Wednesday 20 December 2023

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 318

This week's new picture prompt was taken by photographer Dec_Des, they specialise in abandoned urban buildings. Their own account Instagram is locked, but manage Abandoned Addiction where they share pictures from other photographers. However, when asked about this picture they confirmed that the image was real and from an abandoned button factory in Athens, Greece. They said, that the photograph wasn't staged, and that the buttons were "all over the top floor in plastic bags decayed and opened with that result and all over the stairs."

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How to create a clickable link in Blogger comments can be found on lasts week's post here

There is also a Facebook group for Mid-Week Flash, if you fancy getting the prompt there.

A photograph looking down an metal banistered, concrete stairwell in an abandoned button factory, with thousands of different coloured and shaped buttons covering every step. Taken by


Silvia stood frozen at the top of the stairs. Oh my god! Who had done this?! Someone that knew, that’s who!

She could feel her heart racing and sweat break out on her palms as her trembling fingers gripped the banister while she peered over the edge to see every stair covered in buttons; thousands of them in all different shapes and sizes, and a kaleidoscope of colour trailing down the two flights.

Her mind raced trying to identify who she had told about her phobia; it wasn’t something she usually did, there weren’t many that knew. Most people would cross examine her or tease her or then trigger her by waving them in her face. She hated it.

No, Silvia had kept it to herself for years, so how had it come about that not only did someone know, but they had broken into her house and done this? What kind of lunatic would?

Silvia needed to get down the stairs – something the person that had done this obviously knew. She shuffled forward and pushed some of the buttons along in front of her causing them to topple over each other, some going over the edge of the stairwell and hitting others, causing a cascade.

Silvia took deep breaths. She could do this. They were only bits of plastic with holes in them. She didn’t have to touch them; she didn’t have to feel their slimy texture or funny ridges, and they wouldn’t be coming anywhere near her face!

She reached the edge of the first step, disrupting a pile there, causing them to trickle over it, the sound of them bouncing down the stairs as one hit another like an avalanche putting her teeth on edge.

She lifted her foot and knew she had to put it down on the button-covered first step. She shoved her foot forward, dislodging more of them but at least making room for her feet. She clenched her teeth and took in rapid breaths through her nose as she told herself to keep moving. If she stopped she might not be able to get started again.

Silva kept this mindset as she took each step, encouraging herself and calming herself, until she got into a rhythm. She relaxed at the first floor landing. She could shuffle forward pushing through them, rather than having to feel them under her feet. She felt stronger on the next flight down, and was so focused on her mental coaching she didn’t see the figure standing at the bottom until she took the final step and they started clapping.

The sound startled her, making her cry out. For a moment Silvia forgot about her fear of the buttons even though they were scattered all over the floor down here too.

And there he was, Nigel, standing there, looking all smug.

Why didn’t she think of him? They’d spoken about it recently too; how had she forgotten that? Maybe because she liked him – a lot, so much she’d given him a key, just last week. And maybe because he’d been sympathetic, and their new relationship was still growing and her heart warming to him. But that warmth now turned to fire as she became overwhelmed with anger and hurt.

“How could you! And why would you?”

He stopped clapping, a surprised expression wiping the grin off his face.

“The best way to overcome a phobia is to confront it.”

“You know nothing about my phobia! You know nothing about how it affects me, or what it was caused by! You have no idea what emotional trauma you are triggering and wounds you are opening! You barely know me!”

“But … but … I thought, you know, because you told me and … you gave me a key … that we weren’t strangers anymore.”

“And that would make it okay for you to think you could heal me by putting me through something as horrific as this? And not just all the buttons, but that you snuck into my house and laid this for me like a trap! I think you need to leave now, Nigel, and leave my key too.”

“But, Silvia, baby, I’m sorry.”

He endeavoured to reach out to her, but she took a sudden step back, feeling the buttons under her heel as she did so, making her cringe.

“Go now! I’m not interested in sorry. You’ve shown me your true colours. I don’t want to know. Go!”

Nigel’s mouth opened and closed a few times, but he did as she asked, handing her the key and silently left.

Silvia waited for the front door to close completely, then she made her way through the hallway, the buttons thinning out and dissipating completely by the time she reached the kitchen.

She filled the kettle as though on autopilot, and switched it on, standing there motionless while it began to boil. And then she burst into tears, her sobs coming hard and fast, her hands on her mouth to try and stifle the sound.

The relief of getting down the stairs, and unexpected break up with Nigel – and the thought of having to clean up all those buttons was too much for her, and she sat on the kitchen floor and let it consume her.

But once the flood of tears was over and she caught her breath once more, she realised one thing: he’d been right; confronting all those buttons had made her face it, and although she would never like them, they no longer held such fear.

In fact, as she spotted one by her hand, she picked it up – she could even touch them now. She still hated their slippery feel, her nose flaring with revulsion, but she didn’t shake or sweat with fear. She might not be able to forgive the sneaky, back-handed way of doing it, but he’d gone and bloody cured her!


  1. After almost ten years of inactivity, I'm coming back to flash fiction and have discovered your challenge. Wednesdays and Thursdays (for #ThursThreads) are busy days for me, now, but I do await your final prompt of 2023 to help get me started again.

    1. And sadly it will be the final one as I'm bringing MidWeekFlash to a halt in the New Year to make room for other projects. I managed 7 years of it. But the posts all remain here if you need inpiration.

  2. Well, since it's not a contest with a deadline, maybe I'll go back to your earlier prompts to see what tickles my fancy. Do well in your other projects.

    1. All my prompts are always open! And thank you. If things calm down & I feel the urge I might restart it, but I prefer to tie it up for now.