mouth, tumbling over each other in the space between us, vying to be the first to reach my ears. The smile snaking across your face is huge and sprawling, your eyes shining with the light of pure joy; silently watching, I see the real you. I smile and nod – for you, I will try.


A Love Story by Margaret G. Hanna

It was love at first sight.

She was standing in the middle of the flower patch, hair in disarray, dirt on her nose, waving a pair of nasty shears and scolding me for cussing out the horse. I saw a fire in her eyes — determination, stubbornness — and I knew immediately she was the one. We married three months later. She stood by side through thick and thin, through good times and bad.

Forty years later, I sit here, you lying in the hospital bed, I holding your hand, watching that light fade from your eyes. My heart breaks.


Gerties’ Gifted Power (Spot On? With Shadorma) by JulesPaige

The islands’ gardens
Full of life
Full of light
I seek the shore where the clouds
Ooze smiles like toothpaste

Each garden, some protected by trees, others with ponds that allow you to walk to the middle or those near the sea waving pampas grasses. I enjoy company and other times I wish to be alone – arms in a sun salutation. I believe each of my husbands shines a different spectrum of healing light my way. Giving me strength to pursue my dreams of teaching all my girls, that the love light shining within can brighten anyone’s day.


Constant Light Within by Ann Edall-Robson

The trail leads to a barely visible path of light-heartedness. The morning’s glow shimmers across the frosted grass. Not one step is the same no matter how many times a footprint is left. Silently the surroundings speak loud to those who listen, observing the cherished stroll to gather one’s thoughts, harbouring them within the soul. Nature’s signs are all around, while the land seeps into the heart, its aroma lingers, and the grounding is victorious beyond normal thoughts. Those who get it, get it, the connection is their constant light for all to see where ever they travel.


Divine Design by Greg Glazebrook

I’d arranged some free time to take a quiet hike along the Grand River. It was a beautiful day, overcast but bursting with shades of fall in the crisp afternoon air. I stepped from the trail to examine a fallen tree, gnarled and weathered shades of sun-bleached gray concealing a punch of colour nestled within. Red, orange and yellow waves of an inner light radiating outwards across a monochromatic backdrop. I ponder the moments when each broke free from captivity, falling on the autumn wind before congregating in this nook. A series of seemingly random acts so divinely orchestrated.


It’s All Part of the Spectrum by Geoff Le Pard

Trudy, Maddy and Deepti, the three Grace sisters are the much loved owners of Little Tittweaking’s Rainbow Emporium where, for a small fortune anyone can acquire a weather event of their choice. Since the pandemic, however, the dearth of silver linings has seen business drop because it’s said the bespoke clouds no longer glow with the necessary internal hope. The use of flaming sambucas stopped after the sambucas complained and currently hopes rest on utilising the inexhaustible supplies of hot air that emanate from the local MP’s surgery, if a way can be found to filter out the hypocrisy.


Final Moments by Reena Saxena

It’s almost dawn, and embers in the fireplace glow in the dark. Spent fuel lends its last bits of energy to the world.

I guess you know that the doctors have given up. Else, what could make you tell me all those stories, as if you are rewriting the truth? Tell me … when we’ve always been on opposite sides of the fence?

No, in this case it is erasing falsehood to reveal the truth. It sounds like a dying confession, but actually speaks of bygone eras with tainted history.

I see the light in you replacing darkness within.


A Light Shines Behind Sad Eyes by Miss Judy

She appears a mere child, sitting on the sidewalk, a mass of matted hair hanging over sad tired eyes. A sign sits propped in her lap. I drop coins in her cup. Meekly she says, “thank you.”

I ask, “Can I buy you breakfast?”

Skeptical but hungry, “Yes, please.”

Over breakfast she tells me her story. It is sad but typical. A broken home, alcoholic mother, abusive father, she was abandoned.

I tell her about myself. We are kindred spirits. We are comfortable together. I tell her, “I see a light in you. Let me help.” Her eyes sparkle.


Food Fer Thought by D. Avery

“Kid, has yer flashlight problem worked itsef out yet?”


“Told Shorty bout it?”


“Well, I did.”

“Dang ya Pal!”

“Shouldn’t keep Shorty in the dark. Anyways, she’s thinkin mebbe she kin hep lighten yer load. So ta speak.”

“Whut kin Shorty do?”

“She’s cookin up some a her famous buckaroo chili, thet’s whut. An she’s got Pepe’s makin some beans.”

“How’s that gonna hep?”

“Might pervide the motivation ta do whut’s gotta git done, if ya know what I mean. Put a little fire inside, mebbe there’ll be light at the end a the tunnel.”


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

October 24: Story Challenge in 99-words

My fingers trace the nobby bones down Pegasus Sue’s back. Her vertebrae contrast with the fullness of her pregnancy. She’s a goat near term, carrying twins for five months. She leans her head into my hands and I cradle her jaw, massage her skull, and gently rub her back.

It’s a slow descent to winter on the Keweenaw Peninsula. We’ve had a few gales, some hard frosts, and even made national news with our shovable snow. But it has already melted and the lilac bushes cling to their green leaves as the maples shed their colorful canopies.

The sunny days we’ve had lift everyone’s spirits. We stay outside, hold bonfires, and prep the farm for winter. Well, the farmers do. I might cook a meal, or watch an episode of Bake with my daughter. It’s her birthday weekend and she wants to focus on her flower beds. She dug, separated, and replanted bulbs of irises, lilies, and hyacinths. I mostly hung out with goats, picking apples, and comforting an uncomfortable Pegasus Sue.

Molly, the younger doe of three at Ghost House Farm, already birthed her twins. Allison and Drew went out to the ghost-house-cum-goat-barn on Saturday and noticed a wee goat. I soon arrived — because my goat senses were tingling — to see twins still wet from birth.

Immediately, I swooned. I fell into full cuteness overload as this video demonstrates.

Fall seems an odd time to welcome babies to a farm in the Northern Hemisphere. Chip, the male goat, is also in rut which seems like even worse timing. The pregnant does want nothing to do with him. He hangs out with the herd of round-bellied kids from last fall in a separate pen and side of the Ghost House. The pigs are near time to go to market and the goats are birthing. Cycle of life and death plays out on a farm from day to day.

I wonder at the bones in this land. How many generations of humans and kin have fed the soil on this rocky spine? As Halloween approaches, I think of the different ways people around the world honor and bless bones. They say the veil thins at Samhain; a time for talking to the Ancestors.

As I comfort Peggy’s bones, I listen to messages on the wind. What stories lurk in the coming dark of the year? At least I know the light is somewhere. Thank you Australia and New Zealand for containing the light as the northern region of the world confronts the shadows. Day or night, North or South, the bones have a chance to speak their tales.

October 24, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about bones. It can be any genre or tone. Is it spooky, irreverant, poignant? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by October 29, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

For the Water Collection

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.

Weather Report, Water Blessings by JulesPaige

Today it is raining, a gentle water falling from the sky.
Not an angry torrent or brute strength bent on destruction.
For a good part of this day life falls from above,
The clouds have let their bottom silver linings drop open.

Rich treasure, liquid drops fall feeding the land, making
Competing concentric circles in any water they land in.
The earth drinks slowly and deeply.
For this water we are extremely grateful.

The coffee that has been brewed with water is done.
The beans, their plants were grown with water.

Autumn rain is blessing the farmers’ fall harvests.


For Want of Water by Margaret G. Hanna

We watched the slough dry up. We watched the soil blow away. We watched clouds roll in with empty promises of rain. We watched our crops struggle, shrivel and die.
We watched families move away. We watched businesses close. We watched villages disappear.
We feared the well would go dry. We feared rain would never come again.
This prairie that once held promises of bumper crops and full granaries was now only a distant memory, if it had ever existed.
And all for lack of rain. For lack of water. For lack of caring how we treated the land.


Aquarius by Kerry E.B. Black

Born into a winter when the three rivers froze solid, the pretty little Aquarius charmed all who dove into her ice storm eyes. As she grew, so did her charms, from honey-wheat hair and reedy figure to tinkling voice and buoyant cheer. To have her as part of any team meant success. From trouble shooting to efficient enacting of a plan, she waded through issues to bail out even the worst situation.

Lovely Aquarius, with water lilies and marigolds threaded through her beachy waves, donned a new mantle, ‘clean water’ her battle cry. Her leadership swelled awareness and resources.


For the Water by Sadje

People can sell their souls for a glass of fresh water

They’d murder to quench their raging thirst with water

What flows unchecked through our open taps

Can fill a pail for someone who needs clean water

We use water to wash our cars and driveways when

Some people have no drinking water for miles around them

Can you comprehend this dichotomy between people

Those from rich countries and those belonging to poor countries

Where children cry and can only be given a few drops of water

And some water their lawns with sprinklers on 24/7

Can you imagine?


Water, Water, Everywhere by ladyleemanila

Water, water, I love water everywhere
Seas, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, pools
We’ll enjoy splashing around, fair and square
Playing in the rain, relaxing in whirlpools
We drink water, so refreshing
Our body needs water, also when we exercise
Good for our spirit, stops us from ageing
Nice to go sailing, make sure we don’t capsize
Swimming in the sea, that’s my favourite
Watching the sun as it rises and sets
Having a picnic or an elaborate banquet
Did I tell you about memorable sunsets?
Aquatic life is quite entertaining and fun
Like what we feel when the lottery’s won


Let’s Go Kayaking by Sue Spitulnik

The promise of colorful leaves decorating the hillsides, soaring eagles, no waves from loud boats, and few other humans had the veteran friends loading kayaks, paddles, and life-preserver belts into pick-ups. They were looking forward to a relaxing day of natural beauty on Hemlock Lake in western New York State. The lake shores were undeveloped except for a small park at the north end with a gravel boat launch and another launch at the south end. The lack of dwellings was for the good of the water, as it was a protected reservoir for the residents of nearby Rochester.
Author’s Note: Hemlock Lake is a real lake.


Working Together by Ann Edall-Robson

Spitting out a mouth full of lake water, they watched the water run free through the hose into the now gravity-fed water trough. The last two years had been spent planning and trying different techniques so they could utilize this section of pasture for the cattle without damage to the lakeshore. It all came together with the help of their contacts within the local watershed group. The ranch now had water for the cattle and the group was spending their time doing riparian work along the shore. They’d worked together, creating a plan for the good of all.


For the Water by Tessa Dean

We were told to think about saving the world’s commodities. I started to think about what I could do to save some of the world’s commodities. This is something I never did worry about. I always believed we would have whatever we needed.

I live in an area battered by drought. I have a garden but getting enough rainwater to sustain it was hard. I started to think about all the water we poured down the drain for baths, etc. We could collect it in tubs and jugs after a bath and use it to water the plants daily.


Weight of Water (BOTS) by Kerry E.B. Black

She walked over a mile each way to collect water, the liquid of life. Two handmade buckets slung from a yoke weighed on her neck and shoulders, but she bore the burden proudly. She knew the value of her cargo. With drought a looming adversary for all of Africa, she felt herself lucky.

The source of the water shortage mattered less than the fact of it. Who cared about government mismanagement, climate change, little money for infrastructure and support, or corruption when dying of thirst?

Worse, she heard by 2050, more than 5 billion people may face water scarcity.


But Not a Drop to Drink by Anne Goodwin

My youngest shits brown liquid into the – what can I call it? – lake, ocean, once-was fertile fields. Back in the village, he ran on chubby legs. Now, flopped in my arms, he whimpers, speaks only with his eyes. “You prayed for rain, Mama. Did you pray too hard?”

Forgetting her thirst, my youngest seeks happy endings in the clouds. Yesterday, she conjured a helicopter but where, amid the mass of makeshift shelters, could it land? Today she wants a bucket. Or a pan. “Allah is merciful,” she says. She proffers the cooking pot for the water He’ll surely send.


Water Issue by Duane L Herrmann

“What’s the matter?”

“Because I recognize the precious value of water, I never think ‘it’s only water.’ When I take water, from whatever source, I use all that I take and take only what I use. Water is precious. Water is life. Not all people have access to clean water. I deplore that, so I use only what I need. I grew up with limited water, so this is natural for me. I am bewildered and angered by any waste of water.”

“You can’t control other people.”

“But, I can be an example.”



Hacking Plastic by Frank James

School started and so did science fair. The teacher, Agnus Bauer assigned dates sending pupils off to positively impact the environment. Chloe thought, recalling Mr. Milton’s back porch.

The fair arrived, and She held up a water bottle filled with sand and pebbles. A clamp sprouted from the plastic carcass. “I did it for the water,” Chloe exclaimed to her teacher.

“But, we have treated water,” the teacher said. Chloe illustrated how Mr. Milton poured paint and oil in his yard. Teacher asked if she made it for him.

Chloe grinned and replied, “I’m attaching it to my faucet.”


For the Water by Charli Mills

Each woman thrust a fistful of tobacco medicine to the dimming sky. Gichigame, the biggest of the “greats,” glistened below. They followed the road. The setting sum smeared colors like jam across the horizon as the small band of woman marched in skirts and boots. Apricot, raspberry, blueberry. All the colors of forests and lakes and sweet summer fruits swished in their skirts. Above the crunching beneath soles, a song lifted. Nee-ee-bay… Gee-za-gay-ee-goo. A lilting lullaby to Nibi, the water. The women sang, holding high their prayers.

For mama’s health. Please don’t let Dad die, yet. For the water.


News by Simon

There will be a time when human is going to adapt to live without water. Or more likely with less water.

The toxic waste, irresponsible water usage will soon have the effect and plastic impact, the whole water system is under attack, constantly by humans, let’s see what they can do on mission “For the water.”

This is a threat only to the human species. In this machine era, we should worry more about long lasting battery, isn’t it? Now who checked the latest offer of Mamazon?

More comes after a short break, this is M0101 your machine friend.


Water Bearer by Jenny Logan

I was born in February on the Island of Cyprus amid familial and political controversy. My brother felt unheard—he voted against another baby. It was two apiece.

Aphrodite walked out of the Mediterranean Sea there amongst dolphins. I imagined myself to be her and my identity was linked to her story. Cyprus always felt home.

Before getting married, I visited with my parents. My fiancé wanted us to consider any doubts we might be having; gallant, but not required. I walked right out of the sea again and into his arms—the goddess of love—never to return.


AquaSynthetic: Repopulating the Ecosystem One Robot at a Time by Eliza

Moraya had been sitting on the riverbank since the city smog had mingled with the early morning mists. The sun had since passed overhead. Now it glowed behind murky clouds on the western horizon.

Moraya cast the line again and waited. Her eyes were heavy with sleep when she felt a tug, reeled it in, sighed. Another artificial fish. She tossed it back into the filth and looked at her empty bucket. The river used to be teeming with life. All she needed was one catch – one real fish. It looked like it would be another day without food.


Small Changes by Nancy Brady

For the water, I volunteer at Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve.
For the water, I skip the straw to avoid adding plastic straws to oceans.
For the water, I no longer use shower gels formulated with micro-plastic beads.
For the water, I pick up trash on walks around the city to keep it out of the lake.
For the water, I avoid using one-time use plastic bottles that can’t be recycled.
For the water, for our children and grandchildren, I act to leave them an earth that is livable beyond my lifetime, protecting our most important resource.


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

October 17: Story Challenge in 99-words

Aanii, my Friends of Carrot Ranch! I return to this place after walking Nibi for three days, transformed.

Transformation follows its own course. Linear time loses all meaning on a Water Walk, flowing like water does. I get it now. I understand the purpose of ceremony, the physical, emotional, and mental act of becoming one heart.

We all understand the concept of like-mindedness. We recognize the comfort or joy we feel when we encounter people who think like we do. It could be career related. I always relish talking to those who “get” the writing experience or understand the basics of marketing. For others, it might be the camaraderie of community or foodies out on the town. Sometimes, we find safety and comfort in hanging out with like minds. We don’t have to explain or debate.

Becoming one heart means joining un-like minds.

People of the Heart commit to the water walk for many reasons. Some people are indeed like-minded and others couldn’t be any more different. No one agrees on how to proceed yet none of us are leaders. Although I am a founding member who welcomed the Anishinaabe back to their Ceded Territory after the devastating Father’s Day floods of 2018, I joined to learn and experience the Anishinaabe protocols. I’ve held myself back, mindful not to appropriate a culture I respect but knew was not my own.

Each year, I’ve tried to organize the way I know how, and each year I learn to back off and let it be. This year, I stepped in it, so to speak, when I petitioned Finlandia University’s justice committee to hold the feast. A church in Houghton provided the space. I wanted to involve the students and faculty. Despite my fumbling, the church was glad to work in partnership with the university. It took me stepping out of the way and letting the water flow.

Each year, the Water Walk works. We show up at pre-dawn. We lift the water in ceremony, passing the copper bucket from woman to woman, looking straight ahead, trusting the Eagle Staff carrier to be our eyes. What is there to plan? We walk. We leapfrog walkers and support vehicles ahead. We welcome whoever shows up. We keep walking when no one else does. Nibi compels us forward.

This year I became more attuned to my desire to plan, organize, and expect. I let go at each moment of recognition. I also saw others frustrated in their own ways because of the human need to control events. What if like-mindedness is the attempt to control circumstances and outcomes to meet our expectations. Isn’t that what linear time is all about? But each time I let go, I marveled at how we continued to be in ceremony.

By our last leg of the journey, gathered for our final feast, I felt such agape love for everyone involved. I felt the support of others from afar. I felt a connection with those seated at the feast table, especially my elders. I felt love oozing from my ribbon skirt that embodied the spirit of the chickadees Sue Spitulnik crafted — friendship. I was on such a love high the day after, I hardly noticed my lack of sleep. I felt love for my students so strongly.

Then it collapsed. Or maybe I collapsed inside.

Needing to cry, and feeling disconnected, I went to Gichigammi and met her at my favorite beach (McLains). Her waves rolled furiously, yet the day was oddly warm. Turns out, my friend and fellow Water Walker was also there and for the same reason. She explained that we needed time to re-enter. She listened to my feeble complaints, and she spoke of her dying dad who has recently walked on. We both cried. Becoming one heart with a diverse group of people is an intense experience.

The next day, one of my students who is First Nations from Canada, shared how his Tribe has both Warrior Chiefs and Peace Chiefs. I realized that the ceremonies to bring people into one heart also prepare people to express and resolve grievances. In this sense, Water Walkers are the Peace Chiefs. But we need our leaders, our warriors, to join us.

While I have much to unpack and ponder, and so many stories I want to tell by the campfire (like when our Two-Spirited Beauty Maker lost both his soles, or the time I left my new Grandmother for dead convinced she was sleeping — and thankfully she was — and all the jokes we made about the va-jay-jay Aboriginal material in our teacher’s skirt) I will continue to process.

I want to share with you the beautiful Ojibwe greeting of “aanii.” It means, “I see the light in you.” Isn’t that a loving way to greet someone? What if we saw the light in one another instead of passing judgment, measuring people for how like-minded they might be? Let us do the work to become one-hearted.

Write and let your light shine.

October 17, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that references “I see the light in you.” You can use the phrase or demonstrate it in a story. Who is shining and why? Who is observing or reacting? What is the setting? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by October 22, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Rituals of Tea Collection

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.

Afternoon Tea With Doris by Hugh W. Roberts

Every Sunday afternoon, I attended the ritual afternoon tea with Doris.

I never got a word in edgeways. Doris talked through cups of tea, plates of cucumber sandwiches and dainty pastries.

Natter, natter, natter. She never shut up.

But today was different. Everything seemed the same as I took my place at Doris’s table. She remained silent until her mobile phone rang.

Natter, natter, natter. Christ, does she never stop talking?

“Yes, I do miss Hugh. Sunday afternoon tea will never be the same again without him,” chirped Doris. ‘Why don’t you join me, the person reading this story.”


Chai Time by Ritu Bhathal

Water simmers as I add tea leaves.
I peruse my spice cupboard, wondering which to add, today.
Fennel seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, some cinnamon, too.
Each releases its unique scent into the air as it is added to the deep brown liquid.
Milk added, the boiling halts as the liquid begins its simmering journey again.
A careful eye is needed as the bubbles increase and the froth begins to rise.
Gas down, froth down.
Gas up, froth up.
Three times, then off.
Strain it. Pour it into a cup.
Perfect masala tea to warm the cockles of anyone’s heart.


Eyes Dotted – Teas Crossed With… by Bill Engleson

Don’t be a teas.
Spell that.
T E A S.
Like, peppermint.
Nah, like a josher. A tease.
You mean?
A leg-puller.
How’s it spelled?
That’s steep.
Like tea? Steeped?
Yeah. Soaked.
Soaked in tradition?
No. Steeped in tradition.
Like the history of tea?
Could be. Could also be infused.
That confuses me.
Sorry. It’s the same thing
Steeped! Infused! Brewed!
Brood? Like lots of children?
Absolutely not. The world has too many kids. Brood, like in worrying.
That’s deep. If I had a brood of kids, I’d sure be worrying.
I’m thirsty.
I’ll put on some tea.


The Language of Tea by Anne Goodwin

I try to be patient: the woman beyond the curtain is clearly unwell. But what about me? I’ll never recover if I don’t get my sleep.

I’m just nodding off when the alarm blares again. Heart pounding, I grab my pillow and wander the corridor, searching for peace. “The noise is finished,” the nurse reassures me.

“Shall I bring you a nice cup of tea?”

I nod, although I won’t drink it. Why squander a fifth of my fluid allowance on thick builder’s brew? I’m accepting the ritual, the symbol of caring: right now, that’s all she can give.


Saturday Tea by Kayla Morrill

Tea is something I don’t indulge in anymore.

Ten years ago, my wife and I used to warm a caramel wafer over our teacup back when we were just neighbors and friends. She and I loved tea so much that we had a private tea party every Saturday when we were little. That tradition continued after marriage.

Drinking tea without her seems criminal, as if taking one sip would hit her with another car containing a drunk driver.

But I now realize she is drinking tea up there too, every Saturday, with her killer, with me, and our baby.


Dry by Eliza Seymour

Pluck a leaf. Pack it away. Pluck a leaf. Pack it away. It’s a rhythm Tadala falls into; the rhythm of centuries of tired hands toiling under the blistering sun. But the rhythm has been broken by the unbroken heat.

The next tea leaf Tadala picks is scorched and brown. Her stomach clenches knowing this won’t pay for the flour she needs this week.

She shuffles on, kicking up dust from the cracked soil beneath her feet. She starts work on a new row. The basket is far from full. The leaves are dying, and the rain won’t come.


Tea for the Monarch by Margaret G. Hanna

Mary stood before the glass-fronted cabinet. “I see you have Mother’s silver tea pot.”

“With the dent turned to the back,” Dorothy replied.

Mary chuckled. “Good thing she missed Father when she hurled it, she might have dented his head as well.”

“Remember how she toasted every monarch’s death and coronation with that tea pot?”

“Nothing but Twinings English Breakfast, if I remember rightly.”

Dorothy took the tea pot out of the cabinet. “I think we should revive Mother’s tradition, now that we have a new queen.”

“I hear she prefers Earl Grey tea.”

“With a dash of milk.”


The Perfect Cup of Tea by Nancy Brady

When I was a child, every adult drank coffee except for my grandparents, who drank tea.

As an adult, I neither drank coffee nor tea until recently. A friend once brought me tea laced with Indian spices for my laryngitis, staying to ensure I drank it, though unwillingly, but her tea worked.

In the past twenty-five years I began drinking hot tea. At first, I added several teaspoonsful sugar along with milk, making white tea.

Making tea correctly requires boiling water, scalding the pot, adding tea, and letting it steep for five minutes. Add sugar and milk to taste.


The Tea Party by Norah Colvin

Ollie said the table looked divine. Teddy agreed, adding the fairy cakes were the prettiest and sweetest he’d ever tasted, and the tea was the perfect temperature. Amy and Lucy beamed. The tea party to welcome the happy couple home from their honeymoon was a success. Everyone was there. It was all going swimmingly, until a balloon popped. Ellie started, upsetting the teapot with her flailing trunk and whipping the cakes from their stand. Monkey screeched. Bunny watched tea puddle under the table.

“I’ve ruined the party,” wailed Ellie.

“It’s okay, Ellie,” said Lucy. “No one’s hurt. Nothing’s broken.”


It’s in the Tea Leaves by Colleen M. Chesebro

Miss Pearl, the tea-reader seer scooped a teaspoon of loose tea into the cup and added hot water.

“Now, we let the tea steep,” she said. “Stir the leaves and drink your tea.”

I stirred the tea. When it was cool, I finished the cup.

“Now, use your left hand and pick up the cup. Silently ask your question. Then, turn it upside down on the saucer.

I complied. “What do you see, Miss Pearl,” I asked?

She examined the contents of the cup. “He loves you!”

“How do you know?”

“There’s a tea leaf heart in your cup.”


Tessa Remembers by Sue Spitulnik

The day Queen Elizabeth II died, Tessa got out her treasured English teapot and the cozy a close friend had given her. She boiled water, took the last of her PG Tips tea bags from their air-tight container, and set the bags to steeping. She fondled her exquisite china cup, milked it, and added one level teaspoon of sugar. When the timer dinged, she filled her cup with the steaming liquid. While watching the TV coverage, she imagined she had crust-removed cucumber sandwiches and hot buttered currant-filled scones to accompany the elixir she had enjoyed while living in England.


Two Teas for One by Kate

Alice ushered Shelley into her kitchen.

“If you want to make some tea while you’re visiting, the tea leaves are here,” she said, opening a cupboard door.

“Tea leaves?” Shelley quipped.

“In the canisters. The teapot and kettle are over there.” Alice pointed to them and continued, “You know, one scoop per cup and one for the pot. Oh! here, use this silver tea strainer.”

“You do all this for just one cup?”

“Of course. Why, how do you make yours?”

“I throw a tea bag in a mug, add water and microwave until it’s hot.”

Alice was speechless.


Rituals of Tea by Sumiko Courtney

Ten years ago:
“Would you like a warm drink?”, Mom offered.
“Warm drink? Like tea?”, I questioned. Mom drank tea, 5 cups daily, minimum.
“No, not tea. Milk, honey, spices. An experiment.”
“I have decaf or herbal tea in the cupboard-”
“I don’t drink tea anymore.”

Mom still doesn’t drink tea, or concoct warm drinks. She drinks Soda, the evil we could only get at other people’s houses as kids. She prefers milkshakes. Unless assisted, she feeds herself spoonfuls of leftovers straight from the refrigerator, unheated because she can’t figure out the microwave.
Was shunning tea the beginning?


Grandma’s Teapot by Tessa Dean

Breaking glass followed by gasps of pure horror pierced Annie’s ears. She stared at the floor and the shards of china from her grandmother’s tea set that was decades older than Grandmother even.

Everyone began talking at once, while grandmother just sat there, and a silent tear ran down her cheek. Annie began apologizing, “Oh, Grandma, I am sorry. It just slipped out of my hand.” She began crying too.

“How many times have you been told not to touch Grandma’s teapot, Annie?” her mother said.

“I said I was sorry!” She deliberately knocked off several teacups as well.


Finally, Perfect Tea by Duane L Herrmann

As with everything in her life, my mother was very specific about one aspect of the tea she made and drank. One day, as an adult in my fifties, having invited her over for a meal, I think it was her birthday, I finally made her tea to her satisfaction, despite trying all my life from a small boy when I was charged with preparing meals and other work around the house. The preparation was not a problem, she was satisfied with instant.

“This is perfect,” she beamed. “Just the way I like it: the color of pee.”


Butterfly Pee by Charli Mills

“First it’s purple. Like the prettiest purple ever,” said Mace.

“Pretty as forget-me-knots? Periwinkles?” Freya continued to mulch plants with her bare fingers. Her flowers and medicines glowed with vitality.

 “Mom, not everything is flowers.”


“Then, you add lemon. It turns pink!”


“Please, Mom, please. Can you buy me Butterfly Pee? All the girls are drinking it.”

The next day Freya drove to town with a delivery of bouquets and herbals for the co-op. She asked the grocery-manager, “Ever hear of Butterfly Pee?” To Freya’s delight, she discovered a new tea made from butterfly peas – a flower.


Would You Drink Yak Butter Tea for Me? by Anne Goodwin

In Kathmandu we learnt the Nepalese for black tea without sugar, but it didn’t work in the Himalayas. Eventually we relished sweet spiced chai at the rest stops as much as we relished shrugging off our heavy packs. The farther we trekked, the thinner the air, the friendlier the people. We grinned when Tibetan monks invited us for tea.
Yak butter tea, smelling of goat and rancid cheese, black with grease floating on top. I couldn’t drink it. I couldn’t refuse their hospitality. I couldn’t throw it away. My companion saw me gagging, swallowed his and swigged mine too.


Tea Party by Ann Edall-Robson

Plates the size of a little person’s hand rest beside china cups and saucers from another generation. Delicate napkins made from lacy material, found in the sewing room, lay across the guest’s laps. Mr. Bear presides over the gathering from the head of the table, and curly haired dolls wearing their finest dresses and hats sit quietly on cushioned chairs. The young miss joins her friends at the table when the lady of the house emerges from the kitchen carrying tea and baked goods on a linen covered tray. Announcing it’s time for the monthly tea party to commence.


Love For Ethiopia by Frank James

Malik landed in Ethiopia for business. He knew tea would cheer him up. He entered a café getting more than he bargained for.

“May I have a kettle?” He asked. A tall woman pouted, “You look sad.”

“I’m home-sick,” he replied.

“The perfect thing,” a slender one popped in with cookies. He grinned. The original woman changed into traditional garb. She hummed, “Kinat, or rise up.” The slender woman wafted incense around Malik. The first crescendoed, “Your future is bright,” as the other poured tea.

Malik clapped, “I love Ethiopia.”

The tall woman smiled, “A tea ritual always helps.”


Disappeared 58 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Eloise peeled out onto the river road, heading for home. Andrew sat silent beside her, his eyes turned to the haunted mansion. It had begun to rattle like a teacup and saucer, in the age-spotted hands of someone who’d just received very bad news indeed.

“99 flagons of beer on the wall, 99 flagons of beer…” the Twins sang lustily.

“Who taught you that?” asked Bethany.


“At least they’re learning their numbers.” Joseph tipped his head.

“We have more to talk about, it seems.” Bethany sighed, raising her eyebrows.

Behind them, the mansion groaned and dropped a meter.


Ex Wife by Simon

Every morning, beside the curtain, steam of her hot tea, prints the little heart I drew on her window. She removes the sleep crust, wipes her fingers on her pyjama, stares at my window for a second, a little smile at the corner of her lips.

Sips the tea and read a novel for 10 mins straight and walks away, swaying her wide hips. After an hour of boxing, she closes the curtain and disappear.

Nothing changed with my Ex Wife.

She said she left me for two reasons, I never listen to her and something else she said.


Tasseography? by JulesPaige

reigning days
senior discounts; an

Putting ducks in a row. Silver Sneakers, new health insurance for ‘covered’ prescriptions, and taking advantage of ‘elder’ discounts. Ten percent may not be much, but every little bit helps when mostly everything. Brew your tea, tackle your tasseomancy with fancy or plain jane leaves. Personally I keep my moments as my present. When has knowing the future been a true benefit.

I’ll take my tea with some honey. Maybe a squirt of lemon? But I think I’ll bank on keeping myself as healthy as I can so I can enjoy my life.


Two By Two by Jenny Logan

Friday nights out for a tenner invariably ended the same way. We got surprisingly drunk for so modest an amount—several double vodkas and two halves on the walk home.

I tried to go to bed sober for golf on Saturday morning. There was a formula for this: two slices of toast, two mugs of tea and two paracetamol. Repeat upon rising.

My game was never better than after the night I danced until dawn—no inhibitions. I never did get to go for rooftop cocktails with the Pro, though.
Now I can’t tolerate alcohol, caffeine, dancing or golf.


A Ritual for Thought by Gary A. Wilson

Like a preemptive therapy, a peaceful ritual precedes my joining the workday storm.

Two hours of pre-dawn darkness, one small light, my chair, blanket, bible, a second scholarly book and big mug of freshly brewed loose-leaf tea; these are the tools of transitioning from sleep to thoughts and conversation of who and what I am before God, thoughts of our world, finally time left for thoughts worth writing before tackling the problems I’m paid to solve.

Thoughts arranged – my day begins.

Like a cold engine, tea and ritual have warmed and lubricated my mind for the day’s challenges.


Containers by Reena Saxena

Flowers neatly arranged in a teapot placed on the coffee table always fascinate her.

Secrets tumble out during leisurely conversations around the table. Anne’s father worked for the railways, and always traveled in a salon attached to the train. She loved journeys bordering on luxury, and once flicked a teapot as a memoir.

“You know what … I never have tea on trains …. lest my hands turn kleptomaniac….” Anne flashes a naughty smile.

Did she hear the wilting flowers sigh in relief? Containers occupy more mind space than contents. Stories we tell ourselves matter more than originating thoughts.


Before the Devil Invented Teabags by Doug Jacquier

Mum used fresh water and brought the pot to the kettle. She would warm the pot before adding loose tea and boiling water. A stainless steel teapot was used day-to-day and covered with a woollen tea cosy to keep the tea hot. For guests, the pot was china, with a delicate artwork glaze. Tea was always served unstrained in a china cup, with a saucer. Milk and sugar were added after the pour and dunkable biscuits arranged on an ornate china plate. And when she didn’t offer to brew a fresh pot, guests knew it was time to go.


The Gospel According to the Housewife of 1950’s Australia by Doug Jacquier

No elixir known to the human race has more curative powers than the humble cuppa. It’s ability to restore hydration leaves plain water, soft drinks and beer floundering in its wake. No level of exhaustion cannot be immediately dissipated by the ingestion of this wondrous nostrum. Yea, though the mercury be bursting from the top of the thermometer, nothing will provide quicker cooling relief than a hot cup of tea. And when domestic labors, fractious children and spendthrift husbands threaten a woman’s equilibrium, peace will be restored by a cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie down.
*Cuppa – Cup of tea
**Bex – This was a product heavily advertised as a pick-me-up. Some housewives took as many as three doses a day of the powder that could be dissolved in water or a cup of tea to help them get through the day. Tragically, they contained the addictive pain killer phenacetin and caused massive kidney damage before they were banned.)


Outback Swingers by Doug Jacquier

Tea drinking away from civilisation requires some swinging. The essential requirement is a once-stainless-steel but now black billy(can), complete with lid and handle. Make your fire, boil your billy, use a stick through the handle to remove it from the fire and to remove the lid. Throw in a measured handful of tea leaves and replace the lid. To make sure the leaves settle to the bottom, stand away from others, grab the handle and swing the billy vertically like a windmill at least three times. Pour resultant tar-like tea into enamel mugs and add four sugars. Bloody bewdiful!


How to Make a Cup of Tea by Joanne Fisher

When people would visit, Steff would bring out her teapot, warm it, then add a teaspoon of tea leaves for each person and one for the pot. Once the kettle boiled, she would add the water and let it steep for a few minutes. Once she deemed it ready, she would pour the hot dark brown liquid into each cup, adding milk and sugar if desired. She made a good cup of tea.

These days she was alone, so now she just brewed a tea bag in a cup. She really did miss those strong cups of tea though.


Taking Your Tea Like A Man by Geoff Le Pard

Ani Gav, owner of Little Tittweaking’s cafe rents a room to a variety of societies. This isn’t without controversy as, every Wednesday the over 60s BDSM society hosts their tea, scone and scolding afternoon, followed by the Reverend Stickler’s bible interpretation class. After one unfortunate overlap, when the Reverend arrived to find the members paddling each other as part of a fourply foreplay interactive, it was assumed there would be complaints. The Reverend, ever practical had other ideas and, by common consent sitting through his subsequent sermon was held to be a far greater punishment than any bruised buttocks.


Comin Aroun by D. Avery

“Whoa! Kid, what’s with that mug?”
“Ain’t a mug, Shorty, it’s a dang cup. An saucer.”
“I meant your face, why’re ya scowlin so?”
“Cause it’s a dang cup. An saucer. Why d’ya gotta be servin tea?”
“Don’t you like trying new things Kid?”
“Really, Shorty? I. Don’t. Like. Change.”
“Tea is a very old drink, steeped in history. Ha! Steeped.”
“Jeez. I’ll try the dang tea. Mmm…”
“Um, Kid, yer s’posed to drink from the cup not the saucer.”
“This’s how old timers in New England drank tea. Reckon ever’one’s got their own tea stories an traditions.”


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

October 10: Story Challenge in 99-words

Monday, October 10, 2022, is the second Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the US. Social justice organizations around the world are recognizing the harm of colonization and cultural genocide on Indigenous populations. My classes are tasked with reflection on what it means to belong to a place. How do we overcome othering and welcome the contributions of groups, nations, and regions around the people?

Today, I walk in the company of my bone, spirit, and land ancestors. I think about belonging through kinship and presence. Today, I am present to the water. It is the third day of a 92-mile People of the Heart Water Walk.

Nga-zhichige Nibi onji. When I get tired, when I have less sleep and more responsibilities, when it’s my turn to carry the water, I say, “I will do it for the water.” My t-shirt speaks our petition and commitment. My skirt flows so the land of Turtle Island recognizes me as a woman, a vessel for water. Water is life and women are the water bearers.

This is my fourth Water Walk, although I did different work for the water in 2020 because of Covid. Actually, I seem to do different yet similar work each year. I’m learning to go with the flow. We are communal organizers, working as a collective of women under the sacred teachings of the Anishinaabekwe from Keweenaw Bay. We walk through their Ceded Territory. The Keweenaw. My Rocky Spine.

For the first time, I wear a traditional ribbon skirt. My friend, writer, and quilt artist, Sue Spitulnik, designed and created the skirt with material we found in a quilt shop in Ithica, New York. She appliqued two chickadees over colorful ribbons. The joyful birds represent kinship and friendship; they express joy in totality. I feel uplifted, wearing my skirt, Water Walker t-shirt, and hiking boots.

This year, Finlandia University took on the role of feast hosts our first night. I’ve been talking about the walk to my students as we read the Fire Keeper’s Daughter. When I was asked to write something about the Water Walk to our Finlandia community, this is what I wrote:

The People of the Heart came together after the devastation of the Father’s Day Floods to form community around the sacredness of water. We don’t really have organizers, but we look to the Anishinaabekwe to guide us collectively in their teachings. We all do the work for the water, and like water, we flow where needed. The Water Walk is a sacred ceremony open to all faiths and people. Women lift and carry the water in a copper vessel from one point on the journey to the next. A Water Walk is the only time an Eagle Staff walks behind (the water). Men or women can carry the Eagle Staff; only women can carry the Water. Women wear skirts so the land recognizes us in our work. Nga-zhidchige nibi onji (I will do it for the water). Finlandia holding a feast, anyone donating or preparing food, all of this is part of doing the work for the Water.

Many social injustices center around Water and we walk to speak for the Water, for those harmed by toxins in the Water, for our Land Ancestors, and for those not yet born. Water is life.

The People of the Heart Water Walk takes place over a three-day weekend aligned with Indigenous People’s Day. In the beginning, IPD did not yet exist. We chose fall because we walk narrow, busy, and scenic byways that cut across Anishinaabe Ceded Territory, and traffic is lighter. We educate people along the route with the images of the attached brochure. We walk 92 miles in three days, passing off the vessel from one woman to the next. We walk in relay but the Water never stops until we bring it to a ceremonial close of the day (or, reach our final destination). We feast and rest with the communities living where we walk. Typically, we gather pre-dawn and start walking as the sun rises.

Anyone can join the Water Walk at any time. Come for an hour, a day, all three days. We have a system of leapfrogging walkers in relay with vehicles and I can take walkers back to their vehicles. I commit to all three days, assigning my ENG 103 C and 104 B classes to attend Finlandia’s Indigenous Peoples Day event and using the Water Walk in writing and reflection lessons. We are reading Fire Keeper’s Daughter in ENG 103 and The Four Pivots in ENG 104 and the Water Walk is a way to deepen our understanding of culture, Ceded Territory, and social justice. I hope our students, faculty, staff, and trustees can join us as we feast and rest and share community. We welcome everyone’s prayers.

Chi Miigwech to Finlandia University!

C. Mills 2022

We are fortunate to learn from the Water Walkers who walked with Grandma Josephine. She was a grandmother who founded the water protectors movement along with other women from the four directions of Turtle Island (North America). We learn as we walk. Like writing. Practice makes progress, not perfection.

You can learn about our Water Walk and traditional protocol in this brochure we distribute along our route:

I invite you to ponder how precious water is today.

October 10, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that expresses the idea, “for the water.” You can find inspiration in water protection movements. Is it a celebration or a dark dystopian warning? Consider your place and the bodies of water that have shaped you. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by October 15, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino October 2022

Welcome to the Saddle Up Saloon where we feature interactive characters, real-life authors & poets, the occasional Carrot Ranch announcement, and a Cowsino story game every first Friday of the month. You can learn about the craft of creative writing, introduce your own characters to the Kid & Pal crew, discuss the writer’s journey, and be part of making literary art accessible to anyone.

“Welcome back ta the Cowsino, ever’one. It’s the spot where ya git anuther chance ta practice yer writin chops without leavin the comfort an safety a the Carrot Ranch Literary Community.”

“Thet’s right, Kid. The famous story spine slot machine is in the Cowsino, at the Saddle Up Saloon, jist over the line from Carrot Ranch.”

“Atchally, Pal, I think it’s me an you that’s over the line. The Saddle Up is a part a the ranch, a waterin hole an restin place fer all our ranch hands an even their characters. But what ‘xactly is this story spine?”

“I first heard a story spine back in January 2020, in one a the challenge posts. In thet post lead buckaroo, Charli Mills, says the story spine kin be anuther draftin an problem solvin tool fer writers.”

“Reckon I’ll click HERE ta re-read that post an find out more.”

“Reckon thet’s a good idea. An in thet post is THIS LINK ta Aerogramme Writers’ Studio where teacher, author, and the Artistic Director of Synergy Theater Kenn Adams tells bout Story Spine, which he created in 1991.”

“But it’s basically jist a structure ta contain yer story?”

“Yeah, Kid, jist a way ta plot yer rersponse ta the three pictures thet come up on the slot machine. Ya kin switch the order a the pictures an the story ain’t gotta be zactly 99 words, not at the Cowsino.”

“An folks play as much as they like? Post their stories there in the comments; read an comment on other’s?”

“Yep, it’s a lot a low stakes fun. The rules a play’s listed below.”

“Well, then folks, look’t them pictures an play yer hand. We’ll catch ya in the comments.”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more then one story).
  5. Say howdy to those playing with you! Be friendly and have fun!

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and built the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via

How to fictionalise mental health difficulties in a sensitive manner

How can writers capture the reality of mental disturbance without perpetuating negative stereotypes such as ‘the madwoman in the attic’ in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre? How do we avoid the other extreme of presenting serious disorder as just another ‘bad hair day’?

I don’t think you’ll find the answer by swotting up on diagnoses and unpronounceable drugs. It’s much more a matter of honing your existing skills of empathy for your characters, however flawed.

Psychologists perceive mental health difficulties as arising through an interaction between pre-existing psychological and/or biological vulnerabilities and stress. We’re less concerned with classifying symptoms than with identifying what’s happened to a person both recently and in the past. What kinds of vulnerabilities do they carry from childhood and what pressures are they facing in the present to push them over the edge?

This isn’t a million miles away from how writers view our characters. Pre-existing vulnerability equates to backstory; stress is like the inciting incident which pushes the character off their normal track.

Psychologists also search for meaning in what are commonly labelled psychiatric symptoms. We don’t dismiss these as bizarre, but as the best the person can do in their particular circumstances. The mental health problem might be protecting them from something that feels worse. But there might be a better way; the clinical psychologist’s job is to focus on the individual’s unique experience to help them find it.

Again there are parallels with writing fiction. Our characters begin with flaws, blind spots and behaviours that prevent them from getting what they want. We need to delve below the surface to ensure readers are convinced by the character’s strengths and weaknesses. We need to show that, when they change, that makes sense too.

I’ll address this in more detail in an online workshop I’m running with Nottingham Writers’ Studio later this month. I want to empower participants to write about mental health difficulties and emotional stress in a non-stigmatising way. It would be great if some of the Ranchers could join me. Click here for more information.

Your invitation to the workshop

Meanwhile, if you would like to see how I address mental ill-health in my own fiction, my novella, Stolen Summers, about a young woman admitted to a psychiatric hospital after giving birth to an ‘illegitimate’ child, is available at only $.99 for a time-limited period. Go to

Do you explore mental health issues in your fiction writing? What have been your successes and challenges?

Anne Goodwin’s drive to understand what makes people tick led to a career in clinical psychology. That same curiosity now powers her fiction.

Anne writes about the darkness that haunts her and is wary of artificial light. She makes stuff up to tell the truth about adversity, creating characters to care about and stories to make you think. She explores identity, mental health and social justice with compassion, humour and hope.

An award-winning short-story writer, she has published three novels and a short story collection with small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel,Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize.

Away from her desk, Anne guides book-loving walkers through the Derbyshire landscape that inspired Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of award-winning short stories. Website

Broken Arm Collection

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.

The Poet Wayne Kerr Laments by Scott Bailey

My pain was intense when you left me,
a shot to the gut from your left knee,
thought we had something,
but turned into nothing,
your anger is all that my eyes see.

You ripped out my feelings like fish guts,
treated them like old cigarette butts,
and when you were done,
with your sick hearted fun,
you laughed as you slammed the door shut.

I’d chew off my leg so you could see,
I’d sacrifice all just for your glee,
all that I would do,
the least you could do,
is to fake a broken arm for me.


The Eye of the Storm by Reena Saxena

“What’s happening out here? All the employees with broken arms in a cast? Accidents cannot cause similar injuries.”

“I’m instituting an inquiry”, the Human Resources Head’s voice quivers as the CEO’s roar echoes across corridors.

The smiles on faces with injured limbs belie a different truth. Journalists gather outside the office to cover the event.

“Amco’s employees stage a novel form of protest against arm-twisting by bosses….”

News channels have enough content for a week.

“Firing employees En-masse is not advisable, Sir. We are in the eye of the storm.”

The HR Head stands fired for letting this precipitate.


Broken Arm by Pete Fanning

My broken arm will heal, eventually. It’s set in a cast, in a sling, with pins and screws to keep it in place. The doctor says time is the best medicine.

I’m told I’m lucky. I could’ve hit my head, broken my hip. I will be able to go home soon.

Home. Where the long bouts of sleep and the groggy gray in-between meld night and day. Time has no meaning as my brain works against me. My arm will heal but my soul is fractured. There’s no cast, no sling, no crutch to set it back in place.


Hero Work by Kerry E.B. Black

She didn’t think. When her daughter stumbled into danger, she acted.

Cocooned in a maternal embrace, the girl escaped injury. Firefighters and ambulance drivers commented with incredulity.

The church ladies proclaimed, “It’s a miracle!”

The mother handed her daughter into their care. She paled, forced a smile that wavered into a wince. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

Flashing lights and an urgent siren rushed her to the hospital. Xrays revealed the extent of the damage. Repositioned, crushed bone. Doctors inserted metal, casted. OT’s designed rehabiliitating exercises.

The mother considered the injuries and pain worth her daughter’s precious life.


“Hunting” Trip by Sue Spitulnik

Kurt sat in his deer-hunting tree stand armed with his new I-phone. He couldn’t shoulder a gun because of his broken arm, but he could use his fingers, so he decided to “shoot” with the much-hyped camera. Climbing the ladder to the stand had been a chore, but he loved the woods when the air was brisk and the colorful leaves floated in silence. Noting each sound, he focused on it and snapped photos of chipmunks, birds, squirrels, and two deer that walked by. He learned “hunting” with a camera was peaceful and reverent, unlike being an Army sniper.

Author’s Note: Kurt is “the quiet one” in the Band of Brothers and plays guitar and steel.


Shop Therapy (Part I) by D. Avery

“It’s shop therapy day,” my sister said, “We’re going to the thrift store.”

Maybe because it was chilly and gray out, my sister gravitated towards a colorful cloak. But another woman, eyeing the racks like a cat, tail twitching, snatched it up first. “Early bird gets the worm,’ she said.

After a quick detour through bedding, I appeared with my arm wrapped and hanging in a sling. “She wants the cloak for me. Because of my broken arm.”

The appeal did not work. “Eh. She looks like a lone gunman in that cloak,” I said. “Let’s look at earrings.”


Shop Therapy (Part II) by D. Avery

“I’m relieved you paid for it, but I’d rather you’d left it.” Over the steaming mug of tea my sister’s eyes said she thought I was crazy for still wearing my improvised sling.

“Why? You make things up.” I squeezed another honey packet into my tea. “Maybe when you’re a famous author we can shop somewhere besides the thrift store. Go to a real tea shop and not this diner.”

“Never! That stuff has stories! And diners… OMG, maybe she is a lone gunman. It’s the cloak clutcher and she definitely has something underneath it. Shit, here she comes.”


Shop Therapy (Part III) by D. Avery

“Your arm’s really broken? Here, take the cloak. I’m finished with it anyway.”

The woman removed the cloak, handing it to me. She deftly tucked an elegant China teapot onto the seat next to my sister then sat down, shielding it from view. She sat across from me, her cat eyes flashing a challenge.

“Wrap your teapot in this.” I undid my sling and passed it to her. “But the cloak is for my sister. I’d do anything for her. Except steal.”

“I bet you would too steal if you had to.”

My sister sat up, sniffing a story.


Getting the Word Out by Anne Goodwin

The letter written, all she needed now a pillar box, but there wasn’t one within the asylum walls. “They’ll never let us out to post a letter,” said Matilda. “And everything else they think we need is here.”

“If I could leave the ward,” said Doris, “I could climb over the gate.”

“You’d break your neck. An arm, at least.”

“Smart thinking, posh girl.” Doris fingered an enamel badge commemorating the Red Cross. “I’ll have an accident in the laundry. Fake a broken arm.”

“The nurses would know you were bluffing.”

“Then I’d have to break it for real.”


First Aid Love by Kayla Morrill

I enter the room hoping I look casual. I take the closest seat, settle my nerves, and look for David, the First Aid teacher for tonight’s class. He handsomely walks in at 7 and gets right to teaching.

I act interested until finally his eyes meet mine. I raise my hand.

“Yes, Katie?”

“I was wondering what you would do for a broken arm? I think mine is broke.” I say school girl-ishly.

Everyone laughs and David shushes them.

“I would be happy to look at it after class,” he says slyly and adds a wink.

I smile back.


The Dare by Margaret G. Hanna


“Am not!” John stamped his foot

“Are too!” Bob poked him on the shoulder.

John looked up at the granary roof that towered over his six-year-old head. All he had to do was jump. Bob and his friends had. He didn’t want to jump but neither did he want to be called “chicken.”

Pride won out.

He stood on the granary roof and looked down at the ground. “Jump!” they cried. John closed his eyes and leapt into the void.

“My arm!” he screamed.

Bob’s face turned white. “Dad’ll kill me!” The boys scattered like chaff before the wind.


Would You Break an Arm for Me by Jay at HerNightlyMuses

Doggo barks and triggers other
Dogs all barking, call like flame
Travels the streets
Summons a howling
I drift off
Dream their conversation
Do they share grievance or discovery
Jealous of shared camaraderie
Of dogs
Dreams morph and conjure people
A possible tale of friends
Gone on a date, double
Tend each other
And one was matched with a man most vile
Every attempt to parry was thwart
The better matched dear pretended to fall
Broken her arm
Screaming it hurts
Opening a way
They left post-haste
The camaraderie of friends
And giggling in place
Of synchronised howls


Suddenly, I’m Not Half the Man I Used To Be (Yesterday – The Beatles) by Doug Jacquier

The soundtrack to our teenage love was her album played on my turntable. The stereo’s needle injected bliss into our vinyl veins and it was a hit that never failed to transport us to a world that we owned exclusively, a world of endless revolution and hope for the future. Until the day we argued for the last time and she tore the record of our love from its spindle and, in her haste, she broke my arm and my heart with one fell swoop. All I had left was an empty sleeve and the tracks of my tears.


So You’ve Broken Your Arm by Joanne Fisher

“You’ve broken your arm?”

“Good observation there, my arm being in a cast and all…”

“Does it still hurt?”

“What do you think?”

“I really don’t know. To be honest I’ve never actually broken a bone before, so I have no idea, no clue whatsoever.”

“How nice for you.”

“I’ve always thought so.”

“You can always Google it. Type in something like: does a broken arm still hurt after being put in a cast?”

“What a great idea. Hang on, I’ll be back in a jiffy…”

“So what did Google say?”

“Apparently so.”

“So yes, it does still hurt.”


Just Ask Alexa by Miss Judy

Fall approaches, Mr. Beer Connoisseur abandons the fruity, light beers of summer and embarks on a quest to find The Great Octoberfest Beer. Marzen is his beer of choice, a medium to full bodied brew with colors from pale to dark brown, he prefers the darker full bodied brews.

Searches of market shelves, craft breweries, bars and pubs, nothing satisfies his discerning palate. Too light, having no body, and a lingering after taste, he resorts to a local favorite.

A new brewery catches his eye, “Alexa, where is Broken Arm Brewery?”

“Broken Arm Brewery is in America,” Alexa answers.


The Die is Cast by Nancy Brady

People often post all their bumps and bruises on Facebook, but I kept the embarrassment of my broken arm a secret. What sixty-five-year old falls off a bicycle, breaking a wrist?

I chose a slimming black cast, avoiding photographs.

My class reunion was that year, and I went. My classmates teased me about it; in the class photo, I was busted—there it was.

Finally, one friend asked how I had broken it. When I told the truth, he didn’t believe me so I changed my story to falling off the trapeze bar at the circus. That, he believed!


(Spot On?) What Sophie Told Jane by JulesPaige

No ones’ lyin’
Bones heal easier
Than sad hearts
Kin separated
For years on end without clues
Be brave and search on

Jane was getting on well with Sophie – they had only known each other briefly as Nannies. Shopie had broken her arm at the zoo. The girl had fallen hard onto the concrete barrier of the lion enclosure while saving one of her reckless charges. Her ‘Family’ disclaimed her as damaged goods. Then after having the cook make an inadequate cast because they wouldn’t take her to the hospital, the family dismissed her, showing her the back door.


Drugged by Simon

A body with broken arm. It was Arjeet.

Sherloq made a deal to trick Arjeet, his Ego was not convinced about billion dollar deal, he tried to kill Sherloq.

Sherloq left with no choice but to kill him.

He knew he invited more trouble on his way, but he left with no choice and killed him.

Dalia, carefully shadowed Sherloq. She wanted to kill him on her own hands, she drugged Arjeet. She regretted it when she realised Arjeet was too powerful, eventually he died.

She waited for the right moment. This time she partnered with someone more dangerous.


Would You? by Jenny Logan

“Will you do it? Take the points and say it was you driving?”

“Lend me money again?”

“Buy me a car?”

“Pay for my new teeth?”

“Rent an apartment so I can escape the staff house?”

Sarah’s concluded women will exchange anything for a hint of love. Money, certainly, but often their happiness and integrity. She’d thought she was impervious, but not anymore. She stopped judging a long time ago.

She sips chamomile tea, nurses her broken arm and wonders if she’ll exchange her safety for a chance he might mean it this time and not do it again.


Close Call by Charli Mills

Howling like a banshee caught in barbed wire, Eliza cradled her arm. Dust rose from where she’d tumbled off her horse during the ambush. Ignoring the gunman, several men–rifles pulled from saddle scabbards—dismounted to assist her. Eliza writhed, but her green eyes never left the would-be robber’s golden ones. She’d have recognized her younger sister anywhere even outside a far-flung Nevada mining camp. Even in a mask, wearing boy’s clothing. One man remained mounted, regarding them both. Eliza’s skin prickled. He wasn’t one to part with company funds. Wailing again, the men fussed, and her sister fled.


Disappeared 56 by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The sign over the door read “Deliveries Only.” The Mage lifted his fist to pound, then cursed in pain; his arm refused to obey. Somehow, it’d broken, likely during that final, explosive spell he’d cast.

He swore again, realizing it was, indeed, his final magic, an exchange for reentering from spirit to mortal existence.

The door opened, and a man with a spatula looked out. “Hey fella, what’s going on?”

“I’m a bit lost, at present,” the mage looked up, tears in his eyes. He’d not shed tears since long before he’d left Scotland, for family in North Carolina.


Surprise Broken Arm by Tessa Dean

Sally balanced on the 4×4 length of wood as if it were a tightrope. She didn’t want to take a turn, but they would all laugh at her if she didn’t and it wasn’t a real tightrope as it was lying flat on the ground. What could possibly happen?

She was balancing carefully on the board and in her anxiety tripped and fell off. Imagine her horror when she broke her arm and started to sob in front of all of her friends who were all watching her and didn’t notice she was actually hurt. Or care one bit!


Cast in a Different Light by Nancy Brady

Before the accident, airline tickets were purchased for a trip to visit my son. I wasn’t canceling the trip just because of a broken arm. Despite the difficulty using my non-dominant hand, I packed, carrying only a backpack.

On the way out, I was assigned a seat with the emergency exit so I had to move.

The time spent with my son and fiancé was great
The same thing happened on the return trip, but having been overheard earlier saying, “Normal people are always seated last,” I turned down a chance to fly first class, choosing another economy seat.


Not Broken by Ann Edall-Robson

“Tell him it’s broken. Then you won’t have to write the test.”

“They don’t know if it’s broken, yet.”

“He won’t know and you’re wearing a sling. Man, that mare can buck.”

They walked towards the classroom discussing the weekend’s event. A horse race challenge that ended elbow first on the dirt road, and a trip to the emergency.

In the classroom, they tried to explain why she couldn’t write the exam. The one she hadn’t studied for.

“This isn’t typing class and you don’t write with the hand sticking out of that sling. Exam starts in five minutes.”


Little Kid by Bill Engleson

My lungs are burstin’.
Damn horses. Damn me. Shouldn’t have trusted them. He’s not strong like he should be.
Light as a sheaf of wheat though. Light as rain.
Suck in some air.
Hang on little kid. We’re almost there. Over that rise.
Over that rise.
Over that rise.
Too steep.
Gotta set you down, brother.
Just for a second.
Catch my breath.
Watch the arm.
You landed hard when those dumb horses bolted.
Hard on that boulder.
Shouldn’t have been there.
Cleared that field.
Sure I did.
Ready to go.
Home’s just over that little rise.


Broken Arm by Sadje

My 3.5 year old granddaughter has just started play school a month ago. Last week they played “doctors” in their class. Mending broken arms and legs of dolls provided by their teacher. The small kids were excited, wearing plastic stethoscopes, putting bandages on the “injured” dolls, and testing their reflexes with plastic hammers.

At home, she demanded a set of doctor’s instruments from us. Her mom got her a toy set and she is running around with a stethoscope and injection. Treating us all and making us “better”.

I wonder if she’ll retain this desire when she grows up?


Teddy’s Broken Arm by Norah Colvin

The waiting room was crowded. As usual, Doctor Amy was running late.

Nurse Lucy looked at the list. “Teddy!” she called.

Teddy was hugging his arm, trying to stifle tears.

“What appears to be the problem?” asked Doctor Amy, looking over her glasses.

“I think my arm’s broken.”

“Nurse Lucy, we need an x-ray,” said Doctor Amy.

The x-ray agreed with Teddy. Doctor and nurse plastered his arm with plasticene and tied it in a handkerchief sling.

“Lunch time,” said Mum. “Oh, what’s wrong with Teddy?”

“He’s got a broken arm,” said Amy.

“Just a fake one,” said Lucy.


Broken Arm by Joanne Fisher

Alcandra had climbed a tree for a better view, but had lost her footing. She landed badly on her left arm and now she could barely move it. The extreme pain suggested that her arm was probably broken. It was not something she could fix herself out here in the wilderness, so she knew she would have to sneak into a nearby town and discreetly find a healer. She gathered her belongings and weapons and looked for a path that led to one of the settlements. Everything was always so much more difficult when you were on the run…


Casting Distinctions by Gary A. Wilson

“Ah, Richard. You’re home. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Because I was trying to sneak in.”

“Really? Why would that be? Let me guess. Your mom was right?”

“Okay, yes you were. What do you want me to say?”

“Tell me about your poor broken arm and tiny little cast.”

“Fine. I have nothing to complain about compared to cousin Holly. I hadn’t heard about her car accident or being stuck in a full body cast for a thousand weeks. How does she even go to the bathroom in that thing?”

“Trust me – you don’t want to know.”


‘Armless…by Geoff Le Pard

Little Tittweaking’s first laureate, appointed to celebrate 1000 years since Daisy Doesit stopped on a conical hill, announced, ‘Yon Tit’s weaking’ (weaking – dialect: dripping, or spouting) and took a drink, before locals chased her away is Stan Tzar, a Stalin-inspired purge-poet. Stan’s speciality is the four line shitter, the first three lines of which fail to prepare the listener for the spite of the fourth. His first iconoclastic peroration included this paean to Daisy and her pursuers:
Who would hurt our Daisy
Or do our Daisy harm
Tread upon her dainty hands
Or break her bleedin’ arm…?


Broken Arm by ladyleemanila

Nemia, the “mani-pedi” lady arrived and my Mom went to her room to get her favourite nail polish. It was on top of her dresser and she stood on top of a chair to reach it. Unfortunately, she fell down. There was a loud bang and we found her on the floor. She said she was fine and we put a bandage around her arm. Towards the evening, she was still in pain. We decided to take her to the hospital and a doctor looked at her. Her arm was broken and had to have a surgery. Poor her.


The Excuse by KL Caley

“Would you fake a broken arm for me?”

“Why?” She asked.

“Well, I had that work thing last week, and you said you didn’t want me to go. So I told them you broke your arm, and I had to look after you.”

“What? You said you didn’t want to go anyway.”

“Yea, I didn’t really, but I couldn’t tell them that, could I?”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Michael.”


“So, what?”

“The arm?”

“Michael, I am not going to your work with my arm in a fake sling.”

“Okay, well will you stay at home then?”



How Do They Do It? Becoming Right-handed by Nancy Brady

My husband and I went for a bicycle ride, heading to a park with trails, but we never made it.

Along the way, I became unbalanced, over-corrected, putting my hand out to break my fall. My left arm took the brunt of that fall.

Immediately, it swelled. Rob and I started for home. Adrenalin kept me riding briefly, but eventually Rob continued on, retrieving the car, returning to pick up the bicycle and me. We went to urgent care, where the physician determined it was broken.

The following day, a cast was applied; thus beginning six weeks of right-handedness.


A Break In Reality (Part I) by D. Avery

Mebbe Pal’s lookin fer me
I’m a-settin high up in the Poet Tree
Safe on the Ranch, won’t come ta no harm
Jist pond’rin Shorty’s question ‘bout a broke arm

Ma answer is yep, my question is why?
What would cause me ta break ma arm or ta lie?
I’d do it fer ya’ll, but a story I cain’t see
even from up here in the canopy.

Broken limbs here at the Ranch?
I’ll keep pond’rin here on this thin Poet Tree branch.
Aaaaahhhh! Hey Pal. Looks like I’m foun.
Done broke a limb an fell ta the groun.


A Break In Reality (Part II) by D. Avery

Hey Kid, looks like ya fell from a great height
but yer a fictional character, so yer alright
good thing yer fiction, ain’t really real
‘magine the pain ya’d otherwise feel

Gotta tell ya Pal, that ain’t quite true
arm hurts like hell, but for Shorty an you
I did it. Yeah I do what it takes
for the prompt, them’s jist the breaks.

Whut, Kid, it’s broke, ya ain’t jist fakin?
Aw shit Kid, it hurts like hell? It’s really achin?
We’ll fix ya up, do all yer chores
Jist let me know if ya need anythin more.


A Break In Reality (Part III) by D. Avery

Yep, Pal an Shorty they felt really bad
best vacation I ever had
they waited on me hand an foot
chores an cleanin an a course Shorty cooked

Things were goin swimminly, ta coin a phrase
this went on fer a few days
I even told Shorty mebbe she needs
to be more mindful a where prompts might lead

All kinds a characters an Ranchers’ll end up in casts
(unless they’re fakin, fer as long as that lasts)
which fer me was when Pal caught me playin fetch with ma pig
Yep, I was fakin, a pretty good gig.


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

October 3: Story Challenge in 99-words

Ideas flit like smelt in my head, but thoughts swim deep and slow. Ideas flash shiny bellies, distracting me with wonder. Thoughts evolve and grow. Sometimes they rest and other times they rise to the surface, tetrapods ready to breathe beyond the cognitive waters where they formed.

I savor the thought process.

Writers know to keep the well filled for inspiration, but we also want to keep the long forming thoughts swimming until they inform our writing. If we write what we know, we must do more than chase experiences. We need to let thoughts rise from the experiences we feed them. It takes time to be, to reflect, to connect.

In an overly digitized 24/7 world of convenience, thinking–also known to writers as window gazing–feels slow. It’s okay to let small thoughts swim a while, meet other circling thoughts, consume a school of flashy ideas, and then sink for later rumination. Thinking, like imagining and feeling, comes from our inner worlds. You can be thinking in a cafe, on a train, or perched on a rock where other hikers wave to you. No one knows the rich inner life you are living in the moment.

Writing our thoughts happens when the thoughts need to breathe and words on pages give them oxegyn. Here’s the fun part–we can write these thoughts in a sermon, a poem, a post, an essay, an article, a text, a memoir, a tweet, a novel. I tell my students, “Everyone is a writer; writing is thinking.” If you aren’t thinking, you aren’t breathing. And I’m beginning to suspect even ghosts and trees and snakeflies breathe. They don’t have pens or keyboards so they breathe their thoughts into ours.

If you have ever encountered anxiety, you know that thoughts can ravage your inner well. We can grow sharks–thought patterns that want to tear our flesh and eat us whole. Not all thoughts serve us and sometimes we have to go fishing and clear out the well we fill so deep. Some writers might even harvest those shadow thoughts and hard experiences, such as author, Kagan Goh. He’s a Singapore-Canadian spoken word poet, playwright, author, mental health advocate, and someone who lives with mental illness.

Kagan Goh is author of Surviving Samsara: A Memoir of Breakdowns, Breakthroughs, and Mental Illness. He is also an upcoming featured storyteller in Michignan and I’ve been asked to interview him for a Keweenaw Storytelling literary event. It will be a digital interview and e-tickets are free. I’m reading his memoir and letting it swim deep with my own thoughts.

This past Friday and Saturday proved a fulfilling multidisciplinary workshop, The Movement of Joy. I attended an online workshop last season for the Rozsa Center at Michigan Tech and have been captured by Naila Ansari’s graduate work in archiving black women’s joy. She has a crew of artists she works with and I was thrilled that spoken word poet, Ten Thousand, drove to the Keweenaw through Canada from Buffalo (I’ve been there!).

To watch thdancer and poet share artistic energy in collaboration is inspiring. They sparked a school of ideas and fed deep thoughts, too. As a writer of women’s fiction, I’m inspired by women’s stories missing from history. Both Naila and Marquis speak to the effort to archive stories for a fuller, richer record. Ten Thousand kindly exchange information with me and allowed me to record a message for my students. He’s willing to do a zoom class for them and expand their 99-word story practice.

I can’t help but think of all the fragments I chase as a writer and feed my deep thoughts. Women’s stories have come to me from ranches in Nevada, from elders in a mountain town in California, from slivers of information left on graves, Census records, and history books that focus on dominate culture men. I’m pondering how my work is that of an archivist. It’s akin to our weekly collection that is unfolds like story snapshots of literary anthropology.

We are archivists of the moment in a world unusually connected because of digital technology.

Last week, I wrote about my teapot. But after comments, I had to think deeper on how it was that I valued British teapots. A memory, a fragment, came to me. I was seven-years-old, new to Markleeville, shy, and without siblings. I met Mrs. Coyan when I delivered a bag of groceries to her. She asked me to stay for tea and stale cookies she’s called biscuits (this confused me for years as I thought bisquits were a type of cookie, not another name altogether). She must have said her beautiful round teapot was from England and I had a thing for tea and British teapots ever after.

When Mrs. Coyan’s son died this year–Gary was my bus driver and I babysat all his sons–my mom sent me his obituary. I realize it’s a story about Gary, but even in 2022 and written by a woman, the history unfolds through the male lens. There is no archive of his mother’s stories and her life was courageous and pioneering, too. My thoughts on all of this is renewed vigor for the value of archiving women’s lives in a genre specific to the gender.

Last week, a quick-witted smelt flashed, giving me the idea for rituals of tea from writers around the world as a prompt. That idea sparked from Doug in Australia. I went for it, hook, line, and sinker. The bigger, heavier thoughts I will leave for the depths for now.

Let’s write and have a spot of tea!

October 3, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about any ritual involving tea. It can be a daily afternoon tea prepared specifically or the reading of tea leaves in a cup. What do you know? What do you imagine? Is your story deep and ponderous or bright and flash? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. October 8, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Carrot Ranch only accepts stories through the form below. Accepted stories will be published in a weekly collection. Writers retain all copyrights.
  3. Your blog or social media link will be included in your title when the Collection publishes.
  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99Word Stories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

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