There is no place like home – April Writing Challenge Entry

Haley Whitehall posted an April challenge to write a flash fiction story, 500 words or less (my story is dead on 500 words) and it must start with the sentence, “She had been warned, but now it was too late.” Here is a link to her blog:

I actually used a character from one of my novels to write this flash fiction because she is impulsive and is always getting herself into difficult situations. It seemed like the prompt was written for her. Please feel free to leave feedback as I could always use some constructive criticism.

There is No Place Like Home

She had been warned, but now it was too late. Her damp body shivered as she lay there battered and unable to move. She could feel the icy water lapping against her toes threatening to progress further up her body until it completely consumed her.

The amber sky warned that the sun would be rising soon. She urgently needed to find cover. Perhaps someone would come to rescue her but it would be hours before anyone noticed she was missing.

She was her own worst enemy. Earlier as the sun set she grew determined to venture out on her own but now she couldn’t help but remember the argument she had with her father the night before. She hated to admit he had been right.

As the water now stung her heavy legs she was grateful for the numbness it provided, anything was an improvement on the pain she felt. She tried to drag herself further ashore by grasping at a rock but the slick surface betrayed her.

She had only wanted to prove to everyone that she could do it. She had packed her bag carefully bringing with her all the essentials. Where was her bag now?

Earlier she arrived at the town and waited. It didn’t take long for her to spot the girl. The girl wore black clothes and did her makeup in a way that made her look so sad. There was something so vulnerable and lonely about that girl it was that something that made her perfect.

As she followed the girl down the narrow path to the beach she couldn’t control her excitement. She watched as the girl sat on the sand and finished drinking from the bottle she carried with her. It wasn’t long before the girl slumped over and was fast asleep. That was the moment to act. She approached the girl with caution.

She reached in her bag for a handful of sand and gently sprinkled it into the eyes of the sleeping girl. That should help her have better dreams she thought as she made her way down the beach and towards the water. She felt so elated.

The day would be breaking soon. She reached in her bag again pulling out another handful of sand. As she grasped it tightly she heard someone come from behind her. The world darkened.

She heard someone approaching her again now and she shuddered. She looked up and recognised the girl. The girl pulled her from the water and propped her up against a rock. She noticed a man lying a few feet away from her.

“Don’t worry about him. I have taken care of him. You dropped this.”  It was the bag. “What are you anyway?”

She tried her best to put the answer into the girl’s head.

“You’d better go before he wakes up.”

She reached in her bag, thankfully there was enough travelling sand left. She mustered every ounce of strength she had and wished for home.


The Lytes of Sandoo (working title) is about a young girl named Ileana who is destined to follow in her father’s footsteps as a sandman. They call themselves Lytes and try to heal all the ills of humans as they sleep. Their own world is dark and highly regulated, Ileana finds this unbearable. In the second and currently untitled book Ileana begins to journey to earth as her father’s apprentice. Book one needs editing but I hope to work on getting it published in the future.


About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
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15 Responses to There is no place like home – April Writing Challenge Entry

  1. Great descriptions…and character development in 500 words!! I’m impressed. Fun read.

  2. That sounds really interesting, and it has some great descriptions. I was really curious about why she would put sand in the girl’s eyes. Is she just sprinkling it ontop of her eyelids, since I imagine the sleeping girl’s eyes are shut?

    • usaukwoods says:

      Thank you! I based this character on the notion that the sleep in your eyes when you wake in the morning is from the sandman. The only difference is there is not just one sandman but many of them. They have special sand for various purposes. They usually just sprinkle it on the eyelids but do sometimes place some very fine sands in the eyes. The entire world they live in and Ileana herself came to me about 18 months or so ago when I was in the shower and after two days of them being in my head without giving me any respite I finally let them escape onto the paper. The first book is finished and needs editing, the second is nearly finished and I have an idea for the third. I have put this series away for a little while so I can look at it again with fresher eyes.

  3. Selena Wolff says:

    Great story–I wanted more! For 500 words, it flowed so seamlessly….

  4. After reading your flash fiction story and the blurb below I think your novel is very interesting and I want to read more! You write beautiful descriptions. I am confused about the first paragraph of the story. I do not know how it fits with the rest. It goes from a girl in icy water to sprinkling sand in a girl’s eyes. Perhaps I just missed the connection.

    • usaukwoods says:

      Thanks for that Haley. Unfortunately I had cut a bit in the beginning. She was flashing back to what had happened earlier that night and coming to terms with how she ended up in the water. There was a couple more paragraphs that connected it better but I had trouble working it so that they could stay in and still keep the word count down. I really enjoyed your challenge as I tend to write novels and anything under 60,000 to 70,000 words is difficult. I think I am hooked on trying more flash fiction in the future just to hone the skill a bit more. Thanks for posting the challenge.

  5. KenBroad says:

    I really like this. I had to read it a few time (I have ADD) to lock all the details in, and that was when I had the AHA! moment. Script writers have it much easier that literary writers (before I offend anybody, I mean process wise 🙂 ), because they simply write – Flashback. While that would work for any story, it might ruin the imagery.

    Sandmen (Women too) ! What a novel idea! Just a question about the Sandmen. Can they be seen by mortals or perhaps does the other young lady has a “gift” too?

    • usaukwoods says:

      The Lytes can be seen by mortals but rarely are because they only come to us in the night while we sleep. They look very similar to humans as they are actually distant relatives of humans but they have evolved to the point that they have light energy that makes them glow.

      Thank you for the feedback! I appreciate it.

  6. What an interesting concept! I’m looking forward to reading more at some point. I especially like your explanation regarding the sleep in our eyes.

  7. ellerohan says:

    That’s a really interesting story concept. I’ve never thought about the world of the sandman (or sandmen in your case). Definitely intrigued to read more in that world. Kudos!

  8. Pingback: Stories, Stories, Stories. «

  9. Pingback: May Flash Fiction Challenge « Haley is Soldiering through the Writing World  

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