top of page
  • Writer's pictureKali Kuzma

AI Photo Creator Prompts My Next Short Story: "Crossing Paths"

When AI Gives You the Photo Prompt

On the backend of the blog, I have all sorts of tools at my disposal when it comes to writing a post. The latest includes an AI to help generate titles and photos. I don't use it as I like to come up with my own ideas, but I thought for this post, I would see how well the AI did when prompted for a photo to help write a story. As you can see I chose the trains tracks out of the four options it generated. When I saw it, I knew I had to write about two people crossing paths but going in different directions. It's been some time since I've written more literary fiction as I typically stay within the horror genre.


Crossing Paths

The gravel crunched under his feet, the same it had been doing for the past few weeks.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. The sound repeated over and over again. Sometimes, to avoid the monotony he would speed up, crun, crun, crun until he was out of breath to which his steps would return to normal. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. On days when the sun's rays shot off the rail joints, not only blinding him but causing the temperature to rise, his pace would slow. The gravel almost like quicksand, his feet being sucked into the earth instead of moving forward.

It was only after a few of those days did he finally decide to walk at night. At first, it was lovely, the summer night air keeping him company, but then fatigue set in, his eyes droopy with sleepiness. He pushed himself forward thinking of his final destination until the wee hours of the morning when the sun finally rose greeted by the singing of the early bird's song. He would hunker down to rest his legs, search his rut for any crumbs of leftover food he had stolen or worked for, and finally let his thoughts fade into a tireless dream.

Tonight was no different, except for the voices arising in the distance. Lantern lights aglow to indicate a stop along the path. It had been a couple of days since his last encounter with a township. There he had been able to work as a dish boy to earn a few coins to stock up on bread, jerky, and some fruit to continue on his way. The last of it eaten this morning with hopes of another town to appear soon.

As he closed in, he could see shadows of men hollering, tossing each other around. The sign above them reading 'Bar' with spouts of music and clanking emerging from the door. The station on the other hand was quiet, ready for when another train would be passing through.

He took a seat, eyeing the bar and its guests coming and going. From the commotion he didn't think he would be able to get a job there tonight leaving him without food once again. But he could steal. It wouldn't be easy, but he could manage. His final thoughts were of the bins. Waiting until final calls when everyone would stumble out pissing their way home. The crew tossing the scavenged remains to the corner. The boy's nose scrunched at the thought of digging through the trash. Sometimes he decided going hungry was better than rifling through someone's nasty leftovers which usually left his stomach in turns.

"Don't even try," a voice said behind him. He whirled around at the apparition of the stranger. "The crew have eagle eyes and it's too tightly packed to try and escape even if you were to get your hands on something."

The boy watched as a girl emerged from the darkness of the platform taking a seat next to him. "The bins aren't worth it either."

He stared unsure what to say.

"Where you heading?"

"What?" he asked, not certain how she would know of his plan or of his travels.

"I asked where ya heading?" she pointed to his sack tucked below his feet.

"Oh, ummm...." he couldn't quite get his thoughts together his heart still racing. "My uncle. Yes, my uncle is out towards the east and says he can get me a job on the railroad to earn some cash. So, I'm heading that way," he pointed in the direction the tracks had been leading him.

The girl nodded her head, "Let me guess, your momma took care of you and when your daddy was home he was filled up with drink too angry at the world to take it out on them so he took it out on you?"

The boy gulped. "You can say that."

"You and me both. I'm heading out west," She pointed to the same tracks the way he had come. "They say Hollywood is the place to be to get your break. Well, I'm ready for mine. Just you wait, you'll see me on the big screen here in no time. It's what I'm meant to do."

"Meant to do?" his eyes questioned her. "How you know that?"

"Well, it's a feeling. It sits right here, and it aches and aches until you do something about it you see." Her fist was closed pressed against her stomach.

He grabbed for his uncertain if the ache he was feeling was due to hunger or the same feeling she had. Was he on the right path?

A loud ruckus sounded from the bar as men began pouring from door. Their hooting and hollering following close by.

"Come on before they spot us. Those men don't know how to keep their hands to themselves at this time of night." He didn't know what she meant by the statement but followed suit. The girl grabbed for her rut crossing over the tracks and onto the other side where the forest butt up against them.

"I don't think we should go in there," he insisted. Even though familiar with the woods at home, he was no stranger to evils the forest would play on a fella who wasn't welcome.

"Don't worry, there is a clearing on the other side." The girl took a step forward disappearing into the shadows. "It isn't far!" she called out.

He wasn't certain why, but he followed her. Was this the feeling she spoke so fondly of?

He couldn't see but allowed his other senses to heighten. Branches snapped in front of him, a light slew of cussing escaping the girl's mouth when he was certain she had tripped. It didn't last long when the moon's light emerged on the other side showing a clearing and a large pond nearby. The pond was accompanied by a wood shack small enough to fit one or two large adults inside.

The girl trudged over, her feet sinking in the closer she walked towards the pond. Bull frogs sounded, their habitats disturbed by the pounding of feet, and hopped in with a large splash. The smell of stale muddy water radiated the more the ripples spanned across the surface. The boy pinched the top of his nose opening his mouth for air.

"Ain't she a beauty?" The girl called behind wrenching the door open. Instead of being dark, the shack was light with a small candle in the far corner. It illuminated the heap of blankets it sat by.

The boy nodded in agreement. It was more than he had had in the last few weeks to call his home.

"I've been staying here for the last few days or until the heat begins to cool. I'm too scared to walk at night, and the heat has been making me feel all fainty and lightheaded if you know what I mean." He nodded again.

"So, until then, I'm calling this my home sweet home. Here," She handed him an apple, a bite already taken out of one side. He didn't hesitate to sink his teeth into the sweet juices. The sound loud in his ears. He watched as she sat upon the blankets her hands filtering about. "Ahh, there you are."

She turned holding a pocketknife in her clutched fist. The boy took a step back at the appearance of the blade.

"Don't be scared silly," she stepped forward pressing the handle into his free hand. "Write your name next to mine." She pointed at the wall indents where the wood had recently been carved to relieve the name Milly.

He looked down at the blade rotating it in his hand. It was nice. Much nicer than the one his Pa owed which was handed down from his grandfather. He wasn't allowed to touch it, his fathering stating he would lose it. This pocketknife he was allowed to touch and the weight in his hands felt good. He tossed the apple back to the girl, Milly, sitting down next to her as he began carving. L-U-K-E.

He smiled seeing his name written out next to Milly's. It was their little secret and for anyone who stumbled upon the shack in the future would wonder who these passing souls were.

"So you do know how to read and write," she exclaimed when she noticed he was done.

"Well of course I do." The offensive deep in the tone of his voice.

"I just meant you don't know how some people are raised is all. I'm glad you know how to read and write. Everyone should know how. Especially read you see. You get to escape to all these other worlds no one has ever seen before. It's quite amazing." She took a bite of apple throwing the rest into her rutsack. "Let's see if the stars are out tonight."

The last few nights the moon's light had been dimmed with a cast of clouds, but tonight the stars had shown brightly when he walked into town, and he was certain they were now.

"There she is!" Milly pointed to the sky. Twinkles of stars showed the outline of the little bear, the great bear not far off if you strained your neck upward. "Isn't she just gorgeous?"

Milly sat, the long grass falling to the side. "I could look at this all night. Do you ever wonder what is out there?" She turned to look at him patting the spot beside her.

"" He wasn't much for stargazing.

"Really? I do. We are one big spinning planet, one that would take a lifetime for us to travel and yet there is still so much more beyond that out there. So much more for us to take in and experience, and just think we probably never will." She leaned back stretching out amongst the grass. Luke did the same.

Milly was quiet for a few moments and the sounds of crickets began flooding the grass around them. It made it hard to hear when Milly's voice suddenly soft and quiet questioned, "You ever kiss a girl before?"Her eyes focused on the night sky. After a few moments, he answered, "No."

Milly twisted propping herself up on an elbow. His fingers intertwined with each other tightened and their eyes locked. His breath caught but before he could panic at the lack of air, Milly leaned down planting a kiss to his lips. She held it there for a moment, then released. The air released from his chest, and he opened his eyes he didn't realize he had closed. He laid there, the stars shinning brighter than they were before. Milly laid down next to him again.

A few minutes passed before he could finally speak.\, "Have you kissed someone before?"

Milly turned her head, "Of course I have."

"Oh," his voice sounded hurt, but why?

"It's you silly!" She giggled at the cleverness of her answer.

"Oh," is all he could say again, this time followed by a pause then a sudden bout of laughter, tears streamingdown his face. They were both laughing now, the other person's laugh making them laugh even more.

Luke woke to the sun beating over him. He covered his eyes with the crook of his arm pushing himself forward with the other. Milly nowhere in sight. He groaned, the forest floor hard beneath him. He stretched standing to his feet. The pond was much smaller in the daylight then it had been the night before. The green algae covering most of the surface blending in as it came in contact with the pond's grassy edge. Luke turned and pulled the shack door open in hopes to find Milly asleep, tangled within her blankets. Instead, it empty. She was gone, the only sign of their interaction were the names craved within the wood. Luke grabbed for his rut surprised at the coolness the light breeze carried. Maybe he too will take to the tracks today. Making his way back through the brush of trees the familiar tracks came into view. He turned left the direction he's come to know as east so well in the last few weeks. It wasn't long until the town was behind him the rhythmic tone of gravel continued. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Final Thoughts

I can tell I enjoyed writing this story because I was able to write it in about an hour and a half. Originally, I had done a small outline but tossed it once I started writing. Even though good, it would have been way too long for it to be considered a short story.

When I saw the train tracks and came up with the idea of crossing paths, I knew it would be more of a coming-of-age story. It's very rare I write these types of stories, but I'm glad I did as it gets me out of my comfort zone.

What kind of story would you write if given the image above from an AI? Let me know in the comments below! Check out my story To the Girl on Eleanor Way for another coming of age story.

18 views0 comments


bottom of page