Short Story: Afraid

Story prompt:   The story’s protagonist is female and a baker. A tree plays a significant part in the story. The story is set on a deserted highway in ancient times. The story is about cowardice.


She carefully covered her baskets of bread to keep them from getting dusty as the horses went by. Dusty bread doesn’t sell as well and she needed to sell all her loaves today.  She had seated herself under a tree at a busy crossroads. The day was hot and dry, so the tree provided a small measure of shelter from the heat of the sun. There had been very few passersby today so she had sold only a couple loaves. She had hoped for a better place but the choice of location was not hers to make. She could only follow what they told her to do. In another time and place she might have more power to control her fate. Or maybe if she had more strength of character.

It was useless to wish for what she didn’t have. She was born in this place, in this time and she was considered to be of little value. Her father was a baker and so she learned by watching him. She was forced to work as soon as she could follow directions. There is no time to be a child when you are born poor. When her father died she kept the bakery going so her mother and brothers could continue living in the hovel behind the ovens. Her brothers were usually the ones selling the wares while she did all the baking. That way no one saw her.

Until last week…

The soldiers came through the village and took every bit of food they found and everything of value. She had been too afraid to beg for her family. They begged. She hid. Afraid of what the soldiers might do to her if they found her. They were big and their shields and weapons clanked ominously as they moved through the village securing it for the empire. There was very little time and when the soldiers reached her family’s market stand, she had secreted herself in an old flour urn. And her family faced the soldiers without her.


With thanks for the story prompt to The Speculative Fiction Muse

And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown for the support and the laughs.

What do you think? Did I honor the spirit or the letter of the writing prompt? Enter your thoughts in comments below.


6 thoughts on “Short Story: Afraid

  1. Good job! I’ve been so immersed in non-fiction lately and this has given me inspiration to write some short stories again – thanks 🙂

  2. Hi there, I have an incredible ginger cat that lives on Keyu, three yachts down from where I sit and write. Although her unimaginative owners named her “Lady” I know better. I call he Ginger Rogers and she is a match for any man, cat, rat or crocodile in Zululand. Are you going to apply for a berth or follow our adventure. Rgds

    • Thanks for the comment, Don 🙂
      I just saw the concept today and was going to bat around with my writing group tonight. I am considering applying and at the very least I will follow the adventure

      • You can apply as a group but have to submit and maintain a clearly defined character to take part in the adventure. A bit like virtual survivor

      • Actually, I was thinking of telling them to apply on their own – their versions of reality tend to differ from mine. Although applying as a group might be interesting as well… Thanks for the thought 😉

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