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, 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.
13 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Bluebird”
Yes, I know I am beautiful, and everyone wants to photograph me. It’s my curse. I swear if one more human calls me “Pretty Girl” I will claw his face off. I am not a girl, never have been, never will be. I do not fuss and preen over my appearance.
Hey Human! You like this pose? On a bare branch, facing away, head turned back?
Like I was saying, I may be pretty but there is a lot more to me than that. I am a proud father of three. Or is it four? Anyway, a father of three or four could hardly be considered a girl, pretty or not.
Hey Human! Catch the brown spot on my back. Not everyone has one you know.
Too bad these humans can’t understand what we are saying. If they could just understand instructions their photos would be really outstanding. I do feel a bit sorry for them though. That’s why I don’t mind posing for a few pictures. But I have my limits. Once they start calling me Pretty Girl, all bets are off and it’s back to doing what we do best.
Oh, oh! Did you hear that! He called me “gorgeous”! That’s it. What color is his car? White? Oh, perfect! I am so glad I ate all those purple berries for breakfast.
“I can’t believe my eyes! Could it be?””
“I see it Daddy. It’s beautiful.”
Sheri leaped out into the open and began running towards the tree where the tiny blue bird perched.
“Stop! You’ll frighten it away.” John shouted.
It was too late. The winged miracle was gone in a flash of electric blue.
“I was anxious to see it closer. I’m sorry.”
“Sheri I brought you along against my better wishes. Now I won’t tell you again. Sit still and be quiet!”
Mumbling his disappointment at missing his chance to photograph the elusive Bluebird, John continued down the hill, peering through his binoculars every couple of steps. He was getting hot and the sun was beginning to burn his pale skin. His bald head began to sweat and John was soon in a terrible mood.
He decided to give up and turned to climb back up the hill. He was alarmed when his daughter hadn’t followed him.
“Sheri! Where are you?”
“Daddy, I’m over here.” He barely heard her faint whisper.
John found his young daughter right where he’d shouted at her and once again he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Sheri, why didn’t you tell me?”
John quickly snapped photos of the bird that sat on his daughter’s finger.
“You told me to be quiet and sit still.”
By Annette Rey
The day dawns with promise; the reminder comes to me from liltingly, sweet, joyful songs. My spirit is soothed; my chest expands in deep, relaxed breathing. I absorb their message.
Peace flows through me. As I walk through my wild, woodland yard, I give a gift in return of seed and fresh water. I contemplate the blessings of the natural world and will all, man and beast, safety and fullness of life.
A woodchuck baby appears; with frightened eyes he scans the area and skitters back into the shelter of heavy brush. A hard-working chipmunk darts to the top of a woodpile and views his world, searching for food to store in his home. A lizard skitters across my path. Squirrels hop from branch to branch, shaking limbs and rattling leaves above me. They are watchful, too, for me to disappear so they can share the bounty I leave behind.
Over two-dozen types of birds swoop, and perch, and pierce the air around me. The smallest ones approach the closest to me, choose a seed, and flutter to the nearest branch to break it open. They transfer the seed to a claw and press it to the bark. A tiny, pointed beak pecks the shell – tat-tat-tat, tat-tat – until the soft, inner reward is revealed and consumed. Cardinals open a seed in their mouths. Blue jays swallow them whole.
My soul is filled with beauty, and color, and rhythm, and song.
Blessings abound for you. Just look for them.
“Dad, why did you bring me here?” Katie asked.
“Because it’s Mother’s Day.”
“Honey, I know you are upset about her…leaving so suddenly.”
“I miss her so.”
“I know you have been upset. You need to accept what you can’t change. I’ve listened to you some nights crying in your room. Please honey, it breaks my heart that I can’t bring her back.”
“Dad, I need to share some things.”
“Now is as good a time as ever.” He set the plant down. “You and I need to talk more often. What do you want to share?”
“Okay…I do cry most nights. Mom used to come in my room to say goodnight. Even those nights I said some awful things to her.” She held his hand. “Dad, I’ve seen you crying too. That makes it even worse.”
“You’re right. Other than memories, YOU are the best thing I have left.”
“I wish she were here so I could tell her how sorry I am, and that I love her.”
“Just say what you want her to hear.”
“She can’t hear me.”
“Please Katie, you will feel better getting it out.”
“Mom…I miss you so much. I wish you were here with us. I’m ashamed of how I behaved. I’m so sorry.” He wiped her cheeks.
Just then there was a wavering call.
“Dad LOOK, a Bluebird.”
“Oh, my God…she heard me. She once told me that if something happened to her, I should watch for a Bluebird.”
A foolish young man walked into the woods to find the bluebird of happiness, but every where he did go was filled with ruin and sadness.
As he hiked along the trail he passed more and more moss-covered trees in all degrees of falling down upon the ground. Each rotting trunk and stump and log lay beneath a carpet of green moss slowly sucking all its life away.
He quickly realized and vocalized, “There is no one here to repent bringing down these trees; all left to rot upon the ground to feed the forest brown.”
Along this slippery moss laden path, he grew worried about what lay ahead, “Will this get me to the meadow my friends insist happiness is found, or will I once again miss it, forever hidden?”
Into the lateness of the day, as proved by the setting of the sun, he came upon a rolling green mountain meadow long and wide. In fading light, he saw a lone bird far off, across this open meadow, “Could that be the one and only bluebird, which I seek?”
Now, totally determined to find out what happiness lay in store, afraid it might escape his knowing, he ran headlong across this meadow. Such joy he never felt before as he charged toward his final destination. Suddenly, in great dismay, he found no ground beneath his feet of a ravine now unseen in the fading light …
High upon that lone dead tree the bird dared declare, “Nevermore.”
“Moise, is there a God?”
“Of course, you fool. God created everything — and everyone. Even you, you fool.”
“But Moise, how can that be? Look at us…look at where we are. Would a kind God do this to us?”
“Abe, you schlemiel…you should have gone to temple. The rabbi would have explained ALL of this to you — in words even YOU could understand.”
“But Moise…look at us. We carry the dead.”
“Somebody has to.”
“But, I feel guilty.”
“Abe, you’re alive. Be grateful.”
“Moise…I am, I am. But so many have come here. And so many have left.”
“It’s God’s plan.”
“You mean this was all part of His plan?”
“Abe, the Torah tells us so.”
“You should have spent more time in temple. Then you’d understand.”
“I’d go to temple now…if we had one. Or a rabbi.”
“A new life awaits us…trust me. Abe…do I look like God?”
“No, Moise, you look like a skeleton!!”
“Well, believe me…a new day will come. And we will be there to welcome it !!”
Corporal Steven Weissman of the Signal Corps was the first to arrive outside the gates.
He looked inside the Polish dictionary nestled in his breast pocket: “Oswiecim” – Auschwitz.
And then he saw the bluebird perched atop the wrought-iron arch above the gate:
“ARBEIT MACHT FREI”
Spring came late that year: April 1, 1945.
“Where is that bus? They’re never around when you need one!”
Herbie couldn’t believe what happened. His entire life he had been living in Happiness, because that’s what bluebirds do. But happiness can be boring. If you have nothing to compare it to, how do you know you’re happy?
Herbie heard a rumor that Paradise was looking for a bird, any bird. He thought he’d give it a shot. He was tired of all the bluebirds in his neighborhood. It was too confusing—they all looked alike! Not that Herbie was a true bluebird—he didn’t have the little crown on the head and his wings were black, but he was the correct color for Happiness.
At first, Paradise was all it was cracked up to be. Everything was wonderful, even moreso than in Happiness, and in Happiness everything was perfect! The different types of birds Herbie met excited him—so many shapes and sizes and colors! But some of these birds couldn’t fly and that made them sad. You’d figure in Paradise they’d be able to use their wings like other birds. But they couldn’t. Variety is the spice of life, they say.
After a while he became bored with Paradise. Everything was too perfect, except for his friends who couldn’t fly like he could. So in protest he swore off flying and decided to go home where he belonged. Since he promised his friends he’d no longer fly, he had to take the bus.
“Where is that thing?”
“The artifice is amazing!” Aasif proclaimed. A tiny blue bird with rusty back feathers perched almost motionlessly on a bonsai twig.
“Go ahead, touch it,” said an old man in shadow and smoke nearby, “take a good look at the detailing.”
Aasif glanced at the old master and then slowly leaned toward the bird. Suddenly, it flitted across the library perching on the top of a dusty, old shelf. Startled, Aasif flinched. The old man was chuckling.
“Worry not, it will return and not flee.”
Aasif was skeptical but the small bird flew around the room a few more times before resuming its perch on the bonsai. The old man pressed a button somewhere in his robes. Aasif moved in and the bird didn’t even flinch. He picked it up and turned it over looking ever closer.
“It truly is a work of art, sensei,” Aasif said, “This is a masterpiece.”
“No, that is a mere toy.” Master Goto said, “You are my greatest creation.”
As he said this, Master Goto reached over and tapped the young man twice behind the ear. Without feeling pain or wonderment, Aasif’s face opened up and revealed extraordinary clockwork within. From somewhere deep in Aasif, his voice emerged, “Grandfather would be proud. Mother too.”
Master Goto moved closer still and tapped his own ear twice. His own face cracked open revealing intricate clockwork much like Aasif’s.
“Son, you are my greatest creation but I am my father’s”
Alouette chose a blue wedding dress despite her mother nudging more traditional options. Traditional meant white. But Alouette was vivacious, contrasting her mother like her attire did the snow on the day of the December wedding.
In vibrant blue, she ascended the aisle of the Catholic church, glowing, and never more beautiful. Milo anticipated, bright-faced and proud, posture fixed with wisdom, and a smile decorated with wit. “Freedom ever calls the free,” he smirked as she perched upon the alter. Alouette returned a smile she had preserved just for him.
Together, they aged like wine in the fields of Northern Michigan. Each loved the other more profoundly with age though affection turned subtle and assumed. Every morning, she poached eggs, clanging in the kitchen as he nursed black coffee in the company of a novel at the back window.
They bore and married seven children who together offered twenty-three grands of whom gifted fourteen greats. All fifty-one gathered when Alouette passed from pancreatic cancer at 78. Cherished stories were laid mournfully on her grave before all fifty-one departed.
Milo stood by the window, sipping water. The silence in the kitchen ached as a novel lay neglected beside him. Dismal eyes awoke as a bluebird ascended a pine, and pale lips clenched for its company. “Freedom ever calls the free,” Milo whispered on the glass. He turned to the kitchen and poured water into a deep set frying pan on the stove, having rekindled a forgotten peace in lasting memory.
The gentle bird had his fill of berries and nuts and flicked to the tip of the branch closest to the open window. The warm summer winds parted the curtains. His blue wings fluttered as he watched her at the window, her glorious trills ruffling his feathers.
For centuries, people refer to us as The Bluebird of Happiness, he recalled. It’s nice for them to think so, but just listen to her. That singing would make anything happy, he continued, and hopped to the window sill. Look at those shimmering yellow feathers. I think they call her a blonde. She’s my blonde The Yellowbird of Happiness.
The chirping Canary bobbed up and down in her cage when she saw him again. Her melodious singing filled the room, poured out the window and wrapped around her enraptured paramour. He swooned.
She would build our home in a site she selected, he thought. We’d have a nest of three or four that I will feed and care for. We’ll start off with a clutch of two, and then, who knows? Hey! She’s Yellow. I’m Blue. Maybe we’d create a brood of magnificent The Greenbird of Happiness.
Suddenly, a calico cat lunged at the cage, clawed open the fragile door and allowed The Yellowbird of Happiness to fly to her waiting suitor, who quickly realized, even cats could become idolized as The Calicocat of Happiness. Hmmm! Bunnies. Kangaroos. The Hippo of Happiness, too. Crazy world.
They soared away into The Sunset of Happiness
Michael kept a picture in his wallet that his 87-year-old Mom took last year: her solo bluebird, stationed within the mass of evergreens that surrounded her front porch. The bluebird came back every year. We have an understanding, she’d say.
Her bluebird was perched a few feet away even now, as Michael pointed out to the realtor standing with him on Mom’s porch. But the realtor’s eyes skittered over the picture, the bird, the porch and the sagging blinds, coolly assessing the 150-year-old home that the son had grown up in, and his Mom had finally died in.
It was for sale, the realtor spat out. The trees, over-grown, had to go. Better that new buyers see the dull ground remaining. An old house was such a hard sell anyway.
Days later, Michael stood locking the front door, holding the last box of memories. In it was a small glass ‘bluebird of happiness’ like the one Mom gave him when he bought his own place. Starting down the steps, he watched as, a few feet away, the real bluebird stumbled, confused, through the bramble left behind on the ground. And the bluebird looked back, he thought.
Mom’s mailman bustled up the walk, grinning. “Her medicine came in –.” He stopped when he saw Michael’s face, started crying as Michael did, too, standing in front of the empty house and wishing he could explain it all to the bluebird, or the bluebird to him.
A Nest Needs Fire
by Jack Spies
After leaving Suzi this morning, I started thinking it might be time to end our relationship. We had been with each other for five years and had yet to nest.
Birds of our sort live on average about six years, so the need for short courtships is paramount. But knowing this, why did I let it drag on so long? Well there is Suzi’s great beauty. She is extraordinarily graceful. Her wings extend to over eight feet, and they are positively luciferous with just the hint of a purple nimbus. She says she uses a special gel, that she has flown in from Carthage, but I think she mixes it herself in her lair. And then there is her scent: a heavenly mixture of the finest Phoenician oils pressed – in accordance with a royal recipe – from rare herbs. There are rumors that she is a witch. She does have very strange habits. Sometimes when the moon is full – if you look at her from a certain angle – she looks like a swan, but what kind of swan breathes fire?
Well anyway, I believe Suzi and I are pretty much washed up – for the rest of the season anyway. When the sun sinks, it’s time to fly away to the mountains where I keep a little spot: a secluded love nest, that I think will suit me very well until I find another as splendid as Suzi – her fire is on the wane.
Inside the bag
Lots of worms wiggle
But they are not really worms
But mealworms that jiggle
To and fro
Here and back
Bluebirds come fluttering
For it’s their favorite snack
“Eww!” says Little Tommy
“Are they alive Big Sis?”
“Of course”, she says
“look how they twist!”
Into a glass dish, worms squirm
They won’t get out
“Just a few” … … …
“There!”, she shouts.
They walk over to the bird-feeder
A cage with a roof on a pole
It’s blue like the bluebirds!
And at the ends it’s got two holes
The openings are just big enough
So the bluebirds can get at the food
Maybe one, maybe two
Mama, papa and all the rest of the brood!
Big Sis opens the roof like a door
And places the dish in the middle
Then beneath a big tree
They frisk, frolic and fiddle
“Where are the bluebirds?”
Says Little Tommy impatiently
“Shh here they come,” whispers Big Sis –
Swooping down oh so daintily
Bosoms as a patch of caramel
Feathers a wonderful blue
With black tipped wings and tail
And then below a vanilla hue
They land and began feeding
The worms get swallowed
Cooing, chirping, and chattering
The bluebirds no longer feel hollow
A bluebird flies to them and says:
“Thank you very much for the grubies”
“You’re welcome”, say the children
All lubby dub dubby
The bluebirds depart
Big Sis and Little Tommy beam
Yeah! they yell –
Made happy by the bluebirds they’ve seen
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