my girl, she does rolling stops with no turn-signal
no seat-belt
on back-county roads
out where there ain’t no cops
headin into town
to meet me at the liquor store
where we put a fresh case on the floorboard
of her truck

and i’ll say hey
what do you know there
horse woman

and she’ll say
hey now what do you know there farm man

and i’ll go well i guess i just don’t know what the hell i’m supposed to do
and she’ll go oh poor you, boo-hoo

you see ours is a two-ranch romance
she works her daddy’s land, called “Seven on a Stump”
and i work mine, the “Circle Bar Bar”
so she’s all-day handling horses while i’m
seeing my crops do fine and such

but come sundown we get up to our backroads tricks
just about pissin our britches with beercan antics
and occasional long kisses
in steamed-up cabs
and on tailgates

and i know some time soon
i’ll be behind her long about dawn
amen, down on my very knock-kneed old pray-bones
no she’s not not my cousin, no she’s not yours
and your hero here he gonna
take that morning ride for sure

and then one day it’ll be
her and me
down at the courthouse
or some little church you know

i’ll be makin an honest woman of her

soon as she gets
of her good-for-nothing babypappy

sitting around on his hands
just a hanger-on

yes soon as
she gets full say so
& full
of her kid i see
her and me taking that morning ride

but for now i’m satisfied
with the crunch of gravel under tires
crumpled cans in the ditch
and her laughter peeling out over the fields
under the clear-shining country-night stars


This is the final free-write flash fiction contest to qualify five writers to compete in the October TUFFest Ride event during the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. A free-write requires you to draft quickly.

You can revise, edit or polish. But you only have 24 hours which is not enough time to let a first draft set. We know that. We are looking at your free-write skills, your bravery to write freely according to a prompt.

Judges will examine how creative a writer can be within both time and word constraint. Charli Mills, Cynthia Drake and Laura Smyth all of Hancock, Michigan will judge all TUFF contests. Your free-write must follow all five rules to qualify.


  1. You must use the revealed prompt: “ranch romance”

  2. You must enter using the provided form below

  3. You must write your story in 297 words (exactly, not including title)

  4. You must enter by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on September 25, 2018 (use the form provided below or email your full name and entry to

  5. You must be willing to compete in the 2018 October TUFFest Ride if selected