Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Hoopers Island Sunset

hoopers island sunset 090101
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, 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!

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16 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Hoopers Island Sunset”

  1. E Row Shun

    “It’s all goin’”, Sam Shapeley said one night as we were a haulin’ in the traps.

    “Da sun. Yeah. Been here all day. Bright as my youngest. Hard work bein’ the sun.”

    “Yeah. Sure da tootin’. Not for me all dat work. Stuck up dere in dat sky. Blisterin’ heat the whole day longy. Not for me.”

    “You stretchin’ my leg all outta shape, Shapeley? I bin tinkered wid by the best…the very best. You ain’t nowhere near the best. Not by a long ship. Naw, you was not jawin’ bout the sun were ya? We don’t give two hoops about how hard it is to burn gas.”

    “Oooowee, Happy. You got a stick up your yowzah? Of course, we can’t change the sun. She do what she do. What’s goin’, what you know what I’m yammerin’ about, is the land. The ocean’s eatin’ the land. S’a cryin’ shame.”

    It t’was. T’was a shame worthy of buckets of wet salty sorrow. The tears flowed from me like a hungry tide. There is was. Hundreds of years of work and dreams, death and life, rebirth, always it was sinking into the ravenous ocean without a care, a thought to those of us who have served as stewards, as beneficiaries of its bounty.

    Shapely and I would be under foot by then, whenever the sea rolled over the last sandbar of land that was Hoopers Island.

    “S’a right ye are, Sam. Nothin’ to do but call ‘er a night.”

  2. Sunset

    Jason was accustomed to digging. He and his pal Pete lived on Middle Hooper Island all their lives.

    For the last thirty years they dug for clams together along the Chesapeake shore, selling their hard-won harvest at the local market.

    “Wasn’t much of a living,” he muttered, “but we got by. It’s been a good life overall.”

    Yet this dig was different — harder.

    “This dirt sure ain’t sand. And I’m considerable older,” he chuckled.

    Pete and Jason had shared the sunrise every day while digging, but their favorite time of day was sunset when they would sit together sharing a beer or two, silently admiring the setting sun and the sky’s rosy glow.

    He was digging alone this time. He didn’t mind at all, but he missed Pete. Sunset would never be the same.

    Just a little deeper, he thought. Just a little longer.

    At last he finished.

    Slowly, gently, he lowered the body into the grave.

    “Rest in peace, Pete.”

  3. “Where do we spread him?”

    “All he said was ‘on the bay side of Middle Hooper where I used to crab’.”

    “At sunset?”

    “No, Joyce added that. She thought it was ‘dreamy’.”

    “Why isn’t she here?”

    “Her new boyfriend is in town. They drove up to Cambridge for a movie.”

    “That figures. Bullying him all those years, then leaving him when it suited her. What a selfish twit. Still, don’t see why he killed himself. Once she was gone he had a new life, new friends, and time for himself, and us.”

    “But he was lonely and missed her. You saw his letter”

    “Aye, a crabber’s life can be a lonely life. But, he knew how to adapt. He was an ex-Marine for God’s sake. I just can’t see suicide in his character.

    “He said he was weary, ‘tired as hell’ he put it. The Preacher said many suicides have those feelings. They lose hope and get angry at God and the world. They figure it’s their last act of self-determination and have high expectations for the peace they think it will bring.”

    “Nonsense, Trey was a simple man with simple needs. I just’ don’ see that fancy thinking’ in him. Mind these rocks near the sawgrass, they’re upwind from his crabbing spot.

    “Aye. You hold the urn first and I’ll scoop some of Trey out with the wind. Then your turn. Wait, any last words for Trey?”

    “Nah, the sunset says it all.”

  4. Still as a skeleton, I flick my eyes to the horizon. The sun trembles on the edge of night, the sky glowing a sullen warning red.

    Red for ‘watch out.’ Red for ‘go home’.

    Red for reapers.

    Three minutes ’til halflight. Three minutes ’til I catch a reaper.

    Every reaper looks different, and most people don’t even notice them– a shadow down an alley, an umbrella in the corner– not quite the hooded figure with the scythe. I always figured that reaper was a drama queen.

    The sun is cut in half on the horizon.

    A puddle with no reflection lays before me, right where I expected. I quickly drop a lodestone in its center, and the surface flexes. Gotcha.

    I’d thought this through carefully. “I want to die quietly in my sleep, in bed, the night after my hundredth birthday.”

    “No,” the reaper whispers.

    “What do you mean, no? I caught you– I get to choose my own death.”

    “No, human. You /choose/ your death. Look.”

    The reaper can’t gesture, but I know where to look. My feet are covered in mud — strange, as it hasn’t rained in three weeks. I try to brush it away, but it spreads, across my fingers, up my legs, cold as my mother’s heart. Not mud, shadow. Shadow not cast by anything I can see. My heartbeat pounds in my ears, and I crumple, eyes squeezed shut.

    The cold engulfs me, and I let a ragged gasp escape.

    “Welcome, brother reaper.”

  5. Her shift had been brutal at Old Salty’s. Becky’s feet ached, her hands smelled of onions and Old Bay but fingering the roll of tips had her smiling. Toeing off shoes, she dipped swollen feet in the cooling water.

    They kept Salty’s cool for the sunburned vacationers and so she slipped off her sweater, flushed face turning to the breeze lifting off the Chesapeake, watching the sun wink out over Solomon’s. Some might say she lacked ambition but when one had a peaceful, happy life, what more was needed? Little Bear would be waiting at the door when she got home, no more accidents since she’d installed his doggie door.

    She snagged a fry from the box at her side. Becky had worked up an appetite but was saving her remaining energy for pedaling home. A cold Pepsi, feet up, then she’d scarf down hush puppies, fries and battered fish. Slipping a small piece of fish for every few of her bites to L.B., she considered it fair doggy tithing.

    With a contented sigh, she gave the last fish bite to L.B., got a profuse licking for it and thought back to her customers today. The tourists liked small talk about her plans to go to California and Scotland soon, deliberately letting them mistake her meanings. They thought she had a wanderlust, grand plans for escaping and seeing the world.

    She’d wink at the locals who knew both cities were less than an hour away by boat.

  6. Clem and Tildie sat together in the rickety porch swing Clem had made years ago and watched the sunset, as they had almost every night for the past five decades or more.

    “We been lucky, Tildie,” Clem observed. “Real lucky. Nothing but luck ever comes our way.”

    Tildie patted his hand.

    “Never got stuck in the back row at a show,” Clem continued.

    Tildie laughed. “That ain’t luck. That’s ‘cause we ain’t never been to a show.”

    “Never been in a accident.”

    Tildie laughed harder. “That ain’t luck neither. That’s ‘cause we ain’t never had a car.”

    “How about the kids? They all turned out good.”

    “’Cause we raised ‘em right, that’s why. Luck had nothin’ to do with it.”

    Clem and Tildie sat silently for awhile, lost in thought.

    “I’m lucky I got you, Tildie,” Clem said. “Real lucky.” He patted her hand.

    “And I’m lucky I got you, Clem,” Tildie said. “I think we’re about the luckiest folks in the whole wide world.”

    She took his hand and helped him up. The sun had set, and it was time to go inside.

  7. They cast off from Rippons Harbor, slipping into the calm waters of the Honga River before tacking West towards the Chesapeake which glistened gold and burgundy in the setting sun. Though twilight, the sky was clear enough to see the outline of Hooper Lighthouse to the North. It hadn’t been illuminated in many years, but 63 feet of cast iron was still impressive.

    Izzy had taken dozens of shots of the Harbor, the Causeway and the Lighthouse over their four days here. From wizened, bearded crabbers to pleasure sailboats full of tourists to day fishing junkets, she’d aimed her camera, taking in all the local color. Picturesque, some would say quaint, harkening back to a gentler time. Grueling work, certainly but she’d bet they spent more time watching sunrises and sunsets than posting on Facebook or Twitter. More time playing catch or fetch most evenings than streaming YouTube.

    Mark walked towards her on the afterdeck as she took some final shots of the blazing sky. “Should we laveer and take our time or would you prefer to head South? Kilmarnock, maybe even Newport News if we’re not too tired?

    Izzy thought for a moment. “Let’s let Fate decide.”

    Taking out her lucky coin, she flipped it in the dying light. “Heads, North, Tails, South.”

    The coin spun high before Mark grabbed it. “South it is,” he laughed before going to tack their sailboat in a new direction while Izzy captured his efforts, not wanting to rely solely on memory.

  8. Hard to believe I’ve lived to be 25 years old and never noticed the loveliness of a sunset. The golden rays turn the sky orange and make the dark water sparkle. My melancholy grows as I remember the family I left behind.

    I’ve been so wrapped up in my adventures that I never took the time to see nature’s beauty around me. But the life of a pirate can be fast-paced and hectic.

    When I ran away from my boring apprenticeship, I thought a pirate’s life would be all glory, girls, and gold. But it didn’t turn out that way. The captain and his mate keep most of the gold and give the rest of us a pittance. So the women flock to the ones with all the doubloons, while we drown our sorrows at the keg.

    As for the glory, my days are filled with drudgery – swabbing decks, cooking and eating slop, repairing leaks, climbing masts, fixing torn rigging. Even the battles are not such great adventure. Most of our victims know Blackbeard and they surrender without a fight.

    But now with a little time on my hands, I wish I could see my ma and my brothers and sisters. If I could have escaped with the others, I’d quit this nasty business and go back home. Instead, I watch through bars as the sun sinks below the horizon. This gorgeous sunset will be my last. I face the gallows in the morning.

  9. The boy named Hoptuit was on his donkey ride for several days to cover the 120 kilometers from Nairobi to the shores of Lake Natron. The customs officer at the border crossing of Tanzania was sleeping, like usual. The boy was hungry and since the guard was sleeping and already too fat for his own good, Hoptuit swiped his bucket of ugali, the tasty cornmeal mush that did not need much chewing.

    Hoptuit drove his herd ahead while he rode in majesty aboard his donkey, Bogart. Hoptuit named his donkey Bogart because of the famous American naval commander by that name who had been married to an African queen. Bogart did a good job of keeping the goat herd moving. If one of the goats got out of line, Bogart the donkey would give a punch into the head of the offending goat. That would get the goat back into line.

    His destination was Hooper Island just off the shore of Lake Natron. Not many people knew about Hopper Island or the secret Hopper Island Goat Market, because it was not on any map. He would take votes to see who was the best ferry operator to get his goats across to market.

    Some of his goats would be sold to make stew. Others would perform in the Famous Kisongo Goat Rodeo. Other goats would be sold to high government officials for their children to ride at birthday parties. The sun was going down as Hoptuit counted the votes.

  10. Linda Weller grabbed a wrap from a rack as she walked out the door, hissing when her cocktail spilled onto her hand. The air outside was still warm, but the temperature would drop quickly once the sun set.

    She walked across the tiny putting green, past the pool and headed for the tiki hut that looked over the beach. For everyone in the neighborhood, this was the place to watch sunset.

    Today there was only one occupant. Linda rolled her eyes.

    Of course. It was the end of the world, so the only person here was the one she couldn’t stand.

    “Hi, Linda!”

    “Keri,” Linda said, schooling her voice to politeness.

    As was the custom, they sipped their cocktails and didn’t speak as the sun crawled toward the horizon. Sunsets here were always spectacular, but today was glorious.

    Linda was glad that the last sunset she’d ever see was such a memorable one, then winced at the irony.

    “What time’s it supposed to hit?” Keri asked.

    Linda tried not to sound annoyed. “3:22am local time.” As if Keri didn’t know that. Every news station on the planet had broadcast the exact time the asteroid would hit.

    “Well, I’m taking extra sleeping pills tonight,” Keri said, then laughed.

    Linda realized that Keri was brighter than she’d thought. While the rest of the world went mad staring in the face of its own demise, Keri had – like Linda – decided to spend it watching one last day come to an end.

  11. In late afternoon, Ben and Olivia took a drive to Hooper’s Island for a romantic picnic of cheese, bread, fruit, and wine.

    As they prepared it, a tousled young woman, in old-fashioned clothing, staggered out of the bulrushes. “I never ‘spected to see no folks in these parts!” she whispered.

    “Who are you?” asked Ben.

    “Please don’t tell Massah,” she begged, “Harriet Tubman.”

    “Harriet Tubman!” exclaimed Olivia, “You could be her, if…”

    “You ain’t spies, I hope?” asked Harriet, turning to Ben, “Doncha know you could be whipped for being wid a white woman?”

    “What?” asked Olivia, “What year do you think it is?”

    “Everybody know it’s 1849,” said Harriet.

    Olivia and Ben shared their picnic with their unexpected guest. She had perfect manners and was very grateful. She didn’t drink much wine.

    “This time I’m runnin’. Massah gonna sell me for shuh. Would nevah see ma chillun or kinfolk! This wine taste good, but I gotta stay sobah.”

    They gave her bottled water, something she had never seen before. Then they gave her the picnic basket.

    “Betta run. You chillun watch out! The Lawd bless you!”

    The sun was setting; Harriet disappeared into the scenery. Olivia and Ben embraced in silence, too overwhelmed to speak. Somehow, Harriet Tubman wasn’t a ghost. She was an eating, drinking person.

    They walked back to Olivia’s car, to make sure it still existed. It was still 2018 in their world, and yet they had been part of history.

  12. As the sun set, the young man paddled to the other side of the island and headed for the waiting cabin. He snapped some twigs into the fireplace and set them afire. The flames gave a warm glow to the room. His kettle of coffee, hanging at the hearth, heated enough for his first cup.

    Sipping the warming drink, he reached into a drawer and pulled out sheets of musical notes he was composing and, pencil in hand, sank into the overstuffed chair by the fireplace. Improvising his melody, he hummed and made notations on the staffs. Night passed quickly. He was quite satisfied with his accomplishments.

    The rising sun lit his path to the dinghy. Waving goodbye to his cabin,
    he pointed his prow homeward and patted the pages safely folded under his arm.

    “Poochee, Poochee,” his teacher cried. “We did not think you would be back in time to hear your “Capriccio” performed by your fellow students at our Milan conservatory. Grazie Dio, you made it.”

    “Thank you, sir,” he responded. “After the concert I though you might take a look at my score for an opera I’m composing.”

    “Opera, Poochee? Opera? But of course. Maybe after this production”.

    The performance was thanked with thunderous applause and cheering bravos.

    Thrilled, the inspired young composer raced back to his cabin, reheated the kettle of coffee and, pencil in hand, snuggled into his plump chair to complete the first of eleven operas the world will always be grateful for.

  13. Huppers Island wiz out in th’ bay since th ice melted and formed it.
    Several uv us had houses there…homes. Some for three, four generations—that we know of.
    Crabbers we wuz…in the summer…arsters in the fall.
    Some left soons it started risin’. Some uv us held out—we never gave much credit to the egg heads ‘at always said they knew more about this water then we did…who lived on it.
    Heck, even some uv them arged thet th ‘warmers’ wuz wrong.
    But they wuzzent. It kept right on a’rising. Right up over the porches an inta th parlors uv them houses.
    We allas had ‘bout a dozen crab boats docked here. Some owners ferried over from th shore of a mornin’—them that didn’t live here no more.
    Most all of ‘em found other docks…one by one.
    Ole Charlie Morgan sed he wuz too old for this shit and just stayed aboard ’til he had the attack. His boat’s been a’listin’ to port the past week. Reckon she’ll die soon too…now that he’s gone. Pity, she was one of the last Jim Richardson bilt over ta Cambridge.
    The height of a’them pilings is funny. It’al cover ‘em soon too. Guard will hafta put ‘em on the charts as a hazard.
    Don’t matter ta me. Me and Lizzie Mae know a deep spot in th Bay.
    We ain’t agonna need nary a pilin’ for our last berth.
    And, no dock rent down there.

  14. A memory is like a sunset, there for a while but soon gone only to return the next day. Two months after my dad died, my mom read a letter to my younger brother 6 and me 8 from a Christian man in Michigan, Dan Ottinger, who asked her to marry him. He was widowed with three children. I remember crying, “I don’t want another daddy.” I really meant, “I want my own daddy.” She, to my knowledge, did not pursue the subject with her out-of-state suitor. I never found out how she knew Mr. Ottinger or if it was word of mouth. She told me she left home at 22 because her mother kept insisting that she marry, and she wanted a man who was not a farmer. One said he would never marry if she wouldn’t wed him. He never did marry.

    After my mother was widowed, she told me she thought she might remarry, but she compared anyone who was interested in her to my dad, and they did not measure up. However, most of her life was as a single woman. I remember two suitors from the church in Chowchilla, California. One who was divorced used to bring chocolates to let her know he was interested. She gave them to me after he left following each short visit. The other was another bachelor who never married

  15. The lost Key to Christmas Happiness

    Bethany Chambers was on the news 3 days before Christmas.


    Drew and Bethany had known each other all their lives. Drew fell in love with her at age 9. He knew she would be his wife one day.

    After dating a little in high school, they went their separate ways. Drew went into the life of a waterman – just like his ‘daddy’. Bethany moved to the city of Baltimore and went to nursing school. She rarely came back to the island.

    But then, just like a hurricane or Nor’easter, illness struck down Bethany’s mother. Bethany came home to take care of her. Drew became her sounding board and comforter.

    They fell in love, and were married on her mother’s lawn at sunset.

    But they started having major conflicts.

    “Why can’t we winter in the city?” Bethany challenged.

    “I don’t like to leave the house and our friends…”

    “I think you need to worry about keeping your wife happy,” Bethany retorted.

    Then, Drew found the key. The key to a townhouse in Baltimore – a house he knew nothing about.


    Three weeks before Christmas Bethany’s sister reported her missing.


    Drew sat in front of the fireplace admiring the Christmas tree Bethany had trimmed, when there was a knock at the door.

    He opened the large, 150 year old door.

    “…uh, hello Troopers…”he sputtered.

    “Mr Chambers we are here to inform you that the body of your wife was found this morning in Annapolis Harbor.”

    ” Well, I guess it’s over then,” Drew said.

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