The Room

Not much is left in this room…

Pictures move us. Sometimes, they evoke the ideas of untold stories. A discarded shoe beside the road… Why is it there? An abandoned suitcase… What happened to its owner? Picture Stories lets us explore the connection between images and stories.

Let the picture below inspire YOU, and click the “Comment” or “Leave a comment” link to submit YOUR story response.



  1. “This will have to do.” Eric put his hands on his hips, looked around and nodded. “It’s not much, but at least it is a roof over our head.”

    Sarah nodded but said nothing. She wondered how long it had been since humans had been there. The apartment was on the edge of town, looking out across the nearby farmland.

    “At least we’ll be inside when night falls…” Eric tried to sound assuring, but a hint of doubt toned his voice.

    “We’ll be okay,” Sarah said. She tried to sound confident, but looking at what was left of the door and the battered walls, it was hard.

    Eric tried to clear some of the debris from the floor where the sleeping bags could be placed. Kicking old plaster and rotted wood to the side, he stirred up dust from decades past.

    Sarah sat on the radiator and put her pack on the floor between her feet. She picked through the outer pockets and took out an energy bar. Breaking it in two, she handed the bigger piece to Eric and took a bite.

    Their truck had stalled out, about five mile back and two hours earlier. At 100 kilometers per hour, they would have easily made it to Camp 16, where they were being redeployed. Afoot, they were lucky to have reached the ruins of Sawyerville before dark.

    “When did they say they could pick us up?” Sarah asked.

    Eric stared at the floor and shook his head. “They won’t send anyone out until dawn. They did the math, and making the trip from the camp to us and back didn’t fit the window of daylight.”

    Sarah shook her head.

    This will be bad, she thought.

    Outside, the outer circle of the sun was just touching the trees and high points on the horizon.

    It won’t be long, now, she thought.

  2. A sharp pain in his side yanked him out of the dream. His mothers soft hands were no longer wrapped around him nor was there a delicious turkey dinner spread across the dining room table. An angry growl followed the end of the cramp and Dimitri found himself smiling at how loud it was. He attempted to orientate himself by rubbing the night’s grit from his eyes; a constant reminder that nothing would ever be the same again. Dust motes performed their dance just for him, disappearing and reappearing between the rays of sunlight breaking through the grime-coated window by his nap area.

    He looked at the destroyed room and the door that had once led to his mother’s room then listened with all the concentration a ten year old could produce. The empty howl of the wind, the sound of scrap metal clanging, the total silence that he hated the most all began to fade. Deeper yet he dove into his wish. Yes! There it was. She was singing behind his bedroom door. She always sang while working and the song would lift him right out of bed to go and see what she was doing. Perhaps he could help. He reached for the doorknob and stopped. Years of training and conditioning giving him pause long enough to recite the words placed on the freshly painted door. Blue he had asked of his mother, he wanted a blue door and a blue room. Both of which were swiftly granted him. He was a good boy, he read the rules, he knew the rules, and he loved the rules. His fingers lovingly traced the laws of their land. He was not allowed to start the day without reciting them. The singing changed to a soft hum and the little boy, then only five, recited the words his parents taught him.

    “The Standard’s are not to be trusted, Standard’s will lie in order to steal your home and your jobs. If a Standard shall ever find his or her way either purposely or mistaken to our land you must kill the Standard. Do you see your pretty blue room, your beautiful home, your security?” It always took Dimitri several tries to pronounce security and upon saying it correctly he would puff up his chest proudly and finish reciting. “The Non-Standard’ Council will do all they can in keeping the Standard’s at bay but It will take everyone’s combined effort and sacrifice in order to ensure that every Non-Standard may live the life they deserve. And only until the last Standard is exterminated will we live with complete peace and harmony as a Standard race.” Dimitri heard his mother’s clapping from behind the door. Knowing his mother had a present for him for reciting the rules correctly he rushed to open the door calling out her name.

    His echo’s ricochets snapped him from his reverie and once again he found himself alone in his bomb struck house. To make matters worse the cramp returned with a vengeance. He needed food badly but there was nothing left to eat in the house. The year following the explosions had not been so bad when it came to scrounging for food. When his house was bare he went to the neighbors but there had not been very many homes that had survived the blasts and the occasional find soon drew itself out to no find at all. He walked through the only home he had ever known, room by room, reading all the lessons he was trained to read for the last time before running back to his room to lovingly collect the lesson off his door. Just as he reached to get it sunlight glinted off of something under the filthy radiator. Filled with curiosity he squatted by the filthy thing and peered through the layers of dust. The corner of a tiny metal container lay trapped under the heater. He pulled it out and blew on it, staring in awe as the dust motes went into hyper drive. Returning his attention to the tin he wiped each side on his pants until it was revealed. It was his candy tin! The one his mother had hand-painted for him for beating up a Standard. She gave it to him with such pride telling him to go ahead and open it. His fingers shook. At the time it had been filled with soft chewy caramels. He had only eaten two that he could remember. He tore open the lid almost breaking the hinges in the process and instantly his mouth drooled one long line of saliva down the front of his filthy shirt and before he knew it his mouth was full of at least three of the now hard candies. Oh! How delicious the taste. Buttery caramels, yes, hard now, but still sweet. He closed the lid, planning to save the rest.

    Collecting the rules, also hand-painted by his mother on thin strips of bamboo that could be rolled up like a scroll, he walked with a heavy heart down the stairs and out the door. He didn’t look back for he had his home held dear in his heart and his imagination.

    Dimitri walked through his beloved city and it seemed the only thing that had survived were the rules. They were printed everywhere; cars, broken homes, damaged storefronts, and even the fragmented streets bore the stains of lessons. While making his way through broken streets and fallen buildings the boy managed to find some food, plenty in fact, but he was determined to find a person. Someone had to have survived the bombings. If he could survive so could at least one. Chancing upon a shopping carriage he tested it to see if the wheels would move and danced a very fine Non-Standard jig when he found them to be in perfect order. Loading it with canned meats and dried vegetables until he felt confident enough to move on, the boy slowly weaved his way out of the city.

    It was a long journey indeed trying to find a person while pushing a full cart of food the whole way but he considered himself lucky for the pain in his belly had subsided and the dizziness along with it. Each time he passed a town he would dip in and fill his cart but never found a single person. Every so often he would discover a newspaper that explained how the Standards had sneak-attacked the Non-Standards just because the Standard’s Leader wanted their land, their jobs, and their buildings. Numerous quotes from the boy’s beloved leader stated that the Standards were up to something and everyone should be on high alert. The statistics of survival lay grimly on the white paper in bold black letters.

    Dimitri broke down crying. He cried for his family, he cried for himself, and he cried for the companion he so desperately wanted. He cried as he walked until the tears dried up and a hollow ache took place in his heart. Eventually, after many full moons, he came to a very thick fence. It too was destroyed and twisted, bending almost as if afraid of him. Making his way through it he entered a city also destroyed but everything was different. Yes there were rules but they didn’t make sense to the boy. he stopped to gape as he read them out loud.

    “Love and forgive the Non-Standards. Don’t hurt them even if they hurt you.” The boy shook his head in disbelief. An abandoned newspaper blew around until it struck his leg. Bending to retrieve the paper he read some headlines. “Non-Standards President Refuse’s Peace!”, “Non-Standard President Threatens To Bomb Us.”, and “Non-Standard’s President orders own Bombing.” Dimitri heard glass breaking and spun towards the sound. He blinked a few times to take in the sight. A small boy about his age stood before him. He gave a hesitant wave towards Dimitri. “Welcome!” The boy smiled in clothing very different than the Standard. Dimitri charged at the boy kicking and screaming, all the rage and hate that had been taught and learned poured from him. He didn’t even care that he had found another human; all he wanted was to kill him. It was the boy’s pleas that finally stopped him. Standards didn’t beg. What was going on?

    “Get up and fight Standard! Fight like you did when you bombed us” He spat out at the kid.

    The Standard held up both hands. “No! You need to understand. We don’t fight! Don’t you get it? Your people bombed us with such hateful bombs that it not only destroyed us, it destroyed them too. Hate and prejudice are the MOST destructive forces in the world and almost always follows some sort of greed. We can over come all of this, you and I. We can start over, learn from this.”

    Dimitri looked around him, the rules blanketing the area. It wasn’t the boy’s writing for almost every rule was written differently. He thought of his parents, their President, all the speeches he gave to them, the lies he fed them. “Why? He asked.”

    The boy hugged him. “That’s the first step we will take together. Find out why and then never, ever repeat this kind of hate.” They walked hand and in hand, both having had no companion for two years and both more than willing to set aside differences and make peace.

  3. She wandered into the room, the room where it had all happened, now just a ruin. It seemed fitting that the once beautifully and lovingly decorated room would look so battered and sad.

    As tears ran down her face, she was unable to pinpoint where the tears were coming from. This room contained memories of a previous life, of love, of passion, then of tragedy and despair. Happy, sad, fearful, comforting, painful, loving and hurtful feelings were criss-crossing around her head.

    Overwhelmed, with her back against the peeling wall she slid down to sit on the floor. She grabbed her knees and her tears dropped onto them, she dare not shut her eyes, not wanting to see the beauty of this room in the past but kept peering through the tears at the truth, the dilapidated, broken reality of what once was.

    She reached down and stroked the floor almost lovingly, not caring that she was getting splinters from the wood that was now there instead of the soft carpet, when she noticed something that was stuck behind the radiator, pulling it out, she saw a card with her name written on it and then the 3 words that so often were a lie, ‘I love you’.

  4. Brilliant sunshine tried to flood through the opaque window. Years of neglect had created a smudge barrier to prevent most to the rays from entering the old, abandoned house. But not all of the sun’s light could be blocked out. A few brave beams penetrated the soot and grime and illuminated the remnant of character that could still be seen here and there in the once grand house.

    It was a house that held many stories, if only she could talk. For see, once upon a time, she was something to be proud of, something that was loved and something that was cared for. Her history was like most, full of ups and downs, good times and bad times, times of companionship and times of loneliness.

    The sunlight shone down on one of her pleasant memories. To some they looked liked blemishes or scars. But the notches etched on the doorframe were from a loving family who marked the growth of their son each passing year. She took great satisfaction in those marks. But soon, too soon, the family moved away and she stood empty.

    Finally, there came a newly married couple, so full of life and love and happiness. Oh, how they cared for her. The way a house should be cared for. But war had come and the husband had to go fight for freedom. The wife tried to keep the home up to par, but soon, too soon, a telegram came which destroyed the young wife’s world. Her husband had paid the ultimate price. He had bravely given his life for his country. The wife fell into a deep depression and could no longer bear to be in the house that she and the love of her life had made a home. It wasn’t home without him. She moved out again and the house, once again stood lonely.

    But soon fortune smiled down upon her. A middleaged couple moved into her. Their children were grown, so the couple had plenty of time to fix her up again. They restored her to her original glory. They spared no expense to make her grand again. The loving time they spent updating her and renovating her made the years of loneliness fade from her memory. She had never been so completely cared for. The home was full of laughter from visiting children, grandchildren, and in time, great grandchildren. Oh, the parties and holiday cheer that filled her rooms! The memories that were safely stored between her walls. She bore the dents and dings from being well loved and well used. But these marks were badges of honor to her. She may be wearing out, but she was delighted to make others so happy.

    But time has a way of changing things. The couple grew old, and soon had no strength to care for her. The children and grandchildren had lives of their own. The time came when the loving couple had to move in with one of their children. But the family had so many fond memories of the home that they couldn’t bear to sell her.

    So year after year, decade after decade, there she stood empty, waiting and longing to be loved and cared for again. She still had many good years left in her. She just needed the skill of someone who could look beyond her dilapidated state and see her potential, and who could value her enough to bring out all the best that lay hidden inside her. It would take time and energy, but she was so worth it. She could be useful again! She could be beautiful again! So, there she stands, in hopeful anticipation, waiting patiently for someone to love her once again……….

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