Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Tranquility

green beach vieques 1999 flash fiction 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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16 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Tranquility”

  1. Oceanside

    By Annette Rey

    A stranger was watching her. Betty enjoyed her one day off in a long time, stretched out on the beach. As her body gently relaxed into the warm sand beneath her towel, the negative inner voice which haunted her all week became a whisper.

    “So, what’s your name?”

    Her body jumped. She thought she was alone. Opening her eyes to the golden sun’s rays, she saw an imposing silhouette towering over her.

    “What? What do you want?”

    “Just trying to be helpful. May I join you?”

    “Well, no, not really. That is. I just want to be alone.”

    “I’m just trying to be friendly.”

    “This is not a good time.”

    He sat down beside her and said nothing more.

    Betty squirmed. She looked around her. It was too early for anyone else to be on the beach. She was alone with this man, too uncomfortably close to her. A gull screeched at the moment he spoke.

    “I think you need a friend.”

    “Please, go away.” Towel in hand, she was already rising to run away when they both heard screams. They were not the only ones there. Someone was in the water, someone in trouble.

    Without hesitation, the man dove in and expertly guided the boy out of the current. Betty wrapped the boy in her towel and for the first time saw the helpful stranger’s face.

    Betty relaxed. His T-shirt read, “Jack, Lifeguard, Hermosa Beach.”

  2. Carnal Serenity

    It was a long flight and expensive, but well worth it. We, me and my wife, decided it would be an excellent getaway spot. It was our 14th wedding anniversary after all; we would spare no expense.

    The following day, we boarded another plane and took a short trip delighting in the archipelagos below us. A gloriously balmy day greeted us when we landed and as soon as we set foot we knew we were in for a treat. Our personal tour guide took us through a shanty village on our journey to a secluded beachfront as requested. The locales waved to us trying to sell us their trinkets which my wife gobbled up.

    Leaving the village for the wild, we sauntered through grassy savannas, tropical forests, and up hills overlooking the terrain, but this was secondary to what came next. A gentle breeze carried the smell of the ocean to us and the appearance of mangroves meant we were near. In the distance the bay opened; its crystalline waters lapping the sand amorously in a never-ending romance.

    Suddenly, a rustling behind us. Our guide stood yards away; – they had come. A mass of scales broke free; their thunderous feet trampling the earth as they rushed headlong salivating, forked tongues and all. They jumped several feet in the air clawing, ripping at the bait. Dangling no more they feasted.

    Me and wife held each other fast. We had found our tranquility here, in a bay, on Komodo Island.

  3. The woman stretched in the sand, savoring the salty air and the sun’s warm caress on her face. “Such a fine place,” she said, releasing her breath. “So tranquil.”

    Her companion glowered at the sky. “Tranquil? We’re marooned!”

    “Don’t think about it.” She watched the puff ball clouds drift overhead and drank in the sound of the lapping waves. They were gloriously alone here where the white sand met the blue sea, where the shore curved into the distance to meet a dark line of mountains.

    “You realize we can’t go home,” he said.

    She rolled onto her side and looked him over. It was a good thing they were alone. People would have stared. They were a bit too tall and lanky, a bit too pale in the face with eyes a bit too round to feel kosher. Besides, their loose coveralls could hardly be called swimwear. “It will be okay,” she purred, hoping to soothe him.

    “I don’t see how. The damage is irreparable.”

    “I know. Still, this isn’t a bad place to be stuck.”

    He turned and gazed into her eyes. She smiled and tweaked his nose. Turning back, he sighed. “I guess not. But as much as it’s like our own planet, we don’t belong here.”

    “Maybe not,” she agreed. “But we’re alive, and for now that’s enough.”

  4. He inhaled, long and through his nose, the better to savor the tang of the ocean air. Exhaling in one long huffing sigh, he again breathed deeply, filling his lungs. The iodine smell of sea salt mingled with the faint stench of rotting kelp. His head tipped back and he found himself squinting into the middle distance of a cloudless sky. Only the wheeling seagulls broke up the monotonous cornflower blue.

    Fighting the glare and his emotions, his eyelids fluttered open and closed, open and closed, like wings on a resting butterfly. Finally, giving up, he left his eyes shut. He sighed again.

    “God,” he thought, “How can it have come to this?”

    There was no simple answer to that, he knew, but it was the kind of thing a man asked himself at a time like this. The morning sun warmed his face so he kept his eyes closed, focusing on the sound of the gulls and the waves. Sand had blown across the rough, weathered boards where he stood and he could feel every single grain pressing into his bare feet. Maybe it was his imagination. He briefly considered wiping his feet but then he’d probably just get a splinter.

    A hand grasped his shoulder. “Mr. Bennet, it is time.” He stiffened and nodded before staring out to sea again. A remorseless voice was saying solemn things about him now. The rough hemp was scratchy as the noose tightened around his neck.

    “Hung for piracy”, he thought grimly.

  5. Lance and Susie stood, dejected, looking at the crowded scene before them.

    “One of the world’s most beautiful beaches. That’s what the travel brochure says…”

    “Maybe it is… But so many people! I thought there was a limit on how many people could use the beach at one time?”

    “There’s a limit of 10,000 people per mile of beachfront. That’s only about two people per foot of sand. It could be worse.” Lance shrugged.

    Susie gave him a quick hug. “It’s not your fault. Don’t worry. I may have the answer.”

    “And that is…?”

    “This keychain charm Mum gave me awhile back. Looks like a troll doll. See its little belly button? It’s a Delete button. You just point the troll at anything annoying, push the button, and BAM. Delete!”

    Lance laughed. “I don’t know who’s crazier, you or your Mum. But go ahead, push that button, Oh Magical One!”

    Susie pointed the troll doll and swept it over the beach. The she pushed the button. To her surprise, BAM, everyone disappeared! She was delighted! Now she and Lance had the entire beach, white sand and gentle blue waves, all to themselves.

    “Oh, Lance! Isn’t it beautiful!”

    But Lance did not answer. Susie had accidentally swung the troll doll a little too far to the left and deleted Lance too.

  6. I lay on the beach, with soft sand underneath me. The sun staring at me, sharing its warmth like it always does. I lay there on the lap of my beloved wife, staring at her blue eyes. As blue as the ocean in front of me.
    Her beautiful face and hair which hid the light of the sun from my face.
    As I lay there, Nikhil, son of age eight came over, who was playing at a distance.He came rushing towards and started to cry seeing my head on her lap, indicating me to remove, as it was his place, he assumed.
    As I moved away, he took his place, and his mum started laughing. I got up reached to the basket and reached for his milk and some sandwiches for her and myself.
    He was soon asleep and we eat the sandwich, with some wine and enjoyed the whole evening as the sun was setting down, relaxing after a long awaited holiday.

  7. In the dream, he could feel the soft sand squish between his toes. The beach was always the same: curved like a crescent moon, water lapping against it like a long night of clear blue desire.

    She would appear after he called her name. Standing ankle deep in the water, face to the sun, her hair the color of light, she would be laughing at the impossible beauty of the moment. We should stay here forever, she would say, always.

    But he hesitated to call for her. There on the beach, he knew that her epiphany would end the world. He would be awaken by her voice and turn his cold body to where she used to lay, always.

  8. When the thinning face in the last cloud melted against the mountain, he took it as a sign to stop. He dropped the bag of ice, two remaining beers clinking, and slunk to the cold sand.

    Walking there he studied cumulus cloud faces scraping the darkened volcanic promontory. “From this earth came thy birth”, he recalled. Joyce?

    He picked out three presidents and two actresses as they crept past. He called them, “diorama GIFS”, these columnar clouds. Each had something to offer – a word, a phrase, only a look in Marlene Dietrich’s case – on his ‘love’ predicament.

    Why such sport, other people’s loves? Though, what more virulent among the human condition? And why not listen to clouds? Hell, Einstein even wrote love letters. Good ones.

    Marlene Dietrich. Now there was a lady. A woman so pure her dress seemed to wear her, rather than the other way round.

    A dull ache lingered in his skull from the indulgent night of good whisky and good(er) sex. Her roundness returned to his eye. The limbs so lithe and unctuous; the hair piled under wide brimmed, straw hat. Her pale flesh against the blue water. She struck at his loins even now, despite his dulled state.

    It had been so long. When at last they had taken this trip, it was on them too fast, the way too much icing can ruin a good cake.

    He smiled. Marlene Dietrich indeed. Yes.

  9. Katy always wanted to take a beach vacation, but Dan created a lengthy list of excuses. He couldn’t swim. He hated the heat. The sunburns would cause skin cancer. So she surrendered to his wishes. Instead of relaxing in Hawaii or the Bahamas, they went cross-country skiing and horseback riding, bungee jumping and hot air ballooning, sky-diving and salt flats racing. He loved adventure, not a boring beach.

    Now, as they approach life’s end, it’s no surprise what she chooses for her afterlife VR scenario. This is where their mental engrams will reside after their bodies are depleted. And she is crafting a lovely beach with soft, warm waves lapping the fine, golden sand. The sun shines intensely and palm trees sway in a gentle breeze.

    “Why would you think I’d want to spend eternity in a place like that?” Dan asks. “You know I didn’t even want to vacation there.”

    “We’ve had more than our share of excitement,” she answers. “I think I deserve a little tranquility.”

    “Well, think again,” he huffs. “I’m not interested.”

    Katy smiles benignly. “I know,” she says. “I’m not inviting you along.”

  10. Max never felt more at peace then here at Tranquility Bay. Very few people, if any, ever came to visit him, and he liked it that way. Maybe that is why he loves the solitude of this sandy expanse.

    When he first found this haven of nirvana, he immediately sold everything to move here. He even broke off his longterm arranged engagement, to the socialite. His parents had selected her for him as the perfect mate to carry on their name. Thinking back to the day he told them that he was leaving, “What did they scream at him? A fool? No that wasn’t it. It was a tool, their tool, and he had to obey them.”

    They said, “We nurtured and raised you and you must do our bidding, after all you are totally indebted to us.”

    Can you imagine, they actually thought they owned him just like a piece of furniture to be sat on. They forgot, he wasn’t a spendthrift like the rest of the siblings. They almost croaked when he handed them a cashier’s check for more than what he owed.

    It was the only way he could be free from their world of pretending to be better than everyone else, a world totally dependent on the financial enslavement of others.

    Now he finally free of them. He chugged back another beer, then leaned back on the folding lounge chair, to watch the sunset across the tranquil blue waters of the bay.

  11. The sun burned silver in the blue sky. Scattered clouds adjusted to the breeze. Waves rolled almost in silence; a whispering “ssh” as they ebbed.
    The warm sand scrunched softly beneath the man’s bare feet. He reveled in the quiet. In the simplicity and the complexity of it. Minutes ago, he’d been trapped in the suffocating metropolis where he’d had to scream to hear his own thoughts.
    From the far end of the beach, the woman walked towards him. She greeted him with a smile, filling a hole he never knew existed.
    “What did you see?” he asked.
    “Animals. Plants. What did you see?”
    “The ocean is rich in life. A freshwater stream comes from the rainforest beyond.” He hesitated. “There seems to be everything we need.”
    “Is it time?” she asked.
    He looked at his wrist. His watch was gone, along with everything else. But he didn’t miss it or even feel that he needed it.
    “Yes,” he answered.
    He took her hand and they sat together, facing the water and looking up to the sky. A tiny pinprick glowed against the blue background, then began to flicker. It expanded with a blinding flash that lit up the daytime sky. Then it disappeared just as quickly, radiating ripples of light from its epicentre.
    “I liked Earth,” the woman said.
    “So did I. Four point six billion years in the making and we’re down to the last suitable one in the universe. We’ve got to get it right this time.”

  12. The beach stretched out before them. The high tide made the strip of white sand narrow, but there was plenty of room for the quintet to walk and to hold their observance.

    This trip to Scotland had brought these total strangers together. Reflection and meditation were part of this journey of their soul. With the new moon rising very early that morning, the women were told it was a time of renewal and rebirth. They planned to be on the beach when the moon rose at 5:15 a.m. to mark this event, but the cold rain and warm beds convinced the heartiest of souls to wait. Moonrise or sunset—would it really make a difference? It’s a magical time in a magical place.

    The skies cleared enough to allow the faint spring sun to come through. Across the sound they could see another of the islands of the Outer Hebrides crowned in cumulus clouds. The air and water were cold, but the setting sun added enough mysticism to make the legend of the new moon complete.

    Each woman observed the wonder of it all. Silently, each was discovering the natural world, not only that of the earth but that which made her inner soul. Five strangers became soul mates; they knew this relationship would end with the trip, but none would forget the clouds, the brisk breeze sending cold waves of the Atlantic closer and closer, and the fading sun giving way to the new moon and their new lives.

  13. Any of my ancestors a thousand years ago would have never believed me. The cavern stretched a hundred kilometers before me and behind. Above us, the ceiling was about a kilometer over head, another half kilometer below what those ancestors first witnessed as the first moon landing at the Sea of Tranquility. The cavern seemed even larger with the clouds and painted ceiling.
    The beach our feet splashed through was the shore of an old lunar-manufactured water reservoir for fuel and provisions to the outer system. It still functioned as such but in the last century, had been used as a resort as well. The low gravity was used along with some creative hacking of old cryonic stirring tech to get some of the largest surfable waves in the solar system. The machinery would be starting up soon so my mom and I retreated to nearby New Haleiwa to watch the system-wide championships. My little sister Nalu was the favorite to win.
    “How high do the waves get?” Mom asked with a quivering voice as I helped her through the sticky sand back to the observation platform.
    “Close to a hundred meters,” I said trying to sound reassuring.
    My mom reached out and squeezed my hand, and smiled.

  14. What a beautiful afternoon, Dennis thought, gazing at the perfect line of bulbous clouds draped over the horizon. He leaned back in his beach chair and let the cool breeze waft over him. And yet, it wasn’t merely the idyllic setting or the gentle murmur of the sea that had brought tears to his eyes. He couldn’t quite place his finger on it, but there was something else about that beach.

    Lucile swallowed the lump in her throat as she ran a hand through her grey, thinning hair. This has to work, she reminded herself, stingingly aware that she had exhausted all other options. And yet, she couldn’t help but harken back to that sunny afternoon in Dr. Stevenson’s office. She had tried her best to keep the tears from streaming down her face as he’d informed her that her husband’s condition was irreversible and the best she could do now was make the most of their time together. She cast one final glance in their Ford’s side view mirror and smiled. This was where they had first met. This was where they had fallen in love. This would work.

    Lucile tentatively approached Dennis on the beach and sat down next to him. “Lovely isn’t it?” Lucile said, gently placing her hand on his. “Dennis…” Lucile began again, her voice ready to betray her, when she saw that familiar smile, that smile that was reserved only for her, grace Dennis’ face.

  15. A crowd had gathered at the beach as I arrived. I didn’t bother locking the car. I ran. Out into the sea of bodies, frantically yelling Natasha’s name, turning to look, craning my neck to see. Nobody looked back. Eyes all fixated on the horizon. I recognized nobody standing there.

    A familiar head on a familiar figure. Ran my fingers down her hair many nights. I pushed. Shoved. No resistance. Called out her name again and again. No response. I kept thinking it couldn’t end like this, not like this. Not after all we’ve been through. I call her name.

    She turns, and I stop, frozen. Her eyes had survived the cancer in them. Now they sat in the palms of each hand. Blood flowed down her face. She smiles, a grotesque mockery.

    “The stars are right. I told you.”

    I shamble forward like a zombie, my own cancerous organs unable to draw breath. My eyes on hers, in her hands.

    Her greatest fear was never being able to see beauty ever again. Every night she tracked the stars with her telescope. She told me of their impossible movements. How it had happened only once, long ago, in a myth.

    She drops her eyes. Takes my hand in hers. Wipes the tears from my face. We turn to the horizon, and witness as the final horror descends on our planet, ending all hope, all dreams, all conflict. Finally, in its abominable arrival, it has achieved the impossible – peace on Earth.

  16. Bill was trying to be calm, talking to himself. “Okay, flaps down.”
    He adjusted the flaps, tears in his eyes.
    “Talk to me Ray, talk to me,” he cried.
    He looked over to his left and moaned.
    “What the hell comes next?”
    He tried hard to remember what Ray had said. Then he remembered. Yes, throttle back, nose up.
    Bill thought he touched and adjusted what he was supposed to adjust.
    He looked out the cockpit window and everything stopped. He saw all the details: a beautiful deserted beach stretched out in the sun for miles in front of him, dark mountains in the distance, beautiful clouds in an azure sky and gentle ocean waves lapping at the beach. It looked like a picture.
    The small plane shimmied and the noise came back. Bill glanced over to his left again, drops of sweat whipping off his nose.
    “Ray, Ray, talk to me. Tell me again. What the hell is next?”
    Ray sat there next to Bill, dead in the pilot seat, slumped over, hole in his chest seeping blood. He was shot to pieces right before they took off.
    As the beach rose up quickly to meet him, Bill realized what was next. Maybe Ray was the lucky one.
    He opened his mouth and screamed.

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