Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Knees

cypress knees flash fiction prompt copyright KS Brooks
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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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Knees”

  1. I told Jodie over and over that she’s got no talent. She’s not good at shaping the clay, with those stumpy fingers of hers. But she’s too pig-headed to listen. She said she was making likenesses of people lost to us. They all look alike, she said, because they are all ghosts. And she would keep making them until she had a ghost for each one. They have no features, no arms, nothing. They are creepy. And they remind me of what I did.

    That’s why I threw them all out. Dumped them back in the woods. Frankie says I shouldn’t have done that, that the ghosts will get me. Maybe he’s right, maybe not.

    But I think maybe he’s right.

    After last night’s rain I went outside, just to look around, and I saw a bunch of Jodie’s ghost figures, standing in a row by the back of the yard. That’s not where I dumped them, and I don’t know how they got there. Later on, clay ghosts ringed the whole house, creepy figures with no eyes. Way more than Jodie had made. And way bigger.

    Frankie had gone into town, and Jodie was over at Ma Perkin’s. I was by myself, but not really by myself. There were the ghosts of all those I had done away with. I had a feeling that by tomorrow Jodie might be making a ghost for me.

  2. They’d been warned. Repeatedly. It was a large wood and I’d been happy to share it with the villagers. I’d only had one steadfast rule.

    Don’t go near the western grove.

    There was ample fish and game elsewhere, many trees to fell and build with all over the area. Except for that one little spot. That was mine and needing solitude for my studies, I felt it a simple request.

    Evidently, I was wrong.

    I’d heard rumblings and grumblings amongst some of the more rabble rousing of them. There was always one or two, easily dealt with but while I’d been more engrossed than usual in my pursuits, that small number had increased. Double, tripled, eventually becoming a mob of thirteen.

    Unlucky.

    So, it came to pass one mid-morning as I stood vexed by a particular problem that they chose to stealthily approach. To attack? To harm? Merely to shout invectives? I’ll never know, can only surmise their intent. But startled I was and since I wasn’t fully in control, the spell went awry. I’d mastered “fireball”, “ice” and “turn to stone”. I’d been working diligently on “woodchuck”.

    Surprised, I turned, casting all four. The villagers stopped, stunned, as ice and flames flew towards them. But the spell continued, shrinking them, bringing them to their knees, hardening them where they stood.

    At some point, I may learn how to undo my spell, freeing those unfortunate souls. Until then, I’m assured my privacy.

    Nary a villager has dared come near again.

  3. The Biology teacher, Mister Beechman lead his high school students on a field trip into the Everglades. Just off the nature trail, he spotted something unusual, “Everyone get over here! This is an unbelievable botanical find.”

    The students got behind him as he crouched down and pointed at a massive row of cone-shaped mushrooms inside the end of a rotten log. “Can anyone tell me what these mushrooms are?”

    His students were dead silent because they were more intent on swatting at the massive clouds of mosquitoes buzzing about them. “Alright, the first one to tell me what these things are will get an ‘A’ for today’s field trip. ”

    Matty, the cheerleader, squatted down next to Beechman, and Maxwell, the class geek, leaned over her shoulder to see what all the fuss was about. Maxwell smelled a rotten meat odor emanating from the end of the log.

    Matty started to say, “These mushrooms look like Morels, but I thought they didn’t …”

    Without thinking, Maxwell grabbed her shoulder and pulled her backward away from the open end of the log. Matty screamed as the gator grabbed Mister Beechwood instead of her. Maxwell took her hand and led her away from there as the giant gator clamped down on their teacher pulling him into the log.

    Matty and Maxwell made it out of the swamp to join up with the others; it wasn’t until they were safe that they realized they were still holding hands.

  4. Rebecca knelt beside her kneeling lover, Neil. “Oh, yes. I will,” she sighed. He slipped the cigar band onto her trembling finger. “This will have to do till I get back,” he whispered. “Wait for me?”

    “Till the end of time, my darling,” she promised, and kissed him goodbye.

    “All aboard” blared from the loudspeakers.

    He grabbed his suitcase and raced up the gangplank to his room below deck. While changing into his waiter’s uniform, his roommate rushed in. “Gosh, I almost didn’t make it. Have a good time ashore?” They hurried to get ready for the sailing away party, then headed for the ship’s galley prepared to serve at first sitting.

    “I met the most wonderful girl,” Neil told his friend. “We had seven rapturous days together. She was a novitiate living in that monastery up in the hills. We met at the bookstore on the corner.”

    “She’s giving up becoming a nun for you? Do you really plan on keeping in touch with her?”

    “Yes. We’re getting married soon as I get back,” Neil gushed, waving his arm in delight. “The amazing thing about all this is we both seem to be absolutely in first love, as though we waited all our lives for this magical moment. When we’re together, we seem to be one inseparable being.” Tears filled his eyes. “We’re so unbelievably happy.”

    Neil reached his first table and, handing the couple a menu, joyfully greeted them with, “The Titanic welcomes you aboard her maiden voyage.”

  5. Knees

    Molly had searched the forest all day and was about to give up when the grey clouds parted and the rays of the late afternoon sun shone through the forest canopy, revealing the knees, small mounds which housed tiny fairies. It was the spring equinox and the weather was already warming, soon the fairies would be waking from their winter hibernation. Molly opened the basket she had been carrying and carefully laid out tiny, lethal traps all around the mounds, baiting them with golden honey that was irresistible to the evil little creatures. They would emerge from their hibernation ravenous and the lure of the honey for a much needed energy boost would lead to their quick deaths in the traps she set. Molly smiled at her handiwork. Everyone else was enchanted by the tiny fairies, but she knew how truly vicious their nature was. They had destroyed her prized rose garden for the last time.

  6. “Now that we are all assembled, I call this meeting to order.”

    The prairie dogs gathered to discuss the problems they’d been suffering from the number of trespassers on their land. After their ancestors endured the plague of Conestoga Wagons generations before and moved their families to the forest, now there were pathways being developed and hikers were plowing through non-stop on the weekends. How could they stop the flow of humans?

    One of the bravest hid behind trees, rocks, almost anything that would conceal himself. He discovered that when fully erect, prairie dogs were the approximate height to the average human’s knees. He also noticed that most humans held something in their hand that took all of their attention. He didn’t know what it was, but he thought if his fellow critters could erect a wooden or stone statue of themselves that the humans would either photograph them with that thing in their hands or just trip right over the replicas and fall. They get hurt, they leave and hopefully wouldn’t come back.

    They created prairie dogs of all heights and arranged them around the forest. Some were tall enough to trip an adult male, some small enough to wreak havoc on a child. Near the entrance of the forest, in honor of this historic meeting, they recreated the scene. The bravest prairie dog, who came up with the idea, was the tallest effigy, surrounded by his officers, while others were placed before him in honor.

  7. In a quiet corner of the Ace Basin, there’s a dense stand of American Bald Cypress. I usually visit them in summer to avoid the heat and enjoy the quiet rustle of their leaves in late afternoon anticipating the near-daily zephyr and shower of Southern summers. The smell of moist decay and summer blooms attest to the presence of other life forms in the wetlands beyond. A peaceful respite wounded only by the occasional jet-ski poaching on the protected harbor river the Yemassee People called The Coosawhatchie.

    This last winter, I visited on a particularly fraught day of personal misery. A day of judgment on some health concerns. It had snowed. Very rare for Coastal Carolina. Just enough to excite the soul and close school for a few days. The cypresses were naked save for the Spanish moss and mistletoe clinging to their spare branches. The sounds were different, too. I could hear wintering loons, perhaps from Canada. Somewhere in the distance, a hunter had likely bagged a wood duck.

    I enjoyed the peace I always found there but noticed on that day for the first time, through the sparse winter foliage and ground cover, the “knees” of the cypress root system. These trees were confirming their presence and with their elvish appearance, quietly claiming new territory in a crowded environment. Evidence of the eternal hope of species, and a celebration of self. A natural lesson in perseverance. An unexpected elixir for a tired mind and heart.

  8. Only the Woody Knees Know

    Sheriff Logan arrived at the State Park. The victim was face down among the woody knees of the Bald Cypress trees.

    The coroner reported,” It seemed like heart, but… look what we found in his mouth,” pointing to a leaf in an evidence bag.

    “Very unusual…” remarked Logan.

    ***

    Later that week, the medical examiner called, ” Poisoning, from the plant Digitalis.”

    “Foxglove..?” the sheriff confirmed, “Foul play then…”

    The sheriff learned the victim had worked for Tech Labs, a classified research company.

    The next day, the FBI said they were taking over the case.

    “I’ll be darned if I’m going to let them solve this case.” The sheriff reinterviewed the neighbors.

    ***

    The FBI agent called, and the sheriff said, “Meet me at the victim’s neighbors, we have some arrests to make.”

    Arriving, the FBI agent asked, “What tipped you off about the neighbors?”

    “When I interviewed them, they had newly planted flowers out front.”

    “Flowers? What have flowers got to do with this murder?”

    “Everything…! The family is a plant- excuse the pun-from Moscow… KGB. The husband and wife tried to get jobs at Tech Labs. Then, neighbors confirmed there had been foxglove previously planted here. Extremely poisonous, it mimics the effects of the heart medicine digitalis. They were probably trying to scare him into telling them classified information.”

    “Or, trying to get him to make a cast of his hand, to get through security,” the agent interjected.

    “Right..” agreed Logan, “whatever it was, their plan failed when he died.”

  9. Knees

    My mother learned much during her five years as a bride on Mindanao in the Philippine Islands. The native people were after her to hire one of the women as a maid.

    Verlie did take a maid after much pressure but insisted on doing her own cooking and cleaning of the kitchen area. She paid the maid 10 cents. She and her husband became Christians and they named a daughter, Virginia, after me; another was named Minda.

    She had noticed the women separated their food when cleaning the husks off the grain such as rice, for they would need a lot of rice for the several people in their families. Not all children lived since there was a lot of illness and dysentery among the young and elderly. They would knead the food with their feet/toes and separate the husks from the grain.

    One day Verlie noticed a small boy run up to his mother whose big toe swiftly went up to his bottom and wiped him. She immediately went back to threshing her food with that same foot.

    Another day Verlie, a registered nurse, was called to the house of a woman, and there was a dead child with flies all over it. The baby had been dead three days she was told. The mother was grieving and did not realize about flies, food and the danger to the rest of the family.

    Life sooner or later brings us to our knees in prayer.

  10. The knees are a wonderful thing
    They enable movement, they enable connection
    Some see going to them as giving up
    Like there’s no coming back from that

    Here’s another way to see it
    From them, you have so many options
    If love is in front of you, you see the future
    If hope is behind you, you may see a chance

    The best thing to remember
    Is that we hit them when hurt
    But there’s little that keeps us there
    And they help us to rise

  11. Winnie the wood duck lived with her Mama and 11 other ducklings in the hole of a cypress tree by the swamp. The cypress tree had many knees around it. Sometimes when children played, they tripped over the knees and the animals would laugh at them.

    Winnie’s Mama felt sorry for children when they tripped over the knees, and said it was wrong to laugh. So Winnie and her siblings never joined in the laughter of the squirrels, chipmunks, beavers and birds.

    Winnie watched one day as Mama flew down and 11 of her brothers and sisters followed, dropping down to the ground. Two ducklings were injured on the knees. So Winnie was afraid to fall with the others.

    That very day, some men came with saws. The animals hid in fear, even Mama and the ducklings. But Winnie watched from her hole in the tree.

    “I’m dang tired of my kids comin’ home with sprained ankles and bruises, fallin’ over these darned knees. I’m gonna level this ground.”

    The buzz saw was so loud that Winnie hid deep inside. The men sawed off 23 knees.

    When they left, a warm red glow of sunset was all around. Mama and the little ducklings returned, quacking, “Come down, Winnie! The ground is soft!”

    Winnie jumped and landed, “Plop!” on the ground, waddling on to join the others. If you looked, you could see Mama and her 12 ducklings cruising in a line on the water.

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