This prompt encourages a strong reliance on symbolism. Pick an item and make it the centerpiece of the story. Decide what it represents; freedom, rebellion, love. I don’t mean that you should have a story where the people are questing for a magic amulet. Take a look at Lord of the Flies. The conch shell holds metaphorical significance throughout the story.
Even if readers don’t catch on to exactly what an item represents I find that by using this sort of prompt I can add an extra layer of depth to the story.
Here are five random items.
Pair of glasses
A painted plate
Based on a backpack I generated this pitch.
World A-Whirl - When Jack’s parents start fighting over what to do with him, he decides it’s time to take off and see the world. He fills his trusty back-pack, convinces a friend of a friend to forge a fake ID for him, and then hops on a passenger ship for points unknown.
The unfettered life agrees with Jack’s disposition – until he finds that a strange laptop has been stashed in his pack. Before he can boot it up and find out who it belongs to a trio of gun-wielding, sunglass wearing goons come after him. And just getting the laptop isn’t enough, they want him dead.
Jack jumps ship when it docks in South America and heads for the American Embassy there, but is intercepted by hot looking chick that invites him to have a drink with her. After a flirtatious good-bye, Jack discovers that his backpack is gone, along with his fake ID. If he wants to get back home alive, he’ll have to get both of them back and deliver the computer to someone who can get him out of this jam.
(Just as a note: my initial concept was to use the backpack as the centerpiece for the story. Once I decide what it represents, I can develop several scenes around that theme. However, the fake ID and the laptop also can be used to enrich the depth of the story.)