© Michelle De Angelis.

The beautiful park, the gentle couple strolling just ahead of him, the cool of the summer evening only made a dull impression on him, all because her blood had added one more stain to his soul.

“She was only three years old, God. Why did that butcher have to murder her?”

Detective Keith Simmons was due to retire soon. This would be his last murder investigation and he thought he’d seen it all. Then he saw the blood and her torn, battered body.

He suppressed sorrow and summoned rage. Prison was too good for that scumbag. There was a better justice.

“Excuse me.” He looked up and saw one of the people who had been ahead of him. “I believe you could benefit from this.”

Keith mutely accepted the note she was holding. As she turned back and started walking with her companion again, he unfolded it and read, “The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.”

Tomorrow, he’d visit the child’s family again. It was his first stepping stone.

I wrote this for the 172th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

Yesterday, I read a news account (actually several) about how a man with a knife attacked nine people, six of them children, at a girl’s third birthday party. The three year old died.

After reading it, I wrote my own commentary, feeling the hope being drained out of life because of such events.

Today, I’m trying to be a bit more optimistic and not let things like this defeat my spirit. It isn’t easy.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

14 thoughts on “Stones

  1. That is powerful. I half expected the when she opened the note, she’d find a Shakesperean black spot or something akin to it. Stepping stones force us forward, one small step at a time…and sometimes that’s just what we need to do. Many prayers and blessings for you and your community right now.


    • It’s not like this hasn’t happened before, but it’s always disheartening, especially when it takes a young child. Still, I have to keep looking for hope because without it, there’s no point in going on.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That is very sad about the children and a 3 year old being killed. That would dampen my spirit too. Your story is wonderful. It shows how this detective was affected by the death of the child. Great story, James!


  3. I can not understand what is driving ‘so many’ people to such madness, If I was able to have my time again I would desire to study philosophy, in an attempt to improve our understanding of the human nature. A psychiatrist colleague of mine had a untested and unspoken theory. I do hope he was wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I sometimes wonder what the academic environment of a earlier time might think about today’s violence


  5. It always dampens the soul when chaos and violence is introduced into civility, when the innocent suffer. It is unfathomable and I am so sorry for your community. One stepping stone at a time (back toward hope) is wonderful advice, though not easy. I sincerely enjoyed your story.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.