Photo Challenge #349 – Self Exoneration

The Challenge: Use the image as inspiration for a poem or short story. Alternatively, if you are an artist or photographer, use this as an opportunity to showcase your own work.

When you’re done, TAG the post Photo Challenge and MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie, and add your link to the Link Button. Also don’t forget to link to this post or copy your post’s URL into the comments. See below for the original link 🙂

My Submission:

This was the moment she had been dreading. Arianna, having been born into a cult, accepted most of their ways. She had to dress a certain way, speak a certain way, and follow every rule, regardless of how ridiculous it seemed. Silently and privately, she believed in God, but this was not his work. Still, she prayed as her fingertips were urged toward the fire. 

“We are not human, we are superhuman, superior,” said her leader at every Mass. “We needn’t toil for our spoils, but take what’s rightfully ours.” 

Puberty was considered a right of passage. A ceremony for the teen would consist of their head being shaved, fingerprints being burned off, and teeth removed. 

“You will not exist to the outsiders. And when you pillage, you will leave no trace.” 

It was a cult of crime, but Arianna didn’t know anything else. Her parents had gone through it too, and they survived, which brought her some comfort. Still, she was reluctant. Something inside told her this wasn’t right. Her curly blond locks were already on the floor, the fire was blazing, and the “dentist” was on standby…the final step in her inauguration. Her heart raced, her stomach was sick, and she was shaking as the leader took hold of her forearms. 

This is not right, she thought, this is not how it’s supposed to be. She started to feel the heat on her hands, it already hurt. Her anxiety was raging. No, no, NO! This is not how it’s supposed to be!

In a desperate act, Arianna shook her leader’s hands off her arms, snagged a red hot coal from the fire and smashed it into his eye. She took off, running through the forest until she reached a road. 

Picked up by a kind couple, she happily lived out the rest of her days amongst the “outsiders”, and her leader lived out the rest of his in prison.

To participate or just enjoy other submissions, please visit,

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Poetry, story and real life. Once soldier, busnessman, grandfather and Poet.

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