Very Short Stories for Everyone
I wrote the following stories for the Daily Flash Fiction Challenge contest on writing.com.
My stories are suitable for all ages, although some are geared toward a younger audience and some are more for adults. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them.
Each story has a maximum of 300 words and is based on a daily prompt, which I've included in the introduction for each story. If you like writing, see what you can come up with, using the same prompts! Or visit Daily Flash Fiction Challenge for more prompts and contest entries.
Prompt: Write a story that includes the words motel, billboard, and map.
From my hotel room window, I see an oversized billboard with his face on it: Jason, the Great Magician.
I absent-mindedly turn the pages of the phone book and come across a city map. Sipping my iced latté, I run my fingers along the streets from the hotel to the opera hall. Not more than a half-hour walk.
I glance at the clock. The show starts in one hour. Plenty of time! I gulp the last three sips of my latté and hop in the shower. Soon I’m on my way to the show, carrying a fancy black handbag and a genuine smile.
The billboard looks even more impressive from outside. The Great Jason's eyes seem to be glancing through me. I shiver and walk faster. I feel like a child about to open her birthday presents.
The hall is dark when I come in; the show is about to begin. I make my way backstage just as the great magician puts on his top hat.
"Daddy, I'm so glad to see you," I say in a half-whisper. "I'm in town for the writer's workshop, but I just couldn't miss your show." I give him a quick hug and go back into the seating area, leaving him with a startled smile. I settle down in the darkness, and the curtains open.
Magically, that show remains the Great Jason's best performance to this day.
Prompt: Write a story that includes the words sunscreen, camera, and tourist.
He really did look like a tourist, with a camera around his neck and a bottle of sunscreen sticking out of his tote bag.
The portly man sat on the terrace, sipping lemonade and pretending to look at a glossy cruise brochure. His sunglasses masked his eyes, but I knew he wasn't looking at the brochure: he hadn't turned a page for the last ten minutes.
As I brought him his clam chowder, he coughed up a "thank you" and looked at me briefly. I tried not to stare at the tiny scar across his left eyebrow.
I walked back inside with my empty tray, shaking my head. He looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place him.
Then it hit me. The car accident. The mysterious stranger who helped me out of my smashed car, just before it exploded. I rushed back to his table.
He was gone.
I moved his saucer and found his tip, along with a card:
I am deeply indebted to you. The night of your car accident, I was on my way to rob a jewelry store. Saving your life brought things back in perspective. I now live an honest life, thanks to you. God bless you! Mr. D.
I shivered. The night of my car accident, I was heading for an interview in a shady dance club. Seeing human kindness through his heroic gesture turned my life around and brought faith back into my life.
I unfolded the tip he left. Among the singles was a grand with a pen mark underlining "In God We Trust."
I said a silent prayer for him and got back to work, smiling.
Prompt: Write a story that includes the words thunderstorm, rainbow, and flower.
I stepped outside into a gorgeous summer day. The sun made everything look bright and cheerful. It would have been an ideal day for a picnic—if I still had a special someone to picnic with.
Nobody would have suspected the thunderstorm going on inside my heart. Lightnings illuminated hidden emotions briefly, followed by a clasp of crushed hopes. Droplets of internal tears poured down, washing off what remained of my romantic dreams.
I sat at the bus stop with a book, reading the same paragraph for the fifth time and trying to look indifferent to my internal weather patterns. Sunglasses masked my puffy eyes and returned the reflection of a nearby flower. I will never love again. Love is just an illusion leading nowhere.
I was so absorbed in my thoughts, I didn't notice the man taking a seat beside me.
"Excuse me, Miss, but I couldn't help noticing that you're reading O. Henry. He's my favorite author."
His deep voice startled me. His friendly smile warmed up my damp heart and blew away some of the storm clouds.
"He's my favorite as well." I tried to return his smile.
We spent the next fifteen minutes talking about literature and its influence in today's culture. The bus came and went. We pretended not to notice.
"By the way, my name is Mark." As his warm hand shook mine, an electric current coursed through me.
"Do you care to join me for lunch?" he added, ignoring my blushing cheeks. "Let's start all over again, shall we? I'm sorry about this morning."
A rainbow appeared, leading the way to a heart of gold. I followed it.
County Fair Refreshments
Prompt: Write a story that includes the words county fair, lemonade, and prize.
Isabella loved the county fair, with all the flashy colors, the sounds of music and laughter, and the cotton candy smell. After trying a few rides and earning prizes at the ring toss, she noticed a small crowd near the ferris wheel. People were gathered so tightly she couldn’t see what was happening.
Isabella and her elder brother Michael made their way as close as possible and stretched their necks. People were gasping and laughing, whispering and yelping.
Mr. Murphy, the school principal, burst out of the crowd, dripping wet. He was laughing too, wringing his soaked baseball cap and putting his glasses back on.
"How's the water, Mr. Murphy?" Mayor Johnson asked, holding a lemonade.
"Just fine, just fine!" the wet principal answered cheerfully. "You'll find out soon enough!"
Mayor Johnson's smile faded, and he looked worriedly around him, provoking another round of laughter. "I can't be next, I'm in charge of the tank. Now we need a new volunteer! Any volunteer?"
As people moved away from the dunk tank to mingle and talk, Isabella wondered who would be next. She secretly hoped it would be her second grade teacher.
"Michael, look!" she said, louder than she intended. A raccoon had climbed in and stood on the chair.
"We have a volunteer!" The mayor’s loud voice overpowered the crowd's. "Three tickets give you five balls!"
Several people lined up to try their luck.
"How did it get in there?" Isabella whispered to Michael.
Before she could wonder any longer, she heard a big splash. A soaking wet raccoon dashed between her and Michael, holding Mr. Murphy's leftover candied apple in its mouth.
Ah, The Beach!
Prompt: Write a story that contains the words vacation, sweltering, and sandal.
Marilou took off her pink sandals and ran on the sweltering sand. She tiptoed into the water, giggling as a wave washed her legs.
She looked back at the big red and white umbrella and waved at her mother, who was getting a much needed suntan.
Her mother smiled and waved with two fingers, holding a peach in one hand and a bottle of ice cold lemonade in the other.
A big wave came and swept Marilou's feet, making her fall into the water.
She tried to scream but swallowed a gulp of salty water instead. She didn't know which way was up and which was down. Her sweeping hand touched something with a tiny claw in the sand. She screamed bubbles and tried hard to swim.
The wave receded, dumping the startled girl upon the soft, wet beach.
Marilou coughed and rubbed her eyes, struggling to get back up. Grains of sand in her blue swimsuit scratched her skin.
She looked back toward her mother, who was standing up with a worried frown partly covered by sunglasses.
Marilou ran back to the big umbrella, tiptoeing through the hot sand. She smelled of salt and seaweeds. She took her mother's big, warm hand with her cold, wet one.
"Come play with me in the waves, Mommy! This is the bestest vacation ever!"
Prompt: Write a story that includes the line, "Are you sure you weren't followed?"
"Are you sure you weren't followed?"
"Were you able to secure the equipment?"
Zeth glanced around and pulled a black bandanna off a shiny red metal box. He opened it ceremoniously.
"With this under our power," Mauricio declared, "we will be able to annihilate the enemy before complete invasion."
Zeth carefully picked one of the silver elements from the box and examined it thoughtfully.
Just as he laid the piece back in place, the ground shook, the room darkened, and a voice boomed from above:
"What are you two doing under the table with my toolbox?"
The Purple Balloon
Prompt: Write a story that includes a duck, a telephone pole, and a map.
Martha handed Jason a purple balloon. "Get well soon!"
She was his third visitor. That's because she was the teacher's daughter, and her mother made her. The other two, John and Eric, weren't really his friends, although they often ganged up with him against other kids to get their lunch money.
Jason knew he wouldn't have long to live. He could feel it, deep inside. Seeing his grandmother cry after talking with the doctor confirmed it. His time had come. He didn't tell his visitors, though. They would either pity him or be happy to get rid of him.
Once Martha left, he ripped a page off his notebook and wrote:
"Dear God, I know I messed up and nobody likes me. Please give me a second chance. I can show you what a good friend I can be."
He drew a map showing the way from the church to the hospital, walked shakily to the window, and let the balloon fly away, carrying his message toward God.
The balloon headed straight to a telephone pole, but a gentle breeze blew it away just in time. It crossed path with a duck family and disappeared out of view.
The next day, a girl he had never met before came to visit him. "I find balloon," she said. "You are lonely?"
He just nodded, too startled to talk.
"I lonely too. My family come from Afghanistan and I no speak English good." She smiled. "I bring gift to you." She handed him a box of chocolates. "I pray for friend, and God give me friend."
Normally, he would have made fun of her broken English and her long brown robe, but he knew better. He smiled and offered her the first chocolate.
Prompt: Write a story that includes a wristwatch, a beehive, and a hammer.
I was in the middle of a sweet dream when a noise startled me. Bam! Bam! It sounded like a hammer pounding on a tough nail. Bam! Bam! BAM!
Who could be hammering at three in the morning? It must be Charlie again, making another invention.
Just as I was putting on my slippers and bathrobe, the noise changed. I sat at the edge of my bed and listened. Tick! Tick! Tick! It reminded me of my first wristwatch. Its regular tempo had always helped me fall asleep.
I started dozing off, dangerously leaning to the left, when the ticking stopped. It was now replaced by a buzz, similar to the noise coming from a beehive in midsummer, only louder. I shivered. I'm allergic to bees! Even just thinking about it or hearing a bee-like sound makes me swell.
"That's it!" I shouted, now wide awake. "I can't take it anymore!" I marched to the next apartment and knocked.
My neighbor immediately opened the door. His curly brown hair was sticking up every which way. He wore puffy lilac striped pants and a loose raspberry shirt.
"Hi, there, Lucy!" he chimed. "What's up?"
I pointed at my noiseless watch. "Do you know what time it is?"
He grabbed my arm and glanced at my timepiece. "Oh, my! I didn't realize it was that late. I'm busy working on a machine that can cure insomnia. It's almost finished. You wanna see it?"
I should have known. His last invention was supposed to annihilate bad smells, only it was powered by rotten eggs.
Prompt: The story can be about anything, as long as it has 300 words or less.
Okay, I have to write something. My essay is due in an hour and I have no idea where to start.
I hear the ticking of Mark's pencil, Josie's constant throat-clearing, and a bird. I look out the classroom window. The sky is heavy with clouds. What's a bird doing out in this weather? The sycamore's branches bend as if pulled down by invisible strings.
Still, the mockingbird is out on a limb—no, literally!—singing with his surprisingly loud voice.
If I were him, I would be quieter, as to not draw attention to myself. I mean, his feathers are a dull-brown color, his beak doesn't look like anything, and he can't even come up with his own tune. If he were a human being, he would probably go to jail for plagiarism. Yet, he sings at the top of his tiny lungs, which are probably the size of a corn kernel when full of air. How can he be so loud?
I try to look away from the window, but my gaze keeps coming back. I will be in so much trouble when the teacher collects the sheets and reads all this nonsense!
My thoughts wander. What makes this bird special is that he's not. You cannot find a plainer, less interesting, more unattractive bird than that. But boy, he can sing, and he knows what he's capable of. He invests all his heart in it, despite of what others may say.
Something just clicked. I know what my essay will be about. I crumple my paper and start a new sheet.
I write nonstop for a half hour and hand it in. I hope I get an A+ on my essay about Susan Boyle!
Prompt: Write a story that includes a flag, a spoon, and a box of crayons.
Our yard doesn't have trees, so Robert and I made our clubhouse under the butterfly bush.
"First we need a flag," Robert said.
I ran to the house and came back with a poster board and a box of crayons. I crawled under the lower branches and laid the material on our worm-proof tarp floor.
"Hand me Raspberry Red," I said.
Robert scanned through the sixty crayons, pulling red ones. "Cherry Pie ... Bloody Nose ... Raspberry Red!" He handed me a stub no longer than my pinky. "Wow, you used it a lot!"
"It's my favorite." I traced two crossed spoons, our secret signal. "Now I need Garbage Green."
"Whacky Khaki ... Squished Toad ... Baby Caterpillar ... Garbage Green!"
I ripped the whole paper from it and used its whole length to color the flag's background.
I held the flag. "There! How does it look?"
"Looks great! Now where will we find red spoons? You know, for the signal."
"They don't really have to be red. My dog chewed up my silver crayon. He looked like he had fillings."
Robert laughed. "Lucky he didn't chew on your Bloody Nose one. That would have been disgusting."
My little sister Nancy peeked in our club house. "Why are you hiding under the bush? Eating cookies in secret?"
"Am not! Go play with your dolls and leave us alone."
She crawled right in, covering half the tarp with her fluffy skirt and breaking one of my crayons in the process.
"Hey, watch it! You're sitting on my Tarantula Bl..."
I didn't have time to say "Black." Nancy scampered to the house, screeching and brushing her skirt frantically with both hands.
I winked at Robert. "I think I'll keep my crayon box here to protect against intruders."
Snow White: The True Story
Prompt: Write a story that contains these words or phrases: picnic, poison ivy, campfire.
Once there was a beautiful girl with her cheeks as white as snow—except for the time when she went on a picnic and came back with poison ivy, but I digress. Her name was Snow White.
A mean queen living nearby gazed at her reflection in the mirror. Being an insecure, middle-aged queen, she asked, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who in this land is fairest of all?”
The mirror answered, “You, my queen, are fairest of all…” Her hearing aid's battery being weak, she didn’t hear it add in a whisper, “…except for the wrinkles on your forehead and the hairy wart on your nose.”
One day, she asked the same question for the millionth time—Alzheimer kicking in. She was startled when the mirror said, “You, my queen, are fair; it is true. But Snow White is still a thousand times fairer than you."
She stomped away in a rage, and the mirror mumbled as to himself, “The girl does have a few zits, being a teenager and all, but overall, it beats the dark pockets around your eyes.”
Well, you know the rest of the story. The mean queen visited Snow White with a poisoned apple. Snow White fell asleep, and the dwarves put her in a glass coffin outside. They took turns watching her and gathering wood for a campfire to make s’mores, which everyone liked except Grumpy.
The prince came, and, disregarding the pimples, kissed Snow White and broke the spell. She woke up to see the teenage prince, with fuzz on his upper lip and untied shoes. He didn’t know how to kiss either, but somehow, she fell in love with him.
And they struggled merrily in a generally happy marriage for ever and ever.
Prompt: Write a story that includes a canoe, an owl, and a pine tree.
Jonathan and his family were on their way to Clever Mountain for a day of hiking. Jonathan sat in the back seat, clutching Goggle, his stuffed owl, and looking at the scenery: majestic mountains intertwined with blue streams, and more tree species than he ever knew existed.
“Do you want to see too?” he asked, tipping Goggle’s head through the open window.
As they passed a little bridge, the car hit a bump and Goggle went flying out the window.
“Daddy! I lost Goggle!” Jonathan cried.
The car stopped on the shoulder, and he raced out just in time to see Goggle disappear out of view in the back of a canoe travelling down the stream.
Carlos heard a muffled thud behind him. “Hey, there,” he said, picking up the owl from the bottom of his canoe and looking up to see where it came from. He thought he could see a young boy standing on the bridge, looking down, but there was no way he could go back against current. Not having any use for a stuffed owl, he tossed it on the riverbank.
An eagle flying overhead saw something white down below. It looked like a tasty mouse, so it swooped down and picked it up with its talons. The eagle soon realized the animal was not edible and dropped it in a pine tree, where it remained until a soft breeze made it topple on the walking path below.
A little while later, a family came hiking down the path.
“Goggle!” exclaimed Jonathan. “How did you get here?”
Goggle couldn’t answer, of course. He just stared at Jonathan with his big, yellow, goggly eyes.
The Sea Mouse
Prompt: Write a story that includes the words mouse, pillow, and seashell.
A tiny mouse was born between two bags of corn kernels in a cargo ship’s hold. Her mother had been chased away and had disappeared out of view. Frightened, the baby mouse snuggled between the bags and waited. The waves rocked the vessel gently and she soon fell asleep.
A loud horn startled her out of her dreams. The ship stopped, and many voices were heard, along with footsteps going back and forth.
The mouse stood still, her heart pounding like a drum roll, until someone lifted up one of the bags and yelled, "Marcos, hand me the broom. I found another mouse!"
As he turned to look at the mouse again, she had disappeared. She was already making her way out of the boat, scurrying between people's legs, down the ramp and onto the dock. Someone stepped on her tail, but she managed to escape.
The baby mouse stopped running and looked around. The warm sand felt good under her paws. The salty wind blew gently between her ears, carrying dolphins' conversations and seagulls' cries.
The mouse could see the ship from far away. She watched as sailors, appearing to be the size of corn kernels, went up and down the ramp, carrying wooden cases and other supplies.
The baby mouse realized how hungry she was. She nibbled on a seaweed and spat it back out. She was lucky enough to find a plump, juicy berry to fill up her minuscule stomach. She lingered a bit longer to watch the sunset, reflecting on the sea in a million colors, and then yawned.
Using a piece of sea sponge as a pillow, the little mouse snuggled in an empty seashell and drifted off to sleep. That was the beginning of her new life as a sea mouse.
Visiting Santa at the Mall
Prompt: Write a story about visiting Santa in the mall.
“Let’s go see Santa!” Samantha said, pointing.
I shrugged. I found out long ago that the real Santa doesn’t hang out in malls. He’s way too busy checking his list twice and supervising the elves.
Last year, “Santa” had a tattoo on his arm. I pretended I didn’t notice and named all the toys I ever wanted, until he was about to kick me out. I like playing around with fake Santas.
We joined the line and after what seemed like ages, it was our turn. Samantha’s eyes were glowing with excitement as she listed her wishes. She went back to Mom and Dad with a delighted smile and some trinkets.
I sat on Santa’s lap and wiggled to get comfortable. He winced.
“Have you been good this year? Ho! Ho!”
“Oh, yes! I played nicely with my sister, obeyed my parents, and teachers are fond of me.”
A suspicious grin appeared on his jolly face. “What would you like for Christmas, my boy?”
“Santa, I want a new teacher for Christmas.”
He gave a little start and looked at me. “Don’t you want any new games, or a baseball mitt?”
“No. I want a new teacher who doesn’t give too much homework. I don’t have time to play anyway, with all those assignments I’m getting.”
It was worth waiting in line just to see the look on his face. He gave me a coloring book and a Christmas sticker. Just before I left, he pulled me closer and said in a low tone, “I’ll make sure Miss Coleman makes your wish come true.”
How did he … that voice … “Mr. Principal?”
I guess sometimes wishes do come true. I had a lighter workload until June!