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.

Kodachrome image of kids playing on the jungle gym.

Art Credit: Found image, courtesy of  Thomas Hawk

31 Responses to “Photo Prompt”

  1. Maureen Finn says:

    It was so loud.

    Then again, the playground always is when the kids get out of school. There were at least twenty kids hanging around the jungle gym. Screams of joy and laughter filled the area as parents and guardians watched from the sidelines. Occasionally, an adult would step in if a child was hurt or if an argument between two kids broke out.

    It was so loud.

    My head felt like there were tiny hammers chipping away at my brain. It was overwhelming. Each scream and sound echoed around my skull. I needed to leave.

    It was so loud.

  2. Zoë Teu says:

    As long as anyone could remember, Poppy had been in the cage in her black dress and Mary Janes. The other children had heard rumors about her mother shutting her inside, screaming, “disobedient girls need to be locked up!” loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear. But that didn’t stop them from deciding the cage was a play structure, going there after school to scream and laugh and chase each other over and under and across the steel bars. “Laila’s it!” Tommy shouts, causing a stampede. But Poppy keeps still, hands clenched tight, waiting to become an obedient girl.

  3. Jay Heltzer says:

    Our job was play. Occupation: fun.

    “What are taxes?”

    The jungle gym was our seat of government. The Queen claimed the top, despite the pushy King. Those who didn’t climb felt like less, or simply left, just like my older cousin. He went all the way to Canada instead of Vietnam.

    “I’m Super Princess!”

    The loud kids grew up louder, and the quiet ones always stayed quiet, except for one. There’s always one.

    “Don’t be a scaredy-cat!”

    Two married each other, two passed away, and no one got the cooties. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to climb those damn monkey bars.

  4. Victoria Chvatal says:

    Life of the Party

    Andrey always had a way with words. Every time he felt like spinning a yarn, all the kids – not just our gang, anyone who was the playground – would drop their games and gather ‘round to listen.

    No wonder Andrey went into politics when he grew up. Just too bad he chose the opposition. I hope he still entertains his cellmates with stories, or even the guards; perhaps his sentence will pass more easily.

    The rest of my friends – those I kept in touch with, at least – kept quiet, didn’t stick their necks out, and all told, did better for themselves.

  5. Rickie Roberts says:

    Aristotle wrote, Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man. I remember a particular day when, aged 7, I was playing with friends. Cropped hair, Ben Sherman shirt, shorts, and sneakers. The other boys were dressed the same. The girls wore simple dresses, socks, and sandals. Suddenly I had a sense of who I was and what I would become. The trigger for this was Sarah. She looked at me, her face serious. “You’re good at math aren’t you. Can you help me with my homework?” The course of my life was set.

  6. Krystyna Fedosejevs says:

    Decisions

    Illness struck her suddenly, weeks into a new school year. Body ached. Face drained color. Breakfast toast smeared with diluted jam, meant for her, was picked up by her hungry mother.

    Upcoming government subsidy would’ve enhanced their meals with seasonal produce, for a while. Possibly money left to purchase used winter jackets.

    Last year at this time, boys wore new shirts and pants. Girls showed off dresses. She had not one. Still didn’t.

    No one needed to know how sick she was, or if she was sick at all.

    School Picture Day today. She chose to be outside the frame.

  7. Yash Seyedbagheri says:

    Doom
    In third grade, we navigated the jungle gym with squeaky voices and bright smiles in azure and verdant worlds. We walked from bar to bar, hands stretched outward and thought the world would catch us. And we shoved each other, laughed about Goosebumps books when darkness seemed charming and forbidden. In psychiatrist’s offices, divorced, mugged, verbally deflated, we’d admit to reading The Cuckoo Clock of Doom. They’d laugh. Of course, we wouldn’t tell them we’d turn that damn cuckoo backwards. Walk back onto the jungle gym. Get it right. Besides they’d prescribe another pill and we’ve popped too many bottles.

  8. Jim Byrnes says:

    Life of The Party?

    While going through my mothers old papers I discovered an ancient picture she had kept of my second grade class and me taken during a recess. I recalled her advice to me at the time, “don’t be that guy Jimmy,” but I was always too busy to take her advice and the die had already been cast. Over the following years even my wives always told me, “don’t be that guy,” but it was way too late for me to stop being, “that guy.” The way I see it, there are situations that require a, “that guy,” and that’s me.

  9. Jennifer Jantz says:

    There’s no doubt a masochist designed the playgrounds of my youth, but, boy, were they fun! Soaring all the way to the sun, the slide would scorch bare little legs. The prize for falling off was a cast worn like a badge of honor. We flew through the air on swings that went too high before bailing out at the highest height. The spinning frenzy of the merry-go-round would cause us to fly off. The monkey bars left blisters that calloused. You were hailed as the Playground King if you could walk across the top! Too bad recess is over!

  10. Andie Green says:

    I watched the children on the climbing frame and wondered at my daughter’s friends.
    There were show-offs, leader and meek followers.
    The loud girl in lemon claimed the right to be top of the frame , and when a big boy pushed her down a level I was pleased when she got some girls to gang up on him.
    I helped lay out the picnic and they all laughed and sang when Ginny blew out her candles.
    But where was the bully boy from the top of the frame?
    Fourteen cake smeared faces grinned and shrugged.

  11. Dolly Saxena says:

    And so we were.
    Happy, contented, playful.
    Till I grew up.
    The tubes of the playground climber took on the avatar of real corporate ladders. The natural toothy grins and smiles gave way to cosmetic ones. Somewhere, birds still chirped, but I had no time to listen. Realtime connect got lost in the melee of electronic media. Being busy felt good.
    Then I grew up some more.
    Went back to a toothy grin. Sat and heard the birds chirping. Hugged. Kissed. Cried. Wanting constant reassurance. Seeking love. Looking into my children’s eyes for love, acceptance, approval.
    Second childhood, they say.

  12. Niko Varano says:

    “Everyone gather around!” “Blehhhhhhhhhhhhhh” “Tommy stop!” “I’m telling” “Eeeeeeeeeek” “My head hurts” “Can I go to the bathroom?” “I have to pee, Mrs. Caldwell!” “Ow! Jonny, stop it!” “I didn’t do nuthin’” “A, B, C, D, E, F, G” “Watch this. I’m gonna stomp on Billy’s head”
    “Guys, stop messing around. Let’s take the picture!” “Hehe” “La la la la la la lahhhhhhhhh”

    “Everyone gather around please! I’m not going to ask again.” “I’m tired!” “99 bottles of milk on the wall….” “Ahhh, ouch!” “Stop crying, Amelia. You’re being a baby.” “Yeah! You’re a baby. Wahhhhhhh” “Am not!” “Are too!”

  13. A slew of disappearances in Pleasantville-Children’s Park had local police scratching their heads. Unusual cases, indeed. Cadaver-dogs along with their handlers searched the premises with little to no success, periodically turning up scraps of clothing and various items belonging to the victims. A gold Rolex, a leather purse strap, a paisley sock (just the one sock), and a set of keys.

    Not a pedophile. Perhaps a parent-phile? The strange little girl with the Mona Lisa smile had a secret. The clumsy children who had a habit of bumping into things, those with blackened eyes and bruises, paid her in Sweetarts.

  14. THE MOMENT BEFORE
    by Bernardo Villela

    It felt like a cold barb to the chest, Mother snapped a picture the moment before it happened. I never knew.
    A gaggle of us on the jungle gym, me urging Lenny to send Tommy over the bar of the swing across the yard (not pictured).
    Rosemary gazing, intent; Louise smiling for just a moment.
    Taking the picture distracted Mother and her an her friends for just a moment.
    A fraction of a second to expose the film, for Lenny to push Tommy too hard, and for Tommy to decide to jump down.
    A split-second decision, eternal and irreversible.

  15. M D Smith IV says:

    The rusting iron pipes sit frozen in the abandoned park. Overgrowth tendrils rising, seek to claim the monkey bars of seventy years ago. Then providing endless hours of joy to kids, and it never moved an inch.
    Sometimes a missed grab resulted in a tumble from the top. The only sympathy was to hold on better the next time.
    It’s tempting to shuffle over with my cane and touch my childhood again.
    Returning ghosts of friends emerge, if only in memory. The risks of standing on top of certain death if you toppled into the maze.
    No one ever died.

  16. Mariana Latouche says:

    Mr. Richards left. I can hardly blame it, we were both desperate. Past were the days of the affectionate owner I once was. The carrots, games, and hugs I regularly sneaked to the garden for, were now a dreaded task.

    I let him bolt to the patio. The light of my artificial success clashed with my old friend. We said our goodbyes and looking on either side of the road of life, he chose his path.

    I wish I still was the girl who took care of Mr. Richards. I wish I had looked at both sides of the road.

  17. Ella Woods says:

    It was almost surreal, the air feeling nostalgic, eerie, and familiar. I was visiting my childhood home again for the first time in about 17 years. It was exactly like how I remembered it. The unattended lawn, the plants drooping down, and my favorite, the bunnies. At least one of them showed up every once in a while and I would always try to make it approach me. They never did but I always enjoyed their presence. I walked into the backyard again and sat down. I looked down and once again took in the moment. This was it, home.

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