Worst Topping, Ever

“Okay everyone, we’re going old school today.” Mr. Timberline walked around the room, placing one camera on each table. “Each camera has a single roll of 35 mm film which your table will share. That means you only take nine photos apiece, so make them count. There’s no delete button on these.”

Groans echoed through the room.

“This is stupid. Nobody uses film anymore,” Carmen said, a sneer marring her otherwise beautiful face. Her sycophants automatons nodded and reached for the camera.

Anna sat quietly at the far end of the table, eyes already scanning the room for the perfect subject. Should she shoot one thing from many angles, or multiple ones from fewer?

Already most of the classmates were aiming at each other, capturing rolled eyes and stuck out tongues, along with a few fake smiles.

A flash blared too close and spots of color swam before Anna’s eyes as she tried to refocus.

“Great. I think Pizza Face broke our camera.” Carmen’s barb echoed through the room as the other kids snickered – timed perfectly when Mr. Timberline disappeared into the supply closet. “If it turns out, I’ll have to name it Worst Topping, Ever.” The laughter rolled again.

Anna’s cheeks flushed as she hung her head, trying to hide her reaction and the acne which refused to go away no matter what she did.

Normally she would flee. To the nurse. The bathroom.

But not in this class. Art was the single bright spot in her day. The smell of paint and clay and paper made her feel alive.

It made her forget.

Mr. Timberline returned and everyone returned to their photo taking, the flashing bulbs reminding her of a storm approaching shore.

“Here.” Carmen tossed the camera and Anna lurched out of her chair to catch the strap before it fell to the floor. “Have fun.”

Anna stood, leaving the table and immediately heading to the far corner by the single window. The afternoon light painted shadows over the small cross on the wall and she carefully arranged her shot.


She shifted to shoot again, but the camera came to life, whirring as it rewound the film.

She stared at it, comprehension flooding her. They had stolen her photos. A quick glance to her table and their smug grins ignited her fury, and she whirled toward Mr. Timberline.

They would pay for this.

* * *

A Red Dress Club writing prompt

Write a short fiction or non-fiction piece inspired by any or all of the photo below. Word limit: 400 words

Concrit is welcomed as always.




About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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15 Responses to Worst Topping, Ever

  1. Jackie says:

    I loved it! I found it very easy to imagine the classroom, the mean girls, and everything. Putting myself in her shoes was simple… unless you were one of the mean girls.

  2. That poor girl. I hate meanness as an adult but would have just accepted it as part of high school as a teenager.

    Anna’s comprehension of what happened was quicker than mine. I was a bit slower in working it out. Nothing to do with the writing, just me going “What?!”

    Great piece.


  3. angela says:

    I was so excited for Anna, and then this:

    She shifted to shoot again, but the camera came to life, whirring as it rewound the film.

    She stared at it, comprehension flooding her. They had stolen her photos.

    I like that she gets angry and not upset. The contrast between her reaction when they make fun of her looks (shame) and when they attack something she loves (art) is a little empowering, although the mean kids are awful.

  4. Galit Breen says:

    Ooh yes!

    I felt for her as a mom and as a former teacher {and let’s just face it, as a human being!}.

    But the karate chop ending? Perfection!

    This story has legs, I hope to read more of it!

  5. Kir says:

    this: the flashing bulbs reminding her of a storm approaching shore.

    was so lyrical and beautiful.

    My heart hurts when you write about HS, these young women so much like me, you , others who didn’t fit in just because we “FELT” something.

    I want to know what happens after……I’m hooked.

  6. Carrie says:

    Oh, those nasty girls! I hope Anna’s picture is the ONLY great on in the entire class and she gets huge praise.

    This was very realistic. I think we all knew someone in high school who fit these molds.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I love, really love, that it’s not the teasing, the everydayness of it that causes her to snap, but Carmen was ruining her one bright spot of the day. I can hardly wait to see how they pay!

  8. CDG says:

    You strike right at the heart of mean kids, don’t you?

    I hope for Anna that her revenge is sweet and cold, rather than psychotic.

  9. I really liked this line: “the flashing bulbs reminding her of a storm approaching shore.” It was great imagery on its own, but after I read the whole thing, it seemed like that was meant to be foreshadowing. Was it? You pack so much detail into such a small space – amazing.

    • Funny, I always think the same thing about your writing. 🙂

      I have no idea what is in Anna’s future, or if we’ll see her again. I just write what I see in the moment.

      My writing is weird that way.

      Thank you for reading.

  10. Pingback: False Alarm | Writing with Chaos

  11. The M Half says:

    I must say, I like Anna here better than in False Alarm. Those mean girls … I went to school with several Carmens. Ugh. Well done (even though I’m extremely late to this party!).

  12. Pingback: F**cking Perfect | Writing with Chaos

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