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81words - Stories Page 5

81words logo

An attempt to set a World Record for the most contributing authors published in an anthology

Full details about the 81 word writing challenge and the world record attempt can be found on the main 81words writing challenge page.

81 Word Stories – 401 to 500

Stories 401 to 500 are published below in the order they were received.

Story 401

Curse You Gladys

by Matthew Galic

Of all the times to upstage me, Gladys, this was the worst. I told you weeks ago that I was making pancakes for the picnic. WEEKS. And yet what do you do? You saunter, all smug-like, up to our table, placing the most beautiful looking blueberry pancakes right in front of us.

This was supposed to be my time to shine.

And no, it doesn't matter that I forgot to bring my pancakes. After all, you're still in the wrong.

Story 402

Cat's Eyes

by Neil Phillips

What is my cat looking at?

Staring – no, stronger – glaring into space behind my head, like a harbinger of doom is lurking there.

I glance over my shoulder. Perhaps a fly upon the window? No.

Perhaps a mote of dust in sunlight? No, it is England, there is no sunlight.

I glance around nervously, ears straining for sounds only cats can perceive, but all the while he is staring at the space behind my ear.

My cat is making me paranoid.

Story 403

A Cigarette

by Sam Freer

I am a cigarette.

My purpose is to make you feel at ease, all the while filling your lungs with countless toxins. Ironic, I know, but I feel I perform my job well regardless of the consequences. Nobody ever questions my abilities, so I persevere as I am. I continue to poison those who consume me, and then come back for more. They see me as a cure, not the blight I am. Foolish.

I am a cigarette, bringer of death.

Story 404

Chance Encounter

by Catherine Cade

I slipped into the wake of a goliath, barrelling through the shoppers. We made good progress until I saw the couple gazing into a jeweller's window and felt a thump inside my chest – not unlike the ones in my stomach now baby was big enough to kick.

I passed her father. Should I break up their happy tete-a-tete? Show them my souvenir? No, mine was a better revenge. He would never know his daughter. 

She and I continued on to Mothercare.

Story 405

Kristoff Was Lost

by Oscar Kenway

Kristoff was lost.

He was also alone.

So Kristoff was lost and alone which, as you could imagine, made him quite scared.

So Kristoff was lost, alone, scared and couldn't even remember how he ended up in this mess in the first place.

So Kristoff was lost, alone, scared, forgetful, and was getting rather overwhelmed by everything, so he was becoming rather sleepy.

So Kristoff was lost, alone, scared, forgetful and quite sleepy.

So he decided to sleep.

And he did.

Story 406

T.L.C.

by Val Chapman

"Hello, Beauty, how are you doing today?"

He had been coming to visit every day, sometimes several times.

Especially in the beginning.

Carefully, he bent down and tenderly brushed away a speck of dirt from her delicate skin.

He was very pleased with the way things had been progressing, and after all these years, he felt he finally stood a chance.

The County Show was nearly here, and he was certain that this year he would win the 'biggest onion' prize.

Story 407

Mind Games

by Blerina Kapllani

Get closer... this time I won't step back from you. We're playing out a mysterious plot in our own game.

You provoke me by carving ashes in the fire, lit by the full moon. I feel... my desire is like a beast, trying to escape from a cage and infect its victim with the power of fear. Yes, fear of an empty cage.

Thus, we continue to live out this plot, where the silence is crossing every inexistent boundary of absurdity.

Story 408

Saved By Zero

by Jordis Fasheh

'Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear.' Heb 11:10.

The tribal leader stands at the water's edge, in front of his starving and subdued people, arms outstretched, hands with palms wide open, praying for help.

When that which is unseen engaged heaven and earth, summoning being, the water rose, providing sustenance to the village.

Zero, the center of an atom.

Story 409

The Germans Are Coming

by Alyson Faye

Me and Dad are watching a war film, cosy with mugs of tea and chocolate Hobnobs.

"One of them's a double agent. Working for the Germans. Now, which one is it?"

I know, but I stay silent.

The film's two stars, in camouflage whites, shoot guns, steal trucks and dice with death.

"Bloody Germans." Dad stands up. Pointing. Red faced.

"That's not PC, Dad, now, come on."

I follow his finger.

I see, in his immaculate garden, two German Shepherds, fouling.

Story 410

His Curse

by Chloe Frost

I don't know why I dream of him, but every night, under the cover of darkness he always seems to find me.

He has found a way to slip under my eyelids and burrow his way into my head.

I try to dig him out, to reach into my skull, pull him off and throw him away.

But try as I might, my grip is not tight enough, my will not strong enough. Thus, I am cursed to love him. Forever.

Story 411

81 Words

by Anne Copeland

How many times had she been hurt?

How many times had she been assaulted?

Bullied?

How many times had people spoken ill of her?

How many times had she run away?

How many times had she tried to end it all?

Today would be different.

Today she stood, her arms slightly back.

She looked up toward the heavens and she knew she was ready.

Her body began to lift from the ground and, as she rose, she realised she could fly.

Story 412

It All Comes Back To Bite You

by Francesca Pappadogiannis

"Johnny. Did you tidy up all your toys?"

"Yes, I did, Mummy. They all have a home."

Later...

"Johnny. Why are all your toys in the fridge, washing machine, oven and toilet?"

"Because, Mummy, you told me to tidy them up."

"This is not tidying up. They belong in your bedroom."

"No, they don't. Daddy always says that it's all tidy as long as Mummy can't see or find them."

A lovely note left for daddy: Babe, there will be no...

Story 413

The Value

by Murodova Marjona

I have a close friend. I was her confident listener. She had an extended family of nine people. But she always wanted to be alone without her two sisters. She never thought about the disadvantages and menace of extreme loneliness.

It was her only dream. Days turned into months. Months into years. Unfortunately, she did not realise the opportunity God had given her.

As her destiny showed, one of her sisters entered a foreign university and another died of a cancer.

Story 414

The Big Yawn

by Alan Barker

I sit in my garden, staring at the fence.

I stare at the fence because there is nothing else to stare at.

Unless I stare at the patchy lawn, riddled with weeds.

Or at the sky, full of unbroken cloud.

Or at my ramshackle bungalow.

I yawn.

I glance at my watch.

Time has moved on.

A little.

I resume staring at the fence.

I yawn again.

A wasp flies into my mouth.

My day is no longer such a yawn.

Story 415

Last Days, Few Words

by J. Rosina Harlow

In the last few days of the Glorious New Regime, the burble of running water was our only music. The slap of feet on concrete, barking dogs, slamming doors, these were our most treasured conversations.

Language was strictly rationed.

People crowded around their radios to hear the announcer clear his throat and tell the time. Such precious, sparse jewels of human expression filtered through our memories into radio silence.

Dead air.

But somewhere, the birds began reading their poetry out loud.

Story 416

Unconditional Love

by Fiona Campbell

Summer evening, when the light lingers and the sun sets late. Hues of lemon, gold and flaming orange paint the sky, as the silhouette of the moon rises. Creeping into bedrooms, planting kisses on foreheads and watching chests rise and fall. A heart full of  unconditional love. Pondering on how amazing they are. From new-born blank canvases to troublesome tweens and teens. Forming opinions, making choices and following dreams. Sun sets on a Summer's day. One step closer to the future.

Story 417

The Voice

by Robert Wood

Light flashed before my eyes. My surroundings were all blurry and would not stay one size. I tried to get up to see everything more clearly, but I quickly fell back down.

I was in a small clearing, surrounded by trees and it was humid, really humid. As I got up, I heard an eerie voice in my ear.

"It is time," whispered the voice. I felt a chill run down my spine. I never saw the light of life again.

Story 418

I Love You

by Sarah Ann Hall

He challenges her to convey her feelings without words.

She contorts her face a dozen ways: lips purse, cheeks twist, eyes bulge, ears rock up and down. Whatever she does isn't enough.

"I don't understand," he shrugs.

His refusal to comprehend infuriates her. She jumps on his back and slaps his shoulders playfully. "You can be so dense," she laughs into his ear.

Deafened, he pulls her into an embrace and they dance.

"You could have just kissed me," he says.

Story 419

The Joy Of A Cheerful Greeting

by Amisha Bansal

"Help," the poor man shouted.

It was dark inside. Workers had already left and he was locked inside the lab. The musty chemicals made him feel like his end was near. The next day was Sunday, a holiday.

Suddenly, the guard unlocked the door.

"You alright?" he asked.

"How did you know I was in here?"

"I wanted to hear the greeting ‘Jai Shri Krishna’. Out of all the people I see daily, only you say this," replied the emotional guard.

Story 420

Masquerade Society

by Skylar Kim

Everyone is born with a mask that grows with them.

Yours doesn't fit.

The mask bruises your face, but you don't dare take it off.

One day, rushing late for work, you crash into someone and your mask falls off.

You freeze. Terrified. Exposed.

Cringing, you wait for the inevitable disgust, every second an agony.

Instead, she wordlessly hands you your mask back, along with a note.

When you arrive home, you open it.

You are not alone. From a 'he'.

Story 421

It's All Your Fault

by Jenny Butler

While staying with me you contacted your crazy, abusive imprisoned ex and ran up a very high phone bill. On seeing that you put a return address, he came here when released and has absolutely destroyed my entire life.

He started stalking me, continuously asking about you. I have lost my job, my home and my dog who is not allowed refuge in the women's shelter where I now reside and I want you to know I will never forgive you.

Story 422

Self-Service

by Patricia Mudge

Tom's heart banged in his chest. He'd expected Toby's usual exuberant welcome, but instead he found him lying flat out on the kitchen floor with laboured breathing and a bloated belly. Tom lay down next to Toby to comfort him.

"What happened here, mate?" he asked as he scanned the room for clues.

The penny dropped when he spotted, screwed up in the corner, the newly opened but completely empty bag of kibble.

"I get it, self-service and self-inflicted," he said.

Story 423

Losing The Game

by Neil D Cross

"Which bit of the rules didn't you understand? After you use up a billion words, you’re excluded from The Game."

I stared at the avatar sullenly. I knew his sort; trying to trick me into using my word quota.

"I need you to speak to me, sir."

I panicked. "I thought it was only my words that counted."

"I'm afraid not, sir. If you'd read the small print…"

I shushed him. "How many left?"

He held up 2 fingers.

GAME OVER.

Story 424

Final

by Karen McClure

"Do you want the bad news now, or after your shift?"

"Now."

"You're on a final."

"A final, final, or a just a final?"

"A final, final."

"Why aren't I fired?"

"We like you."

"You can fire me if you want."

"We don't want to, we like you."

"But I'm on a final, final. I should be fired."

"You have to be good for 6 months."

"Is that even possible?"

"You've done it before."

"Really?"

"On your final, final, final."

"Oh."

Story 425

Umbrella Manifesto

by Brianna Damplo

Have you ever considered the fact that I might hate the rain?

Why do I need to bear, stoically, all the cold, dampness in my wings, when you shiver at the first drop of water?

Coward.

I’ve talked it over with the others. We’re done; done with being forgotten in restaurants and movie theaters. You think we enjoy being propped up against hard, dirty concrete? Forget it. We’re through.

And if you don’t like it, then you can just get wet.

Story 426

Ricky The Border Collie And Ira The Cockapoo

by Linda Scogings

"Why did she bring that ugly, smelly puppy home?" asked Ricky.

"I am not ugly or smelly. I'm your new friend."

"I hope you don't bark too much. I like to doze in the afternoons."

"Life is for fun and playing," Ira said, in a squeaky little voice.

"Just behave. The rules are, don't eat my food or lie on my chair or sit with Mum. She is mine."

"I just want to be your friend. Let me be your brother."

Story 427

This Is The Way The World Ends

by Charlotte West

Birdsong.

Sweet music speckled through the dust which settles on broken bricks and shattered glass.

Sobs.

Intertwined with the melody, a baseline of deep sadness, throbbing like a heartbeat.

Rain.

The harmony, dripping from clouds, suffocating the sickly yellow sky and bleeding into the ground; scorched, bruised, aching with the pain of what it had to endure.

But that birdsong keeps playing. Piercing its way through the smog, clean and determined, it tries to bring back light to the dying land.

Story 428

Forget It

by Chris Green

Dennis was becoming rather forgetful. He had been on his way to the dentist when he realised he'd left his wallet at home. Now he was rushing back to his house.

Last week, he'd forgotten his twin sister's birthday.

He was going to be late – only ten minutes or so, but he was a stickler for punctuality.

He arrived at the surgery hot and flustered.

"Dennis Crunchfoot," he announced. "Eleven thirty."

The receptionist frowned.

"Ah, Mr Crunchfoot. Your appointment was yesterday."

Story 429

Opioid Epidemic

by Matthew Willis

The man sits and drinks wine and waits. Packages are delivered to cities around the nation. Satelites coordinate and connect to a supercomputer, ready to recognize and process over three hundred million faces. An automated factory continues its work, untouched by human hands since it was built. The design for the mosquito microdrone hides in his files. Three miligrams of carfentanyl rests divided between each drone. The wine falls to the floor, but does not fall alone. Tonight, a country dies.

Story 430

Mum And Me Finding Our Own Church

by Sandra 'Chas' Hines

Before Dutch Elm Disease claimed all the trees, the park whispered with a gazillion branches of conversation. Removing our shoes, we dug our toes into the mud edging the pond, then, dipping them into the water, watched the earth ebb away in grey-green toned ripples.

"Pah," she scoffed, ever the fashionista, "blue and green should never be seen? What nonsense." She swept her arm wide, indicating the colour of the trees against the electric blue sky. "Now, this," she said, "is Heaven."

Story 431

Things That Help

by Niamh Burke

"How will we keep her warm?"

"Just shove her in the freezer, beside the peas."

A brief silence. My mouth quivered and I made a strange noise. I tried to disguise it as a cough. There's inappropriate and then there's laughing at a joke where your dead niece is the punchline. Stillbirth is hardly side-splitting material, is it?

In the end, we howled with laughter. Screeched the place down. Granny blessed herself, as if by way of an apology to God.

Story 432

Expectation

by Julie Goodswen

I paced the room, glancing every time I passed.

Waiting.

How long had I been here?

Patiently waiting.

Seconds turned into minutes, minutes became hours.

Still waiting.

I checked my watch not remembering the time when I last looked. Pointless.

My heart beating its anticipation into to my temples. The clock on the far wall beating its own rhythm.

I walked the slow walk of a man who could do nothing. Headed back, finally done.

The message read, 'Windows Update Complete'.

Story 433

Immortal Life

by Michaela Mechura

"Madeleine?" Her mind drifted away. "Can't live without you," I sang, hoping memories would flood her brain.

Silence fell, increasing the distance between us.

"I'm so close to discovering a drug. Some of your prions are in the wrong conformation. We just need an enzyme which can change their structure. And then you live on. And I will live on in you."

"You already do." She longed to touch me, but couldn't. For I was only a memory. "You always will."

Story 434

Father Knows Best

by Diane de Anda

"You're too young to go to an R movie," her father insisted.

"But Steve's 18, so I can get in with him," the 15-year-old replied.

"You're too young to see an R movie. Subject closed." Her father turned and walked away.

 She ran into her bedroom and locked the door, yelling, "It's so unfair."

She sat on her bed, pulled the plastic stick out of her sweater pocket and stared at the window in the centre, which was no longer clear.

Story 435

Rhythm

by Esosa Kolawole

"Trust me."

I felt his heart beat through the tip of my fingers. Every single pound in his chest sent a shock through my body. I could tell a good or bad person through the rhythm of their heartbeat. It was a gift, but with Ade, I couldn't.

Eye to eye. Another blast tore into the air and my eyes darted everywhere. Tables and chairs were all upside down, legs in the air, amid debris of cement block.

"OK," I whimpered.

Story 436

The Curse

by Kerry Robinson

The town had been silent since the hanging of old Beatrice Macintrye. She was hung for practicing sorcery; local legends claimed she'd cursed Beacon Cove and all who resided there. Her body was then buried in an unmarked grave, high along the cliff's edge, near the outskirts of town.

20 years later, a monsoon hit the coast, causing mudslides on the cliffs. Her remains washed up ashore. The curse has returned with vengeance reigning evil darkness.

History's bound to repeat itself.

Story 437

Hotshot

by Amanda Garzia

Was that Alexandra? Vacuuming?

Nah, her flawlessly groomed daughter was more likely drying her curls straight.

She raced up, dustcloth and all, to check.

The teenager, hairdryer in hand, was blasting the carpet with heat.

"Look. Gum's almost gone. I'll remove what's left with tweezers."

The girl had potential.

The wall-to-wall still needed hoovering but that was child's play compared to this.

And with a blow-dryer, no less. It might just be the thing to lift the fluff off those lampshades.

Story 438

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, Nobody

by Reed Markham

I teach college. It was a warm September afternoon when I assigned my class a group project on communication. I had one common group with four members named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

Everybody was excited about the project. Somebody was worried that Everybody would procrastinate working on the project. Nobody thought that this would be a big problem. Everybody, the group leader, asked if Anybody would be willing to work on the assignment.

In the end, Nobody completed the work.

Story 439

A Surprise For The Weekend Warrior

by Rebecca Capel

We are grouped at the start line in the pale light of dawn.

Nervous. Excited. Warmed-up.

The claxon sounds. We charge off; an hour of magical freedom.

Legs pump. Hearts thump. This is what we came for.

The crowd chants, "First the worst, second the best, third the one with the hairy chest."

Months of training. So close. Not close enough.

I look down and see the first downy fur start to sprout.

It itches.

Always read the terms and conditions.

Story 440

Old Spain

by Patricia Tarrant Brown

Women in black sit work-worn in shawls, casting dark shadows on bright summer walls. 

Girls in white dresses are at the church door; teenagers throw sunflower seeds on the floor. 

Mornings yawn into afternoon, chasing the sun, waiting the moon.

Memories surge of a daughter or son, like layers of petticoats, glimpses gone.

Eyes that were wide are almost shut and trembling hands wrestle to make the cut.

Passion departed long ago but a thin-lipped smile remembers the glow.

Old Spain.

Story 441

Cotton Candy, Elephants And Ladybugs

by Mariam Mansuryan

"How many times do I have to tell you that cotton candy isn’t made of clouds?"

"Mum..."

"How long will it take you to finally believe that elephants don't fly?"

"I’ll never believe that..."

"So why do you listen to him when he says there's something wrong with you?"

"Mum..."

"What, Jim? What? I'm sorry he says that. Don't listen to him, he's an idiot. The stupidest idiot this world has ever seen."

"There is a ladybug on your shoe, Mum."

Story 442

A Silent Legacy

by Charles K Manila

Here lies the body of Cormac. Alone. Counting the cracks on the ceiling of a dimly lit hotel room. Dust falling from the walls and the sound of thunder nearby. Static from the nearby television and sirens in the distance. Sinking on the bed, grieving a life lost through his silence. An overwhelming regret left in his bones.

He no longer possesses a genuine smile. But carries the crooked smile he leaves on for show.

The scene of his broken heart.

Story 443

Fairest

by Sue Vincent

"It wasn't me."

The shattered mirror flickered in the candlelight. A thousand shards of beauty looked back at the queen, each image that of raven-haired youth, milk white skin unflawed by time, and rose red lips parted in sweet serenity.

Majesty turned to look at the flasks and flagons, the lotions and potions that surrounded her. A single tear melted the pallid paint on her cheek, tracking her misery. The vain pursuit of vanity came crashing down.

"It was never me…"

Story 444

The Dreamed Independence

by Cleiton Pinho

One day, a very depressed boy dreamed of leaving home in search of happiness. His sister, knowing that, invited him to live with her. The boy was glad as he knew this would be a great opportunity. He packed his bags and took the first plane on the fifth day of November.

Arriving there, his sister could not support him. She was being manipulated by her husband. Since then, he's left his sister’s house and moved to live alone without disturbance.

Story 445

Child Of The Night

by Amberlie Robinson

She had always been different.

She had never fitted in with her family, even as a child, and, although she had hoped this would change with starting school, the feeling of being an outsider never left her. She didn’t know where her home was. She had to find her place in life.

Then, one night, in quiet despair, she looked up at the stars and realised that in them, her soul was reflected back at her – a child of the night.

Story 446

A Very Rough Diamond

by Chris Black

Life is a bed of roses. These words were drilled into me from a young age.

So it was I grew up expecting all to be good with the world.

How naive.

It was all about pick your step with caution.

Don't believe all you're told, less of what you see.

This bed of roses turned into a bed of thorns.

The ring was placed on my finger, suddenly the monster was released.

Wedding bed turned from white to blood red.

Story 447

History Report

by Emma Burnett

It used to be that people died slowly, painfully. Of course, we're not like that anymore. The designers changed that. Death is quick now, and painless. You just, well, turn off.

You never know when it might happen. The information is part of your design, deep programmed, so you can't access it. No one worries anymore about a slow death, or being a burden on others, or being robbed by corporations that sell life to the dying.

I sometimes wonder when—

Story 448

The Cleaner

by Sarah Mosedale

She enters the room. First person to do so in 10 years. Dim light struggling through grimy windows, shrouded furniture, carpet almost invisible beneath thick dust layers.

She hauls in her cleaning gear, then, hands on hips, surveys the scene. Where to begin? Perhaps that far corner, do a first sweep while retreating to the door. Makes sense.

Tackling the flimsy spider graveyard first, she holds her breath. But what is that shape rising behind her, emerging from beyond the sofa?

Story 449

Can’t Wait 'til Morning

by Frank Havemann

Out of the window,

Slide down the extension roof.

Tap, tap, tap, whooosh, thump.

 

Hop over the fence,

Pull the strings of her hood snug,

Breathe. Big smile.

 

She is good at this.

All dark here, too – no barking...

Just cats on this street.

 

Dash across the deck,

Jewellery box through the flap,

Breathe, smile and scramble.

 

Fence, tree, window, breathe...

A green dot pulses slowly.

Grab mobile. Smile. Breathe.

 

Tap, tap, tap, whooosh, thump.

Alignment: Good chaotic.

Little ninja smiles.

Story 450

No Use Crying Over Spilled Milk

by Nicole Loh

A lifetime of history, but words were escaping us.

Our gazes were locked. I had forgotten the crow's feet and his tooth digging into his lip whenever he grinned, or the way he played with his collar.

A bus pulled up at the stop, and kids ran out.

He stood, hugged a girl, and spun her. Before he left, he smiled again. I watched as they left, getting smaller with each step.

In another world, she might have had my eyes.

Story 451

Travelogue

by Peter Loftus

They saw us coming a mile away. "English, English, hallo."

"We're Irish."

"Ah." Their faces turned to us like sunflowers. "Irish. Shamrock Rovers, Bobby Geldof, Jams Joyce, howsitgoin?"

Anna smiled, and I couldn't suppress a chortle. They pounced on these signs of victory with piratical glee.

"Yes, Irish. I come from Coooark."

Another flashed his teeth. "Ballygobackwards."

They flocked to us like sparrows, holding up hookahs, bags of tissue-soft leather, dervish slippers.

"Buy a present for your wife, you stupid eejit."

Story 452

No More Footprints

by Steven Barrett

He knew he was dead as soon as he stepped in the snow. There were no footprints.

He'd always loved being the one that left their footprints in the fresh snow.  Running outside on a winter's morning as a child. Walking to work, rather than taking the early bus. Finally, seconds ago, as an old man, escaping from the care home.

Sadly, there would be no more footprints. But he hoped that he'd left a good impression on the world anyway.

Story 453

Awkward

by Edward Mortenson

12:31PM

Hi Dani, it's Ben. Cath gave me your number, hope you don't mind. How's your hols? Fancy meeting up sometime?

13:00PM

Anyone there LOL?

13:15PM

Hello?

14:00PM

Fine, whatever. Didn't think you'd be like the other girls but clearly I was wrong.

14:15PM

You weren't even that hot anyway, so don't feel flattered I spoke to you. I was just really bored. Haha.

14:33PM

You've got the wrong number, Ben. Also, we’re having a chat when you get home. Dad.

Story 454

The Blackness

by Caroline Cowan

The malevolent apparition slowly materialised.

The room grew icy cold. It glided silently to the sleeping girl. The black form sat by her. She rolled over, pulling the duvet round her, not understanding why the cover wouldn't move.

She opened her eyes and shivered. Was this a dream? The dark, menacing mass wavered, then slithered off the bed and disappeared.

Sleep returned.

Morning arrived, and the night's horror came flooding back.

She knew the evil blackness was coming to take her.

Story 455

The Perfect Angle

by Sue Moos

They didn't have to wait long in casualty. There was too much blood seeping through the towel, running up her arm and dripping from her elbow.

"We see this so often, it's got itself a name – Avocado Hand," said the nurse.

The woman said nothing. The cut was at a deceptively, perfect angle.

"Is it painful?"

"Not as bad as when the knife went in." She looked over at her husband, not daring to say they had no avocados at home.

Story 456

Catfish For Tea

by Peter Gregory & David Gough

Patsy: How was detention?

Jezebel: That teacher called Mum. I`m grounded.

Jezebel: I told you to say you did it.

Patsy: I did try, I’ll chat after tea.

Jezebel: Hell no, I’m sneaking out.

Patsy: You're not meeting that lad? The one who messaged you?

Jezebel: Yeah. If Mum calls, say I'm with you,OK?

Patsy: S'pose. You`re naughty.

Jezebel: I should be back by 10pm. Bye. 

Patsy: You there?

Patsy: Jez?

Network provider: Unable to deliver message. Check network provider.

Story 457

Buried Ideas

by Justine Quammie

Woman. Submission good. Independence bad.

Vonnegut’s Handicapper General is going to get you. Don’t you know that thinking freely could be punished by death? Don’t you know your luminous beauty needs to be tempered by masks and mole hairs? Don’t you know that glowing in the limelight of ambition and recognition is forbidden? Be a sheep and blend in. Follow your leaders. This might sound cruel and impertinent, but really it is for your own good.

Woman. Regression good. Individuality bad.

Story 458

Payback

by Andrew Jones

"Do this for me," he says, handing me the gun, "and we're quits. He always has his breakfast there. Here's his picture. Just one shot to the head, then drop the gun and walk out. No one will remember your face.  They'll all be too shocked to react. I'll see to it that the cameras are off."

I raise the gun.

"What are you doing?" My ears ring. Blood spatters the wall.  There's more than one way of cancelling a debt.

Story 459

Tyrant

by Roger Newton

You use many disguises to submerge your ambitions, but the result is always the same. Your adversaries are never apprised of your intentions, yet they die in their thousands as a consequence of your aggression. You consider them at best trivial, at worst not at all, being an unfortunate obstruction to your plan.

Had you paused on your journey to consider your actions, you may have realised that your ultimate objective was impossible to achieve. The devil himself awaits your soul.

Story 460

Dancer

by Mark Johnson

Phyllis loved watching the ballerina on television pirouette on pointe shoes. She could feel the music, but with muscles atrophied to make her a prisoner in her body. Dance was her life, and now she could only watch and listen, a soft oasis of elegance in her antiseptic reality of a hospital room.

"It's OK, Mum. You can let go." Her daughter's voice calmed her spirit. "I love you."

Tired and hurting, she smiled and went home on pointe shoes, pirouetting.

Story 461

There Goes The Bus

by Kylan Fedje

There goes the bus. I'm definitely not a runner. Struggling to catch up. Waving. My. Arms. Frantically. Can't get his attention. I'm always invisible to everyone.

Dad's at work. Mum's halfway across the country. It's a 15 minute drive. Better start walking.

I am not in shape at all. I need to start working out. My feet are so sore. I'm gonna be late. I'm a complete failure. Nothing ever works out. Is everything just doomed to fall apart like this?

Story 462

Your Thoughts, My Thoughts

by C. H. Connor

"It'll be quick, I promise. Just wait for him to fall asleep."

"I've already told you, no."

"Oh yes you will. I'll make sure of it."

"Listen to me and leave me alone. I'm not interested in hearing what you have to say any more."

Mike edged the bathroom door open. "Hey, babe, who are you talking to?"

Emma's eyes shifted from her reflection in the mirror as she turned around to face him. "Nobody, darling. I’m coming to bed now."

Story 463

Rain

by W. E. Jones

The rain lashed down so hard I couldn't see through the windshield. There was no choice but to pull over.

When it finally cleared, absolutely everything had washed away. Nothing but water as far as the eye could see. Almost as if I was parked on a world sized mirror.

Cautiously, I stepped out of the car. The water only reached the top of my soles. The ground was still firm underneath.

I got back in the car and drove on.

Story 464

Emptiness

by Anna Ferrar

"What's up with you this morning?" he asked.

I propped myself against the headboard and took a deep breath. I've heard it before; it wouldn't matter. He never listened.

"I... I don't know how to tell you..." I let out a sigh.

He reached for my arm and gave me a pat, as if I was his pet dog or cat. I felt nothing.

As he left for work, I picked up the phone. A voice says, "Hi."

I need you.

Story 465

Flat Map

by Sarah Fletcher

"What are we supposed to do now?" wailed Rachel, turning in circles to gaze in panic at the endless expanse of indistinguishable trees.

Mae plonked herself down with her back against a sapling and looked from her dead mobile phone to the woods and back. She looked at the compass, cracked and twisting back and forth uncertainly. She looked at the ground, the craggy trunks, the hidden horizon, the shadows.

She began to gather twigs, eyes suddenly bright.

"Adventure," she answered.

Story 466

Grave Situation

by Lexikon

We were burying Uncle Henry. Again. It had become evident in recent years that people were starting to doubt an 80 year old could run a marathon.

I spotted him instantly. "You shouldn't be here."

"Look how many people will miss me." Henry grinned, flashing a hint of fang. Wig and make up removed, he was 35 again, like the first time he'd died. He waved playfully at the young shop assistant across his own grave.

"Next time, I'll cremate you."

Story 467

Home-Schooling Henry

by Wendy Fletcher

"No school, I just want to play," wailed Henry.

"OK." Mother smiled. "Let's play Sock Sorting. Red, blue, black... Now we will make a shopping list. A for apples, asparagus, B for bananas, biscuits..."

She pointed to the clock hands. "Ten past five, teatime. Can you count out the plates and knives and forks?"

"I still don't want to go to school. Learning is boring."

"Don't worry," said Mother, "you won't have time for school. You will be too busy playing."

Story 468

My Darling

by Kitty Litteur

She came home again. It didn’t last. It never does. But for a weighted tear-drop of time I am permitted to play my part, and relish my script in earnest.

I run a deep bath. I run to the corner store for overpriced razors and her favourite sweet things. I brew sugary tea and take my offerings to her.

She thanks me in silence from behind blank eyes. She eats. She sleeps. She steals. She goes. But briefly, I am mum.

Story 469

Loughborough Lite

by Robert Adams

Libby lit her Loughborough Lite.

She inhales, lingering over the flavoursome fag.

She takes another deep draw, savouring the taste. Her Lionel. He's still sitting on the shelf on the sideboard. Or at least, mostly.

Libby glances at the Loughborough Lite. She slits them open and sprinkles in a splattering of Lionel before re-sealing them with a slither of rolling paper.

Libby sucks in a last ardent, intense intake of her fag.

Her throat burns in loving memory of her Lionel.

Story 470

A Whale Of A Tale

by Jon Spencer

40 minutes after the first whale breeched, the boat captain blew the siren to signal the end of the boat tour. No one was disappointed. Except Doug, who was still sleeping.

Sister Emma, who was soaking wet from whale spume, grinning ear to ear, gave him a hug, which, naturally, woke him up. His wails, the siren's wails, and the smack of the whales tails all made for good tales in the pub afterwards.

Emma learned to let sleeping Dougs lie.

Story 471

Charleston, 2081

by Kelsey Gallo

I'm an archaeologist emeritus, equipped with an iPhone 75. While swiping through my career's work, I happen to find a digital time capsule, a poem I wrote while just an undergrad there.

"81 words, 81 years since I was born."

Who'd ever know? It was a homage to times unchanged – to times when word counts spurred creativity. It was a glimpse years into the future… but each year was one off my life.

"81 words, 81 years since I was born."

Story 472

Taken For A Ride

by Laura Besley

Jeremy needed cash. He set up a fake website and chose a charity that he thought would appeal to people's hearts (and coffers). He posted links on social media informing his friends he was doing a sponsored bike ride.

One person donated. Then another. And another. Each with words of encouragement. The initial elation of money arriving slowly sank and congealed in the legs that weren't out training.

And on the day of the allotted bike ride, he rode fifty miles.

Story 473

The First Soferet

by Liz Berg

The handwashing, the blessing, the checking, were all completed. The parchment, unrolled and weighted, faint lines scored yesterday in preparation, glistened pristine.

All the arguments, the tears, the blackmail, even the threat of banishment culminated in this momentous occasion.

No time for regrets.

The scribe breathed deeply. Picked up a quill. Sharpened it. Dipped it into the specially made ink. Checked once more. Then began to carefully form the first letter, the angle elegant and exact.

Torah, written by a woman.

Story 474

At First Sight

by Ayesha Hassan

My first day and I’m lost, thought young Shelly as she opened the office door.

"Please, don't be a fool," she said to herself, clenching her jaw apprehensively.

Close behind her, she heard a booming voice. "Don't worry, I’m new too."

She turned with a sudden jerk and saw a tall boy looming over her.

"How are you? Please, don’t be shy."

She stared at the handsome boy for a while, and then responded, with a smile, "Hi, my name's Shelly."

Story 475

Goldfish

by Lynn White

Her favourite foods were prawns and chocolate biscuits.

I wondered if she would be fooled by torn pieces of plastic, heavily disguised. She ate them eagerly. And then she spat them out, her look of disgust clearly expressing her thoughts. I’m not one of them braindead sea fish, you know. Oh, and cut out the raspberries, please, I’m not a blackbird either.

Then she blew a few bubbles, swished her tail and swam off in search of tadpoles and other delights.

Story 476

Teardrops Could Have Changed Australia

by Ted Bragg

Teardrops in the desert.

No reconciliation with Australia’s Aborigines needed… if only explorers could read the signs.

Burke and Wills, commissioned in 1860 to find a route to the top, were staggering back to base, camels and men, weak and dying.

Recently-discovered teardrops, outlined in stone by the Mithaka tribe, pointed to water.

Bad luck if strange spirit white men died there.

If the explorers saw, understood, survived, Mithaka would have been heroes and Black and White Australia would be one.

Story 477

The Giraffe And The Watch

by Vicki Murray

Picked up my books from the library and decided to have lunch in the park. No one was there except an occasional squirrel and shady oak trees.

A man's voice interrupted the silence. "Do you have the time? A giraffe broke my watch."

Startled, I responded, "A giraffe?"

He explained, "Yes, I work for the circus, taking care of the giraffes and one stepped on my watch."

"Yes, it's noon."

"Thank you. I have plenty of time to walk to work.

Story 478

Stones

by Syreeta Muir

She was angry so she picked up a stone. It was smooth, cold, good for launching. As she held it, tracing its white veins, it began to warm in her hand.

A man passed by with a dog, his face drawn and grey. Without thinking, she stopped him, held out the stone, and smiled. He took it. Tears filled his eyes, he nodded once, walked on.

After that she stopped throwing stones. Instead she collected them, warmed them, handed them out.

Story 479

Remember, Remember...

by A.H. Creed

His infamous temper came from, and was restricted by, his exhaustion. It would rocket up out of nowhere, zenith in a bloom of firecracker rebukes, and fall as a light shower of chagrin straight back down to earth.

Heart attacked, two years before I was born, he saved his pyrotechnic energy for those he loved best. So on broken feet I’d go out all night dancing, if Dad could be there to shout his love at me when I came home.

Story 480

Sébastien

by Jocelyn Wong

We met in a coffee chain in a foreign country and I let myself set all of my emotional baggage aside and poured myself into adoring him. He made it so easy.

Four days wasn't enough so I stayed an extra week, yet all the Guinness in the world couldn't drown out thoughts of my imminent departure.

He kissed me at the bus terminal one last time before walking off without a glance back.

Well, at least my conversational French improved.

Story 481

Road Rage

by Kelly Van Nelson

Someone is riding my tail. Why can't he allow breathing space like a normal courteous driver? If he gets any closer I'll see the hairs up his nostrils.

Horrendous rush hour traffic. I slam on the breaks. My eyes dart to the rearview mirror to check he's not about to crunch into my car. Catch him muttering something. Maybe he swore. Nah, looks like he's singing. Must be a good tune. Perhaps a bit of Michael Jackson, 'Man in the Mirror'

Story 482

Poison Tongue

by Lee Kull

When he laughed at her decision to become an herbalist, she smiled. It hurt, but she smiled. When he saw that she was serious, he yelled, "What'll the neighbors think? You're some kind of incense-breathing New Age nut? Or a witch maybe? Are you out of your mind?"

She softly argued.

He struck her.

She didn't say another word. Next morning, she was harvesting herbs, choosing carefully. Hemlock. Belladonna. Wolfsbane.

He didn't even have a chance to complain about his strange-tasting coffee.

Story 483

Praying

by Wright Stone

My knees ache from kneeling on the concrete. I feel the coolness of the gun on the back of my head.

"Please, I don't want to die," I whimper.  Tears run down my face, snot drips over my top lip.

"You don't?"

"No. Do you?"

"Of course not."

"Then why would I?"

"I see your point."

The feeling of metal disappears. I lower my hand, still clutching my wallet.

"Sorry about that," he says. "Slight misunderstanding. Do you need a tissue?"

Story 484

Learning By Experience

by Khamis Kabeu

I'd been raising chickens for sometime. Then I decided to diversify into ducks. One of the ducks laid eggs in a place being wetted by rain. I took the eggs and placed them in a dry place.

When the duck came it dispersed the eggs and refused to sit on them. I tried to force it, to no avail. I enquired about this strange behavior of ducks and was told they don't sit on eggs that have been touched by anybody.

Story 485

The Last Laugh Is On Us

by Patrick Christian Rudnicki

"You ready?" Linda asked.

"Yep," Sara replied.

"Let's go," I said.

We walked quickly toward Michael's Country Bar. We were going to make fun of people.

We walked in. As we walked up the steps, I tripped. I fell and reached up for something to catch. I grabbed onto Sara's shirt and tore it off, exposing her bra. I rolled down the steps clutching her top. Linda burst out laughing. She peed her pants.

We left with everyone laughing at us.

Story 486

Ignorance Is Bliss

by Debbie Singh

It was dark, really dark. I walked carefully, eyes squinting, nose wrinkled by the awful stench which grabbed hold of the cold evening air and invaded the anorak which covered my school uniform.

Reaching home, I heard my mother shouting about the government.

"Flaming morons," she screamed. "Pay the proper wages, street lights out, rubbish piled up." Pointing at me, she shrieked, "She has to come home in that. It's like the blitz."

I washed my hands. "Mum, what's for dinner?"

Story 487

Blue And Pink

by Liam Rayner

Our first house. The gate squeaked and the path leading to the door pattered like puddles, even in the summer.

We fought and fumbled. In the winter the windows howled and we huddled underneath the patched blanket we had planned for the dog.

Wood and screws dotted the spare room. One wall pink the other blue. The call came on the way home. I stopped in a layby and prayed for the first time.

I never did finish painting those walls.

Story 488

The Maybe

by T.N.M. Sheppard

It's this moment, harsh fluorescent lights and loud music, tucked into a corner; safe.

I rambled about the sea and as I glanced up from the greasy burger and fries you had doused in more salt, there was this look on your face. Soft, bright-eyed, a hint of a smile.

Like I was so endearing.

No one had ever looked at me that way.

It stuck in my throat and pulled at my chest like maybe...

But no.

You looked away.

Story 489

The Deep End

by Alison Clary

Harry was not permitted to enter the deep end, per his mother's strict rules.

All summer, she watched him vigilantly as he sat on the pool's edge, poking his toes into the water's surface. The other children splashed and played gleefully, while Harry enviously observed.

One day, he defiantly took a glorious dive into the deep end. His mother, horrified, leaped after him.

As Harry casually and proudly swam to the ladder, he noticed the lifeguard frantically sprinting from his post.

Story 490

Upload This

by Sean Bain

"I saw you filming it."

"I was trying to help."

"You were laughing?"

"No, I was..."

"Gaining popularity on social media. Do you feel better with your new status?"

"Please, I was trying to help. They caught them, they're imprisoned."

"SHE'S DEAD. Now I have nothing because you're a coward."

"You're blowing this out of proportion."

"No, I'm blowing your brains out."

"Please don't do this, you'll spend the rest of your life in prison."

"I won't. I have two bullets."

Story 491

Never Fall In Love At The End Of August

by Layla Rogers

We were kids when we met at the end of August, masquerading maturity with lipstick and coffee and crying in the early mornings.

Smokey apprehension foreshadowed classes approaching. It was summer and you should be outside enjoying the sunshine, but instead you're wherever you are.

The English heat bubbled under her gingerbread skin. I wanted us to be puzzle pieces, but we walked willingly into the honey-trap.

I tried to hide baby fat under my chin, but September found me out.

Story 492

Upload This

by Alcuin Edwards

I am the sound of one hand. 

I am a singer without a band because I had to leave England in something of a hurry.

My band became a trio. 

This is not a true koan because, without me, they sound tight, albeit lacking  luster.

I, on the other hand, sing only in the shower and covers. Not even my own songs. 

What I want is Tinder for bands because I'm lonely on my own. 

Is that too much to ask?

Story 493

The Wall

by Jackie Hindmarsh

Excited. Today was the day. He clambered out of bed, slipped on his silky, striped trousers, buttoned  up his waistcoat and pressed down the lapels on his blue, velvet jacket. Dressed regally, he marched stoically towards the wall.

He climbed with ease, the loose stones not giving way until he was at the top. Positioned like a king on a throne, he looked across the landscape.

It was magnificent.

His mistake was to look down at the wall before he fell.

Story 494

Decisions, Decisions

by Margaret Bell

The group is together, tables set,

The nicest people I've ever met,

Boards at the ready, paper too,

Then comes the cry, what can I do?

What we need is a teacher, to help us along,

I think the paper might be wrong.

Is it coffee time yet? I need a break,

With all this thinking, I have a headache.

Oh that is better, now I have an idea,

Christmas time picture is Santa Claus,

Together with his sleigh and reindeer.

Story 495

Dead Signal

by Diontae Jaegli

They'd done their best to kick the broken glass from their last encounter with a survivor into one corner. Jagged glitter still remained.

In the other corner, Ally huddled. A dirty rabbit plush pressed to her chest. The tears had dried long ago, but the tracks down her cheeks remained. Her back was pressed to a slab of scratched mahogany; the old, chunky radio that spat static as Danielle twisted knobs.

The signal fizzed as she cranked. They prayed for rescue.

Story 496

Inside

by Alex Blair

He had been placed here by one of the others, sitting on the floor, leaning against the column. His legs were bent up, arms over his knees, his everyday position.

Sometimes he saw the others, sometimes he didn't. Sometimes one would put their face right up to his and make noises. At those times he'd have to retreat, away from the others' world, to his inside world.

All his friends were there and it was beautiful. Nothing bad ever happened there.

Story 497

Fantasy

by Katie Pepper

His delicate fingers grazed my cheeks as his rich viridian eyes assured my beating heart that the glittering of stars rang true.

He stole the breath from time and reality to tease my heart strings, as the dangerous illusion of twinkling perfection grew from golden moments.

Yet as his lips began their irrevocably consuming descent to seal our esoteric connection, a sharp incessant tug somewhere deep inside me rippled our world.

But I continued holding on, and I almost—

"Wake up."

Story 498

The Primate Project

by Tony Thatcher

"Right, let's see what you've done."

A thousand fingers pressed the send command. The invigilator used Bardscript 2231 to scan the day's work and commented, "Not bad, number 387. Could you read it to us please?"

A lightly bearded, stocky man nodded and looked at the antique framed picture on his desk. It showed his rather more hirsute great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents working in the same office.

He grunted and whistled the words, "Where are you, Romeo?"

Story 499

The Suspicion Of Herbs

by Jerome Parsons

They had married on Christmas day and had honeymooned in the lakes. He had sold his flat and moved in on their return. They had been back at work by New Year.

Now it was Easter. Working hard and working late was taking its toll on the two of them as they spent less and less time together.

Then, one night as they tried to talk it out, they kissed. Cumin and mint. From then he knew it was all over.

Story 500

Unsinkable

by Abby Shue

The Titanic was a fine ship, a cruiser, thought unsinkable. Two passengers, a newlywed couple, on their honeymoon, squinting, watching from the deck, now trying to warn the captain.

Then – CRASH. Water, everywhere, filling the cabins, sweeping away the frantic passengers as the captain steered and the people screamed.

Titanic versus iceberg, who will win? Man against nature, what will happen? Will they survive? That must have been what they were wondering on the ship's deck on that fateful, deadly day.

 

End Of Page Note

I hope you enjoyed reading the third page of 81 word stories. You can find links to hundreds more on the main 81 word writing challenge page.

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Chris B
Hi Christopher. Delighted to see my 81 word story accepted. It's number 446 so nearly at the top of the hill - then down hill all the way reaching that magic 1,000 figure.

Sláinte, from Ireland.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much, Chris :-)

Cheers me dears, from Brizzle.

Anna F
Hi Chris, thank you for accepting my story and fingers crossed you'll succeed in your attempt :) Can't wait!

Chris Fielden
No problem, thanks Anna :-)

Kelsey G
Hi Mr Fielden, it was a pleasure to be included in this soon-to-be anthology! I'm number 471. Can't wait until 1,000!

Chris Fielden
Great stuff, thanks Kelsey :-)

Alcuin E
Thanks for putting me on your site. Looking five by five as Faith Lehane would say. ;)

Chris Fielden
No problem, Alcuin. Thanks for submitting - much appreciated :-)

Tony T
Hi Chris, thanks for your help with the edit of my story - those points might have been a rejection in a competition.

I must pay more attention to my grammar.

I must pay more attention to my grammar.

I must pay more attention to my grammar.

I must pay more attention to my grammar.

Great to be included.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Tony.

I hope you're not feeling compelled to bust through any doors with an axe and shout, "Here's Tony," although it is the right time of year for such behaviour.