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.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

41 Responses to “Photo Prompt”

  1. Dawn says:

    Watch the birdie

    “Have fun, but don´t let the bird outta ya sight,” said the boss.

    “I don´t want that No-Neck Monster following me round the fair,” she said.

    They drifted from stall to stall eating double chilli dogs.

    The fluffy kid, won a fluffy toy grinning wide as a rollercoster.

    Inside the hall of mirrors he became distracted by his 12-foot self.

    Giving him the slip, she pulled on a beret disguising her candy-coloured hair.

    “We come into the world alone and we depart…,” said the swing chair operator.

    Jumping the queue, the bird took flight.

  2. Raul Sharma says:

    TOCK

    As I spin around and around, I can’t help but think of the circle of life. The beginning… the end. The sounds of joy crescendo in my surroundings – playful laughs, excited screams. I sit alone… silent, a stone sculpture. If I traveled back to meet myself as a child, he would stare back into the hollow eyes of a stranger. The result of trying to force a square shaped soul into a circular slot. My life predictable as the hands of my wristwatch. As the ride winds down, matching the pace of its ticks, I’m reminded… I still have time.

  3. Diane Clark says:

    COURAGE

    Anonymous people are suspended overhead in flimsy chairs dangling from ropes. Two chairs are ominously empty. I could not go up there. I am not a daredevil. I could never be a parachute jumper. It takes a certain kind of brave heart to risk life and limb. I prefer terra firma.

    On the other hand, there’s been many a night I have walked out on stage, opened my mouth, and sung an entire concert with only my pianist for company. Some would be terrified by such a prospect. Some would say I am daredevil indeed. To me that’s child’s play.

  4. Elizabeth Stone says:

    “Swings”

    It was a feeling of freedom. Fleeting, ephemeral, a glimmer in time. Satiny waves whirled around her head in a craze as she was lifted higher, higher; a humid breeze caressing the hair on her arms. It was a feeling that told her, undoubtedly, she was alive. She was here. She was free. A moment of time encapsulated in her brain, only to visit through her memories, when, in a nostalgic longing for her old self, she wanted to feel that freedom again. It was a feeling she could never quite mimic. A feeling that became harder and harder to reach.

  5. Heather Crane says:

    The Flip-flop War

    It started with a flip-flop upside the head. A women’s size eight flew from the carnival swing ride into the face of a hefty, mustachioed man.

    “The hell?” Not realizing it was an accident, he threw his own flip-flop toward the ride, hitting a child.

    A retaliation of flip-flops mostly hit innocent bystanders. Thus began the war. Police failed to curb the shoe violence. After a wooden clog incident, the mayor changed strategy.

    Posters went up: “Slip-on Shoe Art Contest! Cash Prizes!” The winning Crocs Adirondack chair’s creator, a hefty, mustachioed man, was glad this whole, dark chapter was over.

  6. Woooosh! Nothing like centrifugal force to shake loose a preconceived notion. I thought I understood the goal. Achievement. Progress. Forward motion. I’d set clearly defined goals for my life and I’d achieved them. Each and every one. Good grades led to good schools which led to good jobs. The trouble is, the finish line kept moving forward on me.

    I was undeniably winning at life and yet it’d always left me feeling a bit, well, empty.

    Spinning in circles on this carnival ride if finally sunk into my thick skull, the meaning of life that is. Just enjoy the ride

  7. Groaning iron screeched under the weight of occupants in its seats enjoying the sunset.

    Grumbling from each round, tired from its day spinning people in its metallic frame. Whining ever faster, harder, louder. People beginning to worry, distract, fear. Forgetting that beautiful fire infused sunset.
    A ride which seemed so pleasant before. Like lambs to the slaughter they whaled. Drowned by the irons dismay, for it seems it didn’t want these occupants any longer and halted to a stop.

    The sky was rich midnight blue by the time the last vacated. A lost sunset, only I seemed to have enjoyed.

  8. Andrea Murciano says:

    Title: What Never Was Won’t Be
    I stare at the pictures. Remembering everything that never was. The picture of us, I was about ten and so were you. You stood a proud three inches taller than me and you never stopped to remind me. I am so lucky to have you as a friend. You taught me what it means to be thankful. Your music reverberates through the air and I remember that once music comes into this world it can never leave it. Now several years later, I put the pictures away and fear returning to a routine that would mean I never loved you.

  9. Luca Faccinello says:

    As walked through the bustling overcrowded aisles the sickening sweet smell of popcorn invaded my nostrils and refused to leave. Large neon signs plastered everywhere brought upon a deep throbbing headache that banged my brain like a drum. Couples laughed together, hawk-eyed parents watched their children like prey as they rushed into the crowd.
    The Overbearing screeches of people drilled into my brain as their ride flew down a drop or whizzed around a bend.
    My senses were bombarded with a different sight, sound or smell until everything blurred into one unrecognisable mass.
    I sighed. What was I doing here?

  10. Alex Ross says:

    The smell of donut oil and the fizz of pastille pink cotton candy vanishing into eager mouths. The scuttling of tin cans and the handing-over of oversized stuffed toys. Goldfish in plastic bags, destined to live a day, two max, before being flushed down toilets. Screams of delight and fear. The harnessing of centrifugal force for the purposes of enjoyment.
    The park was a good place to die, in hindsight. The two weeks a year when the carnival comes are like a holiday of humanity. The rest of the year it’s pretty peaceful. I pity those who die in deserts.

  11. Lily Y. Lang says:

    Fifteen Years Later

    The first time I went to an amusement park was when I was a seventeen-year-old nanny. Shortly after the child and his parents were happily seated, the swing roller coaster started moving, then swirled higher and higher. As I watched the riders swing their legs back and forth and heard their joyful laughter and screams, how much I wished I were one of the riders up in the air. That night I had a sweet dream of me swinging.

    Fifteen years later, when I rode the swing ride with my children for the first time, I cried, “Let me down!”

  12. Lisa Miller says:

    Beauty Among Ashes

    Flashback to the Swing Ride on the NYC Coney Island Boardwalk: Gunshots firing while we’re swaying, suspended in the air defenseless.

    Now gunshots firing -yet again as we unite in shared grief amongst the rain of bullets. Ear-splitting screams sound like the shrill wail of a siren. When the ride abruptly stops. “Calming medicine,” I hear paramedics say. “Probably PTSD.”

    Extraordinary, the heroes who saved, gave amongst the chaos and pain.

    Relaxing in bed, the blue Pacific Ocean roars outside her open window. Letting a warm California breeze flow through. Beautiful, the violet sun fading and setting behind the sea.

  13. Matt says:

    Every year on the same day 87 year old Albert walked by the fair longingly looking at all the rides.
    Smelling the buttery popcorn, sweetness of the cotton candy.
    He had fallen in love here.
    He was the ride operator and would watch couples sit together flying around.
    She was tall
    Very tall
    Over seven feet, and beautiful.
    There was crowds of strong men and amidst them all she had eyes for only the gangly Albie (her name of affection for him)
    As newlyweds, young parents, and retirees they would walk by the fair grounds and kiss under the ride where they first met.
    87 year old Albert has brought his beloved’s ashes to scatter at their spot.
    To them, its the most beautiful place on Earth.

  14. Good heavens, I’m dizzy. Head reeling, heart pounding dizzy. Love spins you round on an endless carousel and with every turn a little piece of heaven. Just breath and skin. Like that old song, ‘Rising and falling, lighter than air.’

    Heaven on hearth. It’s so simple, her and me. Perfect, childlike. Cloud nine. Seventh heaven.

    I would move heaven and earth for her. Heaven forbid it should ever be altered. And heaven help the one who tries to alter it.

    One more time around, for heaven’s sake. One more ride, one more day. One step closer to heaven.

    Thank heavens.

  15. Andrea Daniels says:

    There was probably two or three minutes left on the ride before it settled back to its inert state. She stared below, scanning for the phone that slipped from her cut-offs and made a dive for the concrete. Bass frothed from the loudspeakers, music she ordinarily went out of her way to avoid but made an exception for once a year. For two or three more minutes she was free. Free of the texts, the snark, the Pavlovian response. She closed her eyes and let herself feel the age of no age. The smell of kettle corn nearby.

  16. Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri says:

    Title: Paper Moon
    Astride the swing ride, sky opens, vast, deep, lavender. I should be scared, suspended in the air. But I’m not. There are no demands. No father to dissect, blame me for things the world has taken. No reminder of Mother, run off without a goodbye, a word of tenderness.
    I wish I could hang all night. Swing on the moon. Slumber on a blanket of stars, flickering. Tender. Without weeping for the emptiness, hoping Dad’s rages would stop.
    But they’d come for me. The world always takes. For now I hold on, as tightly as a child to a mother.

  17. Zinnia L says:

    Coup De Foudre

    “Good luck!” our moms chanted as we passed the County Fair gates. We had spent hours finding the perfect outfits and could finally buy the tickets for our romantic evening. He was handsome, smart, and chivalrous. However, he was also my older, stepbrother. The plan was to meet our double dates there, hang out, watch the sunset, and enjoy some rides together. Unfortunately, we didn’t find them until after sunset, riding the ferris wheel and holding hands. I looked down and was shocked by what I realized. After it was over, I ran away and rode the swing ride alone.

  18. She sits in the chair in front of me because the one beside me is taken. The operator asks if we don’t mind sitting apart. Before I can say I would prefer to wait for the next ride so I can sit next to her, she has already said “that’s fine.” The breeze pushes her auburn hair before my face, and I wonder if she’d notice me running my fingers through it. I don’t risk it. If she had wanted that, she would have sat next to me, right? I sit with my hand outstretched, but never quite reaching her.

  19. Jim Byrnes says:

    Flying

    It’s my birthday and opening day of The County Fair. As usual I am first in line for the Sky Screamer Chair Swing. I had always been the earliest to line up since I turned eight. That was the year I reached the magical height requirement, thanks to vigorous stretching and perhaps just the slightest heel lift. Finally, I had been granted the wish that had consumed me since I was three.
    The ride would always fill my tummy with butterflies as I flew in circles, laughing uncontrollably. Today, on my ninety-third birthday I will fly like a bird, again.

  20. Jason Taylor says:

    When I was five, my hand shot up in Sunday school after they asked how you get to Heaven. I knew because Aunt Roxy took me to the carnival and showed me the chairs people ride to get there. I wanted to see them vanish, but Aunt Roxy’s beeper went off and she said we had to go to a friend’s house to pick up her special medicine.

    I struggled to keep up as she gripped my hand while walking away but I turned my head just enough to see the people floating and waving their arms in the air.

  21. Krystyna Fedosejevs says:

    In the Spirit of Amusement

    Amusement Park. Strange name. Bet there are more unamused adults than young children. Heard uncle Max scream. Saw him vomit on the Ferris Wheel, again. After he said he couldn’t stomach it. Cousins bashed themselves manoeuvring bumper cars. Their dads weren’t amused. Neither was the ride operator. Too much cotton candy caused my sweet tooth to sour at the dentist’s. We tried the Swing Carousel. I sat with Dad. Swing in front of us was empty. Would’ve been filled if the father of a toddler didn’t have a tantrum. They relocated at the merry-go-round. I preferred the Pendulum.

  22. Anastasia says:

    Swingers

    It started with wandering eyes, a pretty boy walking by, then some pretty girls. I didn’t even know then you liked girls. Wandering eyes turned to wistful daydreams plain on your face, daydreams to needful fantasies. We began to experiment, and that was my desperate grip on you. Experimentation gave way to swinging. I feigned interest in these others but could never remember their names or faces later. I must’ve known for a while that I was not enough, no one is enough, but it’s hard to get off the ride now. And really, I’ve grown used to the spinning.

  23. Cindy Patrick says:

    “Puppet chairs, in the air, makes me forget that I even care. Swinging high, swinging low, swinging slightly to and fro”, I chant, to entertain myself. It’s a hot day. I ask my Mom again and again, if she is certain she wants to go round and round. She’s fine, she says. I worry about the shrimp Caesar salad she had for lunch.
    The long wait in lineup is soon forgotten once you have been chosen to climb on board the ride. We start to swing a few feet. “Uh oh” she cries out. No barf bags on swing chairs.

  24. Dean Okamura says:

    Title: Twilight twirl

    During the Cold War, people think we have to have the weapon that ends all wars.

    The government answer was Hydrogen Bombs.

    Later, Fire Ants destroyed crops. And we would end Malaria if we eradicated Mosquitos.

    The USDA answer was DDT.

    Pesticides killed Mosquitoes and Fire Ants. But it also killed Blackbirds and Meadowlarks, Armadillos and Possums.

    People asked:
    “Does this kill us?”
    “Is it toxic?”
    “How much can we stand before we get sick?”

    We trust those who have positions of responsibility.

    We would never ride on a Carnival Swing Ride with dangerous defects.

    We need a safe world.

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