Flash Fiction – I was once like you


Jack shivered on the bench as he held out his cap to the horde of people alighting from the ferry.

‘Spare change?’

He covered his legs with a threadbare blanket. It may as well have been an invisibility cloak.

He coughed, producing a hacking sound that vibrated around the harbour. His shoulders shook beneath his matted grey hair. His lungs rattled as he struggled to breathe.

‘Please.’ He stretched out a hand, his fingernails were caked in dirt. ‘I was like you once.’

He watched as a man threw a virtually uneaten hamburger into the bin.

‘I was like you once,’ he whispered.

Written for Friday Fictioneers. A 100 word story inspired by a photo prompt. Read the other entries here


70 thoughts on “Flash Fiction – I was once like you

  1. You present a very powerful message. I like the simplicity of the line describing the blanket in particular: “It may as well have been an invisibility cloak.” The matter-of-fact bluntness of the statement says a lot more than broad strokes would have.

  2. I appreciate that you actually provide the full story (Beginning, middle and end) in 100 words. Your contribution today speaks directly to my heart. I often repeat, “There but for the grace of God, go I” as a reminder of just how lucky I am and how much I take for granted. This was beautifully and compassionately written.

  3. That would have to be one of the most moving pieces of flash fiction I have read in a long, long time. Absolutely brilliant, Louise. Well done.

  4. Dear Louise,

    Insightful, powerful and haunting. A great piece of writing.

    On a grammatical note: What you want is “horde” not “hoard.” Aside from that…your writing amazes me every week.



  5. Louise, This is very realistic and sad. I once watched an audience verbally attact homeless people on a TV program. People harbor a deep fear of poverty and these people scare them. Here many people walk by the begging poor as though they aren’t there. It’s a mind set. They can’t mentally permit themselves to believe that could happen to them. There’s fear there all the same, and those passerbys are often desparate to succeed out of fear it could actually happen to them. Sometimes if there’s a financial failure, fathers commit suicide taking their families with them. There’s huge pressure on students to succeed in school. Well written. — Susan

  6. Yeah… You’ve captured the homeless isolation and misery really well.
    How many times have I ignored the request for change, the plaintive cry for help of the homeless…

    This story made me feel bad. Well done, excellent writing.

  7. Oh, wow… This broke my heart. “I was once like you.” What a powerful line, in context. I was just done crying about another Friday Fiction story (and, here I go again).
    Thank you for your talent, and for the lesson.

Constructive criticism appreciated

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