Photo Prompt

Each month, we post a photograph as a writing prompt. Post your 100-word story in the comments section, and we’ll choose one to feature in our next issue. To see examples, read photo stories we’ve published in the past.

Photo credit: Evangeline Soumalias

780 Responses to “Photo Prompt”

  1. Out of the water, the responsibilities of the day returned in sharp relief. Wait, she told herself. Savor. After a morning of knee- to thigh-high sets, that last wave had rolled in chest-high, sparking excitement in the line-up. She happened to be in position – no, not happened, knew. She surfed here all the time, dodging beginners, ignoring guys who tried to snake her waves. Winter brought more serious surf, overhead and heavy, opportunities to paddle, slide, crouch into a wave as it spilled into a tube transporting her to another world. This morning was not that. But it was fun.

  2. Kelly says:

    When I came to I realized that an hour had gone by. I was lost, fully absorbed, time traveling. Simultaneously I lost and gained time. “Where do you want to go when you die?” Firmly gripping the photo, my entire summer spent surfing, bar tending, late night bonfires. I was 22, skin stinging from salt and sunburn. The waves, the weather, the women. Beautiful suntanned women. She took the picture without me knowing and while I don’t remember her name, I can still see her face and I smell the coconut oil. “I want to go there when I die.”

  3. Evan says:

    Gods in Heaven

    The prophets wriggle up, catch their message, and return.

    “The gods have spoken and they are angry, for the sky is black and torn!”

    Minerva flaps her tailfin and flicks a swimming shell with her slender fingers, “That’s not what I heard,” she says. “I saw them in their boats, and they were happy. Full of fish. Content with the offering.”

    “I spoke to them, too,” says Jezebel, having just returned from a surface breath. “They said nothing of anger or contentedness but just squawked then shit on my snout.”

    All fall silent.

    The gods carry on just the same.

  4. David Drury says:

    Riding the swells, we saw a dot on the liquid horizon. Not a boat or dolphin, but a surfer paddling in. From where? We flexed and readied our shade. The waveforms lucked him into the same hill of water as us. We cut like strutting roosters. He rode straight to shore and walked off the beach, board under arm. Had he looked back, our faces would have said, “That’s right, you’d better run.” Someone spotted his board atop a bus bound for Omaha, Nebraska, and now whichever one of us eats corn tortillas first is sure to get bruised shins.

  5. Heidi Ball says:

    The battle between the ocean and the land would never end. Each push and pull defiant, over and under again and again. Deep down and persistent.
    Daring to brave the field of white, boundary lines drawn and diluted. The universal symbol of child, a seed that can ride the breaks and strike balance is Queen. An invisible crown, worshipped by audience, the bowing of trees and the surge washing her feet from the stench of earth. They pull and push and both beg her to stay.
    She understands, unwilling to judge. But, eventually, she knows she will have to choose.

  6. aidan hartwich says:

    It may have been the fifth day the target had came back to this beach… The beaches may be beautiful this time of year, but the boss thought she was more beautiful. So beautiful that I had to do the dirty work and get her. She was walking out and I had her in my sights. “Hey, nice board!” I said in my best american impression. “Thanks!” She said, clearly seeing me not as a threat, but as a fellow enthusiast. “Could you help me with mine?” I asked. “Sure!”, the dumb girl said, falling into my trap. Typical American.

  7. Hayley says:

    Night was falling. Sunsets were mesmerizing on the western horizon as we discovered. One lady was walking from the water with a surfboard in her hands. She looked tired but angry. Her eyes looked red because of the sunburn or maybe crying?. We couldn’t tell her emotion. She was just walking straight across the beach. The beach was silent enough to hear the sounds of the birds chattering. “How though?” someone said in a low voice by looking at her. “Since the tides were high, surfing was not allowed today.” Silence broke out as the high tides coming toward us.

  8. Erika says:

    A girl seems angry because her friend doesn’t respond to her call. They planned to go to the beach and meet at 9 am. However, it’s already at noon. She decides to spend time at a cafe. She orders coffee and chocolate cake. Sweet flavor explodes in her mouth. She seems happy again. Two hours later, she starts surfing but soon, she gets tired.She decides not to wait her friend anymore. While she walks the beach, I finally decide to come to her place. After I take a picture, I run to her and say “Sorry, I am late.”

  9. eric stiefel says:

    She carries her board, a giant striped board, the faded green reproduced by the shoring trees and the ridge behind the apartment buildings. Her beautiful white skin is the render; it coats her with protection, as of she is protected from all the dangerous monsters out at sea. She looks both temporary and if she has always been there.Does she know im looking at her? she looks absolutely gorgeous in this landscape.I hide back, my right cheek pressed against the rough bark. My right eye sees her from a distance. If I move, she will call the police on me.

  10. Jesse B says:

    A photographer documenting beautiful life on the island of cuba finds a small beach. From the bushes the photographer finds a woman surfing alone along the beach. When the photographer asks the women why she is surfing alone the woman responds that she was tired of people telling her women can’t surf. The women explained that she had entered in a surfing competition the next week and needed to practice without people telling her it’s useless. After the women explained the photographer helped her and let people know that everyone can surf no matter what people say. Surfing’s not easy.

  11. Jorgito Amito says:

    I’m going out surfing tonight. First time a dare then on my own.. I stare at the speckled lights along the shore as if there tiny stars trying to guide me.. The mist settling over the ocean gives off a sense of mysterious feel as If everything beyond the eye has disappeared. The brisk, cool air wafts through my hair as I begin to make my way towards the ocean. I carry my surfboard and enter the cool abyss.

  12. Velius says:

    I’ve went to the beach many times this month. This is like the third time this week. There’s a girl with a green surfboard always here going surfing. I havent talked to her but she’s pretty good at surfing. I could talk to her and maybe learn how to surf but I’d rather not. The view of the buildings and the ocean is enough and i’ll be listening to music. I saw her walk back to the beach with her board and she looked mad. I think she had enough of the waves knocking her down. Bet she’ll surf tomorrow.

  13. Arin Siriamonthep says:

    If I were to use one word to describe this horrific moment, it would be unexpected. This is the picture of what was once called pacific beach. It was the site for family and friends to reconnect once again with the amazing sea in their sight. But this day and this exact moment, was different. Bombs started to drop down and guns began firing. I can still remember the screams coming from every single one of them. Even though it’s over, I still have this picture till this day even with ash marks on the corner staining my image forever.

  14. Evan says:

    There’s been a bad person trashing our beach. I’m looking to see if I can catch the culprit. But how am I going to do that? By having fun at the beach. If the person pops up, I would’ve got them on camera that’s placed in a bush. I check the camera once in awhile. So I’m not to suspicious. I usually act like I take my job seriously but, it’s summer and I really don’t care. I looked at the camera and a girl holding a surfboard stood out. I’d seen her before. I looked and she’s the criminal.

  15. Madison Wheatley says:

    There’s something wrong with my eyes; that’s the only explanation. It has to be because the beach was never this dark, never this depressing, never so settled with pasty fog.
    When I was a child in my mother’s arms, we’d paddled through liquid glass catching snatches of gold and sapphire from the burning sky. There were fewer beer bottles, more rose-colored shells.

    There must be something wrong with my eyes because here, the shoreline is a muddy expanse speared by glass and stone, lapped by timid gray waters. I shut my eyes, pop a pill, praying it resurrects the light.

  16. We’d been searching for her what, a month now? And here she is on a beach?

    When she left I’d been angry, hurt, panicked. No note. She just left. I knew that she was unhappy.

    Perhaps out there on the waves she can find the happiness that has eluded her. The happiness I tried so desperately to provide. The happiness I thought surely Jack would bring.

    Maybe not happiness. Maybe the waves will bring her peace. That would be a beautiful thing.

    I open Subaru’s back door and double check the car seat strap. “Jack, it’s time to go home.”

  17. Teddy Kimathi says:

    She always loves surfing. Trusting her life on balance is the mantra she has mastered since childhood. “Try out surfing one day,” she always tells her guardians. Vastness and depth of the ocean sometimes is like watching Horus measuring the weight of your heart, against the feather of truth; a heavy feather means a damned soul. Lots of alcohol and nicotine are settled in their blood, that trusting a surfboard would be the last thing in their mind. Every afternoon she seeks serenity of balancing on the ocean, as her fingers feel the warmth of the waves, assuring her peace.

  18. Charlie J. Stephens says:

    We called that bay “The Liver” then, for its brown thickness, for its shame. We had moved back in like roaches, once the wealthy foreigners abandoned us for someplace cleaner to enjoy themselves. I first found my way into the dirty water alone at five, while Mom swore, broke things, and licked her wounds like a wolf. I set out to sea on dirty styrofoam, drifted for years. I held my breath and grew tentacles. Finally grown, I emerged from the sea on a surfboard washed up in the muck, and went to discover what had happened to the wolf.

  19. Constance Bourg says:

    Diana’s Beach

    She carries her board—a giant bay leaf—the faded green reproduced by the shoring trees and the ridge behind the apartment buildings. Her apricot skin is the render; it coats her with partial nudity, while the white of her clingy shirt mirrors the frothing foam of the steadfast surf.

    She looks both temporary and if she has always been there.

    Does she know? Did she intend to look perfect in this landscape?

    I stand back, my right cheek pressed against the rough bark. My left eye sees her from a distance. If I move, she will set her dogs on me.

  20. Luci Moody says:

    Nestled in palm trees, bare feet clumped in wet sand, I thrived off the thrill of her breath. Warmth on my neck and bare breasts pressed against skin and bones. A surfer sees us and pretends he didn’t. My board and wetsuit, tossed haphazardly alongside the beach-goer’s litter and rot. Lines between saltwater and sweat blur, with one final thrust, I dress again. She is offered a handshake and a nod, I am noticing her dead tooth and acne scars for the first time. My hands grow sweaty, for a different reason. A wave comes, I crash, vision blurred underwater.

  21. Danny Lapsley says:

    Jaco Beach, Costa Rica. My search over. Exhausted with two weeks of fruitless asking, “Do you know this man?” I stared at the old photograph of a lone surfer with my mother’s scrawled inscription. “Chas Elwood Jaco Beach CR 1958”. My father.
    I finished my coffee and began to gather my gear. Alejandro, my waiter motioned with his head to my cup. “Refill Señor Charles?”
    “No thanks Alejandro”. I said walking away, taking my last breath of the Pacific, “Plane to catch”.
    Alejandro called out, “The board was a “Hobie Alter”, 6 foot, foam and fiberglass. Man could it glide”.

    • JT says:

      Nice story. Not complex but deftly told. Careful about its historical underpinnings as well, Hobie Alter being the only commercially available board in 1958.

      • Danny Lapsley says:

        Thanks JT. I thought I would pay homage to the picture. It is actually a photograph of Jaco Beach, Costa Rica and I used the first two names of the founder Charles Elwood Jaco as the name of my long lost father. Ok that’s my first one over. I’ll try and tighten up the story on my next attempt.

  22. It wasn’t the easiest commute, yet what it lacked in convenience it made up for in thrills and fresh air. With his head gliding sleekly through the body of a tumbling wave, he’d quickly skim through the tasks of the day: invoices to chase, a quick check of stock levels, the usual.

    The current shimmied him along from one headland to another, washing him up on Gower Bay, just moments from the office. The sun and his quick pace scorched him dry as he made light work of the metres of sand and reached in his drybag for his shoes.

  23. Eileen Brennan McIntyre says:

    In a Flash

    Who could have predicted what happened that day? Not the photographer who awoke to the sounds of his children’s laughter. The photographer who stirred his mocha. Savored his donut. The photographer who set up his equipment in the sand and captured the stillness of the morning.

    The photograph lies now. One moment captured. Life in ordinary time. One photograph wired before the unimaginable. Too horrific to write about, too horrific to remember. The photographer, the buildings, the coast gone in a flash. No camera left to record what no longer exists. No children, no laughter. No life in ordinary time.

  24. R. Carter says:

    The distinctive sound of waves crashing over and over is my reason to be here. All year I dream of this week, my vacation. Now the salt air helps me to relax, to forget my daily routine. Scanning the horizon, I see the surfers dot the waves. They bob up and down on the boards like corks. Each connected, part of the ocean as it moves and breathes. Suddenly, a lone surfer rises and catches that perfect wave. Momentarily that rider glides on the surface. Then as quickly as he started, the wave crashes reclaiming the surfer into the water.

  25. William Dickey says:

    Title: I Like to Start My Day with Her

    I set the car’s alarm to dawn so I can see her crossing sandy dunes, entering the water’s cool embrace. I watch her ride the waves like a goddess, fully in command of nature. As she leaves, I follow. I know she’s headed back home to clean salt and sand from her taunt body. But whether light’s poor timing or the 405’s interweaving traffic, I always lose sight of my goddess. I spend days thinking of her, nights dreaming of her. I just wish I could be with her more than once a day. I could be with her always.

  26. Kim Kneen says:

    I entice him into the waves.

    Clambering onto my board, the fervid sea sucks at his thighs and foam sticks to his skin. I paddle us out past the headland.

    Far from the beach I twist my fist through his hair, yank back his head, whisper into his ear.

    “Delia’s my sister.”

    Crimson spatters.

    Each thrust and twist of my knife draws a spiralling cry, echoed by circling gulls. I’m replete as he thrashes and flails.

    Tonight, before he is missed, my broken sister and I will pack up the boards and head south.

    No-one must know where we’ve gone.

  27. Mike Weathers says:

    The Surfer

    In the great waters collapsing onto the great beaches straddled by young buildings as tall as old trees, some half human rides the sea, nicking its waves with the fin of her surfboard. They close on her, clear blue hands trying to catch and crush, but she jets out of their grasp and floats over their knuckles, mocking, triumphant.

    She was whole before the white, but not as good, not yet a myth. I glimpsed her once. It could’ve been Rio or San Diego or Port Elizabeth or North Island or …. She was whole and walking up the beach.

  28. Melody Brendel says:

    There has been someone trashing the beach. I’m on a stakeout to see if I can catch the person. How am I going to do that? By having a good time. If the criminal shows up, I would’ve got them on camera that I have hidden in a bush. I check the camera every few hours or so. To not look suspicious. I usually take my job seriously but, it’s summer and I’m at the beach. I looked at the camera and a girl holding a surfboard caught my eye. She looked familiar. I look closer and she’s the culprit.

  29. Shalin says:

    I hold my board, never letting go. My soul, my life, everything I have is this board. I knew my parents would have wanted the best for me, and they knew the best for me, was whatever I wanted. Although they are not here to see my progression, I can only hope they are proud of me. Everything I have done: my endless practicing, my progression, my hope for competing, everyone thinks it was for me. Yet I only do this due to the push of encouragement I received from a terrible accident, one that will never be forgotten.

  30. Liam says:

    The girl left her hotel and wanted to go for a swim. She went surfing every day. She was mostly in the water, because the place around her was dirty. The sand on the beach and buildings were dirty. She had just won a surfing competition and was awarded a medal for all her hard work. She won so many times, that she couldn’t remember the last time she lost. Then a competitor challenged her and said that she can beat her. She accepted the challenge,but then she lost. She was never found again.

  31. Aryanna A. says:

    Hidden beneath the trees, slow, deep breaths were drowned out by construction, and the playful yelps of the local children. I liked to take pictures by the coast, all sorts of people swam in the muddy water, and ran through the dark sand. But the splashing of the weak waves as they crashed lightly upon the shore was a whimper of despair along with the corpses of small fish. The few animals laid suffocated by the sharp and tightly packed sand. The sun never shone as bright as it did before. The beach was a graveyard, and we’re the murderers.

  32. Deven says:

    Stubborn fools. Forewarned of the misfortune to come, disregarded the warning. They surf casually and relax, believing no mishap could befall them. They are wrong, it has come. The colossal wave is finally visible, and panic diffuses throughout the beach. Too late, there is no way of outpacing the wave. The new white construction is annihilated as the fools run in vain. One by one their energy fails and the wave swallows them, crushing their bones as they are violently smashed into the ground. Perhaps arrogance is then the flaw of humans. I must report this to my superiors immediately.

  33. Morgan C says:

    The glassy water rushes over me, kissing me over and over again. Indents of their feet are imprinted in me, yet they are washed away as though they were never there. The rock and gravel dirty my appearance causing less people to make memories while laying on my once soft cover. My favorite feeling is the feeling of the waxy board as it is lied down and the fins are impelled leaving a mark. Memories of these days may fade just like the footprints are washed away, but I will never forget. As the days continue, I begin to disappear.

  34. Abigail Erickson says:

    As I walk along the shoreline, my love wades out of the ocean, surfboard in hand, long blond hair framing her face. She’s beautiful. Don’t worry, I’m not some creepy stalker who has my camera trained on her every minute of every day. I don’t sit in the tall oak tree outside her bedroom window watching her sleep. My closet isn’t filled with hundreds of pictures of her and I definitely don’t follow her to and from the beach everyday back to her apartment that you can see from the very spot I am sitting in. I wouldn’t do that.

  35. Terri Schindler says:

    As I grab my rusty old green surfboard, I also grabbed a piece of my mom. As a child I grew up in a poor area. I always stared out of the apartment window and my eyes would always drift to the ocean waves.However, my mom didn’t have enough money but I always knew one day she would. That day finally came, she got me this green surfboard which was cheap. I still use it because it means that every time I surf, I’m not alone, I’m with my mom so I’m safe in the water and land as well.

  36. Julia Minicozzi says:

    There she was, the magnificent, beautiful, talented, gorgeously horrible backstabber. Her hair danced in the salty breeze. How could someone so beautiful be so evil?

    As I snapped the picture, she instantaneously collapsed onto the polluted sand in a heaping ball of screeches. She rolled onto her left side as a gigantic shark bite was revealed on her leg. Blood trickled down her chewed leg, tainting the sand. She wailed in agony as the seemingly wealthy vacationers ignored her pathetic howls. Memories returned as I recalled her yelling when we broke up.

    I picked up my camera and walked away.

  37. Leah Potoff says:

    The woman is in my sight. As takes photos, I go over the case in my head. Maria Gardner, lives in the tropical islands, age 23,and works in the local coffee shop. As she comes in from the ocean with her green worn surfboard, I wonder why she left her life, without notifying anyone, and leaving no trace behind. Every morning she comes to this beach to surf the waves ,69 to feel the serenity of the water. As she dries off and puts her clothes on, I pack my things up and get- ready to report to my client.

  38. Erika Rooney says:

    The broken shards of rock, shells, and garbage on this dead beach hold a dark story. The secrets under the ocean’s waves of monsters that stole the pure good of these waters, while they let it happen. The story of the pain these waters had to go through is caused by the monsters. You may think they are the mythological and monstrous sea creatures, but you’d be so wrong. They look just like you and me, humans, the worst kind of monster. So next time remember to lock away all your hopes and dreams, if not they will find you.

  39. Catherine Bowen says:

    Beauty and the creep

    If she only looked at him, oh how happy would he be. If she only noticed him, oh how thankful would he be. As the sun shines on her, his eyes will begin to sparkle yet those photos will only be seen by the photographer, the clueless model roaming around the sandy beach will come to find a hidden man behind a tree. She will smile at ease and he will flee with fear but for those photos that were left behind the model will come to find and she’ll no longer have peace of mind.

  40. Austin Cusumano says:

    Grazed with jagged wax and gritty sand, and smoothed by the touch of the gentle ocean, it slowly recedes from the adventure it provided moments ago. Once a platform for sharp turns and flowing passion, it will lie dormant on a wooden rack in a small local beach hut that will soon disappear. It has been caught in the midst of intruders. The multitude of palm trees and soft sand will soon be swept away by surveyors and bulldozers. The surfboard is carried away from an ocean that filled its riders with passion, joy, and adventure…for one last time.

  41. Melinda says:

    The Journey To and From

    There are no weeks or months here, only mornings and the sea; salty skin and breakfasts of bitter tea and sweet banana pancakes.

    I came south to forget winter and conquer my fear of the deep. With each dawn I go a little further, catch one more wave, count bruises gained and scars washed away.

    In the afternoons the expats gather, clink the ice in their glasses and complain about the heat. As I wander through their tables to my room I leave behind a trail of sand and silence that waits to be swept away while we all sleep.

  42. Jim Byrnes says:

    Surfer Girl

    The mystery girl appears like a vision every morning as she leaves the water, carrying her surfboard. Tall, beautiful, walking with a self assured grace. My imagination overflows with intense curiosity. Who is this enigmatic beauty? Is she nice? Is she unattached? How does she spend the rest of her day? So many questions.

    I imagine approaching her as she leaves the beach. Would I find my voice? What would I say? Would I make a fool of myself? What if she’s not what I imagine? My uncertainty dictates that, at least for now, I must live in the mystery.

  43. Berkeley Hines says:

    The air was crisp and cool. My vision was a little bit blurred because I was tired, but I knew that if I stayed in bed I would fall back asleep. I strolled along the cold wet sand, delicate shells crunching below my feet. The sand was gritty between my toes. I sprinted with my surfboard down into the brisk water. I was met with a big mouthful on freezing cold saltwater. It was calm because there were few people down on the beach. I lay there on the surfboard just taking in the beauty of the beach this morning.

  44. Heather J. Hopkins says:

    In the distance, Jack strode in from the surf, board tucked casually under his right arm. I tried to remember what seduced me to leave Salt Spring and join his gypsy world. Love seemed reason enough, then.

    As Jack grabbed another beer from the cooler, he and Davin gestured toward the ocean, comparing Tamarindo’s waves with others they had challenged as the three of us skirted Central America. Good nights meant cheap hotels. Most meant huddling in nylon tents that leaked when it rained.

    I am an island girl. The ocean will always be part of me. Jack will not.

  45. I’ve gone surfing at night. Once on a dare then on by my on volition. I stare at the tiny shore lights like they are tiny stars and pretend I’m a whaler or explorer finding my way unbeknownst to sleeping town, home.

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