Happy Halloween, friends!
I planned on posting a Halloween-esque short story today, but I wasn’t comfortable with releasing it into the world just yet. I hope you’ll forgive me. So, instead, I decided to gather all my Inktober stories in one place!
This year, I participated in something called Inktober: Writer Edition. For those of you who don’t know, Inktober is where artists create drawings every day based on prompts. It’s a creativity challenge. Well, my friend Hannah Robinson created Inktober: Writer Edition for the writers who wanted to participate in Inktober using the same prompts!
The stories were supposed to be 50 words. That is an admirable goal. However, I am long-winded (which probably isn’t a surprise to many of you), so many of the stories are over 50 words. My apologies.
Here are all the entries I wrote. I went back and added a few that I missed during the days I was too busy. Sometimes I include notes, which are indicated by a dash ( — ).
Prompt 1: Ring
Her foot tapped an anxious rhythm beneath her desk. He hadn’t arrived yet. He was always here by now. Ever since he’d picked the empty seat next to her in English that first class, she’d become hyper attuned to his very movements. He liked to run a hand through his hair, messing up the already-unruly curls. He took notes by hand instead of on his laptop, and his handwriting was chaotic, almost unreadable. Sometimes he would glance at her during class when Professor Harris said something funny and smile as though they were sharing a private joke.
Maybe today she’d actually talk to him.
The door opened. There he was, moving with lanky grace, backpack slung over his shoulder. She drank in the rich chocolate of his hair, the pale snow of his skin, the vibrant green of his eyes.
He saw her watching and smiled, then sat down. Out came his notebook and pen. Her eyes caught on his left hand. A golden band glittered on his ring finger.
Prompt 2: Mindless
8:24. Twenty minutes later than she usually left. Maddie snatched her purse, grabbed her owl tumbler filled with fresh coffee, and threw the door open. Traffic was going to be a nightmare, and she had a meeting with her boss in twenty minutes. He would be so angry if she was late again. He was probably going to chew her out anyway, but arriving on time would have at least spared her some of the lecture.
The door slammed shut behind her, and she crossed the porch in a few quick steps, her heels clicking on concrete. Her mind on the upcoming meeting, she stuck her hand in her purse. Her wallet, her phone, a pack of tissues, some lipstick. Nothing metallic.
Her throat clamped tight, and she twisted around and hurried back to the door, heels going click click click, then jerked on the door handle. Locked. And her keys were sitting on the kitchen table.
Prompt 3: Bait
“You don’t love me. Is that what this is?” He forced a wounded expression, which she promptly mirrored.
“No! It’s not that! I love you. I love you so much. You’re the most important person in my life.”
“Then why would you hurt me like this?” He turned his face away. One second. Two. Three.
“Okay,” she finally said. “I won’t hang out with him anymore. Our friendship, it’s over. If that’s what will make you happy.”
His lips curved into a smile. She’d taken the bait, and now she was his, fully his.
— Abusive relationships aren’t always physical. They can be emotional too. But I know just how hard it can be to escape.
Prompt 4: Freeze
I can’t. Their ease will change to condescension at the sight of my approaching figure. They might engage with me but only with fake smiles and patronizing glances. They’ll laugh behind my back when I’m gone.
So I stay frozen where I am and watch with envy those who belong.
Prompt 5: Build
In her mind, he loves her. In her mind, he’s dying to be with her, only held back by some tragic backstory. In her mind, it’s inevitable that they’ll be together, eventually.
But the elaborate fantasy she built would disintegrate with the slightest touch—
The next time she sees him, his arm is slung around another girl.
Prompt 6: Husky
Unless you look closely, you might not see him. His thick pelt melts into the snow, only betrayed by the ice blue eyes scanning the area. His ears are pricked—perhaps he heard you. Perhaps he caught your scent drifting from your hiding place in the snow-covered pines.
He is waiting. But for who?
Prompt 7: Enchanted
Her beauty was a spell ensnaring him where he stood—thick golden hair rumbling down her back, skin crystalline pale, lips protruding in a gentle pout, dress hugging just the right amount of curves.
So enchanted was he that he neglected to notice the dagger clutched in her dainty hand.
Prompt 8: Frail
Her composure is fragile, held together by dying threads, ready to collapse at any moment in a flood of tears. Perhaps that tear-jerking empathy makes her weak. Perhaps it makes her strong. But she doesn’t feel strong. She feels frail, burdened by the problems of others, shatter-thin.
Prompt 9: Swing
**content warning: hanging**
Her limp body swings from the rope. The slight movement almost seems to suggest that her heart beat on, but if one looks at her face, they would see her glazed, lifeless eyes.
They say she was a traitor. Perhaps so. But I wish that wasn’t the only label that would persist. What about “sister”?
Prompt 10: Pattern
The synchronized thumping of soldier feet radiates across the ground and send shivers through me. There they are, coming around the bend. I hide in the shadows, relieved that they don’t keep their gazes facing forward. One heartbeat. Ten heartbeats. They disappear down the hallway.
I’ve memorized the patterns of their movement. There shouldn’t be another set for ten minutes. So I’ve got to move quickly.
I slip from the shadows and down the hallway when a voice stops me in my tracks: “Freeze.”
Prompt 11: Snow
A tiny flake falls from the sky, then another, drifting to the bloodstained earth. Pure white turns to pale pink. The flakes soon covers the corpses lying on the battlefield as though trying to cleanse the world of the darkness that had been unleashed. But no amount of snow, no measure of beauty, can erase the pain caused today.
Prompt 12: Dragon
He was buried in the dunes. Sand covered his scales, stung his eyes, cloaked him in a heated sort of blanket. But the sandstorm had passed now. He pushed himself to his paws, unused legs burning. Sand streamed down his body as he arose from the dunes like some terrible reaper. Then, he spread his leathery wings, flicking the sand from them, and launched into the clear air.
Prompt 13: Ash
Ash falls from the sky like snow cinders and blankets the ground. It seems peaceful, almost, if you close your eyes—otherwise, you can see the ravaged ground, the solidifying lava, the rage-marks the volcano left behind. A soft wail rises from the people, growing louder with each moment, until the air is clogged with ash and sound.
Prompt 14: Overgrown
He swiped irritably at the vines blocking his way, slashing them with a blade. Sweat pooled on his skin as he pushed his muscles one more step, one more step. Leaves slapping his face, he continued on, hardly even caring where he was going.
And then there was nothing beneath his feet.
Prompt 15: Legend
He was said to be the most powerful mage in all of Elymas. Some said he had moved the Yaro Peaks ten leagues—from the middle of the continent to the seaside—without even a rest. No one had ever seen his face except for the king, and speculation ran wild as to why—he was horribly disfigured; he was a foreigner; he was a woman.
No one ever guessed he was six years old.
Prompt 16: Wild
Her hair had a mind of its own. Knots snarled the dark strands, creating snags that would break any brush, and it stuck up and out and every direction but down. It was a lion’s mane, a bird’s nest.
Maybe you think that is cool. Maybe you think she is ahead of her time for having such animalistic hair. But her mother certainly didn’t.
One night while the girl was snoring, she brought out the clippers.
Prompt 17: Ornament (Never Before Posted)
Usually people keep them in an urn. We keep them in an ornament.
Ashes swirl charcoal-gray in a glass globe, hanging from the pine tree in our living room. Maybe it seems strange to other people, but they shot him on Christmas Eve. Amidst all the joy and fellowship, we might forget that, so we make sure we don’t.
Besides, it’s kind of fitting. He sacrificed himself, throwing his body in the shooter’s path to save the others in the mall. He always was the most like Jesus of us all, and now his death seals that.
I stare at the ashes of my brother, wishing things could be different, aching for his smile, grateful even now for the compassion that killed him.
Prompt 18: Misfit
She lived in a fantasy world—crawling around on all fours, speaking in meows and yowls rather than words. Her world was calm and kind, a place where she belonged.
But the real world was cruel. And even her fantasy world couldn’t protect her forever.
Prompt 19: Sling (Never Before Posted)
They sling harsh words back and forth, eyes narrowed, fists clenched. It’s a variation of the same old fight, perhaps with a different topics or different words, but the same outcome—seething rage. Neither will budge, fighting to win an unwinnable argument.
But it seems the only way for them to win is to separate.
— So many people in my generation have grown up in broken homes. Marriage is difficult. The idea of that lasting covenant sometimes scares me. But I will do my best to commit, to hold on, even when it’s tough, providing it’s not abusive. I hope others will do the same.
Prompt 20: Tread (Never Before Posted)
He treads on eggshells, every word planned, every bit of body language measured. Every second, he watches her for the reaction, noting every bit of emotion, terrified of the times she’ll inevitably break.
One word slips out wrong, careless, unwelcome. Her eyes change to steel plates. He has failed.
Prompt 21: Treasure
She’s not angry yet. Her laugh is genuine, her eyes soft, her body language loose and relaxed. I soak in the version of my sister I haven’t seen in years.
Her arms wrap around me, and I stiffen, then squeeze her tightly. In a few minutes, she might snap at me and turn back into her new self, but this moment is a balm for years of nothing but silence and heartache.
No, not just a balm. A treasure.
Prompt 22: Ghost
Sometimes I disappear.
People don’t pay much attention to me anyway, but there are times where they completely forget that I exist. Every word I speak is unheard, and no one turns to address me. Their laughter grates in my ears; their camaraderie burns.
So I slip away, quick and quiet as a ghost. Their laughter echoes behind me, unchanged by my absence—because I was never really a part of the group, anyway. Their lives go on as normal.
Prompt 23: Ancient
No one remembers when it was built. No one remembers why it is there. No one really seems to care, either.
It’s just a hunk of forgotten stone, reminiscent of an older time but for a purpose no one can imagine. And because they don’t know what it can be used for, they don’t care.
The orders come in. Bulldozers will begin in the morning.
Prompt 24: Dizzy
She can’t breathe. Her head spins, caught up in her body’s weakness. She could fall over at any moment.
Her mom left a sandwich for her on the table. The scents of bread and peanut butter fill her nostrils, almost overpowering. Her aching stomach gurgles.
But then she looks down at her not-yet-flat stomach and walks away. The headache will go away and leave a beautiful body behind.
— My heart aches for those struggling with eating disorders.
Prompt 25: Tasty
The soft vanilla melted in her mouth, bathing her tongue in cool delight and flashes of ecstasy. She eagerly shoved another spoonful through her lips, then one more, telling herself it’ll be the last scoop with every plunge. But she’d already put herself down this road; she might as well enjoy it while it lasts.
And then her stomach began to churn.
Prompt 26: Dark
A shadow passes over me, unwanted and unplanned. Suddenly the people around me seem far away, disconnected, and all I want to do is hide, sulk in my own misery. What I’m miserable about I can’t say; all I know is that I am.
I wish I could stop it, keep the light in my core fueling my body. But when I am emotionally weak, the shadow is inevitable.
Prompt 27: Coat
Elias groaned. “Do I have to?”
Maria slapped the herbs into his hand. “Yes. Eat up.”
He shoved the leaves into his mouth and began chewing. A bitter taste coated his tongue, and he gagged, but at least within the hour, the ache would be gone. She knew what she was doing. She’d been training as a healer since she was a child.
But that didn’t mean he couldn’t have a little fun.
He pretended to choke, his face contorting in an expression of pain. Then he collapsed, stirring the fallen leaves.
“Elias?” She knelt next to him, her eyes wide.
He fought the smile coming to his lips, but it came anyway. “I’m dead.”
She dumped leaves on his laughing face.
Prompt 28: Ride
“Need a ride?”
Fiona gaped at the boy whose legs straddled the scaled body of a majestic dragon. The dragon’s nostrils flared, sending heated air right at her face, and she stifled a yelp. Enormous red eyes seemed to pierce right through her.
Shivering, her eyes shifted back to the boy. She’d heard about dragon riders but never seen one, and she’d certainly never realized any were so young. He couldn’t be more than fifteen, her age. Had he started riding when he was a child?
“I . . . guess not?” The boy’s voice faltered.
She’d also never realized any of them were so awkward. She backed away slowly, feet crunching leaves, wondering if the dragon could fly through the forest or if it would be too big to navigate the trees. “I think I’ll pass.”
The boy dismounted from his dragon, stumbling a little when he hit the leafy ground. “It’s not scary; I promise.”
Perhaps not to the boy who’d grown up flying them. But to Fiona, the scary part was the fact that a stranger and his fearsome dragon were taking so much interest in her. “Perhaps another day,” she said, her voice tight, then fled into the woods. Branches whipped at her face.
“Wait!” the boy called behind her, but she had no intentions of being kidnapped, not even by a beautiful boy and his dragon. There were plenty of damsels in distress these days, but she wouldn’t end up as one. She knew self defense.
Still, part of her wondered if she’d ever see the boy and his dragon again. Part of her longed to soar high above the earth, wind stealing her breath, trees and castles turned to pinpricks. The longing turned so strong that it stopped her feet, and she glanced back at the edge of the wood where the boy and his dragon waited.
This could be her only chance.
Breathing deeply, she walked back toward the boy, her chin held high. His eyes widened at the sight of her. “Actually, I’d like that ride,” she said.
Prompt 29: Injured
**content warning: domestic violence**
Blood drips from a new cut on her face, and she holds her burning eye with a trembling hand. The door slams shut behind him, and she collapses on the bed. She deserved this, she knows. She shouldn’t have stepped out of line. She should have done as he had wanted.
Her injury aches, but nothing can compare to the pain in her heart.
— If you are in that sort of relationship, I am praying that you will be able to get out safely. I know that can be very difficult to do. Please know that no one deserves to be treated that way, no matter what they may have done to “deserve” it. If you are recovering from a relationship like that, you have my prayers. Just because someone may have broken you does not mean you don’t have value.
Prompt 30: Catch
He promised he would always catch me.
I’d exhale, squeeze my eyes shut, and let go, plummeting toward the ground—but then his arms would be around me, and then he’d start tickling me. I’d squeal and jerk away, but he’d hold on tight, never letting go. Big brother, protector, constant.
Today I fell. Blood seeped from my aching, discarded heart, and I picked myself up from the ground, my composure in tatters, tears seeping down my cheeks. I looked around, wondering if anyone would want me after what I had done.
But then he was there, his arms wrapping around me, his chin resting on my head, his heart thumping in his chest. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “I’m here.” He didn’t catch me. Not before I fell. But I wouldn’t let him. I stubbornly kept on my path, ignoring his warnings, and my heart shattered.
I curled into his chest. He may not have caught me, but he’d picked me back up, and he’d help me heal. And that was what mattered.
— Grateful for my big brother. ❤
Prompt 31: Ripe
Jeers filled Lucia’s ears, and she turned her head, though she knew what she’d see. Dirk walked down the street, shoulders hunched, preparing for another onslaught of words.
She got up from her seat outside the shop, then hesitated. She didn’t know the old man, not really. All she knew was that he’d spoken out against their great emperor, and now . . .
Then something sailed toward him—a pear, ripe to the point of being rotten. It slammed against his chest, and he grunted, almost falling over. The gathering crowd laughed.
Lucia’s fists clenched. How dare they! All around her, she could see the other villagers holding their own fruits, ready to pummel the man who’d dared to speak out.
With barely a conscious decision, she rushed forward, throwing up dirt with each step, and stopped in front of Dirk. His eyes met hers, shadowed with grime, glimmering with hope. She smiled.
A fruit struck her on the back, and she gasped, her spine arching. Then another hit her on the cheek, almost knocking her head back. Rancid juice slid down her face and onto her neck, stained the back of her dress.
Dirk’s voice was a whisper. “You don’t have to do this, miss.”
Lucia firmed her chin. “I know.”
Inktober’s End, NaNo’s Beginning
I really enjoyed the challenge! It was a great way to keep my writing during a busy month. I hope you enjoyed the stories that came from the prompts this year, and know that I plan to participate again next year!
But, as sad as it is that Inktober is over, November there’s another challenge to participate in: NaNoWriMo! In case you don’t know, during NaNo, people attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in a month! Crazy, right?
I’m only going for 20,000 words and using a project I’ve been working on since last NaNo (I’m a NaNo rebel!), but I’m excited! I hope that this will get me closer to the finish of my WIP.
Do you have a favorite flash fiction piece from the ones I just posted? Did you participate in Inktober: Writer Edition? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments!