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 2018.
11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Bird Play”
Rachael didn’t mind the attention, but she wasn’t in the market. For a man.
Single and care free all her life, she was just fine, alone. She had much to fill the hours of retirement and especially enjoyed her local Audubon Society. Twice each year they would scour the local landscape in pairs with their binoculars and notebooks for the semi-annual bird count.
On this Saturday in early autumn she was chagrined to find that Loretta, the chairwoman had assigned Henry to be her partner. Henry! That oaf who’d sidle up to her at meetings to whisper incoherent nonsense and she believed he even joined her church to get closer to her. What a bore.
Off they went trudging across a grassy hummock in the Central Valley. She led the way, indifferent to his presence and Henry was attentive to her every move.
“Three o’clock on the low end of that trumpeter vine, hugging its cymes.”
They both stopped and trained their lenses on the motion in the weeds. Indeed it was a bird.
“Looks like a fledgling Verdin to me”, remarked Rachael with authority.
“Not gray enough, perhaps a pine siskin?”
“Sure, if it were twenty-five hundred miles due east. Do you speak, just to speak?
“Sorry, just trying to engage with you, Rachael.”
“Henry, we are counting the birds, stay focused and save your nonsense for some other time”.
“So, you are interested?”
“Shut up and focus, Henry.”
ELIBIGLE FOR EDITORS’ CHOICE ONLY
Small, soft, and light, something flew by the window, like a spirit, – a shadow, feathery and light.
The old woman peers through the glass pane and looks up toward the roof post.
The tiny, little house finch has returned to the porch eave beside the downspout and claimed that same secret niche for her very own. The location of that dark, secret hollow is mapped into her bones. Oddly, instead of one more hidden and unobserved, she choses the niche closest to the step; the one most likely for the woman to see. Perhaps the woman’s presence protects her from some mortal danger or unseen foe.
Busy and determined, the wee creature builds her home. She drops roots and sticks upon the step to clean them from debris. Shred by shred, she carries them into the hole. But the weather is still raw, and the woman watches as the north wind blows her first efforts to the ground. Undaunted, the sprightly bird persists. Piece by piece, she re-gathers the strands and weaves them into a tawny nest, – a spun wreath of garland where she will raise her family.
With some effort the old woman pulls herself up from the wheelchair and steadies herself in front of the sink. She smiles.
“Such a strong will for one so small,” she says aloud.
Each day the woman goes to the window and watches patiently; waits with anticipation,….. for the miracle of life that will happen again this year.
The Surveillor panned several security cameras to street-level and focused on a Citizen standing on a sidewalk holding a camera. “That’s very suspicious activity,” the Surveillor said. “I must investigate.”
Within minutes the Surveillor approached the Citizen. “Good day, sir. What are you doing?”
“I’m taking pictures,” replied the Citizen. He ignored the Surveillor and snapped several photos of birds playing among the flowers and trees.
The Surveillor placed his hands on his hips and assumed a stern expression. “Why aren’t you at home watching TV? Or, why aren’t you at the Mega-malls?”
“I like to photograph nature.”
“Photograph nature? Ridiculous. You’re the only person out here. Do you have any idea how suspicious your behaviour is?” The Surveillor paused and then asked, “Are you photographing secret stuff?” As he spoke a dozen surveillance cameras attached to nearby buildings whirred in unison as they focused their attention on the Citizen with the camera.
“What secret stuff?”
“Secret stuff is everywhere. Besides, nobody comes outside with a camera to take pictures anymore. What are you really up to?” The Surveillor stared at the Citizen with steely eyes and called for backup on his radio.
“I’m just taking pictures–”
“Show me your ID.” Without warning the Surveillor stepped forward and zapped the Citizen with his stun gun, rendering him unconscious. As he looked down at the motionless body he said, “You fool. Everyone knows the State owns the monopoly on photography.”
There they were, right under me. If I pooped wouldn’t they get a load of a surprise? But, no. They are my first target. Had to decide which one to infect. If they would stop hugging and kissing for one second, I’d be able to choose.
Back home, the seven in my group, and all the others, were taught how the annihilation would progress. We had to work swiftly. If our group failed, the other infecters, destined for neighboring planets, would be obliterated. They altered our grotesque forms into friendly, colorful birds and transported my group to our targets, the seven continents on Earth. All we had to do was nip a subject with our beak and pierce the skin break with our infectious tongue. The resulting contamination would spread faster than the speed of light, destroying everything breathing air. This overabundant planet would be ours to inhabit. But, if one of us were killed, well, we knew of the consequences.
I had to move quickly. My targets were untangling themselves. She swooned onto the garden’s lawn. With arms outstretched, she sighed and waited.
Yes. Yes. This was my moment.
As I swooped down to one of the purple marks he left on her delicate body, the love-smitten fool tossed his half-eaten apple at the mesmerized snake curled up nearby, leaped onto the sighing torso, and quashed my brittle bones into lifelessness under his fluttering fig leaf, unknowingly sparing Eden’s garden, Earth, and the Universe, from nonexistence.
She sat perfectly still, so as not to startle it. It perched near the bright orange flowers, this tiny bit of subtle beauty. It had been coming to the same place for a week, and she had watched it every day. She was not about to miss seeing her tiny feathered friend today, just because her daughter and son-in-law were making their monthly visit. It comforted her to imagine the delicate little bird embodied the spirit of her dear husband, and maybe the spirits of others she had lost.
She did not have to caution her daughter and son-in-law against sudden movement. They never moved. They sat perfectly still engrossed in nonsensical images on their cell phones. They didn’t see the bird’s intense eyes, its questioning look, or its bright yellow face against the orange flowers. They didn’t see the bird at all, or the trees moving in the breeze, or the color of the sky, or any of the wonders of the world around them, or even each other.
At last her son-in-law stood and stretched. He pocketed his cell phone. “I guess we’d better be heading out. Good to see you again, Edna.”
Her daughter said, “We’ve got to get you a cell phone, Mom. You miss so much.”
The bird cocked its head, as if to say, “What in the world is she talking about?” And Edna could have sworn she heard laughter.
I Bird It Through the Grapevine
“A little bird told me…Really!”
“Go back to sleep. It’s too early for your nonsense…”
“It’s never too early. And its not nonsense…they are actually having a bird convention in Vancouver…”
“Right. Seriously, you’re getting so demented.”
“I just heard it on the radio. Its for real. And get this, its running for a week. A whole week. Starting tomorrow. Sunday.”
“Wake me next week. When its over.”
“Look, of course I am exaggerating. I just think its kind of interesting…” but I’m talking to the wall. She fallen back to sleep and I lying there, staring at the ceiling, giving some serious thought to the concept of a big bird convention.
Eventually I get up, plop down in front of my computer, and google bird convention.
In no time, I’m looking at the site. Damned if they aren’t having one. A million things to do.
I fear that I have compressed my world and ignored so much of its richness. There will be poets. Poets and Birds.
There will be the Canadian premiere of Birds of Prey, a new film about the rare Philippines Eagle.
I regret my cheap jokes, my title of this piece, my neglect, lack of caring about the condition of birds in the world.
I am an embarrassment to mankind.
Hundreds, maybe thousands of thoughtful people will gather in Vancouver, three hours of travel time away from me, to appreciate to honour birds.
I’m going back to bed.
George had an idea taking flight between his ears, so, he brought his workaholic wife, Catherine, some afternoon tea, “My aren’t we busy today? What are we working on today, dear?”
Without looking up from her work bench she muttered, “The same thing that I have been working on for the last forty years, my stainless steel canary drone, of course.”
“Oh, too bad.” He sighed, “I was hoping we could go for a spin in our heliodrone. I’ll even let you pilot it, and fly around upside down if you like. Well?”
That got Catherine’s attention and she quickly put down her paint brush, “Ah, you did say upside down didn’t you? How far are you willing to go?”
He teasingly grinned, “All the way, my love. Would you like to try for the mile high club again my dear?”
Blushing she replied, “Only on autopilot you old fox! That does it. I’m done for today. Let’s go! I just love zipping around outside like the birds and the bees do!”
He looked at her small stainless steel canary, “What about your little friend there?”
She grinned, “It will still be there when we get back.” Then she cooed, “Besides the paint has to dry. Now let’s go before I change my mind.”
The Palazzos were worried about their daughter. For the last three weeks, Laura had been holed up inside her room with the door locked. She emerged only to get food, use the bathroom or run mysterious errands.
In a few weeks, Laura would be starting college. What was wrong?
Diane spoke seriously to her husband, Alfonse. “Do you think Laura’s on drugs? She’s behaving very strangely.”
“She’s sneezing a lot,” observed Alfonse, “With a bad sniffle. Maybe cocaine?”
They planned an intervention. When the moment arrived, Diane knocked firmly on the door. “Laura, please come out. Everyone is here. We love you, but we know you’re hiding something.”
Alfonse added forcefully, “Your brother Joey and your friends Marge and Frances are waiting.”
“Open it, Dad,” said Laura.
As Laura came out, she held something in both hands. “Open the house door, please, somebody! I have a little bird!” cried Laura, to her family’s surprise.
Joey ran to open the door. The bird flapped her wings, at first weakly, then harder, until she was airborne. She flew in a circle around the room, as everyone backed up; then straight toward the daylight and out the door.
“I knew you wouldn’t let me keep her,” Laura explained sheepishly, “because of my allergies, but she was hurt. I had to help her. Her name is Fifi.”
In the coming weeks, Fifi could be seen flitting around outside, lingering among the flowers, as in a display of gratitude.
“Come on Tess it’s a beautiful morning. Why don’t we go out on the patio and drink a cup of coffee and talk things over. It’s been two weeks.” My mom called into my bedroom trying to get me out of my slump. I said nothing.
“Ok well I’ll be outside if you change your mind,” my mom said reassuringly. I did not want to leave this room for the rest of my life. I looked at the chaos and mayhem that was now my room after my rampage. All my personal items were strewn across the floor and I had even punched a hole in my wall. Two weeks ago, I had been left at the altar on my wedding day. Two weeks ago, my life had been torn apart left only with shattered dreams and endless tears. I glanced out of my window and saw a tiny bird perched upon some bright neon orange flowers. Something about that bird made me burst into tears again. It reminded me of everything I wanted to forget.
“Uh, Tess you might want to come out here.” It was my dad this time but something seemed off.
“FOR THE LAST TIME GO —-”
“No Tess its him..” my Dad slowly interrupted. I immediately jumped out of bed. There was a mixture of emotions running through my head as I started to panic. I wiped my tears away, fixed my hair and reached for my doorknob as my heart raced.
Evelyn awoke and saw, the cool glass of juice sitting on her bedside table. But,as soon as she took a gulp,she knew…years as a chemist…it was poisoned!
“Damn it,” she thought,” how dare they… kill me!”
Evelyn, seventy-five, was bedridden for years. The doctors gave her a year, at the most. Her young relatives had started visiting her, regularly, knowing she had no children…no heirs.
Her days had boiled down to waiting for the little, gray verdin bird, putting on an acrobatic show-hanging on the trumpeter vine-outside her window. He was her faithful friend.
Through the haze of the poison, she heard digging, near the vine. She dialed the police… And tried to write a clue.
The junior detective was about protocol. Securing the crime scene, taking statements-the housekeepers’, and the nephew’s.
The senior detective knew this was an inside job, seeing the crisp, new will on the dining table. Then, when he saw the writing on the bedside table…’Verd’… and listened to the police tape of Evelyn’s foggy words…’Dig’…’Dig’…which they
had thought was a name, he had a theory.
He went outside, and came back in with a bag of jewelry, and a crumpled up old will, covered in dirt. He pointed to the nephews’ dirt covered shoes, and said, “That’s your man!”
“But how…?”The young detective asked.
“It was a friend’s name she tried to spell… Probably her only friend,”he said quietly.
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