Flash Fiction Short Stories

This page compiles many examples of flash fiction, sudden fiction, micro stories, very short stories,  or postcard fiction as they are sometimes called.

A link is provided for easy online reading.

I don’t think any story on this page exceeds 1,000 words, and most are much shorter.

Most, if not all, of these stories have been anthologized, suggesting they have either literary merit or entertainment value. While these stories weren’t written for students, I think they are a good pool of stories for teachers to choose from.

Not all the stories are appropriate for students of all ages.

Flash Pin

Brilliant Silence | Spencer Holst

Two Alaskan Kodiak bears are part of a travelling circus act. They do various tricks and become crowd favorites.

Read “Brilliant Silence

Pumpkins | Francine Prose

A truck full of pumpkins collides with a car, killing the female driver. The report has an effect on several people in the small town.

Read “Pumpkins”

The Stones | Richard Shelton

The narrator likes to watch stones grow in the desert. Young stones move more and seek adventure; old stones are sedentary and suspicious of change.

This could be an allegory for the way the young and old view life, or how older people tend to be more conservative than younger people.

Read “The Stones”

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”

—Friedrich Nietzsche

Mr. Mumsford | Larry French

Bibs, a janitor at a school, takes a bat from the equipment room and hides in wait for the principal.

Read “Mr. Mumsford”

Love Poems | Lon Otto

A man writes a love poem, which he is very proud of. He plans on sending it to a woman, timing it to arrive on Valentine’s Day.

Read “Love Poems”

Night | Bret Lott

A man wakes up in the night, thinking he can hear his child’s breathing in the next room. He gets up to check.

Read “Night”

The Appalachian Trail | Bruce Eason

A woman tells a man that she plans on walking the Appalachian Trail. He isn’t enthusiastic about it, and tries to persuade her to give up the idea.

Read “The Appalachian Trail”

Dinner Time | Russell Edson

An old man waits for his wife to serve dinner. She makes a lot of noise and has a hard time with it, while he becomes impatient and starts punching himself. Their behavior escalates into absurdity as they get more annoyed.

Read “Dinner Time”

Vision Out of the Corner of One Eye | Luisa Valenzuela

A woman on a bus gets fondled by the man next to her.

Read “Vision Out of the Corner of One Eye”

“When I start to write a very short story, I always imagine it as a novel. In some parallel universe, there must be a crazy writer who is actually writing those novels.”

—Alex Epstein

The Colonel | Carolyn Forche

The narrator recounts a dinner in the home of an unidentified powerful man. He has an important message to give his guests.

Read “The Colonel”

Snow | Julia Alvarez

Yolanda narrates her early experiences in New York — going to school, learning a new language, and coping with the possibility of a nuclear conflict.

Read “Snow”

Subtotals | Gregory Burnham

The narrator gives us the current count on many things he’s done or experienced in his life.

Read “Subtotals”

Dish Night | Michael Martone

World War II interrupts a couple’s courtship, including their routine of going to a movie on Dish Night so they could get a complete set of crockery.

Read “Dish Night”

Vines | Kenneth Bernard

A man starts to notice some changes in his body—he smells worse, his feet are colder, and he doesn’t feel on top of things. He mentions it to his wife and a friend.

Read “Vines”

How to Touch a Bleeding Dog | Rod Kessler

A man takes a dog to the vet when it gets hit by a car. He’s responsible for it, but it’s not his—it’s his wife’s, but she is no longer with him.

Read “How to Touch a Bleeding Dog”

The Restraints | Robert Hill Long

A little girl dances in bars to make money for her father. At night she dreams of a fancy dress, and sometimes wanders off.

Read “The Restraints”

“A good short-short is short but not small, light but not slight.”

—Ku Ling

The Burlington Northern, Southbound | Bruce Holland Rogers

A man writes a poem for a woman he is unable to talk to. He compares her to a train.

Read “The Burlington Northern, Southbound”

The Paring Knife | Michael Openheimer

While a man and woman are cleaning house, he finds a knife under the fridge. He remembers how it ended up there.

Read “The Paring Knife” (Scroll down to page 4)

What Happened During the Ice Storm | Jim Heynen

There is freezing rain one winter. Everyone thinks it’s beautiful until it gets dangerous and the livestock have to be moved inside.

Read “What Happened During the Ice Storm”

Solstice | Richard Terrill

A man visits his elderly mother in a nursing home. She is forgetful and cynical.

Read “Solstice” (Scroll down to second story)

Teddy’s Canary | K. C. Frederick

The narrator tells a familiar, amusing story to a group of friends about Teddy, a man who has recently died.

Read “Teddy’s Canary”

Water | Fred Leebron

The narrator describes a former lover and friend who are now together. While watering the friend’s plants, he also takes the opportunity to do something else.

Read “Water”

Stockings | Tim O’Brien

Henry Dobbins is a good man and great soldier, but unsophisticated. He views a pair of his girlfriend’s pantyhose as a good-luck charm.

Read “Stockings”

A Moment in the Sun Field | William Brohaugh

Bobby, his friend, and his dad play 500—a baseball type game where you get points for catching and fielding the ball.

Read “A Moment in the Sun Field”

Corners | Sheila Barry

Mildred and Jessie look over the body of their deceased sister, Marie. Mildred is satisfied with the undertaker’s work, but Jessie gets upset.

Read “Corners”

Snapshot, Harvey Cedars: 1948 | Paul Lisicky

A man and woman—young and attractive—are on a vacation at the beach. He is thinking about work, and making a name for himself.

Read “Snapshot, Harvey Cedars: 1948” (Page 6, halfway down)

“Every sentence, every phrase, every word has to fight for its life.”

—Crawford Kilian

Bread | Margaret Atwood

The narrator tells the reader to imagine a piece of bread in a few vastly different situations.

Read “Bread”

Yogurt | Ronald Wallace

A couple who have been fighting a lot are walking home from a yogurt shop when they hear someone running up behind them.

Read “Yogurt”

Jumper Down | Don Shea

Henry is a paramedic who is considered the jumper up expert—he’s great at talking people down when they’re on a bridge or ledge.

Read “Jumper Down”

The Memory Priest of the Creech People | Paul Theroux

The Creech choose one person to be Memory Priest—a man who remembers all the names and dates of the people, and entertains and informs them with their lore.

This legend seems like it could be an allegory, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it represents.

Read “The Memory Priest of the Creech People”

Sashimi Cashmere | Carolyn Forde

Two sushi chefs arrange their meals on their serving tray, which is a woman’s body.

Read “Sashimi Cashmere”

Baker’s Helper | Cynthia Anderson

A young woman goes to Jimmy’s bakery every day to look at the freshly-made products. She is very thin and never eats anything.

Read “Baker’s Helper”

Mandela Was Late | Peter Mehlman

A parole officer waits for an ex-con, Mandela, to show up for their meeting. He has a pessimistic view of the former criminals he deals with.

Read “Mandela Was Late”

Sleeping | Katharine Weber

Harriet, a young girl, is babysitting Charles. His parents tell her that he won’t be any trouble, he will sleep the whole time, and she needn’t even open his bedroom door to look at him.

Read “Sleeping”

How to Set a House on Fire | Stace Budzko

The narrator lays out the steps for setting a house on fire.

Read “How to Set a House on Fire”

Currents | Hannah Bottomy

Gary drinks at night, and his mother tucks his daughters into bed, telling them they’ll swim tomorrow and shouldn’t be afraid of the water. A Filipino boy had drowned, and the narrative moves back in time to fill in the day’s events.

Read “Currents”

“Get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on.”

—Raymond Carver

Bullet | Kim Church

A woman tells us some of the ways a bullet can work—the obviously violent way, and more subtle ways like how her husband wore one on a chain, and how someone came into her store with one.

Read “Bullet”

The Great Open Mouth Anti-Sadness | Ron Carlson

Button lies on a bed after a wedding, slightly drunk, and uses the small distractions in the room to control his sadness.

Read “The Great Open Mouth Anti-Sadness”

Tiffany | Stacey Richter

The protagonist is told to divide or die, but she doesn’t want to—she wants to be intact and singular.

This story could be a parable about being yourself, or resisting peer pressure or the pressure to be in a serious relationship.

Read “Tiffany”

The Fallguy’s Faith | Robert Coover

The protagonist suffers a terrible fall and tries to put himself together again.

Read “The Fallguy’s Faith”

The Voices in My Head | Jack Handey

The narrator explains how the voices in his head are always telling him what to do, or second-guessing what he’s already done.

Read “The Voices in My Head” (The messed up part in the first paragraph is “the umbrella”)

Why You Shouldn’t Have Gone in the First Place | Samantha Schoech

The narrator tells you why you shouldn’t meet up with a married man, and how you’ll feel if you do anyway.

Read “Why You Shouldn’t Have Gone in the First Place”

Mythologies | R. L. Futrell

A recently married couple are driving over the Kanawha River while the man listens to the radio and the woman reads some mythology. A new interstate is being built nearby.

Read “Mythologies”

Bullhead | Leigh Allison Wilson

The narrator’s mother likes to tell a story about the love of her life. As a teenager she fell in love with the boy next door, and one night they got some time alone with each other.

Read “Bullhead”

Accident | Dave Eggers

“You” get out of your car after a traffic accident after you ruined a Camaro carrying three teenagers. You’re worried about how they’re going to react.

Read “Accident”

All Girl Band | Utahna Faith

The narrator’s all girl band is in trouble, and she thinks about how different she is from her mother.

Read “All Girl Band”

“Omit needless words.”

—William Strunk

The Peterson Fire | Barry Gifford

When the Peterson house burns down, only Bud, the seventeen-year-old son, is able to get out.

Read “The Peterson Fire”

The Orange | Benjamin Rosenbaum

An orange that grows in a grove in Florida is made ruler of the world. Everyone is pleased with the arrangement.

Read “The Orange”

To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder | Ander Monson

The narrator explains to women how they can keep from being murdered.

Read “To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder”

Oliver’s Evolution | John Updike

Oliver was born later in his parents’ lives when they didn’t have much energy for raising him. They made some mistakes with him, and he has some close calls as he grows up.

Read “Oliver’s Evolution”

Crazy Glue | Etgar Keret

A married couple discuss some crazy glue that the woman bought. The man doesn’t believe it could hold someone upside down from the ceiling as the picture on the box shows.

Read “Crazy Glue”

Pledge Drive | Patricia Marx

The narrator gives a pledge drive type pitch for supporting Patty, a woman who informs you of the current gossip and the minutiae of her life.

Read “Pledge Drive”

A Patriotic Angel | Mark Budman

A small angel stands in a supermarket aisle with a harp. A man asks her about playing him a song.

Read “A Patriotic Angel”

What I Know of Your Country | John Leary

A telemarketer explains what his job has taught him about Americans.

Read “What I Know of Your Country”

Guidebook | Christopher Merrill

The narrator provides a guide to an unnamed island. Among its problems are erosion, rapid population growth, and shortages of basic necessities.

Read “Guidebook”

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”

—Elmore Leonard

Test | G. A. Ingersoll

This is a test about people’s challenges and how you view life and other people.

Read “Test”

The Good Life | David Ryan

The narrator is picked up at the airport by a woman he knew in high school who just happened to be there. She does a lot of reminiscing, but he can’t remember much of it.

Read “The Good Life”

Initials Etched on a Dining-Room Table, Lockeport, Nova Scotia | Peter Orner

A few years after a hired girl leaves their household in scandal, the owners discover her initials carved into their table.

Read “Initials Etched On a Dining-Room Table”

Three Soldiers | Bruce Holland Rogers

Soldiers face difficult situations at various stages of their careers.

Read “Three Soldiers”

Diagnostic Drift | Michael Martone

A woman who didn’t yet know she was pregnant suffers a miscarriage at home. The doctor says it happens all the time, and she needn’t worry about it.

Read “Diagnostic Drift”

The Death of the Short Story | J. David Stevens

The narrator chronicles the public reaction to the short story’s death.

Read “The Death of the Short Story”

The Story, Victorious | Etgar Keret

The narrator tells us this is the best story in the world as judged by dozens of experts, and gives us the reasons why.

Read “The Story, Victorious”

Please Hold Me the Forgotten Way | H. J. Shepard

A woman goes to cut a man’s long hair because he dislikes things that make him attractive. She thinks of him often.

Read “Please Hold Me the Forgotten Way”

Prisoner of War | Muna Fadhil

Saleh was captured by the Iranians and held for seventeen years. He now lives with his daughter, Sahira, who was only five when he was taken.

Read “Prisoner of War”

“The letter I have written today is longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it shorter.”

—Blaise Pascal

Eating Bone | Shabnam Nadiya

Disha leaves her home after hearing a new taunt from her husband. While she thinks about her life, she catches the aroma of roasting chicken.

Read “Eating Bone”

Esse | Czeslaw Milosz

A man looks with amazement at a woman’s face on a train.

The narrator seems to be contemplating existence and existing things.

Read “Esse”

The Attraction of Asphalt | Stefani Nellen

A mother and daughter drive up a mountain to get spring water. The mother asks her daughter how fast she could jump out of the car if they were going to have an accident.

Read “The Attraction of Asphalt”

An Imperial Message | Franz Kafka

On his deathbed, the emperor imparts a message to his herald that is for you only. After confirming the message, the herald sets out on his journey.

Read “An Imperial Message”

Love | Edgar Omar Avilés

When a little girl professes her faith in God her mother takes drastic action to ensure the girl’s eternal happiness.

Read “Love” (Half way down, indented)

First Impressions | Ricardo Sumalavia

A young man works at a small printing press. He has long been unsettled by, and attracted to, the owner’s wife.

Read “First Impressions”

“When a story is compressed so much, the matter of it tends to require more size: that is, in order to make it work in so small a space its true subject must be proportionately larger.”

—Richard Bausch

Fire. Water. | Avital Gad-Cykman

A mother and father are occupied with daily chores while the son and daughter have an argument that escalates.

Read “Fire. Water.”

An Ugly Man | Marcela Fuentes

A woman dumps Luis for the ugliest man in the county, Daniel Towens. The narrative goes back to show how it happened.

Read “An Ugly Man”

The Lord of the Flies | Marco Denevi

Flies imagine their god—a fly of various colors, sizes, and temperaments who will take them to paradise.

Read “The Lord of the Flies”

Honor Killing | Kim Young-ha

A beautiful young woman is hired as a receptionist at a dermatologist’s office, but she starts to break out.

Read “Honor Killing”

Signs | Bess Winter

When Koko the gorilla makes the sign for nipple, the young researchers aren’t sure how to respond.

Read “Signs”

Idolatry | Sherman Alexie

An Indian woman auditions at a singing competition, but she is stopped after the first verse.

Read “Idolatry”

The Extravagant Behavior of the Naked Woman | Josefina Estrada

A woman who walks naked through the streets of Santa María provokes a variety of responses from onlookers.

Read “The Extravagant Behavior of the Naked Woman”

Night Drive | Rubem Fonseca

A man gets home from work, goes about his usual evening routine, and asks his wife if she’d like to go for a drive—knowing that she wouldn’t. He goes by himself.

Read “Night Drive”

Grief | Ron Carlson

This story is a fleshing out of the illustration of plot by E. M. Forster:

“The King died and then the queen died is a story. The king died, and then the queen died of grief is a plot.”

The king dies and then the queen dies of grief. Dying of grief is technically not possible, so the narrator explains the real story.

Read “Grief”

Truthful Lies | Frankie McMillan

The narrator explains that she is an accomplished liar, able to lie every time she’s asked a question.

Read “Truthful Lies”

The Tiger | Mohibullah Zegham

On market day a man is driving his goods to a bazaar when he’s stopped at a checkpoint. He’s taken to a stronghold with armed men, and he recognizes someone.

Read “The Tiger”

The Baby | María Negroni

A baby is playing in the bath, getting washed but then something strange happens.

Read “The Baby”

Little Girls | Tara Laskowski

While out hanging clothes, a woman gets a call from her father about a woman who fell on a knife in the dishwasher. He warns her to be careful before she has to hang up because of nausea.

Read “Little Girls”

The Light Eater | Kirsty Logan

While coping with a breakup at Christmas, a woman swallows a Christmas tree light. She puts the rest of them away, but then feels hungry for more.

Read “The Light Eater”

Volcanic Fireflies | Mónica Lavín

Entomologists study a new type of firefly discovered between the Metro tracks.

Read “Volcanic Fireflies”

Insomnia | Virgilio Pinera

A man tries everything to fall asleep but cannot.

Read “Insomnia”

The Hawk | Brian Doyle

A former football player who has fallen on hard times takes up residence on the town’s high school football field.

Read “The Hawk”

Like a Family | Meg Pokrass

A secretary for an architectural firm lives in the city in a small room. She waits for an important phone call.

Read “Like a Family”

The Madonna Round Evelina’s | Pierre J. Mejlak

After a man and woman meet at a bar, she moves into his old house in a small village. They are happy in their routine, but clash over religion.

Read “The Madonna Round Evelina’s”

My Brother at the Canadian Border | Sholeh Wolpé

The narrator relates how his brother was stopped at the Canadian border after claiming he was heading to Mexico. He becomes concerned when they question him about his race.

Read “My Brother at the Canadian Border”

Amerika Street | Lili Potpara

A young girl is playing with her toys when her mother tells her she’s getting a bike for her birthday—something she’s wanted for a while.

Read “Amerika Street”

Joke | Giannis Palavos

Stavros and Katerina are roommates. After Stavros goes to visit his sick father, he returns to find Katerina’s boyfriend, Vicente, is now staying with them.

Read “Joke”

Consuming the View | Luigi Malerba

Tourists begin complaining that the telescopes on the Gianicolo hill are malfunctioning, and the view of the Roman panorama is blurry. Experts investigate the equipment and then the view itself.

Read “Consuming the View” (Page 38)

Three-Second Angels | Judd Hampton

The canyon jumpers are young people who dress and act in a way that displeases others.

Read “Three-Second Angels”

The Lament of Hester Muponda | Petina Gappah

When Hester Muponda begins losing her children she is urged by others to keep her faith and endure. The cumulative strain takes a huge toll on her, and the situation worsens.

Read “The Lament of Hester Muponda”

The Young Widow | Petronius

A young woman in Ephesus, famous for her faithfulness, is devastated when her husband dies. She follows his body into the tomb and stays there, mourning and fasting.

Read “The Young Widow” (Free sign-up required)

Fun House | Robert Scotellaro

A woman buys some fun house mirrors and puts them in a spare bedroom. When she and her husband start to get intimate in the room, he finds it unsettling.

Read “Fun House”

Indigestion | Anton Chekhov

A court counsellor sits down to a lavish meal and fills his plate with rich food.

Read “Indigestion” (This is the whole story. No need to subscribe)

It | Norman Mailer

Soldiers are on the battlefield.

Read “It”

The Shortest Novel of Them All | Norman Mailer

A courtship and marriage.

This is usually classed as a poem, but can be read as a story.

Read “The Shortest Novel of Them All”

Symphony No. 2 | Daniil Kharms

A fickle narrator begins telling the story of Anton Mikhailovich but doesn’t get far.

Read “Symphony No. 2”

Blue Notebook No. 2 | Daniil Kharms

The narrator talks about a redheaded man who is missing some important things.

Read “Blue Notebook No. 2”

Cemetery Path | Leonard Q. Ross

Ivan is known in his village as a timid, fearful man. When he walks home at night he goes the long way around the cemetery, even though it’s cold. One night he is challenged to cross the cemetery.

Read “Cemetery Path”

If I find more examples of flash, sudden, micro, very short, or postcard fiction stories they will be added to this page.

I hope you find something interesting to read on this page, or that it’s a useful teaching resource.