Photo Prompt

Each month, we post a photograph as a writing prompt. Post your 100-word story in the comments section, and we’ll choose one to feature in our next issue. To see examples, read photo stories we’ve published in the past.

In the spirit of fun and fairness, please follow these guidelines:
• Post only one story per photo prompt.
• Be mindful of others’ feelings when commenting (keep it positive rather than giving feedback).
• Remember this is a shared safe space for all lovers of 100-word stories.

Image of washers, dryers, and carts in a laundromat.

Art Credit: Kristina

37 Responses to “Photo Prompt”

  1. Luca Ercolani says:

    Under New Management

    Of course you can still come here, chief.

    You’ll find it’s a bit “busier” than before, but we wouldn’t want you to walk a quarter mile with that big bag of dirty laundry of yours, wouldn’t we? Not with the stuff that’s been going on around here.

    Just be mindful, alright? That’s all we ask. We enjoy our peace as I’m sure you do yours, but we certainly don’t appreciate interferences in the way we run our business. Are we clear, chief?

    You know what they say, “if you see something, say… nothing.”

    One last thing: we don’t do receipts.

  2. On the Spectrum: The Reality of Mental Illness

    The sweaty young man curled into himself in the corner chair. He was always there, in that same corner chair. The one closest to the red telephone hanging on the gray wall with the cracked plaster.

    His clothes were dirty, carrying the ripe scent of unwashed flesh, and a mountainous man folding mounds of cloth diapers, mumbled, “Someone oughta report him to management.”

    “Yup,” I shrugged, a mock sneer of contempt tugging at my lips.

    My brother looked up, hurt apparent on his face, but then a flustered woman asked him for change and he shuffled to the back office.

  3. K.A. James says:

    Glimpsed in a Reflection

    I first saw it at the corner laundromat, of all places. A hole, where no hole should be, reflected in the glass doors of the ancient washing machines. It seemed to float behind me, down near the floor, but when I turned there was nothing. That was weeks ago. I see it everywhere now, in any reflective surface. It’s always back there, hovering. Is it truly a hole, a void in space and time, or perhaps a portal encroaching from another dimension? I know it follows me, and is growing larger by the day.
    Its depths beckon, its darkness seductive.

  4. M Sierra says:

    She’s always here on Mondays, he thought. His face blank, mindlessly scrolling. He feigns nonchalance. Mondays she uses that washer there— except that time she had to use the one next to it. Maria was using her usual for a client’s cloth diapers. Cochina. But where is that girl with her caramel skin hugged by denim shorts? With black hair cascading like a waterfall over exposed shoulders? His eyes peek from phone to door to wall-mounted monitor. A newscaster reads “6-car pile-up on the 405 leaves 3 dead.” A drivers license image of her face. His phone smacks the linoleum.

  5. When Jimmy Leaves Me Again
    I throw his orphaned clothes into the washer’s gaping mouthhole. I push back words it is wanting to say – oh but he is so beautiful and what about his soft-lip kiss. Soon, the swirly twirl of Jimmy’s denim shirt, his just-right jeans, all bubble and scrub, are flying in a circle, the kind that reminds me of passing time. By the rinse cycle, hot and spin and faster than thought, I think I stop hearing his goodbye whispers and then, when I open the washer’s mouth, I could swear I hear it promise it will try to forget Jimmy’s name.

  6. A.J. Mason says:

    The Reds

    I’m dirty. Maybe one of these washing machines will clean me.

    I open a door, stick my head in. Metal, slightly damp. I try another. The same but dry this time. Somewhere the reds are soaking. I don’t remember which machine.

    I’m dirty. I need to wash my hands.

    I wipe them on my shirt. It’s white. I need to wash it. Put it in the machine with the reds. Where are they?

    I’m dirty. If I can wash my head…

    Shampoo. No, inside of my head.

    I’m dirty.

    A lady opens a machine. She screams: “Body! Body!” The reds…

    NOTE: All the lines beginning “I’m dirty…” were initially in italics to indicate thoughts, but the comment box appears to erase the formatting.

    • Lisa H. Owens says:

      It came through loud and clear without the italics. I love what you did. Sad but also somewhat realistic thoughts for one who has been abused.

  7. Kevin Cannon says:

    A tiny droplet of water. A microcosm of organisms clinging to existence until the harsh heat of the sun evaporates the life giving liquid.

    A lonely plant struggles to make its mark in this arid landscape, competing for the sparse nutrients available in the thin rocky soil.

    But life on Earth is a marvellous thing. Somehow it always finds a way, despite the Human race’s determination to spoil this once spotless paradise.

    Fossil fuels, greenhouse gases, landfill, rising water levels, climate change and deforestation threaten to destroy what billions of years have fought to create.

    What will our children inherit?

  8. Al Faraone says:

    𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐫𝐞

    Claire in the laundromat sipping coffee watching clothes spin in the dryers. She is low key. Her boyfriend broke it off last night. Threw her out. She spent her night in this laundromat and is planning to spend all day.. She understands low key and despite the trauma of the break she intends to stay low key. She admires the two empty laundry baskets standing by. No denying she wants to take them and find an apartment. They could be conversation starters. Also utilitarian. Teenagers arrive with screwdrivers to descend upon the change machines stealing quarters. Then fate struck again.

  9. Cheryl Snell says:

    Lint Trap

    In the delicate cycle a sock got upset because she couldn’t find her mate. He’s lost, she cried. No, he’s not. He’s in here somewhere, said her friend. Too bad it’s so dark in this dryer. Would you like this lint I found in someone’s pocket? No. Will you help me look for my mate? The friends looked all over but had no luck. They looked in the tumbler, along the drive belt, behind the filter. All they found was more lint. Finally the friend said I’m tired. Let’s knit a blanket with this lint and forget about the rest.

  10. MIDNIGHT SHEET CLEANING
    by Bernardo Villela

    I’d blacked out. It was like I’d awoken standing in the middle of the bedroom. The sheets were bloody. It wasn’t mine.
    Gathering the linens, I left my apartment.
    Riding the elevator down to the laundromat, I recalled my first emergency sheet cleaning following an adolescent wet dream. This time I wasn’t hiding evidence from my mother, but the police. I was much calmer and that was frightening.
    The laundromat was empty. After two hours of heavy duty washing, I went back up.
    In my apartment, I went to the restroom, the body was in the bathtub. And it moved.

  11. Juan Roberts says:

    A man wakes up in an empty laundromat, his head pounding. He squints at the scene before him—rows of dryers, empty metal carts. The drumming in his skull feels like a bass drum in a marching band. Sitting up, he glances left and right, confused. His attention focuses on a single dryer. He realizes the drumming isn’t in his head—it’s coming from inside the dryer. He peers closer. Sees a figure moving in the dryer. The previous night slaps back into his memory. “God, no” he whispers, horrified. His night replays in fragments. He knows who is inside.

  12. Robin Wright says:

    Permanent Holiday
    He didn’t see it coming. That day she’d move on to bigger and better things, a new career, liberation from the mundane, dirty-work , her lot in life. His life just got messy, stinky; hers is just beginning. Today is her Fourth-of-July―her first true fireworks―her first taste of what life can be for the bold.

    He found her rings tied up in twine, hanging on the refrigerator door next to the grocery list. Inside was cold pizza and beer. He grabbed the milk carton, gulped with relish as it drooled down his chin and dribbled onto the hard tile floor.

  13. Mikki Aronoff says:

    Agita

    Gina slumps into the utility room, dragging the wicker basket across the floor. She leans over the washing machine, raises the lid. As she jiggles the drum, she imagines ancient widows beating black clothes against rocks in icy, rushing streams, sheep bleating nearby. Gina lifts the pile of his clothes to her nose, sniffs smoke and sweat. Cheeks slicked, she clicks the wash selector from hot to cold and back again, lets the laundry fall back into the basket over and over—a robot stuck in replay, each time insisting “Again,” each time retracing her steps, heels scuffing linoleum. “Just…one…more…time.”

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