To Starve (98)


This image was provided by Madison Woods as inspiration for the Friday Fictioneers

We die slowly.

Our mothers bring scraps, our fathers weep. For us, the politicians come making speeches; they declare what is right and what is wrong. They call for money, always more money. We watch and are subdued, as they cry out, with fists of rage to wave at injustice.

From where we lay, collapsed into the earth, we see a world like ash. Dust blows over us and we close our eyes. At the last, each of us is alone.

Yet together we are millions, hungry and quiet. Is this the wasteland? Is this the promised heaven?

For more flashes prompted by this week’s photo, and to learn more about flash fiction, visit Madison Woods and explore.

48 responses »

  1. “Yet together we are millions;” I loved this line. I’m not an expounder of political rhetoric but I do believe that we make a difference when we bond together. I probably read into your post more than you intended but I see politics as a greedy wasteland that oppresses the “little guy.” I hope it’s not too late to reclaim lost freedoms in the strength of numbers. I enjoyed the read even if I’ve not interpreted it as you meant.


    • Oh, I think your interpretation was good! I had hunger on my mind and the prompt was appropriately dreary to pull it out of me and onto the screen.

      I’m scheduled up for a lot of today, but I should be getting to everyone’s stories later today or early tomorrow. Thanks for linking it here!

  2. I love the impressionistic quality of this piece and think it would be a mistake try to give it too specific a meaning. There is obviously a future-as-present, Neo-Medieval, Mad Max/Max Headroom aspect to it, but I wouldn’t go much further than that. “Is this the wasteland? Is this the promised heaven?” – says it all. Really good and well outside the box.
    It was 72ºF in LA at 8am… take that, Scotland!

    • Ohh my gosh. Jealous of that weather. Sounds incredible. I’m running a five-mile today, so, um, please let it not rain?

      Thanks for the read and the comment — I always love that your comments have so much in them, all this depth.

    • Thank you, Lindaura, I’m really glad you went with “The Wasteland” reference (it was intentional, although not necessarily meant to be overtly explicit) — I’ll be making my way to you later this evening or tomorrow morning (busy Saturday), and I’m looking forward to it.

  3. This was phenomenal. So much emotion was evoked, and it seemed like a call for action, or at for awareness. I absolutely loved this somber piece. Beautiful.

    • Thank you so much! Just so you know, I’m on the concrit train, too, and definitely welcome critical thoughts/comments on whatever I write. It looks like you’re really writing a lot and that’s wonderful 🙂

    • Thank you, sir! I’m glad you appreciated it.

      I’ll definitely be coming your way at some point in the next 24 (just a very busy day), but I’m looking forward to it. (And thanks for linking)!

  4. Dear Lime,

    I enjoyed your story, if that is the right word to use for a piece so somber and scathing. It reminded me of one of Harry Chapin’s best and saddest songs and I wish there was an answer but I fear there is not one that humans have the brains to implement.

    Perhaps you will be part of the solution. You certainly write well enough to change the way people think, or do not.



    • Thank you, Doug.

      As always, your comments are insightful and very kind. I can only hope for someday to be so effectual.

      Harry Chapin is certainly a magnificent storyteller. (And on the topic of storytellers; check out The Moth, if you’re interested. I’m organizing a Moth gathering at the university in Scotland and really excited about it — but I love this idea of celebrating the oral tradition).

  5. You’re right Lime, out loud is wonderful. The words flow nicely. Could be a very powerful slam for sure. The only crit has to do with flow and how it sounds out loud: “They call for money, always more money.” If you’d take the comma out and make it a full stop with period, it adds more emphasis. Loved it.

    • Thanks, Madison! I bet it sounds even better with your voice. I also think you’re right about the full stop. Sometimes I stay away from piecier sentences because I don’t like things to be incomplete, but there is good reason to break that rule on occasion.

  6. Good writing and imagination! The image this evoked was powerful to me. I saw starving children, desperation, haunted looks and always the politician wagging his tongue. What a statement you have made in such a short piece. I really liked this!

    • Thank you, Jeannie! I’m so glad that the images really came through for you. It was an attempt at some level of criticism and people seem to have received it that way, so I’m very pleased.

    • Ah, thank you. That was actually where I started the piece and then I had to work backwards and forwards to get where I wanted.

      Loved yours, too — impressively short!

  7. I was going to write that this just about sums up the mood of the age. But the sad fact is it appropriately sums up the mood of any age. Have we ever really trusted the powers that be, or felt genuine empathy or commitment from them? I don’t know if cynicism is always justified or not, but it seems to be a natural response to having someone assume authority on our behalf. Particularly when the ineffectiveness of that authority is revealed.

    • I think there are some “powers that be” that do take responsibility and feel genuine empathy. Unfortunately they’re fewer than might be necessary. In this piece, though, I wanted to engage with something that feels so frustrating and has so little news appeal. It’s not that I think politicians are always so awful or pandering, but sometimes they are and sometimes it’s worth noting where we’re failing to see if we might finally make a change.

  8. Very poetic.

    Not really anything of a plot, which was a surprise, but it’s interesting the way you used the photo to paint more of a metaphorical picture than what the story behind it was, or how it got there.

    But I liked it.

  9. Your story is outstanding. So powerful, I had to read it several times. I feel the scream, the cry, the frustration. A universal shout: “Hey world, wake up. Enough greed, injustice and inhumanity.” This is an election year in the USA and I can’t bear to listen to all the lies and empty promises. Debates after debates. Negative ads. Pundits yapping daily on every TV channel. Nothing changes. What’s the answer? Is there any?

    • Yeah — I’m following Republican primary with my face in my hands. Gail Collins usually makes me feel less depressed, but I just wish we could come up with a few solutions and let it be about the solutions rather than the privilege of so few and the maintenance of power by those who already hold it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it and feel honored to be so complimented.

    • Thanks for the visit today, Susan! (I’m late all the time, so it doesn’t bother me to have visitors straggle in — not that I’m calling you a straggler 🙂 ).

      Thank you, though, I’m really glad you enjoyed it.

  10. Feels like a strange cross between a call to arms and a commentary on humankind. Not normally my kind of thing, but it certainly is powerful and very well written!

  11. Hi Lime,
    Sorry to reach your story so late. This is so very well written, you had me feeling a real sense of loss, anger despair… I don’t know what else. As Quill Shiv mentioned, it could almost be humanity’s eulogy. Heavy duty, very powerful stuff. Well done.

    • Andy! Don’t worry! I’m always late to everything. It was awfully nice of you to make it here eventually — and just to make you feel better, I’ve taken way too long in responding to comments over the last couple of days. It’s probably a good sign that I’m busy, but still, it’s also good to be grateful for the kinds words of people like you! So thank you so much for the lovely comment and for the visit.

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