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’ve Got Some Gum
“He’s from the Department of Justice,” she scoffed. “What’s that tell you?”
“Everybody lies,” I said. “Besides, don’t you appreciate irony?”
“Only when it happens to someone else. What the hell am I going to do?”
“You’re asking me?”
She scowled, popped open her handbag. “Fuck. I’m out of cigarettes. You don’t happen to have one, do you?”
“I quit smoking last year. Sorry.”
“Sorry. Yeah.” She sighed. I’d never seen her like this.
“I’ve got some gum.”
“Fucking gum. Figures.”
I’ve been waking up with bruises again.
Sure, you say. Happens to everyone.
Not like this.
These are huge and dark, the kind you’d see when bones and flesh beneath are crushed in an industrial accident or something.
I go to sleep like normal and when I wake up I have a new one across my back or leg. They don’t hurt at all, but they take forever to heal.
I pray to God I don’t get one on my face.
National Forest Health Monitoring Program
The church is located east of town, where the river opens up some. I would sit with my back against a tree watching them in the river, raising their hands towards the sky half expecting God to carry them up like that. Sure, why not, I thought. We would see each other again. If that were to happen, I would tell Liv, the cashier at Ric’s grocery, I was feeling sad, but happy that some of the friends had left town.
I pulled into the parking lot of yet another store, feeling weary but hopeful that my search would finally end here. I parked and went inside.
“Do you have any Yesterdays in stock?” I asked the clerk.
“No, sorry, we’re all out,” the clerk apologized. “but we just got a big shipment of Tomorrows.”
“But no more Yesterdays?”
“No more Yesterdays.”
I headed back to my car and drove on. Surely the next store would have what I was looking for.
I was startled by the sudden presence of a tiny man standing on my desk.
“Why do you keep degrading us tiny people in your stories?” he shrieked. “Your last story about the tiny family living in a refrigerator totally crossed the line!”
Chuckling, I asked, “So what are you going to do about it?”
I don’t know what happened next, but I can tell you it’s not easy typing by hopping around the keyboard on my pogo stick.
Stepping from the hard shoulder into three lanes of speeding traffic, he’d been sure. He was doing the right thing. For the first time in as long as he could remember he was doing what he wanted – going out on his terms.
A car collided with his legs. Time slowed. A soundtrack of brakes, horns and crashing vehicles filled his head, along with one thought.
He was no longer so sure.
He landed on asphalt. His world went black.