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Our May 2024 Flash Contest was based on Prompt #304 (provided by Stone Soup intern Sage Millen), which asked that participants write a story based on one of their favorite songs. Musical inspirations included Shawn Mendes, Ruth B., LL COOL J, and Brandi Carlisle. Characters faced 200 ft demons, made new friends, and attended incredible concerts. In one submission, a case of mistaken identity even led to an arrest! As always, thank you to all who participated, and please keep submitting next month!

In particular, we congratulate our Honorable Mentions, listed below, and our Winners, whose work you can appreciate below.

"I Can Tell That We are Gonna Be Friends" by Sejal Arora-Patel, 10
"Child Psychology" by Sarah Hu, 12
"Fallout" by Gargi Mondal, 12
"Talking to the Moon" by Dora You, 11
"Oh Klahoma" by Melody You, 13

Honorable Mentions
"Older" by Meera Amin, 13
"The Dandelion Wish" by Brielle Barlow, 12
"As Is" by Erin Mundt, 11
"The Wish Tiger" by Jiya Parekh, 10
"Floater" by Zoe Pazner, 13

I Can Tell That We are Gonna Be Friends


Song: "We're Going to Be Friends" by The White Stripes

Fall is here

Kids are shouting and yelling and I kind of don’t know how to feel. The school building stretches high in front of me, and fall leaves are scattered on the ground. Red, yellow, orange, and rare purple that match the shoes I secretly like even though boys aren’t supposed to like purple shoes. They make climbing the fence easier, racing the new girl whose curly brown hair makes her look pretty.

“I forgot my new math book.” I whisper quietly.

“You can borrow mine if I can take your cursive pen.” She says.

“Is red okay?”

“Red’s my favorite color.”

I can’t help grinning ‘cause I think this must be some kind of good omen.

Suzy Lee

“Thanks for letting me borrow your book.” I tell the girl with the curly hair.

“No problem.” She does a smile that makes me smile.

I hope she likes my smile.

“What’s your name?”

“Suzy Lee.”

“That’s a pretty name.” It is. “Do you wanna walk over there?”

“I like to walk.”

Kids play on the slide and swings and try to go higher than the others. Their shouts echo loud, and we giggle.

I put one foot on the tall redwood that stretches up, up, up. It’s an evergreen.

Green leaves all year. I like that.

“I don’t think you should try to climb that tree.”

“You think?”

“I found a worm.”

“I found a beetle, I think. In this tree.”

We sit down on the grass, and I put the beetle down beside her worm.

“Bug party!”

I giggle and take a breath.

“Do you want to walk to school together tomorrow?”

She nods. “Yeah.”

So we do.

No one else

Walking to school is like a bubble with just us that never pops. And it has shiny colors all over it.

“Have you noticed that our uniforms are dirty?” Suzy’s eyebrows knit together like a caterpillar. We’ve been searching for bugs for days, and we still haven’t found a caterpillar.

“No. Is it class time?”

“I think. I wonder what we’ll learn?”

And if we’ll sit next to each other, I silently think.

Numbers, letters

“Suzy, can you tell me how to spell noun?” Teacher asks.



“How are you so good at spelling?” I giggle.

“Okay, class, let’s get our letter blocks.”

I try to tip them gently, but I accidentally spill them on the floor. “Oops.”

Suzy Lee grabs four blocks. Blue, red, red, blue.

“See? Noun.”

“Doesn't it describe a type of word? Is it an actual word?”


“Can you spell rabbit?”

“No, but I’m gonna bring mine to show and tell.”

Suzy’s rabbit almost got crushed by Big Red when I took it to her house. That’s what teacher calls the ball I accidentally stole. It’s back at school now, ‘cause I’m not an on-purpose thief.

“I don’t think you should. Teacher said my measurement was four whole feet, and your rabbit’s half that. I’m still scared of the Forbidden Forest.

No Time

I used to wanna try out that time-lapse thing on Mama’s phone, but it feels like that with


“You sing like smooth peanut butter, Suzy.”

“Teacher says the same thing.”

“Does she think I sound like a snorting rhino?”

“Pretty much.

“But personally, rhinos are my favorite.”


“Do you need me to tuck you in tonight?”

“No, Mama.” I say, my eyes drooping with sleep. “‘Cause tonight I know what I’m gonna dream about.”

“What, baby?”

“About bugs. And the alphabet.

“And Suzy Lee. Walkin’ to school together.”


“‘Cause, Mama?”

“‘Cause what?”

“I can tell that we are gonna be friends.”

Child Psychology


Song: "Child Psychology" by Black Box Recorder

There is a rumor that in the house uphill, that barren, wooden shaft of a home, there lives a man who can turn flowers into fertile trees, and up top the second hill, a villager carries three coffins over their left shoulder without a hassle. The third hill is dominated by a pack of coyotes, and the fourth is a graveyard. They say these two hills are so close to each other that when a weep or a shout is heard, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between a cry and a plea. Either way, a soul is lost, and in theory, two more will die with it. One, the caregiver, and two, the lover. And although it is frightening how similar fear and grief have become, and the loss of life is nothing short of a tragedy, what’s even more startling is the fifth hill. Amalgamations of brick and stone and mirth lay upon the grassy patch. Red spills from fruit and flesh alike. Plum blossom petals scamper away from the tree they break off from. This is the hill humanity resides in, ignorance. It’s the malady I’ve had the misfortune to raise. By pure definition, it’s indefinitely a pit in space and time and an exceedingly unusual wasteland I bear witness to. The glint of stars winks at a halt.

The night weaves strings of narrow charcoal, and Mother is in love again, although I believe she’s the loveliest out of all her partners. If I were any more alive, maybe I could tell her that. Alas, no one’s allowed to visit her in the ER yet. Today, she pines after a china vase of chrysanthemums by the windowsill, where the twilight bellows blessings to her. Six hours from now, I’ll be queuing at a ticket office while Mother gets her heart cut open at the crack of dawn. Neither of us will ever live again.

Frangible, the line between midnight and day collapses a second time, and I watch as it diffuses into tendrils of cloud atop the haze. The train station underneath revels in metal and machinery, tempered by stamps of people and noise crinkling into a knotted ball of tumbleweed. Words—despite all their buoyancy—lumber between platforms in a frenzy as the train hurls to a leisurely standstill. Heavy mist lines the windows, and the glass is steamed in the way one’s eyes would glaze over in a decayed state—ran molten and ready to gouge itself—and, as if in synchronicity, for a brief, foreboding moment, my reflection pilfers the edge of a window, and the face of something so morbidly undeserving of salvation stares back at me. Death waits and stutters in the air.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the conductor. We are delayed because of an investigation. Thank you for your patience.”

Probability craves a satiating outcome.

The inevitable continues feeding.



Song: Fallout by Neoni and UNSECRET

Where am I?


Is anyone there?


Why can’t I see anything?





6-17-2678, 20:17

“Come on, Cal!”

“Wait up!”

“I’ll race you to the bunker!”

“Hey, no fair! You got a head start!”

The two children ran to the low, squat building in the corner of the field, scrambled down the ladder, and plopped down on the dusty ground of the bunker. Cal opened a can of rations and tossed some to his sister, Amiyah. “Hey Cal,” she said. “Why do we have to be here?”

“I dunno. Go ask Mom or Dad. They should know.”

Amaiyah promptly ran down to the other end of the underground bunker, to where Cal’s Mom was standing, and babbled up her questions.

“Mom? Why do we have to be here? Why can’t we live on the top floor like we used to?

And why is everyone always walking around and looking at the sky all the time?”

“I don’t know, honey. Go ask Dad.”


Amiyah again went scurrying down to the side of the bunker to her Dad, who just told her:

“The country has told us to take cover, and as for the sky, some shooting stars and a comet are supposed to appear in broad daylight.”

“Oooh! That’s cool!”

Cal’s dad just looked at her with a sympathetic expression. “Well, now you know. How about you go play with your brother over there?” Amaiyah grinned and ran back towards her brother. Cal watched her as she told him everything that he had already heard. “That’s great.” Cal said, but his mind was working at a hundred miles per hour, on one certain question: Why take cover for a comet? Is it even a comet at all?


Hush now, dry your eyes. Fate is upon us, the changing of times.
Welcome, blood red skies. Burn in the wake of a world left behind.

6-19-2678, 4:37

“Mom? Dad? Where are you? What’s happening?”

“Cal! Amiyah! Where are you?”

“Dad! I’m here!”

Cal stumbled around the haze blindly, holding Amaiyah’s hand. She grasped it just as tightly.

They had been coming home from the square after buying some food and water, when all of a sudden they heard a loud sound coming from the marketplace... or what used to be the marketplace. The hustle and bustle ended quickly– leaving a charred plain of silence where the stands once displayed their goods. They had stood there, frozen, until Amiyah tugged on Cal’s sleeve and told him to run.

Amiyah pulled Cal into the present again. “Cal! Let’s go! We’ve got to reach the bunker!” She was right. The dust cloud swirled around the two children, until they could only see each other by the tracking lights on their wrists. They pushed ahead, groping around for the door and following the familiar feel of the worn dirt path under their feet. Finally, they stumbled into the hatch of their bunker.

“Amiyah, get over here! I need help opening the hatch!”

“Hold on, I’m coming!” Her voice was muffled by the scarf around her nose and mouth. Amiyah trudged her way to Cal and with one big tug, the hatch flew open. They clambered down into the bunker and pulled the hatch down. They promptly collapsed onto the ground, The bottles of water and cans of food tumbling out of the bag and onto the ground. Cal sat up, and only then did he realize something: where were his parents? They were in front of him when he was on the path; he had heard them. But now, where were they? He climbed up the ladder and was about to open the hatch when boom. The ladder snapped under the force of the explosion. Debris and scrap metal flew everywhere. Cal could hear his sister screaming somewhere below him. He clung to the ladder, even as it fell, and did not let go until something flew into his head and everything went dark.


Down to the ashes, bones are left to dry.
Waves of desolation; there’s nowhere safe to hide.

“Cal. Cal? Wake up. Please. Wake up!”

Cal could barely register what was happening. He felt like he was hearing through a tunnel filled with cotton. He felt like a puddle of nothing, with no energy. He finally managed to open his eyes to see a very concerned sounding shape hovering over him. “Mom...” The figure looked at him and fidgeted. She opened her mouth to speak, but couldn’t seem to get the words out.

“Umm...Cal...Mom and Dad... they didn’t...umm...”

Cal didn’t need her to finish the sentence. It all came back in a flash–the explosion, the ladder breaking, the debris, Amiyah screaming. He bolted upright, and the blankets slipped off of him. He sat there and stared at his hands, trying to comprehend what had happened the night before...how long was it since then? “Hey... Amiyah...” Cal croaked out. “How long was I...”

“For... umm...a day and a half...I think.”

Cal held his head in his hands and stared at the light on his wrist. The normally white light now glowed orange under his skin, symbolizing mild injuries. He didn’t care. “It’s all my fault. If I had kept track of Mom and Dad they wouldn’t be...” Cal couldn’t finish the sentence. He choked on his words.

And then he broke down.

“I’m sorry Amiyah... I’m so sorry...this is all my fault–”

Amiyah cut him off, encircling Cal in a hug and whispering to him: “No, it wasn’t.” Just that one small phrase gave him hope again, even in this bleak place. Cal felt embarrassed; he was the older one, he should be comforting his younger sister, who was nine years old and had to live through nuclear fallout. It would be okay...they would make it through together.

And they did.

Talking to the Moon


Song: "Talking to the Moon" by Bruno Mars

Bianca sat on the sand, gazing at the sea, listening to the gentle whoosh that accompanied the small waves as they kissed the shore. The sun dipped into the horizon like a coin into a wishing well. A battered blue notebook in one hand, she tucked a strand of silver hair behind her ear, wondering how she should write her essay about endangered sea turtles.

She was the top student in every class, but ever since the accident, she was dropping behind, staying after school for detention almost every day.

The dinner bell sounded. Bianca sighed, and slowly stood up, brushing sand off her dress, making a mental note to tell Mr. Hamilton that she had forgotten to bring her homework again - the third time this week.

Life at the orphanage was peaceful for most children, but a group of girls liked to pick on Bianca, at her lopsided glasses, her uneven hair and her eyes that were way too small.

As Bianca was bringing her food to her favorite spot, a cozy corner behind a large potted plant, the leader of the girl squad, Tiffany, pushed her, splattering Bianca’s face with tomato sauce. “Oops, sorry,” Tiffany sneered “As if you would look any uglier. I bet your dad left after taking one look at your hideous face”.

Memories flashed before Bianca’s eyes: Her childhood without a father, the day her mom never came back, the lifeless body lying on the road, when the police knocked upon the door, telling the story of how her mom was drunk and hit a lamppost while driving.

A lump formed in her throat, and she ran into her room, slamming the door behind her. She collapsed on the bed, her cries barely audible, like the soft whispers of the wind on a cold, lonely night. But each stifled sob echoed the ache in her heart.

Night unfurled his velvet cloak embroidered with glittering diamonds, and the moon began its ascent into the night sky, casting a soft, silvery glow over the land. The stars twinkled in the darkness, and a gentle breeze rustled through the trees.

Bianca knelt by her window, eyes fixed on the rising moon. She felt a connection to the glowing orb, as if it held the answers to all her problems. She began to speak softly, her words carried away on the wind. "Oh, moon," she said, her voice filled with longing and wonder, "Help me, please. Show me the way to happiness." She poured her heart out, sharing her hopes and dreams, her fears and sorrows.

The moon seemed to listen, its light growing brighter and more intense. Bianca felt a sense of peace wash over her, as if the moon was speaking directly to her soul. “Don’t worry,” it seemed to say, “everything will be alright.” She closed her eyes and let the moonlight envelop her, filling her with a sense of purpose and hope. And as the night wore on, Bianca and the moon continued their silent conversation, sharing their wishes under the watchful gaze of the stars

As the years passed, Bianca grew into a strong and resilient woman, guided by the light of the moon and the strength of her own spirit. And though she never forgot the pain of her past, she found comfort in the knowledge that she was never truly alone, for the moon was always there, shining down on her with love and protection.

Bianca continued to talk to the moon, grateful for its presence in her life and the hope it brought her each night.

Oh Klahoma


Song: "Oh Klahoma" by Jack Stauber

The child crouched behind the sack of flour, her breath still. The sound of footsteps, loud and uneven, caused a laugh to escape from her lips. This sound, though quiet compared to the trilling of the frogs outside, gave her away.

“Guess you found me, Klahoma,” she warbled, tripping over her baby brother’s name like she always did. “Now… your turn. You hide now.”

The baby, his hands and knees positioned firmly on the wagon floorboards, cooed and giggled.

The child placed two dusty palms against her eyes, slowly counting to twelve—the highest number she knew. “One… two…”

By the time she was finished, the baby was gone. A wide grin spread across the child’s face. She knew exactly where her brother was hiding—behind the set of spare wagon wheels propped against the canvas near the back of the vehicle. Ever the competitive older sibling, she was jubilant to be the winner every round.

“Found you!” the child chirped, peering behind the wheels.

There lay her brother, his torso horrifically twisted and bent. He was crying, tears spilling down his soft baby cheeks. Before the sight of it registered in the girl’s mind, she was screaming. The child whipped back and took off to the front of the wagon, toddling as fast as her little legs could take her.

“Oh, Klahoma! Klahoma’s really hurt!” she shrieked. Outside, the bearded man who walked alongside her wagon as it trundled along the trail stood leaning against one of the wagon wheels. A black spire of smoke floating from his cigar, the man looked back at her, looking more annoyed than worried. The child could not comprehend how nonchalant he was—he took his time climbing onto the wagon.

“Those aren't meant to bend. No, those aren't meant to bend!” The girl shrieked, tugging the man by his two fingers as she tore through sacks of food and crates of clothes to get to her brother.

The man pulled ahead, coming to a halt at the wheels, inspecting it with a frown. “There is nothing here, child,” he said, regarding the girl with a disdainful expression.

The girl glanced behind the wheels, still gasping. Her brother was sitting there, babbling and laughing as if nothing had happened.

“There is nothing here,” he repeated. “Now, come on. There’s a stew prepared outside, and we had best get a bowl before the others finish it.”

She nodded, still shaken. The man headed off first, and before the girl followed, she beckoned to her brother. “Come, Klahoma, it’s dinner,” she said.

The two of them trailed behind the man but kept their distance, even at the bonfire, where they sat in the dirt, playing with the pinecones on the ground.

A few feet away, a group of men huddled together, each nibbling on a piece of stale bread.

“Remember the Barnetts? That widowed woman with the little girl and the baby? Their oxen went missing, if I remember correctly.”

“Yes, the woman was so kind. She lent us an axle when ours broke…”

“It was a few days ago. The woman and her baby, Oklahoma I think was his name, were trampled beneath the wheels… it was horrific, the baby was nearly split in two… none made it…I took the girl in, but she is acting very strangely…”

The child frowned, looking back at her brother. “It’s a scary story. You don’t want to hear this. Come on, let’s go back to the wagon.”

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