This page compiles many examples of flash fiction, sudden fiction, micro stories, very short stories, or postcard fiction as they are sometimes called. Flash fiction is perfect for when you have five minutes to fill. I don’t think any story on this page exceeds 1,000 words, and many flash stories are less than 500 words. Most of these flash 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 flash stories are appropriate for students of all ages. See also:
Flash Fiction Examples
“The Flowers” by Alice Walker
Myop is a ten-year-old girl who is out exploring the woods behind her family’s sharecropper cabin on a beautiful summer day. As she starts to head home she makes a shocking discovery. (Summary & Analysis)
“The Flowers” is the fourth story in the Amazon preview of The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story. (88% in)
“Mr. Mumsford” by Larry French
Bibs, a janitor at a school, takes a bat from the equipment room and hides in wait for the principal. (Summary)
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. (Analysis)
This story can be read in the preview of Sudden Flash Youth: 65 Short-Short Stories. (88% in)
Bread | Margaret Atwood
The narrator tells the reader to imagine a piece of bread in a few vastly different situations. (Summary & Analysis)
“20/20” by Linda Brewer
Bill and Ruthie are on a road trip. Bill finds her conversation simplistic; she refuses to argue anything. She says what she sees along the way. (Summary & Analysis)
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.
This is the first story in the Amazon preview of Flash Fiction International.
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.
This is the second story in the preview of Flash Fiction International.
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.
This is the third story in the above preview of Flash Fiction International.
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.
This is the fifth story in the above preview of Flash Fiction International.
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.
This is the sixth story in the above preview of Flash Fiction International.
A Strange Story | O. Henry
When the little Smother’s girl gets sick her father goes out for medicine. He doesn’t come back. (Summary)
“Trapped” by Yukari Kousaka
Alarms ring on a vessel doing deep sea research. The divers haven’t come back.
This story can be read in the preview of The Deep: An Anthology of Dark Microfiction. (82% in)
“The Dinner Party” by Mona Gardner
A colonel and a young girl disagree on whether women can keep cool in a crisis. (Summary & Analysis)
Read “The Dinner Party”
Letting Go | Pamela Painter
A woman is taking pictures at the Grand Canyon. A young couple asks her to take their picture.
This is the first story in the preview of New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction.
“The Zebra Storyteller” by Spencer Holst
A Siamese cat learns to speak to Zebras, taking advantage of the shock of it to tie them up and kill them. (Summary)
This story can be read in the preview of The Language of Cats and Other Stories.
“The Dumb Man” by Sherwood Anderson
The narrator knows a story but can’t tell it. He has the characters—three men in a room downstairs, and a woman upstairs. A fourth man then arrives.
This story can be read in the preview of Triumph of the Egg and Other Stories.
Joy | Anton Chekhov
Mitya gets home at midnight, agitated and disheveled but also very happy. He wakes his parents and younger siblings. He has incredible news—he’s going to be known all over Russia.
“Joy” is the first story in the Amazon preview of Fifty-Two Stories.
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.
This story can be read in the preview of The Complete Stories.
“Sticks” by George Saunders
A father has a pole in his yard that he dresses according to the occasion. He’s a stingy man and his family lives on edge. (Summary & Analysis)
This is the second story in the preview of Tenth of December: Stories.
“Old Man at the Bridge” by Ernest Hemingway
During the Spanish Civil War, an old man sits on the roadside, exhausted and discouraged. Everyone is fleeing from the advancing Fascist army.
This is the fourth story in the preview of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. (92% into the preview)
“Blue & Green” by Virginia Woolf
In “Green”, a chandelier (I think) reflects the light, dropping a pool of green on the marble below. The narrator’s thoughts run to other green things. In “Blue”, some kind of fish (?) spouts water from its nostrils, then submerges, and is then thrown onto the beach.
This story can be read in the preview of The Complete Works. (74% in, or select Monday or Tuesday in TOC, then the story title)
“The Father” by Raymond Carver
A family is gathered around a baby in a basket, doting over him and admiring his little features. They try to figure out who the baby looks like. (Summary and Analysis)
Flash Fiction Story Examples, Cont’d
“She Unnames Them” by Ursula K. Le Guin
Someone has been persuading all the animals to give up their names. Most accept it without much resistance. It makes them feel closer. (Summary & Analysis)
“Cemetery Path” by 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. (Summary & Analysis)
“Life Stories” by Margaret Atwood
The narrator talks about the hunger for life stories and unflattering photos of famous people. She’s editing her own life story now.
This story can be read in the preview of The Tent. (50% in: Go into Paperback preview first, then select Kindle) This collection has many very short selections.
“The Night Came Slowly” by Kate Chopin
The narrator is losing interest in people and books. She prefers to lie under a maple tree at night.
Read “The Night Came Slowly” (with Summary & Themes)
“The Survivor’s Story” by Dino Buzzati
Survivors of wars and cataclysms in distant lands are returning home. They’re happy and looking forward to being home again. They especially want to tell their many stories. (Summary)
Brilliant Silence | Spencer Holst
Two Alaskan Kodiak bears are part of a travelling circus act. They do various tricks and become crowd favorites.
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.
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.
“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vision Out of the Corner of One Eye | Luisa Valenzuela
A woman on a bus gets fondled by the man next to her.
“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.”
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.
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.
Subtotals | Gregory Burnham
The narrator gives us the current count on many things he’s done or experienced in his life.
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.
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.
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’s no longer with him.
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.
“A good short-short is short but not small, light but not slight.”
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.
Flash Fiction Story Examples, Cont’d
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.
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.
Solstice | Richard Terrill
A man visits his elderly mother in a nursing home. She is forgetful and cynical.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Every sentence, every phrase, every word has to fight for its life.”
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.
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.
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.
Sashimi Cashmere | Carolyn Forde
Two sushi chefs arrange their meals on their serving tray, which is a woman’s body.
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.
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.
How to Set a House on Fire | Stace Budzko
The narrator lays out the steps for setting 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.
“Get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on.”
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.
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.
Tiffany | Stacey Richter
The protagonist is told to divide or die, but she doesn’t want to—she wants to be intact and singular.
The Fallguy’s Faith | Robert Coover
The protagonist suffers a terrible fall and tries to put himself together again.
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.
Flash Fiction Story Examples, Cont’d
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Omit needless words.”
The Peterson Fire | Barry Gifford
When the Peterson house burns down, only Bud, the seventeen-year-old son, is able to get out.
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.
To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder | Ander Monson
The narrator explains to women how they can keep from being murdered.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What I Know of Your Country | John Leary
A telemarketer explains what his job has taught him about Americans.
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.
“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”
Test | G. A. Ingersoll
This is a test about people’s challenges and how you view life and other people.
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.
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.
Three Soldiers | Bruce Holland Rogers
Soldiers face difficult situations at various stages of their careers.
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.
The Death of the Short Story | J. David Stevens
The narrator chronicles the public reaction to the short story’s death.
“The letter I have written today is longer than usual because I lacked the time to make it shorter.”
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.
Flash Fiction Story Examples, Cont’d
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.
“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.”
Fire. Water. | Avital Gad-Cykman
A mother and father are occupied with daily chores while the son and daughter have an argument that escalates.
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.
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.
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.
Signs | Bess Winter
When Koko the gorilla makes the sign for nipple, the young researchers aren’t sure how to respond.
Idolatry | Sherman Alexie
An Indian woman auditions at a singing competition, but she is stopped after the first verse.
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.
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.
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.
Truthful Lies | Frankie McMillan
The narrator explains that she is an accomplished liar, able to lie every time she’s asked a question.
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.
The Baby | María Negroni
A baby is playing in the bath, getting washed, but then something strange happens.
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.
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.
Volcanic Fireflies | Mónica Lavín
Entomologists study a new type of firefly discovered between the Metro tracks.
Insomnia | Virgilio Pinera
A man tries everything to fall asleep but cannot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flash Fiction Story Examples, Cont’d
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.
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.
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.
Three-Second Angels | Judd Hampton
The canyon jumpers are young people who dress and act in a way that displeases others.
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.
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.
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.
Indigestion | Anton Chekhov
A court counsellor sits down to a lavish meal and fills his plate with rich food.
It | Norman Mailer
Soldiers are on the battlefield.
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.
Symphony No. 2 | Daniil Kharms
A fickle narrator begins telling the story of Anton Mikhailovich but doesn’t get far.
Blue Notebook No. 2 | Daniil Kharms
The narrator talks about a redheaded man who is missing some important things.
Portrait of a Lady | Jose Leandro Urbina
A lady is led by her jailers into an interrogation room.
Dearly Beloved | F. Scott Fitzgerald
Beauty Boy and Lilymary get married. They work to better themselves. They have a child and things get tough.
What They Sell In the Shops These Days | Daniil Kharms
Two men disagree on how long one of them has been waiting for the other. The argument escalates into absurdity.
Clean | Avital Gad-Cykman
A woman is being interviewed about her addictions. She is trying to get sent to a public detoxifying camp.
Caline | Kate Chopin
Caline is sleeping in a field near her isolated home when she is awakened by a stopping train. This has never happened before. She has a brief meeting with some of the passengers. She wants to find out where they’re from and where they’re going.
The Wig | Brady Udall
An eight-year-old finds a wig in the garbage. He is sitting at the breakfast table wearing it when his father enters the room. It brings back memories for him.
My Name | Sandra Cisneros
The narrator tells us about her name—what it means in Spanish and English, its history in her family and whether it suits her.
Janice | Shirley Jackson
Janice tells the narrator that her mother said she’s not going back to school—she can’t afford it—and of her extreme reaction to this news.
The New Food | Stephen Leacock
The narrator hears that a researcher has developed a pellet with all the nutrients people need. He imagines an incident where this could prove disastrous.
Flash Fiction Story Examples, Cont’d
A Reflection | Kate Chopin
The narrator reflects on people who are born with a “vital and responsive energy”, and compares them to herself.
An Idle Fellow | Kate Chopin
The narrator is tired after years of studying. She sits on a door-step with her friend Paul. He’s an idle man who likes to observe nature and people.
Everyone Does Integral Calculus | Kuzhali Manickavel
The narrator and Durai are outside between the highway and the sea. They talk about how they got there and tell each other some secrets.
Frustration | Isaac Asimov
Herman gets a visit from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Hargrove. He’s working on a computer program that would determine how to fight the most efficient war possible.
The Moving | James Still
A family has their wagon loaded and is ready to leave town. There’s no work, so the father wants to take his chances somewhere else. The community is generally against their decision to leave.
No One’s a Mystery | Elizabeth Tallent
The narrator, an eighteen-year-old woman, is riding in a pickup truck with Jack, a married man. When he sees his wife’s car in the distance, he pushes her down out of sight. They talk about the future of their relationship.
The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths | Jorge Luis Borges
A Babylonian king tells his guest, an Arab king, to enter his labyrinth. The Arab king gets out and tells the Babylonian king that he also has a labyrinth, and he will see to it that he gets to walk in it.
Counterfeit Bills | Richard Matheson
William Cook decides it would be nice to be two people—he could enjoy himself while his double carried out the obligatory chores of life. He devotes his time and resources to building a duplication machine. One Sunday afternoon, he tries it for the first time.
Borrowing a Match | Stephen Leacock
Contrary to what you might think, borrowing a match on the street isn’t as simple as it sounds. The narrator relates a recent attempt of his own that turned into a hassle.
Read “Borrowing a Match”
Babycakes | Neil Gaiman
All the animals disappeared a few years ago. The world wasn’t ending, it was just the animals that went. After a short period of uncertainty, people figured out how to continue.
The Aqueduct | Ray Bradbury
A huge aqueduct from the North to the South is almost constructed. Citizens of the South look forward to everything they’ll be able to do with this ready water source. There’s a war between the two Northern countries.
“Running Blind” by Thomas Fox Averill
A blind man starts running with his friend. They start with one mile. He stays close, his hand at his friend’s elbow. The blind man makes progress.
I’ll keep adding flash fiction stories under 1,000 words as I find more.