Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Porch

screened porch oxford md aug 2008
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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12 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: The Porch”

  1. We’re at Aunt Agatha’s today. Her grass needs cutting; its greenery is sprinkled with buttercups and daisies. It used to be Uncle Donald’s pride and joy, the personal project demanding most of his time. It used to be stubbornly immaculate, a bowling green or a surreal, uprooted billiard table he’d had transplanted into their yard.

    Uncle Donald went away less than a year ago, but the grass already knows it, rioting wilfully where it was once restrained.

    Aunt Agatha prefers flowers. She never used to agree with her husband, Donald. She never used to approve of the mundane, matter of fact things he imposed upon her, his fussiness, his obsession for regularity. She was quick to sell the allotment where he spent most of his weekends, seeing nothing there but contempt for her and her passion. He had himself a radio and an armchair and a view overlooking the hills, none of them things he’d thought to share with his wife. It was as though he’d needed a secret bolthole and never thought to say why, forever choosing to be alone and apart. But when he was at home, he had his lawn to attend to, eight metres long on each side, filled with grass.

    And then he was gone. Nobody knows the where or why, but we all suspect. The view from the porch overlooks a meadow our Aunt Agatha made, untroubled by a shovel or a spade, a place she’s made sacrosanct.

    If only that grass could talk.

  2. The Porch on Father’s Day

    Standing here today, I can still remember the contrasting smell of freshly mowed lawn competing with newly baked apple pie.

    I recognized their failing health, but thought they had years of life left to enjoy their retirement. I should have paid more attention.

    The sound of wind chimes blending with bird song, and a distant crane, are also silent today.

    Dad would smile when he inserted bread into his conveniently located toaster. I used to give him grief about the benefits he should partake walking to the kitchen.

    I rarely sat on the porch with them, just electing to enjoy the outdoors.

    I remember the summers staying here at the lake, learning to swim and fish and how to row a boat. I should have said thank you more than I did.

    After a day outdoors, Mom would make ice cream cones with some kind of surprise at the bottom. I smiled knowing we would be having vanilla cones when I got to today’s party. I was going to give my grandkids the same kind of surprise, just for the delightful experience again.

    We take for granted our life’s blessings, and get carried away with seemingly important things – awfully wasted days!

    I would give my hard-earned fortune for just one more day of their presence. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. It’s really not! I can remember those many other Father’s Days that I fortunately found the time to spend together.

    Oh, to have one more…I’m sorry.


    Porched Earth Policy

    The Drink Tank’s my favorite watering hole. If you’re ever thinking, yeah, that sounds like a great place to kick back, have some suds, meet people whose brains sparkle like the stars, come to my town where you’ll always be welcome. Just walk down main street till you spot the statue of General Walter Smidgely Laxiter astride a representation of his famous steed, Honker’s Moon, cross the square heading north and soon, a matter of minutes if you haven’t totally lost your bearings, you’ll come to Hangman’s Alley. Halfway down the alley, you’ll see a blood-red door made of a glorious Cherrywood with a noose hanging to the side. All you have to do is pull that noose…and the door opens.

    I don’t want to brag but a lot of interesting folks find their way there.

    Like Bay Laxiter, the Great Great Grandson of General Walter Smidgely Laxiter. Yes, you’d be right if you had glommed on to the notion that my town is full of Laxiters. A fine family. Didn’t quite start the town, but they’ve helped her grow.

    Bay is an energetic developer. Smarter than blazes. One night at the Drink Tank, we were discussing the secret of happiness, and Bay, who by then had had a tootful, opined, “Never knew anyone who had a porch who was unhappy.”

    The rest of us were floored.

    We couldn’t think of anyone either.

    Two weeks later, he formed Porch Corp.

    Their motto: Happiness is a Porch Swing.

  4. The Villa by the Sea

    He sat on the porch smoking his hand carved pipe. It was a gift from an old colleague he had helped a few months previously. His help had been appreciated; trusted friends were hard to come by.

    As he puffed on his pipe, the fragrance of the plants nearby filled the enclosed porch, and his senses, with a certain air of satisfaction.

    Herr Doktor,” said a gravel-toned voice from inside the villa. “Alles ist fertig. Everything is ready.”

    “Very well,” he replied, and, as he exhaled the strong tobacco, he allowed himself an unguarded moment to smile. He pulled a pocket watch from his vest pocket and noted the time. Everything was going according to schedule.

    Then he looked up and saw his guests slip out of the villa and into the heat of the afternoon sun. They had no fear of discovery, since tourists, and any other curious minds, were prevented from being near this part of the island.

    The group quietly made its way through an open field to the shoreline, where they boarded a small boat. Once on board, the vessel chugged its way across the dark blue water towards a submarine, which was waiting just a short distance away.

    Once everyone was safely inside the sub, it flashed a signal, and then, as waves splashed against its grey hull, it slowly slipped beneath the surface, taking its passengers, and its secrets, into the silent sea.

  5. Risa was sitting on the couch looking at the sunset with the cup of coffee in her hand. She took a sip and sighed,”Another boring day ended”. She took the last sip of the coffee in before going to kitchen. She took some snacks and sat on the sofa. Suddenly the doorbell rang. “Coming”, she shouted. She ran to the door only to see the box at the door. She looked around and found no one. She took the box and opened. She saw a teddy bear and a letter stating,”Darling I am back. Let’s meet at 8’O clock at the garden behind your house. Love you.” Risa was shocked and recall same letter. She panicked and looked at the date in her phone. She recalled that it was the same day when her life changed just because of a call. It was the same day when he died. The day when she was suspected in the case of murder. After few moments she stood up and said,”It’s not gona happen again like the last time.”

  6. The porch

    A myriad of memories were had on Maggies back porch. Her earliest memory, was being confined in the playpen. The octagon shaped screened porch, served many purposes. Allowing fresh air in while keeping the pesky bugs out, made it essential for her daily nap. Maggie strained her mind, trying to remember more.

    A few years later, it was dismantled. The open patio made way for chaise lounges; with their thick padded cushions. An assortment of greenery and flowering planters were spaced along this outdoor area. The free standing grill boasting charcoal briquettes, had its place among the metal framed table and chairs.

    The best screened porch, was at her family’s beach home. Maggie, now 15, would often find her parents conversing late in the day, with their adult friends. Their laughter, drinking and story telling, would beckon her to listen in. With its mis-matched floral chairs seated next to wood end tables, adorned this comfy setting. She thought to herself excitedly, “I too, one day, will have my very own back porch!” Welcoming all to sit and relax. Nothing fancy. Not beautiful. A place to gather.

    Maggie grew up and never did have her own screened in porch. She opted for a clean modern look, for her open back patio. Gone were those days, but never her memories.

  7. The Porch

    My blanched hands gripped my lounger as I feebly tried to absorb through my pores the porch’s comfortable tranquility. Trembles rocked my body while mini earthquakes pounded the chair, causing the windows to violently vibrate. Breathing deeply, looking out at 180 degrees of beautiful landscape failed to calm me and keep me tethered to earth. The soft languid waters instead of tranquilizing me, mocked my nervousness.

    Suddenly, the dreaded nightmare, I had feared so long, imprisoned me. My worst fear tormented me! The porch spun me around as if I was the protagonist in “The Wizard of Oz” being tossed out into a strange world. Yet in truth, three hundred old alien me knew I was being finally wrenched back to my old planet. The hunters after decades of tracking me like some vile beast, hogtied me and dragged me screaming to the trial. A trumped up trial on a planet run by corruptness! Deceptively, the trackers referred to themselves as “bounty hunters” to vainly “legitimize” their business of hounding innocents.

    My screams of, “I am guiltless!” ricocheted through the cosmos.

    I pleaded with myself, “Think of a way to stay on earth!”

    My mind conjured up a hazy picture of the porch. Then a blurry image of her. Millions of dots finally joined in her precious image.

    “Wake up love, your grandchildren are here!” my wife sweetly uttered.

    There is nothing like the love of a good woman to tether a husband to earth!

  8. The Porch
    We finally decided to build our dream home on the beautiful, sunny lot at the end of the green that bordered Little Lake Minor on the St. Charles Golf Course. No close neighbors, and a beautiful view of the manicured green grass that made up the end of the 14th hole. The edge of the lake was visible also. The best part was I didn’t have to mow the front grass. A caretaker came along every week on a riding mower and took care of the mowing. I only had a small strip along the side of the house to manage.
    The wildlife at the end of the 14th hole was particularly interesting as the woods off to the right of this lot seemed to attract a lot of wildlife. I had played this course before and remember seeing a family of ducks, with the mother in the lead, and the tiny babies following behind as they headed from the woods toward the lake for their first swim. None of us minded waiting for them to cross the green before we continued on with our game. In the spring there was always a Bambi frolicking at the end of the green and a mother encouraging it back into the woods. Snapping turtles would creep through the reeds at the end of the lake and wind up on the green. I didn’t mind an occasional stray ball causing the replacement of a front window.

  9. The sun was shining, just like the sun is shining as I look across the water. Over water that stole the last twenty-seven years – nearly three decades rotting behind bars; on concrete floors.

    I watch black liquid lapping languidly against the shore: Tendrils dragging shoreline slowly beneath the surface like I’ve watched them pull, before.

    The sun was shining, the air was warm; her smile, even more.

    I stare across the lapping water and remember looking in her eyes. I see her smile.

    I close my eyes.

    They close against the present. Against a chance to live a life I never got. They close against the loss, and fear, and desperation – helplessness.

    Eyes can never close for long: Because I see it.

    I see her body dripping from our swim. I see her smile. I feel her tender fingers slip into my own. And, I see her eyes: Panic – it choked the single word she spoke, one word to express the terror felt, a single mote that raised my fear, confusion; that asked for help. She spoke my name: “Tommy?” And all I thought to answer, was, “What is going on?”

    The last words she heard before the water pulled.

    I stand enclosed in quiet behind the windows that seal the patio. I see the water that stole her life and mine. I see the looks of neighbors in their yards, eyes casting disapproval that I’ve returned.

    I was trying to pull her out, not hold her down.


  10. He was the only one on the sun porch, his wheelchair locked in place and his arms and legs restrained, gently, so there’d be no involuntary kicking or hitting. The restraints also kept him upright so he could look out at the green lawn and the sunny lake in the distance.

    This wasn’t quite what he’d expected, but then who expects a massive stroke, even at his advanced age. No doubt it will be over at some point, but for now things were okay.

    He takes off, as he always does, back to yesterday when life is different, yes. Wonderful, actually. He remembers running across a luxuriously green lawn, not this lawn but one like it, chasing Denise, grabbing her hand gently. She turns, slowly, bright smile and wide open eyes.

    Then they both laugh, look around for any adults monitoring the senior class picnic, and seeing none, quickly kiss.

    Later, there is the slab dance that hot night. They dance a slow two-step under the white lights strung crisscross over the slab. As “Unchained Melody” begins, he puts his arm around Denise’s waist, his skin touching her back. He remembers how stunned he is at the burn of that touch and how Denise gazes deeply into his eyes. And doesn’t look away.

    His wheelchair rattled as the aide unsnapped the locks. He bumped down the hallway towards the dining room, only a small drool from his mouth, but also a wide smile nobody can see but Denise.

  11. The Porch

    “HIGGINS!!! Higgins, get in here right now!” J.B. Smythe-Wilson couldn’t let this opportunity pass. He so enjoyed nitpicking the efforts of his man servant, Higgins. And this ongoing deficiency was going to be addressed with no doubt left as to what was expected.

    “Yes, Mr. Smythe-Wilson? What is it you need?”, Higgins replied meekly. In his mind he added, “What is it this time, you puffed up donkey?”

    “Well, Higgins, the porch windows are filthy again and I can barely make out the lake. It’s only one-hundred feet away and it’s like I’m looking through a curtain. I told you to clean them!”

    Higgins understood the situation. His employer had complained about the dirty glass windows that obstructed his view and restricted the flow of fresh air to the porch area. Higgins had engaged a local contractor to replace the windows with fine mesh screening. The flies, mosquitoes, and gnats could not penetrate to harass the crotchety old man as he surveyed his pricey lake front view.

    “Yes sir, I did clean them as you instructed,” answered Higgins. He had indeed washed the screening. Twice.

    “I will get on it right now, sir. Please come inside and enjoy the lunch I have prepared for you.” The old man disappeared into the house. Higgins retrieved his toolbox. This wouldn’t take long. And he would be done.

    Smythe-Wilson returned to the porch that evening only find it flooded by flies, mosquitos, and gnats. But, his view was unobstructed.


  12. When I was little, my family had a cabin in the Ozarks. Grandpa and his brothers had built it, back when they were young and land out there was cheap. It was far enough to be a getaway, but close enough for a quick weekend.

    Most of the time it was just us. Before we went home, we all had to go around making sure everything was clean for our uncles and cousins.

    Now and then the whole family would get together up there. It meant having to double and triple up, and a bunch of the older boys would pitch tents down by the lake. But we had a great time, running around until we were beat flat, then sitting on the porch sipping lemonade and listening to Grandpa and his brothers talking about the War.

    I’m not sure when it started to change. Was it when we started losing the older generation? In a lot of ways they were the glue that held if all together. Except I remember us all getting together the year I started college, and we all had a great time.

    I just know that visits got fewer and gatherings smaller, until I couldn’t the last time I was up there. I’m not even sure what happened to the place. Is it still there, waiting for a new generation to discover it? Or did the cabin fall into disrepair, the land sold for back taxes?

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