Apocalyptic Pen Pals


Welcome to my contribution to Friday Fictioneers. Each week, about 100 writers from around the globe respond to a photo prompt with their 100-word stories. You are welcome to play along.

This week, my photo has been featured, and I took a little extra time to craft a suitable tale. These 102 words are lovingly dedicated to my friend, Terrill Willard, who first told me about his dream back when no one else was listening to either one of us. Names and details have changed, but I hope the wide-eyed wonder of youth remains alive in our hearts forever.

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Copyright Marie Gail Stratford

Apocalyptic Pen Pals

Years later, Quinton still remembered the end of the world each time he saw a silo. They were smaller then, but at the end of the world, size was relative.

Quinton only told one other person how the world ended—with himself and a friend cheering it on. He and Suzanne were misfits, natural companions. Once the world’s end, seen from the world’s largest grain elevator, burned into his memory, he burnt it into hers.

Suzanne never forgot. Each week she sent another photo—a grain elevator, a silo, ripening grain beneath a sun-pinkened sky—mementos of youth, reminders of the future.

The world's (now second) longest grain elevator. Photo courtesy of The Center for Land Use Interpretation, Creative Commons, CC 3.0, Share Alike

The world’s (now second) longest grain elevator. Photo courtesy of The Center for Land Use Interpretation, Creative Commons, CC 3.0, Share Alike

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34 thoughts on “Apocalyptic Pen Pals

  1. elmowrites says:

    Funny how important the dreams and friends of our youth are, no mater how old we get. I’m a huge fan of grain elevators and silos. They make me feel like the world is huge and I am small … in a comforting way.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Jen. I rather like them too. Growing up, I passed the world’s longest grain elevator every morning on the way to school. For me, there is something familiar about them, regardless of their size.

      All my best,
      MG

  2. micklively says:

    “reminders of the future” is a bizarre phrase that catches my imagination. Well done.

  3. Well, that’s different. An excellent take on your inspirational photo!
    Visit Keith’s Ramblings!

  4. Dear Marie Gail,

    I sense that this isn’t a literal apocalypse. There’s a sweetness and a longing to this with “misfits.”

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful photo.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you, Rochelle.

      No, this was a story about a dream–a dream that in real life and in my story took on a life of its own. I had to trim it heavily to fit, and it might require expansion in the future.

      All my best,
      MG

  5. rgayer55 says:

    I’m with Mick, “reminders of the future” caught my eye. We all need a like mind to bond with, especially when we’re social misfits. Great tale, MG.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Russell. I had fun with turns of phrase here and had to discard a fair few in the editing. Glad I kept at least one that strikes chords with my readers.

      All my best,
      MG

  6. draliman says:

    I liked “at the end of the world, size was relative”. A great story of two misfits and their bond.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Ali. That phrase and the opening sentence are were this particular story began in my mind. I grew rather attached to that clause myself.

      All my best,
      MG

  7. Maybe an end like this happens to every one. To me this seems like a coming of age story.. Sometimes there are those dividing paths we will always remember

    • storydivamg says:

      Yes, yes, yes! Thank you, Bjorn. That’s exactly what it is. I was concerned that the story wouldn’t translate to others because of everything I had to cut, but you got it! I couldn’t be happier.

      MG

  8. I love the idea of burning something into someone else’s memory. Perfect definition of Art. (Good thing I do not own a tractor or I’m not sure I could suppress the urge to run my laptop over with it. – sighs of unadulterated envy.)

  9. She’s very loyal. That must have been some grand awakening for both.

    • storydivamg says:

      I think most people have experiences like this between the ages of 10 and 18. I wonder if those moments always stick or if some people forget.

      Thanks for weighing in, Patrick!

      MG

  10. Your story brings to mind the missal silos my husband and I had to work around while doing archaeological survey in Cheyenne, WY. “Peace Keepers. Great take on an inspiring photo. Thanks for sending it to Rochelle.

  11. I like “reminders of the future.” Had a nice hopeful feel.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thank you, Perry. This story does have roots in a single year of my life that held a lot of hope and promise. Those days were short-lived, but the promise (and the memories) remain.

      All my best,
      MG

  12. […] May 15, 2015May 15, 2015 ~ Sonya (c) Marie Gail Stratford  […]

  13. Sonya says:

    This is a great story that suggests a lot more than what is said. Excellent title, too.

  14. Thank you for the photo prompt and your flash suited it well. I liked the “misfits, natural companions.” It gave the entire piece a real warmth and the memories remain particularly when a silo is seen, no matter how big or how small. Your big one is certainly big.
    The silo for me (although I knew it was in reality a silo due to the title on the photo) immediately put to mind water tanks in our desert areas filled with bore water. Cheers Irene

  15. Margaret says:

    A touching story of friendship and growing up. Well told.

  16. gahlearner says:

    I only completely understood through reading the comments, but I loved the writing. I saw it more as a warning, that reminder of the future. Where the world had ended once, it could end again, and where would that lead them? Alas, I was wrong, good for these kids. And thanks for giving us such an interesting picture to play with. 🙂

    • storydivamg says:

      Oh, I don’t think any reader can really be wrong–at least, not often. We all bring our own experiences and understandings to a story. It can be something different to you than it is for anyone else. It can also be different to you each time you read it. Keep on reading–and be confident in your own interpretations.

      All my best,
      MG

  17. Dreams are superb triggers for fiction, as your story proves. There’s something about silos that automatically brings to mind the Apocalypse. This week, a large number of Friday Fictioneers have chosen to write about the end times, yet have come up with such a wide variety of interpretations of the subject.

    All best wishes
    Sarah

  18. It’s great when you find someone,a good friend, you can share your dreams with. Good story. Thanks for the great picture that lead writers to so many different stories. 🙂 — Suzanne

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