Sunday Photo Fiction: The River

The River

The river was an amalgam of liquids, at least some of which was probably water. It stank of garbage and rot. We didn’t care. It was home.

My brother and I grew up in the river. Like tadpoles or insect larvae, we spent our youth maturing in the fetid water. We collected things that floated and things that sank. We collected bottle caps, rubber tires, shiny glass, and rusty old cans. We collected scabs and rashes more than once, and we cleaned each other’s wounds.

The neighbors told us we were two fish, Sam and I. Behind our scaly backs they called us “those two pests: Sam and Ava.” They criticized our parents. We didn’t care.

We spent our summers wiggling our toes in the soft silt of the riverbed. We built a pool: the diving board from a plank of discarded wood, the ladder with a storm grate. We spent our after-schools, weekends, and even Christmas vacations there. It froze over in the winters; we skated on the surface in our sneakers.

The neighbors yelled at us when it got late. Maybe they were worried. Maybe we were too loud.

“Go home,” they insisted.

We didn’t care. We wouldn’t.


This is a submission to Sunday Photo Fiction, a weekly challenge where writers post a story in 200 words or fewer in response to a photo prompt (shown above).

13 thoughts on “Sunday Photo Fiction: The River

  1. I like this. I envy your creativity. Take my comments with a grain of salt because I’m not a critic, but I wonder what it would be like if, rather than tell us about what happened as a series of memories or reflections on the past, your story took place as if you and your brother were at the river ‘right now,’ so to speak, that you take us there at a specific point in time.


  2. I loved your story. The way it is written made it all very visual for me. Reminded me of childlike behavior, no care of the world, doing what matters just right there and then. Being free children. Great story.


  3. It’s so great the siblings had this special place as kids. Every kid needs that. And the nice thing about kids is they often reserve judgement. They see magic and potential in places adults only see as decrepit. Loved the feeling of exploration and Happinness in this post.


  4. Hi Sydney, I wanted to pop in and give you a link to one of my earlier posts here. When I first read your post here about ‘The River’ I noticed poems bursting out of the prose. I know you consider yourself a fledgling poet and I want to continue to encourage you to expand your skills. The link I am leaving here is called ‘Soup Kitchen in Three Parts’ and starts with a prose paragraph, then a free verse poem and lastly a haiku all describing the same scene.


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