Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Idyllic

1998 quebec bandb garden flash fiction 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!

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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Idyllic”

  1. Idyllic
    The English garden of her childhood could only be described as “idyllic.” It was idyllic in every sense being beautiful, pleasant and peaceful. Not a Jardin à l’anglais because it was neither landscaped nor tamed, formal nor symmetrical. It was wild and rambling. Untamed and therefore a child’s paradise. Being undisciplined and natural it was in tune with her vivid creative imagination. Wildness was evident in the trailing heavily perfumed red roses, sprawling bushes, unexpectedly tall wild flowers, multitude of fruit trees, shapely evergreens and cascades of colour.
    With her sister in tow, the two could be intrepid explorers. Around every hidden corner there was adventure, mysteries and wild animals. The possibilities were endless. Running, jumping, gambolling, singing and hiding. Falling through a rabbit hole, finding another land beyond a door, discovering buried treasures. One hour they were intrepid fisherfolk in heavy black wellingtons fishing for minnows, tadpoles or whales in a ditch. The next they would be jungle explorers tracking down wild beasts like hedgehogs and darting rabbits. Climbing up a ladder was really the daring exploits of mountaineers and becoming stuck head down between the rungs was the price of fearless adventurers. There were tree limbs to dangle from, hidey-holes to spy from, and gooseberries to pilfer. Then sisters hand in hand at the end of the day perhaps lying on sweet delicious grass watching fantastic clouds. A dragon, fabulous castle, giant hare. Sisterhood too in an enchanted English garden was idyllic!

  2. Idyll Licks

    I give Kenny a soft shove with my good foot. It shifts him a few inches. Just enough for me to stretch like a man needs to.
    I thought he might stir, flap about, but he curls up into an even tighter ball.
    “I don’t know man, I need a change,” I give voice as if someone is paying attention in the chill of the morning air. Down the alley, we are, off Commercial, our own little culled sack.
    A place to sack out, not get stepped on.
    With the April sun beginning to give a hint that the day will warm up, it’s likely too early for a cup of java and a slice of toast at Solly’s Kitchen.
    They had bananas yesterday. Pretty beat up. Even a damn monkey might give them a pass.
    Strange, you know, laying here, one thin blanket from the pavement, staring up at the sky, thankful it ain’t raining, knowing it will, remembering maybe how it once was, up the Okanagan, as a kid, those rolling hills, green until they weren’t, irrigated land for the most part, summers as easy as eating candy, fall, leaves starting to dry out, crunch under your feet walking down to the river, and here I am, thinking all those memories, reaching back.
    Kenny grunts, “No,” like the horror’s back. Yelps “No!” again.
    I want to wake him, share my memory.
    Won’t do that, though.
    His past.
    My past.
    Mine would be lost on him.

  3. Idyllic

    He sat down at a table near a window and sipped on his coffee.

    “What are you thinking about?” she asked.

    He had a far-away look in his eyes. “Did you know that out west there are still places where horses run free? There are no fences. Imagine that. Land that is still unspoiled, idyllic.”

    She slowly shook her head. “You’re such a dreamer…”

    “Columbus once had a dream—”


    He put his coffee down and looked in the distance.

    She watched him for a moment, studying his hands, memorizing the lines in his face. “We once knew each other so well. What happened?”

    He didn’t look at her. Instead, he absently watched the rush hour traffic through the window: the long line, the inching forward under the hot sun, the slow, steady movement on the road. In his mind, it resembled a tired creature slithering across an empty landscape, looking for a place to die.

    “It’s the mundane,” he finally answered, still holding the coffee in his hands.

    “The what?” she asked, softly.

    “Life is full of the mundane,” he replied, and slowly swirled the black coffee in his cup. “It traps you.”

    She eyed him with surprise. “You’re always talking nonsense. No one…” She caught herself. “I mean, I can never understand you anymore.”

    He didn’t reply. He took another sip of coffee and looked out the window. For a moment he imagined he saw horses running free.

  4. “I saw three peeking over the wall yesterday, maybe four. I’m not sure. The fourth disappeared so fast I couldn’t swear it was one of them, so I’ll just say three.” Janice plunked her ample figure down in a lawn chair.

    Andrea fumbled a cigarette from an elaborate case and lit it. “I didn’t see any, but then I wasn’t really looking. I gets kind of boring after awhile. Anyway, as time goes on we have less and less of them.”

    “True. I wonder if they are giving up on sneaking over, or if there are just a lot fewer than there used to be.”

    “Who knows? Myself, I would think they’d stop trying. They always either get caught or shot. Not worth it, to my way of thinking. Better to live with what you have.”

    Andrea snapped her fingers and a boy appeared with fresh drinks for both.

    “Especially when what you’ve got is idyllic.” Both laughed.

    “Painting this side of the wall to look like a landscape, that was a stroke of genius. Nobody would ever guess that it hides the remains of the greatest country in the world, reduced to rubble.”

    “Now all we need is something to reduce the smell.”

    “They’re working on that.”

  5. Dale looks down at the tightly spaced garden. He has been planting this garden for 10 years now. It always grows more than he could eat himself, and his children have moved too far away to share with them. His knees and his back ache. One more row, and he is done for the day.

    An hour later, Dale finishes the last seeds. He takes a deep breath, looks up at the sky, and then puts his hands firmly on the ground to push himself back to one knee. Grabbing the garden hoe, he pulls himself to his feet. Again, he looks to the sky as he stretches himself out and upward. He looks at the bench he built for Mary. They bought this farm for their retirement – always wanting a peaceful setting after raising a family in the city.

    He heads into the house and returns back with a tray holding a pitcher of lemonade and a glass of ice. He places the tray on the right chair and sits down on the left. Holding the glass of lemonade, he raises his right arm placing it around the back of the chair as if stretching his arm around Mary. Sweating and thirsty, he takes a long awaited drink of the lemonade. Again, he looks up at the sky, “I planted your garden again. I hope you like it.”


    “You’re here now. Relax. Breathe with me, slowly. Follow the air sounds you hear.”

    The voice in my ear could be my mother’s. For a million long milliseconds, she’s with me, my muscles relaxing as I drift. I’m secure and I’m loved. There’s nothing I need. I’m sufficient and treasured.

    “You could try to open your eyes now. Just do it, for me.” She’s got a smile in her voice and I can see her, almost trace the curve of her chin. She used to hold me close, snug enough so I could take hold of her ear lobes, squeezing them between my fingers. I used to love it when she wore earrings and took pleasure from toying with them, knowing she’d sigh and mould herself closer when I did. Father was the threat she used when I was wilful, but right now she was mine. There was comfort and safety in this place. I was loved.

    Our garden appeared. Not the one I remembered but another one, idealised; perfect. Butterflies with pure white wings flapped by, dodging the droning bees. I could feel the sun on my face, and I turned toward it, seeking its warmth.

    “That’s much better,” Mother said. “You’re such a good boy. You’ve always been my favourite. But now it’s time for you recontinue and begin again.”

    I irised back my Zeiss Optic lenses and tried to cry, ignoring the ‘hardware incompatible’ warnings. A counter display appeared, incrementing backward to zero.

    ‘System reset,’ it flashed.

  7. Idyllic
    Idyllic is anyone’s interpretation of multiple pleasures, not having to choose between; let’s say going for a drive through the countryside, searching for the perfect grassy knoll overlooking local farms nearby to set up a splendid picnic lunch. Or perhaps a day at the beach, frolicking in the surf, exerting ones potential to fight the fierce oncoming waves. Maybe, even daydreaming of all to come today or tomorrow.

    I waste too much time trying to decide. My best friend will be here soon, I’m left with the choice. It’s my turn. Closing my eyes tightly, my vision has struck like lightning sizzling to the ground. I want to be alone. Alone with my thoughts and remembrances of the past. She’s not understanding of this. I don’t care for once. It’s my turn.

    Going back to my safe place, my bedroom. Laying on freshly laundered sheets, I pull my ragged quilt up to my shoulders, I feel protected from the outside world. Transcending into lovely thoughts and visions of my life now and before. All the family I have and those I’ve lost. Aloneness is idyllic!

  8. Kelly and Mitch finally found their dream home. While everything else was snatched up within days, this place had been on the market for six months.

    Mitch hesitated when the realtor disclosed the property’s history of murder suicide. An elderly couple was found slumped in the lawn chairs near the garden.

    “Why are those chairs still here?” Mitch asked. The realtor just shrugged.

    After the purchase, they both set to work. They replaced windows, painted siding, and repaired the porch. They attacked the garden weeds and brambles, then planted seedlings.

    One evening, they loaded the lawn chairs onto their truck to haul to the dump. But the next morning the chairs were back on the lawn. They didn’t think much of it, guessing neighbor kids were playing pranks. But when the same thing happened three more times, they decided to postpone the dump run.

    Today while working in the garden, Kelly hears voices behind her. When she turns to respond, no one is there. After they finish their labor, they sit on their refurbished porch and sip Chardonnay. In the misty twilight, Mitch notices wisps of smoke swirling around the garden chairs.

    “Is something burning?” Kelly asks. Before he can answer, she gasps. In the chairs, the smoke forms the shape of an elderly couple holding hands. Mitch and Kelly creep toward their blossoming garden.

    Then they hear a woman’s voice. “We can finally leave, Dear. They love our home as much as we did.”

  9. Sam, stocky and a bit fumble-fingered, tucked the blanket around Lillian and made sure her purple hat was snug over her ears. He then eased himself into the wooden lawn chair next to Lillian’s, the lawn chairs they had built together years ago. Lots of memories.

    Glancing over at Lillian, Sam could see that the pills weren’t working today. “It’s a lovely day,” he said. “Try to breathe the fresh air. We’re so lucky to have these old trees to keep the sun away. Remember when we fought over them, whether to plant cherry or peach?” Sam laughed softly. So many more memories.

    The crease lines along Lillian’s forehead were deep and sharp.

    “Tough day,” he said.

    Lillian nodded and then opened her eyes, turning her head towards Sam. “It’s time,” she whispered, her lips cracked and dry. “I can’t go on.”

    Sam settled back into his chair but couldn’t get comfortable. He twisted around and removed the pistol from his back pocket.

    It was a small pistol. He didn’t like it but he and Lillian had bought it together when the end was more or less decided. More memories, that purchase, though not so pleasant.

    Sam closed his eyes, letting the soft summer air caress his feverish face. The pistol was cool and slick as he idly held it in his right hand. He and Lillian had enjoyed a long, loving life together, but he wondered if he could follow through on the final demand of that love.

  10. The second year Todd was on Mars, the dreams started. Not frightening ones, like the dreams of air leaks and ruptured seals during his training back on Farside. Instead, these dreams left him so homesick it hurt.

    Except the place didn’t look like anywhere he actually knew. The little house with its white clapboard siding resembled his grandparents’ house back in Wisconsin, but they’d had a big dairy barn with two huge silos. While he remembered wooden lawn chairs at Uncle Bob’s place, they were definitely two separate ones, not a bench with two backs and three arms.

    No matter, he told himself. Dreams did tend to jumble elements in chaotic ways. More important to keep a positive attitude about his present. He’d signed a Mars to Stay agreement, and he couldn’t afford to back out now.

    As the dream kept recurring, he became concerned. But who could he talk to about it? If the flight surgeons got wind of it, they might just pull his EVA certification. Then where would he be? Better to keep mum and hope it would fade like all his previous bouts of homesickness.

    As the dream recurred, he grew convinced he was seeing an actual place, perhaps via quantum connectedness. Then came the day when he walked out of the construction shack and straight into the vista of his dreams.

    Two days later the Search and Rescue team found his desiccated remains, twelve meters from the construction shack.

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