Fifties by the Fire — a fifty-word, prompt-based writing challenge. Feel free to share your response below, or simply read/comment to join in on the fun.
Prompt: Write a fifty-word story based on John Lightle’s photo, “Arriving Before Opening.” Here are the other guidelines:
Make sure your piece is exactly fifty words. Feel free to use Word Counter or the word processor you use.
Write a title with the genre in the first line. (Example: Old Soul, Fiction)
The title does not factor into the word count.
Good luck and have fun. Happy writing!
Special thanks to John Lightle for providing his photo for our writing prompt.
John Lightle is a Texas writer, poet, and photographer who spends many hours sitting on his woodpile contemplating. When away from his frame shop, he schleps his artwork among area art shows. The job takes him across the countryside, occasionally overseas, photographing the quiet resolve found within the golden hours.
Before Opening, Fiction
He always arrives before opening.
“Nights are getting cold,” he murmurs as I let him in. Coffee’s brewing.
I pour him his cup. He holds it in his cracked, cold hands and raises it to his lips. It isn’t much, but it must be warm enough to make him smile.
Just Window Shopping-Creative Non-Fiction
She pulled up to the brand new Ollie’s store, anxious to see what this one held, since it was in a more upscale neighborhood than hers was.
Grabbing her wallet, she exited the vehicle, crossed the driving lane and saw the Opening Next Week sign.
Deflated, she drove home.
Closing Time, Fiction-ish
2025 and the planet was dying in earnest.
Friday, three mourning doves died at my feet. Dropped right out of the sky. Orchards barren, branches like bones. Air thick with the scent of decay. Village coffee shop, once promising hope like newspapers of yore, now shuttered. End of an era.
Break the Door, Fiction
Eric didn’t believe in “Closed” signs. He slipped on his brass knuckles. With a powerful jab, Eric shattered the glass in the door—
“We’ll be open in ten,” assured the barista as she went inside the locked coffee shop. Eric continued squatting on the front steps, writing on his phone.
Coffeehouse, Fiction from Sharron at 🍁Leaves
He sat in the coffeehouse, scanning the relationships column in the local newspaper. “SWF seeks man who will encourage me to realize my dreams,” he read. It was 1980.
Forty-two years later, sitting together by the lake, she’d realized her dreams.
Realized her dreams were the same as his.
Out Through the in Door - Fiction
I walk through the portal in the lab and out of the coffee shop. As I turn, the awning and doors fade from existence. Here I stand, stuck on US soil, seventy years in a past that never existed. I can tell the Schutzstaffel aren’t happy with my sudden arrival.
How Much For That Shadow In The Window?, Fiction (Horror)
Vanessa walked past the coffee shop that hadn't been there the day before.
Spilling out the open-window was an invitation; music, laughter and the clink of coffee cups.
She turned to join them but stopped. The sounds were gone.
The coffee shop was abandoned.
Save a shadow in the window.
After I Went Before, Fantasy
My hand-written choices; stay in the past to correct the blunders of others, travel ahead to my present day and deal with my own mistakes, or journey further into the future and make completely new miscalculations.
An unseen hand thrust me through the door.
The decision was no longer mine.
Meet Up (Fiction)
Always the first to arrive. Giving me time to slow my breath, practice my smile. Trim my coffee order down to not coffee, but hot chocolate with a shot of hazelnut. Because I don't want to come across complicated. Because though some people like depth, they don't appreciate the layers.
Word Is, Fiction
Sonny comes in before we really open. That's okay, I've always liked the guy. He sits and taps a finger against the newspaper. "Says here that you're going out of business."
"We're still here, aren't we? Living until we're dying, that's always been the way."
Perfect Day (Fiction)
Dara, was first in line outside the coffeehouse where her favorite singer would play tonight. She reveled in the apricity of the sun’s rays on her face as she smiled at the flother floating down to land on her nose. Perfect day—music, warm sun, and the promise of snow.
I added an extra challenge for myself--to use two quirky words. Apricity is the feel of the sun's warmth on a cold day and a flother is a lone falling snowflake that heralds the coming of more.
An Experiment in Chalk, Fiction
No sooner has he completed the chalk drawing when there is a rumble, accompanied by a plume of dust. The former quiet of the alley gives way to indistinct chatter; the familiar hiss of milk being steamed; soft jazz playing.
A single fingertip smudge would cast it away.