Skip to main content

2022 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 1

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about a key.

Time to get writing! If you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (or anywhere else), be sure use the #FlashFictionFeb hashtag. Now, let’s get cracking!

Flash Fiction Challenge

For today’s prompt, write about a key. It could be a physical key, a metaphorical one, or even something completely abstract—it's totally up to you!

Remember: These prompts are just starting points; you have the freedom to go wherever your flash of inspiration takes you.

(Note: If you happen to run into any issues posting, please just send me an e-mail at mrichard@aimmedia.com with the subject line: Flash Fiction Challenge Commenting Issue. Fingers crossed there are no tech hiccups!)

Here’s my attempt at a story about a key:

The Key

I shift a large stack of newspapers and wrinkle my nose at the clear outline of dust.

“Jesus, do you think she ever cleaned?”

I shoot Bren a dirty look over my shoulder. “Show some respect.”

Bren snorts and nudges the overflowing trash can farther away with the toe of one oversized boot. “Like she ever respected us.”

“Bren.”

“C’mon, can’t we just hire a locksmith or something?”

Deep breath in. Hold it. Deep breath out. “Just keep looking.”

“But—”

“Bren.”

I put the newspapers back on the table with a bit too much force—I’m only human—and then move onto the china cabinet. I have to yank pretty hard to get the door to open. The hinges screech. After a moment, there’s a huff, and Bren’s petulant stomps are muffled by the clothes strewn all over

Bren’s quiet while I opened the lids of pots and felt around under the doilies. It grates against me. It wasn’t even this quiet in the hospital room, when mom’s breathing was being regulated by a tube and the machines would hum and the air conditioner would click off and on and off again.

I glance up and catch sight of a nasty series of spider webs threaded through the ancient toys and faux plants lining the top of the cabinet. I shut my eyes so I don’t have to see it. My skin crawls. For a terrifying moment, I’m 13 and huddled with Bren on a nest of clothes in the bathroom, the only almost-clean spot in the house.

“Tell me what it looks like again?” Bren calls.

Deep breath in. Hold it. Deep breath out. I shout back, “It’s just a regular key. Like a house key.”

“Well, waddaya know.”

“Did you find it?” I open my eyes. My face looks both bloated and squashed in the reflection of a teapot.

“Something like that.”

I turn and pick my way around the various piles of clothes and papers and toys and whatever else could possibly be hoarded by an elderly woman. It takes me longer than it should to get to the kitchen where Bren is standing over an open drawer.

When I peer over her shoulder, my heart sinks. The drawer is full of keys. There’s obviously no way they could all have been hers, so she must have been picking them up in estate sales or finding them at antique malls or something.

“Sure we can’t just call a locksmith?” Bren nudges my stomach with her elbow.

“If that storage unit really does have a safe filled with cash, I don’t want anyone to lay eyes on it but us,” I say.

“You sound just like her.”

I give her ponytail a quick yank and ignore her snarl. “We better get testing.”

Writing a Debut Novel as a Woman of a Certain Age

Writing a Debut Novel as a Woman of a Certain Age

Debut novelist Barbara Graham discusses the experience of publishing her debut novel in her 70s and how life experience made her story more powerful.

In a Dream

In a Dream

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, set your story inside a dream.

Writer's Digest Best General Resources Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best General Resources Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top general resource websites as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

From Our Readers

What Book Ended in a Way That You Didn’t Expect but Was Perfect Anyway?: From Our Readers (Comment for a Chance at Publication)

This post announces our latest From Our Readers question: What book ended in a way that you didn’t expect but was perfect anyway? Comment for a chance at publication in a future issue of Writer's Digest.

From Script

A Deep Emotional Drive To Tell Stories (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, read interviews with filmmakers Wendey Stanzler and Maria Judice. Plus a one-on-one interview with Austin Film Festival’s executive director Barbara Morgan.

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Paul Tremblay: On Starting With the Summary

Award-winning author Paul Tremblay discusses how a school-wide assembly inspired his new horror novel, The Pallbearers Club.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: An Interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our interview with Steven Rowley and Jessica Strawser, 5 WDU courses, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Writer's Digest Best Everything Agent Websites for Writers 2022

Here are the top websites by and about agents as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

Ashley Poston: On Love, Death, and Books

Ashley Poston: On Love, Death, and Books

Author Ashley Poston discusses how she combined her love of ghost stories, romance, and books into her new romance novel, The Dead Romantics.