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: bert-ill

1,247 Responses to “Photo Prompt”

  1. R'keria Davis says:

    Return

    He is glorified with whispering as he says “I am”, curdling light into splotches. He is caught between internet URL’s, and you finally see the man you fantasized about as a child. For a day, he’ll rank first in popular images, but flashes will depart from his cloak. Two thousand years are laid to rest by an image and some whispers. Tomorrow, our phones will capture another phenomenon, and just as soon it will fade. The “I Am”, the “Holy One”, will be forgotten. The crowd disperses as the sky illuminates, and “I Am” stored in galleries, not their minds.

  2. Madeline Pochmara says:

    CROWDED NUMBERS
    One hundred, one hundred one, one hundred two. Wait…was it one hundred or four? There are too many faces staring at me. The light is burning my soft eyes. I’m staring at one hundred, one hundred one faces who would rather do anything other than stare back at me. I can’t muster a word. One hundred something faces and zero words. Sweat clouds my face, I can’t even start counting again. It’s now seven thirty eight and still zero words and hundreds of faces just staring back, waiting for me to say something, maybe move my feet or blink.

  3. Bridget Spindler says:

    Nihilism v. The Multitudes

    The lights burn white and vengeful against their necks, their hair and skin and teeth. They do not move. They stand, cold and rigid, One against the Void. One against the Darkness. They are united in mind and action, One intelligence behind a hive of a thousand fluttering eyes. WE ARE THE LIGHT. Their voices thrum together. The Void hums back, ‘It does not matter.’ They rage-blaze-shake-hate against the glare of stadium lights. WE ARE ONE. The Void rumbles with laughter, its presence circling and nipping at the edge of the collective. ‘Unity cannot prevent your erasure.’

  4. Gabriela Nadeau says:

    center stage (illusions are tragic)
    .
    .
    .
    a wave from her wand. fire erupts, swirling and sparking around the stage.
    she takes off her satin hat, waving her arms with her head held high.
    the audience thinks it’s a trick, but she calls it magic.
    it grows brighter. the cheers are deafening.
    the magician laughs; she knows the audience thinks it’s fake. they think they will be okay.
    soon there’s a crack. the gilded rafters are breaking.
    the audience screams again. some flee; most stay glued to their velvet seats.
    everyone wants to know how the trick ends.
    the fire reaches her. she burns. it all burns.

  5. Mary Goldstein says:

    Golden flood drowns the room and seals everyone’s lips fervently. In the still of the crowd, the hush of something intoxicates me. How can a person hold this power? Take the voices of thousands of people? It’s witchcraft. Our breaths are held in each others clasped hands.

    My body aches for movement, but one shift of my shoe might break everything. The others hold their breaths, but mine has long gone. I don’t the lyrics. I don’t need the screams. I don’t need the rise of smoke. I just need this: this silence, this stillness. The music begins. Everything breaks.

  6. Sabrina Polly says:

    Breathe

    Suddenly I’m angered by the amount of people who showed up and now I’m wondering if they can hear my heart beating, if they can see how flimsy the paper in my hand will be if the sweat keeps pooling and soaking into it. I can hear the murmuring, the babies crying in the arms of rude mothers who won’t take them out of the theater, even when they’re clearly upset and show no sign of stopping. I know the spotlight will be bright on me. I can’t remember how to breathe. A throat clears, the lights dim. I begin.

  7. Sarah Pochmara says:

    Lights Up In Five

    Golden hues reflect on opaque wooden souls of the past. Their voices echo and reverberate, a vibrato filling my lungs. These wooden vessels contain the sacred secret I need to continue. Their desolate screams and applause resonate, embracing my ears, but I am deaf with the cotton of my renewal. I cannot be seen as I continue, covered by the velvet curtains. I can only be heard. My voice is captured within the chambers of my contrivance, hidden passages only I have access to. Some will escape the blinding lights, others will not. I can help you find your way.

  8. Benjamin Garner says:

    HE SAID TO THE MASSES
    I have brought everything I thought I would need to the concert: a turkey sandwich and a cooler full of whiskey. My hair’s too long, thin; it falls down in front of my eyes. Everyone around bears similar aging and old-school looks. The seedy haze of the eight rectangular stage lights, eyes of a dark titan bearing a dark womb, bounce off the stony heads of the crowd, a vast stretch of beach that rustles under a cool summer wind. The stage answers our patience with a flare of its eyes, the boom of a microphone elevating a sublime voice.

  9. Mitchell Ellis says:

    Night’s Reclaimer

    It waits, a phantom. Gliding on thermals of murk, just out of light’s reach.
    A purple atmosphere bludgeoned and bruised by the uproar of some vehement drove. The hour deepens. The swarm tires, scatters about. Velvet black creeps back over the flattened field. With it come tiny squeaks and titters of an opportunist following its nose, enticed by sweet trappings left by the horde. One last enemy of quiet scuttling there on the surface below, a straggling little whisper.
    It dives, the phantom, the harbinger of complete night, delivering ultimate void on its splayed wings. The whisper plucked. Silence reclaimed.

  10. John Moran says:

    Thoughts exit stage left when the lights go down. Waiting in the wing he watched a glassy stillness settle over the audience. The waves of sound fell to a hush. The seas calm, he walked alone onto the dark stage.
    If ever you could control the elements, it is here, where the stage is the shore and a sea of people rise and fall to high waves of sound. Holding his guitar, he listened to the stillness, ready to strike a chord that would land like a heavy stone in a glassy sea.
    He counted to four.
    The ocean roiled.

  11. Susi J Smith says:

    Relationships and Spaceships:

    The spaceship hovered over the crowd. Spotlights illuminated the quizzical faces as people stared into the sky.

    “What do you think they’ll look like?” Jeremy nudged his girlfriend in the ribs.

    “Green or grey, with four arms and no legs.” Anna sounded certain.

    Jeremy rolled his eyes. “What shows have you been watching?”

    “The soaps mainly.” She continued gazing as the ship landed and the door slid open.

    “What do you think they want?”

    “To procreate. Well, they did; until I told them how boring you humans are.” Anna’s legs transformed into arms. “I think we should see other lifeforms.”

  12. Richard Kleiner says:

    SURPRISE

    “Are we in the right place?”
    “Of course, they always start late.”
    “There is no late, no time anymore.”
    “I’ve waited so long for this.”
    “I saw them last year in Portland, it was nothing like this.”
    “I think it’s the Messiah.”
    “The guitarist just got out of rehab, she almost died.”
    “I heard that too. I hope she can play without the smack.
    “What’s that low humming sound?”
    “Must be part of their introduction.”
    “Can’t be. No instruments, no amps or speakers.”
    “You’re right, but what….”
    “The weirdest fucking thing. What is this?”
    “Shit, glad my Mom didn’t come”

  13. Ryan Dempsey says:

    I’d only known grandpa’s voice as a hospital whisper. “I never knew he sang.”
    “Doo-wop. Bass,” Grandma says. “Could pour that voice over cake and eat it.” She sips her coffee. “But when Mary was born, he quit. Got a real job. And started drinking.”

    “After the doctors took it, he’d try singing in the shower. I’d lay in bed remembering how the lights made him glow.”
    “…Good man. Always worked. Never hit us. Never cussed at home. He kept that part hidden.” She sips from her mug. I can tell it’s empty but she won’t let me see.

    • Richard Kleiner says:

      SURPRISE

      “Are we in the right place?”
      “Of course, they always start late.”
      “There is no late, no time anymore.”
      “I’ve waited so long for this.”
      “I saw them last year in Portland, it was nothing like this.”
      “I think it’s the Messiah.”
      “The guitarist just got out of rehab, she almost died.”
      “I heard that too. I hope she can play without the smack.
      “What’s that low humming sound?”
      “Must be part of their introduction.”
      “Can’t be. No instruments, no amps or speakers.”
      “You’re right, but what….”
      “The weirdest fucking thing. What is this?”
      “Shit, glad my Mom didn’t come”

  14. Dan Slaten says:

    Forced into a farewell tour, Randy found himself in that most comforting of places, anonymous in a crowd of thousands. How many years had it been since he’d first seen this band? Twenty-five? Yeah, something like that. Exact numbers weren’t important anymore. So many things turned out to be far more trivial than they first seemed to be. Life was short. All the clichés were true. Blink and it’ll be gone. Enjoy the moment. Carpe diem. Blah blah blah. It wasn’t until you could actually see time running out, like sand slipping through an hourglass, that you started to live.

  15. Santos Grocer says:

    Piggyback:

    He crouched and said, “Try it, babe.”
    “What if you hurt yourself?”
    “You’re not gonna be able to see.”
    “I’m not that short.”
    “But a lot of people are gonna bump into you.”
    “Alright. Whatever. You want this, don’t you?”
    “It’s romantic.”
    She rolled her eyes. “Alright.” She climbed on his back and he grabbed her legs. She felt him shaking as he rose and stood up.

    “EVERYBODY MAKE SOME NOISSSSSEEE!!!!!!”

    She whooped and cheered, and the vibrations passed through her chest into the back of his head. It sent a chill through his spine and he shuddered and buckled.

    • Dawn says:

      The Invisible Messiah

      Rats had eaten away the mesh curtain exposing a stage with mesmerizing lights.

      The audience at the Business Expo were all called Jo Bloggs and asked in unison
      “Who are we waiting for friend?”
      “The Invisible Messiah”, whispered a sweet voice.

      In the distance, Tibetan bells intensified as Vanilla-Honey incense infused the air.

      “Please Welcome…Theee Invisible Messiah!”

      The crowd focused its attention mid-centre and followed the voice

      “You are the ugliest people I´ve ever seen”, he bawled.

      “Yeah” … “Far out man”

      The invisible messiah wiped his face with an invisible towel
      then chanted “Love, Sex, Orgasm….”

  16. Madison Kurtz says:

    Climate Change

    Soft murmurs engulf my chest stealing the breath from my lungs.

    “Where am…”

    “WELCOME TO SHIP EXODUS MY COMRADES!”

    “YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED BY A COMPLEX ALGORITHM TO BE TRANSPORTED TO JUPITER’S MOON, EUROPA, DUE TO THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR HOME PLANET.”

    The lights penetrate my skin making it feel like my arm hairs are being plucked out one by one.

    My other “comrades” begin yelling, asking where their families were.

    “EVERYONE LEFT ON PLANET EARTH WILL DIE WITHIN THE NEXT WEEK AS A SUPER STORM TERRORIZES EARTH’S SURFACE.”

    “WE WILL ARRIVE AT YOUR NEW HOME IN T-MINUS 43,800 HOURS.”

  17. Z. Boman says:

    The hair on my arms stand on end, pervasively pricking, my body’s last attempt to be wider. Closer. And calm. Apple in my chest, swallowed. Tongue more than twisted, tied. Heart beating. Beating. Beating with the bass starting heavy and low as if an inhale before… the tips of my fingers find theirs. As as if electrocuted, shock waves pulse through my bones, starting in my core. What feels like an ache pulses through my veins to each extremity. Painful yet elating. Mysterious yet familiar. Toxic. Free. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. So I exhale, look forward, and smile.

  18. Loren Jones says:

    The lights burned brightly above, gathering the attention of the people below. A hushed silence rippled through the crowd, as a feeling of ethereal beauty settled amongst the arena. Fairy dust began to float, seemingly from nowhere, but if you look closely, you can see Iridessa fluttering through the shoulders and elbows of those standing around. With bated breath and pregnant pause, faintly you hear what sounds like a music box coming from the stage. The arena goes dark and suddenly illuminated are the twelve dancing princesses, twirling around Princess Fiona, encouraged by her alluring voice, it was almost…hypnotic.

  19. The silence that stretches between them feels heavy, weighed down with unkept promises and unspoken words. They stare forward as one, thousands of unseeing eyes, standing together on the edge of the abyss, breathless in anticipation of the final curtain. They were right when they said you saw lights, but these weren’t blinding lights, weren’t white, they were dull, yellow, the colour dripping like honey into the darkness around them. The memories were already beginning to fade, dissolving on the wind. All that was left were the lights. What lay beyond wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad, it just was.

  20. Baris Cansevgisi says:

    The Silence of Lights

    Car horns, recurring and repeating morning alarms, clamour, songs with unmoving melodies and abhorrent lyrics played everywhere in full volume…

    Disturbing noises of city life have transformed the world into a huge junkyard of noise: A massive den of din. Silence is not gold anymore, it’s alien palladium… so rare. Longing for peace and quiet, people have at last found a way to enjoy what they have lost; gathering at nights in designated areas, snoozing all sound sources and just staring at the pitch black night and the flashing lights. Silence is on stage: Lights have no sound however bright.

  21. Eliza Sanders says:

    You always did feel more comfortable in a crowd. It’s my company that overwhelms you.

    As you smile, I watch your consciousness evaporate to be inhaled by thousands of others, similarly entranced. This night is my concession to your need to disappear, to forget and be forgotten, and I envy how well you relax into invisibility. The pressure of shadowed bodies against our backs, the roar of shouted conversations about the same thing: they are both an escape and a prison for us. A blast of light, sudden illumination, causes a complete, miraculous, anticipatory silence.

    “Look at me,” I scream.

  22. Krystyna Fedosejevs says:

    In the Dark

    “Sit down!” someone yelled.

    “I need to find out what happened,” I yelled back.

    “We were told to wait,” a woman insisted.

    The stage went dark. My mind revisited twirling silks, accelerating swings.

    “Pity she fell. A beautiful performer,” the man next to me said.

    “She wanted to be a aerial trapeze artist since turning twelve,” I replied.

    “Difficult to replace,” he added. “She was so talented.”

    “Why in the past?”

    “Because,” he said while checking the Internet, “It appears she may have died.”

    “It’s my daughter,” I sobbed, rising to walk away from my seat.

    No one stopped me.

  23. Kristin Mozden says:

    My heart nearly beat straight out of my chest when I spotted those lights. The air was crisp and cold, not unlike the winter’s day I first saw your breath in the moonlight. I rubbed my hands together, hands that once held yours and told you to follow your heart. As the smoke dissipated I spotted you still and somber behind the microphone. I wondered if you could spot me in the crowd of a thousand onlookers, spot the one that pushed you toward this stage of self-fulfillment, your biggest fan, your lost love. If only you could, I wish.

  24. André Leite says:

    There

    It has been three days since they dropped “it” and the city dived in chaos. Everyone had to go underground, running away from the deafing sounds of pain and misery that filled the surface.

    In the first they tried to settle in, find someone they knew, reach someone they love and mourn who they lost. And in the darkness of their new home, people marched, led by whoever could see better or wasn’t afraid of what the darkness could bring.

    And just,on the third day, in the distance, maybe, just maybe they see something… lights… refugee… hope… just there.

  25. Dean Okamura says:

    I stare at the photo prompt with eight lights.

    “What is up?” asks my artist friend. “You appear frustrated.”

    I mention various incoherent things and show her many false start attempts at writing.

    After a brief look over, she picks one and reads out loud, “The crowd waited for the cow to jump over the eight moons…” After a slow nod, she asks, “Is that your best one?”

    I sigh, take a breath then answer, “Yes.”

    She smiles, comforts me with a hug, and says, “That picture is how I imagine my mind looks waiting for the light of creativity.”

  26. rick roberts says:

    Special guests, it says on the tickets. Yet no one, other than a few friends, has come to see us. This could be our big break, getting the songs we have crafted, sweated over, to a new, bigger audience. Most will watch a couple of songs, then drift off to the bar, or chat to their mates. Some might stay just so they can keep their place near the front. But I can’t complain, it’s what I have wanted to do for years. So here goes … “Hi Ladies and gentleman, we’re Salad Days and this is “Gone Too Soon”.

  27. Mijusa says:

    Number 1 Fan

    “There are too many people here, Dad. I think I’ll mess up.” I said as I nervously looked from behind the stage.

    “No, baby. You’re going to be fine and those people are going to love you. Just take a deep breath. Focus. As always, give it your best shot,” Dad encouragingly said while looking straight in the eye of a six year old me.

    “Matt, that’s your cue. Ready? I’ll escort you.”

    Like always, I feel agitated during big performances. As always, I remember what Dad told me. Thank you, Dad, for everything.

    “Ready. Let’s go.”

  28. Francine Hanson says:

    The Unwary

    Here they gather, here they wait, is it for a show, a game, or a promise of escape?
    Entertain us, entertain us, please, you must. We’re much too busy to think, our brains are rust
    Anticipation builds as their gaze is fixed–upon what you say, an elusive prize, a dimestore bag of tricks?
    If their collective vision would allow them to break free for a moment to have a look around, what would they see?
    They are the ones entertaining foreign and shrouded eyes as they scrutinize and pluck the unwary from the earth when it’s too late to agonize

  29. Jim Byrnes says:

    Unidentified Flying Objects

    We are drawn forth like moths to the hypnotic, glowing lights. It had finally become painfully obvious that the government could no longer keep extra terrestrial contacts a secret.

    We are all unable, or so it seems, to resist being drawn nearer, and nearer to the immense ship. Was it merely curiosity, or actually some sinister form of mind control? It was impossible to say.

    More and more of us are arriving. You can’t even see where the mass of humanity ends any more. Could this be the end of us, or perhaps a new beginning, or something else entirely.

  30. Jenna Glover says:

    Invasive Species

    When the aliens came, all bright lights and blaring noise, we were afraid. Militaries across the globe assembled, guns pointed at the sky.
    But once communication happened, the aliens told us they were peaceful, and they were looking for a home.
    Committees formed, legislation passed, and an alien found its way into every human home. It was amazing, we thought. Aliens and humans co-existing.
    How stupid we were.
    And now I am stuck in the middle of a crowd of people, looking up at bright lights just like I did that day so long ago, waiting for permission to exist.

  31. David Benoit says:

    Trans-fixed
    By David Benoit
    The masses stood transfixed like cattle by the glowing lights surrounding them; nothing containing them but an irresistible urge to remain motionless. An oddity for sure, was it not for being a daily routine. Hundreds disappearing to who knows where, replaced by an army of lookalike androids that know everything their original did. All inherent human frailties fixed at last. Only problem is, are they a better version of themselves, or just a copy? No one knows for sure. Is technology improving mankind, or slowly replacing it? The truth must be revealed, while there are still some of us left.

  32. Katie Magoun says:

    I am going to let them all down again. The nightmare always begins this way. Dark stage. The expectation is palpable, a relentless beating heart.

    The truth is, I haven’t disappointed yet. But every night feels like the night. Every night, I look out over the crowd – how many these days? who could count? – of nameless, faceless masses. But they aren’t faceless – not to me. They all have the same face; I see it, and I can’t breathe. I see it everywhere.

    Tears ache at the corners of my eyes. My insides tremble and twist. The show must go on.

  33. Jim Shaffer says:

    Waiting is tedious. Anticipation, nerve-racking. Alone, is bad enough. But worse in a crowd. I sense the tension, hear the rustle, the rattle and hum of voices. I feel vibrations in the floor, like the grinding of hidden, giant wheels. The heads bob and roll and nod in unison. Bad breath mists the air as a rancid mix of body odour, hair oil and perfume drift over the crowd. The emptiness of the dark hole beckons us, demands our attention. We obey. We face it. We are waiting sheep. The blinding lights mask a dark stage, making us easy targets.

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