PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

My mouth went dry as I rounded the corner. I’d heard the sirens converge from all around—but it wasn’t until the I saw the lights playing on her building that I let the thought complete. The awful thought.

I never liked that place, not once.

“First apartments are always crappy,” she’d laughed as I helped her hoist the boxes up the narrow stairs.

Her bedroom window—now broken and black with smoke.

Please answer, please. I pressed the phone to my ear.

This is Gia, I’m unable to take your call right now–

I hung up and dialed again.

100 words

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt courtesy J Hardy Carroll. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, or to submit your own, click here.


  1. Oh man. The stomach chills with dread when you see the building. Well done.

    1. Thank you, good sir.

  2. That sounds like a parents anguish. Well written.

    1. Thanks so much for reading Irene. I’m glad you liked it!

  3. Dear Karen,

    So much story in this. It made me think of our first apartment. Talk about crappy! I could feel the tension mount. The voice mail was the cherry on top. Well done.



    1. Oh boy, my first apartment too… rickety stairs, peeling paint, half the windows won’t open and the other half won’t close. Thanks for reading Rochelle!

  4. You used the phone message so well

    1. Thanks Neil! Thanks for reading.

  5. I really hope she was out somewhere. Great sense of foreboding.

    1. Thanks Iain, thanks for reading.

  6. Horrible realization but she could have gotten out and simply left the phone behind. Let’s hope that’s the case.

    1. Thanks for reading James.

  7. This does not bode well.I like an open end!

    Click to read my FriFic!

    1. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Keith!

  8. This is so upsetting – well done! You really feel in the moment with the parent (?), hoping that the phone will be ansered, dreading it won’t. That’s such great writing Karen.

    1. Thank you kindly Lynn, that means a lot. Thanks for reading!

      1. My pleasure Karen 🙂

  9. Oh no! Let’s hope she answers that phone soon.

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

    1. Yes indeed! Thanks for reading Susan.

  10. bbryanthomas

    Horrid. Waiting and not knowing. Good story

    1. Thank you bbryanthomas!

    1. If that is a good ‘wow’ you totally made my evening. Thanks for reading!

  11. Oh, but see, she jumped from the window and was caught in the well-muscled arms of a hunky firefighter. All is well 🙂

    1. Lol, excellent take, I hope so! Thanks for reading.

  12. That’s a scene that must be repeated over and over again whenever there’s a disaster. So graphic.

    1. Indeed, I’ll bet it does. Thanks for reading, Sandra!

  13. Oh boy. I hope she got out. Good one!

    1. Thank you & thanks for reading!

  14. Great story, Karen. You make us feel the mother’s desperation. Very accomplished use of the phone call to heighten tension.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  15. Great take on the prompt.

  16. Oh goodness, I hope she got out safely. Sadly I have my doubts.

    1. The best and worst of scenarios play out in one’s mind at such a time. I hope so too. Thanks for reading!

  17. peterkirsch

    Oh man, ugh. Such dread. I hope she’s already been saved.

    1. I hope. I imagine all the scenarios this mother is going through. As a side-note, I think we had coffee in front of this very building one ISWF, did we not? With our fellow Plotters?

  18. Fantastic story telling, Karen. I could feel the dread felt by your MC.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. So glad you liked it.

  19. Nicely written. I really felt that dread.

    1. Thank you Claire. Thanks for reading!

  20. So wonderfully written. I could feel the narrator’s anxiety.

  21. So very sad… reminds me of this story of a big fire in the city I grew up where they told how phones were ringing on the bodies… heartbreaking

    1. Oh that’s so chilling and sad. Thanks for reading.

  22. I need to get back and writing this again…I miss it, but forget so often.

  23. rachelmalik99

    Hi there, I really liked this, the contrast between what we realise about the fire and the narrator’s everyday reminiscences about the apartment and the usual message on the machine works so well.

    1. So very kind of you to say that. Thanks for reading!

  24. Nice build up of tension here, Karen. I could feel my own stomach roiling.

    1. Thank for your kind words and thanks for reading 🙂

  25. Dale

    So well done! I could repeat what everyone said… could be a parent, could be a boyfriend. Either way, the tension was palpable..

    1. I was thinking parent, but boyfriend works perfectly too. Thanks Dale!

  26. Whoa, this is such a suspenseful story and very well done. Really excellent!

  27. You hardly need me to comment, Karen, with all these lovely comments. as every, very readable.

    1. Ha every now and then I’m bound to write something someone likes 😉 Thanks for reading!

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