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: Drip”
When Heroes Once Lived
“I have a secret tale to tell you,” Silas said.
A secret tale? I was intrigued. I had travelled west in an effort to uncover the mystery of a lost civilization. I had stumbled into a saloon and found a grizzled old man willing to talk.
“It’s not an ordinary tale,” he insisted.
Was he a fraud and a liar?
“I know what you’re thinking,” he said, smiling. “Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you a true story.”
I sat down, he had his drink and he started talking.
“Long ago, in a place that is now desert,” he began, “there once existed a wondrous civilization that contained a multitude of people. There were great buildings, markets, lush gardens and gleaming pools of water. The people were healthy and vibrant, trading and exploring, even sailing along the coast in ships. They had marvellous inventions and leaders who undertook great deeds.
“Then tragedy struck.” Silas paused and downed his drink. “It was all swept away; lost in the veil of time. Academics insist it’s a myth and the State ridicules it. Now it’s a desert, and only a few drops of water ever emerge from the ancient rocks. Some say they’re tears.”
The old man paused again, and looked at me with a twinkle in his eye. “Do you want to hear another story?” he asked. “Buy me another drink and I’ll tell you of a time when heroes once lived.”
His young love for her was as big as the sky. Her more youthful love for him was immeasurable. They both thought their love was costing them their lives. The swirling river pulled them down. When he came to, the force of the river was holding him to an outcrop of a rock. He still had her clutched to him. He thought she was dead.
He saw, the riverbank four feet away. His passion for her enabled him with his last bit of strength to leap for the bank with his love’s limp body. He just made it. With tears raging as violently as the river, he breathed into the lungs of her weak body. They survived, but they knew that they could never return, or their love could never be.
Mother earth created Tuga over 13,000 years ago by violently uplifting Tuga along with others from her womb. Tuga enjoyed being and communing with her fellow mountain peaks all this time. She was pleased to have this young man and maiden come to her and would commune with them.
They remained there continually. The brave would hunt Tuga’s hills. She cultivated some of Tuga’s earth. They grew old. Tuga thought it was all so very brief. They felt that they had a long and happy life there alone with Tuga.
They died. Now Tuga continually weeps for her loss of Running Bear and Little White Dove.
He sat perched on his rocky pedestal, silently surveying his domain. His large bat-like wings folded against his scaled back. This was his home; he knew every rock, every tree and every crevice.
They travelled in packs, these strange two-legged creatures, and they were delicious. He preferred hunting the slender beings. The pudgy ones were slow, offering no challenge. They ran out of breath in mere moments and the thrill of the hunt over much too soon. Their meat was fatty, almost rancid at times.
The slender ones were delicious. He could almost taste one now. After the skin was flayed off, the lean meat found underneath was delectable.
The challenge they brought to the hunt was exhilarating. Some could run for hours. He loved to chase them through the jagged mountain trail. When he caught up with them they would fight back. Their arms and legs would flail helplessly against his scales.
Then, when the moment was right he would wrap his sharp talons around their insignificant chest and fly them to this perch. They would writhe in agony for a while and then death would claim its next victim. While the body was still warm, he would take this large rock and crack open the skull to reveal the tender vittles inside. The juices would drip down the side of the rock face while he dined, the smell is intoxicating.
To his left he hears a rustle, lunch has arrived.
“See how the water flows relentlessly. Through droughts, like now, when it is reduced to hardly more than a drip, still the water moves on. Always, whether a torrent or a trickle, the water does not stop.”
The guru wrapped his robe around his ample body, folded his hands, and closed his eyes. His small cluster of students sat silently, awaiting further words of wisdom. How did the actions of the water relate to life? What great lesson was to be learned?
At last one spoke. “Oh, Great Guru,” he said. “What….”
“Who can tell me what lesson is to be learned from our trip today?” the guru said slowly, his eyes still closed. “Do not speak to me of the importance of persistence, the irrelevance of size, or even the value of careful observation. The answer is none of these.”
“Any one? No one?” The guru waited. No one replied.
The students looked from one to the other. No one had an answer. They were mystified but no one dared to say so. That would imply a lack of understanding and might even cause the guru to refuse to continue to lead them on the path to enlightenment.
The guru smiled, and his eyes opened slowly.
“You are correct,” he said. “There is no lesson to be learned. There is only enjoyment. Sometimes, like now, that is enough.”
ELIGIBLE FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY
People called Pete Schafer a good man, a gentleman. Harvey Ormandy didn’t believe it. Good men didn’t steal artifacts from government land to sell to collectors.
Still, Pete played the gentleman. When he took on a partner, it was by gentlemen’s agreement. Pragmatism, Harvey figured. Paper trails spelled trouble. The agreement was fair, though: each man kept what he found. Trouble was, Pete found far more than Harvey, so by the time they reigned in their horses beneath the barren, gray cliff, his saddlebags were mostly full to Harvey’s mostly empty. Which wasn’t fair at all. Time to even the take.
Harvey pondered the steep slope and the boulder perched in the saddle between the peaks.
“See something?” Pete asked.
“Must be a spring up there.”
“Or treasure. An old medicine man told me the Spanish stashed treasure in places like this. The pit fills with water over time, and leaks give them away. Crazy, huh?”
Pete stroked his chin. “Crazy,” he agreed, “but worth a look.” A born climber, he clambered up the slope and nudged the boulder. “It’s loose all right!” he called. He rocked it to move it out of the way, but it broke free with a terrible clatter and tumbled down slope, carrying Harvey with it, battering him to death before he hit bottom.
Pete later sold the artifacts they’d gathered. He felt a bit guilty, but not much. Harvey hadn’t been a good man. Thieves deserved what they got.
It was just a thin trickle, if it could even be called a trickle. The rock was wet. But the sound … it was maddening. Drip, drip, drip … but from where?
As they tried to determine its source, they saw another thin stream from the rocks above it.
“I wonder if this is how Moses got started,” Joe muttered. “Hey, Steve, why don’t you smack the rock with your walking pole so we can get a drink?”
Steve looked at him. “Why don’t I just smack you instead? How do you even know if this is water?”
Joe was stunned. “What else could it be?”
Steve shrugged. “I dunno. It could be water. It could be polluted water. It could be soil runoff from somewhere. It could be gas or petroleum or something toxic. And how could you need a drink already? We’ve only been walking for a half-hour. Where’s your bottle?”
Joe shook his head. “Why am I suddenly in survival mode? I feel like we’re in a movie, keeping our eyes peeled for clues.”
Steve chuckled. “I understand. I’m just grateful for our modern conveniences. Come on, let’s head back toward the car before the sun really fries our brains.”
There is a steady drip of time that meanders through our existence as it seeks its own level in the bayou of experiences that comprise our life. Each little experience, thought, touch, feeling is channeled by this drip into a stream of memory cascading toward some final bayou in our mind. A pool of memories and milestones that define our being.
For most of us this flow is orderly and predictable. We cherish when it stops along the way to build volume. Reunions, weddings, funerals and fun times with friends are but small reservoirs helping build the current. In our later years we savor these memories in our protected bayou and share them with loved ones. They are as crystal clear as spring water.
For some, however the flow becomes a torrent; vast and unsorted as to be unverifiable in our later years. The bayou is clogged with the detritus of unwanted memories and bad experiences. We suffer a torment of grief and anxiety without love or forgiveness. We feel unvalued and are undone.
For others still, the flow is elusive. Instead of treasured reflections retained and protected by the weir dam of our mind, they are lost and lamented; the reason for our despair. The bayou is empty, dried out, and mournful. We are lost.
But, if we are fortunate to share our life’s bayou, our story informs a larger consciousness. It is no longer a simple drip. It flows through and compliments a sea of human memory.
Knowledge grows like a drop of water is added to the stream.
For example, green beans in the 1800s and 1900s were prepared in salt brine. They didn’t look attractive in the jars but tasted good when cooked with bits of bacon. Beans were placed in the glass jar and the salt brine solution was boiled and poured over, sealed with the lids, which needed rubber rings. After a few days the solution would begin to bubble and force itself out of the jar. When cooked you boiled the beans in some water to remove some salt, discard that salt and add fresh water and then cooked about thirty minutes with bacon. They tasted like modern pickled beans. They had not heard of botulism in those days and would not have understood it. They preserved food in ways that seemed to work.
Cabbage was the only other green vegetable grown and preserved. It kept well. A hole was dug in the ground and filled with a thick bed of clean straw. Heads of cabbage were placed on the straw, another layer of straw was thrown over that, and then the hole was covered with earth.
Sweet potatoes, rutabagas, turnips and parsnips were placed in baskets in the cellar. Sweet potatoes baked in the skins or candied for a special treat: rich in iron and potassium. Carotene in sweet potatoes and carrots helped the eyesight. Tomatoes were rich in vitamin C and prevented scurvy.
ELIGIBLE FOR EDITORS CHOICE ONLY
Jessica Leary was at the shore with six other children and her brother Tommy. As they explored the beach, they noticed how liquid dripped out from under a huge rock.
“That’s like you, Jessica, slow as molasses!” said Susan.
“Yeah,” added Billy, “You’re a real drip.”
Tears welled up in Jessica’s eyes, as she turned and left the group, her little brother Tommy trailing behind.
“It’s okay, Jessica,” said Tommy, putting an arm around his sister, “I have superpowers, and I can give them to whoever I want.”
“Don’t you make fun of me, too!” she sobbed.
“I would never do that,” said Tommy, solemnly, “But you can’t ever tell anyone about this. Now close your eyes.”
They sat on a bench, and Jessica closed her eyes. Tommy put his little hands on her sandy, tan shoulders and quietly prayed something she couldn’t understand. She felt something change.
Tommy said, “Now, I want you to climb those beach stairs to the top, and go as fast as you can.”
She was there, in the blink of an eye. Tommy joined her a few seconds later. She laughed, and kept laughing, as Tommy joined her.
“How come you never told me?” asked Jessica.
“You never needed to know, before now. Just keep this very, very quiet,” said Tommy.
They looked down, watching the other six children slowly, laboriously climbing the 156 steps to the top of the dunes, in the hot summer sun. Jessica’s days as a drip were over.
“What you want to be is liquid.”
“Right, adaptable, conforms to whatever contains it.”
“Not only that, over time liquid can create new pathways, overcoming obstructions and on occasion, soothe the spirit.”
“Are you meaning alcohol?”
“Not necessarily. Anything from softening clay, cutting through landscapes and creating a canyon or wearing down rock by the constant though slow drip down a mountainside. Where do you think sand comes from…the water pushing and pulling against what was once rocky promontory.”
“Okay, I get it. Be liquid…even in finances, hahaha.”
“Why does everything have to be a joke with you?”
We ended the conversation slightly better than before. At least there was progress compared to yesterday’s encounter.
Having flown solo for a long time, it was difficult attempting to be like liquid. The years have toughened my resolve, my heart and mind so the inconsequential remained so. The fallout from that perspective was that sometimes, treasured wisdom is thrown out inadvertently. I have managed to avoid being staunchly solid in my approach. But being liquid meant giving up some control. I can compromise to certain limits. Why can’t I be like smooth and sweet coffee taffy instead? I do hold my own but am not willing to just conform; I am malleable as needed.
Which brings me to my current circumstance. We are at an impasse. Neither side wishes to concede on a principle. Tears drip down my cheeks as the chairman prepares the report.
“Not guilty. Please release immediately.”
Ashley check the mail before leaving with Brandon her boyfriend. She had sent away to have her DNA analyzed, and she was excited about receiving the results. Ashley had reached a point in her life where she wanted to belong to something or someone. Ashley read that the report would tell you if you shared ancestry with a famous person.
Enjoying a challenge Ashley and Brandon went to hike at Organ mountain desert peaks.
They stopped at their favorite place;where the base of granite opened to reveal a heart-shaped folder with a steady stream of water dripping from the underside. Ashley always heard crying.
“It looks like someone broke someone’s heart,” Ashley remarked.
Brandon held her hand as she jumped down from the rocks. “Maybe we should take our relationship to the next level,” Brandon said.
“What do you mean?”
“Move in together…? Brandon kidded.
“I don’t know…” Ashley could hear the crying getting louder.” I really don’t like the idea, unless I’m engaged.”
“With a ring like this one ?” Brandon said ,pulling a velvet box out of his pocket.
“Oh, Brandon, this is a nice surprise,I love you!”
“I thought I’d better get to it, before you find out you are royalty or something,” he smiled.
“How sweet,” Ashley smile through tears.
“It’s a yes?”
“Yes, Brandon ,yes!” Ashley said bringing her arms around his neck.
The water stop dripping and the sound of crying was gone. They could only hear the sound of the wind.
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