Microfiction #writephoto: A lonely child

This short story is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt


The child stood on tiptoe to peer through the leaded panes, breathed on a diamond and drew a smiley face in the moisture. It was cold outside, and not much warmer inside. She shivered. The room was high and bare, like most of the castle rooms, but this was even barer than most and tiny, much higher than it was wide. There was nothing in it except a wooden chest pushed against a wall.

Perhaps because it was the only object in the room, perhaps because of some other attraction, the child approached and ran her fingers over the carved flowers and birds.

It’s a girl’s box, she thought, full of some girl’s things.

Pushing with both hands, she raised the lid. Cold air rushed out and around her, lifting the fine locks of hair about her face. With a sharp cry, she let the lid drop and backed up to the window and the light.

Her hair brushed the stone sill and she felt the cold touch of water on her neck. She cried out again and held out her hands to her mother who was hurrying across the silent stone flags.

“It’s nothing, silly,” her mother said, soothingly, glancing at the little puddles on the narrow ledge, “just a bit of rain water.”

But it isn’t raining.

She held her mother’s hand tightly, but only that hand was warm. Everything else was cold, and she felt unutterably sad. She turned in the doorway to look back at the lonely room, the box and the face drawn in the window glass. The smile had trickled and the eyes had run, and she heard, quite distinctly, the sound of weeping.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

23 thoughts on “Microfiction #writephoto: A lonely child”

  1. Excellent creation of tension Jane, I did like the fine detail you included ” Her hair brushed the stone sill”…those details so enhance the tale I think…

  2. Ooh, I picked up a child (or children) from that image as well. Wonder if it’s because of the way Sue shot it, at the height of the sill? Regardless, a beautifully sad response, Jane 🙂

    1. Thank you! You might be right about the child-height sill, Helen. Certainly many of us took the rainwater for tears too. It must be a very strong image for so many people to see the same sort of story in it.

      1. They always form the basis of a story, which isn’t true of all prompts. She picks out the ageless things like rocks and landscapes. The pictures of objects set firmly in a particular time or place don’t work nearly so well, for me anyway.

      2. Yes, that’s true. She chooses things that allow the viewer, rather than the image itself, to tell the tale. Very clever, really 🙂

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