Another Fun Fantabulous Flash Fiction Photo-Prompt Challenge, brought to us by Leanne, at Writing and Ruminations.

The rules are simple:

1) Use the photo and the 5 words provided in your story.

2) Keep your word count 500 or less.









Cook   Help   Relative   Tears   Finger

I learned a valuable lesson in this week’s challenge; just as there are no bad stories, only good stories badly written.  The same applies with photography;  There are no uninteresting photos, just uninteresting people looking at them.  I got a little “uninteresting” for a moment, but I have seen the light and … my oh my, what a tale this week’s photo-prompt has massaged from my otherwise dull innards.  ~Enjoy


I’ve read Mother’s story a hundred times.  I still can’t comprehend, but I do believe.  So I look at the mountain, recalling excerpts of her book, and am still so amazed…

*   *   *   *   *

“Beautiful…” Stormy said dreamily, in the trance that primal weather brings.

Her name was going to be Elizabeth.  That changed the night she was born. She’s been Stormy ever since.

Joey coughed.  Daddy and Momma held him closer.  Brian shivered.

We huddled together under whatever we could for warmth.

It was so cold in that cave.

Stormy didn’t feel the cold.

She felt the power.

*   *   *   *   *

We were headed west past the great mountain.  Our guide was excellent.  All was well, until the day Stormy felt it coming.

She crawled from inside the wagon and stood on the seat, looking north.

“Tom!” Momma shouted.

Daddy wheeled Nugget around, Brian and Joey followed.

Stormy raised her arms, each finger spread wide, head back, and smiled.

She lifted up.


We all held her from being pulled skyward until it ended.

Stormy was our barometer; she only moved when the violence of nature came.

*   *   *   *   *

When Momma was pregnant the baby never kicked.

Then at eight months a storm roared in, worse than any relative remembered.

A tornado formed, and when the first gale blew, Momma screamed.

Stormy was kicking now, trying to get out through Momma’s tummy.

Momma was bleeding.

She was pulled up off the bed.

We held her down terrified and crying.

The tornado’s destruction came at us.

The house shook, and the roof sheered away.

We looked up into the tornado leering down.

We lost our grip, and Momma flew up.

Daddy caught her wrist, and hooked his feet under the heavy oak bed.

We kids got her other arm.

Momma’s legs were pulled up.

Stormy was born.

She dangled by her cord above us.

Lightning flashed all around.

Baby Stormy spread her little limbs…

Up we went, all of us screaming.

The cord snapped.  We fell earthward.

Stormy flew into the howling cyclone, fingers of lightning striking her.

The tornado suddenly faded and was gone in minutes.

Stormy lay quietly in the grass outside

We never talked about it.

*   *   *   *   *

Joey hacked all the time now.  We knew he’d die soon.  We’d been trapped over a month.  The guide went for help, but didn’t return.  Nothing left to cook.  We’d eaten Nugget last.   We laid together in despair.  Stormy stood looking out the cave.

We woke to warm sun beams shining in, and Joey looked better.  We cheered and hugged, tears pouring.  Momma stopped, then ran outside.


She was gone.

She’d taken the blizzard.

Stormy had saved us.


~ Claire Donovan 1874

*   *   *   *   *

I come mostly on my birthdays and give my love and gratitude up into the Stormy sky.

Thank you for saving my mother, so I could be born and know of you.

You are our Heart.


Word count: 499



Leave a comment


  1. Mangsgirl.

     /  January 30, 2014

    Just wow.

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  February 8, 2014

      Thank you, Mangsgirl. Like all of the photo-promt challenges, the original story was much longer. In fact, I think Stormy was the largest edit I have ever had to do for the challenges (about 2,000 words before first edit I think). I have since expanded on the story, and intend to continue to do so. Keep an eye out over the next few months for the post.
      Thank again!


  2. That’s amazingly deep for 500 words! The characters are fantastic, the mood is eerie, and I could see the events happening. Awesome job, man. I can see why you’d want to expand this story. Very well done, and very well written. 🙂 Cheers, man!

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  July 31, 2013

      Thanks, JD. From “”It’s beautiful,” Stormy said”, I knew I knew I was in trouble. I was thinking, ‘Who the hell is Stormy? And that a great name?” The first draft was 2,000 word or something. I couldn’t stop writing. I decided it would be kind of in verse. It seemed to work. Still writing more on the original, Comes as easy now as it did then.
      Thanks for taking a stroll through the graveyard, my friend. You’re welcome anytime.

  3. Your way of telling everything in this paragraph is truly pleasant,
    every one be capable of without difficulty be aware
    of it, Thanks a lot.

  4. Wow. Very action packed. Good work.

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  March 7, 2013

      Thanks, Tony. I look forward to reading your next one. The photo this week is very interesting.

  5. Wow you really put some amazing imagery in your posts. I love it! It felt like dancing with words. Thank you for submitting this!

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  March 6, 2013

      Thanks, Nicole. I had a lot of fun writing it. It really took me for a ride!

  6. Dude! I’m in awe! Your stories are poetry, but I know that you know that. I read your posts and you send my mind swimming in an ocean of thoughts generated by the words and sentences you use. As always, well done.

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  March 3, 2013

      Thanks Scott!
      I really enjoyed the process of this piece. My goal is always to “stay out of the way” and let the story tell me what to write. When I wrote the first line I stopped, and I looked at “Stormy.” Where the hell did that come from? This was to be a basic “Donner Party,” trapped by a storm type story. Nope! It had something else to say. I just let it roll. I am going to flesh out the original 1400 word first draft into a longer short story because there’s so much here.
      These kind of journeys are the real reward of writing—these wanderings of pen on paper with no idea where they will end. I almost never outline/plot short stories. Takes the fun away.
      Thanks again, my friend. See you next we here on the Blog Hop!


  7. It was really good man. Unexpected.

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  March 2, 2013

      Thanks, Dave. Welcome aboard the Blog Hop by the way, and good entry, man. I can’t wait to unleash “Spencer -vs- the Gluten Fairy” upon the world!

  8. Wow! I forgot I was reading a blog hop entry. This was mesmerizing in the most wonderful way. First, I like your preface where you say, “there are no uninteresting photos, just interesting people looking at them.” I believe this is so true and you speak right to the heart of what art is about. Imagination. Art–writing, photography, painting, sculpting, music, etc.–is about allowing our minds to escape outside the box for a moment and ponder what could be if there were no restrictions or judgement. That is to say, let our minds be interesting. 🙂

    Second, I love where your mind went with this story. My favorite line is: “she only moved when the violence of nature came.” To say this girl embodies power is an understatement, especially when we learn of how she enters this world. I am intrigued by how she left the world just as mysteriously as she arrived yet in a powerfully quiet way.

    Nice job, Christopher. You certainly conquered your “uninteresting”! All your stories are great, but this is probably my favorite thus far. 🙂

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  March 2, 2013

      Thank you, Leanne.
      The Blog Hop has become a staple of my writing/training routine of late. This is the first story that I intend to further expand on. The original draft was 1,350ish words, and that was with me constantly pulling the reins on the mare that wanted gallop away. I knew I was going to be way over on the first paragraph:

      “Beautiful…” Stormy said dreamily, standing near the snow banked exit of the cave, and listening to howling of the blizzard. She was in one of trances she got when the weather goes primal. She was going be Elizabeth, after daddy’s Grannie, but that all changed the night she was born. She’s been Stormy ever since.

      I knew there was something bigger than even the 1300 words. I want to let the story have the voice it really needs. I think about 3-3.5k words will be good for Stormy’s full story.
      Still, I do like the flow of it even at 500.
      Thank you again, Leanne!


  1. Blog Hop Photo Reveal | Writings and Ruminations
  2. Blog Hop Photo Reveal (3/6/13) | A Way With Words


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