Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Groceries

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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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Groceries”

  1. “My friend Andy is coming our party!”  
    “Andy? Do I know him?” 
    “Um, I don’t think you’ve met. He’s the stock broker in New York. His wife Karen is the opera singer. You would remember her she has  giant boobs.” 
    “Oh, now let me see, opera, stock broker. This is the type of people that will be at our party?” 
    “You forgot giant boobs. And what do you mean, type of people? Your college friend, the Senator. Has he responded?” 
    “Mallory said he hopes to make and appearance.” 
    “Well, we should be flattered I suppose. Sara’s coming. Do you suppose we should let Chuck know?” 
    “Let him be surprised. I can’t wait to see his face when she shows up with her date. I hear she’s pregnant.” 
    “So soon after divorcing Chuck? Who told you that?” 
    “Calvin. He saw her at the game Saturday. Did you know Myron’s a surgeon?” 
    “I did. A step up from Chuck I’d say. He’s still trying to get his novel published, I guess.” 
    “I heard he has a publisher. Suanne said he’s been contacted for movie rights already. Spielberg no less.” 
    “Ha! You can’t believe a word Suanne says. I wish Chuck would leave his snobby new wife home.” 
    “Why are we having this party anyway?” 
    “It was your idea.” 
    “You better get another bag of those chips.” 

  2. Helen checked for anything she may have missed in her grocery list. She mumbled, “Milk, eggs, rice cakes, diet meals, plain yogurt, fruit, carrots and celery. Yep that’s everything I need to make my diet work this time. Just keep thinking: Loose Lips Fatten Hips! And this time, I will get through that munchies aisle.”

    Proudly she turned down the next aisle to the check out counters. That was when she realized she had reached her nemesis, the dreaded snack food gauntlet.

    All she had to do was push the cart past the cookies, chips and dip, pastry and donuts to the checkout counter. She mumbled, “Mind over matter, no munchies, today.”

    She stepped into that dreaded aisle, She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and off she flew. Quickly, pushing her cart, while her eyes were still closed, she bumped into the potato chip rack, then bounced off the chocolate chip display, and finally, clipped the end cap of double dark chocolate cream filled donuts.

    She was elated that she made it through without grabbing any munchies off the shelves. Until she opened her eyes and discovered, to her horror, all the munchies that had fallen into her cart. That’s when she realized with every bump of a rack or display bags of chips and boxes of cookies and a box of her favorite double dark chocolate filled donuts fell into her cart. She sighed, “That does it! I’m keeping the donuts.”

  3. I peeked around the corner at the end of the Refreshments aisle hoping to get a shot at him before he could get me. 3 minutes went by. Nothing. 5 minutes. Still, nothing. All those goodies started to whet my appetite. Propping my bazooka against the counter, I cautiously inched down and grabbed a Pepsi and a bag of Fritos. Yummmm!

    “Freeze!” he screamed. And, there he was pointing my bazooka at ME!

    His rolling eyes bulged while licking the drool off his bearded chin with the longest tongue I ever saw.

    “Gimme that grub,” he grumbled, and poked me with the weapon.

    Flipping my cape over my head, I raced out into the parking lot.

    “Wheredja go?” he cried..

    Suddenly, the Frankenstein Monster grabbed me as his wife stroked the white streak in her hair. “Gotcha, ya old fool,” they yelled and held my arms until the bazooka shaking Wolfman caught up with us.

    “Okay. Let’s all go out for that steak dinner, on you, Count D.,” he beamed.
    “You got caught first, so you lose the bet.”

    Linking arms, we headed for the Steak House to enjoy a good meal with good friends and to toast a Good Night to another Halloween.

  4. The Stock Boy

    “What sort of child was Tony?”

    “Tony…actually, he has almost always insisted that he be called Anthony… was quite an unexceptional child as I recall. Not a whit of trouble, really. Before he went to kindergarten, he was, like most children are to their mothers, stuck to me like…like a leech. I know that sounds harsh but my little boy was always with me. Living above the store, being there day and night, because that is the way corner grocery stores are, I had a wonderful opportunity to be with my son and watch him learn something new every day.”

    “But you began to notice some peccadillos. What were they?”

    “Well, early on, Anthony was a bit of a fussbudget regarding his name, like I mentioned, and his socks and his underwear. Especially those. You see, his father and I have always been a little pell-mell regarding organizing clothes and spices and such. So, where Anthony’s fusspot manners came from, we never could explain.”

    “And his other peculiarities…as far as the food industry is concerned?”

    “Oh my, such memories. And his ways weren’t especially peculiar. I think of them now as…cute…and efficient. Even before he walked, he would crawl down the few aisles we had at the Happy Hamper Corner Store, spot a space where soup or beans or whatever needed to be brought forward and he would reach in with his tiny hands and restock the shelf. He always liked food to be tidily presented.”

  5. “Great clean-up job, Joe. Every single bag and bottle back in place. Floor scrubbed and polished. Very nice!”

    –The alien clung to the ceiling, listening.–

    “Any idea what happened, boss? I mean, who did all that damage? And how did they get in the store? I left Leroy to lock up last night. He always double checks the locks, just like you told him.”

    –A long gray tentacle began to coil down from the ceiling.–

    “Not a clue. I don’t blame Leroy. He’s a good kid. Just wish he’d answer his phone.”

    –The alien was still hungry.–

    “Why would anybody do something like this?”

    –‘Groceries’ the sign said. But only one thing in the store could be considered food. Everything else was packaged chemicals. After years of travelling in space, it craved fresh organic meat.–

    “Beats me. Nothing was stolen. Not a single bag of chips. Nothing. Just stuff tossed around.”

    –Then the alien struck. Leroy was just a tasty appetizer. It was ready for the main course.–

  6. Nathan was next in line. The customer in front and cashier were talking, something about a problem with the card. He was anxious, nervous that he’d miss the bus. The only groceries he could afford were a few cans of cat food, tuna and some chips. Then it happened. Something passed by the end of the snack isle that he’d never expected to see again. Yet, it happened so quickly that he couldn’t be sure. It sure looked like her. He stared down the empty lane, hoping for another glimpse.

    The conveyor belt moved forward with the cat food and the bag of Fritos. Nathan remained fixed at the opposite end.

    “Hello,” said the cashier. Nathan didn’t respond. He wasn’t looking her way.

    “Hello,” she said again, more loudly this time.
    “Are you coming? You’re up.” When Nathan still didn’t respond, her thoughts echoed what she’d said. He was up. He was high.

    “Uh . . . okay,” Nathan said, moving forward a few steps, reluctant to turn his head away from where he’d last seen the apparition.

    “$6.02 is the total.”

    With seven dollars in his hand, Nathan paused. No need for so much change. He already had a pocketful. Some spilled onto the floor.

    Yep, he was high. Clumsy. Must be the weed.

    Nathan felt her disdain. If she knew what he thought he’d seen, she’d understand.

    Seeing the bus pull to the curb, he hurried to board.

    One last look. It was her! It really is!


  7. “It should be here,” Bernard muttered, pushing soda bottles around. The grocer’s shelf was so tightly packed, he might have been working a sliding tile puzzle.

    Melody watched impatiently. “You sure he said soda?”

    “Yes.” Hidden among the liquid sugar should be the drop, front money for a job they’d been hired to do. Center of the soda aisle, fourth shelf up.

    “Maybe you misheard.” Tired of waiting, Melody wandered off to look at the chips.

    Irritated, he glanced back at her. “Hey! Keep watch!”

    “Nobody’s coming.” She snagged a package and read the ingredients. “Maybe he said baking soda. God, look at the salt in this stuff!”

    Why, Bernard wondered, did she warp everything like that? Soda it was. But fourth shelf up or down? He got on his knees to check. The shelves soon looked like a one-year-old had been playing among them. Head stuck halfway back, he heard a sharp rattle, then loud crunching. “What are you doing?” he snapped.

    “These are terrible,” Melody said around a mouthful of something.

    Oh God, Bernard thought, not again. He extracted himself from the bottles and looked around, alarmed. Nobody there. Yet. He got to his feet and snatched the bag from her hands. “Cut that out!”

    Melody gave him one of her dark looks, then gazed upward. He followed her eyes.

    Security camera.

    Rapid footfalls approached from around the end of the aisle.

    She nodded at the bag. “Oh, Bernie,” she said sadly. “You’re in trouble again.”

  8. You are what you eat. Jess knew that, but it was hard to choose what she wanted to be. Plenty of people lived to ninety eating pesticide-filled genetically modified fruit from Argentina. Plenty of people died at thirty even after being advocates for locally-grown organic seasonal produce. Fate was funny that way.

    So was the grocery store. She had to choose between locally grown or organic, because they didn’t have locally grown organic. The watermelons that weren’t genetically modified were full of seeds, but she would know she was safe (even if she was left feeling hungry). She wanted to be healthy, but she wanted to be somewhat wealthy as well (because organic don’t come cheap). Should she support the local farmers around her home, or impoverished workers from third world countries?
    She looked at the canned vegetables and the prepackaged fruit platters. Then there was the entire choice of the deli. Red meat or white? Should she be worried about humane butchering? In the milk section, she wanted to take soy but it tasted like crap and everyone knew it. After dropping a few cartons of skim milk into her shopping basket, she took the plunge.

    Finally she found what she was looking for. Vegetables that she didn’t have to wonder about, no intimidating butcher with a cleaver in hand. It was easier when the choices were taken away. Microwave dinners made life so much easier. She was what she ate, and she was happy (although maybe not healthy).

  9. The lights went out as the last employee left the grocery store. Long moments passed before anything happened, then the Pringles cans shifted and hopped off their selves.
    “Ahh, it feels good to stretch. I thought they’d never leave.”
    The bags of Fritos leapt from their shelves to join the Pringles cans. “Yep, sure does feel good, though I don’t see how you can stretch much in that can,” they snickered.
    “Oh, look, the cheap chips decided to join us. You’re just half-full bags of air. What would you know?”
    “Hey guys, relax, chill out… Why’s everything always gotta be so intense ‘round here anyway? We’re all just potato chips of one kind or another,” the bags of Cheetos chimed in.
    “Speak fer yerselves, we ain’t no salty chips,” the bottles of Mountain Dew called from their perch high upon the shelves, “just pure mountain goodness right here.”
    “Yeah, but the Pringles have always thought they were better than us, just because they come in a can and they have that weird shape,” the Funyuns said as they joined the potato chip party on the floor of the grocery store.
    “Can’t we all just get along, man?” said the Cheetos.
    The Pringles cans rolled away from the rest, “The whole lot of you are nothing but uncultured junk foods, and when you can explain the meaning of hyperbolic paraboloid or you too were designed by a supercomputer, feel free to speak to us. Until then, piss off!”

  10. I watch a girl walking along the fresh vegetable and fruit display. She intrigues me. Her fingers are trailing lightly over potatoes, onions, pumpkins, carrots, leek and aubergine. She is a slender girl dressed in navy blue with a red scarf. She has short dark hair. There is an alert attentiveness to her movements. I see her pick up a mango. She holds it cupped gently in her dainty hands. She sniffs it, places it back and picks up another. Gives it a gentle sniff too, and places it in her basket. Her finger trail over the grapes and oranges then picks up a pack of apples and places it in her basket. Her fingers run lightly over punnets of strawberries, cherries and pomegranates, but it’s at the peaches she pauses. She walks left fingers feeling for the pole that holds the plastic bags. Not finding it she moves to the right until her hand touches it and she deftly tears a bag off and walks back running her fingers lightly over the peaches, she chooses two and places them carefully inside. She reaches the assistant, who greets her, weighs and prices her few items and with a cheery wave, she heads towards the tills going down the aisle with the chocolates and sweets. I walk behind her appreciating the confidence with which she carries herself. At the end of the aisle her faces turns to the right where I know the fresh flowers fill buckets. She pauses there and breathes deeply.

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