Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Drought

farmer checking dried out field flash fiction writing prompt
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!

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11 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Writing Prompt: Drought”

  1. ‘My Worth’
    My soul…is drowning within this dark sorrow and pain.

    My loneliness is like the tall weeds that wither in winds freely.
    My loneliness is my escape from this world.

    Shutting everyone and everything out within this moment, it’s my escape into nonreality.

    Giving up drowns me more and more. I feel abandoned, by the many many doors that have shut in my face.

    The gate that’s locked on my heart, my vulnerability isn’t open.

    I then think to myself that there’s hope from the many mountains that I’ve climbed already in the previous chapters of my life.

    I now know that everything will be ok because of the beautiful daylight and the nature that surrounds me.

    I’m now back to reality. My eyes are opening. I slowly lift my head very high. Walking back into the world of risk but I do have something to live for.
    I’m worth it.

  2. Something to Chew On

    The King was in a festive mood until he saw one of his ministers enter the Hall.

    “Not him again,” whispered the King, and lowered his goblet of wine. “He’s going to spoil all the fun.”

    The Minister stood before the King and bowed. “Greetings, Sire. I come bearing a message.”

    The King clutched a silk hanky. “Do you intend to vex me?”

    “Sorry, Sire.” The Minister continued, “There is drought in the land and the people have no bread.”

    The King waved his hanky. “See? I knew you were going to vex me.” Frowning, he felt his toes wiggle inside his silk slippers. “It’s all so… boring.”

    “But Sire, the people face hunger—”

    At that moment a trumpet sounded, and the chef entered carrying a tray of pastries. He approached the King and presented him with the tray of delectable morsels. “Baked fresh this morning, Sire.”

    “This is more like it,” said the King, and selected a gooey pastry. Then, looking at his minister, he asked, “Why can’t you make me this happy?”

    The minister bowed. “Sorry, Sire. Next time, I’ll bring you something to chew on.”

    The King looked at him and, with a mouth full of pastry, added, “In that case, I might look forward to your visits.”

    “Yes, Sire.”

    Waving his hanky, the King proclaimed, “See to it that all the servants in the castle get two pastries.” Then, pausing, he added, “No. Give them just one pastry. We mustn’t spoil the poor things.”

  3. The Cracked Earth

    Sun comes up early out here. Time has worn down the soil. The heat can wither a soul. My father says that his grandfather could not believe how green this valley was when they arrived back in ’96. The Slate River flowed down from the mountains back then, winter snow fell hard but provided an endless fountain of water fir irrigation. The land was bountiful. And my family did well. Oh, it was hard work, even when I was child.
    The land needed every hand to care for it. We learned that young. It was our main life lesson. There was nothing more important to the survival of our families than that we nurture, reseed, and water the land. Nothing grew without water. And for many years there was plenty.
    But sometime, as he tells it, in my father’s day, his middle years, when I was just a toddler, something did change.
    He allowed that maybe it had started years before and no one noticed.
    A trickle of change.
    The earth is like that; often it becomes something different so slowly that the transformation is imperceptible.
    And finally, one year, the snows, the ever-reliable snows did not plunge the mountains into white.
    There was a scattering of snow, light, cold, dry snow.
    And most years after that, the snowfall lessened.
    And gradually the earth cracked underneath out feet.
    Our crops diminished.
    Our animals died.
    The land failed.
    We failed the land.
    We have no where to go.

  4. “Last ditch”… that’s how we thought of it… that trip we had planned. I had always wondered about that phrase, but never enough to look it up. Guess I just wasn’t that curious. It seemed appropriate though. The “TRIP” as we thought of it (Yes, you can think in capital letters) was going be our last attempt to fix our thirty plus year marriage… a thing most certainly in a ditch. The kids were gone, we had grown old… distant… weary of each other… to the bone. There were the affairs, the nagging, the scolding, the fights. I could do nothing right, she nothing wrong.

    We knew the only place for this revival would be where we met. Where we found our love, where I proposed, where she said yes. “The Alpine Inn” was tiny Victorian hotel, tucked deep in a breathtaking valley that rivaled paradise. We had wandered the valley for days and weeks in our youth, discovering the hidden lakes and waterfalls… and each other.

    The smell hit us as we stepped out of rental car. Instead of the clear mountain air graced with wildflowers, there was a stench… of rot…decay. Before we checked in to the hotel, which grey with neglect, we wandered around to the back, seeking the gardens we had always considered magical.

    They were gone… and with them, our hope.

    In their place was swamp… a fetid bog choked with garbage and offal… regret.

    And we knew.

  5. Drought

    She came to visit one summer, years ago. It was to be a reunion of sorts. So different our paths went after childhood.

    Living in a modest home, anywhere USA, she came from. Didn’t recognize her at the airport. Her face shown all the lines, maybe one for each despair she encountered. My excitement dwindled of reconnecting. I could see what I would be in for over the next 2 weeks. I was to be her safe place. Away from her man who had ‘no zest for life,’ as she had put it. He’d walk their land frequently, not sure what to do with it. Inexperience and ignorance was his action. This was the summer of the drought!

    The drought was here as well, in the deep state of Texas. The earth was cracked clay, grass dry, like cut wheat.
    After catching up for the past 40 years of life, conversation was complete. She spent her time in our pool, and I hid inside my home.
    We had nothing else to say.

  6. Drought

    It was difficult returning to normal-if this existed- after the bombing and uncertainty of exactly what caused the explosions.

    However, our lady professor enthusiastically continued creative writing classes. Dressed flamboyantly in colourful scarves like a gypsy about to read her magic ball, she opened in her usual unconventional manner, “It would be lovely to pour myself into a cup and pretend I was a soothing cup of tea. Well, failing that I want all of you to think with your senses. What would you see, smell, taste, hear and touch? I want to transport you to a drought.”

    Unrest amongst the students and an uncomfortable shifting. Darn, I had told the professor to keep the lessons light, upbeat and happy. It was imperative to remain hopeful.

    A sobering student began, “A dishevelled man in torn plaid shirt, and filthy jeans aimlessly attempts to kick the drought away. The bitter tang of smoke clings to his hair like a miserable lover. Bone dead grasses rustle whispering secrets about the parched land. Cracks in the ground are more numerous than on a wrinkled wise one’s face. The acrid taste of smoke lies heavy on his tongue. His thoughts circle around and around the phrase, ‘All hope has gone.’”

    “Au contraire,” sighs the teacher. “Drought is the burning away of the old to start afresh. All that is needed is gentle life giving rain.”

    As if on cue, the heavens actually dispersed life giving rain.


    Carlos shook his head as he looked back at the ground in frustration. What had his father been thinking when he took this land in payment for long overdue medical bills? Had he completely lost his mind? There was no question that while his father was a good medical doctor, his business skills were seriously lacking.

    The only thing that grew around here was trash, and there seemed to be no end of that. When Carlos kicked yet another old tire he wondered if there was any point in even trying to clean up the land and attempting to grow something. In good times, it would probably have been a wasted effort. And now, in the midst of the Southwest’s worst drought in a century, it would be nigh to impossible.

    Carlos had a full scholarship for the fall to the college of his dreams. He had a chance to do what no one in his family had ever done – get a formal education. And the fact that the college was in New England, about as far from this disaster as he could get, made the offer even better.

    But as his boot connected with another piece of garbage, Carlos brought his head back up and looked around. The college wasn’t going anywhere. But time with his father and aging grandfather, that was something he could never get back. He could at least do some research for them. Maybe, just maybe, with the right attention, there would be hope.

  8. YEAST

    “Can I have a drop of water with that? It can’t catch its breath unless it’s been given a drink to sustain it.”

    The barkeeper added a measured splash and then another, rolling the glass in his hand to meld it into the whiskey. He held it with the tips of his fingers, preventing his palm from warming it. His customer was specific in her needs; she preferred that everything, including the glass, was kept at room temperature. It was more reliable that way, ensuring that the flavours in each glass were consistent, with nothing left to chance when it came to her pleasures.

    Outside, the planet blazed, the global drought continuing without relief. The world’s agriculture had moved underground: its environments had to be contained, limiting water loss and keeping their growing conditions close to their optimums.

    “You want something more with that?”

    Melissa took a breath, savouring her drink’s aromas. There was peat, and there were cherries. There was also the warmth of the sherry cask it had been aged in. There were so many elements vying for her attention. It would be a sacrilege to hide any part of this. She would have time to eat later after she’d finished her drink.

    Her malt was an ersatz concoction, a distillation developed by science and technology. Without barley or wood, the biochemists struggled to approximate everything we’d lost, their desire falling short of their abilities.

    But they had yeast in abundance. They’d never run out of that.

  9. The chaparral crackled with Basil’s every step. He knew about drought from his mother’s stories of growing up on a farm in rural Iowa, but those were nothing like what surrounded him. Everything was dry as tinder, ready to burst into flames at the slightest spark. He recalled his uncle’s comments about buying food for the cattle if the graze dried up.

    Much as Basil enjoyed his time with Uncle Cory and Aunt Ruby, he needed to draw it to an end — but how? If he expressed concern about scarce resources, he’d either impugn their hospitality or imply he wasn’t pulling his weight . If he mentioned the wildfire danger, he’d look like a coward.

    All the way back to the ranch house Basil pondered that conundrum. How could he honorably depart for his home at Sparta Point?

    Motion in the sky attracted his attention. This far from open water, the soaring raptor had to be a golden eagle. Yet it was easy to imagine the magnificent bird as a juvenile bald, too young for the distinctive white head and tail feathers.

    The golden eagle also represented courage and duty, going back at least to the ancient Romans and Greeks. And while Basil had been given leave to visit his aunt and uncle, he was still Spartan’s son, and a fighter of Sparta Point – and while the fight to restore the Republic had entered an uneasy cease-fire since the Expulsions, it was by no means over.


    Headline: ‘How Did a Lake Appear During the Worst Draught in History?’

    Reporters gathered to interview the town’s mayor.
    “Mr. Mayor, the country would like to know the details behind this Lake miracle. What is the rest of the story?”

    “Your word choice is exactly the right one – it’s surely a miracle. Our valley was previously known for our abundant crops. However, the many years of draught had left our land dry and overtaken by brush. Our remaining townspeople gathered every day for several weeks and prayed for relief.” He stopped and smiled at the kids trying to learn to float on the lake surface nearby.

    “Well, we had a visitor dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt. His face was as weathered as his clothes. Some people referred to him as Chief. He did look like he could have come from a reservation. He held a Hickory twig in both hands, chanting mostly to himself. Every few yards, he stuck a cross in the ground. Later, one of our members decided to drill at the first cross and discovered an underground aquifer. He repeated the process and placed a solar pump down in each hole, and within days, we had a beautiful lake. It doesn’t eliminate the draught, but it does allow us to replant.”

    “Did you reward that man?”

    “We went to the reservation with gifts, but there wasn’t anyone there who could identify him. They referred to the legend of ‘Chief Waterhawk.’ Regardless, what a wonderful miracle!”

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