Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Suspended

flash fiction writing prompt walk on water heron new orleans 1999
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!

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.

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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Suspended”

  1. The Golden Record

    Electra always felt different.

    The other egrets sensed this about her and so excluded her from many of their egret games. Even the leaders of the egret community felt she might cause trouble, and so they passed laws on what birds like her could say.

    But that didn’t stop her from experiencing the world around her. She had a wondrous imagination, and she played in that world almost every day.

    One afternoon, when she was alone, Electra stood suspended on the surface of the water. The other birds told her that was something she could never do. But she believed in herself. And there she was . . . floating on water.

    And as she drifted on the water’s surface, she let her imagination come into play, and the stream soon carried her thoughts on a current of invisible rays. And through a wondrous process, her thoughts and migratory senses turned skyward, to the great mystery above her.

    As Electra looked skyward, her mind’s eye wandered through the vast unknown. It was a journey of endless spirals, showers and explosions of colour. Everywhere, there was darkness, light and the sounds of celestial delights.

    And as her mind wandered through the endless expanse, she detected an object–Voyager 2–floating through space. And as it continued on its journey to unknown worlds, she heard the distant Golden Record play:

    “Hello from the children of Planet Earth.”

  2. Young Daryl Mitchell wanted to do something clever, to attract attention without any fuss. He designed a large, realistic bird on stilts, mounted on wood submerged on a chain, leading to an anchor. The bird would glide as though walking on the water.

    It was too early for swimming. But word spread about the amazing bird. People appeared on the beach, some chanting or hoping for a miracle, plus protesters claiming it was the devil’s work.

    Daryl watched from the shore, taking video, posting on social media. He called a reporter he knew from school, Susan Trout, who worked for the Chardonnay Gazette. He just didn’t mention that he created the bird!

    When he saw that a few protesters brought shotguns, Daryl called the Chardonnay Police Department, fearing violence.

    Susan Trout came ready to investigate in a wetsuit, with her waterproof camera. When Daryl saw her going in the water, he got very nervous.

    “Don’t go in, Ms. Trout!” cried Daryl.

    But then police arrived, and restored order. The intrepid reporter emerged on the shore, victoriously holding up the bird, carrying the whole apparatus.

    Daryl was terrified, fearful that Susan knew everything, and would report him! But after taking pictures, she returned to her sports car with her prize, giving Daryl a sly look.

    All summer, everyone talked about it. The fake bird was displayed at the Chardonnay Gazette, until Susan Trout quietly returned it to her anonymous source. And a good reporter never reveals her sources.

  3. Crap. What have I gotten myself into this time. A bird. That is what I said I wanted to be. A bird. I could have been more specific. But no, not me. Bird, that’s it. I wanted to fly, be free of my former life, free from worries and care. Respected. Admired even. Maybe even feared a little.

    Why didn’t I say “Reincarnate me as an eagle or a hawk.” Those are really cool birds. Even a vulture would have been better than this. Of all the hundred of birds in the world, I have to come back as some scruffy little white thing with stick legs and big feet. I don’t even know what kind of bird I am.

    Okay, so I look mad. I know I do. I can see my reflection in the water. You would be mad too if you went to all the trouble I went to and ended up looking like the bird version of an accountant. Which is what I was. An accountant that is. A scruffy little white thing with stick legs and big feet, just like I am now.

    Well, I guess it’s too late to get out of this mess. I might as well go eat some worms.

  4. “I don’t like the look on that bird’s face,” Frank said through the side of his mouth.

    “Who’s looking at her face?” Will replied with a smirk.

    “Not the woman! The bird!” Frank pointed. They were standing in the wet sand along the shore, waves lapping at their bare feet. Farther along, a pretty young lady in a pretty skimpy swimsuit was washing a shell in the water. The little white bird, though, only half as far away, had murder in his eyes.

    “Who cares about birds?” Will said. “I’m gonna meet her.” He marched off toward his romantic destiny, leaving Frank to stare after him.

    The bird turned as Will passed it by and screeched like a set of worn out tires.

    “Shut up,” Will snapped, flapping his arm at it. “Fly south for the summer.”

    The bird took wing, not south but straight for Will. Frank watched in horror as the creature’s beak opened to dozens of times its body size and swallowed Will whole. Then he did the only rational thing he could. He passed out.

    The woman sauntered up to the bird and patted it on the head. “Good boy,” she said. “Shall we go home?”

  5. Scientists around the world have studied animal behaviors, but they have never encountered anything quite like this—a bird that seemingly floats, or hovers, just above the surface. It is almost as if they are suspended in mid-air.

    Were the wings were fluttering so quickly (like a hummingbird) or so slowly as to keep them in this state? After decades of research and study, it was determined the wings were not moving at all. So, why does the bird look suspended?

    An international contest was launched, hoping a would-be scientist could provide an answer. Millions participated. School children learning about magnets thought maybe there was something in the claws of the birds that was “repelling” the feet from touching the magnetic core of the earth. This, to the scientists, seemed the most plausible of ideas even though far-fetched. They decided to capture a bird for study.

    The man selected to retrieve a specimen tried many times to catch one, who kept flying away. Finally, one sunny Sunday, the bird decided to ask the man what exactly he wanted.

    “You can speak?” the surprised scientist asked.

    “Of course we can. We just prefer to avoid humans. So, what do you want?”

    The scientist explained the studies and inquiries and with the flip of a wing the bird dismissed it.

    “Oh, this,” referring to his suspended stance above the water. “We just don’t like to get our feet wet.”

  6. Annie sat at her usual table at Harrah’s and savored the Turn. She had been hanging-on to her open-ended, king-high straight. And there it was, a nine. She had filled the straight. But there had been two face-up Kings on the Turn, surely of interest to the only other live hand still at the table. That tourist had checked her last bet. He was still in this, with his jowly, unconscious competence resting on faith and ignorance.

    Annie pushed her chips, declaring “all in”, betting the River. The other guy had at best two pair, she reckoned. Seconds from now she’d be collecting the pot and retreating to her room, a victor. Then, it seemed, time stood still, as her opponent stared at her and his own two hole cards.

    Einstein never predicted that time could stand still, but he could never define the “now”. To Annie, this Hoosier was now a slug; a miner of that precious of all resources: other people’s time. She watched his little country tics play out in deciding whether to call.

    Like a Snowy Egret hunting for frogs in the shallows, he was motionless, awaiting a sign. The wait seemed interminable. Nothing mattered to the Egret. Heat, breeze, annoying gnats, the egret stood fast, finally striking with a speed that left only ripples on a still surface and the slithering of something alive making its way down a long white gullet.

    Annie heard the chips cross the table. The river card was a King.

  7. “You look like a thumb in a suit, and you’re threatening me?”

    The idyllic lakeside scene was shattered by that yell. Many birds flew off, except for one sassy young egret, who just looked over her shoulder at the two arguing humans.
    She seemed like she had seen a man holding holding a gun on another man, both bleeding from having tried to punch each other’s brains out, all the time.
    And it didn’t faze her when the younger man pulled a gun.

    “Why couldn’t you just step aside, Donny?,” he said, breathing heavy and coming to his feet.
    “And do what? Step aside and let you ruin my life’s work, the family, run everything into the ground? Like the disaster you are?”
    “Donny, this isn’t the time for insults,” the man said, leveling the silenced pistol at his head for emphasis.
    “I don’t believe you’re going to kill me, Richie,” he replied. “Even if you did, it’d be the last thing you do, and even you don’t look that stupid.”

    Richie whipped the pistol across Donny’s face, giving him another trickle of blood to match the one from his forehead.
    The action distracted Richie from the gunshot, taken at a distance. He barely had time to notice before he died.

    Donny sat up, dazed.
    Maybe that’s why he swore that bird turned to him and winked.

  8. “The feathers would make a wonderful statement for Mother’s hat. She prefers that to another veil.” She was remarrying Dad, after all, thirty years since being legally hitched.

    “You’ll have to sacrifice the egret…I don’t think they will let you partake of their feathers while alive.”

    “Is it still endangered?”

    “Not anymore. The conservationists made sure of that. Can we at least try to keep it in captivity briefly and see? I would hate to kill it just for the feathers. Maybe egret can shed some and we can use those fallen pieces?”

    “The intensity of off-whiteness, common during the breeding season, may not be there if we rely on sheds.”

    The subject bird was on the California shore, wading. It tried to move away as we neared but made no attempt to fly off. We guessed that perhaps it was handicapped. Mother’s designer, a family friend of many years, added in the feathers as a final touch to the chic design that would play up Mother’s best features. Not wanting to insult the pro bono fashion efforts, I suspended my judgment call. I wanted to explore a compromise that could straddle the artistic vision while preserving the egret’s life.

    “Can’t we just go faux? I am sure they have simulated “egret-during-breeding-season” feathers in the craft store.”

    “I checked, nada.”

    “Why don’t we go to the bride and have her choose?”

    “…and ruin my surprise?”

    With that, I stealthily approached the egret leading it to the makeshift cage we prepared.

  9. “Look! That bird is standing on the top of the water!” I said to my wife. We were walking along the water on the first day of our vacation. Our first vacation in over five years.

    “Sure looks like it is standing on top of the water. Sure it’s not standing on a log of something?” She replied.

    “Not sure, let’s get closer”, I said as I started walking to the edge of the lake. She stayed where she was.

    The bird looked mean. As I approached, the bird lifted up, flapped his wings and settled on top of the water again five feet closer.

    ‘Dude! How do you do that?” I said aloud, not really expecting an answer.

    “Well, I took lessons from this seagull called Jonathan Livingston.” The bird replied in a raspy voice. “He taught me that I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it. He taught me many things about flying. Then I learned how to stand on water and talk.”

    “Hey, Rita come over here! This bird is amazing!”

    “Come on Fred, I don’t want to waste our vacation playing games with birds’.

    Not wanting to start our vacation off with an agreement, I turned to the bird and asked, “Ah, I’ve got to go, will you be here later? I would love to come back and talk more.”

    “Sorry, I find humans really boring and ugly. Have a good vacation,” and with that, he flew off.

    1. Guess I didn’t proofread this good enough. Replace the word ‘agreement’ with ‘argument’.

  10. 1983 – Scott had trouble from a photo of an Egret he shot. It looked like a trick shot, but it was just the lighting.

    His mother remarked that, ‘…it looks out of this world, like a puppet suspended by a string from outer space.’

    Scott’s younger brother told the newspaper what his mother said.

    The newspaper printed the photo with the caption: 12 year old captures picture of alien egret.

    Scott was the laughing stock of the town.


    “So that’s when you gave up photography – your passion,” Paula, Scott’s new passion, asked as they lay on the beach.

    “Yes…” he said not concentrating on anything but the image of the prettiest girl in high school.

    “I’m glad you joined the yearbook, and started taking photos again.”

    “I know… fate,” he smiled, she giggled.

    Just then, something caught their attention. It was a flying object! The size and shape of a medium pot.

    Scott grabbed his camera, and snapped some shots.

    “Let’s get out of here,”Paula said, “I don’t feel safe.”

    The object followed them to the car.

    The next day Scott decided to sell the photos. The magazine offered him enough for a down payment on a dream car.

    That night he didn’t hear the professional burglars. Scott was dreaming about driving to Paula’s college in his sports car.

    Scott’s camera and negatives in hand, the burglars took one last item; a framed picture of the egret, suspended from the shelf above by fishing line.

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