Welcome to 81words

How short is a story?

The challenge is to write a complete story in exactly 81 words.
You can see how other people have done and rank their stories. Can you do better?

Why 81? It’s just long enough to allow for a story to develop but short enough to mean every single word needs thoughtful weighing. Mostly though it’s just a nice number, ask a mathematician.

Scroll down to read stories, or register / log in to vote and submit your own stories.

New Mum

A woman pushes a pram. I watch as she approaches. Her focus dedicated to the little one. A mothers love, there’s no greater sight.

As she draws closer I realise, she’s not gazing lovingly. Her face is red – frustrated. Eyes puffy with tears. The child is crying, screaming.

Closer still I hear her, ‘Why won’t you stop!’

‘Can I help?’ I ask.

‘He won’t stop.’

‘It get’s better.’ I offer, with a smile.

She looks up, my smile returned. ‘Thank-you.’

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