Flash Fiction Challenge: Rainy Days

NYC rainyIt was another cold, dreary day in the city. The drizzle had washed away the light confection of snow that had fallen during the night.

Benny sighed. Every day was like this to him. Perhaps because it was like this the day he died.

So he stood on the corner, trying to sell umbrellas to passersby. Of course, no one could ever see him. Such is the plight of a spirit among the living. It had been much like this when he was alive. The afterlife had taken on the gray sameness of his life, so Benny didn’t really notice much difference.

Yet, today would be very different…

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted. See HERE for additional information and terms.

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Rainy Days”

  1. Pauline stood under the arch of the old brownstone. She didn’t know why she was worried about the rain; after all she couldn’t feel the needle pricks against her pasty skin. She had been watching the boy for days, and his expression was always the same, one of loneliness. The idea had crossed her mind more than once that it would be nice to be able to spend time with someone her own age.

    Each passerby ignored the boy, or should I say seeing him in a physical form was impossible. As in life he was alone in death. He sighed deciding it was hopeless, and accepted his fate. He would be one of those spirits who hadn’t crossed over. Of course it was up to him, all he had to do was walk through the light. Benny lacked courage.

    Pauline thought it was now or never and made her way down the slick steps. Out of habit she held her head down, funny how those human things stay with you. Benny didn’t notice the shy shadow before him.
    “Excuse me, could I have an umbrella?” Pauline held out her hand.
    “Can I have an umbrella? It is raining you know.”
    “You can see me, I can’t believe it.”
    “ I can see you. I was wondering if you’d like to go for a walk?”
    Two shy shadow figures made their way down the sidewalk laughing in the rain.

  2. On a certain planet in a certain hemisphere, in a certain country a certain lush forest breeze mingled with one from the sizzling desert. They created a certain gust of wind. From her earliest memory she knew her destiny lie across that vast body of water in certain other lands toward the setting sun.

    Time came all too quickly when she kissed goodbye to the deep warmth of the Sahara sands and the cool forest running along Gulf of Guinea’s southern expanse.

    “Oh my is this ocean huge. I may not have the strength to make it,” she said to herself not thinking one of the gulls soaring the air currents would hear let alone answer. When he did she trembled.

    “You not first or last; others before, others follow. Strength comes from waters below and currents above.”

    “Foolish bird, what do you know?”

    When came the inevitable make-it or break-it crossroads she might have quit if not for the gull’s sage advice. She stayed her course. Her reward a sharp crackling flash of light; her eye opened. To mark the day she received a name, Jeanne.

    Daunting as the trip became she endured, gaining strength seemingly by the hour. She knew where she wanted to go. “Disney World beckons me! Goofy here I come!”

    Jeanne made land fall as a category three hurricane giving the entire east coast several rainy days.

    She died somewhere in the north Atlantic with no regrets. “What a ride I had,” her epitaph.

  3. Wet and dreary, that was Benny’s existence even before the car struck his umbrella stand last December. One flash of pain, then he was back standing in oblivion, invisible. People rushed by. Cold rain on his back made him shiver, a memory of his last living days.

    How could anyone be more miserable? Just then he spied a rain drenched puppy shuffle across the sidewalk. Tangled strands of yellow fur lay plastered across its ribcage. Eyes, void of hope, gazed down. He held an umbrella over the dog, following as it wandered into the street, but rain continued to flow through the ghost umbrella. If only he could do more.

    Benny saw the car barrel down the road. Wheels slid across the slick pavement just like last year, only this time the pup lay in its deadly path. He didn’t think about how an insubstantial body could help as he tossed the dog to safety. He just did it.

    “The choice is yours, Benny.”

    Choice? Benny blinked with understanding. He could continue his empty existence or live one short, cold, hungry life. Loneliness was worse. His arms wrapped around the dog and he felt their spirits meld. Cold seeped into his body. Hunger drove sharp pangs in his gut. Yet he felt strangely warm for the first time.

    “How would like to come home with me, little fellow?” A young man wrapped a scarf around his new body and held him close. “I think I’ll call you…Benny.”

  4. No one saw Benny holding out rolled umbrellas to the passers-by pretty much the same as when he was alive. It hadn’t bothered him that this was his afterlife, he accepted it.
    A fission of electrical energy rippled up his body at the same time he noticed a woman, shoulders hunched against the rain, walking briskly towards him.

    Her red coat was a stark contrast against the greyness of the city.

    Benny realised it was Sally as another blue serge of energy crackled around him.

    The hood of her coat obscured her view of a speeding car as it zipped in and out of the heavy slow moving vehicles. Sally rushed into the road and dodged between the waiting traffic unaware of the cars approach.

    “SALLY NO!” Benny screamed and moved to run after her.

    He was astounded to reach her in a flash and push her from the path of the car which missed her by inches.

    Another flash and he was back on the corner observing Sally who stood on the sidewalk looking shocked, hands on hips and gasping.

    Benny turned his eyes skyward, held out his arms and smiled as he shouted, “Thank you. Whatever happened just then……. I’m grateful!”

    A tingling sensation filled him and the familiar grey surroundings melted away, replaced by an endless velvet black universe, lit up like a Christmas tree with glowing galaxies and stars that sparkled.

    He had earned his place here. His being transmuted into pure joy, Benny was home.

  5. Benny whispered a soft sigh. His transparent form shivered with memories of the coldness that had embraced him on the day of his death. Three years, and I’m still here. Why? His ghostly fingers opened an unseen umbrella to create a tiny refuge of dryness in the relentless drizzle. “Umbrellas. Who’ll buy my umbrellas?”

    Nobody heard. Nobody saw. Everyone in the grey city rushed by, eyes squinting, boots sploshing through puddles.

    A flit. A flutter. A feathery form fought to stay aloft. Up. Down. Sideways. It lurched; it lost the battle—and plummeted to the damp sidewalk. Benny leaned forward. An African grey! I always wanted one. Poor thing. Why is it outside in this dismal weather? The parrot labored to reach the shelter of the invisible umbrella. It struggled to keep its sad eyes open. It cowered, beset by violent shivers, wings pulled close, feet tucked in.

    A single shudder convulsed the bewildered creature. And it succumbed to its final sleep.

    The rain stopped. A sudden explosion of sunlight streamed through nearby skyscrapers to build a rainbow that ended at the silent body. Passersby picked up the carcass. “Hurry! Let’s get it to the vet. Maybe somebody there can save it.”

    Benny breathed a soft sigh. Are you why I’m here?

    He felt an unexpected pressure on his shoulder. A beak caressed his face. A downy smoothness touched his chin. He smiled at the spirit bird.

    Then he soared into the warmth of the sun with his new companion.

  6. (Rainy Days)
    Of course there had always been differences. Then he could be seen and heard. There had been the daily joy of the girl with the green eyes which sparkled as she grabbed the gold umbrella from his stand and twirled it round her head, laughing and teasing and then putting it back before she cried “I’ll buy it one day,” and ran away. She had been there that day a few minutes before the car swerved to miss a dog and hit him full on.
    A few minutes? Days? Months? Years? Time didn’t register any more, only the unendingly uneventful present. But despite it all he still went on hoping, looking for the girl with green eyes. Did he look older? Did she?
    He heard a commotion, saw people running towards him, passing by him, through him. He saw a wheel chair and a figure, white-haired, slumped in an attitude he recognised as death.
    The white head lifted, green eyes surveyed him. She said “I came back after the accident and the gold umbrella was lying there.” She felt for it, held it out. “I never told you I was a bit in love with it. And maybe with you.”
    Benny listened and smiled and knew the present would never be unendingly uneventful again.

  7. “Mister?”

    Benny looked into the face of the dimpled cherub tugging at his coat. It didn’t occur to him to wonder how she did this when no one else could see or hear him.

    “Mommy needs you. She’s getting wet.” She whirled and ran away, expecting he would follow. She stopped by a woman lying inert in an alley only yards away from the sidewalk, but out of sight. Fresh blood pooled around her head.

    “She’s in the in-between, Mister. She fell.” Tears slid down her cheeks. “She doesn’t hear me.” The girl knelt to take her mother’s hand. “Mama, wake up. Come back. I don’t want to be alone.” She raised an imploring face to Benny. “See, Mister? You have to tell her. Tell her she has to stay here.”

    Benny knelt to check for a pulse but his hand passed through. He felt nothing.
    “Talk to her, Mister. She can hear you. Please.”

    “But how can you see and hear me?”

    The child shrugged. “Please Mister, she’s going farther away. Hurry.”

    “What’s her name?”

    “Mama.” The girl reached up to take his hand and pulled him next to her, taking her mother’s hand in her other small one.

    “And yours?”


    Benny jolted at the connection and sensed what to do. “Mama, your time is not yet. Sandy needs you. She’s all alone. Come back.”

    When the woman’s eyes fluttered open Sandy released his hand to clutch the woman. “Mama!”

    Warm light drew him up and away, home.

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