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.
14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Sunset”
I’ve always looked forward to the sunrise…a fresh start to a new day.
Jason lay on the ground outside of his tent gazing at the clouds drifting past twinkling stars on the canvas of an indigo sky.
Sure is pretty tonight, he thought.
I’ve lived a long life, pretty good by most standards. Been a lot of places, done a lot of things. If life is a “game”, well, I’ve won a few hands and lost a few too!
But I’m not complaining — wouldn’t do any good if I did now, would it?
Funny thing is: people talk about going to heaven, but say they are afraid of dying. Thing is, you have to die to get there.
So, I’m not afraid. I’m an old man now…and I’m sorta looking forward to the last sunset.
We were stuck.
Correction; I was stuck.
Beauty faded into darkness as the final rays of dying sunlight surrendered. Carter had offered to go get help; but that meant leaving me alone in the impending darkness. I’d declined.
He’d offered to build a fire, but I’d worried about a wildfire. If he set this whole place ablaze, I’d never forgive myself.
I knew better than to struggle. I knew I was stuck. It didn’t matter that I wanted to be free more than anything. In the darkness, I heard him shift. I couldn’t see him, but I felt his warmth as he moved closer to me.
“I’m here,” he whispered.
I squeezed my eyes closed, grateful for his company. There was no one in the world I’d rather be with while trapped in my own personal hell.
“You know we’ll get you out of this,” he said.
“I’m not going anywhere.” His comforting words allowed me a sigh of relief and my shoulders relaxed a little bit. A moment later, he sat beside me and pressed his back to mine.
He didn’t chastise me for getting stuck. He didn’t shame me for not fighting harder. He merely sat with me in the darkness because he knew I’d pull out of it eventually.
Like I always did.
Correction; like we always did.
Because he was always there; helping me fight battles in darkness. Eventually the sun would rise again and light would chase away the darkness.
Detractors may arise when I declare Manila Bay captures sunset most beautifully. But no one should raise a protest when I add that the splendor isn’t solely wrapped in the visual display. It is a reminder of the beautiful though difficult person my late father, Ernie, was. Our last outing as father and daughter had that sunset framing our final conversation.
“I’ve lived fully, Kim. I’m ready to go and join Mom. Think of it as a final call to board. I’d hate to pepper my waning days with hospitals and doctors. I’m happy staying with your brother, having the bedside oxygen, going for a drive occasionally and watching the televised Pacquiao fights or the La Salle and Ateneo basketball match-ups.”
“I give up trying to counterargue one of the best attorneys ever,” Kim retorted. “The distance makes it easier. Seattle is now my home; I can keep pretending you’re still at Dan’s. Given that half your brood resides overseas, my visits to Manila won’t be as frequent once you take that flight heavenward.”
“Heavenward…my hope but I’ve not been that good. I’ve been tough on most of you, particularly you as the oldest.”
“You gave it your best. That should wash away much to get you that first class ticket, Dad.”
“That means a lot, Kim. You all did great; perhaps I wasn’t all that bad.”
“Thanks, Dad. Neuroses and all, we‘ve managed well. We love you.”
Next day, I boarded a trans-Pacific flight rejoining my American reality.
Ankeanack helped his father gather wood for the men’s fire. His father was the Grand Sachem of the Paugussett People. Each evening as the sun began to set and the women’s’ cooking fires began to fade, the men would gather with their Sachem and smoke the dream smoke of Assema. Much would be discussed in this altered state. Decisions would be taken on behalf of the People.
Ankeanack was too young for the smoke but old enough to sit beside his father and learn. He always had questions and looked forward to this time of day when he would be alone with his father.
As the Sachem encouraged the fire, Ankeanack sat on an oak log and wondered at the display of late summer magic in the skies. The sun was setting in an explosion of crimson, scarlet and vermillion hues.
“Papa,” he asked. “Where does the sun go at night?”
“My dear Ankeanack, the sun goes to visit our ancestors with the Great Creator, as he has promised.”
“Is it far, Papa?”
“Farther than the People could walk for many snows,” answered the Sachem.
“Why is it so red, Papa? It looks so angry.”
“It is often angry. Angry at us, at the moon, at the rain. It serves us in many ways and has many moods. It is our fate to live with what it brings us.
“How do we know it will come back if it is angry?”
“Because it is promised, my son”
The rising sun symbolizes beginnings, and the setting sun is symbolic of endings. Years ago I saw only rising suns and beginnings, joyous and exciting, full of promise for the future. Now it seems there are only sunsets. Some are beautiful, like this one tonight. A brilliant bright pink, but fleeting. Soon darkness will creep in and destroy the brilliance until the sky and the earth melt away in a sea of melancholy gray.
My dear friend, my only friend, thought he would be the last but now he too, like all the others, is gone. I am the last, the only one left.
This land and its people grow more foreign and distant with each passing year. I want to go home but my home no longer exists. I have lived too long and I want to die, but I cannot die.
This is the price I pay for immortality.
Hyacinth gazed out the window, one of her few remaining pleasures in life. “A blazing, magenta sunset,” she mused, within herself, “just like my time of life. It’s almost come to a close. Almost, but not quite.”
Clara, her aide, said, “Come, my dear, it’s time for dinner,” carefully wheeling her chair around into the dining room. Hyacinth could see some of her family members gathered for Easter dinner. She strained to form a smile, and her son noticed the tension that barely lifted the corners of her mouth. He kissed her in greeting.
She was basically a prisoner in her own body. Parkinson’s Disease had taken her abilities away, bit by bit, and the inability to communicate was the worst of all. Her family carried on most of the conversation as if she wasn’t there, with an occasional comment spoken in her direction.
Her aide was feeding her mushy food that was safe to swallow, but to Hyacinth, it was delicious, and she willingly accepted each mouthful. She still had the ability to feel, and was pleased that her hunger was being satisfied.
After dinner, Clara brought her back into her room. She sat in her chair while Clara prepared her bed and massage. She felt the Spirit of God. “Have You come to take me now?” she asked silently.
There was no answer, but she was comforted. “Alright,” Hyacinth prayed, “I can wait as long as it takes, whenever You’re ready for me. I’m not going anywhere.”
Finally, a decent picture.
The tears in Sheryl’s eyes finally dried. She lowered her cell phone. At least she would have one memory of this weekend.
While she waited for the clouds to part, the sky to clear, she had plenty of time to think. This trip had been a disaster. A weekend retreat for couples to strengthen marriages … lucky them. Theirs imploded.
The clouds parted, the sun appeared as it was sinking. But, Sheryl realized, it was a metaphor for her marriage—the sun is setting but will rise again. This marriage is over, but her life isn’t. A new day will dawn, a new life will begin, just as full of promise as a new day. Sheryl leaned against the door jamb, trying to absorb the dying embers—the beautiful color from the setting sun.
She tossed her phone into her purse, took one last look around, grabbed her suitcase and headed for her car. Can she absorb the strength of the promise of a new day? A new life? Only time will tell.
On the verandah, Angie observed the morning’s red sunrise, “Dear? How does that old sailor saying go? Something about a red sunrise and taking caution?”
Malcomb, her stubborn husband of twenty years, did not answer, instead, he just sat there with his favorite breakfast of sunny side up eggs and toast on his plate, and coffee. She hated it when he would act like such a cold fish first thing in the morning. Especially, after a night of heavy drinking, he could be such a nasty sour puss when he wanted to be one, and this morning was no exception.
Their coffee had gone cold, so, Angie speed dialed her maid for service, as she thought, “How useless that pretty brainless girl is, but Malcolm insists on keeping her.”
Angie sat there in silence, eating the rest of her breakfast, while thinking, “He is just in one of his contemptuous cold moods again. Where is that maid? My coffee is ice cold. She is always late except when Malcolm speed dials her for service.” Angie took his phone, speed dialed, then waited for the maid.
Angie noticed some egg on Malcomb’s face, she got up and taking his napkin gently dabbed the blood from the bullet hole in his forehead and wiped his handgun clean.
Angie dropped the napkin next to the maid’s body, stepped around the body and slipped the handgun into her hand. Angie left for the spa, quite satisfied, “Let someone else report their suicide murders.”
“Oh, that darling man,” Jeanette sang out. “Just look at that lovely setting for our song. He outdid himself.”
“Yes, love,” Nelson answered, wrapping his arm around her welcoming shoulder. “Cedric is a master at such things. We’re so lucky to have him on this film.”
Jeanette pointed to the set. “You, leaning ardently against the tree on the left, can start your robust rendition of our song.” She touched the painted bark of the tree. “Just as you’re through, I’ll twirl to the other tree and answer with my love voice. When I’m done,” she continued, “we’ll be silhouetted against the glowing sunset and knock ‘em for a loop with our harmonizing duet of this romantic melody. I think the audience will love that.”
Nelson nodded appreciatively. “Darling, you’re brilliant. That would charm the producers into planning our next film. If this song wins the Oscar, I think it would be best if I went onstage to accept it, because…..”
Jeanette gasped. “Are you mad? Stunted you, in your rented tuxedo, stumbling on stage for the gold?” She draped her feathered boa around her neck, laughing wickedly. “Ta ta,” she called out, slamming the door.
Nelson studied the set’s backdrop and growled. “That little witch.
I’ll fix her.” He started loosening the supports for the tree, stage right. “When she opens with her gargling soprano and poses against the tree, so long Jeanette, hello newcomer Judy G.”
Blowing kisses to the set, he gaily headed for the Turkish baths.
I watched the sun begin to sink along with my chances to get away.
Just a few trees away now, I heard the hunters close in, even toss pebbles in the opposite direction they were headed in.
I’ve been hunted too long to fall for that.
Taking a chance they haven’t been as dedicated, I threw one to my left, then began to climb a tree to the right. The hunter on my left fell for it. On my right, though, he came for me.
I was halfway up the tree when he found me, and I scurried around the other side as quick as I could.
He took his time, and the sleep dart struck home.
All these years later, I can’t believe how well my plan worked. How I gained the intel that they didn’t want me dead.
How I knew the chief’s people were tired of his oppression, and needed a change.
Even what hunters they would send for me.
Ten years ago, they brought me before the chief.
He gloated, how funny it was that I, a youngster and a woman besides, “gave us so much trouble, but, in the end, this is a man’s world. And your people–”
He didn’t notice he was all alone with me at all. My knife in his chest was all he could register.
“Don’t worry. I’ve learned well from you.”
My people are now his people.
We are all one people.
And no one can stop us.
ELIGIBLE FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY
Awaken dawn and fill the skies,
Let laughter ring through furtive cries.
With first bold steps and many tries,
Time weaves a tapestry’s strong ties.
Life’s course is set, we can surmise,
By choices made amid the lies.
Yet truth will out if one is wise.
Or Fate’s kind fortune should provise.
Yet, some will stop to analyze,
And look beneath the cloaks of guise.
The words the falsehood oft’ belies,
In reaching for a lofty prize.
A rocky course when will defies,
What logic and the mind denies.
But malleable, we can revise,
Before time’s passage too soon flies.
High is the toll if heart’s hope dies.
The march of years, pain’s cold reprise.
Though darkness claims each day’s demise.
All suns will set, but also rise.
For weeks Japanese Emperor, Hirohito, had been counting the sunsets until…’Operation Hawaii.’
‘We’ are the country of the rising sun – not the U.S.!
December 4th 1941
Rick and Cathy sit in the car watching a beautiful fuchsia colored sunset.
“I wish you could skip this weekend of National Guard duty,” Cathy pouted.
“One more year of college, then the Army Air Corp., pilot training,” he rattled off, ” Not long…”
“More school? I’ll be an old maid before we get married,”Cathy complained.
Rick smiled, ” At 22 you won’t be an old maid. Don’t worry, we’ll have fun, and travel.”
“My grandmother said you have to put up with some stormy clouds before you can see the most beautiful sunsets.”
December 7th 1941
The storm clouds came in the shape of Japanese military planes.
Rick was immediately inducted into the regular army.
Cathy was at the movies. She ran home, terrified of an invasion.
When the shock was over, the country rallied to fight. Some put their life on hold, but not Rick and Cathy. They made wedding plans immediately.
Three months later: April 28th, 1942
Rick receives his pilot’s wings in the morning, then flies to Maryland. In the afternoon, he converts to Cathy’s religion. The next day he will marry the love of his life.
April 29th ,1942
As they exited the church, Cathy said,” Rick look…” She pointed to a glorious sunset, “Grandmother sent that as her gift on our wedding day.”
The sunset seared the atmosphere
An orange lantern in the western sky,
As the Dixie Bell slowly cut water
So all could see the 360 degree view.
To the left, a plain California shoreline,
Ahead Bullhead City; to the right
The extended hills of Havasu.
The boat circled the man-made Island
And returned us to the London Bridge.
Our hands could have touched,
Our hearts could have renewed.
We didn’t enjoy it together.
You were too busy talking to them.
ELIGIBLE FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY
Spectacular, as always. Joanie loved to savor the sunset deeply. Here on her mesa in the Painted Desert, sunsets were always stunning, brilliant, perfect. Feeling a chill on the breeze, she turned back towards the cabin.
Halfway down the hill, she noticed the Jeep. She quickly disappeared into the juniper trees. Joanie crept closer to the cabin, straining to hear…
“This ain’t the right place, Frankie. Nice lil place right here. Somebody’s gotta come back here pretty soon.”
“Wilbur, just set there and shut yer face! Long as that drive is, we could hear ’em afore they get here. Crumpet?”
Joanie was almost close enough to peek through the kitchen window, but resisted.
Briefly, she considered. Two men, out here nearly forty miles from the nearest town? Definitely up to no good. Backup shotgun in the feed shed was her best bet.
She made her painfully slow way to the shed, circling back out into the woods, retrieved her hotrod tactical Remington, then walked around front and took the keys from the open-topped old Jeep.
Wilbur was just starting to shake the heebie-jeebies off and settle in. He grinned and went to get him some a that sweet thing on the table.
BOOOOM!! The door literally exploded into sp!inters, and Frankie wet his pants. Wilbur tipped over backwards in his chair as tea sprayed and crumpets flew.
Joanie stood amazed, gun smoking. Two escaped convicts, dressed like Raggedy Ann and Andy, and Andy had wet his pants!
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