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 a computer screen and lots of Slim Fast, RockStar energy drink cans, pills and 5-hour energy.





Art Credit: Christina Xu

67 Responses to “Photo Prompt”

  1. Scott Rothschild says:

    The woman behind the counter placed a tray of donuts into a display case. It was 3 in the morning. I needed coffee, but there were too many options. The woman held up one of those energy drinks and called out, “A shot of this and you’ll feel like you’re rolling down a mountain.” Then she asked, “Where you headed?” “Austin,” I said. “You’ll make the Flint Hills around sunrise. Stay awake for that and you’ll see how pretty they are,” she said. So, I drank my first energy drink. I did stay awake. And the Flint Hills were gorgeous.

  2. Ani Banerjee says:

    She needed to finish the brief before eight yet she could not concentrate. Thoughts and ideas floated in her head, never clicking, never fitting together. Her head palpitated, exploding ideas, painkillers, medicines she should not be taking. She was losing weight, ten pounds in two weeks, her wedding in five, she needed to look gorgeous. Even though David said he loved her as she is, a blimp filled with candy and alcohol, because fairy tales were real and their wedding night was fairy tale, happily ever after would happen, except this night when she lost her breath, would never end.

  3. Monique B. says:

    This is it, the championship game is tomorrow! Ok, I need to prepare for the big day. Wait! What time is it? 2:37am, oh shoot! Ok, I definitely need a good night’s rest, but I can’t sleep for the life of me! Let me grab a slimfast, that will help me go to sleep. Oh wait! I didn’t finish my term paper! Alright, I’m pulling an all-nighter. Where’s my energy drink? I’m gonna need a couple of shots to pull this night off. 6% phone battery left, oh no, my phone charger is not working. MY LIFE IS OVER!

  4. Ragahad K. says:

    “Hurry up and finish what I told you”- yells dad. He always takes advantage of my knowledge. He has me hack all day and night for him. He even buys me all the energy drinks so I can stay up. He is an addict and ever since my mom died last year all he does is exploit me into doing his dirty work. The amount of cash I have hacked this year is more than enough to build us a beautiful house and leave the projects, but all my dad cares about is getting more drugs for him and his friends. He chugs down my throat Tylenol every two hours. Sometimes I wish I can just run away but I know i’m still to young to survive on my own. He tells me if I snitch i’ll go to jail with him since i’m the one hacking. I wish sometimes that my life is a dream and I can just wake up from it.

    • michael easterling says:

      ‘come on guys we have to beat this boss so we can get all the best drops from it and remember that the boss goes away tomorrow, so we can’t waste anytime doing something else”, says Tim. ‘You might wonder how we’re all gonna stay up and beat this boss but don’t worry I have the good stuff to keep us awake long enough to achieve our goals and then celebrate’. As you can probably tell that this is a regular night for gamers when it comes to timed events, the best part for gamers is completing missions with their friends when everyone is earning something from that event.

  5. Carlentz E says:

    Crunch Time

    8 page essay due by tomorrow. What am I gonna do? It’s 12 am. I shouldn’t have procrastinated this long. I can’t believe she’s making me write about the same story again. 3am I’m nowhere near the finish line, I’m starting to get tired. Down the hall from my room, past the lobby there’s a vending machine near the security room. The guards won’t let me get to it. It’s against the rules to be on that side of the building. But it’s my only hope there’s a lot of energy drinks in there. Sneak over there and get it and finish the paper. It didn’t help at all YOU FAIL.

  6. Kayla M says:

    “You’re young, live your life” they say, but how? It feels like I’m surviving instead of living my young life. Losing sleep at night from stressing so much and living off of energy drinks trying to stay up throughout the day for class. Having to take pills for my health and my thyroid condition everyday. I don’t know how it feels to have a constant appetite anymore, I guess slim fast drinks will work well enough for me. It gets rough, music and school work is my only distraction at this point. But I still think to myself, will I ever get through this?

  7. Shaun says:

    I am in the back of the library hoping no one notices how stressed I am. I got all this stuff just to stay awake running on zero sleep with a final tomorrow. I have so much on the line. I was a 4.0 student in high school. Now I am doing everything I can to try to just understand enough information to pass. What got me to this point is 3 energy drinks, no time to eat taking 5 hour energy and pills just to stay awake. Is it worth it? Will I even pass? How will my parents react? Will I get a job? My parents told me I will save the family. I will make the problems go away but yet I rely on these things on the table in front of me to save me.

  8. Eliot Li says:


    But he reads online that caffeine’s a viable alternative. It opens blood vessels.

    “We’re doing something special for our 30th anniversary,” Max tells Sylvie.

    Even after his fifth energy drink, nothing happens. Instead, he experiences squeezing chest pain.

    In the ER, Sylvie holds his hand.

    Fortunately, doctor says it’s just a panic attack from caffeine overdose.

    He remembers his first panic attack, on a plane to Hawaii with Sylvie. They were college students. She screamed, “Is there a doctor on board?” He thought he was dying. So, looking into her terrified face, he finally said it, “Sylvie, I love you.”

  9. Adam says:

    Say Uncle

    That’s the thing about women, my Uncle Dick tells me, you have to leave them before they leave you, and I believe him because he’s been divorced three times, and he tells me the best way to pick up women is to be a little mean to them like when you’re a kid, and I believe him because I saw his second wife leave in a rush hiding her face, and late at night when he’s in his room and I hear crying, I ask him if he wants anything, and he sobs and says no, and I believe him.

  10. Kalliopy Paleos says:

    No one’s going to tell me what to Goddamn do. Got plenty of supplies left. No one heard her tell me, anyway. Haven’t had a fever in three days and I’m off everything else. Haven’t seen a needle since last summer. Everybody thinks it’s all in your head, thyroid. How would they fucking like it to watch their eyes slowly pop out of their head and their skin bubbling with pores like boiling pasta water – they wouldn’t, I’ll Goddamn tell you that. The project is mine. Anybody tries to take it, I’ll be up all night taking it right back.

    • Kelann C Carrington says:

      Whats the point of it all? i can just sit back relax and pop these pills, no one wouldnt care. All i need is my pills to give me happiness in life, trying and trying but for what? I’ve been talking to the voices in my head and they also agree, the only happiness ill ever achive is from the little happy pills

  11. When the World Became a Red Light
    by Lauren Kardos

    That first week, we used up all the fresh food. Now at night, the generator hums like a melancholy titan, and though the internet’s a relic, I spelunk through my high school PC to pass the hours. English papers on the symbols of red lights and green lights, history projects on borders long forgotten. Digital camera blurry smiles at musical curtain calls and home game bonfires. Sentry shift is mine next. I reach for another Rockstar and Slim-fast, taste buds anticipating the adrenaline rush and sated belly, and I realize I’ve doodled with a blue Sharpie; today was once Christmas.

  12. Lauren says:

    On Living with Autoimmune Disease:

    I read a quote that an overweight woman’s shirt said Guess, and Arnold Schwartzenegger answered, thyroid problem and I think of this when I pop Levothyroxine each morning, see my figure getting rounder my once flat belly needing taming, a tuck into jeans buttoned up high, and I wonder how his bulky muscles look now, and is he popping steroids, slamming Monsters; is he choking down diet pills with Slim Fast, is he wishing something would make his body a version of itself he recognizes, if it will keep waging a war he can’t win.

  13. LISTS

    What Helps Me Through Another Day:
    – Rockstar Energy Drinks (3, back to back before you come home)
    – 5-Hour Energy Shots (2 instead of morning coffee)
    – Zoloft (2 a day, but 1 or 2 extra take the edge off)

    What Helps Me Escape:
    – Noise-canceling headphones
    – Laptop full of unfinished stories
    – Doodling when you constantly call to “check-in”

    What Helps Me Look The Way You Want:
    – Slim Fast (2 a day, in place of meals I “eat” when you’re at work)
    – Diet pills (1 every morning, but I take 3 a day)
    – Fingers tickling the back of my throat (2)

  14. “Weight” Loss

    What does it take? A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner? More caffeine and diet pills than my racing heart can stand?

    I wrap my wrists and ankles in weighted bands that feel like shackles. Turn my Ipad on to an old school Richard Simmons video on YouTube where I sweat to the oldies. I see myself in all the smiling faces, happy to be working off the pounds. Until the screen goes dark, and I’m left with myself. More of me than there’s ever been before. And I don’t know how to love her.

  15. Kianna Martinez says:

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m worth it. Nowadays nothing ever feels right. Walking in the halls I get random stares but nobody comes and says hey. Walking outside I see groups of friends but I never found a place to fit in. Am I the problem? From my dorm I hear waves of laughter but I’m never laughing. Am I the problem? Everybody seems to belong here but I don’t feel that. Am I the problem? I can’t find a job on or outside of campus. Why do these things happen to me but everybody seems to fit in perfectly.

  16. Emerson Guevara says:

    This is all for show, I don’t really drink energy drinks, protein shakes, 5-hour energy, or takes any pills. I just know that it’s what people want to see, they want to see the “hustle” mindset, the “I don’t sleep” mindset. I give people what they want to see so they can repost it on their stories on whichever social media they use, and someone can repost what they posted, and the cycle continues. I hope no one notices my file of fat cat magazine or wonders what my burn folder is for. Nahhh I doubt it.

  17. Bryan Uraga says:

    Every day I have to deal with taking medication, it’s always a pain to take it. Do I really want to be cured from what I have? I’m always struggling with keeping up with classwork, homework, and my job. I have to keep taking large amounts of energy drinks just to stay awake and make money to pay off my students’ debts and hospital bills. I thought my life would get easier, but it just keeps getting harder. I barely make any money to feed myself. I just have to bear with protein shakes to make sure I don’t randomly pass out. I wish things would get easier but in reality, I know my wish will never come true, but I can still hope. There’s no escape from this life… well there is but am I prepared enough for it?

  18. Andi Green says:

    I always strive to be better than him. I was the quiet rebellious twin. Thought of as someone clever but flawed. I’lll show them. Now I’ve got this sussed. Start with energy drink for a buzz and then some cans and chocolate. Well food ain’t it. Perhaps some pills later. Who am I kidding? Ive not the guts or sorrow to try anything dangerous. He’ll be round soon. He’ll have to notice me. No point in clearing up.
    This was a stupid idea and not enough to scare anyone. I feel good. Swimmy and silly. Don’t care about the aftermath.

  19. Joselin Mazariegos says:

    working everyday till night. working working but where is the progress. I see the pill only go up and up. getting tired need to drink meds can’t leave unfinished work. can’t eat need to suppress the hunger to finish faster.

  20. Jaylan Perez says:

    People don’t realize that it can be draining and overworking as a teen/early adult these days. They think that since we’re young we don’t have problems to face in the world and they think we only have fun and don’t have responsibility since we’re still young. We feel like we can’t talk or express ourselves to other adults, so we hide our emotions and go into drinking, drugs, energy drinks to keep us up at night. The more the days pass on in keeping our feelings bottled up, the more we lean toward being addicted till it’s too late.

  21. betty freeman says:

    One thing always leads to another. One more bill-in spite of cutting costs so tight that my stomach hurts from hunger and my head hurts while I write each check for each bill due each month. Did I buy a 5 hour energy today? Money, income is merely a definition. It is a river full of ebbs and flows but the bills are a tidal wave-a hurricane not changing it’s course. Have I checked that listing on the internet for publishers? Did I sign all of the checks that I wrote this month? Where is my Rock Star?

  22. Maalik Robles says:

    “One more chance, I promise I’ll get the money by next week! The tournament is coming up in a few days.” Gary begged over the phone. It had been a few days since his last class teaching Karate. His desk sat littered with energy drinks and broken dreams.
    “Mr. Clarence, how many times do we have to tell you?” Someone answered over the phone.
    “Tell me what, I already told you I would get the money!”
    “And we already told you, this is 2022.”
    “Yeah, so what?”
    “You can’t expect to make a stable business out of a Karate Dojo.”

  23. Susan L. R. says:

    Drapes are hung, time stands still. Beams of light linger out of the corner of our window. I get up even though we don’t want to. The sun moves, as does the moon. Single tears run down our cheeks, and I blink them away. I embrace our time without you.

    When drapes fall down, time moves on. Our room is darker than where your head is. We walk down these steps, though I don’t want to. Day is still. Our heart stops beating only moments apart. Yours, as dawn goes through your brown eyes. Mine, after watching your blood dry.

  24. Jupiter Crespo says:

    John. John is my name, and it’s who I must pretend to be. In this studio, nothing else matters filled with pills and caffeine cocktails. I know nothing else and will know nothing else but the fact I am John. All I know is that he is just me. I cannot and will not attempt to remember who I was before I was John and I cannot risk falling asleep and having dreams of my past memories. I know he watches my every move to make sure I do not slip up. And if I do, John will find me.

  25. Shereena Tiana Thames says:

    Hardwork comes with no sleep. You want something in life so you make efforts in getting it. You’ll find yourself always out of energy, but remind yourself that it’ll pay off. You’ll find yourself envying everyone around you that has fun, but remind yourself that you’ll be 10 steps ahead of them. You’ll find yourself drained, on the edge of passing out from sleep deprivation, but that’s when a beautiful Rockstar and five hour energy supplement, come in to save you and remind you on why you were working to begin with. Five years later and your hardwork payed off.

  26. Shereena says:

    Hardwork comes with no sleep. You want something in life so you make efforts in getting it. You’ll find yourself always out of energy, but remind yourself that it’ll pay off. You’ll find yourself envying everyone around you that has fun, but remind yourself that you’ll be 10 steps ahead of them. You’ll find yourself drained, on the edge of passing out from sleep deprivation, but that’s when a beautiful Rockstar and five hour energy supplement, come in to save you and remind you on why you were working to begin with. Five years later and your hardwork payed off.

  27. Kianna Martinez says:

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m worth it. Nowadays nothing ever feels right. Walking in the halls I get random stares but nobody ever comes and says hey. Walking outside I see groups of friends but I never found a place to fit in. Am I the problem? From my dorm room I hear waves of laughter but I’m never laughing. Am I the problem? Everybody seems to belong here but I don’t feel that. Am I the problem? I can’t find a job on campus or outside of campus. Why do these things happen to me but everybody seems to fit in so perfectly.

  28. Janell says:

    Drugs, alcohol, energy drinks, and computers are the life of a college student. For the most part anyway. My heart’s pounding and my ears are ringing. I try to concentrate on my breathing but it keeps getting faster. I know what’s happening, a panic attack. Why did this have to happen now? I try to catch a few breaths but every time I try it’s like the breath is getting caught in my throat. My world is spinning. I sit down with a thump, wondering how I ended up like this. I sit and think.

  29. Brandon P says:

    There are 24 hours in a day, but it only takes a minute for my day to be ruined. I stay up too late and wake up too early to restart another day where my anger grows. People say, “put a smile on your” but how long will that last? My demons in my head stay around longer than my smile in a day. I don’t know how to change, so accept the way I am. Family and friends don’t get it because they think I must pop a pill or drink something for the voices to go away. But they don’t understand there are 24 hours a day, and my demons don’t go away.

  30. Bernardo Villela says:

    by Bernardo Villela
    The landscape of cans, bottles and blister-packs at her workstation struck Marie as ridiculous for a moment. They promised to make what was less about her more: diet drinks would sate hunger longer so she’d lose more weight; energy drinks would keep her more alert; the pills in the child-proof cap would improve her inborn thyroid deficiency. Even her boring beige desk she’d doodled on to make it less boring and beige. Once again, she lamented feeling insufficient and considered leaving it all behind, elsewhere she would be enough, but then she recalls she has bills to pay.

  31. Arionne Williams says:

    “Starting college in NYC is going to be fun!” said your average college student, “I’m going to party and explore Manhattan!” They said. What they didn’t realize is they are completely forgetting the ‘school’ part of school. They are so focused on having fun or the college experience that they didn’t read the syllabus or purchased any upcoming books for their school. So when school started, and they attended their first class, they were completely dumbfounded. “Wow I really just forgot the education part of education” They rubbed their forehead in stress, “What’s up with all these assignments between classes?”

  32. Pam White says:

    Cruel Remains

    Because they were not wealthy it was up to her to clean the aftermath. He was gone, but the fuel and the ashes outlived him in one last act of obscene cruelty. The bottles of energy drinks, the amphetamines, the narcotics, and the vomit on the rug from the times that he’d lived to see another day. Clinic receipts with the diagnosis code: chronic pain. The computer stabbed with evidence of the life that he was actually leading, not the lies. His academic probation. Loss of scholarship for next term flashed as a worry. It was always the wrong worry.

  33. Starling says:

    So sleepy and so tired and yet I chug, chug, chug. The tick tick of the clock lulls me, but I build a throne out of bottles to keep me through the night. What shall await me in my kingdom of dreams if I fail to stay up? Will it be the usual blank faced man who follows me to sleep? Or perhaps the headless twins I occasionally see. Or maybe the shouting. Or the rain. The road. The crash.
    So awake and refreshed and so I chug, chug, chug. The reaper of sleep will not claim another helpless soul.

  34. Christy Brothers says:


    I told him wrong door as he kissed me
    and carried me to the bed. Third date.
    His tongue pushed deeper into my mouth
    until it didn’t. What’s wrong? He pointed
    across the room at the mess. Oh. My
    roommate. She’s got issues. I begged
    him for another kiss. Wait. What are you
    doing? Don’t open that! What if she
    counts? He reached for another pill. Stop!
    He turned and laughed. I tried closing my
    mouth, but his bitter tongue persisted.
    It’s a joke. A joke. He spit the dissolving
    pills into my hand. That’s when the power
    went out.

  35. Ashley Edens says:

    Plan B

    Elise was ready. Twelve-hour nursing shifts at the hospital ICU wears your body out after a few weeks, and she had been doing it for over three years. She wasn’t sure how carrying around an extra sixty-five pounds of baby weight fit in the equation, but she was exhausted. She probably needed to stop referring to it as baby weight, as well. Four years later you’re just fat. And a weirdo in the eyes of those commenting, “Aw, how many months?” One would surmise that running around on your feet all day would count as exercise. Her body felt differently.

  36. Anxious Homo says:

    A Game of Numbers.

    12:18 A.M: I shivered as the 59F a/c froze me. I sipped my 1st Monster- 4 projects due at 8 A.M.
    3:02 A.M: My thunderous yawn echoed in the emptiness. I drank my 3rd Monster.
    4:45 A.M: My stomach’s growl shattered the silence. I chugged 2 vanilla SlimFits – I can’t go over 160 pounds, or I’d have to get surgery.
    5:37 A.M: My body quaked in pain. I swallowed 2 Tylenol and 1 more 5-hour Energy.
    7 A.M: 1 Levothyroxine and the last 5-hour.
    8 A—

    • Pam White says:

      I love this piece. The time-log format is extremely effective, and provides an intimate window into a flawed plan to play the number game that many stumble into in college. Great job of building tension and leaving an uncertain ending. The title was perfect.

  37. S. Tierney says:

    Ketosis: The process of burning one’s fat.
    To get oneself into this state, all reserves of glucose must be depleted from the body – and everywhere else it lingers. Cans tucked behind the sofa, packets hidden at the backs of draws, under beds, in closets, cupboards, boxes, back pockets. All that stimulating and corrosive sugar, packaged so alluringly in pill form and powder, carbonation and bars. Wherever it can be concealed, it has been concealed. Therefore:
    Amelioration: The process of bettering one’s life. In order for this to occur, the vice must first be removed.
    Now for the fat.

  38. Rachel Cain says:

    “Whatever Daisy wants, Daisy Gets.” That’s what her father used to say. This time she wanted to crack the top 25 in the SkyWarrior championships. She perfected her flip-turns, and her fingers were scraped raw from mashing the control key to radiate the blue seekers orb. The game had been in play for days. Her meals were just powdery shakes slurped from cans, energy drinks, and the pills. Those, she told herself, were just for now. But there was a new nerve that pulsed whenever she took them too late in the day. They scared her but she swallowed anyways.

  39. Victor says:

    “Put that stuff away. Now.” Pierson deadpanned Gary. Gary, pissed, waited until Pierson went into his office then turned and looked around at the rest of the staff. Nobody was looking back.

    Returning from lunch, Pierson called Gary into his office. “Don’t make me say it again,” he said.

    Gary started: “You can’t …” and Pierson held up a hand to stop him. “I can and will. We have clients coming in. You know that. What do you think that looks like?”

    Gary huffed and started to speak. Pierson stopped him “You’re talented, Gary. I’ll miss the talent. Understand me?”

  40. Teddy Kimathi says:

    She always looks forward to Instagram and dating sites. Her friends tell her that the internet world is her pilgrimage; a reason for her to be who she is today. Her boyfriend, a lawyer, tells her she’s slimming with impunity – the kind like a child skipping teenage and becoming an adult. “Don’t push your body too hard….be like a sailor who is kind to his sailors, with realistic maritime deadlines.” He always knows he’s going to get a “don’t-lecture-me” look, every time he says such things. Verdict: she’ll crack her case until she’s out of her old self, being reborn.

  41. Dolby says:


    I am irresistible . They – the young and restless , the mature and maverick , the tired and depressed – are drawn to me like a moth to a flame – with much the same result . They think just skimming the surface will not affect them but before the know it , they have plumbed the depths . Like autumn leaves before the raging wind they follow my commands. I am unstoppable . Everyday , newer and newer acolytes succumb to my charms .
    So who am l ? I am a deadly combination of amphetamines , diet pills , protein supplements , energy drinks. Absolute fascination , immediate addiction , inevitable destruction .

  42. Jennifer Shneiderman says:


    John hasn’t left his Boston apartment for ten days. Michiru Yamane’s gothic rock music blares while Castlevania Symphony of the Night 2D figures hunt vampires on his computer screen. John’s eyes are bloodshot and he can’t remember when he had taken his last levothyroxine. His fingers shake as he swallows another tablet and an energy drink. His phone shows two missed calls from his academic advisor and eight from his mother. His caffeine-fueled fingers fly across the keyboard as Dracula’s dark castle appears and the thyroid storm roars through his body. Finally, he joins the slayer in eternal slumber.

  43. The Cost of Winning

    Daddy forgot to lock the door to his office / gaming room … again. The first time it happened, Timmy was only three and ingested a half-dozen Jelly Donuts and a crushed cigarette butt. Mommy called poison control but other than a tummy ache and bout of diarrhea, he went unscathed.

    The second (and final) incident, Tim was thirteen. He, along with two neighborhood kids—in order to enhance their Call of Duty: Warzone skills—did a three-way split on Dad’s secret bottle of Adderall. Five little orange pills apiece, and they played the best, last game of their lives.

    • Pam White says:

      Great writing. Dad’s “secret” bottle of Adderall quietly makes a great point. The deadly clash of Dad’s carelessness and the 13-year old’s zeal to win is sadly realistic. Well done.

  44. Rabab says:

    “Ronnie , lunch !” yells Mom .
    ” Ate at the cafeteria ” , l lie.
    I have to get into the football team.
    ” Workout ! Build some muscle ! ” says the coach .
    So my strict regimen starts : long runs , energy drinks , intense workouts , amphetamines , sleep deprivation , more energy drinks , food deprivation, more amphetamines… They want a lean , mean fightin’ machine and they are going to get one !
    ” Too much time at the gym ?” asks Dad.
    ” Actually , we study half the time , ” I lie again .
    Four weeks : l feel disoriented. I pop in more pills but the room swims around me …
    ” Mom ! ” l scream before passing out .

  45. The truth was I didn’t like talking on the phone. But this job found me as things were getting lean. I was doing that pathetic thing at the grocery store where you watch the subtotal and tell the cashier when to stop. It was hard to say no to opportunity, to money in the bank. I don’t think it was so much my skillset that got me hired. I think they needed warm bodies and needed them fast. A high burnout rate. Stats and quotas. It was a helpline but I felt the help was going in the wrong direction.

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