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Childhood Innocence: Short Story Response to a Photo Prompt Challenge


Ann loves to write stories and poems and is always eager to meet challenges issued by other writers or herself, to exceed her comfort zone.

26 Letters - Infinite Combinations - Use them!

26 Letters - Infinite Combinations - Use them!

This story came about due to another of fellow HubPage writer Bill Holland’s intriguing photo prompt challenges. I love these. A visual prompt works well for me. Some of us respond best to visual stimuli, some to aural, some to kinaesthetic or tactile stimuli and some even have logical, photographic minds who see a three-dimensional overview. Whatever your forte, a prompt can call to your muse and she’s off, running away with your imagination and mixing your ideas.

This sequence of photos recalls times gone by and made me think of a little boy playing amongst the buildings. So that’s where this starts….

Old barn window

Old barn window

Childhood Innocence

Rain lashed the window, bucket after bucket after bucket. Tom pressed his nose against the pane, trying to see what was beyond. He cleared the mist from inside, caught a glimpse of trodden grass and flailing trees before a blur returned to frustrate his view.

It would have been great to have a brother to share this with. Still, he loved roaming here, left to his own devices, exploring like boys do, building dens, hiding in the bushes, making friends with the birds. His pockets were always full, raisins and crumpled biscuits for the blackbirds in one, boiled sweets for himself in the other.

Today he’d stay sheltered for a while. The birds seemed to be doing the same.

This place didn’t change, though there were a few more cobwebs than last time. Just an old barn. The cows might come in to shelter but these days there were other more substantial sheds nearby. This side of the farm was neglected.

Tom changed his gaze to the dusty-dim interior, though uniform lines of sky-light decorated the surfaces and lit up dust mites.

Old barn rafters

Old barn rafters

The rafters had been well-constructed. Now mottled moss sheathed the brave beams supporting the cathedral roof. To the eyes of a seven-year-old, it spoke of heaven and mystery. It still felt warm and welcoming here, his seven years of memories hugging him close, like mother.

Old John Deere

Old John Deere

The silence told him the rain had ceased. He ventured out onto the soggy grass. There in the distance was the familiar tractor. He knew he couldn’t go near it, for mother had told him it was dangerous, that he couldn’t play on it. Once it had held a fascination hard to resist. Those chunky tyres lured him with their power. The large steering wheel was willing him to turn it, the engine button begging to be pushed. Somewhere in his heart, he felt fear. Another part of him heard a screamed “No!”

Out buildings

Out buildings

Above the tractor, on the far slope of the farmyard, was a row of sheds and stores waiting for him to visit. An old ball lay in the long grasses behind the top shed. Tom picked it up, strode up the steps and hauled himself onto the wood-slat roof. From there, if he got the angle right, he could bounce the ball all the way down to the lowest point, like a bagatelle game. He threw it.

Boing! Crack! Thud! That ball glanced left and right, arched high, skimmed low, until it found its resting place beyond the low wall. Whoah! He’d done it! He ran to retrieve his old toy, took it back to where he’d found it and left it for next time. He was improving his performance each time. He’d perfect it before he showed mother.

Lazy cattle on a hot day

Lazy cattle on a hot day

Even the cows showed their curiosity at his antics. They knew, they’d seen him before of course, but they never tired of his show of expertise. They appreciated a distraction from chewing the cud. Better than the disturbing noise from that old tractor.

Tom decided he’d better go home. It must be nearly tea-time and he should not worry his mother by being late.

He walked through the nursing home door, along to his mother’s room and sat on the bed. He stroked her hand and looked up at her wrinkled face. Her eyes softened and a smile touched the corners of her mouth. A nurse said,

“She’s day-dreaming again, no doubt about that boy of hers, poor love. Well, she’ll be able to see him soon.”

“I won’t need to come again,” Tom uttered in hushed tones. “Then you can come and play with me on the farm like we used to. I promise never to go near the tractor again.”


Thanks once more to Bill for these photo prompts. A sequence is better than just one photo, for me, as I find it guides one down a particular path. I like to push the boundaries a little and this genre is one I haven't tried before. I hope you liked it.

Keep safe and well!

Reaction to Prompts

The Mind which Sees the Whole Picture

© 2020 Ann Carr


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 26, 2020:

Thank you, Denise. I'm glad I succeeded in the emotional aspect, though didn't want to make you cry! I appreciate your kind comments and support.


Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 25, 2020:

How gripping. I started crying at the end. I was truly moved. Wow.



Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 11, 2020:

Hi Ann...I gelt as thiugh I wad "in" the story...with words you created the visual images I prefer to trigger my thinking. Well done. Angels once again or headed your way

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 26, 2020:

Don't worry, Chris - so does mine!!

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on April 26, 2020:

Good, I'll not forget this time. hahaha, my mind does funny things these days.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 26, 2020:

Thank you Chris, for such a great comment. You asked some time back about co-writing and I'm still happy to have a go at that. Your stories with John have been good.


Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on April 25, 2020:

Wow, that was an awesome short story. Ann, would you consider cowriting a story with me some time? John Hansen and I have done a few, and it has been a rewarding experience. I'd love to write something with you. You are a gifted writer.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 23, 2020:

Thanks, Jo! That's a lovely thing to say. I always like his challenges, as visual prompts always work better for me.

Good to see you today.


Jo Miller from Tennessee on April 23, 2020:

You and Bill make a good team.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 19, 2020:

Hello Dora! Thank you for your lovely comment. I hope you're keeping safe and well.


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 19, 2020:

Good story-telling. In a way, I can relate to Tom being alone and trying to occupy himself without causing any trouble. What a soft, beautiful ending!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 17, 2020:

Hello Linda! Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Funny you should mention the organ pipes. I thought the same, it's the shape I suppose! I appreciate your support.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 17, 2020:

Thank you, Paula. Lovely to see you today.

I'm overwhelmed by your response to this and I'm so pleased it made such an impression. You've made my day! Much appreciated.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 17, 2020:

Hello Ruby! Thank you for your wonderful comment. I like 'when I grow up', that made me smile. Sorry to shock you and make you cry but I'm glad I reached the emotions.


Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 16, 2020:

You've written a sad but powerful story. I enjoyed reading it very much. I like your interpretation of the barn rafters as a cathedral. They remind me of a cathedral's organ pipes.

Suzie from Carson City on April 16, 2020:

Ann......W O W !! You can write, girl......I'm near-speechless. This short story may be the best I've read in a very long time! You captured the mind and activities of a young boy, roaming about a farm, to perfection.

How stealthily & gracefully you created the unexpected ending. Like a spike through my maternal heart, instant tears came to my eyes.

I'm so glad I had the time to stop by and read today. This story is amazing, Ann.....................................Paula

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 16, 2020:

I'm sitting here with tears in my eye's. I did not see it coming, then ' The wrinkled face ' was a shocking moment for me. This is writing at the very best. I hope when I grow up, I'll be able to write like you. Thank you Ann for a great story!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Thank you Devika, for your kind words. Glad you enjoy my hubs; that's a great compliment. Stay safe!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Umesh Chandra Bhatt: Thank you for reading and leaving your comment. Much appreciated.


Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 16, 2020:

Ann I like the photos set in beautifully and your story kept me reading on with a great twist. I enjoy reading your hubs. Mixed emotions gave me a perfect story.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on April 16, 2020:

Nice one. Interesting.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Liz: Thank you for your generous comment. I appreciate your support and for taking the time to read this.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Rinita, you're very kind and I appreciate such a generous comment. Thank you.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Thank you, Zulma. What a lovely comment! I'm glad you enjoyed this.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Well, bill, thank you so much for your comment. I'm thrilled with that! I really enjoyed writing this one but it took some working - so glad it was worth it!

Every day is a weekend at the moment! Yes, we'll enjoy it all, and be thankful for what we have. I hope the same for you and yours.


Liz Westwood from UK on April 16, 2020:

You had me hooked with a real twist at the end. Your writing combined well with the photo prompts to weave an intricate and vivid story.

Rinita Sen on April 16, 2020:

Your descriptions were vivid and took the story in the right direction. Yes, the end seemed predictable, but in a good way. Seven years of memories, constant references to mother, all of these were gearing up to bring about the right emotions within the reader's mind. Brilliantly done as always. One of your best, I feel.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on April 16, 2020:

This was such a poignant ending. It surprises you, but gently. It's sweet, it's sad, it's...perfect. Very well done.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 16, 2020:

It doesn't take long to tell if a writer has "game." Lines like this one

"Now mottled moss sheathed the brave beams supporting the cathedral roof." tell us all we need to know about your skill as a Wordsmith.

I loved this offering, my friend. You know what to do with words, and it is a pleasure to read.

The weekend is fast approaching. Enjoy!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Hi John! I haven't read your response so will go to have a look. I suppose being photos being of old places, it's one avenue that easily springs to mind.

Thank you for your kind comments. Keep safe and well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Hi Eric! Thanks for your comments. I came up with about 4 endings too! In the end, it took itself this way. I wanted 'eerie' but not over the top, so your words back that up, thanks.

Keep safe and well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Yes, Peggy, he had a long wait but she finally joined him. Thanks for reading - I appreciate your continued support and your kind comments.

Keep safe and well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Thank you, Flourish. I was trying to keep subtle hints without giving things away, so I'm glad you appreciated that, thank you.

It must be terrible to lose a child. I can't imagine the grief. It would change someone's whole world for ever.

Thanks for visiting and for your valuable input. Keep safe and well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Thank you very much, Lorna. Shivers down the spine is good!

Glad this brought back some memories for you. It's the sort of place I used to love playing in as a child too, around friends' houses out in the country.

Good to see you here. Keep safe and well.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 16, 2020:

Shauna, your comment has made my day. Thank you so much. I struggled with this to start with and then the muse kicked in and I went with the flow and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. There were so many different versions to start with!

I appreciate your support, Shauna. Keep safe and well.


John Hansen from Queensland Australia on April 15, 2020:

I love this story Ann..just perfect from start to end. Once again you seem to get similar visions as myself from these picture prompts and I think that is great that we are on the same wave-length. An excellent response to the challenge.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on April 15, 2020:

Thank you, Pamela, for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Pictures are a great way to get the muse going!


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 15, 2020:

Eerie in a good sort of way. I came up with at least 4 different scenarios to cover the ending. That is way cool. I guess you got my boyish imagination going.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 15, 2020:

Wow! So Tom had already passed on and was waiting for his mother. You are a great storyteller!

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 15, 2020:

Poignant but real. My great grandmother lost her favorite child as a 12 year old and he was always a short thought away. Same with my grandmother who lost a 2 year old. The thought of being reunited one day never leaves. Well written and I like the subtleties.

Lorna Lamon on April 15, 2020:

Gosh Ann I did not expect that ending it sent a shiver down my spine. This story reminded me of my childhood growing up on a farm. I loved to explore with my brother, who was always getting into something. It was a wonderful time and your story creates that sense of adventure through the eyes of this little boy. Loved it.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on April 15, 2020:

Ann, this story gave me goosebumps. I had no idea it would end the way it did.

You really are a fabulous storyteller! Your words paint a clear picture every time. It's almost as if I'm seeing the events unfold from inside the protagonist's eyes.

This one ended beautifully and was a complete surprise.

I can't say enough about this story, Ann. You've got it goin' on, girl!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 15, 2020:

This is a sweet short story that I enjoyed reading. It is a good response to Bill pictures. I like writing when I see pictures as a story always comes into my mind.

Stay safe and healthy, Ann.

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