Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Beautification

colorful mural installation 3L0A7206 mural flash fiction prompt KS Brooks
Image 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.

Author: Administrators

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9 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Beautification”

  1. ELIGIBLE FOR EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD ONLY

    The Eye of The…

    Before he was a soldier, he was a poet. His first poem was written in the clouds one day when he was resting on the grass, the deep grass in back of the shed where Mr. Cappy, their elderly neighbour, repaired small appliances.
    He was five that year. It was a sunny late September day, windy, hair-rustling windy, and the clouds were dancing all over in the heavens, scooting every which way.
    To shield himself from an errant gust, he had coiled up in a long warm crush of grass and then rolled over on his back and smiled.
    The poem had long slipped away from memory, but he still recalled the joy of it, the clouds dashing like a litter of kittens against a blue blanket.
    In the years following that transitional moment when he knew he could create pleasure from the knitting of words, he had written a million poems.
    Maybe even two million.
    They were collected in notebooks now stored in his basement, an always-increasing library.
    Now he was a soldier.
    A citizen-soldier.
    His wife, his children, her mother, two cats, two dogs, they were now all in the basement, a strong stone basement.
    The sounds of explosions blasted away in the outside air.
    Soon his wife and the others would leave.
    Make for the border.
    He would stay.
    He would fight.
    He expected to die.
    He hoped he might write one last poem.
    There would be no beauty in it.

  2. A New World

    Anna heard the yelling outside, the sound of explosions in the distance.

    She ran to the window and slid it open. The wind caught her hair as she looked out.

    It was a chaotic scene. Everywhere, people were jumbled together, yelling, pushing, shoving, children calling for their mothers, lines of vehicles, engines impatient, banners flapping from buildings, planes overhead, lights flashing in the sky.

    As she watched, she thought of Dmitry, her love. And she suddenly felt alone. She ran her fingers across her cheeks and into her hair. She desperately needed to be with him, to feel his arms around her, to reassure her.

    She grabbed her coat and ran into the street. A jumbled mass people and noise greeted her.

    “Dmitry!” she yelled. She scanned the faces of the crowd, looking for his face, for the comfort of his smile.

    But he was nowhere to be seen.

    And she felt lost…

    Lost in the crush of humanity, where every face was indistinguishable from another, where every person was part of an anonymous mass, all in a world gone mad…

    And as she stood alone in the crowd, she heard a loudspeaker broadcast a message: “Attention citizens! Proceed in an orderly fashion. Do not worry. We will gain a great victory. Afterwards, there will be a renewal, a beautification. And you can all look forward to a new era, to a new world. Rejoice.”

  3. Two Lies

    She rushed around the corner to see the painters already in place. She could feel her anxiety level rise as she looked at her watch. “How could he not be here yet?” Cherish ran across the street, looking for the car, his car, in the parking lot. “I can’t believe he is no where to be found.” Cherish fell to her knees and covered her eyes with her hands. She waited for this day for so long, only to be disappointed again. The picture of the flowers came together as the taller worker added the additional trim. Cherish could feel his eyes stare as she slumped to the ground. “All these years, all of this time, and when I finally let my guard down, when I finally get the nerve to meet you, you stand me up?” Cherish spoke softly as tears ran down her face. At that moment, Cherish felt a hand on her shoulder. She immediately smiled and raised her head, hoping to see the eyes of the man she’d never met before, but knew they shared the same blood, the same lineage. She opened her eyes to see the eyes of comfort and protection that encapsulated her. He led her to stand. As he pulled Cherish to him, she felt secure. At that very moment, a man yelled from around the corner. They both starred as a tall man dressed in a black sweater and slacks approached where they stood. He frowned with disbelief as he put his hand on the man in front of him. “Take your hands off my daughter.” The gentleman pushed Cherish and the man apart. Cherish stood confused and dumbfounded. She stepped back to look at both men. “If you are not my father, then who are you?”

  4. ELIGIBLE FOR EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD ONLY

    BEAUTIFICATION:

    It was quiet in the city, although I could still hear the drone of tanks’ engines to the west. We were being urged along by a pair of Soviet soldiers, driven by jabs from their rifles. The voices bleeding from their combat headsets were only just loud enough for me to hear that what was about to happen next had been officially sanctioned.

    “Okay,” my soldier said. “Now it’s time for you two to deliver a message to your people.” I heard a click when he released his rifle’s safety, and the other soldier kicked Artem in his chest, sending him sprawling against a wall.

    The wall was one of the few in the city left undamaged, most of the taller buildings in the central square now demolished either by shell shots or by the tanks that followed. It was grey, very tall and almost a block in length. Artem looked small and broken, like a piece of garbage blown against it. I suddenly knew what was going to happen to us both.

    Two more soldiers arrived to watch, one of them an officer, judging by the tags on his shoulders. The other was struggling with a box, one I recognised.

    He’d brought my aerosols and the stencils that they’d seized when they arrested us – when they’d caught us trying to spray our tags onto one of their tanks.

    “Your attention, please,” the officer said. “I need you to paint us some slogans – patriotic ones, of course.”

    250 words – including title

  5. Art-Schmart
    “Some people just can’t appreciate art, and I’m one of ‘em. Just look at that mess. It’s defacing a perfectly pristine white wall. I mean, it took months to get the city to paint over the tags and slogans at this bus stop.”
    “It’s called urban renewal, pops, beatification instead of gentrification. The artist’s vision combines stylistic elements of the past and imagination about the future. This symbolizes the street as a journey of growth.”
    “This is a testament of what street recreational substances pull out of an idle mind. Do you think these characters know what a good house painter makes for an hour? That’s a good, honest living. The city throws good money after bad.”
    “Well, pops, they say art is in the eye of the beholder. You see one thing and I see another. It’s just one man’s opinion over another’s.”
    “You know what they say opinions are like. Everybody’s got one, and most of ‘em stink.”
    “Humor me with an exercise, old man. Simply stare at the work, and visit the place it inspires in your thoughts.”
    The elderly neighborhood gent did just that for several minutes until a tear squeezed out from the corner of one eye.
    “I see what you mean, young fellow. I took a walk down that avenue.”
    “Did you meet your first love, or see your grandkids laughing?”
    “Nah, I got mugged. Have a nice day, sonny.”
    The award-winning designer of the mural just smiled and shook his head.

  6. Beautification

    The image of men on scaffolds painting a colourful image on an old brick wall remained in his mind for decades. They had transformed plainness, everydayness into beautification.

    The word “beautification” was still with him as he sat alone in his cell. He stared at the green-grey prison walls, the ugly slimy walls devoid of beauty. Ludicrous why he was even imprisoned. Some trumped up verdict of cryptology. He swore then to get his revenge on the stupid penal system!

    As he was not considered dangerous, and moreover because his wife had bribed the guards, he was allowed paints and canvases. Firstly, he meticulously painted the borders of a large rectangle on the outside wall. That would make the guards wonder. Wondering why he stood in front of it and stared, would drive them to distraction.

    He painstakingly and fervently painted the canvases. Rioting reds. Daring oranges. Cavorting ceruleans. His paintings were alive and rushed at the senses. In one painting, the fertile garden was so heavy with ripe fruit tantalising the taste buds that viewers wanted to pluck them. In another, the deep blues of the ocean were animated with life but fear made you step back lest a predator would pull you to a watery death.

    Passing guards shook their heads. Why did he keep looking at the painted rectangle as though consulting the grey prison walls for his painting? The prisoner smiled at their confusion. For he was painting what he saw through his imaginary window. Beautification.

  7. ELIGIBLE FOR EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD ONLY

    Paul came home from high school and informed the family that the mayor has asked all property owners to do their best to beautify their properties. The AP has selected the town as a stellar representative of rural US.

    After hearing this, dad asked all five of us to do our best to make our farm stand out since we were the first farm easterners would see coming into the town.

    Two weeks later, neighbors had to deal with all of the gawkers taking pictures from RT126.

    Despite that, we were very proud of what we had accomplished.

    The wooden fence was a sparkling white and encompassed the farm like a picture frame. The barn and sheds were a fire red and accented nicely with a sun yellow paint scheme. However, the animals were the center of interest.

    Thanks to our sisters, the horses all had their manes braided with gold strands. One of the most striking changes were the pigs wearing bright red lipstick. Even the chickens seemed to take on pride strutting around with rainbow colored bow ties.

    There have been so many friendly reporters, that my parents set additional place settings in case the interviews get extended.

    The mayor finally made her way through the traffic, and after witnessing for herself the amazing changes, presented my parents with an engraved wooden plaque for the barn – “Representative Farm of the USA.”

    We all chuckled when the AP pictures and story made the Internet –
    “Farm Receives Beautification…Including Makeup.”

  8. “Wasn’t that Tony Rico’s house?” the elderly man asked, while watching street artists painting a mural on a dilapidated former grocery store in old Trenton.
    “Yeah, it was,” his friend said. He turned and spit tobacco juice onto the hot asphalt pavement that lay behind the pair. “Damn shame, too; that boy had promise. Played baseball like you wouldn’t believe. Might’ve even gone on to play Triple-A ball. Saw him at third base most of the time. He even hit .601 in his senior year. Talk about moving; boy howdy, could that man hustle! He ran the 100-yard dash in under 12 seconds.”
    “So, what happened to him?”
    “Got into trouble, first with a girl—Ann Marie Benvenuti was her name. We never did know where her parents sent her to have the baby. Meanwhile, Tony started to do drugs. Didn’t take long before his father threw him out. The last I saw of him, he was working for the mob. From what I read in the papers, a few days after he turned 21, he blew away some 17-year-old kid in south Philly . . . a kid named De Caprio, who reportedly was informant for the police. De Caprio the son of a mobster. It took only a few days after Tony was released from prison before he was found floating in the Delaware with a bullet in the back of his head.”
    “All the beautification in the world won’t erase the stain on that house.”

  9. Today was Bernice’s day off, so she’d been planning to sleep in. Instead she got yanked out of a pleasant dream by the sound of power tools.

    She blinked her bleary eyes and squinted at the numbers on the alarm clock. It wasn’t even eight yet, and that drill was godawful noisy.

    Might as well see what the racket was about. She rolled out of bed and pulled back the curtains enough to let in eye-watering sunlight.

    As her eyes adapted to the brilliance, she could make out the scaffolding, the panels that made up a mural. No doubt it would be an improvement over the bare brick wall of the neighboring building, but she would’ve preferred something less kitschy, more artistic, you know.

    But no one was going to ask her opinion. Like as not, if she were to offer it, she’d be told to be grateful that the city or whoever was behind this beautification project.

    No, the only choice she got was whether to find her earplugs and try to get back to sleep, or just give up and get up.

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