Flash (whiz-bang) Fiction Photo Prompt 2: Hearts On Skin

Flash Fiction, photography, writing

Alrighty, writerly buckaroos, today’s the unveiling of the second set of photo prompt Flash Fiction pieces.

flash fiction often contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten – that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline. Different readers thus may have different interpretations.

~ Wikipedia

Last week I offered this image as a photo prompt to your flash fiction. If you borrowed it to your site and wrote a little ditty, please link it in the comments. Or, if you so desire, you may drop your actual-factual, little, bitty ditty into the comment box.


750 words or less.

Poetry is allowed too.





Simply Darlene’s photo prompt Flash Fiction:

Hearts On Skin

Rain splattered my glasses as I shrugged into my stained, tattered jacket and walked across the puddled parking lot toward the roadside diner. It’d been several hours since my last stop.

I dried my glasses on my western-cut cotton shirt as I waited in line for a waitress. A twenty-something gal with stenciled eyebrows and too-thick eyeliner led me to a corner booth. As she handed me a menu and rattled off the day’s specials, I noticed a line of several red butterflies tattooed from her empty ring finger up her left arm.

“How many are there?” I said, nodding toward where the butterflies disappeared into her cuffed sleeve.

“I reckon there’s four of ’em by now,” she said, smiling.

“Did you get ’em one at a time, over a course of years?”

“How’d you guess? Most folks think I got inked in just one sitting.”

I leaned forward, my elbows on the table and my hands interlaced beneath my chin. “Sometimes the good parts are worth remembering. Worth etching from heart to skin.”

She nodded slight and said, “Yeah, I agree.” Looking out the window, as if seeing something beyond the interstate traffic, she asked, “But what about the others—the bad times, the hurtful things not worth remembering?”

“Well,” I said, thinking on why I was midway across the country, on a farewell journey to a place I’d left thirty years ago. “Those are the bits we gotta bury—so they can’t undo our present. Our future.”

Tapping the table with a pen, she said, “You got that right.”

I sure hope so, I thought as she took my food order and walked away.


At two-years-old, my little sister was too small, just a baby really, so she sat in her bedroom and played with wooden blocks and stuffed animals whenever I hid outside while mom and dad yelled things like “You don’t understand!” and “You can’t drown Vietnam with booze!” and “You weren’t there!” and “I’ll always love you!” at each other. I crawled underneath the front porch and leaned against the vine-covered lattice. The hard-packed dirt was cool on my legs. And, it was mostly quiet down there.

After the screen door slammed, and dad spun gravel wide as he raced his car down the driveway, mom always walked soft, crouched low, and waggled her red-painted, slender fingers at me, enticing me to come out. She put my little sister into the yellow high chair, and both of us girls watched as our mom sliced three thick pieces of chocolate cake, poured two glasses of milk, and stirred a spoonful of instant coffee into a mug of hot water.

Dad always came back in the middle of the night because the next morning all four of us sat at the very same the table, laughing and talking and eating scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and toast for breakfast.

Except for the one morning when we didn’t.

An army of red, biting ants had invaded my area beneath the porch so I crawled into the old farm truck, pushed empty liquor bottles aside, and pulled dad’s work jacket over me as I hid on the floorboard. The front door slammed. He said a lot of cuss words about his car being out of gas, and then he got into the truck with me. When he started the ignition, I stayed covered and still. As he shifted through the gears, his yells turned to sobbing cries. After a long while it got real quiet and the truck slammed against something hard. My head hurt real bad, but I crawled onto the seat next to him. It was dark outside so I covered us with his jacket.

I kissed his cheek.

He fluttered open his eyes and smiled slight. “Honey girl, how’d you get here so fast?” His head cocked over toward the window. “I love you three. You gotta tell ’em for me.”

I couldn’t wake him up after that. The sheriff found us at dawn.


“Do you want something else with your cake?” My waitress asked, handing me a fork.

“Yes, coffee. It’s always gotta be coffee with chocolate cake,” I said, as I unfolded the napkin.

“Hey, you’ve got a tat there on your wrist too,” she said, pointing to mine. “What’s it say?”

I lifted my sleeve, revealing a ladder of phrases. “Read from the top, down,” I said.

“Honey girl. He loves me. This I know,” she said.

I finished reading. “He told me so.”

word count: 750


Here are the partakers thus far of this go ’round:

Glynn Young, fantabulous author of “Dancing Priest” & “A Light Shining” & “Poetry at Work,” has flashed us some writerly fiction at his place: Tea and Cake










18 thoughts on “Flash (whiz-bang) Fiction Photo Prompt 2: Hearts On Skin”

    • Thanks for the kudos, friend. There’s no timer so you can ink out a ditty too!

      And Erica, regarding your plea — trying, I am. 😉

  1. Leslie Kaluzny says:

    Like chocolate cake, I had to go back twice for more. Lovely.

  2. WOW! From the beginning “shrugged into”~there is so much here that is wonderfully healing. Your childhood “normal” is told with some resolution here, connecting with the tattoos of the waitress, and they knowing of heart without knowing the details. Thank you for writing and sharing this poignant piece. ❤

    • Those are fine words of encouragement, Michelle… thank you so much. (Although I wrote it in first-person, this piece is fiction – the only resemblance’s to truth are that I have a mom and a younger sister, and that my father had served in Vietnam.)

  3. Darlene, I reckon I have something to say… Your writing is such an inspiration! You refine the complicated into simple and beautiful, with heart. I love it!

  4. Andy says:

    This is SharonGibbs’ husband Andy. This story brought back some not so good memories for me. My father, too is a Vietnam veteran and there were times when it wasn’t always easy to be in his presence. It was just a few years ago that my father finally got some help for his PTSD after almost 50 years. He is a different man today, not that he was a bad father, he did the best he could based on his circumstances. My mother is an angel, and it is only by the grace of God that they are happily married of 45 years.
    Excellent story very descriptive.

    • It’s great to meet you here in the comment box, sir. I’m sorry to stir up any sadness – though it’s ever so important to shed light on PTSD. What a blessing to read about your father’s progress. What hope!

  5. Carol Wilson says:

    Touches so deeply. Gifted writer you are. Thank you for letting us read this story.

      • Carol Wilson says:

        Hi Darlene, I haven’t written fiction yet, but have thought about trying flash fiction out. Maybe I will participate next time if a story arrives in my mind and if time allows. I’ll watch for your prompts. Hope you have an ice cream sundae kind of week.

  6. jodyo70 says:

    Darlene, I’m slow to getting to this….wow, it brought tears to my eyes. you can sure tell a story, girl.

  7. Pingback: Flash (whiz-bang) Fiction Photo Prompt #3 | SimplyDarlene

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