Short story: Add but don’t subtract

Her body sank down to the cobbles, each bony vertebra grazing skin against whitewashed wall. In slow motion she slid sideways into the shade, eyes glassy and the taste of grit in her mouth from a million sandals that had trod the alley before her. It was empty now, everyone indoors – away from the midday sun. As sleep or something greater overtook her, she imagined her mother pouring homemade lemonade from a pitcher she had never owned. Her eyelids drooped, closing on the sight of dusty toes in green flip-flops.


I wrote this to a beautiful track by Neil Halstead – Spin the Bottle. You can listen to it here

I’m writing a novel and I use the 100 word (or so) prompt for Madison Woods’ #Fridayfictioneers as ideas for scenes. So this piece of writing was a combination of novel, picture and music.

I’d love to receive comments and constructive criticism. Click here to read other people’s stories inspired by this picture, provided by Jan Morrill.

29 thoughts on “Short story: Add but don’t subtract

  1. “her mother pouring homemade lemonade from a pitcher she had never owned” is a wonderful image of loss and deprivation. I wonder if the person in green flip-flops will rescue her or rob her? I wonder if she’s sick, overdosed, suffering from heatstroke, starving….in short, you did a great job of hooking me into caring about this character!

    One very minor nitpick – “vertebrae” is plural, her whole backbone. The singular is “vertebra”. (Oh, and also it’s “sank”, not “sunk”.) But as the story went on, that bit of pedantry really didn’t matter.


  2. It’s so lovely! I was a bit confused at how the grit from a million sandals had ended up in her mouth. I think I would have liked a hint of the green sandals placed earlier in the piece somehow. A shadow or something. I really enjoyed participating in the character’s situation.


    • You can interpret however you choose, but my take on it is that she’s only just escaped from somewhere, and got as far as the alley, but that might be as far as she gets, depending on what the person in the green flip-flops does. Thanks for visiting and commenting.


  3. Love …”a million sandals that trod in the alley before her..” I had visions of a Mideast scene with Jesus and his sandals in that alley. I hope someone comes along to save her. Nice work.l


  4. the only thing that’s not working for me are the green flip flops. i’m not sure how that fits with the rest of the piece as i was reading it. i saw someone’s last moments flashing before their eyes in a deathly ballet, very well done.


    • I’m curious as to know more about why you didn’t think the green flip-flops worked. It’s part of a longer piece, and I know she survives so that’s why I had them in there. But do you think it would be better if they came later, or if they were something more hallucinatory? It’s hard for me to get rid of them in the longer piece because this girl does survive.


      • green doesn’t fit the setting. people in this setting would probably only wear a natural leather color, any shade of brown i suppose. green flip flops, and just the term flip flops, sounds like someone going to the beach. sounds fun and casual. this is not a fun and casual moment. and instead of flip flops, it should be sandals.


  5. My mind really zooms back to those narrow alleys of Mykonos when I read: ” the taste of grit in her mouth from a million sandals that had trod the alley before her”, Your piece contains a lot of references to the awareness through the senses, including the “green flip-flops,” which kind of break the spell.


    • Do you think the green flip-flops shouldn’t be there? That the spell shouldn’t be broken? I’m really interested to find out what you think, as a reader. Or would it be better if she saw something else – more in keeping with her surroundings, or perhaps even more out of keeping, as if she might be dreaming them?


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