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#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: O for Only once did she stop and think..

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Only once did she stop and think..

Provided by:  Csenge Virág Zalka, friend, fellow writer, storyteller, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti


Only once did she think

#atozchallenge: Only once did she stop and   think

           She woke up to his pictures on Facebook. Not on her timeline, you understand, but a stranger’s, a woman she’d met at a party the night before, her latest Facebook friend.

           He’d put on weight. Flecks of grey and white had touched his hair. His smile, though. His smile looked the same. Or did it?

           Her fingers traced the screen. If only she could enter it, stand beside him, hold his arm as he smiled at the camera, lay her head on the suit that hugged his shoulders.

         Could she once again be the reason he smiled, just like on that spring morning when his fingers had combed her curls? They had danced and sung and chugged down too much wine the evening before, and he’d taken her headache away. He’d played with her dinner clothes, taken them off, let his hands and the sun warm her. What day was that, the day after a friend’s wedding, or Fourth of July? That day when all seemed hazy, only them, their bodies, had a certain ripe solidity– too full, with too much of life. She couldn’t remember.


 Yet here he was, tagged in a stranger’s photo, smiling up at her, arms around his fleshy, grinning wife. A middle-aged man, after all. Not a young man with whom everything seemed possible.  A father, a businessman, no muscled demigod with dreamy eyes.

          She stared at her own profile photo. She didn’t look all that different from his wife, with her baggy chin, her flabby arms. She no longer had the nimble walk of that day, nor those breasts he had bared to the sun. Wrinkles lined her eyes, not kohl. Her jeans did not fit her as well today. Her hair had begun to thin out, she now wore it short.

Those two, those mesmeric people from that day, they had long gone.

She removed her Facebook profile photo, turned the settings on her albums to Private. Once, only once did she stop and think, and then, with slow fingers she clicked Unfriend.

She had seen him, but he must not see her. She wasn’t ready to wear her years, not yet.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Met any old flames on Facebook?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • I love your way of writing, nice piece

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    your stories have so much life in them… the emotions are expressed so brilliantly. I enjoyed reading this one too.

  • Deficio says:

    This is really a very lovely piece.

  • Sammy D. says:

    This one absolutely rang true and hit home. Electronic messaging is a blessing and a curse. In my case, it’s good I didn’t have it available as a teen and “lost” 20-year-old. Even now, I wonder about some of those episodes and people in my past I’d rather not see or hear from again.

  • I love the way you weaved the prompt into this story… makes me think about the phrase “aging gracefully” and what it actually means…?

  • Carol Graham says:

    I related with this on too many levels. Had to read it twice. Very well done!

    Carol @ Battered Hope

  • I would make my profile private too, if I saw certain old flames on my timeline. Love this story.xx

  • Jules Smith says:

    Fantastic and so powerful. Not ready to wear her years yet. I feel for her.

  • Amazing story… But do age matter in love?.. I believe true love is eternal… She did a mistake here I guess… Who knows what turn her life would have taken…:)

  • Very beautiful piece just straight from the heart.How things change!

  • Tina Downey says:

    Oh, how timely, yet a timeless story. We don’t want our old loves to see what age and time and life and stress have left on us…yet seeing it on others doesn’t bother me one bit. I see the inside, not the outside, yet I think others are looking at the shell…not at me…
    Tina @ Life is Good
    A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

  • great study of aging. I am so insulated from those feelings, but you make them real.

    • Damyanti says:

      I’m a few years away from true aging (when are we ever really not aging, lol), but I tried to imagine what it would be like. I wanted it to build towards acceptance, but I left it at denial. Maybe next time.

  • Sonia Lal says:

    Sad, but I could see this happening.

  • Nimi Arora says:

    I felt for ‘her’ and that’s what I aspire to do everytime I write – that the reader feels for my characters. You managed in it in a few short paragraphs.


    • Damyanti says:

      Thanks, Nimi. I’m grateful to the writing gods that my readers feel for my characters. I think I’m learning better each day :). Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  • yaykisspurr says:

    I loved this one. Even as a young person you understand what she’s feeling. The end was a tad rushed, but that’s just my opinion. Very creative use of the prompt! You have great friends supplying those 🙂 Cheers.

    • Damyanti says:

      I wondered if I should leave her, finger poised on the mouse.

      But then I opted for a clear end, when she does not accept who she has become, because a lot can emerge from this lack of acceptance, more story possibilities.

      Thank you for your comment, and if I do another draft, I’ll keep your point about the ending in mind.

  • Birgit says:

    Very interesting read and so true-everything falls south over time:)-Very well written

  • I can’t miss your posts. You have such a way of writing a short story. I wish I had that talent. I have a friend who has a strong voice, like you do, and I urge her, encourage her always to look into publishing, but she is shy and shares only with a select few. Thank you for sharing yours. I love the depth of what you write, even if the subject is difficult sometimes…

    • Damyanti says:

      Lisa, as a writer, I cannot be afraid. I have to keep writing and publishing, because that’s what writers do. Birds sing, and writers write– it is as simple as that.

      I used to be shy before, but then I realized that that shyness was actually my ego, my conviction that I was good, and that if I published people might hate my stories and I won’t be good any more.

      Now I write as the words come, am grateful when readers get what I was trying to say, and focus on working harder when they don’t. If we want to become writers, we have to leave our egos at the door, and be open and welcoming towards criticism. Only way to get better.

      Some days the words don’t come, some days (most days) I write unbearable crap, but I have to be present on the page every day, and be open to publish them everyday. AZ forces my hand, and that’s why I like it :).

      Thank you for stopping by to comment and for taking the time to leave me such a beautiful note.

  • shail says:

    Human feelings and failings. Well written

  • A sad and lovely piece of writing, Damyanti. I loved it, thank you! My heart wants to tell her that age doesn’t matter, not at all. Their eyes are the same and so are their souls, despite the passage of the years.

    • Damyanti says:

      That sort of wisdom takes a few knocks, Sharon, and most of us never find it. I would wish for my character to find that some day.

  • One of the reasons I miss my writing group after moving is because we always started our meetings with a writing prompt. Now I use images on my Pinterest boards and accomplish the same thing without the wonderful writers I met with.

  • lindacovella says:

    Ah, life…very nice piece!

  • elixired says:

    This is a great fiction! How small Facebook has made this world. and how strong we have become with these type of incidences.
    You write pretty well! 🙂

  • Beloo Mehra says:

    Wonderfully imagined and creatively expressed.

    Beauty Interprets, Expresses, Manifests the Eternal

  • ~ Sadie ~ says:

    Very moving – great post!!

  • Oh the emotion! It makes me sad because I know so may others have experienced the same.What a great story (as always)!

  • Willy Nilly says:

    This story was a well framed moment of deep emotion. I felt every bit of it. I experienced the same on Facebook recently. I found a beautiful young girl I dated and now she is a grandmother; grey, heavier, and much wiser than when she spent her time with me. I think how much richer her life is, for me to have briefly known her then with unskilled hands, let her fall away to a far greater and richer life. It’s comforting to know how happy and fulfilled she is. I feel compelled to stay away, not wishing to disturb those old memories. It’s better that way. Better for me, anyway.

    • Damyanti says:

      Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with us. Yes, letting old memories undisturbed is the best way sometimes. But your reasons are so much wiser than that of my character.

  • Finley Jayne says:

    Loving your posts and blog!

  • cardamone5 says:

    I have felt like this. It is both horrible and sweetly human at the same time. I have to wonder: the picture, is that supposed to be her when she was with him as a youth?

  • Beautiful piece. It also made me think about growing older and my perception of who I am. Inside I still feel young and energetic and vibrant… and to an extent I am because my body still moves as I want it. Yet, sometimes I look at old pictures of me, and that young girl is long gone. She’s been replaced by someone older, whose hair is 80% grey and she keeps it short. I like her better. this me… but probably because my teens and early twenties were full of angst about looks and appearance..

  • Mou Mishra says:

    I liked the theme here, time is unstoppable and so the human desires.

  • Tarkabarka says:

    Such a great use of that prompt! 🙂 I am glad you found it useful!

  • Cindy Dwyer says:

    Wow! What a moving piece. I love the cross-generational thought it triggered for me – how something like this can happen to the generation of people who never had social media in their younger days, while maybe it would be less likely to happen to younger people. My youngest sister is only six years my junior, but FB started at a time that she is still friends with several of her exes. I don’t know if that’s unusual or not?

  • Susan Scott says:

    Thanks Damyanti.. it takes a mere second to think .. once, only once, and then taking a final irrevocable action. Great post, fast paced and makes me think of things seen for a flash, and then no more…
    Garden of Eden Blog

  • uniqusatya says:

    Awesome creativity.Good read

  • r4thman says:

    You are a talented writer with such creative stories. Thank you for them.

  • Dan Antion says:

    Very powerful and timely. Where we once were left to sort through old photos in private and wonder “what happened to…” today it can easily appear before us. This is sad and possible and frightening all at the same time. Very nice.

  • romyrziwayan says:

    You really got what it takes to unleash our powerful imaginations. I never thought I could be that powerful. This piece, so short, yet so much emotions ooze with every second of the moment. I closed my eyes and I was there, every moment, every movement of her hands on the mouse, I was there in the room crying while watching her. Every millisecond counted because I was savoring the moment. Everything seemed slow-mo. And as you slowly revealed her identity, I got the chills! You are one magnificent beast writer!

  • That is so sad but I totally get it

  • sdneeve1 says:

    Oh my, such a sad but beautiful piece. Time has a way of changing our perception of who we truly are. I can relate to this on so many levels. 😉