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.

In the spirit of fun and fairness, please follow these guidelines:
• Post only one story per photo prompt.
• Be mindful of others’ feelings when commenting (keep it positive rather than giving feedback).
• Remember this is a shared safe space for all lovers of 100-word stories.

Photograph of cigarette butts on the sidewalk.

Art Credit: Rosewoman

115 Responses to “Photo Prompt”

  1. Tina Q says:

    There had been a time she knew how to quit.

    Besides, she’d quit other things: marching band, high school, working at her father’s print shop, her twenty-seven-year-old boyfriend who gave her a shiner while drunk.

    Each night on her break those cigarette butts multiplied while she shivered in a light windbreaker against the chill of an Ohio winter. She found a small ash tray on her walk home, but it overflowed. Across the street, nearly empty buses departed for Columbus and Chicago and Pittsburgh. Yet, she stayed.

    Those cigarettes butts were her trail of breadcrumbs to nowhere.

  2. Steve Whittaker says:

    Pacing the rooftop, the sun blisters through the clouds as he takes another deep, unsatisfying breath.
    There have been no answers today; just like every day this week. Yet, he knew what he had gotten himself in to. Exhaling, the air becomes grey and shrouds him – a security blanket.
    The vibrating in his left jacket pocket signals another call. “This time” he gathers his thoughts. Inhale. Not so deep.
    His skin; ashen. His lungs; heavy. His head; somewhat clear. He pushes the cigarette until it is bent in to the concrete wall.
    “Hello”.
    A tar cough.
    “Yes. I’ll be there”.

  3. Ethan Maver says:

    My eyes flickered in pain. Another fag was burning my fingers. I flicked it into the ashtray together with the memory it evoked. A shivering sensation ran down my spine. The same feeling that overwhelmed me when our fingers first touched under our school desk. That was as far as we went that year. Not even a quick peck on the lips as we shared a joint in that abandoned warehouse near my place. Just a game of marbles that mixed childhood with our urge to grow up. Another fag just burnt my fingers but yours will never hurt again.

  4. Danielle Gold says:

    “I’ve told you a million times to throw those butts away! For god’s sake, they’re disgusting!” I spit the words at Sergio, who slinks off, as always, showing no outward reaction. I lurch at the overflowing ashtray and stomp off with it to the carport, standing for a long while beside the wheelie bin, trying to let go of my anger. After all, Sergio is the love of my life. When I finally go back inside he’s lying on the cool kitchen floor still looking as calm as ever, only before he was my husband and now I’m his widow.

  5. E. L. Blizzard says:

    Picking up the scattered butts, she calculates how long the room will take; she has ten more. Brian arrives today and she needs to find the air mattress. The kids are excited their uncle is coming. She’s hoping to get him on staff here so she can cut a few hours to be home with them. Glancing out the doorway, past her cart, she sees two women walk by. Flowered air makes it to her as she catches the shimmer of their painted nails wrapped around their phones. Pretty, she thinks. She turns back to her planning and the butts.

  6. Leo Anthony says:

    Sweeping Butts

    “I’m outta smokes.”

    “I’ve got plenty.”

    “You know I need menthols.”

    “Yeah.”

    So you went out. And you never came back. Just like I figured.

    You were untethered and overwhelming when I found you. An exhilarating rush with a bad aftertaste.

    The house still reeks of cigarettes. I guess I just got used to it.

    Every day. Every night. The ache of withdrawal feels needlessly persistent.

    Where are you now? Getting high? Getting off? I finally quit. Did you?

    I see you sometimes in reflections and in the fringes. You’re unbuttoning your jeans, wearing a wicked grin, smoking a menthol.

  7. Molly Arbuthnott says:

    Sometimes

    Sometimes it is the little voice inside your head telling you, cajoling you, begging you until you give in. Sometimes it is your feet suddenly taking a life of their own walking left, right, left, right up to the counter. Sometimes it is the need to feel cool, accepted, part of the gang. Sometimes it is after having one drink too many. Sometimes it is your fingers begging for an occupation. Sometimes it’s needing the relaxation of deep inhalation and long exhale. Sometimes it is just me and suddenly they’re there…. littering the ground. That strong desire…that eventually kills.

  8. Riley Ann says:

    He burned me like his last cigarette, too fast but decadently. I knew that he’d never quit, his veins pining for the sticky sweetness of nicotine, but I liked to think it was his last, dangling from his lip like a solitary finger clinging to a branch, slipping toward the inevitability of gravity, reminding my bones how hard the ground is. Now I watch branches scrape the sky above me as leaves crunch under my skull. I let the bugs crawl under my skin and slip another American Spirit between my fingers, just one more. The sky fades to ash.

  9. Mali says:

    She stared at the photo on the wall. She wondered if there was hidden meaning. Maybe a commentary on the past when cigarettes were king. She had heard that at one time cigarettes were sold in vending machines by the pack. She reached into her jean pocket and fingered her e-cigarette. She remembered her grandfather talking about cigarettes and how teenagers smoked them to look “cool.” She asked herself if the definition of “cool” was the same then as it is now. She pondered this for a few minutes. Then, she moved on to the next photo in the gallery.

  10. Michael Walton says:

    War

    Today we all smoked together, even those who never have. Some were silent and some were talking fast. Others still were shaking and crying. I saw all those cigarettes burned up together, trampled and poured onto the ash pile, and I prayed for a better fate for us all. That we may be together again. Please pray for us also, we must advance tomorrow. These men and children here, these fathers and sons have become my brothers. But tomorrow my brothers will almost certainly die for me, I for them. Please kiss the children for me. I love you all.

  11. Matt Weatherbee says:

    Dad Went out for Cigarettes

    The soldiers came at dinnertime. They just walked over and grabbed my husband. What had he done? Probably nothing he should die for. I sat there at the table, staring at the empty chair and steaming bowl of Solyanka across from me, afraid that protesting would get me taken away too, and cried. Before I knew it, my son was coming through the door. I wiped my eyes and asked him how dinner was at his friend’s. He said good and asked where his dad was. I said he just went out to get some cigarettes. He’ll be back soon.

  12. Donald Guadagni says:

    Cigarettes my old friend, how many times have we visited together since I was 18? We first meet in the military, smoke um, if you got um, I was pleased to make your acquaintance back then. There was something to be said about that buzz in my head, I guess that was the draw that made us fast friends. Morning coffee and drinking beer seemed to make you even more dear. Years past without a thought until one day an epiphany dawned. I realized In the end, you were never really my friend, just a monetary drain, only ash remains.

  13. Lisa H Owens says:

    Conversations

    A long day of classes followed by a nightly ritual. Three roommates and one rickety table. We talked of lovers and relationships we wished we’d never had. We spoke of our creepy landlord—rumored to be a peeping-tom—the balding carpet he wouldn’t replace. Him dropping by at odd hours never quite meeting our eyes, instead, gazing longingly at our nubile bodies. Candice’s habit of biting fingernails way past the quick and how her mother promised an heirloom ring, encouraging her to stop. She sucked hard—embers glowing—before deformed fingers passed it on. Sharing that last Virginia Slim before calling it a night.

  14. Dawn says:

    November 100-word photo story

    Karim’s on the balcony, building a dream from cigarette butts.

    His grandfather opens the bureau, removes a sheet of A4.
    “The People Who Fell From The Sky” story.

    He’s heard it a hundred times.

    Granddad, makes a fold in the paper, bringing the outside edges to the centre.

    One day, Karim and Sherezade will run away.

    Today, the story couple are a soccer hero, and a barefoot blond.

    Granddad, angles the edges for the paper plane.

    The couple light a cigarette with a greenback.

    Removing two honeyed butts, Karim decides “gold coast.”

    The plane hits the wall.

  15. Adrianne Toles-Williams says:

    I was midway through the book I’d read a thousand times, and beginning my second pack of the day, when I saw a man that I considered a brother long ago. For hours we talked about all the ways our lives had changed, and I envied all that he’d gained while I’d only ever failed. “I should be getting home. But here, have this,” he said, handing me a note before leaving. I read it in my truck before falling asleep and began to cry. 47 Westmoor Court. We all deserve a second chance to get back on our feet.

  16. Lisa Miller says:

    Nonsmoker

    Had my first cigarette at fifteen, you know, to be cool. A lady I babysat for called my Mom to report I had left a pack of Marlboros at her house. In trouble, I continued to smoke until a classmate pointed out I was not inhaling. Embarrassed, I quit. In my early twenties, I went to many bars to dance and drink with friends. I still refused to smoke. I liked being healthy. I got married to a smoker and started again. Inhaling like an expert, I’ve stopped and started up too many times to count. At the moment? Nonsmoker.

  17. Tre keen says:

    Ahem Ahem, the sound of my aunt coughing as I entered the hospital room is something I’ll never forget. The doctor finally came into the room and provided us with an explanation as to why she was coughing up blood, “stage one lung cancer, and the only treatment is radiation.” The next few months pass leaving my aunt looking terrible, the lung cancer was still there but her hair wasn’t, her skin became pale and wrinkly. We eventually learned my aunt was a smoker for the past 20 years, to think this is what a smoking addiction turns you into.

  18. Melody says:

    The Day he Left her

    She promised him she would quit. That was three months ago and she was on her third pack that week. She wanted to get better. For him. The last she saw him was at the park near where she lived.

    It was an oddly warm November day. His favorite season. He said to meet him at their spot near the lake.

    In short, the conversation was him breaking her heart. she thought she would at least see him around town. But that was the last she saw him. It was like he disappeared. His memory, like smoke in the air.

  19. KJ Schwartz says:

    At 14, my mom caught me smoking one of her discarded butts.
    She bought a pack of Camel Lights, packed them on her wrist three times. “Smoke them all.”
    She lit the match and the flame came near. The nicotine sizzled down my throat.
    Coughing and dizzy, I stood to leave. Her orange stained fingers wrapped around my wrist. She gestured for me to take another, then another.
    Now I’m 44. I tap the pack three times on my wrist. I’ll finish the whole thing.
    And then, I’ll quit.

  20. Tom Walsh says:

    Louis gathered butts—from the yard, the gutters on the streets she walked to work, the smokers’ zone outside her building, the balcony of her hospital room—and dropped them into a brown glass ashtray. Next day, he methodically snipped off the filters, tossed the burned remains of tobacco rods onto the ground. With a magnifying glass, he scanned the ventilated filters for lipstick, that shade of purple she ordered from France. He found one, sniffed it, and smiled; it captured her essence as nothing else ever would. He kept it by his bed.

  21. Patrick Grewe says:

    Night-shift Ronnie hand rolls his darts – laced with something most like. I set an ash tray on the back curb since he can’t find the bin, but he don’t give a shit. And I pick ‘em up! Just like I clean the bathroom first thing when I clock in even though he initials the signoff. Mr. Mitchel don’t care neither, “as long as it gets cleaned”, he says. Must be hard filling the graveyard and Ronnie don’t miss shifts and don’t steal. Yeah well, we’ll see about that. Next time I cover his count… might just come up short.

  22. Brandon L. says:

    Forgotten Cigarettes

    She tossed the half-burned cigarette to the ground unconcerned about making it into the tray. Besides, it was already full. The lighter clicks open as it heats up the end of a fresh cigar, her fingers shivered despite the fire.

    With a new light came a new vision, this time the girl had blue eyes, like her mother. She’d grow up playing softball with a scholarship to Harvard. Ella, she named her, didn’t get much farther before transforming into the bloodied excrement from the toilet, just as the others had. She throws the unfinished cigar with the other dead children.

  23. Cara Long says:

    Her balcony. Solitude. Soundless snowflakes. She leans forward, and her tongue peeks out to taste the loose snow. The feel of snow melting to water quenches a thirst. For what? Childhood? Simplicity? Freedom? Her unhappiness persists without reason. It’s always been part of her. It adds depth to the show she puts on for others. Family. Friends. Husband.

    Balcony time is hers alone. Sandra pulls the hidden pack from a pocket in her robe. Leaning back, she places booted feet where her tongue had pressed. Flame flickers, and peace washes over her as the smoke blends itself into the night.

  24. Elizabeth Zahn says:

    Family Traditions

    Ma said If I smoked ten cigarettes as fast as her, then by God I was old enough to smoke.

    “Your Ma’s real smart. Gonna fix you,” her boyfriend Clint sneered, “Besides, can’t afford another smoker.”

    Ma handed me the cigarettes and a lighter, “One at a time. To the filter.”

    I kept up and Ma hooted, “Winner!” We hugged. She whispered, “Good girl. My Ma did it the same with me. Will be real nice smoking together on the stoop, like your Grandma and I use to.”

    She turned to Clint, “You’re just gonna have to cut back.”

  25. Fred White says:

    Seven months, five days, eleven hours: the craving won’t cease. I pull yet another cigarette out of the next-to-last pack, light up, crush it out. I can do this. But I don’t want to! I miss the rush of satisfaction from that first deep drag. I return to my list: what I have gained; what I have lost. The second list is much longer than the first. I have an idea: l’ll light up, crush out, light up, crush out–all the remaining cigarettes! Then I will photograph the butts (disgusting image), tape copies everywhere, especially above my too-empty bed.

  26. Karen Lerner says:

    In back of my old school, there was a spot burnout kids would go to smoke – lousy with Marlboro butts and almost never unoccupied, even after classes ended. A long butt could be plucked from the ground and re-lit; another smoker could be kissed, ashen-mouthed. There was no shame as they lingered in relative safety, with no way yet to get their hands on more.

    Today, passing girls out smoking on a stoop – an acrid tang mingled with the sharp, bright scent of cheap perfume. I inhaled, knowing how the smells will mellow on their clothes, longing for a Marlboro.

  27. I don’t know how long we waited. There’s always that point when time loses its meter; when your focus stutters toward shorter and shorter moments. Your clan becomes a community as you absorb their energy through the smoke and spontaneous outbursts of song.

    Years ago we stood outside for concert tickets, all night if necessary, to be first when they went on sale. Now it’s all done on line – whoever has the fastest fingers wins.

    When the sun started to come up the street looked different. Like someone’s living room after a party. The short moments lengthened with the shadows.

  28. Rickie Roberts says:

    Time To Go

    Graham sneaked through the emergency exit for a short break. Nicole came out and lit up. He couldn’t help glancing at the disgusting pile of cigarettes butts. She noticed and said “They’re not all mine.” He shook his head, “No, but some are.” She just shrugged her shoulders. She didn’t care what he thought any more. He’d been her boss but now a reorganisation meant he was taking early retirement. He was glad to be leaving. Somehow it had gone wrong. Was it him, or them? Did it even matter? He knew he’d made the right decision.

  29. Penny Ellis says:

    A Hopeless Case

    She arrived at the apartment every Monday and Friday. Each time she was greeted by the overflowing ashtray. It had spilled over onto the paving slabs. Esther enjoyed her cleaning job, a chance to see how the other half lived.

    She left a note:

    I enjoy working here and hope to continue, but if you don’t stop smoking you will die and I will lose my job.

    Next time the ashtray has been replaced with a bunch of flowers and a note:

    Thank you for saving my life. I might be a hopeless case but could we discuss this over dinner?

  30. The Alley

    We’d smoke on the stoop in our green, white and red aprons, surrounded by the roar of exhaust fans and the aroma of garlic. She’d clap the flour off her hands and light one of those ladies’ cigarettes, all white and slim. Taking long, slow drags, she’d tip her head back, exhale into the sky, her eyes following the white spirals. She’d often say, ‘someday I’d love to go to Europe, or anywhere besides here.’ Sometimes our hands would touch for an instant, hovering over the ashtray. Then she’d stub her cigarette out on the pavement and hurry back inside.

  31. Beatrice Rao says:

    The Party

    He is a connoisseur of empty booze bottles. A collector of broken toys. A scavenger of odds and ends. But life has been even more ragged since the COVID lockdown.

    On his daily hunt for shards of hope, he spies brown and white rosettes. Some sucked to their dead end. Many with a good bit of burn still in them. As if the smokers suddenly remembered the statutory warning.

    He collects the butts in the plastic bag he always carries. He will throw a small party for his friends; supply the half-smoked fags. Rag-pickers can’t afford to be too choosy.

  32. Ruth Marner says:

    Uncle Perry lunged out of his chair, cigarette in handl it was not drunkenness that caused the movement. It was a desire to pick the cat up from the floor with one hand while balancing his cigarette and martini in the other. “Darn cat,” he said, carrying it out to the front door. “Don’t bring that in again,” he said, depositing the cat and the entrails of some forgotten animal outside. When he returned to his chair a few moments later I was still poised to listen. For although I’d heard his stories many, many times before, my fourteen year old mind could never get enough of them.

  33. Krystyna Fedosejevs says:

    Her Sacred Space

    Sammy was buried in the garden, behind a shed. Rose stepped daily over a trail meandering between overgrown shrubs to get there.

    She told Sammy how dearly she missed him. How her life lacked happiness, excepting visits from grandchildren.

    They would’ve delighted seeing him. But it was different for them. They lived elsewhere in town. Their lives filled with interests young people sought.

    Only when Rose died did her grandchildren realize her loneliness. Close to the burial ground, hidden under debris, they uncovered a stash of cigarette ends.

    Undoubtedly saturated with the tears she shed for her beloved Chihuahua, Sammy.

  34. Denise Benoist says:

    Nightly

    Nightly I think of things.

    People. Relationships. Regrets. Cravings. Habits. Memories. Food. Longings. Money. Hopes. Futures.

    Nightly they haunt. Nightly I want. Nightly I hate. Nightly I love. Nightly I toss. Nightly I wake. Nightly I rise. Nightly I eat. Nightly I walk. Nightly I sit. Nightly I sleep. Nightly I don’t sleep. Nightly I dream. Nightly I don’t dream. Nightly I drink. Nightly I wonder. Nightly I plan. Nightly I cry. Nightly I scream. Nightly I listen. Nightly I worry. Nightly I panic. Nightly I puke. Nightly I shower. Nightly I breathe.

    What gets me through? Nightly I smoke.

  35. Jim Byrnes says:

    If Only

    The service was heart rending. He was only fifty-seven and it was just way to early for him to leave us. Sitting on the front porch joking and laughing one day and gone the next.

    The cancer took him in his sleep and I found him in the morning when he failed to turn up for breakfast.

    Upon returning from the service as I reached the top porch step his ashtray and scattered butts scream out their message in silence.

    I suddenly, desperately need a smoke but can’t do it right now. Maybe it’s time for me to quit.

  36. C.A. Black says:

    On the weekends, our local movie theater ashtrays were sacrosanct. A crisp, half-smoked Marlboro Red, a make-up smeared Palm Mall, or a barely cracked Camel. If a butt rose above the tray’s sand wasn’t precipitous: our treasure. With luck, the previous owner hadn’t been a contortionist or a sadist.

    An apocryphal idea that a barely twisted Benson is un-smokable.

    We weren’t anarchists or ruffians, just newly addicted. We didn’t need markets or currency or pride. It was the south. If the universe was a machine designed, we were an odd feature.

    We most certainly smoked em’ when we had em’.

  37. Yash Seyedbagheri says:

    Butts
    Nick collects cigarette butts in a jar. They contain the weight of events he smoked his way through.
    Credit card companies which deemed Nick delinquent.
    Fights with older sister Nancy because she worried about his drinking.
    He’s preserved overdue rent, tempers, and rejections from teaching jobs.
    Nick despises collecting.
    He goes to counseling. Throws away almost all his wine, keeps one bottle of Merlot in his closet. Just in case.
    Inevitably, he gets more job rejections. Nan asks too many questions after he makes up.
    The jar overflows.
    There’s not enough room to store everything.
    Not enough room to stop.

  38. Mason Frost says:

    “Hey Carl, brought you a burger.”

    I sat beside Carl, who thanked me and peeled open the bag through his fingerless gloves.

    “You smoke?” I asked, noticing an odd pile forming by his cart.

    He shook his head no. Looking closer, I saw they were smashed, grimy, and used, clearly not by him.

    “You collect used cigarettes then?”

    He shook his head yes. Here was Carl, the man who slept under Hampton Bridge, picking up after litterers. He lit a cig, placed it on the concrete, and we watched it burn, a speck of hopeful light among the world’s trash.

  39. The neighbours are tired of my coughing. They will be glad to see my coffin.

    I have a cylinder of oxygen with a “no smoking” sign on the side. Every day a nurse comes to give me my shot. I have a chemist’s counter-full of drugs on the bedside table and a fat lot of good they are.

    I chat with the family on Facetime or Zoom. The cheeky whippersnapper from “meals on wheels will be along with a joke and a shepherd’s pie soon. My life is not so bad. The only trouble is I’m dying for a cigarette.

  40. I make insane money as a cigarette evaluator for Big Tobacco. Does a new brand taste smooth? Burn clean? Light up easy? There’s the money, sure, but it’s really boring.

    Lately, I’ve been tossing the unopened test packages into my cereal cupboard, missing report deadlines and ignoring client phone messages. If the overdue reports aren’t filed by Monday, I’m history, and so is my leased Merc.

    Friends agree to help. They smoke, laugh and drink and I make notes. The air on my patio is a heady mixture of wine, perfume and cigarettes. Just before dawn, I e-mail the documents.

  41. Nicole Silberman says:

    It started in the tips of her fingers: she could hear the light crackling of a summer bonfire, dwindling in the summer air. The smoke hissed at her, and she hissed back like a dragon, nostrils flaring. She held the flame of her lighter in front of her cigarette, to give it life while it snuffed out her own. Her shift at the diner was almost over. Soon, she would hop in her camry, drive two hours home to a daughter who will tell her she smells like an ashtray, and do it all again tomorrow. I’m sorry,” she whispered.

  42. Line Louise Hansen says:

    She sighed. She did not know what to do any more. What had started out as a dream, as a dream job, now felt more like a bad dream. She couldn’t sleep, she had begun having headaches and worst of all she one day found herself smoking out of habbit. As if this was her body’s defense to the stress. One cigarette led to the other and suddenly she was chainsmoking, as this could fix the short deadlines and heavy overload following her fancy titel. She felt trapped and not knowing what else to do she lit yet another cigarette.

    • Bonnie says:

      That happened to me. My first year of teaching city public high school was so stressful,I started smoking like the other older teachers. By Christmas week, I realized I was hooked.

  43. Esther Ib.D says:

    “He’s at it again” Elizabeth muttered as she, met with the stench of cigarettes marched to her dad’s room for another exfoliating speech on his addiction. Her mother’s death had been the reason for his addiction, a reason she’d dammed to exonerate. His recent coughs were as a result of his addiction but was never enough conviction to give up smoking. His cough became incessant with a spill of blood on his shirt which made her panic.
    “His lungs are damaged” the doctor said, turning to hold her father’s glare with a look that held all convictions to his guilt.

  44. If the train didn’t arrive soon, I’d miss my connection. I took out a cigarette.

    “You don’t smoke!” Dad said.

    “Only occasionally.” I replied.

    “It’s a disgusting habit for a lady!”

    “Oh come on Dad, most women my age have smoked at some point! Anyway you used to smoke!”

    “It’s different for men. Your mother never smoked. Not once!”

    “Times change, most 50 year old women of my generation have smoked at least one cigarette!”

    The train drew up. Dad glared as he said goodbye. Just hope he never finds out about the dope.

  45. Cindy Patrick says:

    Anyone could tell the covert smoking place because nobody emptied the ashtray. Nobody cleaned up the evidence. Except Robert. He pinched his cigarette and put in his pants pocket. Smoking is a filthy habit as it is, he thought, and now we add littering. No wonder we are treated as subhuman. We’ve done it to ourselves. Unfortunately, some of us were given cigarettes as a right of passage for our sixteenth birthday. We were already addicted to second-hand smoke, as we breathed toxic air, in the car, windows rolled up. I’ve fought addiction since I was in my mother’s womb.

  46. Margie Loesch says:

    A Turn of Events

    Cigarette butts littered the stoop outside apartment 313.
    I knocked, he answered.

    “Give em.”

    “You first.”

    Door swings to shut,I produce.

    “Four, you said four.”

    I produce another carton .

    “And the $300.”

    “ $250.”

    Door swings to shut; my foot stops it.

    “ The ballot first. Then I’ll make it $350.”

    “$500.”

    “Ok but after the ballot.”

    “$350 first, you get the ballot then $150 more.”

    I give him the cash and start to go in.
    “ Oh no!You’re not coming in.”

    He shoves me hard before slamming the door, turning the deadbolt.

    “Hello 911…”

    I run.

  47. Natalie says:

    Once, I found my father’s cigarettes. In his jacket pocket. I’d tried it on—why not? I was eight. I still hid in his closet for hide-and-seek. I liked the feel of crisp business shirts around my face.

    I knew he used to smoke. I had vague memories of an ashtray that sat on the porch. The memories smelled incongruously nice, like dusty sunshine.

    Eight-year-olds try on their fathers’ sweaters for the same reason dads sometimes smoke cigarettes, I guess. Wondering what it’s like to be older. Wondering what it’s like to be younger.

  48. Roseanne Boyle says:

    The Empty Bed

    How could he be so insensitive. Granted, she opted to sleep on the couch but he could’ve come after her. Instead, he added her pillow to his and opened his laptop.
    Unable to sleep, putting pride aside, Eve padded through the dark room back to bed, surprised to find an abandoned laptop illuminating an empty room.
    “Ian!” she called.
    “Behind you,” he said.
    Turning Eve asked, “Where’d you go?
    “Across from you, in the recliner. I got lonely. Evie, whatever I did, l’m sorry. Can we go back to bed?”
    Eve answered with a kiss lasting well into the sheets.

  49. Riley Ann says:

    Night Terrors

    I can’t remember not waking up gasping in the cool darkness wrestling the stranglehold of my bedsheets. My chest bangs like the roll of a snare drum, and sweat clings to me, hair matted across my forehead, knuckles bone white. Breathe. I pat at the carpet and rattle of pill bottles for my laptop. There. I drag it across the bedsheets and pry it open. The icy light cuts across the shadows like a blade. I scroll on, “737 New Cases…,” “U.S. Deploys More Troops…,” “Election Results Remain Questionable….” That which doesn’t kill me, but I don’t believe it.

  50. Christine Venart says:

    Ejection Day

    Isolation. I feel it in my bones. 236 days. When will lockdown end? I fill every night with meaningless nothingness, trying to fill my soul. I grasp my screen like I’m clutching to life. Instead of connection, I see horrors. Death. Despair. Rage. Chaos. A country I once loved broken down, beaten. Afraid of what’s to come, how far we can fall. I scream into the void as I slowly rot. Dragging myself to the glass door, I long to escape. I see a fresh sprout breaking through the crusted litter-filled landscape, like a beacon of hope. Can we survive?

  51. K. F. Lerner says:

    When I go out of town for work, he calls me. Because I ask him to. The time difference is striking, so I must wait up. I keep the light low in my business economy bedroom, as if I were on an overnight flight, still traveling. I wonder, in the hours before the phone rings, what we can say to each other with voices that we haven’t already said in text. Maybe I need a confirmation. So one day – here, or at home – my mind can rest. Did you really give those words to me? Did you mean them?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *