Black and white images from the past. Not hers, someone else’s. The smiling portrait of a young woman, an elderly couple in front of their house, a grandfather, a brother and sister. A family, a historical document of a happy life.

$1 for the basket. The seller had no idea who the people in the photos were.

She bought them. They would become her family. She named them, imagined their stories. They would become the past she had dreamed of, the past others were lucky to have had. They would replace the nightmare she had lived through and the monsters she wished she could forget.

Copyright Ted Strutz

Written as part of the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (more details HERE). The idea is to write a short story of 100 words based on the photo prompt (above).

To read stories of 100 words based on this week’s prompt, visit HERE.



My second novel is out now in paperback and on Amazon Kindle – just follow the links:




92 responses to “SURROGATES”

  1. Ooh, love that. Enjoy the idea of a woman inventing a whole new past just to escape the nightmare of the truth. As always, well structure and written with a cracking final punch. A friend of mine inherited some old photographs a few years ago. Hasn’t a clue who the people are, even if they’re related to her. Still, she can’t get rid of them. She says she feels responsible for them now, that throwing them away would be disrespectful to these strangers and sh might be the only person who has evidence of what they looked like, who they really were. Cracking tale, Ian

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Fantastic turn in the story. i found an old photograph in a book I bought in a charity shop; what do you do with it?
    Memories and the inquisitive search into out past are always locked in photographs, if only someone and written the names and dates on the back.(An idea I used in my latest book).
    I wonder if the digital photos that are filling the e-cloud today will also fade in time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I sometimes wonder at the lives of people in old photographs, but never for such a grim and tragic reason and to such an extent. Great story!

    BTW I’m thoroughly enjoying your book. And a learnt a new Scottish word from it – “outwith” (which I was sure you’d made up until I Googled it!) – despite my mum being Scottish. I’ll have to ask her if she’s ever heard of it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, new words are always good to discover. Great to hear you are reading and enjoying, always nice to know someone is and I’m not just writing in a void! Do leave a review and let me know what you think once you’ve reached the end.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mmmm. This poor woman. To “buy” a new made-up family for $1. Your story has made appreciate the love of my family ~ through blood and through bond ~ even more than I did before I read your words. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That is really depressing. I can’t imagine if’s a very healthy way to go about dealing with one’s tormented past. Drugs and alcohol are the only healthy ways to deal with things. Oh, and indiscriminate sexual encounters. That said. Good story. It’s dark and intriguing.

    I’ve always wondered about those collections of old photos in second-hand stores. Why are they there? Who sells them? Who buys them? This week’s prompt has me thinking it might not be a bad place to start finding characters and/or stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That was my thought too, it would be a great way to trigger a story idea – maybe that’s who buys those old photos, aspiring and struggling writers. As for your advice, I’m off to buy some alcohol and drugs, the sexual encounter might prove trickier….


      • Once you have the drugs and alcohol, spread the word. “Party at Iain’s house.” Opportunities will come knocking. I should know. I don’t drink or do drugs, and I always never have sex. That tormented past is always right behind me, though, clinging on like a tail, or sometimes a tale.


  6. That’s an excellent take on the prompt. I can empathise with the idea of wanting a surrogate family. I have a strong, loving family and friends, but I still take great satisfaction in the company of the non-existent characters I write about.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ironically, I took an art class with a gal who brought in photos she’d picked up at a yard sale.
    She said she planned to make a family collage for herself. Astonishing the things some will go through to be able to say the word ‘family’. Powerful, Iain. I loved it.
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent interpretation of the prompt, Iain. I wondered perhaps if she’d turn out to be a spy or a protected witness. Not an easy life any way you look at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love where you go with the basket of old photos, what an interesting take. I recognise the power of these images of past people, even if they are not related to you. Good writing.
    Congratulations on the publication of your latest book.

    Liked by 1 person

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