Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Ouch

colville 2019 rodeo 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!

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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9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Ouch”

  1. Lord Byron called pain, “Our Natural Burden of Mortal Misery”. Prudent folk spend their lives avoiding this burden. Still others seem to welcome the adventure of its uncertainty.

    Lorraine was a city girl. Not one for sports or exertions of any kind save a walk around the park with her new friend René. René was a sportsman. He loved the outdoors and enjoyed every season. He wished he could get Lorraine to enjoy it too. Hiking? Skiing? Camping and fishing? But, with all its stresses the City alone provided Lorraine with enough adventure in her life, thank you.

    In late November René figured it was time to get her to at least try to join him in one of his favorite pastimes: ice-skating. He all but pleaded with her to come to the rink with him and learn to skate. The relationship seemed to be hanging on this desperate request so Lorraine reluctantly agreed to join him.

    René held her and guided her around the ice on her rented skates as she gritted her teeth in anticipation of impending doom. At one point, he spun away and motioned her to move toward him. The snap of her ankle could be heard throughout the building.

    In the hospital, Doctors pinned her ankle and set it in a cast. René was solicitous and upbeat. “Remember,” He said, “No pain, no gain.” And “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
    After two Tylenol with codeine, Lorraine simply muttered, “Stuff it, René.”

  2. The Way of the Rider

    Lee, who was a student of Master Wu’s writings, had travelled to the west to attend university. While there, he saw an old fashioned rodeo. And as he watched the event, he was guided in his thinking by Master Wu’s wisdom.

    Lee watched as a rider and stallion entered the arena. And as he observed them, he was struck by how much they resembled a ruler and a nation.

    The horse, like a nation, was vibrant and strong. Lee saw the stallion’s muscles and how they flexed and strained in anticipation. He gazed upon its eyes and saw in them the fire of determination. And he witnessed the flair of its nostrils and its eagerness for adventure.

    In order to handle this horse, the rider, like a ruler, needed to be knowledgeable in the art of patience and wisdom. The rider had to know that the saddle, as an instrument of domestication, could become a burden. For it taxed the horse as much as it did the people. The bit, as an instrument of restraint, could become an impediment to innovation. And the reins, as a method of guidance and control, could inhibit free thought and movement.

    Most importantly, Lee realized, the rider had to temper his use of force and action, so as not to abuse and mistreat the horse.

    For an abused horse, like a nation, could grow hot in impatience, and in an effort to regain its freedom, throw off the rider in anger.

  3. “Take that, you sucker,” Kokomo thought as, yet another rider flies off his back! This always gave Kokomo a sense of victory. This cowboy had been stronger but also gentler than the others. It took longer than usual for Kokomo to shake Beau from his back. For a longtime Beau seemed to Kokomo to be a part of and one with Kokomo.

    The gilding, Kokomo, had been born and bred in Colorado to be a bucking bronco. The devilishly handsome Beau was born and bred to be a cowboy on a Ranch in Osceola County, Florida. He had a considerable measure of southern charm.

    Beau was the first cowboy to remain on the famous Kokomo the required eight seconds in any event of Kokomo’s long life.

    It was a spectacular ride by a magnificent horse and a remarkable rider. Kokomo got an exceedingly high score of 46. Beau got a fantastic 48 points. Their combined score of 94 out of a hundred was the highest in all the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events across the nation for the entire year!
    Their ride got Kokomo a visit in his coral with a delicious apple hand fed to him by Beau and got Beau a five-thousand-dollar purse at Osceola County’s annual Silver Spurs Rodeo! It won them both the admiration of all. Kokomo and Beau looked into each other’s eyes as Kokomo savored the bronc’s much-appreciated apple. They both relished a sense of rapture and oneness.

  4. Giant lights hung from the coliseum rafters, individual suns poking holes in the thin fog of dust and cigarette smoke. Thousands of nameless faces circled the arena floor focused on the danger in each ride.
    This was rodeo.
    This was Todd’s life.
    At age five, he entered his small town arena riding a calf, illuminated by the headlights from the rusty pick-’em up trucks lining the fence. He stayed on his calf the longest, picking up the red ribbon now pinned to the sun visor in his shiny black Ford four-by-four. Riding a streak of bad luck with no cash for a hotel, he sleeps in the truck bed, showers in the coliseums and barns on the circuit.
    This morning, he awoke trembling. In last night’s draw, he got Wild Willy, the meanest, nastiest bronc on the circuit. Todd had drawn him in the Calgary Stampede. It was like riding a jackhammer with one hand. He stayed with him for five seconds, not enough to qualify.
    Three seconds after the chute opened, Todd was in the air. He came down too hard, falling through the eerie silence of a horrified crowd. He knew what would happen– this was not his first rodeo. The EMTs would slide him carefully onto the board and take him on a gurney to the waiting ambulance as they had done before.
    Fingering the silver cross on the slim chain around his neck, he murmured
    “Dear Jesus, please don’t let this be the one.”


    Mrs. Nelly Nimble remembered the day her son Caruso was thrown from a rodeo horse, like it was yesterday, a moment frozen in time. It was twelve years since he had walked a single step.

    “I tried to warn you, Caroo, but you never listened to your Mama,” said Nelly, “I said you’d never see another penny, if you didn’t quit them rodeos. Now here I am, broke as a horse.”

    “That can change for y’all,” said the hospital volunteer, “If this stem cell procedure works, you’ll be an instant sensation, signing book deals.”

    “You’re still as good looking as you ever was, Caroo, my boy,” said Nelly, “Just think how that little tramp Maria ran out on you–”

    “I told you, Mama, I chased her off, didn’t want no pity!”

    The doctors were making their rounds, and the renowned Dr. Ferguson started asking the usual questions. Caruso interrupted.

    “Doc, I gotta tell ya, I can move my fingers and also my toes!” he exclaimed.

    “Show us, son,” said Dr. Ferguson, “Move your fingers.”

    Nelly ordered a cake from the best bakery in town.

    “I’m going back to the rodeo, Mama,” said Caruso.

    “Over my dead body,” said Nelly.

    “How ’bout motorcycle riding?” he suggested.

    “When my eyes close!” she exclaimed.

    “Alright, you win, Mama. Indy 500.”

    “No way, you ungrateful scamp!”

    “Ouch, Mama! How about makin’ babies?”

    “Now we’re talking, Caroo. Let’s git you a decent haircut.”

  6. The journey Bella and I shared began many years ago when our foreman was looking for an addition to our farm.

    She was feisty then and our foreman was challenged bringing her to accept a rider. But as he brought Bella to heel, after being thrown a couple of rounds, we took her home.

    “Love at first ouch!” he uttered. Bella arrived and settled very calmly in her stable.

    The next morning, I approached, a bucket of carrots and apples in one hand, a bale of sweet hay in the wagon behind me.

    “Hello, Bella. Time for breakfast.”

    As she chowed down, I brushed her mane, allowing her to get used to my scent and voice. She did not protest when I led her to the paddock, and put on the blanket and saddle. She kept very still as I stroked her back, mounted her while delivering a slight nudge from both feet.

    “C’mon, Bella, let’s get to know each other.” She cantered forward keeping to the limits of the pen, then gradually trotted until she felt me rhythmically moving along.

    There was hardly a day Bella and I were apart. Our foreman may have broken her in, but she and I were kindred spirits.

    When Bella was about to foal, like an expectant father, I stayed. She sniffed my hand as I felt her body push Neo out while standing. The effort weakened her and she collapsed immediately.

    “Bella?” She opened her eyes, licked my face, and expired.


  7. Not all athletes are created equal. Different muscle groups are used in different ways. Most teenage gymnasts can easily bend backwards because they are agile (and young), while most older athletes, especially male, have strength and stamina on their side. Arguments were rife at the meeting of the International Olympic Committee.

    Athletes themselves had plenty of complaints about who was better. And why do we still have gender biases?

    Out of frustration, one of the IOC members who happened to own a cattle ranch, offered one way to settle it all: Put all the athletes, regardless of sport, age or gender, through the paces of a rodeo clown. Everyone laughed, but he knew how hard those clowns worked and bet his clowns would fare better than these so-called world-class athletes. They all agreed.

    After spending one day observing everything that needed to be done during the trial, the athletes were chagrined. There was a lot of athleticism needed to pull this off. But they all had a deal and they had to suck it up and practice. They had one week.

    Pain was the theme of the week. Muscles were used in ways they had never been. And while no bones were broken, there were a lot of falls off of horses.

    Most of the athletes completed the trial, until the final rider. The horses had had enough of these rookies and showed their displeasure.

    All the rider could do was try to stick the landing.

  8. “That’s the measure of a true cowboy!” As the rider was thrown from his horse. Grampa was on his feet, cheering.

    “The measure of a true cowboy? What is that?” Timmy didn’t see what was so great about falling off a horse. Especially upside down, like this guy just did. And he didn’t really fall off the horse, he flew off.

    “Think back on all the cowboy movies you’ve ever seen,” said Grampa. “What is the one thing all the real cowboys do, no matter what happens?”

    “I dunno,” said Timmy. The cowboy had landed, face-first, in the dirt. That must have hurt like anything.

    “Think, boy,” said Grampa. The cowboy had struggled to his feet, and brushed himself off. “Look at that! Upside down, hanging in the air, and still he did it!”

    “Did what, Grampa! Tell me.”

    “Why I am surprised at you for not seeing it. It’s right there in front of you.”

    “What, what, what!”

    “His hat, boy, his hat. Even upside down! Not once did his hat ever leave his head. Now that is a true cowboy!”

  9. My mother told me she walked into the bedroom the day I turned ten months old. I supposedly was taking a nap. She saw me climb out of the crib, put my feet on the floor and take my first step. She said I scarcely walked after that. I ran. For three and a half months I ran around.

    Then one day I began crying and running a fever.

    Whenever she touched my legs, I would scream, she said. For about ten days she found I would just lie there. Her nursing knowledge led her to believe I must have had polio, then called infantile paralysis. She used hot, wet towels on my legs and began the daily massage on my legs that went on for a decade. I had to learn to crawl again and then to walk dragging my left foot which had dropped (the muscles “died” so I had no control over them). I was 13 months old.

    She learned 38 of us on the island of Mindanao contracted polio. The other 37 had died. How many others were left crippled as I was she never found out. The epidemic was brought by ship from the Hawaiian Islands.

    My parents ordered a metal brace to help me walk because my left foot had dropped and I would trip because the muscles did not work properly. When the brace came, it weighed 35 pounds.

    Are the ouches in our lives meant to make us strong?

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