Writing Challenge: The Shelter

“Hey mister, are you gonna throw more stuff down?”

“Moose, stop shouting,” Clyde hissed to his brother. “We’ve got the mattress don’t we? Maybe we should just help Molly and get outta here before we get into trouble.”

Preston ignored him. “Hey mister!” he shouted, living up to his nickname – he had a loud voice like a Moose honking in the forest. “You said you got more for us.”

“Clyde’s right,” said Molly. She struggled to fit the mattress into the pram and wished her brothers would help her. “C’mon, help me. This thing’s real heavy.”


“Jeez Louise.” Clyde was a nervous kid, always fretting about something. “Molly, let’s shove Moose in there and scatter. They’re gonna call the cops you know.”

“No they won’t,” replied Preston. “Stop being such a poop head.”

“Molly!” gasped Preston. “You hear what he said? Tell him not to call me names.”

“Stop arguing and help me,” Molly snapped at them.

“Hey up there!” Preston yelled.

Clyde gripped the jacket in his hands tight and looked around at the empty street. He tried to not crease it, there would be hell to pay if it got all messed up.

“He knows the place, right Moll?” Clyde asked his sister. “Couldn’t we just go and he can catch up?”

“No!” Molly was losing patience with her younger brothers. “We got to stick together. You heard what they told us.”

“Throw down more stuff will ya!”

“Moose! Please! You’re gonna get us in bad trouble,” Clyde insisted.

Preston glanced at Clyde. “Stop mucking up the jacket,” he scolded.

“Make me.”

“You’re such a dingus,” Preston said. He looked back at the window. “Hey up there! C’mon!”

“Please Moll, do something,” Clyde whimpered.

Molly wedged the mattress into the pram and staggered back. She knocked dust off her clean white blouse. “Moose, there’s no more stuff. It’s all gone.”

Preston was close to tears. There had to be more stuff. They needed it.

“There was loads up there,” Preston said. “What we gonna do with a pram and a stinky mattress?”

Molly stamped over to Preston and stood in front of him. “The pram is for baby Jess and we all take turns with the mattress. We agreed. If you don’t stop shouting I’ll bloody your nose.”

Preston gaped at his sister. “No foolies?”

“No foolies.”

Preston looked trapped between panic and submission. “One last go?”

Molly sighed and held up her index finger. “One.”

Preston sucked in a deep breath. “Mister!!! Throw down more stuff!!”

“Bad trouble,” mumbled Clyde.

A woman’s face appeared in the window. “For the love of Holy Mother Mary, stop shouting!”

Preston pointed to the pram. “We still got lots of room.”

“I can’t,” the woman looked sad. “It’s all gone.”


“They took it all. I’m sorry.”

Preston started to cry. “Even the toys?”

The woman nodded.

That set Clyde off and Molly comforted them.

“Start walking,” said the woman. “Your father and I will meet you at the shelter.”


This short story was inspired by Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press – a challenge to write a 500 word piece of fiction using one of 2 photos as a prompt. I managed to make 500 words exactly. The story was based on a family who have become homeless after the father lost his job and the collectors took away their possessions. I was trying to capture the plight of a suddenly homeless family in the Great Depression in the US. Destitute the family are forced to take refuge in a homeless shelter, but not before the 3 children make a last-ditch effort to salvage anything they could before it was too late.

If you want to take part in this excellent writing challenge clicky-click the link above!

16 thoughts on “Writing Challenge: The Shelter

    1. Thanks Joss! It was a good challenge. I love writing and being able to keep churning out the story but now and then it’s a good test to see if you can create something to fit the confines of a challenge.

  1. This was a great story, I truly enjoyed it. The children’s voices were capture very well and honestly, I was smiling wondering what they were up to until the end. Then, wow, powerful. Fantastic job, thanks!

    1. Thanks for the comment! I really enjoy writing dialogue, the way people speak can say a lot about who they are, just as much as body language. Poor kids didn’t have any toys, but hey, they got a mattress!

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