I dare you

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

“Go on, climb the gate. I dare you.”

Kids did. And no one ever died—but I heard a boy got tetanus. I couldn’t help but feel watched.

“What are you kids doing?”

We all jumped. It was the old man, pushing his cart, wearing that threadbare business suit he always did. He’d been here as long as any of us could remember and was another example of what happened if you stayed in this neighborhood too long.

I shivered. “Let’s get out of here,” I said.

But it was a long time before any of us did.

This has been another edition of the fabulous Friday Fictioneers hosted by the generous Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Photo prompt courtesy David Stewart. To read more or to contribute your own flash fiction, click the blue froggy button:


  1. Dear Karen,

    The old man in the threadbare suit is a fascinating. I liked the way you used him to give us a feel of the neighborhood. Well done.



  2. There is always one old person in every neighbourhood that scares the kids to death. I like how the old fellow was an example of what happened if you stayed too long and yet the kids themselves struggled to leave.

  3. micklively

    That suit tells the tale of former status so well, in so few words.

  4. Lovely creepy last line! 🙂

  5. An oh, so subtle tale of life. Some of us never escape, some of us end up exactly where you described. This is wickedly layered. Well done.



  6. Ominous and a great metaphor for life.

  7. He scared me and I’m grown up – well, almost!
    Rosey Pinkerton’s blog

  8. Great story. I think I still may live in that neighborhood.

  9. Sounds like it’s such a fun place to play that even the old man can’t scare them off straight away. Nice story!

  10. I like this story and I can’t help but wonder how they all eventually left the neighbourhood.

  11. Wow! What a mysterious and somewhat chilling story! Beautifully narrated.

  12. That left me frightened for those kids!

  13. Melanie

    There is so much here it invites several reads. I love the last line.

  14. I’m not sure if I’m amused or scared. I know an old man like that who is perfectly harmless. On the other hand, this reads intriguingly darkish in the end. I hope the kids are only frozen from fear…

  15. There seems to be a lot behind that last line, as if they meant it very short term, but it ends up with long term consequences. At least that was my take on it.

    1. That was what I had in mind, but I wasn’t sure if I was getting it across. Thanks for reading!

  16. I loved the descriptive set up 🙂

  17. Dear Karen,
    You left us guessing if they’re stuck in the backyard, the neighborhood, or the lifestyle. Either way it’s intriguing. One suggestion, instead of saying “wearing that threadbare business suit he always did.” You might try changing “did” to “wore,” or revamping the entire phrase “sporting that threadbare business suit he wore,” if you didn’t want to use wearing and wore in the same sentence. Just a thought.

    1. Good suggestion, thank you. I didn’t aim for such ambiguity (the narrator means the neighborhood) so it was a learning opportunity to see how people interpreted it. I’m glad you thought it was intriguing rather than confusing. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  18. I love how you leave the ending open ended, “But it was a long time before any of us did.” Leaves a lot to my imagination. I see these children talking to this old man and being fascinated by what he says.

  19. I really like this one Karen. A nice nostalgic tale of a childhood town, and the last line is perfect. How many dream of moving on and fully intend to but somehow never manage it?

  20. Ooh, what suspense at the end! Nice writing. I want to know more.

  21. It is difficult to change your life, let’s hope they found a way out. Great story.

  22. Karen, this wistful story really hits hard. The man in the threadbare suit, balanced against the kid with tetanus wields a punch. Really enjoyed this.

  23. Fascinating depiction of the setting – there’s so much more beneath the surface of this place, I feel. The dialogue does a brilliant job of building the characters, and their predicament.

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