Bright as egg yolk, yellow tents hold stories from fortune-tellers to cowards. You can’t miss a brightly colored tent in the wilderness or the backyard. But what is going on inside?
Writers stepped up to the challenge like queueing up for the circus. Some rogues found romance, some yearned for Yellowstone. The dialog, tension, and humor flows from the imaginations and shared memories of writers from around the world.
The following are based on the August 2, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a yellow tent.
PART I (10-minute read)
Boxing Up the Past by Heather Gonzalez
They say you can’t go home again. Lucy and Rick had to deal with what to do with their childhood home now that their parents were gone. Covered in cobwebs and memories, it was like stepping back in time to the 80s. Boxing up the past, Lucy came across a box of photographs.
“Hey, Rick! Come look at these!” Lucy held up a photo of them in their homemade fort as children.
Using a bright yellow sheet, they recreated their childhood. Under that tent, they felt young again, letting the loss of time melt away into the linoleum floor.
The Crawlspace by Bill Engleson
“Help me?” she pleads.
“Sure. With what?” I reluctantly query.
“The crawlspace…under the back porch. It’s a fire hazard.”
The world is ablaze, I think, and she’s worried about the dank confines of the porch.
“Okay,” I concede. “I’m too big to slither in there, though.”
“Fine,” she says, ticked. “I’ll slither in…hand the stuff to you.”
Delighted with my negotiating skills, I wait while she inches in.
“This is heavy…smells to high heaven.” She shoves out the old canvas tent, once khaki, now splotchy yellow.
“Full of sweet memories,” I opine.
“And fat spiders and mummified mice, sweetheart.”
The Yellow Tent by Anita Dawes
I have never been camping, nor slept in a tent
But I do know that yellow is the colour of magic.
Maybe I should try sleeping under a yellow canvas
To see where magic might take me.
To an enchanted forest with a babbling brook
Listening to the music made by flowing water
With fairy lanterns to light my way.
A castle where I might find my own Prince Charming
King Arthur and the Round Table
With Merlin by his side.
The golden chalice having been found
Back in its rightful place
Maybe there, I will find my happiness…
Yellow Tent by Reena Saxena
During a session in neuro-linguistic programming, she was asked to imagine the peak of happiness, and visualize being swathed in golden-yellow light. It was like a magic bulb she was supposed to switch on in depressing moments, to migrate to a different mindset. It seemed like quackery, then.
Fifteen years later, she had lost her husband and retired from work. There was not much left to live for. But she brightened up talking about events in her prime, during interactions with her old-age home inmates.
It was the yellow tent she sought shelter in, to protect her against misery.
Sunny Cindy by kate @ aroused
Most prefer to blend into the bush when camping but not Cindy. When searching for firewood she had a tendency to often wander off completely distracted by an insect or looking for rocks or flowers. Hence she found a bright yellow tent was much easier to spot from afar.
And let’s face it if there are other campers about they cannot wander into Cindy’s by mistake as it’s so distinct. Besides yellow suited her personality as she was a sunny type of lass always smiling and chatting to anyone with the time. Ready to help or listen whenever needed.
Yellow Tent by the Dark Netizen
“You know its a one in a million chance, right?”
The two were sitting in their yellow tent, entrance flap open, hoping for a shooting stars shower.
“You have said this before, Sammy. But, I really want to watch it.”
He wrapped his arms around her.
“I know that.”
She placed her head on his shoulders. And then it happened. Suddenly, the dark sky was filled with a stream of white stars. He held her tighter.
“For once, I am glad I was proven wrong.”
“It happened because we are one in a billion.”
“That we are.”
With Intent II by Norah Colvin
“I have to work.” She feigned disappointment.
“That’s okay. Come after work.”
“But I’m working late. It’ll be dark.”
“It’s well-lit all the way.”
“But I don’t know the way.”
“That’s okay.” He punched the address into her navigation device. “Just follow the directions.”
“How will I find you when I get there?”
“I’ll be watching for you.”
Conjuring no more excuses, she wasn’t yet ready to explain her attraction to him didn’t include camping.
Later, when entering the campgrounds, deserted but for one yellow tent lit by solar fairy lights spelling the words, “Marry me,” her fears melted.
The Sunshine Kid by Kay Kingsley
I emerged at dawn to a silence only those who have known solitude in the forrest long for. The sweet dampness of the morning burned the smell of warming Redwoods into my memory as I sat quietly by the fire perking coffee I drank from a tin cup.
The smoke rose into the forrest’s canopy as the fire pit crackled and popped and as peace settled in the sun broke free, cascading a kaleidoscope of light all around and from our yellow tent emerged my favorite person of all, my sunshine kid, beaming a smile from ear to ear.
Blonde Dreams? by JulesPaige
Yellow was the color of my true love’s hair
Never quite long enough to act as a tent
For me to hide in –
But with hugs and silent strength
(even when a very few times when
patience ran thin)
I’ve always had that haven…
Camping out in a yellow or any tent –
Not high on my radar.
However I hope that when we retire
We can travel in or out of country
(we’ve not yet been to all fifty states –
I’ve been to a few countries)
Maybe the hotel walls will be
White-washed yellow – and that will
No Vacation by Paula Moyer
Jean was 10 years old when she saw it in the catalogue: a bright yellow tent. It gleamed and beckoned. Oh, wouldn’t it be so marvelous – to live in that tent, with her family, on a vacation?
She sighed and dreamed.
“I’ve camped enough.” Her dad’s flat response woke her up.
Twenty years before: “the war.” Simple name.
Clarence, her dad, served in North Africa, Sicily, France. Like everyone else – “for the duration.” Three years in a khaki tent – no playful yellow.
“I’ve camped enough.”
Years later, in her own yellow tent, with her boyfriend, Jean swatted mosquitoes. Understood.
A Wretch Like Me by Sherri Matthews
‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…’
Will sang to his heart’s content, as tuneless as he cared to in his truck and no chiding from Pauline back home fixing dinner, no ma’am.
‘That saved a wretch like me…’
The radio cut dead and Will clamped the breaks. ‘Well, I’ll be damned…’ A tent as yellow as Pauline’s lemon pie covered Bud Wilson’s field and not a soul in sight.
Then he heard it again, but from the tent. He walked inside.
‘I once was lost, but now am found…’
Bud found Will’s body next morning, comforted by his smile.
The Birdcage Cover by Susan Sleggs
My sisters and I were gathered around an open trunk from our family home. Angelina took out a piece of yellow fabric that was shaped like a small Christmas tree skirt but only had a tiny hole and snaps along the open edge. I asked, “What’s that?”
Deanna said, “Do you remember the yellow canary we had when you were little?”
“Yeah, it sang when we ran water and louder when anyone whistled.”
“Mother made this from a tablecloth after Dad put the umpteenth cigarette burn it to cover its cage at night. I wonder why Mom kept it?”
Luxury Home by D. Avery
If you’ve ever sat and watched a mountaintop succumb to dusk’s misty cover; if you’ve sat long enough to see the fog reveal the mountaintop again but linger in the cuts and valleys; if witnessed a westward mountain reluctantly letting go its grip on the slanting sunlight that battled clouds all day, now trailing yellow rays, grasping at the underside of high branched leaves, streaking yellow ripples across the water, then you know. You’re just a poor camper, with all the riches that heaven and earth have to offer, the late evening sky the roof of your yellow tent.
Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning
Judy always loved the countryside drive. All that fresh air, the postcard views, the streams, the tattered American flags—some confederate ones too. She could almost hear the hymns of old spilling from the window-less clapboard church, its steeple at a tilt.
But the yellow tents were new.
Her breath caught. A camp, but nothing like she’d seen, with black and brown bodies, childrens’ hands grasping a gleaming chain link fence. Judy’s foot found the gas pedal.
Judy thought the scene belonged in Europe. In the news. Debated from podiums. Instead it was sitting between cornfields, confronting her scenery.
Before The Gold Rush by Liz Husebye Hartmann
We’d started loading at the dawning of the third moon. Triage overflowed after the fifth wave from the Kipstanian Crisis. We tried to get the word out to all survivors; transport off our doomed planet ended today.
There would be no more planet to doom.
Flashing a light in the evacuees’ eyes, I direct them to the three loading tents. Green equals “Go”, red “Stop”, and yellow “Caution.” The Kipstanian crisis made id-ing dangerous types easy. Red eyes never made it off the planet. Blue, Brown? Approved.
Then SHE came, one eye blue, one green.
I point. “Yellow tent.”
The Autumn Leaves by Kenzie Farrington
Autumn leaves wander aimlessly through the breeze
They’ll tell you stories of the trees, if you bother to listen
Hear them pass, hear them humm
Past the city streets they run
Past the children
Past the swings
Beyond the buildings–
To where the river sings
Listen, listen, watch them glow
Green, red, orange, yellow
They’ll bring you something–
Something familiar, but far away
You’ve seen it before
Sometime last May
You were lying in your yellow tent
You met the moon, and she was beautiful
And those autumn leaves made you cry
Because there, you knew you were alive
Yellow Tent by oneletterup
“Are you okay kid?”
The last thing she remembers is a truck door closing.
Then sleeping in this soft lap.
She struggles to open her eyes. So tired.
Where Am I?
“Kid! What’s your name? Who are you?”
She turns toward the voice. A kind voice.
A smooth hand covers hers. Gentle and warm.
Something in her untwists.
Tears escape, sliding down her face.
She feels herself lifted up. Hears a door opening.
She peeks. A blue house. Flowers. Swings.
A little girl. A little boy.
A little yellow tent; flap up. Toys inside.
“Ya wanna play?”
Solitude, Wait for Me (from “Diamante”) by Saifun Hassam
The tide was out. Sand dollars were scattered across the wet sands. Diamante pitched his yellow tent near the broken wood fence, and walked along the deserted seashore. Solitude.
A yellow butterfly fluttered past him. Seagulls swept out to sea from the dunes. A dragon kite sprang into the skies, its tail a ribbon of yellow flags, its eyes glinting with multicolored sequins. Children’s laughter rang out on the warm sea breeze.
Diamante sighed. He loved butterflies and kites. He loved the villagers. And it was time to fix the broken fence. Solitude would have to wait another day.
Bright Yellow Tent by Teresa Grabs
“Let’s get you guys this one,” Lucy said, picking up a dome tent.
Amber and Gin moaned.
“Girls, the tickets alone were nearly a thousand dollars. I am not buying a top of the line tent for a music festival. Besides, how many people there will have a bright yellow tent?”
They knew she could still change her mind about letting them go and she had a point about the color of the tent. No one wanted a bright yellow tent. When they arrived and was blinded by sunlight lying on the ground they learned how wrong she was.
Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard
‘Logan, what are you doing?’
‘Trying… what a stupid idea to use this tent.’
‘Why? It’s fine…’
‘It’s so small I can’t even fart…’
‘That’s one blessing. Anyway, you’ve happily spent hours crushed with 100,000 strangers by the main stage, dancing to Metallica…’
‘I didn’t know them. I know you.’
‘Surely it’s the other way round?’
‘No… is that what I think is sticking in my leg?’
‘On the tube, if a stranger stinks, elbows me, I get off. Here, I’m stuck with you.’
‘I don’t smell. Do I?’
‘No Morgan. Are you sure that’s your elbow?’
PART II (10-minute read)
Big Yellow Tent by Sascha Darlington
Have you ever heard sunshine in laughter?
It was moments before I saw her, head tilted back, laughing up into the cerulean sky so free-spirited that I was charmed.
But then there was her big scary yellow tent.
“Hello,” I said, always great with words.
She grinned. “Hello, yourself.”
“What’s with the tent?”
“It’s my big yellow taxi.”
“Where’re you from?”
“Scotland. Ever heard of Joni Mitchell?”
I shook my head. Politician? Actress? Reality TV?
“One of the greatest singer/songwriters who ever existed.”
“My big yellow taxi takes me away.”
And, somehow, it took me too.
The Porch by Late Night Girl
Reinhold Messner sought the Heights
and found his Porch
No Mansion by the Beach
or Villa in the Hills
can bargain with him
for his little Yellow Tent
on top of the Peak
No incentive of a fake Sky
via a tasteless satellite dish
can pay him to observe
electronic stars and purple rain
sprinkle down upon his Summit
The Snow is his Sand
the Tent his Castle and
the Sky his Umbrella
to protect him from
a moderate Life
The Crisp Air is his Coffee
the Moon his Bread
and the Earth his Bed
Being Yellow by floridaborne
Two pictures sat on mom’s kitchen counter; my parents standing near a yellow tent, and a rich bitch wearing yellow standing next to my dad taken days after he’d abandoned mom for her when I turned one.
Mom and I lived in subsidized housing. I made straight A’s in school, had a free ride to the local state college, and mom died a month after I received my degree.
The doorbell rang. I opened it to stare into eyes just like mine.
“Go to hell. It’s yellow there, just like you,” I said, slamming the door in Dad’s face.
Sales Shopping for a New Dress by Anne Goodwin
“You don’t have it in a different colour?” Or a different shape? It could be fancy dress. Marvellous! they’d say. You’ve come as a tent.
“Not at this price,” says the assistant. “But yellow’s definitely your colour.” How does she know? Because of my sunny disposition or because I’m a coward? Or because this frock is taking up space she needs for the winter stock.
“I’ll take it.” If only to hang in my wardrobe along with several other outfits I haven’t the courage to wear. “On second thoughts … Snap off the sales tag! I’m wearing it home.”
Yellow Tent y Robbie Cheadle
“I bought us a two-man tent so we can go camping.”
“Really,” said Helen, “are you referring to the child-sized, yellow tent you just put up in the garden.”
“Yes, and it’s not child-sized, the man in the shop said it would sleep two people comfortably.”
“Does it have a bathroom and kitchenette?”
“No,” said Dave.
“Does it have wi-fi, air-conditioning and plugs for my laptop, iPad, iPhone and hairdryer.”
“You’re being ridiculous, of course it doesn’t have those things. It’s for camping. We’ll have a great time experiencing the great outdoors.”
“You mean you’ll have a great time.”
Cowardly, Chloe Goes Camping by JulesPaige
I knew I’d be a heel if I didn’t go camping with him. He said it was a time to heal, being in nature. He’ll provide everything he said.
I dreaded him coming down my lane. All night I
had lain stiffly prone trying to sleep in the comfort of my bed… I tried to dream up some excuse not to go. I couldn’t find any…
Maybe one night wouldn’t be so bad? We got to
the lake and he set up a yellow tent. He brought
an air cushion …
No indoor plumbing. I’d be peeing in a can.
Wanting to Hide (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls
Danni unzipped her tent. Vapors rose from the creek where it meandered smooth and flat across a meadow dotted with daisies. The sun cast colors across the eastern horizon of sharp mountains. She checked each boot, a habit from growing up in Nevada where scorpions liked to take refuge in a cozy shoe. The feel of laced boots gave her confidence to face the day. The volunteers would soon be arriving to camp. Ike had always teased her about how bright yellow her tent was – “Astronauts in space can spot it.” Today, she wished she had his camo tent.
Yellow Tent for Sale by Peregrine Arc
“Yellow tent for sale, never used. Complete with stakes and poles. Good for camping trips. $99, OBO. Sleeps four comfortably. Inquiries at…”
I squinted at the ad as I picked up the phone. Files littered my desk. Paper clipped photos of children stared back at me vacantly.
“Hello? I’m interested in the tent. Would $70 do? Great, I’ll pick it up today. Cash only–I understand.”
I grabbed my keys and stuck my head into my boss’ office.
“Got another tent for a family. Be back in ten.”
Misunderstanding by Kerry E.B. Black
They pitched their tent at the top of the hill, its brilliant golden canvas welcoming as the sun.
A hundred other campers went about their lives at the hill’s base. They lit fires and toasted marshmallows, roasted hot dogs, and gossiped around the flickering flames. “Why’d they build their tent atop the hill? Do they think they’re better than us?” “Yellow’s an ostentatious color. Why not pitch blue or grey tents like ours?” “We distrust them.”
Atop the hill, they hoped for visitors. They baked scones, percolated coffee, and fried platters of bacon and eggs to share.
At the Midway by D. Avery
It was a yellow tent, not well placed in the carnival midway, but its owner sang out to prospective customers, enticing them to come closer, come curious, come in.
*Come in, come in, all will be revealed
Lived well, or sinned, come see how you’ll be dealed.
Step through the yellow tent
See how your end of days are spent.*
Most went in just for a lark, laughing.
Some came out beaming, said the tent had the buttercup color of sunshine summer days. Others came out shaken, said the tent was sulfur colored, reminded them of lightning, striking close.
The Fortune Giver by D. Avery
Also on the midway, an exotic red haired Portuguese gypsy woman spun fortunes from words. Her tent was unmistakably the color of sunshine, which drew people eager to spend their 99 cents for the gift of story. In every story the gypsy spun, they heard their own story and left emboldened enough to tell their stories themselves. This yellow tent buzzed and hummed with story as more and more people came to hear and to tell. The gypsy woman glowed, basking in her good fortune, measured not in the 99 cents, but the 99 word stories of her community.
A Cold Night by Anurag Bakhshi
It was a cold night, and my teeth were chattering as I made my way towards the yellow tent in the middle of the desert.
There was a feeling of warmth emanating from inside the tent that seemed to be calling out to me.
I peeped in through a small hole, and saw a girl, alone.
Unable to resist any longer, I rushed into the tent…and fell right into a boiling cauldron.
And the last words I heard before I lost consciousness were, “Aah, rattlesnake soup will be just perfect to keep me warm on this brutally cold night.”
For All In Tents and Purposes by Nancy Brady
The truck pulled up and parked on the side of the road. The two men climbed out of the truck. Arrayed in green shirts, khaki pants, boots, and a utility belt to rival Batman’s, they attached their belts and shimmied up the telephone pole.
With the sky looking overcast, the men put up a little safety yellow tent on the telephone line. Looking more like a tiny house than a typical pup tent, it hung there fifty feet above the street. It sheltered the two men as they worked furiously to fix the phone lines before the storm hit.
The World Through Prismatic Glasses by Chelsea Owens
“When I grow up,”
From too-tall counters, unfair portions, summer bedtimes.
When I grow up,
For friends, a car, no one ever telling me, “No.”
When I grow up,
Promises will be kept, rules followed; the world blacks and whites.
Crumb-filled countertops, imperfect pieces, little sleep.
For friends, fewer expenses, parents’ good advice.
People are human, rules bend; the world….
I take a crayon and draw my mind:
And a yellow tent,
Glowing from within.
Not What She Had in Mind by Molly Stevens — Shallow Reflections
“What are you watching?” asked Chester.
“The Travel Channel,” said Ruth. “Don’t you wish we could drive an RV across the country? There is so much to do and see.”
“I’m pretty happy right here,” said Chester scratching his ample belly.
But he saw the wistful look in Ruth’s eyes.
“I’m going to run into town,” he said.
When he returned, he was as radiant as a cloudless July sky.
“This is going to be our home at Park’s Pond campground up the road in Clifton,” he announced.
“Oh, Chester, I was longing for Yellowstone, not a yellow tent!”
Yellow Tent by Frank Hubeny
Perhaps it was the sunshine yellow that attracted the bear or the food or curiosity. Bill had a camper over his Ford pickup truck, but he could not stand up in it and so he bought the tent.
He thinned naturally grown trees on clear-cut paper company land. This kept him alone in the woods for a week at a time or until the project finished.
He thought the tent was perfect until the bear came. It pushed its nose into the fabric deeply breathing. Bill swatted it and it ran off.
After that they left each other alone.
Yellow Tent by Miriam Hurdle
“How was your sleep last night?”
“Awful. I’m not the camping type. My back hurts.”
“You slept in a cot. Didn’t it help?”
“It’s just the idea of not having walls around that gave me a nightmare.”
“The tent is our wall.”
“But that yellow color is so light that I could see the moonlight.”
“That should be soothing and relaxing.”
“But, but… it’s like transparent. I felt like sleeping in the open air. I heard growling and saw a bear chasing me.”
“The bear didn’t chase you. We had a bear visit and stole our food last night.”
Thin Layer of Bravado by Oneta Hayes
Our traditional Kidz Kamp was marked by tent colors: blue for boys, red for girls. Mine, as Counselor, was yellow. I said it meant “courageous” and the young children believed me. Bigger kids would catch on right away. It stands for “coward.”
That was not always so. “Just give me a flashlight and let me at ‘um,” was my motto. I was an owl-chasing specialist. Until the “spider” incident. I screamed. The kids came running to offer their help. Betsy stepped on the spider – barefooted.
Those kids have grown; the story is dead. But it sticks with me. Coward.
A Beatle’s Wasteland by Late Night Girl
‘How did I get myself into this mess?!’ he thought while trying to find beauty in his surroundings, with freeze burn on his toes.
His mind was frozen from the cold. And in this solitude all he managed to do was to hum a tune to try and stay awake.
All that came to mind in this ironic turn of events was a song he used to sing with his friends under a starry night around the camp fire:
“We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow sub…mmaa….riiinee…”
And then he dosed off into the stars.
Lovers by Patrick O’Connor
Strolling through the woods on a hot summer afternoon.
We’d been three days in the forest, looking for a place to camp for the night.
Coming to a small clearing, we noticed a tent.
It wasn’t really much of a tent. More like a lean-to.
Looking closer at the material, it looked like a tarp that was once green but now a dirty, faded yellowish, grey.
Walking around the front, we got the shock of our life.
Inside the lean-to? Two skeletons. Obvious lovers, cuddled together.
They must have been there for years.
A sad ending to two lives.
Watching From Above, Waiting by TN Kerr
peering through his scope at the landscape below
an encampment, an encampment of one
that almost went unnoticed.
a flax coloured tent with a muted hue, sombre. quietly
blending into the background,
a cold camp, no fire and the only sign of life is a yellow dog
stretched out and still
near an assortment of gear, stacked to one side
it has to be him
it must be Munroe
nothing to do now except stand by,
Munroe will be back.
a disturbance from behind, then a voice, whispers,
“Hullo, Sutherland. What took you so long?”
Yellow Light District by Ritu Bhathal
A rustling noise caught my attention.
I trudged through the forest, kicking up the leaves, trying to trace the source of the sound.
A glow emanated from a clearing up ahead.
As I got closer I saw the glow came from the inside of a yellow tent.
It was a hastily erected contraption, and accompanying the rustles were giggles.
The light created shadows.
There were definitely two.
The giggles became moans.
The shadows moved slowly, the moans became more intense.
I turned around, embarrassed to be there, until I heard “Oh Petey!”
That was my husband’s name…
Tent Tense by D. Avery
“Huh? Oh, hey Pal. Jeez… Yellow tents… ”
“You seem a might tense, Kid. Maybe a might yeller too. Just go where the prompt leads, don’t be afraid.”
“I ain’t afraid, Pal, in fact I prefer ta sleep out under the stars, no tent at all.”
“Don’t Kid, ‘cause I’m afraid I’ll have ta listen ta yer complainin’ ‘bout skeeter bites.”
“Hmmph. Pal, why is Shorty’s tent yeller?”
“It ain’t yeller. It’s transparent.”
“Yep. The midnight oil she burns makes it ‘pear yeller. Claims it’s like sunshine.”
“I prefer moonshine.”
“Jist go ta yer tent Kid.”
It’s a fine campground, very colorful.
Lots of tents set up, lots of fine storytelling!
Some good stuff here. I need to finish reading tomorrow.
Thanks one and all.
A good collection! Thanks for your contribution!
Fabulous campsite full of interesting tents Charli!
Yes, lots to explore and ponder! Thanks for navigating!
As D. says, a fine campsite.
Perfect for campfire tales!
wondrous tales again under the vast sky and yellow canvas!
A sunny way to put it! Thanks, Kate!
thank you Charli, we owe you so much!
It’s mutual benefits of the Ranch!
I’ve just been back and read all comments on the prompt post, so picked up most of the stories there. It’s amazing the places one can go with a yellow tent, like a tardis to other times and places.
Ha! A flimsy yellow tardis. Thanks, Norah!
Ditto all the great comments and fantastic stories. A flash of yellow to brighten any day…thank you Charli for another great prompt! <3
Thanks for flashing yellow with your Summerhouse cheer, Sherri!