Flash Fiction Challenge: The First Half Of A Story Only

Last week’s challenge: Yet Fate Choose Your Title

This week:

I want you to write 500 words of a story.

But — and this is key — do not finish the story.

Write an enticing, compelling tale that fails to end.

Then, next week, someone else will finish your story.

So: write 500 words. End it in a way that makes people wanna keep reading.

You’ve got one week. Due by next Friday, noon EST.

Post it at your blog.

Link here so we can all read it.



  • Here’s my first half:

    I have an apartment over the hardware store. Not much demand for hardware now and the hardware family retired—moved away, so I’ve got their apartment. Downstairs, the stock’s been taken over by the local lumber yard. When someone needs hardware, they send someone over to open up. There’s no heat down there, and my floors are cold. But I’m mostly comfortable. I wear fuzzy slippers and sit with my feet tucked under me most of the time. I work at the bank across the street, so this is handy.

    Every morning, I’m here with my coffee looking out the window, when a ragged-looking man goes through my garbage. The hardware store is next to the restaurant, so he checks for scraps and looks into my bin—because it’s there, I think. I recognize him and he knows me like you know a person by what she throws away. I threw my Marlboro Lights carton in the restaurant dumpster one day. When he saw it, he glanced up at my window. I’ve seen him smoking butts, I left a full pack on top of the trash once. He looked at my window then, too, and shuffled down the alley with the pack in his pocket.

    I wonder how he stands the boredom. Nothing to read. No one to talk to. No radio or TV or books. My sister gives me Time magazine when her family’s through with it. When I’m done, I lay it on top of the trashcan. Later, I often see it sticking out of his hip pocket.

    Last week I went to the river to photograph the ice. I stumbled across a makeshift bed under the bridge. I didn’t disturb it, but it appeared to consist of a heap of ragged blankets piled on a rough tarp and held together with yards of duct tape. I wonder if my alley guy sleeps there.

    It’s Saturday and I’m restless. The Weather Service has predicted wind chills of fifty below for tonight. That’s not just miserable; it’s life threatening. The guy in the alley wears only a light jacket.

    All day I’ve wandered back to the window. I don’t know what I’m looking for. Maybe I want to see my alley guy’s got warm clothing. Maybe I hope he won’t be there, so I can believe he’s found shelter. I think a couple of churches help homeless people.

    The sun set sometime when I wasn’t looking. There’s still a little light in the west, reflecting off heavy, rolling clouds. Leaves, newspapers and plastic shreds sweep through the alley. Standing by the sink in my warm kitchen, peering out the back window, I feel cold. I know it’s in my head, but I shiver anyway. That happens when I’m upset. I wonder why.

    Now I see him. He’s huddled up, scratching frantically through the garbage —dragging things out and dropping them. He doesn’t seem to find what he wants, so he bundles everything up and pitches it back in.

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