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.

A panoramic dental x-ray.

Art Credit: Ryan

63 Responses to “Photo Prompt”

  1. Lavinia Andrei Jennings says:

    She stepped into the dentist’s office, hopeful and fearless. He had flirted with her on the phone, which she read as genuine kindness, a bit otherworldly.
    His assistant, shapely and golden head to toe, hovered reassuringly over her papers. He entered, bulky, and distracted; his face emptied of all expression. They worked out an evasive plan of treatment, like a prenuptial agreement for a doomed marriage.
    He had never realized the youthful voice and the radiographic photo belonged to a woman over 60.
    Fading away with each minute, thanking repeatedly, apologetically, she trickled out of the building. Never to return.

  2. Thompson Emate says:

    An Immigrant’s Visit

    “Oh! My goodness.”
    “Sir, what’s the problem?” she stuttered.
    “Thank God you came on time.”
    He started at her. Her heart pounded.
    “Doctor, is there any problem?” she spoke softly.
    “Yes ma’am.” He sat up and continued, “Your gums are bruised and weak. Had it been you didn’t come at this moment, you’d have lost all your teeth.”
    “Oh! My goodness.”
    She started at him.
    “Yes. They would have fallen off. But no problem. Thank God you’re here. I’ll take care of everything. I’ll treat your gum first then I’ll face your teeth.”
    “Thank you, doctor.”
    “It’s my deepest pleasure.”

  3. John Lander says:

    I Was Going To Donate Plasma

    But I trip face first running to the bus stop. On the basement couch, an ice-rag sousing blood, I remember my teeth as a kid, square and bright like a dentist’s office. I had insurance then. I slept upstairs. Now I’m here and my mouth is a used advent calendar. Split nerves yank barbed wire through my skull. I’m terrified I’ll sneeze, so I suppress the thought, along with the longing cankering in my core. “I see you,” I murmur, knuckling my sternum to disperse the urge. I’m rotating aspirin and ibuprofen. “That’s enough,” I convince myself. “It’ll be enough.”

  4. Richard Edenfield says:

    My Ex Called Ray

    “Make it smile”, he said with the novocaine still plastered to his nerves so his words came out in a smudge of a whisper. The knife penetrated and dismembered orange like the sun calling a cautious shine against the chrome of my motorcycle. The teeth were crooked. The eyes are uneven. And it was more of a grimace than any form of menacing optimism. We put the candle inside and waited for night. Our marriage was over, and it was these little ceremonies that gave it meaning: shopping, birthdays, holidays. I lit the candle. His x-rays still in my mind.

  5. “Helen’s Finger”

    Timmy was a strange kid. He’d been born with an index finger where a lateral incisor should be. His body was riddled with bites and odd scratches, as without thinking, he often used the tooth-finger to scratch his itches.

    The dentist suggested amputating the finger. Digging the appendage out of his upper gum to replace it with a pearly dental implant. Well hell, they would brighten all his teeth giving him a winsome smile.

    Timmy loved the words “winsome smile,” but he also loved the only evidence of his twin sister, Helen, whom his body had absorbed in the womb.

  6. More than Morrow

    When there’s no fingerprints or eye-witnesses, what’s left but to decipher the record of dental imprints on each of the victims? After several hours of careful forensics, the x-ray of a serial killer shines from the white light beneath it. Not so different from the white sheets that cover several bodies to the left and right.

    Do prey share common traits? Common fillings? Or is it simply the way we make sense of the carnage that remains. Use the marks to reconstruct the jaw and face. Hope the lead is enough to make a predator turn prey.

  7. Christy Brothers says:

    Donkey face. That’s what they called her. So she stopped laughing. Even when she wanted to laugh she closed her mouth. She ate apples for snack when no one was watching. She gave piggyback rides to children at the petting zoo. No one saw her smiling because they were too busy bumping in the sun. One day she swatted a fly off her nose and lost her balance. Her gums hit the pavement and so did her teeth. The doctor put her back together but she didn’t look like a donkey anymore. She looked like everyone else. Poor little donkey.

  8. Suzanne Bjornson says:

    My Dentist is the Only Who Truly Knows Me

    He takes his X-rays, erasing the worry lines I hide under makeup, the fleshy double chin that never disappears no matter how many meals skipped, and the taught muscles of just smile, sweetheart. He sees my skeleton with the chipped teeth from just grin and bare it and he knows the job, you get it, right? He sees the start of a cavity from celebrating with friends and seeing my niece for the first time and knowing she is the sweetest thing. He takes his tools and fills in the holes in my heart, and will again in six months.

  9. Shannon McCrary says:

    She spent most of her life feeling crooked; crooked teeth, crooked walk, crooked accent. Today was no exception.


    She took a deep breath before slinking into the audition room. The cello leaned heavily against her. As she began to play, pulling the bow across the strings, she felt her spine shrink. With each note she played more viciously, growing smaller and smaller, until there was nothing left but the cello. Still, it played on, consuming the crooked woman until she was nothing but a speck inside it’s hollowed out skin.

    It was the tallest the crooked woman ever felt.

    • Lisa H. Owens says:

      I love your story. I felt the exhiliration of the crooked woman shrinking until only the music remained. Beautiful!

  10. Rob says:

    “Great Truths”

    The fasten seatbelt sign serenely chimed, before the flight attendants smashed into the plane’s ceiling and the cabin filled with black smoke. We dropped 25,000 feet in seconds/minutes. Who knew? No announcement from the captain. No time to scream, reach for a comforting hand, or realize this was the grand finale. Only time to think, I should’ve drove and white knuckle the armrest, bracing for impact. The rescue team used this x-ray to identify me. No survivors, no surprise. People are not birds, better to remain on terra firma, where we belong, close to home. Those gold fillings, though, eternal.

  11. Ashley Reynolds says:

    She remembered when his baby teeth came in one by one, slicing fresh gums. Soothed only at the breast, she knew how fleeting it all was. He grew older, and his baby teeth fell from his mouth like bookmarks, holding space for the man he would become.

    She watches as he grits his mouth in pain. She had told him to be careful, but he set his jaw, determined to show just how big he was.

    “How?” The doctor asks.

    His teeth too humble to ask her for a hug, she reaches to wipe the bloody tear from his cheek.

  12. Aromantic

    You say there’s no such thing as a spirit sniffer, but here’s the proof… right on X-ray. There between my endless fillings is the stuff of life leaking in. I knew it was your grandmother as soon as I inhaled baby powder with a touch of vanilla. She always did smell like she’d been baking banana bread after stepping from the bath. She’s not the first. I’ve assimilated a host of spirits not ready to say goodbye. But she’s the first I’ve loved, and that’s hard. I suppose she’s just keeping her promise—so that neither of us dies alone.

  13. Dental Technician’s Daughter

    You would think I’d have perfect teeth but my rebel dad ranted about how too much is made of braces, fluoride. Besides, he was gone before I was seven and mom with a thing for those sugar-coated orange slice jellies. If we took them from Grammy’s candy dish, it didn’t count. The heart condition ran in dad’s family—all the men toppling in their 50’s. It always freaks me, how the x-rays see all the way to the root. How the teeth are in there before you’re even born. Secrets waiting to break through the surface, like tiny grave markers.

  14. Kira Huntley says:

    The bright lights of the room flashed like headlights in her eyes as the dentists moved around her. In the harsh sprays of the dentist’s tools she heard the screech of tires on wet road. They removed her shattered teeth, a sharpness that cut her from within. Her hand grasped for his, no longer there beside her. “You’ll come back in for the dentures” they told her, smiling with whole mouths and hearts. With passing time her body stitched itself back together and her mouth moved around new teeth, but she knew her smile would never be the same again.

  15. Teddy Kimathi says:

    If you bite a slice of pizza without taking off the bite, and leave it unattended to attend to an impromptu emergency meeting, a third grade child next to your table (to be precise, previous table) will tell a waiter that the pizza on the plate has a bite that resembles a shark bite. The shark week crew might be called to come an analyze the bite, and see whether they’ll get a tooth stuck on the pizza – they get a wisdom tooth. The go-getting spirit for a better life is a sure sign we still are evolving to sharks.

  16. Meredith Asuru says:

    Your mother had called you the night before to leave before the clock struck noon. But you sat in the living room snacking chocolate and seeing a movie. When the cast propped up, you looked at your watch. 12:33 PM. You drew one folder from three on the centre table and hurried to the clinic. Luckily the doctor was still around.
    “Welcome Sandy.”
    “Sorry, I’m late doc.”
    “No problem, just hand me the file. Let’s see what the x-ray says.”
    You do and as he unveils it, you shriek, “My mistake doc.”
    He smiles and calls you sweet tooth.

  17. Banjo Hannah says:


    “I can’t save this front one,” said the dentist. “It’ll have to go. Shall I do it now?”

    “It’s her thirteenth birthday tomorrow,” said mum.

    “She’s in pain.”

    Mum nodded. I shrank in the chair.

    A thumb prised my bottom lip open. I screamed. A needle sank into my gum. Something pushed and pulled and pushed and pulled beneath my top lip.

    “Got it!”

    Mum yelped.

    “When would you like an appointment for a replacement?”

    “How much?”


    Mum shook her head. Tears welled.

    On the way home, I stopped before a window to see my reflection. Mum kept walking.

    by Bernardo Villela
    Teeth continue decaying. Almost all my teeth are filled. They will all fall, Raul thought recalling his nocturnal visitor’s offer.
    “Join me,” the creature growled. “Why submit to the inevitable, when you can have this?” Then it smiled revealing a mouthful of six-inch steel nails.
    Raul gazed into the mirror and made up his mind. With a pipe wrench he easily plucked out his incisors and canines. The claw-end of a hammer finished the job.
    All smiles, blood poured out of his mouth. Then the points of nails poked out of his raw gums. He was teething anew.

  19. Rachel Cain says:

    Human Connection

    Allen was an old bot. Dr. Benson was surprised he’d made it so long without being told.

    She didn’t like to say anything until the x-rays glowed in the lightbox. These conversations were easier with proof that under the skin laid wires in place of bones.

    But Allen’s hand caught hers before the x-ray made it out of the file.

    “Please” he whispered.

    The folder closed.

    Instead, for fifteen minutes Dr. Benson poked Allen’s acrylic teeth with metal tools, pretending to remove plaque, while saline tears flowed from under protective shades.

    It was the most human she’d felt in years.

  20. Kai Bryan says:

    The Virus

    He examines my mouth, with a mask covering his. Sweat rolls down my face with anticipation. He pauses for a moment, then rushing out the door.

    He comes back after a few minutes holding a document. His eyes glued to it. They shift to me, narrowing.

    Once more he exits then returns with a woman. Getting a closer look she analyzes my mouth.

    Pupils widening, she backs away. They whisper back and forth.

    “He has the virus.”

  21. Tara Knight says:


    They raised us here and spilled some tears. My father is not the young man he used to be, but his posture still holds that old iron.

    “Why does the floor feel like this? ” I ask, not wanting the answer but needing to fill in the spaces between us. With questions, with the weather, with a matrix of words, hoping they will be the glue that holds us together. That had always been Mom’s job.

    “It’s not the floor, it’s what is underneath. ”

    I listen as my tongue worries the edges of my loose incisor, and I think about bones.

  22. Cheryl Snell says:

    The Best Part of the Man

    The man yawns and his spirit drops out. Released from its swaddle, it swirls in the air like foam on the head of the man’s 5 o’clock beer. There are drinkers like him all over the world, watching the hands of the clock move. When the man falls, and his wife blows her panicked breath into his mouth, blocking the spirit’s re-entry, she opens her lips to her first wail as a widow. The spirit slips into her; it’s the least it can do. The woman’s soul welcomes the best part of the man. She had been so lonely lately.

  23. Kornel Farkas says:

    If crème frappes could fly

    If crème frappes could fly, they would all want to do it precisely like that: on a sunny seaside terrace in picturesque Sicily, coated with the incomparable languor of Mediterranean evenings, followed intently by a swarm of fake-surprised, drama-loving onlookers (they’re the same everywhere), majestically and vehemently swung into the air by Angelica Mulligan (actress, 21) after realizing that Frank Dayson (movie producer, 39) cheated on her twice during their one-week pre-engagement vacation, hitting said gentleman in the face and knocking off two of his perfect teeth up front. If in doubt, see evidence attached.

  24. Fazal says:


    Thinking in terms of torture?
    You can go back to the time of the Pharoahs. You will need massive stones, chains, whips.
    You can go back to the time of Christ. You will need a hill, a cross, some nails.
    You can go back to medieval times. You will need dungeons, iron chains, racks.
    You can go back to World War Two. You will need trenches, Chlorine, atom bombs.
    Recent past, you can go back to the wars in Iran, lraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine You will need misogyny and desire to destroy.
    Today? Just leave the person in a dentist’s clinic.

    • Mary says:

      I really like the poetic feel to this piece. I also (along with countless others I am sure) relate very well to the ending. Nice job and thank you for sharing.

  25. Rabab says:


    My brother Pete and I are identical twins. We were in the same class and got identical marks.
    Today, although we work in different places, we use the same instruments- excavators, drills, probes, curettes, suction devices, scalers, burnishers, even X- rays.
    However it is always cool
    and bright in the room where l work. His work takes him to different places, most of them dark and forbidding.
    However, whatever l excavate is immediately discarded, whatever he excavates is proudly displayed. The difference? I work with the living, he works with the dead. I am a dentist and he is an archeologist.

  26. My Father’s X-ray

    Even with his memory gone, his teeth continue, and I take my father to the dentist because food must be chewed, and the father he was would never use a feeding tube. He was tall and strong and shirt muscles, but now he is a broken bird on the dentist chair. The x-ray on the computer screen shows the shadows of teeth that match the rest of his eerie white bones. From here, it looks the rest of the skeleton that lives inside him, skin stripped away. Not so much an x-ray, but a photo of what is to come.

  27. Zoey L. says:

    Growing up

    The whirring of the drill in your mouth causes the throbbing pain in your head. You swallow back the feeling of disgust from the saliva built up in your mouth. The moment is like being in a horror movie, but all your emotions have to be hidden behind the dark veil of maturity.

    After growing past the age of needing a stuffed animal while lying down, or receiving candy for behaving at the dentist, you feel like the right to express fear and pain had been buried deep into the sand. No emotion could be shown. Not anymore.

  28. Scott Soodek says:

    Until the hiker found her, only the sun, moon and stars knew she was buried in that shallow grave. The years and nature took its toll, but her skull and teeth were intact. Forensics would be called, but word filtered out about the discovery to the townies. Their initial suspicions about the identity turned to certainty. She had disappeared twenty years ago. Hooked up with some drugged out drifter and was never seen again. Her parents waited and hoped until they finally died of sorrow. In the end, dental records told the story. From silent mouths the truth is brought

  29. Lauren Forstner says:

    In a city square, tourists gathered, but their focus was not on the vibrant surroundings or the diverse cultures around them. Instead, their attention was fixated on their cameras and smartphones, capturing every moment through a lens. They maneuvered through the crowd, oblivious to the beauty of human connection happening around them. Laughter, music, and conversations filled the air, but they remained isolated in their quest for the perfect shot. They got instagram worthy pics with craved for likes and comments but missed the chance for the genuine connections they could have formed with the people and places they encountered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *