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.
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It never is
He laughed. Then he started to cry. He shook his head. Then he sighed.
“I give you forty-eight hours”, the doctor said, “maybe seventy-two.”
He thanked the doctor and went outside, where he took a cab.
“I love you”, he said as she opened her apartment door.
She laughed. Then she started to cry. She shook her head. Then she sighed.
“Don’t you think it’s a little too late for that?”, she asked.
“It never is”, he said smiling.
Angry townsfolk have surrounded the jailhouse. The sheriff loads his gun and listens to their cries for justice. Fists pound on the door.
“They’re gonna lynch me,” the man in the cell whispers. “Cause of what I done to that girl.”
The townsfolk threaten to break the door down, but the sheriff refuses to let them in.
“Why you protecting me?” the man asks.
The sheriff looks at him. “Because I serve justice. And lynching you ain’t justice. It’s just revenge.”
I’m at the doctors, again.
I check in and sit down to wait nervously…
A nurse comes out and says “Elizabeth Connor?”
“That’s me.” I say & follow her. As we walk back I think “the test will be negative, it always is!”
Then the doctor comes in. My mouth goes dry and I start shaking, afraid my dream is over.
“Mrs. Connor, you’re pregnant!”
I hear the words, I wake up, put my hands on my flat stomach and cry….
The American soldier entered the bombed-out building and found a wounded Japanese soldier half-buried in rubble.
“Go ahead, finish me,” the Japanese said.
“I won’t kill you,” the American replied. “I’ll dig you out and take you prisoner.”
“I’m your enemy. You should kill me.”
The American soldier refused and started to dig him out. When his arm was free, the Japanese pulled out his pistol and shot the American in the head.
“I am sorry. You are my enemy too.”
“I am too late,” the angel whispered. With sparkling white wings, it lowered to the ground, which was strewn with charred bones. The landscape in every direction was smoking black crater.
“I was sent to protect them, and I have failed,” the angel sighed.
Another voice echoed across the wasteland. “No, brother, you were on time, but I arrived early.”
The angel turned to see a figure standing atop a pile of skeletons, with great black wings and burning red skin.
Napoleonic Infantry Tactics
Bored indoors that rainy summer it was time to stare each other out. We finish our glasses of Orange juice and sandwiches. I begin staring at her face; it is full of concentration staring right back at me. I continue. She continues. She stands up and waves her arms around maniacally. I stare back hard; she starts shouting and making faces while keeping her eyes on me. She jumps. Oh. She’s blinked! I win. She was too emotional. I was steady.