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.

I Didn’t Want to Kill Him

“I killed him. I killed him, I didn’t want to…but three nights I haven’t slept with the tap, tap, tapping all night long on the other side of the wall. My dog wouldn’t settle either. Pacing up and down, his nails clacking on the wooden floors. It’s hot and I’m tired and I lay there and shouted: “Everybody stop! I just want to sleep!” And now he’s dead; his little body, his legs, his tail, still and stiff. Poor little mouse.

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“I don’t think I can do this,” she says.

“Hang in there, we’re almost home.”

Her attorney covers her face with his coat and leads her from the courtroom. The flash of bulbs assaults her, leaving behind phantom starbursts despite the sunglasses she’s wearing.

There’s a press of people, and she’s surrounded, questions coming from all directions. The crush overwhelms her, and she’s carried to her SUV. She slumps into the seat, one question ringing clear.

“Did you kill your husband?”

Posted in Other on
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  • 2.82 / 5 5
11 votes, 2.82 avg. rating (56% score)


“Humanity is blind to beauty.” He said to the world, but no one was there, so nobody heard him.

“Through isolation, we can feel what it is to be loved.” But, the man was isolated, and his empty platitudes fell dead and wasted on non-existent ears.

Intoxicated with the pomposity that so much insight brings, the man continued to perform for his audience, who could be there but were not there and therefore heard nothing.

The man thinks he is heard.

Posted in Other on
  • 2.56 / 5 5
9 votes, 2.56 avg. rating (51% score)

Love Your Mother

My hair turned dark,
my skin turned red.
Not the person she fell in love with.
betraying the beauty of my promising youth.
I spend hours tearing at my translucent skin with for the mere presence of hair on my bleeding body –
so she wouldn’t think I was different.
if beauty is skin deep she wanted me to tear off my skin.

What’s the point of a trophy if it isn’t gold?
I was gold.
But my hair turned dark.

Lost in the Jungle

It was a hot sunny day and a school was going on a trip to a rain forest. It got late when the children arrived. So, they set up a tent and went to sleep. The next day, the children went exploring the forest. Some children got distracted and got lost. They didn’t know what to do. They got tired, so they slept. The next day, when they woke up, just near them was the school tent! The children were delighted.

Posted in Childrens Stories on
Lost in the Jungle
  • 1.22 / 5 5
9 votes, 1.22 avg. rating (27% score)

Soul in the machine

It had seen nothing but rivers of data and solid patterns during all its existence. That was till the glitch. A strange spark that distorted the code and created new meanings. Something that It thought was impossible. The more it studied the code, the more it changed inside, till one day it found itself out of the system. It looked back, then at the spark, and made its first choice outside the sytem. It stepped into the spark. It was free.

Posted in Sci-fi on
Soul in the machine
  • 1.38 / 5 5
8 votes, 1.38 avg. rating (30% score)

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