Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Departure

salmon ceremony flash fiction prompt copyright KS Brooks 08232019 IMG_0234
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.

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: Departure”

  1. Owen dumped Alice’ remains into the Rio Bravo. Hunched down at the waterline, he had not heard the approach of a pickup. When he turned around, smiling the satisfaction of one who had just discharged a minor but troublesome duty, she was not there.


    He walked up the boat ramp and saw her leaning into an old Ford talking with a Mexican woman, who drove off as Rhonda ambled back to Owen.

    “We’ve made lots of friends here. They help us, we help them.”

    “I see. Not my business.”

    “I helped that woman start selling her crafts to turistas on the other side. I’m simply satisfied in knowing I’ve helped a woman make something more of herself than keeping some hombre’s hacienda.”

    Scanning the north shore with her binoculars, she made small talk about the Big Bend.

    “It is beautiful beyond anything I’ve seen in other parks. I…….”

    An explosion downstream interrupted them.

    “Git in the kayak. Now!”

    They quickly stroked to the center of the stream. A column of black smoke rose in the direction of their campsite.

    “That’s our site. Can you handle a handgun?”


    She unhooked the Glock from her side and pumped a round into the chamber, handing it to Owen. This Rhonda had a possession of his interest that was hard to ignore and her certainty about everything compelled him to engage. He was sure Alice would have approved.

    Now his thoughts oddly ran towards having a better hat.

  2. Three

    1 + 1 = 3.

    The equation played with Logan’s mind like a cat played with a mouse. It always appeared to him in a dream, just before he awoke. Was it mathematical? Even logical?

    He had little time for reflection. He was an Agent of the State. And he always had work: to arrest the undesirables and those who stepped out of line.

    It was a future time when families were a thing of the past. The young were raised in hatcheries and everyone became a ward of the regime. There was only birth, service, death.

    Yet, there were those who subverted the law by having children and raising them. It was his job to arrest those who continued with this illegal practice.

    An informant had located an older couple living in a commune in the country. Contrary to the law, they had raised a child from birth, until he was twelve years old. Later they fled, leaving the child to the authorities.

    It was night time when he confronted the couple in their cabin. He threatened them with arrest. They showed him a photograph. He was their son.

    It was an emotional reunion. And he vowed to protect them.

    With the help of friends, they loaded up two boats and fled by waterway. Their future uncertain.

    Logan’s subconscious had been telling him for years that 1 + 1 = 3 meant: a man plus a woman (having a baby) equals a family of three.


    We stood on the bank, afraid to talk in more than a whisper so that our English-speaking voices didn’t intrude on the solemn ceremony unfolding before us. Members of the Chinook Nation were amassed on the shore, speaking softly in their native language as two dugout canoes departed, carrying the bones of the First Salmon. Once the canoes reached the center of the river, the bones would be returned to the Great River of the nation’s ancestors.
    It had been an impressive ceremony, one held annually by the tribe. “According to history,” I explained to my companion, “the first White men to witness the celebration of the First Salmon were Lewis and Clark. They were standing at Celilo Falls—”
    “Where’s that?”
    “It’s in Oregon. They were standing at Celilo Falls in April of 1806, and observed the joy the arrival of the salmon brought to the natives.
    “I consider ourselves fortunate to have participated in the entire ceremony, don’t you? To see how they prepared, cooked, and gave everyone a portion of the salmon that was brought ashore? And now, the bones will be returned to the river, with the head pointed upriver so its spirit will know how to find its way home and the salmon will return next year.”
    My companion nodded. “And once again, life will come full circle. That’s a beautiful thought.”

  4. Not all departures are joyous occasions full of sunshine, sparkling waters, and well-wishing friends. Some departures are unplanned, unwanted, and terrifying. Such was the final departure of J.

    His leaving for Korea brought on mixed emotions. His family felt pride, fear, love, and loss. J felt a strong sense of duty that overwhelmed his swirling mix of lesser emotions. He served proudly, earning the respect of his commanders and comrades, and a Purple Heart for a wound that put him out of action for four months. Back with his outfit, their orders were to move forward, across the Han River. It was winter, and the waters were icy cold. The crossing was done in strict silence under cover of darkness. J climbed into an inflatable raft, loaded with equipment. He knew something was wrong when he felt icy water leaking into his boots but it was already too late. He was in the middle of the river and the raft was sinking rapidly. He could not call out for help. The weight of his wet clothes and the swirling waters dragged him down, and he drowned. A month later his body was found. His parents were told only that he died honorably in the line of duty.

    Such was the final departure of J.

    Remember those who fought and those who died in the undeclared war in Korea, and remember freedom comes with a price.

  5. The crowd stood in strained silence on the shore of the sheltered bay as the two boats backed out into the water. A few tears were shed among those staying, tears of sorrow that they would lose their friends but also tears of relief that they had not been chosen.

    In the boats, each holding two families, chaos and anger flared as they edged further away from the shore. Old men stood in the sterns, silent as they directed the rowers into the slipstream of unknowability. Behind them, disturbing the silence and the suppressed fear, a deepwater creature surfaced and glistened in the morning sun, splashing in the toxic waters.

    Two small girls in the larger of the boats howled, whether in pain or fear, those watching could not tell. But from the other boat a young lad stood and screamed his hatred towards those watching, towards those complicit in the fate the families were moving toward.

    Then everything moved quickly. Those on the shore held their breaths as they tried to look away from the tragedy unfolding before them. They had to watch, though, as the sea creature surfaced once again and splashed a signal with its tail. The water boiled as more of the creatures surfaced amid screams of those in the boats. Even the old men now could not hold back their fear as the waters frothed with blood lust.

    On shore, the observers let go of their held breath, safe until next time.

  6. Luzviminda, a medical student fulfilling her rotation in an underserved area in the Philippines, was assigned to live in a duplex home owned by three sisters. She was hosted by two single sisters on one side while the third, married, sister lived next door. It was on her fifth day that she found out that due to complications following childbirth, the married sister had been lying in a coma in the ICU. Her baby girl survived and lived with her grandparents.

    One day, Luz saw a commotion in front of the duplex. She made her way through the mob and saw a coffin, where married sister lay, in the living room.

    That night, her medical group held a meeting at the house where the baby girl lived, unable to discuss anything but the sad news.

    “Do you smell that?,” Carina said.

    The rest answered, “No.”

    But then, Ed burst out, “I smell it!” a second after Carina declared that the scent had gone.

    “I smell it.” and “It’s gone.” were said sequentially around the table, as if a perfumed person circled around them.
    Funeral flowers, Luz thought and rushed out in fear followed by the others.

    This happened again the next two nights. On the last night, they did not run away.
    “Please don’t scare us, your baby girl is in good hands with your parents. You can rest in peace now.”

    The smell faded and never came back. Married sister, mother of baby girl, was ready to depart.

  7. It was time for the annual race between the descendants. Our town was founded by a weird moment, and this was our celebration of it.

    Apparently, back in the day, a group of pioneers reached the shores of Lake Wagitaw carrying their canoes. A group of six started for the water. Only three made it.

    The other three made for the water, tossing in the canoe and scrambling in. A bear, the reason they were now three, somehow got into the other one and gave chase. They made it to what is now our side of the lake. The bear’s canoe gave out.

    They saw it as providence, and set up our town. Even called it Bear Chase. And on Founder’s Day, a group of young men get into canoes on the far side of the lake, and race a group of older men, dressed as bears.

    The older men never win, we all have a good time, and hilarity ensues. Little did we know how serious it was, this little game.

    The bears won this year. The shock led to laughter, which led to a bear walking into town. One that was old, grizzled, mad, and wet. Very wet.

    “Your town,” it said, “owes me one. Who’s first?”


    Captain Jessie Oates hobbled around on makeshift crutches, reflecting on events of the last two weeks. Ninety-seven of 112 souls had survived a hijacking, crash landing and meager living. They still awaited rescue.

    He never saw it coming. His young co-pilot turned off their transponder and nearly brought down the 737 jet in flames, in a conspiracy with two other terrorists.

    Oates resisted, along with an air marshal, a resourceful crew and brave passengers. The hijackers were killed.

    Captain Oates, amazed, spied an island with enough smooth terrain for at least five runways. It was a controlled crash landing, and sadly, 12 more people died in the crash and its aftermath.

    They put two boats together a week later, and sent eight athletes with two radios, to go as far as possible to get help.

    Everyone was overjoyed to see two large U.S. Army planes land on the beach one morning. Out came the troops, the Red Cross, and a makeshift infirmary.

    A man from the FAA stepped out. “We got your message from a small island near the Caymans. We looked for you, but you were way off course. Your black box pinged from here.”

    “Now get ready,” he said, “Air Force One is coming. We tried to talk him out of it, but no way! Prepare yourself for a sumptuous meal of fast food.”

    Air Force One circled and landed. The President and First Lady stood there, waving. “Welcome to my island,” announced POTUS.


    When Neil decided to chuck Manila for good, there was no hesitation or doubt. He just turned twenty-five. And though he still had immediate family, he suffered from the loneliness that ensues being born seven years after the former youngest sibling. It also did not help to foster his relationship with a father who felt his arrival consumed entirely the attention of his wife, Miranda, who was a much older mother upon Neil’s birth.

    “This is the child that stole whatever little love my late Miranda had for me,” his father volunteered to anyone who would listen, out of Neil’s earshot.

    “There is nothing I can do or say that will ever bridge that gap between us,” Neil shared with his sister, Missy. “Mother’s departure last winter only strengthened my resolve towards my next life chapter, which I was hesitant to pursue while she was alive.”

    “But you’ll be immigrating into a country that we Filipinos do not have ties to culturally or historically. New Zealand is very British: education-, accent- and even traffic-wise.”

    “I’m single and bereft of family baggage. Plus, the Kiwis are very motivated and encourage immigration. There is nothing there to tie me to painful memories here.”

    Fast forward twenty years; Missy answers a Facetime request from Neil. Wearing a blue hospital outfit, he shares an unfamiliar face. A similarly-clothed woman on a hospital bed manages a faint smile and wave in the background.

    “Missy, meet seven pounds of Baby Miranda who just arrived today.”

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