In A Flash | StoryADay 2024 Day 16

Blink and you’ll miss this storytelling opportunity

day 16 cover

The Prompt

Write a flash fiction story. Limit it to 1000 words. Your character finds and everyday object that changes their understanding of their past.

Things To Consider

Flash fiction emerged as its own form of short story in the 1970s and 80s.

As well as being shorter than the average short story being written at the time, flash fiction required something extra, a ‘flash’ that left an after-image in the mind’s eye. It’s an incredibly useful form for writing when you have an urge to make an impact, and are impatient with all the set up and backstory that you feel you ‘ought to’ provide in a longer story.

Flash fiction tends to

Revolve around a single moment in a character’s life, a single question or realization

Contain compressed, almost poetic language that packs a punch Feels crafted, but not contrived

Here’s my favorite explanation of how to think about Flash Fiction:

“ A novel invites the reader to explore an entire house, down to snooping in the closets; a short story requires that the reader stand outside of an open window to observe what’s going on in a single room; and a short short requires the reader to kneel outside of a locked room and peer in through the keyhole. –

Bruce Holland Rogers The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction

In keeping your story to 1000 words you’ll probably find that your first draft is significantly under or over that number. If it come in under the word count, great! You get to add more sensory detail to the story. If it comes in over, wonderful! You get to practice cutting words and choosing more effective ways of saying what you wrote in the first draft.

(NB You don’t have to do these things today. This might be a task for after the challenge, but makes some notes today, before you move on, so you remember what you were trying to achieve.)

I’m asking you to write today about a character finding an everyday object, because so much of human experience comes from moments like this.

Yes, sometimes it’s great to get swept up in galactic adventures and politics, but even in those stories it’s the small, human moments that let us connect with the characters.

Some examples: Your character finds a picture of their family, with an extra person in it who nobody has ever mentioned. Your character finds a piece of jewelry that had been lost Your character drops a mug and it smashes on the tile floor

The moment with the everyday object can occur at the beginning, middle, or end of your story

Further Reading

The StoryADay Flash Fiction Primer, with links to example stories

Leave a comment and let us know how it went!

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22 thoughts on “In A Flash | StoryADay 2024 Day 16”

  1. I did not follow my own prompt today (full disclosure because I tried to rely on my memory and thought today’s prompt was something else).

    So next week, when the one I did today actually comes up, I’ll do my flash fiction story instead and tell you what I wrote today! (No spoilers!)

    1. That’s commitment. What are your bigger projects? I’ve no doubt you’ve got a few on the go.

  2. I’ve never quite understood flash fiction. I had a go but am painfully short of 1000 words so I will have to go back and add. My characters boyfriend recently passed away and she’s going through some of the boxes, finding a ring in a coat pocket that is a perfect fit and now she is rethinking everything.

  3. I took the documents from yesterday and had someone find them. Even replicating the notes, I was under 1k. 🙂

    Even better, my character finding these things and realizing her mom has been blackmailing her dad pretty much their entire relationship is going to be a nice trigger for a novel in the series.

    I never got around to giving feedback yesterday, but I made it harder than it needed to be. I started every chapter in my novel-in-editing AND my novel-in-drafting with texting exchanges, so I didn’t want to use those even though they felt like the easy button. And I was having a hard time thinking of good news to convey in receipts that was anything other than “Character was paying for fertility treatments and now they’re buying nursery decorations!” Which just didn’t excite me. I eventually wound up with what was a sweet romantic arc out of context, but was actually tragic as it fit into the universe it’s from. (For someone who writes happily-ever-after endings in novels, I’m having a seriously hard time doing it in my short stories this month… Possibly because I’m focusing on things from before the novels and I can’t have everyone happy with the status quo at the beginning of those.)

  4. This one may be a keeper. I wrote about a pre-teen (only one year away from her Bat Mitzvah!) girl finding the shell of a robin’s egg on the lawn, and rethinking everything she knows about sex and becoming and adult.

  5. Teenage MC finds something in her mom’s room that leads her to find out its meaning, which will change her whole life. I started the story with MC finding it.

  6. My story was just under 500 words. I am going to take a couple of more cracks at it, throughout the day. I will use my 15 objects to flesh out the story a bit.

  7. 763 words. Rhys is struggling with his personal relationships and it’s affecting his baseball game(the one place he’s felt he isn’t a screw up), and he gets an envelope of photos from his childhood, and is reminded he might not be as unlovable as he always thought. Might be able to use some of this in Triple Play.

  8. There are 1011 words including the title but I might work on it later. Here is the story based on today’s prompt :
    Humanity – The Greatest Religion
    Holding the empty water jug in his hands, Rahim sits with a baffled look on his bed. People have kept coming to Nripesh Babu’s bed from early morning. Surprisingly, he doesn’t fill any sense of remorse for didn’t his Rabi once tell him that the greatest religion is humanity? Didn’t Nripesh Babu echo the same sentiment….?

    Nipesh Babu was a pious Hindu Brahmin. Let alone mutton or chicken, he didn’t even take onion or garlic in his dishes. Now, if you are given to believe that he was a religious fanatic, let me tell you, dear reader, you haven’t formed a right opinion of this adorable man.

    Being a teacher, he delighted in spending his time in the company of his students. From morning till late evening, his wife, Tanisha Devi could hardly have any breathing space as students belonging to all castes and religion kept frequenting their house. Poor lady, she had no time to respite from making tea in the kettle which sat permanently on the mud oven!

    One late afternoon, in his mid-fifties, Nripesh Babu complained of a severe stomachache. The ache resulted in severe bouts of vomitting. By the time, his wife, Tanisha Devi, noticed blood in his vomits, his students rushed him to the nearby hospital. And from there, to the city hospital.

    He was diagnosed to be suffering from damaged kidneys. Then followed the dialysis. Thrice a week. On every alternate day. The writing on the wall was ckear. His days were numbered.

    On a friendly evening, his childhood mate, Sudhin came to visit him at his residence. Unknown to Tanisha Devi, Sudhin hidingly had brought some grapes for Neipesh. Hardly had he taken a few bites when he he lay back in bed due to an unbearable pain in the chest. He was rushed to the hospital to be admitted.

    He stayed in a semi conscious state for most part of the next morning. The dialysis over, he was laid back in his bed. Even before the last dialysis, he was ordered to take everything in measured quantity. A laddleful of rice. A piece of fish, the size of a pea and so on! Even the amount of water he was to take was not more than half a littre per day. He had his plate and water bottle brought from home accordingly. The bottle couldn’t hold more than half a littre of water!

    It was night time when Neipesh woke up from his sleepy state. He looked around for the nurse. A yard or so away from his bed, there was another bed placed against the wall. A small table was lying near the head of the bed. The patient, called Rahim, so Neipesh Babu was told, was a Muslim.

    Groggy because of the heavy doses of the medicine, Nripesh Babu stretched out his hand backward, groping for his watter bottle. He knew as soon as he touched it that the bottle was empty. But he was thirsty beyond belief. Slowly, he ran his tongue over the dry lips. He had to have some water soon.

    Sitting up in bed, in the dim light of the room, he could make out the silhouette of Rahim next to his bed. He was sound asleep. What really caught Nripesh Babu’s attention almost immediately was the water jug on the small table near his bed.

    Nripesh flung his legs over his bed and got down to the floor, bare-footed. If he was going to get the water from the jug, he had to make sure that he didn’t make any noise. He tiptoed to the small table and laid his hand on the jug.

    Keeping his eyes all along on the Rahim’s still body, he picked it up. Thank God, there was water in the jug. Nripesh was about to lift the jug up to his mouth when he heard some ruffling from the bed behind him.

    Rahim was wide awake! Caught off guard, Nripesh came out with,”I’m sorry. I feel thirsty like there is something burning in my throat. I’ll die without quenching my thirst right now…sorry I couldn’t ask for your permission. May I drink some water from your jug? May I…please?”

    Rahim had been observing Nripesh for as long as he was there in the hospital. He had seen how religious-minded Nripesh Babu was. He was also aware of Nripesh Babu’s days being numbered. He made some quick thinking in his mind before praying to Allah.

    Nripesh Babu wouldn’t survive long, for sure. What harm could he do to him by letting him have some water from his jug? If he was committing a sin by offering a dying man water, he would ask for Allah’s forgiveness.

    So, Rahim nodded his head. Nripesh, assured thus, raised the jug over his mouth again.

    “Hang on a sec, Nripesh Babu. I have to tell you something….”
    Rahim stopped Nripesh just in the nick of time. There came a frightening look in Nripesh’s eyes as he looked back at Rahim.

    Was he going to deny him the water because of his religious beliefs, staunchness? Hi, Ram, without a few drops of water, he was going to die for sure.

    “Nripesh Babu, I know what a pious man you are. That’s why I want my conscience to be clear. You might not know I am a Muslim. Please go ahead if you still want to drink water from my jug!”

    Nripesh, despite the pain all over, broke into a thin laugh.

    “Mr. Rahim. I know you’re a Muslim. Don’t let that bother you. I’ve started counting my days. Should it matter if you are a Hindu or Muslim to me now? We all are humans, right? And that’s what really matters…”

    Having said this, he poured the water down his throat. Afterwards, having rubbed the corners of his mouth with the back of his hand, he looked lovingly at Rahim.

    “Thank you, my friend for soothing my soul. God bless you.”
    He was gone in his sleep the same night.

    1. Great how you used his need/want, water, the object, to show humanity and mix it with religion.

      1. Thank you, Valerie, if that is meant for me.
        Keep inspiring and stay always happy.

  9. Done.

    Thank you Julie for such a great prompt on the 16th, when I needed a gentle push to keep going.

    I wrote a flash about a young woman and her relationship with her mother and mother’s friend – which she saw in a new light. Through a necklace the two senior women finally handed down to her to wear at a decidedly important party.

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