Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Just a Few Lights

xmas95 lights flash fiction writing prompt copyright ks brooks 2
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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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Just a Few Lights”


    Just a Few Lights

    Click looked at the gaudy Christmas light display with utter disgust. Was a powerful sunblock necessary? “Just a few lights,” his parents had promised but as always had gone overboard. They exaggerated everything except their love for him; their affection was nano. Multiple Christmas trees blazed while miles of string lights raged. Christmas luminaria ran amok in their empty pool. It was an atrocity and ended in Click’s anger erupting.
    A tiny insignificant lone light zipped away from earth. An unauthorised space ship with an underage pilot. It carried Click, one adolescent full of pulsating wrath, which alone could have fueled the space ship. While his choler seethed at his unloving parents, he realized that the space police would soon be dogging him. His ire became delight. The space cadets would joke with him, tussle his hair and threaten him with community work in the space pound. Cleaning out kennels inhabited by three headed canines who ate more and therefore defecated more was foul, but the dogs provided him with unconditional love.
    His discontent evaporated as the space police towed him back to earth. At the pound a very anxious vet met them. Endangered flocks had flown into an icy blizzard and were suffering from hyperthermia; they would die without intense heat. Crick’s face broke into a smile. Soon sequined birds were zooming around his dazzling Christmas trees. “Just a few lights” shone on the shimmery metallic birds warming them back to health!


    Light Years Away

    Karl didn’t need to close his eyes to see the brilliance of the festive lights. Their memory was engraved in his minds eye, imprinted on his heart for all time.

    He saw the twinkling, the sparking flashes of star lights winding through the stretching branches, reflecting in the bevelled oak-framed mirror hanging on the wall next to where they, annually, erected the tree.

    He could still see her, placing the ancient ornaments, the miniature farmhouse, a replica of her grandfather’s home which she had moulded, shaped, fired, one part of complete set of country homes and people. The images of her smile and of her art were as intense as the awareness of his loss of her, of the children, of the life he once embraced. Though different senses, they melded into a Cinemascope epic of sorrow, of love, a jumble of separate yet distinct emotions.

    “Fool,” he suddenly yelled, startling the woman standing to his left, peering in as he was at the display.

    “Sorry,” he quickly looked at her, apologized. “An escaping thought…”

    She moved away from him, tendered a look that suggested pity though it could as well have been fear.
    Either would have suited the occasion.

    His gaze returned to the window and the festive display within. There was nothing too remarkable about it. He had seen so many over the years.

    His twenty-year circle on the road had taken him back to his hometown.

    Only a fool would try to make amends.

  3. The cop used his nightstick to tap the exposed shoe soles of the sleeping man. A random pile of newsprint and soiled quilted fabric rustled sharply and a head appeared at the other end.

    “Let’s go, Gerard. You guys are usually up under the interstate this time of year, not near the Christmas market. What gives?”

    A wide-eyed scarlet balaclava stared back at the policeman with hot, excited breath steaming in the frigid air. “Oh. Officer Costigan. It’s the lights. The lights this time of year draw me to the square. The lights on trees! Lights strung on poles, and in all the store windows! Even the snow and cold! I feel like I’m back home!”

    “And where you rightly should be. Let’s get you going now. Either back up under the highway or to the shelter where the shoppers won’t find you sprawled on this bench in the morning.

    “There are no lights under the highway, officer Costigan.”

    “Aye, son. But there’ll be food and warmth at the shelter. And, a few lights.”

    “Just a few lights, Officer Costigan. But not like these lights. Not like lights of hope and joy.”

    Costigan stood reflecting on the man’s words. Surely at this late hour, no passerby might even notice a sleeping man. And, his passion for the lights seemed so human and fitting with the season.

    “Ok. Stay here for tonight but be gone in the morning. Enjoy the lights. Merry Christmas Gerard.”

    Gerard was indeed gone by morning.

  4. When I told my wife she could put up some decorations for Christmas I expected something simple. A few lights, a glowing snowman, and a Merry Christmas sign. I underestimated her holiday spirit.

    We’ve only been married a year now, though we had dated for several years. I knew she loved Christmas, but I never knew how much. All the decorations she crammed in her little apartment should have given me a clue. Guess I never paid attention.

    I pulled into the driveway to discover bright lights everywhere. The gutters, the bushes, and all along the walkway — everything was lit up like a gala event. Glowing snowmen, elves, and reindeer in the front yard make it look like a Christmas party. Windows outlined with twinkling lights and the front door had a cutout of Santa on it.

    I got out of my car and the roof immediately caught my attention. Bright flashing lights spell out Merry Christmas in huge letters. Apparently she’s trying to wish the space station a happy holiday.

    I stared at this blinding expression of Christmas, imaging what my electric bill would be. The front door opened and my wife ran out giggling with excitement.

    “What do you think?”

    “It’s something, alright,” was all I could say.

    “Wait til you see the backyard.”

    Before I can respond she drags me into the house. And the backyard? … There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe what she did to it.

  5. The overalled workman nearest to me quivered and split into two. There were eight of him now, each busy fitting the lamps the first had brought. It was so very confusing. I’d no idea which one was the original man I’d seen, although I doubted that it mattered. They all answered to Hans when I called them.

    “Listen,” I said. “Surely this changes the terms of the contract. There was only the one of you when we began.”

    The clone working on the chandelier peered down at me. “You were most precise about the conditions,” he said. “The way we choose to manage the duties is up to us.” He popped a lamp from one of the boxes he had in his sling into his mouth to keep his hands free and then the Hans working on the wall sconce continued, seamlessly, saying “Seems to me you’re looking for a reason to welch out on the deal.”

    I shook my head, watching the dizzying horde. It was true I’d done my best to make their job impossible, insisting that every lamp should be lit and that none should be turned off once it had been replaced. There were fifteen thousand in the hallway fittings and another ten thousand in the foyer; it’d been inevitable that some would fail before the original Hans had finished his work.

    I’d not allowed for the contractor’s resourcefulness and his determination when he’d said, “No problem, boss. You got it. Many Hans make lights work!”

  6. The Monoliths of Illusion

    There are lights.

    And beyond those lights, there are mysteries. Mysteries that hide in darkness; mysteries that confound our thinking; mysteries that shape our thoughts and our world.

    Mysteries that become an enigma…

    They say monoliths exist everywhere in the world. They are a special, secret thing of mystery and wonder, made of plastic, or metal, or something not yet discovered.

    They say they’re a symbol of impenetrable unknowns, solitary beacons of intrigue and mystery, forever cryptic in their silence.

    They say they exist to test our imagination, our wonder, our thoughts, our whispering minds.

    They say that on the day monoliths speak, a comet will pass through the heavens, a meteor shower will lighten the sky, Jupiter and Saturn will form a Great Conjunction, and South America will become a shadow during an eclipse.

    They say monoliths will speak a different language, holding us captive with their silence…

    And they are everywhere…

    We hold them in our hands. These cryptic little gods. They confound our thinking and shape our thoughts. They emit a mysterious glow from their screens, illuminating our faces, mesmerizing our minds, holding us captive in an illusion of communication, connectivity and humanity.

    Their mystical lights… become beacons… holding us spell-bound…

  7. Sam insisted that I help him hang the Christmas lights. Still in my robe, I just slouched at the kitchen table with my head in my hands. Ever since those soldiers informed us of Dustin’s death in a helicopter crash, I couldn’t make myself do anything. It had only been three weeks. Sam believed I could pull out of my depression by becoming engaged in the Christmas spirit.

    “I know it hurts, Hon. I feel it too,” he said. “But you have to try. Our grandkids need us.”

    I no longer bothered to wipe the tears streaking my cheeks. “I just can’t,” I cried. “Leave me alone.”

    Sam stormed out the door and down the driveway. When he returned, he showed me two envelopes – one from the damn US Government and another addressed to us in Dustin’s handwriting, a missive from the grave. I slumped further down in my chair. “I don’t want to see them,” I wailed.

    Ignoring me, Sam tore the envelopes open anyway and began to read the government’s letter. I heard, “apology . . . misinformed . . . hospital . . . Germany.”

    “What?” I yelled. “A mistake?”

    Sam was already unfolding the second letter. “Mom, Dad. Had an accident. I’m pretty messed up, but they’re sending me home for rehab. Should be there for Christmas.”

    Before Sam finished, I was bounding up the stairs toward the attic. “What are you waiting for?” I shouted. “We’ve got to get out the lights. Now!”

  8. A Homeless Christmas

    She dreams about the picture as she sits in the damp woods at the edge of town. It is starting to snow now, so she wraps the rags more tightly around her feet. Alone and feeling lonely, she talks to a squirrel chattering nearby. “I found this magazine yesterday at the side of the road and picked it up. I might as well keep it as someone has tossed it away and it might come in handy rolled for a pillow.”

    The magazine is open now and spread across her lap. She blows on her hands and wiggles her numb fingers as she slowly turns the pages.

    “Oh! This picture of the Christmas trees and bright lights are so much what I remember us having as a child. Bright, tall trees and so warm in that big room. If I had just one of the small trees here beside me it sure would light up the night. We hung stockings beside the tree for Santa. I used to leave him cookies and milk. So long ago”.

    “All this picture needs is a big fireplace. Wide, and piled high with logs. So warm. I wish I had a cap. Or some socks or mittens. Packages all wrapped with paper and colored ribbons would hold so many nice things.”

    She sits in the cold woods staring, and dreaming, and imagining herself living within that warm picture as her eyelids grow heavy and she slowly drifts off to sleep.

  9. Who would know?

    “Hon, are you sure you want to do this?” I asked.

    “Yes, I’m sure. I would like to keep up my parents’ tradition.”


    I had to count out loud, or I would forget where I was, “17,614, 17,615, 17,616.”

    “David, dinner’s getting cold.”

    I smiled and wrote the last number down, which I thought was the smartest thing I could do.

    While we were eating, I decided to ask, “Since this contest is open to anyone wishing to submit their guess, what is the prize going to be?”

    I jumped when my wife’s plate bounced. “David, you never listen to me. I told you there is no fee to enter and the prize is one-hundred dollars for the closest guess.”

    “What if two people are the closest to the number…one below, and one above? Does that mean we give them both the prize, or do we split it?”

    “You have to be kidding, do you really think that would happen?”

    “Well, Mr. Kelley, our math teacher, would say, there is an equal chance of that happening.” I thought about the $100. “I think collecting a dollar from every entry would have been a good idea, with half the money going to the winner and the other to support a local charity.”

    “Are you done with dinner?”

    “I am now.”


    I smiled, picking up my slip of paper, and realized I hadn’t marked where I left off counting. I felt the cold.

    “1, 2, 3, 49,627”

  10. When I was growing up, the big thing at Christmas was the display at the Grand Hotel downtown. Ten illuminated trees would be set up around the fountain in the middle of their huge lobby. The sprays would be turned off for electrical safety, but the pool stayed filled so it would reflect everything.

    My folks took us kids during the day, so the big skylights filled the room with winter sunlight. But some of my friends at school talked about going at night, and how it looked like a fairyland with the overhead lights turned off. I asked my folks, but they said we couldn’t get back until after my little brothers’ bedtimes.

    In sixth grade, my best friend and I hatched a plan. She’d invite me to a sleepover, and after supper she’d suggest we all go see the Christmas lights.

    So I got to see the Grand Hotel’s Christmas display at night. Except for one problem: on the way back, her dad had an accident. Just a fender-bender, but because I was underage, the police had to call my folks.

    They were angry that I hadn’t called to get their OK. Never mind I had permission for the sleepover, leaving the house meant needing specific permission for the trip. I spent the rest of the holidays grounded, no fun allowed.

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