8 December, 2021

LitStack's Flash Fiction Challenge #3 … with guest photographer

Many thanks to everyone who participated in our second flash fiction challenge! So wonderful to have both new and returning writers in the last round, and what a great group of stories you all created (if you didn’t get a chance to check them out already, the links are re-posted below.)

Are you up for another adventure? If so, we have something very special in store for you: we’ve invited some photographer friends to provide our visual inspiration for the next few challenges. Our first guest photographer is Drew Hoffman, a college instructor and part-time photographer in Blacksburg, VA.

Use the photo to guide you in your story’s theme or setting, and let your imagination take you where it will. Post your story – 500 words or fewer –on your blog or tumblr or someplace you’d like the rest of us to visit. Drop a link in the comments here, and head off to visit other participants’ posts. We’ll include a roundup of entries with the next challenge. All are welcome, and it’s all friendly, so be bold and jump right on in.

Please note that permission to use the photo is limited to the flash fiction challenge and all rights remain with the photographer. If you repost the photo on your site, please include a photo credit.

Here’s your prompt … and have fun!


photo by Drew Hoffman


And if you didn’t get a chance to check out all the awesome entries from our last challenge…

A Tiny Man or a Giant Dryer  Thomas M. Duncan

My Turn  Michael (Innocents and Accidents, Hints and Allegations blog)

No Way Out Veronica Cook

The Infernal Humanity Tank  Madame Paradox

Viscera  Jenny O.

The Fixer  Lisa Emig

The Eye  Jennifer M. Kaufman


Many thanks again to Drew for sharing his wonderful photo. Happy writing!

8 thoughts on “LitStack's Flash Fiction Challenge #3 … with guest photographer

  1. Roth was a mathematician. She unintentionally swiped at the fly-like white snowflakes that crept in from the corners of her eyes. She ignored those basics without seeing the object that she tapped absently on the desk in front of her. She pushed the white computer keyboard away from herself to make the space around her empty, even though the keyboard was ready to take notes on her work or record its final flash of brilliance in black empathetic letters. It was unable to distract her from the mathematical symbols of the equation in her thoughts that seemed impassable, though she tried as hard as she could and as she had for the last year and a half to see the light behind the numbers. As she finished for the day she felt a sense of urgency behind the work that she couldn’t put her finger on. What spurred the feeling? She tried to ignore it by becoming angry.

    Real snowflakes stung her face reminding her of the difficult equation in her life as she made her way to the bus stop. The random numbers of the nearly weightless snowfall only sharpened the wait on the bus. She climbed aboard the bus dropping a calculus of quarters into the toll stand that clacked out the numbers of her deposit. She found a hard plastic chair midway in the length of the seating scheme as the bus accelerated and pushed her back. She watched the streets pass in snow gentle printed letters signs that she couldn’t make out. She pulled the stop cord and made her way to a grey stone building a block away from the stop. She climbed the stairs to the entrance and made her way down a creaking wooden floored hallway of the once grade school to a classroom for the blind in the community center. The time seemed to pass in slow motion as she blindfolded herself and worked first with braille and then with a cane, fighting some invisible force that slowed her life to agony as she learned the dynamics of sightlessness.

    Stepping onto the bus once more, she took a route that led into the unsolved geometry of an ex-burb residential neighborhood and climbed down the steps two blocks from her house. Although the snow had stopped, she once again swatted at the white blotches that crept into her peripheral vision. She walked as a stick figure that changed like the lines of alphabetic characters as she made her way toward the punctuation mark of her house. She shut the door behind herself,
    “Bryan?” she said into the open air.
    “In here!” came the disembodied voice from the living room entrance a few feet down the hallway. She made her way into the living room crossing in front of several aged window frames and bent down to hug Bryan from behind. He sat at a slim and elegant computer monitor, half full of words.
    “My first royalty check came today!”
    “Congratulations,” she said, pecking him on the cheek.
    “How was work?” he asked.
    “Same old,” she smiled at him. Not noticing the expression, he stared blankly at the floor like a drowning man.
    “You know, there is my writing.”
    “Where would I be without an equation in front of me?” She asked. They had had this discussion before. Bryan loved her, but Roth couldn’t imagine a world without the mathematics. She loved him too.

    She awoke in the middle of the night, pleasantly startled by a dream. Bryan was asleep so she went downstairs and made a cup of instant decaffeinated coffee. She walked into the living room, unconsciously calculating the dimensions of the couch and coffee table and finally the number of shelves next to the computer, grasping blindly at a slip of printer paper from a stack next to the printer itself. She returned to the kitchen and the logic of numbers popped into her head as she started to write symbols on the blank sheet of paper. As the dream faded, the time it took to write each mathematical letter seemed more and more eternal. The slow motion allowed her time to see every detail to even observe her own thoughts so that the same urgency as earlier in the day overtook her. Why did she feel she needed to finish the equation? The white flakes of blank snow crept into her eyes again and she blinked fiercely several times. Why were the numbers so difficult to face?

    Later that Saturday, Roth walked into the living room where Bryan was writing with a sheaf of scrawled printer paper in her hands.
    “Bryan? Could you put this down in print for me?” Bryan eyed Roth suspiciously. The equation Roth had put together had been hard to understand at first, but had become as simple as rote in a flash of brilliance. She started reading the equation to him and then faltered, realizing it as an excuse and staring into a deeper and cruel equation. Tears started to slip from her eyes.
    “Bryan, I’m blind.”

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.