Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Lights

IMG_8191 Christmas lights flash fiction writing 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.

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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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Lights”

  1. “Yeah. I think all these lights will fool the old goat,” the delinquent cried out. “When Rudolph sees ‘em he’ll get confused and get Santa’s sled tangled up in our trap.”

    His three giggling conspirators reached out slapping each other’s back
    “I’ll knock out fatso with these brass knuckles,” the tattooed one sneered
    “Lemme get my hands on those luscious overfed deer. Think of the nice sausages, roasts and steaks they’ll make,”another drooled.

    The third thug boasted, “When we gits dem bags of toys, we can sell ’en on eBay for a nice profit.”

    The tinkling bells on the approaching sled clanged out with joy.

    “Ho, ho, ho,” Santa sang out. “Wonder what those kids are doing under that netting of Christmas lights?” He veered closer to the group. “Great Scott!!! One is smoking a cigar, and another drinking from a bottle of Vodka.”

    Rudolph blinked his nose. “And, that guy, leaning against the motorcycle, is….. Oh! Don’t look. That’s obscene.”

    Santa pulled on the reins changing his course. “We can dump our whole sack of black coal onto that motley crew to teach them a lesson,” he vowed. “No toys, cookies or candy for them.”

    As they soared overhead, the sled tilted and pummeled the hooligans with punishing lumps of coal.

    The first ruffian moaned, “Well, at least we got something that’ll keep us warm until next year giving us time to think of a new plot,”.
    ”Until then, a Very Merry Christmas to all.”

  2. DEJA VU

    The dog never bothered the string of Christmas lights that hung down the side of the house from the eves to the outside plug-in. He was a good boy, a six-month-old lab pup, friendly natured, all gangly and wagly, and my five-year-old son’s “bestest” buddy. He was too bent on chasing anything that moved to bother with non-moving Christmas lights.

    At the time, my wife and son were away visiting family for a few days, so I was pup-sitting.

    That morning, though I did momentarily question it, I never gave it any real thought that he could get himself into trouble while I was away at work for the day. The yard was puppy-proofed. And it wasn’t like he was tied up or anything. We’d learned that lesson when he took a shortcut and jumped over the rail, instead of going down the steps first to chase after our cat. Flung himself over and hung himself. Good thing I’d been there to cut him down.

    So, when I came home and found him hanging over the rail again, it was déjà vu. The Christmas lights that were tangled tight around his neck were just as dead as he was, unplugged and pulled off the eves.

    “Lights out” took on a whole new meaning for us that year.

    May as well have taken the lights back off the tree, too.

  3. Christmas was no friend of Joe’s. Winter had blasted into the city with a vengeance. After a hard snow left a good two feet of the white stuff, the temperature had dropped forever. Why hadn’t they gone south like he suggested?

    Too late now.

    He and his wife were huddling together in a structure built from old pallets. Joe had taken the pallets apart, retrieved the bent nails, straightened them, and then fashioned the shelter from the white pine slats. It had four walls, which kept the wind in abeyance, and an always open door.

    His wife, pregnant, was suffering but there was nothing to be done. For the holidays, Joe tried to brighten the place up with red and green paper stars and a tiny branch of a tree he’d swiped from a nearby Christmas tree lot.

    He strung dumpster-dive lights from wall to wall, a magic ceiling of color. As his wife slept uneasily, he took a swig of rye to celebrate the improvements.

    “Sharing?” asked his wife.

    Startled, Joe looked down at the small woman. “Not a good idea. The baby.” He threw the half-full bottle out the door where it broke into pieces on the hard-plowed street.

    “The lights are nice, aren’t they,” said Joe pointing up.

    “They are,” said Mary, smiling at the red, green, blue, and yellow lights. “They’ll be the first thing our baby sees. So pretty. How did you do that?”

    Joe shrugged and stared, transfixed, at the brightly colored ceiling.

  4. Even as a kid, Kyle had never been fond of the Big Room with the Blue Ceiling. Now, after six months on the Moon, being outdoors made him uneasy.
    But this is for your professional development, the head of the science department at Coopersville had told him. And no, he couldn’t “save NASA the trip” and telecon in.
    So here he was, on the terrace in front of the conference hotel, staring up at the lights strung overhead. After dark they would’ve given the place a festive touch, but at this hour they served only to remind him he would spend the holidays away from friends and colleagues, and most of all, away from his work with time ticking against him.
    The scents wafting from the buffet tables should’ve made his mouth water, but just knotted his stomach. Why couldn’t they hold this meet and greet indoors, where he wouldn’t keep wanting to check a spacesuit he wasn’t wearing?
    Dr. Maxwell?” The voice cut through the buzz of conversation, the din of his own thoughts. “Are you all right?”
    “I’m fine.” Dammit, I can’t let myself drift off like this. “Call me Kyle. I’m still finishing my dissertation,” Kyle tried not to look too obviously at the woman’s nametag, “Professor Teesdale.”
    Her eyes brightened with genuine interest. “What are you doing it on?”
    Kyle began to tell her about his work. Twenty minutes later, he realized all his anxiety had dissolved away. Maybe this trip wouldn’t be a complete disaster.


    Of course I remember. I was seven at the time… my sister, nine. It was our tradition that on Christmas eve, my parents would drive us the six miles to the Johnson’s place to see the lights he put on his house every year.

    We finally get to the Johnson’s only to find that the lights are shut off. This makes my stepdad angry and he starts yellin’ for Mr. Johnson to turn on his “stupid lights”. ‘Course, Mr. Johnson starts yelling back and pretty soon they’re throwin’ punches. That’s when Ma pushed me and my sister down behind the seat.

    When she finally let us up, the yard was full of police cars and my stepdad and Mr. Johnson were being loaded into an ambulance. Mr. Johnson called out to his wife, ”Don’t even think about turnin’ on them lights!” Ma was about to talk to Mrs. Johnson about that very thing but this stopped her. She knew it wouldn’t do no good. Ma knew how much fancy lights meant us kids… especially me, what with my eye problem and all. Then she had an idea and spoke with one of the policemen who was standing by his car.

    Suddenly the world erupted in color. The lights from on top of the police cars sent colors shimmering and dancing all over the yard. It was glorious.

    I went totally blind about two weeks later, so yeah… those were the most beautiful colors I’ve ever seen at Christmas.


    The multi-colored lights hung haphazardly on the ceiling of the lobby, continuing endlessly and engulfing a shabby tree. The branches held flimsy paper ornaments. A melancholy filled Juda’s soul as he examined the ratty decorations. Each bauble included a holiday wish, sorting through the requests he discovered a kindred spirit.
    After work, he embarked on an adventure to his favorite store, and he walked the aisles collecting the perfect gear to fulfill the Christmas request. The next day he returned to work with a spring in his step cheerfully placing the treasures under the tree. Gazing at the ceiling, he silently wished he had given the kit to his father.
    The Dollar Store decorations hung crookedly in the Senior Center set a tone of gloom and despair. Harlan scanned the room; sure, his son got his message this year. Instead, his gaze found fellow estranged parents longing to reunite with their children. A staff member in an ill-fitting Santa costume handed him an enormous holiday-themed bag. With a half-hearted thank you, he opened the parcel pulling out a fishing vest. A business card was sticking out of the top right-hand pocket; he flipped it over to find a note in blue ink. He placed his glass on his face and, tears filled his eyes. The inscription read: I am free on Saturdays if you need a fishing buddy.

  7. When the Reynolds moved south for retirement, they brought everything with them. The dark bulky furniture that served them so well in Michigan, the two sets of snow ties for the cars, all their winter wear, even the Christmas sweater for the dog. If it didn’t fit, Bert made a loft in their new garage for the excess.

    Today, when the blooms were still robust on the camellias that ringed their new home on Kiawah, he was pulling boxes down from the loft to share the joy he and Adela found in showering their neighbors with exterior holiday lighting. They had it all. Reindeer, sleigh, the crèche, and even a menorah lamp. Strings of the best LED, twin-wired Christmas lamps that China had to offer would be strung on every eave and gable of their new home.

    The community disdain for the Reynolds’ light displays began building on the first Saturday in December. Neighbors scoffed. Invites were rescinded. The homeowners’ association left a cease and desist request in their companion box citing the regulation against ostentatious displays, Etc.

    By the third week, Bert was weary of repairing the work of vandals every morning. Adela implored him to pare back his work. But he persisted. By the following Tuesday, word had reached the local paper. His display on the front page reached the entire community.

    On Christmas Eve he counted a thousand cars of families eager to see his handiwork pass the Reynolds’ house in awe. Lights indeed.

  8. As I rested in my second-story apartment, I watched the Christmas lights and shadows as they played on the walls of my darkened room. My dog Fluffy and I were quite cozy as I wondered whether I could organize a little impromptu caroling.

    I called neighboring churchgoers, dog owners, and especially churchgoers who were also dog owners. I knew the dog walkers were going to need to go out, eventually.

    I found six people — not bad! Five of us had dogs. We were quite a sight walking around the block on a cold night — six women, one man, a German Shepherd, a Golden Retriever, a Beagle and two mutts. At no time in history did carolers have to stop so many times, for our dogs to relieve themselves.

    The best part was the singing. At least three of the dogs howled along with the carolers. The first time it happened, we laughed so hard that we could hardly get through the song. Some of the neighbors came out to express their appreciation and amusement. No one invited us in for refreshments. However, one neighbor did offer to bring the coffee and cocoa out to us — and would Fluffy like a dog biscuit?

    My brother, who was not the churchgoing type, later told me how EMBARRASSED he was by our appearance. “Don’t EVER do that again,” he said.

    But I could see the smile at the corners of his mouth, and the twinkle in his eye.

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