Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Shallows

grand cayman stingray island 1998 flash fiction writing prompt copyright ksbrooks
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Use the photograph above as the inspiration for your flash fiction story. Write whatever comes to mind (no sexual, political, or religious stories, jokes, or commentary, please) and after you PROOFREAD it, submit it as your entry in the comments section below. There will be no written prompt.

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture at left.  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. No political or religious entries, please. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday. On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature.

Once a month, the admins will announce the Editors’ Choice winners. Those stories 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. Please note the rule changes for 2016.

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6 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Shallows”

  1. The old fisherman loved surf fishing Biscayne Bay Beach. However, today this would have to be his last cast. So one last time he cast his bait far off into the shallows hoping to entice a Barracuda into a good fight.

    Soon he felt the rod tip twitch from a hit. He waited and it twitched again. He braced himself ready to sink the hook. At the right moment, he set the hook hard and felt it sink deep into the fish’s mouth of razor sharp teeth, and their battle was on.

    He didn’t use the brute force of a short boat rod to land the Barracuda, instead, it was a coordinated ballet of wits: him with his long surf rod leveraging its length to slowly work the fish ashore and then gaff it. But this fish was putting up a strong fight, not running with the surf or side to side, but fighting straight on. He thought, “Only the strongest of Barracudas fight this way, it must be the granddaddy of all Barracudas. Well I’m not losing this one today!”

    Finally, he could see its shape in the shallow surf, but his excitement quickly vanished when he saw the top of a scuba tank. He ran down to the surf and helped the diver to shore. He apologized and released him. After all the old man believed in the state game fish catch and release program, but he still swiped a flipper as his personal trophy.

  2. The light slants in, a shaft of life affirming brilliance, warm, warming, a wonder.
    I am treading water; always treading; my lungs are about to burst, my legs pedal as if I am running downhill with no earthly hope of stopping.
    My heart is strong though; strong, but it is wanting.
    There is always something.

    We, you and I, we seem to skim just below the surface these days, don’t we?
    We hover inches under the tip of the sea, the slim sheaf of water that separates.
    Oh, we see so much when there is so little happening…up there.
    When all is still, when the rafts lug along, flooded with the lost ones,
    tipping them into our sea, flapping away in their death throes, a shabby lot of refugees,
    Drowning in our sea, thinking, last thoughts, in our sea.

    But we continue to skim just below the surface, these days, all days, don’t we?
    Don’t answer. It is not necessary.
    I will always see you speak.
    Sound travels well here, bubbles of resonance swishing in the wetness,
    words, humming, frothing of fine fizzes, stinging silently,
    rays of sharp words, slicing down from above the sea,
    a sky of opportunity there for the taking.
    If we dared…

    But we continue to skim just below the surface, these days, for all time, don’t we?

    Yes, you know we do.

    You know…

  3. “C’mon, Evelyn, let’s feed Cassius.”

    Ray Winger had been her snorkeling instructor for just two weeks. “Who’s Cassius?” she asked.
    “He’s sorta my pet. I’ve been feeding him for almost two years now. He’s quite tame.”

    “Is he a fish or what?”

    “Yeah — he’s a REALLY big fish! And he loves the shrimp and clams I feed him,” pointing toward a mesh bag filled with crustaceans and mollusks.

    “Why Cassius?”

    “Cuz his ‘cape’ reminded me of an old Roman noble. Must’a been twenty years old at that time. But don’t try to touch him! Let’s go in.” They dove into the shallow waters that adjoined the dive shop.

    Within minutes it arose from the sandy bottom and approached them, obviously anticipating his next meal: the enormous wings gracefully undulated propelling it toward them, his glossy black dorsal skin contrasting with a creamy white underbelly. The creature devoured the offerings they had scattered in the water.

    When they were back ashore, Evelyn asked: “Ray, why couldn’t I touch him?”

    “Well, I’m thinkin’ about re-naming him ‘Muhammad Ali’. You see, he’s a stingray.”

    Ray chuckled. “Floats like a butterfly, but stings like a bee!

  4. Teaching a toddler is tough.
    I was told about monsters of our sea-shallow. Those, supposedly, preyed on disobedient youngsters. Grandpa had clarified, ‘They smell mischief’

    The coast was two and half miles from home. It’s a popular spot for scuba diving. But I knew, unlike others, I was hardly obedient. So how could I dare to enter that water? I even alerted some adamant classmates about the monsters. Alas, most took it as a joke! I was fearfully sure, they would fall prey someday.
    One day we went there on outing. Classmates were enjoying scuba diving. I seated aside plotting some story. I heard a cry for help, found my best pal Jim struggling in the water.

    Sea-monster? But, Jim had been undoubtedly obedient. Why then would a monster attack him? An unexpected inspiration agitated me. I sprang to confront the danger.

    To one who cannot swim, the shallow becomes ocean. Jim did not know swimming. No monster; Jim forgot scuba, neither took his life belt. He was safe.

    Back to home, I told all. Grandpa argued, ‘Dear, Jim should have worn scuba and a life belt before entering the water. Didn’t teacher tell him?’
    — ‘Teacher had told. Jim forgot’
    — ‘See, that’s the smell of disobedience. Monsters came. But intimidated by your bravery and togetherness, dissolved away’

    Each life faces endless monsters— miseries, which smell, prey on our faults. Could we confront bit more, together, most of them will dissolve away.
    Today I surely know, owing to the shallow.

  5. Precious memories came flooding back from when I was a child. My Mother’s loving hands held mine as I stepped cautiously, yet bravely amongst the sea creatures in the shallow tide.
    At twenty nine and quite without a Mother, the island was the same but so different. I told my fiancé, now husband, to surprise me with a honeymoon. Somehow, he was able to choose my favorite place on earth.
    The sun warmed my already bronzed skin. White sugar sand stuck to my legs and the smell of coconut oil permeated the air. I watched as the most handsome of men approached me with a lovely umbrella drink, sure to delight my senses further.
    “Here you go my love. I hope you like daiquiris.”
    The man was mine, all mine and I could hardly believe it. Chestnut hair, streaked by the island sun, hung over piercing blue eyes. His broad white, perfect smile, made my insides quiver.
    “Mmm, delicious! How did you know I loved this place?”
    “Your mother told me of your time spent here as a child. I hoped that it would bring back fond memories of her. I know how you miss her.”
    “I have wonderful memories of her here. In that bay over there, she would hold my hands and we would walk amongst the mantas. I can’t wait to make similar memories with our children.”
    “Our own island children. When can we start?”
    “We already have my love.”

  6. The young electric stingray, followed by his shadow on the shallows’ floor, glided through the warm waters. It would find its prey before nightfall.

    Haunted by the memory of that dreadful day, he relived the moment. His loving mate, lying in the comfort of the shallows, giving birth to their long awaited pups. The tattooed woman, singing happily, scooping each pup into her net as it emerged. Walking off with her catch, leaving no offspring to nurture and adore, only two grieving hearts.

    It took weeks of recharging to increase voltage to full capacity.

    Nearing his destination, he recognized the tattoo on her calf. She stood anchored in the sand, swinging her net to trap whatever was unlucky enough to be snared.

    Slowly, he floated to the surface. There was a van idling a few yards away. He sensed it was her’s. The name on the side caused his eyes to bulge in horror. Oh, no!

    He leaped out of the water and swiftly wrapped his pectoral fins around her head, repeatedly jabbing her with his pointed tail, discharging all its vengeful electricity.

    She quivered violently and dropped to the beach as he flipped back into the water, avenged, but cursing the name on the van, Sadie’s Seafood, Best Sushi in Town. SUSHI!!! Poor babes.

    The familiar warmth of the shallows eased his sorrow as he, and his shadow, headed home to the salt of the sea and his beloved.

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