Howard is an avid short story reader who likes to help others find and understand stories.
Flash fiction is a story that is extremely short, often only a few hundred words long. The generally accepted maximum length for a flash story is 2,000 words. Many flash stories are much shorter than this maximum.
The stories I've included on this page have a maximum length of 1,000 words.
Also known as sudden fiction, these stories are perfect for filling a spare 2–5 minutes. They can be read quickly, but provide a complete reading experience. Some of them will give you as much to think about as a much longer story.
This page will direct you to many examples of flash fiction. There's a brief teaser for each story. As they're so short, I tried not to say too much about them.
I hope you find some enjoyable reading material here.
Flash Fiction Examples Online
The Stones by Richard Shelton
The narrator likes watching the stones grow on summer nights. Young stones move around more and like water, whereas older ones like to stay where they are and keep dry.
Read The Stones
Love Poems by Lon Otto
A man writes a Valentine's Day poem—passionate and genuine, the best one he's ever written. He has a woman in mind whom he will mail it to, timed to arrive on the right day. She will be profoundly moved by it.
Read Love Poems
Night by Bret Lott
A man wakes up in the middle of the night, certain he can hear his child's breathing in the other room. He listens harder to confirm the sound. He gets out of bed.
Grief by Ron Carlson
The King dies. The Queen dies soon after, and they're buried next to each other. The royal coroner lists the Queen's cause of death as grief. The narrator tells the real story.
Truthful Lies by Frankie McMillan
The narrator is able to lie about anything. She tells lies that sound normal or that make things simple for people.
Read Truthful Lies
Little Girls by Tara Laskowski
Jane, a pregnant woman, is outside hanging clothes. She gets a call from her father. He tells her a story of a woman who fell in her home. He warns her to be careful.
Read Little Girls
To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder by Ander Monson
The narrator lays out a set of guidelines to reduce a young woman's chances of getting killed. They're numerous and restrictive, and would require much vigilance.
Oliver's Evolution by John Updike
The narrator provides an overview of the life of Oliver, a family's last-born child. His parents didn't have enough energy for him and were sometimes inattentive. He deals with a variety of challenges and has several close calls as he grows up.
Read Oliver's Evolution
Crazy Glue by Etgar Keret
A woman has bought some crazy glue. The package shows a person hanging upside down from the ceiling, their shoes glued to it. Her husband doubts the glue is that good. He explains that the picture is fake. When he leaves for work, she already knows he'll be late.
Read Crazy Glue
The Light Eater by Kirsty Logan
The narrator is missing someone at Christmas. She gets the urge to taste the Christmas lights—they're small and candy-like.
Insomnia by Virgilio Piñera
A man goes to bed early. He can't fall asleep. He tries a variety of things to fix the problem, but insomnia is persistent.
Like a Family by Meg Pokrass
The narrator is a secretary at an architectural firm. She lives in a tiny apartment. She's waiting for a call from someone who's not around anymore.
Read Like a Family
The Appalachian Trail by Bruce Eason
A woman says she's planning to walk the Appalachian Trail, a distance of 2,000 miles. He tries to dissuade her of the idea, but she's determined to do it.
Dinner Time by Russell Edson
An old man sits at the table while his wife prepares dinner. She burns herself and makes a lot of noise. The man responds by punching his face. The noise and self-abuse only get worse.
Read Dinner Time
Vision Out of the Corner of One Eye by Luisa Valenzuela
A woman on a bus is touched inappropriately by the man sitting next to her. She makes excuses for him. Next, she tries to move to another seat, but there aren't any.
Indigestion by Anton Chekhov
An important man sits down for a large meal. He can't wait to begin eating. He's impatient with the cook, and greedy for satisfaction.
Blue Notebook No. 2 by Daniil Kharms
The narrator describes a redheaded man.
Read Blue Notebook No. 2
Cemetery Path by Leonard Q. Ross
The villagers tease Ivan because he's so timid. He won't walk through the cemetery to get home. One winter night he's challenged to take the shortcut.
Read Cemetery Path
A Patriotic Angel by Mark Budman
A five inch tall angel with a harp stands in an aisle at the supermarket. Len asks her a few questions about what she does. He also asks her to play him a song.
Read A Patriotic Angel
What I Know of Your Country by John Leary
The narrator is a telemarketer, a foreigner who works for KallService. He tells us some of the things he has learned about America from his job.
Guidebook by Christopher Merrill
The narrator outlines the major problems facing an island. It's losing coastline, there's a rapidly rising population, and food and other essentials are in short supply.
The Colonel by Carolyn Forché
The narrator was having dinner in the house of an important man. He has a pistol next to him and the house is fortified. He has a message for his guests.
Read The Colonel
Subtotals by Gregory Burnham
The narrator gives a list of things he's said, done and experienced, with a running total for each.
Dish Night by Michael Martone
A young man and woman go to Wells Theater every week. They go on Dish Night; after the movie everyone gets a dish. Before they can collect them all, Dish Night is cancelled. World War II breaks out, and the man goes to fight.
Read Dish Night
Initials Etched on a Dining-Room Table, Lockeport, Nova Scotia by Peter Orner
A fisherman and his wife discover the letters RGL carved into their kitchen table. They realize it was done by the hired girl they had a few years ago. She's moved away now, but she still has some family nearby.
Three Soldiers by Bruce Holland Rogers
A Sergeant remembers two significant moments from a duty tour.
Read Three Soldiers
Diagnostic Drift by Michael Martone
A woman has a type of miscarriage called diagnostic drift, which occurs very early on. The doctor explains that this happens frequently, and it's not a concern unless it happens to you a few times.
Read Diagnostic Drift
Vines by Kenneth Bernard
A man notices some unwelcome changes in his body—he smells foul, his feet are cold, and his circulation is poor. He confides his concerns to his wife and his friend Norman.
The Restraints by Robert Hill Long
A little girl dances in bars, earning money for herself and father. At night, while they slept in a field, she dreamed of dancing in a nice dress. She would sometimes wander off.
Read The Restraints
The Burlington Northern, Southbound by Bruce Holland Rogers
A man writes a poem to Christine, a woman he can't talk to. He compares her to a train he used to ride.
What Happened During the Ice Storm by Jim Heynen
One winter there's freezing rain. At first it's beautiful, but it doesn't stop. The animals are in danger of freezing. The livestock is moved inside, but the pheasants are stuck out in the cold.
Stockings by Tim O'Brien
The narrator remembers Henry Dobbins, a great soldier but an unsophisticated man. He kept a pair of his girlfriend's pantyhose with him as a good-luck charm. He wrapped them around his neck while on duty, and slept with them by his face.
Bread by Margaret Atwood
The narrator tells us to imagine bread in very different circumstances.
Please Hold Me the Forgotten Way by H. J. Shepard
A man wants his long hair cut because it makes him look too good. A woman who likes his hair goes to his house to cut it.
Prisoner of War by Muna Fadhil
Saleh sits at a table, taking apart a radio transistor. Electronic gadgets have changed a lot in the years he was held by the Iranians. He spends most of his time working on them. He lives with his grown daughter, Sahira, who was only five when he was captured.
Read Prisoner of War
Eating Bone by Shabnam Nadiya
Disha walks out of her home, intending to leave her unhappy marriage. Her husband doesn't think she's good for anything, and threatens divorce. While walking, she catches the scent of roasting chicken.
Read Eating Bone
Yogurt by Ronald Wallace
A couple walks home at night from Yogurt Express. They've been fighting more lately, petty disagreements that they can't seem to let go. The man thinks about having his freedom.
The Memory Priest of the Creech People by Paul Theroux
One person, a male, is chosen to be the Memory Priest of the Creech, an aboriginal people of Sumatra. He memorizes the history of his people—genealogies and what everyone has done.
The Attraction of Asphalt by Stefani Nellen
A mother and daughter drive up a hill to get spring water. The mother asks how fast the girl could jump out of the car is she had to. The mother explains how to do it properly.
An Imperial Message by Franz Kafka
It's rumored that the Emperor has sent you a message from his deathbed. Witnesses think it was an important message, as the Emperor had his herald confirm it. The herald sets out.
First Impressions by Ricardo Sumalavia
In his last year of high school, a young man starts working at a small printing press. He's an aspiring poet. He finds the owner's wife attractive and unbalancing.
Read First Impressions
Baker's Helper by Cynthia Anderson
A thin, beautiful girl who doesn't eat goes to Jimmy's Bakery every day at the same time. She looks intently at the food, but never buys anything. She seems to be getting thinner.
Read Baker's Helper
Mandela Was Late by Peter Mehlman
A parole officer is waiting for one of his clients to show up for their meeting. The only time Mandela had missed an appointment was when he was given a Medal of Freedom. The officer doesn't think well of his clients; the recidivism rate is high, and he expects them to get into some kind of trouble.
Read Mandela Was Late
Sleeping by Katherine Weber
The Winter's hire Harriet to babysit while they go to a movie. They assure her the baby's a sound sleeper, and she won't really have to do anything.
How to Set a House on Fire by Stace Budzko
The narrator outlines the steps for burning down your family farm.
Currents by Hannah Bottomy Voskuil
Josey tucks her granddaughters into bed, telling them they'll swim tomorrow. Their father, Gary, has a drink on the porch. Earlier that day, there had been an accident on the beach.
Bullet by Kim Church
The narrator knows what a bullet can do. She mentions some uses for one besides the obvious. She relates an unusual experience she once had with a bullet.
Tiffany by Stacey Richter
The protagonist doesn't want to divide, even though she's being told to. She wants to remain intact. The group sentiment is strong, and the peer pressure doesn't stop.
The Fallguy's Faith by Robert Coover
The protagonist has a bad fall. He's fallen before, in various ways, but this one really hurts. It could be his last.
Read The Fallguy's Faith
Why You Shouldn't Have Gone in the First Place by Samantha Schoech
The narrator tells you not to meet him halfway, even if you're desperate. The place will be depressing, you'll have to wait, and you'll feel lonely.
Mythologies by R. L. Futrell
A couple is driving into West Virginia. The man flips through radio stations while the woman skims a mythology text. Traffic has slowed because of an accident.
Bullhead by Leigh Allison Wilson
The narrator's mother likes to tell the story of her great lost love. As a teenager, she loved the boy next door. When her parents were away one night, he came over.
Accident by Dave Eggers
You get into a car accident with three teenagers in a Camaro. It's your fault. It occurs to you that they might be upset and react badly.
The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
Legend says the king of the isles of Babylonia commissioned his architects and priests to build an inescapable labyrinth. When an Arab king visits, he's sent in the maze and humiliated by the experience. The Arab king says he also has a labyrinth.
A Reflection by Kate Chopin
The narrator reflects on people who have a natural energy, which enables them to keep up with what's happening and also add to it. She doesn't have this gift and is left on the wayside.
Read A Reflection
A Strange Story by O. Henry
When his little girl is seized with colic, John Smothers goes out for medicine. He doesn't come back. The little girl eventually recovers, grows up, and marries. Her family lives in her childhood home.
Read A Strange Story
All-Girl Band by Utahna Faith
The narrators all-girl band is in trouble. Not any of the usual kinds of trouble that you'd probably guess. She just knows they've done something wrong.
Read All Girl Band
The Peterson Fire by Barry Gifford
The Peterson house burned down one snowy night. The oldest son, Bud, was the only one who got out. His parents and two sisters were caught upstairs. The narrator saw the house the next afternoon.
Read The Peterson Fire
The Orange by Benjamin Rosenbaum
An orange growing in Florida is selected as the ruler of the world. It humbly accepts, and everyone else is happy about it.
Read The Orange
Fire. Water. by Avital Gad-Cykman
The son plays while the daughter prepares for a shower. The mother washes dishes while the father walks the dog. The son and daughter bicker.
Read Fire. Water.
An Ugly Man by Marcela Fuentes
A woman meets Luis at a diner. He complains about the truck in the parking space he wanted. They see Daniel Towens across the street. Luis calls him ugly.
Read An Ugly Man
Lord of the Flies by Marco Denevi
Flies imagine a god. Opinion differs on the fly's appearance. They all believe their god will take them to paradise.
Read Lord of the Flies
She Unnames Them by Ursula K. Le Guin
The narrator starts taking away the names of all the animals. A few have some concerns, which are dealt with. Most of them are fine with the change.
Read She Unnames Them
Portrait of a Lady by José Leandro
At dawn, a woman tends to her appearance. She hears her jailers approaching. She remembers the pain.
Read Portrait of a Lady
My Name by Sandra Cisneros
The narrator tells us the meaning and history of her name, and how she feels about its implications.
Read My Name
Honor Killing by Young-ha Kim
A young, beautiful woman with perfect skin is hired as receptionist at a dermatologist's office. Everything is great until she gets a pimple.
Read Honor Killing
Idolatry by Sherman Alexie
Marie auditions for a singing competition. She waits a long time, but her audition is quick.
Night Drive by Rubem Fonseca
A man gets home from his office job and has dinner. After, he goes for a drive, which he does every night.
Read Night Drive
My Brother at the Canadian Border by Sholeh Wolpé
The narrator's brother is at the Canadian border. After answering a question incorrectly, he's detained for an interrogation.
Joke by Giannis Palavos
Stavros returns to his village when his father falls ill. When he returns he finds his roommate, Katerina, has allowed a new guy, Vicente, into their home. In two months, he will be going back to Spain.
The Lament of Hester Muponda by Petina Gappah
Hester loses a child. She finds strength in her faith. It happens four more times. She deteriorates under the strain.