Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Writers’ Platform-Building Challenge #1: “Broken Promises”

The first challenge for the Writers’ Platform Building Campaign has been issued, and it comes in the form of a 200 word flash fiction. These are the exact directions:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: “the door swung shut.” (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

I went ahead and took the extra challenges in the prompt, just for the fun of it. 😀 This little drabble is a bit different from my usual fare, but it popped into my head when Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” came on the radio this evening. The story doesn’t 100% mirror the song, but it is inspired by the broken-hearted, hopeless vibe of the lyrics. Here’s the song, for anyone who hasn’t heard it:

The rest of the entries can be found here. Looks like I’m #231 on the list, so there’s lots of great flash fiction to read through. Keep in mind, however, that only Campaign participants can vote for their favorite stories.


“Broken Promises”

The door swung open on rusty hinges, grating loudly in the predawn stillness. Leila scowled, for it was yet another mocking reminder that Bill Harrison was the worst of liars.

Their house, a tiny fixer-upper that the realtor claimed was “a diamond in the rough,” enthralled him for a time, the same way Leila had once delighted him.  Standing there on the front step, Leila could still hear his voice, echoes from a golden summer afternoon.

“Ignore those weeds in the front yard, baby. We’ll pull ‘em up, plant some roses. It’ll be a real home.” As though to seal the promise, he’d kissed her shamelessly, right in front of the realtor.

Three years later, the memory of that kiss tingled her lips, but the yard was still filled with weeds, withered and brown. Those dreams they had cherished were gone, and so was Bill.

He might have cared for her once, but there were things he’d loved more. Whiskey was one, gambling another, twin demons that stole him from her side.

The house gaped before her, an empty shell, but there was nowhere else for her to go. Leila entered, and with another screech, the door swung shut.


  1. So sad. Broken promises and lost dreams 🙁

  2. Isn’t it wondrous, this power of time an author can wield, able to quickly cause a shift in the mood of the story. My first entry into this was the cacophonous sound of the rusty hinge of the door, it shaped the scene until suddenly, in the passing of the 3 years, the same scene had changed from a mangy yellowish-brown to a nostalgic– well, I rather not tell you what color it is I see for nostalgia.
    But it was an effective shift, indeedio!

  3. This was SO good! What a great way to show her heartbreak, using the house as a mirror. Really well done!

  4. A well-crafted piece ! The shifting mood is in-sync with the shifting time-frame ! 🙂
    My entry is no.#59

  5. This is really good. Sad and true. How even smallest and simplest thing like the weeds can trigger a memory.

    • I do find memories really intriguing — a single scent, sound, or sight can set things off, and take us spiraling down another path. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  6. I love the sense of the narrator’s sadness and loss that permeates the story. Sad, but in a beautiful way. Nicely done! 🙂

    • Thanks, Crystal! I was a little surprised at how hard the overall tone of heartbreak caught me when I heard that song, so I’m glad to see that I managed to translate it into text.

  7. a beautiful and effective broken hearted betrayel.

  8. That’s beautiful. I can really picture everything going on in the scene and it flows really well. Wonderful job!
    (I’m entry #236)

  9. Wow. Great little bit. I love the way you used the setting to mirror the internal emotions of the character.

    Waving back!


  10. Jamila~
    This is really great! Such feeling housed within a trip out to the front porch and back. I like the ‘twin demons that…’ – great line. I just had to stop by to gush – Thanks! – for your comments at my page 🙂 You write beautifully, so your opinion means a great deal to me.

    Have fun reading all the challenge entries! I’m still reading through – but each day the list grows longer and longer! I seem to stay about one-hundred entries behind….lol. I’m off to write a 45 minute burst, beta a chapter, and then read 10 entries. Hope you are having a great week, Jamila! ~ Nadja

  11. Nice work! Good descriptions in this short-short.

    Songs can be nice writing prompts, even if it’s just the mood that the song puts you in which inspires your writing.

    • Thanks so much, Michael! Music tends to move my muse, so whenever I find a song that seems appropriate to the them that I’ve got in mind, I latch onto it and blare it on repeat until I’ve got the scene wrapped up.

      I appreciate the feedback!

  12. Great job! This was very intense and heart felt 🙂

  13. You evoked great emotions through this. Love how the house mirrored everything – her feelings, him, their life.

  14. This is great. Lots of emotion and imagery and history in this small piece.

    • Thanks so much! It’s so funny — whenever I start a flash fiction piece, I’m always lamenting how much I can’t fit. And yet somewhere along the way, I find ways to convey images and emotion in only a few words, and I end up with this bitty tale. It’s a really amazing process. 😀

  15. This was great. I really felt her loss. I love this song AND love using music for inspiration.

    • Yay, someone else who also likes to use music for inspiration! I’m a little nutty when it comes to building the perfect soundtracks for my characters, their relationships, and my WIPs as a whole. It’s kind of obsessive, but I like having “theme music” to write to. 😀

      • Going to have to respond here because I also use theme music for my characters and stories–4 hour playlist for Lost Girls’ Society currently–and I’m going to forget the rest of what I wanted to say if I finish reading the comments first.
        Everyone seems to have already covered my thoughts on your beautiful story, so I just wanted to add kudos for your choice of inspirational music. I love that song, and especially love that neither of them are really happy with the separation in the song. The part about the drinking in particular hit home with me in a way that made me think I had to have the song.

        • I’ve been thinking about writing a post on music playlists — glad to see that I’m not the only one who’s a little addicted with making them! Seriously, “I Need You Now” is one of those songs that I sort of dismissed until I sat down one day and actually *listened* to the lyrics. They hit me really hard for some reason, and every time I hear the song it makes me feel sad (but in a good way, if that makes sense).

  16. Holy cow! Minus the gambling and whiskey, you’ve described my current situation pretty close. New home with lots to fix up. And here I am, blogging. I better paint something…

    Great work! 🙂

    • Ouch, David, I feel your pain. When my family and I moved into our current house, the term “diamond in the rough” felt like the understatement of the year. Good luck getting everything taken care of!

  17. I love your use of the setting to mirror the character’s emotions. You made every word count. Great piece!

  18. Jamila, this is a beautiful yet sad tale. The imagery is quite vivid, the emotions captivating, I really loved it; it shows great skill and artistry. 🙂

  19. Get to weeding, woman. At least you got the house 🙂

    Wonderful voice and a sad story. I love your sensory descriptions – it was easy for me to imagine standing right there with Leila.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on my entry. I’m #76 🙂

  20. Very bittersweet- I hope she makes it a home for herself.

  21. this is so bittersweet and evocative. well done. (I’m entry 223)

  22. I loved it Jamila. It was a beautiful piece despite the sadness.

  23. I love this song and the whole CD for that matter. Nice story. Mine is #72

  24. Quite visual and true to life. Makes me a little sad. A lot said in so few words.

  25. Very well done. Great writing and nicely evocative.

  26. Heartbreakingly beautiful. The images are so strong in this piece. Good job! It’s getting my vote.

  27. I felt her sadness. Great job!

  28. Congratulations – you’ve been shortlisted in the first round of judging, so you’ve made it through to Round 2 of 4!

  29. okay, WordPress really pisses me off with that pre-filled nonsense. that comment above was from me. lol

  30. It truly is amazing that an entire story can be told in 200 words. Great job!

    • I’m always amazed when I manage to finish a flash piece — it’s the satisfied sort of feeling I have when I manage to stuff everything I want into a suitcase before a long trip. :p

      Thanks for stopping by!

  31. I’d be angry and disappointed too after being on my own and worse with a major project still untouched. Clearly, the poor woman has not had the energy to do a thing with it.

    • I feel a little bad for Leila — she seems to be so broken-hearted that she can’t move forward. Like you said, she’s definitely zapped of any energy that she would need to fix things up herself.

      Thanks for reading!

  32. Wow. The sadness of dashed dreams really affected me. Well done!

  33. I’m kinda feeling a bit for Leila and those broken promises. Great Job. 🙂

  34. Lost dreams and empty promises – this was a lovely little piece.

  35. Oh I loved it! I could feel the sadness and frustration with those broken dreams. Lovely work.

  36. Ooh, so good! It’s a sad story that, unfortunately, a lot of women can probably relate to in some fashion. Excellent job with so few words. 😀

  37. How sad! I’m sure so many people can relate to this story. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it conjures so much intense emotion.

    Well done!

  38. ‘….enthralled him for a time, the same way Leila had once delighted him’

    Great line!


  39. Congratulations! Your flash piece won a prize – an ecopy of one of my novels (Woman of Honor, Knight of Glory, or Champion of Valor). Email me at Nicole.Zoltack@gmail.com and I’ll hook you up with your prize! Congrats again!

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