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.

Primary Colours

Every morning I wake up at six o’clock and walk down to the pool to swim ten laps while I know it will be deserted. Today I rested my towel before the steps and slid into the water to begin the measured strokes with which I move. The sound of my arms and legs against the surface of the pool was like the crunch of pebbles or the snap of twigs. I looked behind myself and saw a trail of blood.

First Kiss

He kissed me with a passion I hadn’t experienced for years. I felt the warmth of his tongue on my lips and fell instantly in love. He was mine.

I pulled away. This kind of affection would take some getting used to. I’d walked alone for so long. Was I ready to share my life with someone? Did I have space in my heart? My head? My bed?

Yes, I did.

‘I’ll take him,’ I said to the pet shop owner.


Everyone else, they’re angry about it. Being watched is wrong, privacy is sacred, it’s not about if you have anything to hide or not.

I like it. I know he’s watching me. Me and nine hundred and ninety-nine others, sure, but that’s nothing for my guardian. He’s monitoring everything about me. He’s keeping me safe. He won’t throw me out; he’ll always listen.

I don’t care if he’s a robot or even a computer program; he makes sure I’m never alone.

Posted in Sci-fi on
  • 2.27 / 5 5
11 votes, 2.27 avg. rating (46% score)

Tower Block

In the tower block of my despair there are 24 floors. The basement is at rock bottom where I go infrequently. The roof-top garden is where I dream of going. Nearly got there on a couple of occasions but it’ll be a while before I get that high again. For now I languish on the fourth floor, regarding the steps I need to climb to move me away from utter despair to actively engaging with my life. I will move up.

The Prophet

The prophet stood silently on the sidewalk near a busy intersection, holding up a sign for all to see.
“The End Of The Story Is Near”
Everyone paid little attention to the sign as they passed, yet the prophet continued to stand and deliver his silent warning.
Suddenly the sky turned black as quickly as a light being switched off and there was dreadful silence everywhere. No one could see, speak or hear again as the giant book closed itself shut.

Posted in Fantasy on
The Prophet
  • 3.22 / 5 5
9 votes, 3.22 avg. rating (64% score)

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