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.

Image of the inside of a library.

 

Art Credit: Eric Mueller

64 Responses to “Photo Prompt”

  1. Geoffrey Morgan says:

    Beginning

    I sit looking up. It’s my first year of architecture. Students, we wander the campus, the city, drawing three hours daily.

    Today I choose the fine arts library spiral staircase, its wrought iron ivy railing climbing, climbing toward shelves and shelves of philosophy, painting, sketches, carved stone, bronze, the architecture of human thought, feeling captured briefly, imperfectly, blazing brilliant through time, without ceiling, breathless soaring in endless sky.

    When I look down the long hallway on the ground floor, I see one circular porthole peeking out at the finite. I put my charcoal to the paper and I look up.

  2. Joseph House says:

    The Whirlwind

    I shelter in the results…. New matches and names… growing branches on this budding family tree. My birth certificate, laying to the left of the prehistoric computer and stamped invalid, silently validates my growing obsession. Fervently, I click… I read… I desperately hope for narrative, longing for a story I always wanted told to me. I unearth information shards from digital relatives, the human ones silent or long since deceased. In this whirlwind of discovery, I gather facts and knowledge as the bricks in the walls of my fortress from the possibility I might never truly know my birth family.

  3. Library of the Apocalypse

    One night I slept in the library. Made a fortress of study carrels pushed together, like our old bunk beds.

    I imagined bringing IT’S A BOY! here. Showing him picture books of elephant pirates, cats in sneakers.

    Where did all the people go? I imagine him asking. But he won’t ask. The virus won’t kill everybody. Even the plague didn’t kill everybody.

    Maybe he won’t use the word people. Or he’ll use it to mean everything. When he points at a tortoise, a hawk, a javelina. Maybe what he’ll think is, people. Maybe what he’ll think is, all of us.

  4. Linda Hibbin says:

    Sure-fire Crowd-pullers
    They hungrily scan shelves for familiar covers. Loiter behind bookstacks, predatory, tilting their heads to read titles partially concealed beneath the arms of incoming readers.
    They squint, focusing on books stacked behind the counter. Limber up as assistants, arms full, dash like frightened rabbits, to the returns trolley ahead of the scowling, elbows jabbing pack. Dentures gnashing, fingers grabbing like an arcade game’s steel claws, the combatants tut with frustration as opponents whip the Holy Grail from under their noses.
    The victors emerge from the scrum, lovable grannies brandishing their trophies high. Mills & Boon. Who says romance is dead?

  5. Marcella Mackowiak says:

    She was intimidated at the sheer size of the room. So much more grandiose than she had ever expected. The vaulted ceiling, the original wood, but the vast number of books made her knees shudder. This is what I have been missing all along, she thought as she released a small sigh. It took her until she was thirty-seven to realize that she needed to change the direction of her life. To find some contentedness. There was no valid reason for her to have pushed away her aspirations. Drugs? Alcohol? Whatever the reason, she thought, time to try something new.

  6. i. thielking says:

    The railing is cold.

    The railing is cold, under her grip.

    The railing is cold, under her white knuckled, clenched jaw, tension headache grip.

    The railing is cold, but she cannot feel it. Her body is not her own. Her body belongs to the many. Her white knuckled, clenched jaw, tension headache grip is a memory.

    The railing is cold. Her memory is cold. Her memory is not her own. The railing belongs to the many.

    The railing is cold. Is she cold? Her body is not her own.

    The railing is cold, under her grip.

    The railing is cold.

  7. Jeffrey M. Dean says:

    The Paleolibrarian

    “Grandfather, this place is really big. Even bigger than the school gym!”

    “Yes, it made room for a really lot of people.”

    “What did the people do here?

    “They would come here and read, Leo.”

    “Where are the laptops and tablets and Ipads?”

    “There weren’t any. People read books. See those things on the shelves? Those are books.”

    “But what did they do with the books?”

    “Well,” said Grandfather. “They would hold one in their hands and open it to the first page, and read.”

    “Grandfather, who would want to do that?”

    “A few of us, Leo. Just a few.”

  8. Alicia Page says:

    “It’s so big!” I whisper-shouted. We’d never been to this library.

    “Shhh!” She grabbed a kid’s book, plopping me on a bean bag.

    “But why?“

    “It’s big because whispers are lighter than normal words so there has to be a place for them to go.”

    That wasn’t what I asked. My stomach rumbled and I checked my pocket sandwich. I watched the whispers in the light. It was better than waiting in the car.

    One last kiss, adding, “That’s why secrets stay heavy on your heart. Never keep secrets from me.”

    I already felt the weight of her secrets.

  9. Elizabeth Zahn says:

    Library Etiquette Strictly Enforced

    The stacks began to shake. Books began to fall. Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Blake – might just kill us all.
    I ducked beneath a table, waiting out the quake. When the tremors finally ceased; my stomach had an ache. The library now more stable, I opened up my sack. I recalled that morning clearly, I’d stocked it with some snacks. Finally help was coming, I heard them crashing through the books. Casting tomes aside, a librarian had found my nook. He peered inside at me, shook his finger and recalled his vows, “Ms. you should need no reminding. Cake is not allowed.”

  10. Bernardo Villela says:

    MARGINALIA

    Andre pursued a book he needed for a paper. Finding the stack was pleasurable by itself, running his fingers down the spines was more so.
    Paging to the necessary chapter, he stopped; eyes wide.
    In the righthand margin of page 394 was a single word written in ink: HELLO.
    A single word followed on subsequent pages forming the phrase: I’M SO LONELY PLEASE TALK TO ME.
    Andre took the pencil off his ear and responded.
    The next day he returned to check the book.
    MY NAME IS EMORY, I’VE BEEN ALONE FOR CENTURIES.
    Andre responded and made a pen pal.

  11. Shivangi Srivastava says:

    Elusive and unmet

    Youth was dejected. He was unable to read the ending of his now favorite book, a page was missing. “I wish you would meet the same pain that you introduced me to.”, he cursed.
    Meanwhile, Love, with a torn page in his hands, a text handwritten at its back-
    *Pain, +91xxxxxxxx00 call me* , was looking for a book, lost in nostalgia.
    Eventually, they decided to leave, crestfallen.

    Librarian gave them a pamphlet-

    New book launch tomorrow at 10:

    Book title – ” Elusive and unmet”

    “a lucid, beautiful, unfabricated story by the prominent author Life, indeed. A ‘must read’ for mankind. ”
    -Experience

  12. Megha Nayar says:

    Ghosts in the library

    Mrs Kirrin was flummoxed. Three nights in a row, someone had broken into her library and emptied a whole rack of books onto the floor. The cameras had no clues to offer.

    Tonight, the librarian was staying in to catch the intruder.

    Around midnight, five hazy figures – four children and a dog – emerged from the Enid Blyton section. They floated over to the Agatha Christie collection and flipped the Famous Five series off the shelf.

    That is when it hit the librarian: Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timothy were apprising her that they had been stacked in the wrong place.

  13. Kirsten Love says:

    The downtown library, three stories tall, gave my sister and me some autonomy. Too young to do anything interesting, too old to want to be with the rest of our family, we reveled in our freedom, squeezed into a carrel upstairs.
    Jenny nudged me.
    “What?”
    Eyes wide, she pointed to her left.
    A man stood before the card catalogue, leering at us, licking his teeth like a wolf. Then I saw it, his veiny penis hanging from his open fly. He swayed side to side, his smile an implicit threat.
    We ran downstairs, out of the library, telling no one.

  14. Leo Anthony says:

    Found and Lost

    Following a map scrawled in blood, I searched the library stacks until I arrived at the ‘X.’ To my shock, The Enemy was already there, The Book in his hands.

    “Too slow, Tyro. As always,” he mocked.

    “You cannot take that!”

    He smirked. “What’s to stop me?”

    I revealed my Blade. His smile widened.

    “This is Holy Ground,” he said. “For your kind anyway. You could use The Words, but you have no words to hold me, fool. Sadly, the words you need are written in this tome.”

    And with a flurry of flashes, he vanished. My only hope – gone!

  15. Dawn says:

    January 2021.

    He turned the envelope over,
    re-imagining the archway man, his long nails.

    The budgie tweeted “Joe.”

    He set two glasses of water,and took out two capsules.

    One read ‘Library,’ and the other ‘Shed.’

    She said: I only read Vogue.

    After swallowing the pills, they entwined on the matress.

    A familiar face was calling “Come In.”

    It was a bright day.

    He entered through the bluest eye, she followed, taking the enlarged brown eye.

    He sat at a monitor.
    ‘I Wish I Could Swim Like Dolphins,’appeared.

    There was a clatter.

    “So Sorry,”she said, picking up some garden tools.

  16. Fred White says:

    Paradise Lost

    “We can have both, Tom: computers and stacks, even magnificent stacks like these.” Eva swept her arm across the vista of books shelved overhead.
    I stood up to get a better view of the stacks. “For me, those thousands of books are the greater glory, a Borgesian lost paradise. Computers, e-books, the Internet, have become the new paradise.”
    Evelyn laughed. “How you exaggerate, lover. Let’s talk more later. I need to finish this assignment by class time.”
    I reluctantly returned to my assignment as well, recalling how enthralled I once had been, lost inside the stacks, oblivious of the time.

  17. Ben Mimmack says:

    Just Research

    He’s in one of his moods.
    “What’s the point of a library anyway?” He says, “everything’s on the internet.”
    Have you had this argument before? It feels familiar. But then, most things do these days.
    “Not everything is catalogued.” I say, “there’s plenty of useful information you can’t find online.”
    He slumps into a chair and waves dismissively.
    “Off you go then, I’ll wait here. Don’t take too long, I need a pint.”
    They use the Congress classification system. I brush my fingers lightly over the reference numbers as I pass.
    I stop at my destination. RA1190-1270 Toxicology and poisons.

  18. Librarian Rose is still angry with me after I knocked over the shelf yesterday. Her sharp eyes dart around the dusty stacks of books, grumbling to herself. I dodge behind a display, guilty nerves stealing away the usual peace of the silent stories.

    Then, I get the idea.

    It’s closing time before she finds the two paperbacks in her purse. Raising an eyebrow, she slides The Canterville Ghost and Apology from her bag. Her shoulders relax, and she nods at the library’s darkness.

    “Well, alright, but be more careful next time.”

    I make the lights flicker, and we both smile.

  19. Jim Byrnes says:

    Bibliophile Heaven

    Upon entering the building she was totally gob smacked. Her bibliophilic nature had brought her into many libraries, but this was something else entirely. Having travelled through the extremely modern Royal Danish Library, known as The Black Diamond, the Copenhagen University Library beckoned her entry.

    Unprepared for what her eyes revealed she became light headed and literally floated into the stacks. The smells were absolutely intoxicating. She occasionally touched an ancient volume but could not bring herself to remove it from its resting place.

    Library closing time came all too fast but her vivid memories would bring her back often.

  20. Krystyna Fedosejevs says:

    The Study

    He spotted her between lines of environmental law. In gaps within spatial analysis. While he calculated variance, she stretched her thin legs patterned in stripes.

    Did she notice him? He doubted. After Filomena left, he took to neglecting himself, preferring books to women.

    Raising his head to avoid drowning in deferential equations, he noted she had moved on. An elderly man arrived before him to occupy the empty library chair.

    Not as entertaining as the spider sitting earlier on its top rail. Less time-consuming. For if it were a woman, she would take more attention away from his study.

  21. Avery Mathers says:

    The Sexual Depravity of Jane Austin

    Only twenty minutes until soon-to-be-Professor Stuart Romilly’s final appointment interview with the Vice-Chancellor. The problem with looking for something that probably isn’t there is that you probably won’t find it, which he hadn’t. Naturally, S T Romilly’s ‘The Sexual Depravity of Jane Austin’ wasn’t in the catalogue, but neither was it on the shelf where he’d ‘seeded’ it, twenty years ago. Should that academic felony ever come to light, his moment of undergraduate bravado could be his postdoctoral undoing.

    ‘Mr Romilly?’ The ancient librarian looked vaguely familiar. ‘You are not alone. You’ll find it over there, under Idiotic Self Insertions.’

    • Avery Mathers says:

      Please shut your eyes when you get to ‘Jane Austin’. I do know that it’s ‘Jane Austen’ and I promise never to make careless use of spell-check again. I’ve asked 100 Word Story to take it down so that I can resubmit. Sorry, Avery.

  22. Scott Soodek says:

    The Library of Broken Hearts

    Sits in a lonely field, remote and unfrequented
    The enormity of the structure Is striking
    Signaling a step counting binge
    If one was inclined
    To see it all
    The hearts are catalogued, not by Dewey, but
    Sorted by grief, sorrow, heartache
    Neatly rowed sections of misery
    For example: The hearts of Romeo and Juliet
    Are located In the torment section
    Displayed together In their tragic state
    Jacqueline Kennedy’s heart can be found
    In the grief section, especially mournful
    By virtue of the unnatural causes of death
    That befell her loved ones
    I could go on and on, but you must not miss
    The trek to the largest wing
    Where the hearts of orphans
    Sit on shelves in solitude
    And lord over their dominion of empathy

  23. Keely O'Shaughnessy says:

    I slide a book from the stacks—Find Your Inner Author. I chew it over.

    Soon, they’ll be here telling me I don’t belong, but the words seem to dance on the page.

    I take refuge between 800-899. Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. Pawing through the leaves of my self-help guide, I worry the motivational phrases mean as much to me as the squiggles on a squeaky, plastic toy newspaper.

    Finally, I pin down something I understand, “There’s a writer inside!”

    I howl the refrain.

    The librarian appears. Her glasses low on her nose.

    “Silly mutt, shoo. No dogs allowed.”

  24. Jessica Hannon says:

    To wander a hall with darkness and see no light is no gift from anywhere. Darkness is a state of mind and not a consequence to circumstances. A figure a speech, a metaphor- it is all darkness. To kill a state of mind is to desire a world without the darkness. And to desire a world without darkness is to imagine a world with only light and that is a world that simply cannot exist. Because for lightness to be, dark has to cast its shadow first and if it does not, there will be no light. There will be no dark.

  25. Astrid Egger says:

    The Purpose of Tort

    Missing. Canadian Tort Law, volume 1, 15th edition, and 133 pages out of volume 2. Michelle cracks its spine, exposes the cut, and makes notes for tomorrow’s acquisitions meeting.

    From a foot away, a man steals a glance at her notepad, and says: “I believe I can help you.”

    “If you forgot to sign out the book, please return it,” Michelle says. “Third years need it for their exam.”
    “No, they don’t,” he says.
    With her ballpoint pen, she shades in a question mark.
    “I’m Professor Christensen; I teach Torts and Ethics to students bright enough to figure out compensation.”

  26. A Matter of Category

    Nothing could have been easier than the capture and cataloguing of the human race. They stare into screens entranced, using meager digits to click and swirl, as if amused skipping rocks on the same pond. Their primitive minds mesmerized, we penetrate various prime specimens in plain view. Our laser beam a pinhole above, camouflaged by curved corridors. Its ionizing radiation dismantling each target. Soon we will open our archive housing every known variety of earthling, their parts shelved in glass jars and transparent bins for easy examination. Our only struggle, a matter of category: bipedal decimal system or genetic genre?

  27. What Happened Here?

    I have a reoccurring dream of flying. I glide above a lifeless landscape—sunrise above a destitute city. Morning traffic gridlocked, the cars haphazardly abandoned and silence only pierced by a blaring horn. Coffee cups on a bench. A lone glove on the ground. Two dogs sniffing an oily sack turn on each other with a vengeance in anticipation of a morsel. A campus lawn. A rolling tumbleweed of masks propelled by wind and laptops left open on scattered blankets. I hover over a glass-topped building spying a face—illuminated—as fingers fly over a keyboard searching for an answer.

  28. Pete Rathburn says:

    “The Moment I Fell In Love”

    Julie was “it.” She began counting.

    My heart thudding, I scuttled away.

    I discovered a shadowy nook in Ancient Languages, smelling of must and secrets. Tucked inside my niche, my bladder instantly began to fill. A bespectacled linguist nearly dropped her heap of Hebrew when she saw me standing sentry.

    I spied Julie’s figure gliding through the stacks towards me.

    Hide-Go-Seek became Tag.

    We zigzagged through the towers, the urge to pee mounting with every turn. Then, a collision in Art History left us sprawled on the floor, a tangle of limbs and laughter, startling the scholars from their reverie.

  29. Evan S says:

    What are you going to do for me?

    I was scanning the returns, thinning out the mound piled on the desk, when it—the leather-bound book—appeared. He’d spent twenty years searching for it, and it was the reason he purchased the expensive library to begin with. Now, with the book in my hands, I realised I was a watchdog, one of the many librarians he’d coerced into spending all their time scanning returns and stocking arrivals, searching. I called him right away, just as he suggested I should once the book was in my hands. “Now,” I told him, “what are you going to do for me?”

  30. Penny Ellis says:

    Library of Secrets

    They keep all the old records there in the library, locked away under heavy security. Even the staff are segregated, unable to communicate, tagged and chipped. There is no escape.

    But I escaped, if you can call a life in hiding an escape. I still have the scar where I had the chip removed by a discreet doctor friend. I have the disc too, proof if it’s ever needed. There is a price on my head, but one I am prepared to pay for freedom and the truth.

    I have to work out my next move before they do.

  31. Rickie Roberts says:

    Martin had never taken much notice of the library before. He just came in and did his work. The round window reminded him of a church. A cathedral of literature. “I will sit in the nave,” he said to himself. He found a free computer and logged on. He connected his phone to the PC and a few minutes later he had downloaded all the documents he wanted. “A technological wonder,” he thought, “shelves of books, thousands of them, stored on a tiny piece of silicon”. Absent-mindedly he doodled a cross on his notepad, putting a star where he sat.

  32. Yash Seyedbagheri says:

    The Persistence of Not Knowing

    Among vaulted arches, Nick devours books, arranged by sheer logic. He consumes Yates, Cheever, Tolstoy. He could read happier fare, but he’s drawn to these authors, with familial foibles illuminated.
    He lives among seas of Marlboros, repossessed coffee tables, stacks of bills, shameful smiles.
    Sometimes, he wants to run. A character screams in Nick’s mother’s cigarette-tinged voice. Another character dreams of distant paradise. Also his mother.
    But happiness is something speedy, a train that can’t be caught.
    He peruses characters arguments, tries to pinpoint his mother’s flaws.
    When multiple possibilities taunt, he devours more, books growing bigger, Nick growing smaller.

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