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81words - Stories Page 6

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 – 501 to 600

Stories 501 to 600 are published below in the order they were received.

Story 501

Intentional Parenting

by Aigbonoga Omoh

Fatima and Ken grew as friends and were always together. Just a few people knew that they were neighbours, living in flats opposite one another.

Even as teenagers, their bond was strong and built on intimacy. When intimacy is established, it becomes difficult to separate both parties.

No man can put fire in his heart without being burnt. From the holding of hands, to kissing, then romance and finally... more.

Where were the parents of these youngsters when all this happened?

Story 502

The Irony Of Life...

by Madamraj Mrinalini

I was on an exciting mountain trek with my friends. Suddenly, there was ice all around us. I was stranded and shouting for help in vain.

It was midnight. I woke up with a jolt. Beads of perspiration covered my brow. Whew, it was only a dream, I thought.

I woke up with renewed vigour the next morning. Life, ‘til yesterday, was dull and monotonous to me. When I experienced desolation, although in a dream, life became more precious to me.

Story 503

Swords To Ploughshares, Ploughshares To Swords

by Liam Hogan

Metal screams.

Railings and rusted cars tortured into tanks, into terrifying leviathans. Toys mangled by fire into shells, rifles and bayonets.

Metal screams in battle. Screams in tented hospitals and operating theatres. Screams as graves are dug, as coffins are nailed forever shut.

Now metal is needed for peaceful purposes. Melted down, hammered flat, shaped into ploughs and plates and even toys for too silent houses.

Tanks and tin soldiers and model aircraft.

Metal slumbers. Metal remembers. Metal dreams...

Metal waits.

Story 504

Greenback

by Denis Joseph

Greenback was the name given by the park ranger to a big brown moose.

One day, Greenback decided to migrate to the far side of the the forest. He came upon a sign on the road that said 'Duck Crossing', but he didn't qualify because he couldn't quack.

And then he saw another sign: 'Deer Crossing'. Greenback ambled across as cars screeched to a halt.

"You've violated a Presidential decree," said a wise old grizzly, "because the buck doesn't stop here."

Story 505

Rollercoaster Of Heartbreak

by Samantha Gunton

I've been alive for 19 years, long enough to realise all rollercoasters eventually stop; all 'ups' have their 'downs'. However, this rollercoaster brought me so close to the heavens I almost believed the ride down would be worth it.

Four words stopped our upward progress. "Laura, I've been drafted."

I walked with Chad to his plane. Down. Took Chad's love letters as he gave his life. Down. Ended the ride without a start. Down.

Sometimes, the 'ups' aren't worth the 'downs'.

Story 506

The Bridge

by Rosie Cullen

Business was bad. Too much competition.

But what else did Sami know how to do?

Then the rains came. The streets were flooded and there were no customers at all.

"What the heck?" Sami laid a path across the square with tables and chairs from his restaurant.

His neighbour could now reach the doctor.

The children could get to school.

The baker stayed open.

When the sun returned, Sami opened his door to find a queue stretching right around the block.

Story 507

Supervillain

by Gloria Ames

I ravage every face, mind, and body. Fortunes are lost, found and lost again. I am the grinder of stone, corroder of iron, annihilator of civilizations. Legions of the strongest warriors wither to nothingness in my grasp. Kingdoms are obliterated by my relentless battering; the thickest walls will fall to me. The universe is mine to dispense. Nothing that exists can escape destruction at my merest whim, nor overwhelm my might. My mastery is absolute.

I am... the march of time.

Story 508

Lurking

by Rowan Lewis

Never understood all those billionaires going into the superhero business, if I'm honest. It seems a bit... flashy, I s'pose. It's showing off. "Look, I've got so much money that I've decided to help people, and I'm still managing to spend most of it on myself."

I'd rather stay skint and have a good heart, thanks. This isn't a career for show-offs. Like most jobs, I find that you're only doing it well if nobody notices you doing it at all.

Story 509

Cold Tea

by Sheannah Guillemette

I walked into the kitchen and poured myself a cup of tea. I got my book out, had my tea beside me… three hours later, drat. My tea is cold.

I walk over to the kitchen to heat it up again in my shady looking pot I’ve had for years, the kind that has blackened all over, but I keep using it anyways. Mm, nice and warm. I see dirty dishes, I get distracted.

Frack. My tea is cold again. *Sigh*

Story 510

Rejection

by Maria Carvalho

Hugh eyed the unopened email from Sweeney Press with trepidation. His dreams of getting his first book published had faded further with each rejection. If Sweeney rejected it too, he’d probably give up and focus on his accounting career. His parents would be thrilled.

He clicked open the email. 'Unfortunately, your submission does not meet our needs at this time...'

Disappointment jabbed him in the gut.

He sighed, then opened his list of publishers to see which one he'd try next.

Story 511

The Clog

by Anastasia Bromberg

I sat before the shower drain, pulling on bright white gloves.

Shower clogs were my fault, he insisted, patting his thinning head.

I sat and pried the grate away, reaching to feel the wiry clump. I pulled. It detached, a tangled mess of dark brown, matching mine shade for shade.

I saw the other. I screeched and pushed myself away, its blue shell skittering across the tile. Six tiny legs rattled, and pincers clacked angrily.

It's not my fault. This time.

Story 512

No Answer

by Jane Imrie

The phone rang and rang. She clamped her hands over her ears in a futile attempt to drown out the shrill noise. In frustration she screwed up her eyes, instantly wincing at the pain across the bridge of her nose. Eventually, the answerphone clicked on.

"Please pick up," the pleading voice whined desperately. She glared sharply at the phone, the red ring around her left eye blooming into a deep purple.

"I'm sorry, I won't ever do it again," he lied.

Story 513

Outside Her Window

by Gary Couzens

The blizzard made Helen’s window rattle, almost as if someone was tapping on it, calling her. I’m safe and warm, she thought. She wrapped the duvet about herself, slept.

In the morning, Helen went outside into the garden.  She gasped. The thick smooth snow was scarred by prints, two feet cloven like a goat’s but walking upright. The track went across the garden towards the garage wall, then along its roof to the back of the house, just under her window.

Story 514

The Fog

by Renate Schiansky

When he noticed the first wafts of mist, he thought that he could still make it. The cabin was only 80 yards away. Behind him, the trees disappeared. He started to run.

60 yards to go. The grass beneath him blurred, he urged himself on.

40 yards. Don't look. The fog absorbed the bushes to his right.

20 yards, almost there.

With one last effort, he stumbled inside and locked the door. The fog halted, marvelling, and then penetrated the keyhole.

Story 515

Accidentally On Purpose

by Philip Charter

I left a bobby pin on his nightstand, so she'd see it.

Last time I did something like this, things got explosive, but honesty means more to me than the idea of 'the one'.

Every relationship forms a chapter in the book of me. This one's been pretty wild.

I'm not crazy. I'm not jealous or possessive. I just need to know how much of what he said is real. Now I'll wait to see how this chapter continues... or ends.

Story 516

The Priorities Of Joan

by Amelia Brown

Joan stared with intensity at the plant, as she had all day, willing it to disappear. Her mind was clear, ready for the final step – the magic. She cracked her knuckles and closed her eyes.

Raising her hands, Joan said the incantation. She waited, then opened one eye. She sighed; nothing had happened. Walking over, she picked up the plant and tossed it in the compost. After all, in a world of books and chocolate, she had better things to do.

Story 517

The Passenger

by Gitanjali Escobar Travieso

Four in the morning, the streets still dark and quiet. He boards the bus and sits down, his feet slightly touching the large brown suitcase which he has carefully stowed close to his seat.

With an almost inaudible sigh he leans back and relaxes, his eyes, half closed, not really  looking anywhere. He does not want to part from his dream. But all too soon a cool breeze softly touches his face and he realises he has passed by his stop.

Story 518

Senseless War

by Ezeh Michael Ogonna

We are running again today, terrified, the same way we ran ten months ago. Later that week, the government, as usual, announced we could go about our normal business without fear of being shot in the back.

Rumour had it that a herdsman's cow was killed ten months ago, and they needed to pay back. Blood for blood.

"Hurry, I think someone killed another cow," Mum cried.

As we raced homeward, past the sirens and chaotic crowd, I heard another gunshot.

Story 519

Marmalade

by Sunshine Tibod

Her eyes bloom in surprise, excited to seize the day. Everyday she wakes up at six in the morning without setting an alarm. Her mother prepares food and ushers her to the academy. "See you later, Mama," she says and waves goodbye.

Today is her first day at school. Though she is new to the place, she has a very good feeling. Her blue eyes sparkle, as innocent as her smile. She is only seven, as fresh and sweet as marmalade.

Story 520

The Skeleton

by Tom Bullimore

"You were walking in the woods and found a skeleton?"

"Up a tree."

"Yeah, where else."

"A skeleton of a boy… been up there 50, maybe 52 years."

"So you climbed the tree and carbon dated it?"

"I climbed the tree, but I didn’t carbon date it."

"So please explain to this very simple police officer how you worked out the age of the skeleton?"

"It had an inscribed medallion around its neck."

"Saying what?"

"Village hide and seek champion 1968."

Story 521

A Smile To Fall In Love

by Dionne Burton

I see you. Immediately my sensory neurons jump into action and respond to the stimuli I see: you. The neural signals shoot to the sensory cortex of my brain, the part that responds to pain and other sensations. Then they’re carried down to my brainstem, the oldest part of our brains if you didn’t already know and, knowing you, you probably don’t. The cranial muscle ferries the signals further to my frontal lobe.

And on the outside, I smile at you.

Story 522

Boy Meets Girl

by Pete Armstrong

Boy meets girl.

Moonlit night on the deck of a ship. A ripple of gentle waves, soft breezes, somewhere a band is playing. Stars shine above and all is calm. How could they not fall in love?

All these plans they had, meetings, places. All gets rearranged. Rewritten. Obliterated by the surge of romance.

They will marry, make a fortune, live in a log cabin. Something. Their future years stretch out blissfully before them.

It all starts when the Titanic docks.

Story 523

Lack Of A Lack Of Communication

by Kathleen E Williams

"You didn't tell her about me?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I'm done with her. She doesn't need to know."

"But you told me about her."

"Because we're sharing our pasts. Because you're my future."

"But she's contacting you, and you didn't tell me."

"Because it has nothing to do with you. I'm ignoring her."

"She must still think there's a chance with you, and you still didn't tell her."

"I didn't want to upset you by talking to her."

"It didn't work."

Story 524

Anti-Gravity Bathroom

by KM Arhel

There's no gravity in my bathroom. It's been that way for two years, ever since I got a dodgy plumber in to unblock the sink. Now nothing stays down: my toothbrush spins slowly, head over handle; the soap bar orbits the mirror. Showering is pretty tricky when you're floating upside down with water bouncing off you in tiny silver globules. Needless to say, I always keep the toilet lid closed. But on the bright side, the bathroom scales always read zero.

Story 525

The Meaning

by Lynsey Calvert

I wait.

A woman walks past.

I wait again.

A man walks past.

I have to know. She told me to come alone. She is going to tell me the answer to the only question mankind wants to know.

A lady stops and sits next to me.

This is the moment I have been waiting for my whole life.

I turn to her. "Please tell me, I’m begging you."

She slowly turns towards me and smiles. "The meaning of life is..."

Story 526

Finding Marjory

by Mandy Whyman

The kids were screaming again – a fight about cereal.

Marge contemplated getting out of bed and making lunches, packing school bags, cleaning the house.

She thought about what a good mother she was, finishing off the homework, wiping snotty noses and ensuring that dinners were nutritious.

She had worked hard at her super-mum image and was the envy of all in her lashes, tightly toned jeans and efficiency.

"Mum," someone screamed.

"My name is Marjory," she yelled, and locked the door.

Story 527

A Great Feat

by Mark J Towers

"Prepare to be amazed."

Robbie threw some snap-bangers at the ground. With a swish of his cape, he disappeared.

"Yes, I am invisible," he announced to his audience.

Robbie jigged, celebrating his feat.

The four boys gawped, bewildered by this spectacle.

"You do realise..." one boy started, stopping to snigger.

Another lad reached out, pushing Robbie to make the point.

Robbie was confused. He'd seen it work on the telly.

As he started running, Robbie decided magic doesn't work on bullies.

Story 528

Who Wants To Be A Millenniumaire

by Carl Palmer

Host: "Hello contestant number one, what is your name and where are you from?"

"Hi, I'm Des from Tavistock, and I'm 124."

(CUE audience applause)

Host: "Number two?"

"I'm Matt from London, and I'm 125."

(Applause)

Host: "And, number three?"

"Hi, Liz, and I'm 127."

(Applause)

Host: "Last, but not least, contestant four."

"Hi, I'm Mark, from Wellingborough, and I'll be 128 – tomorrow."

(Loudest applause)

Host: "OK, big shout out to all our contestants on All The Time In The World."

Story 529

The Guide

by Michael Swift

Ghost hunting? What a load of nonsense. She wanted to go so we went. Even I had to admit that the guide was strange, somewhat other-worldly. He made me feel uncomfortable as we shuffled from room to room.

"The last room is believed to be the most haunted." His voice crackled like dried grass. We followed at a respectful distance.

N0 one spoke. I shivered at the sudden chill. A windowless room, only the one door in and out. No guide.

Story 530

The Misconception’s O’ A Young Glaswegian?

by Grant McKain

Don't believe whit ye hear aboot Glesga folk. The truth is ah'm 15, ah huv a lit cigarette in ma mooth, ah've goat ginger hair, wi' a can o' Irn-Bru in ma pocket. Ah'm the leader o' a gang, wi' a scar across ma cheek, so ah'm staunin' oan a corner ootside the shop.

"Hey mister, kin ye get me a bottle o' Buckie? Gie ye ten quid." So don't believe whit ither people say, that's jist naw the world today.

Story 531

Landers And Wilson, Incorporated

by Julia T. Spano

"Should we invest in it/" said one businessman to the other.

"Possibly," Landers replied, biting his knuckle. "It will be a very expensive venture, Wilson. There's no guarantee we'll ever see a profit from it, we'll need some loans, the liability rate is..."

"...High. But give it 20 years or so, and it may represent a positive return on our investment."

They stared down at the gurgling newborn baby.

"Very well," Landers sighed. "I just hope our partnership can handle it."

Story 532

Memorial

by Lynne Arnot

Born in Edinburgh, Alfred went to school in Dublin and graduated from Oxford. He married Doreen, had two children and worked abroad for six years.

Whilst young and fit he enjoyed skiing holidays in France until a leg injury at age 65 forced him to take things easier.

Laterally, he enjoyed reading to his five grandchildren, tending to his allotment and writing his memoirs for future generations to read. It didn't take him long – his entire life summarised in 81 words.

Story 533

The Empty Chair

by Bruce Millar

The bar was full and cheerful conversation floated upward to mingle around the ornate ceiling rose. Melting into the joyous din.

He sat opposite the empty chair. Nervously watching groups of friends, couples and obvious first dates all basking in their enjoyment.

A girl glanced at him, smiled and walked over.

"Is this seat taken?"

"No."

She pulled it out from under the table and dragged it back to where her group of friends sat.

He felt more alone than before.

Story 534

The Walk To School

by K. J. Watson

Each day, he would wait outside number 22 for his friend. Together they would amble across Tooting Bec Common to school.

This morning, he was tired. He had crouched with his parents in the cellar for much of the night. The Blitz had been fierce.

He approached his friend's house and stopped. His right hand trembled. Bricks, tiles, and timbers lay jumbled between numbers 20 and 24.

He pushed his trembling hand into his blazer pocket. Then he walked on alone.

Story 535

Streams

by Mhairi Bakertzi

It was dark.

It had been dark for a long time.

The light had been shut out, but it fought to slip through the little cracks in the curtains.

At first, she ignored those little streams, those little glimmers of hope.

But one day, she decided to follow one golden shimmer. She traced it with her pale fingers, she felt its warmth.

She reached out and felt the warmth of your hand.

Together you opened the curtains.

The light flooded in.

Story 536

The 81st Shave

by Mark Burke

"Please be seated, sir," I said.

He sat and studied himself in the mirror, rolling his head from side to side.

"And what may I do for you today, sir?"

Staring at me in the mirror, he said, "A shave please."

I raised my eyebrows. He had no facial hair... Calmly, but with a hint of inquiry, I said, "A shave, sir?"

"Yes, a shave," he repeated.

I shaved him. He thanked me and left.

It was my 81st shave today.

Story 537

81 Smells In Psychiatric Nursing: Smell Number 81

by Mandy Raywood

Dilys was married to David. They had four sons who were also called David.

Dilys had laid in bed, unwashed, for the last four weeks wearing the same pyjamas, a woolly hat lined with tin foil and a pair of wellington boots three sizes too small.

My task as a  student nurse was to help Dilys to bathe. I cut the boots off her feet with great precision , maintaining her dignity and  holding on to the contents of my stomach.

Story 538

There Are No Monsters

by Vicky Garlick

"There are no monsters." I try to soothe my baby girl, but she just sobs into my shoulder.

"They're going to take me," she cries.

"No one's going to take you, I promise."

It takes another half hour to settle her, but she finally falls asleep and only then do I check her room, to prove my promise to her is true.

I open drawers, cupboards and finally check under the bed.

Two bright eyes stare at me from the darkness.

Story 539

Stuck

by Raymond Sloan

"Can't."

"Can."

"81 words?"

"Yep."

"What can you say in 81 words?"

"I could say something."

"Like what? It's not enough time to say anything relevant, really."

"It's plenty."

"Why are you stuck then?"

"I'm pondering. Something happened in '81 and I can't remember what."

"What happened?"

"I don't know. If I knew, I would know, wouldn't I?"

"We got married in '81."

"Oh yeah..."

"And we had Annie, too."

"Oh yeah..."

"And... you came out."

"No, it's something else. Shame."

Story 540

Reflections

by Jodi Nicholls

"You look well."

I rolled my eyes and huffed a breath.

"You do. You just don't see it."

I zipped my coat to my chin, the worn threads barely resisting the chill.

"Perhaps you'll go outside today?"

I shrugged and gazed through the dusty window, a clutch of weeds grasping at the sill.

"You need to eat. We have no food."

I held up my hands and smiled at my fingers, a single ring too large.

Beside me, the mirror sighed.

Story 541

Sia

by PJ Stephenson

Dozens crowd around her pod. She's sitting up, sipping water. Lights flicker. Generators hum.

"Did I sleep long?"

Everyone exhales. I squeeze Adam's hand.

"90 years," says the commander.

"Oh." A long blink. "The war?"

"Sia, Earth lost." He swallows. "We're the only survivors."

Tears splash my tunic.

"The alien firestorm erased our hard drives. Sia, we need you to remember."

"What?"

"Powered flight. Nuclear energy. Antibiotics…" Adam's lip quivers. "You learned engineering, science…"

"Sorry," she says. "What's my name again?"

Story 542

My Perfect Valentine

by Anu Roy

I stirred rat poison in the coffee. Placed it at her bedside. Damn woman
left for work without drinking a sip.

Greased the stairs, but who knew her gymnastic days guaranteed a perfect
landing.

Switched Ibuprofen for Valium. She no longer has headaches.

Got her drunk in the bath. She can hold her breath forever.

Left a loose electrical wire. She wore gloves.

No brake pads, I smiled.

Beep.

Oops, too late to move out of the way of her car.

Story 543

Gone

by Anna Sanderson

I remembered her the best way I knew how.

I went to the bar, ordered her favourite drink.

Each sweet sip erased another painful memory: the sickening sound of Mother's cry when she heard (gone); her coffin, lighter on my shoulder than the guilt (gone); my sister's lifeless body on the concrete, consumed by narcotics. Too young. Too cold. Too still (gone).

I remembered her the best way I knew how. I drank until I forgot she was no longer there.

Story 544

Mike

by Cath Allwood

I find him lying at the bottom of the stairs.

"Gerrup, our kid. Stop messing."

"It's me back, me back..."

"No." I know him of old. I won't be caught again.

He moans loudly.

I hesitate. Perhaps this time... I stand irresolute.

"Get Mum. Honest, it's me back. It's killing me."

Oh no, it's true. He's really hurt this time. Lower lip trembles, a fat tear wells out of my eye.

"Ha, mardy baby." Mission accomplished, he leaps up and away.

Story 545

The Rainbow Revelation

by Lorna Dougan

Sienna had been obsessed with rainbows ever since THAT morning – 16 years, 41 days, 36 minutes and 23 seconds ago.

That morning when mother solemnly revealed that Sienna's daddy was gone forever.

This life changing news filled their lives with intense darkness but, amidst the gloomy conversation, a magnificent rainbow appeared miraculously like a symbol of hope.

Sienna's mother took comfort in this sign for her daughter, vowing to take her secret to the grave – there was no rainbow that morning.

Story 546

My Soul, The Sea

by Stephie Simpson

My body felt so heavy against the ground as I listened to the waves that crashed against the rocks; it was almost deafening.

Cold spray kissed my feet as they dangled over the edge of the sand coated cliff. Dark – almost sparkling – water swelled below. It felt like hours had passed beneath my feet.

Slowly, the turmoil that filled my soul mimicked the calming sea. As the chilly air filled my lungs, I noticed the bristly grass beneath me once more.

Story 547

On The Spit Of A Millipede

by Elizabeth Lamb

"Inchbel, how many is it this time?"

"10. No, 12." Sobs relentlessly.

Pollymill looks at her sister's trapped legs. "I'm going for Packham."

"No, he'll spit on me."

"What's the choice? Leave you to scorch?" Pollymill climbs to the tip of Chris's nose, rears up and waves her front milli-legs.

"Pollymill, is she trapped again?"

She nods.

Packham's head shadow's Inchbel's sun-drenched form and spits liberally over her. The cooled wood expands.

Inchbel slips free, lifts her dripping head. "Thanks, Chris."

Story 548

The Snub

by Kathleen Hearnshaw

What were you doing? You even involved your children.

We were from the same village so we thought, Let's go and say hello.

We regretted it as soon as you turned your backs and turned your children away from us.

Do you think you are a cut above us? If so, you are wrong. Poor manners show poor breeding.

Class is not about where you come from, more about how much you achieve with the opportunities you have.

Shame on you.

Story 549

The Open Secret

by Alan Dale

"We can order any fence panels, if your choice isn't in stock. Please, take a look round."

Tom nodded and began pacing, examining the various designs.

"You want something solid," said Sheila, "to keep Tracy's dog out."

Tom shrugged. "True." Suddenly, he stopped in front of a panel. " That's what I need."

"It's got loads of knots, it's rotten quality. Those two have fallen out, look at the holes."

"Doesn't matter. This'll be fine."

"She'll catch you one day, you know."

Story 550

They Were There

by Jacky Ellis

A perfect August afternoon.

The shimmering sands stretched far into the distance, the sea meeting them with a misty kiss.

The children wriggled, frenetic with excitement, barely yet squeezed into their costumes.

"Mummy," said the eldest, "we have to go now."

Screams of laughter, chubby feet slapping the ground as they ran, ran, ran.

This part of the coast had been carefully chosen not only for it's natural, unadulterated beauty, but it's calm.

They were there, but now they have gone.

Story 551

Ties That Bind

by Bernard Hicks

"I'll give you 400."

Patience. Pregnant.

"But it's 24 carat..." One more line.

"Sorry, lady, it's closer to 8 carat."

Dead Balian memories.

"Look, I'm not trying to fleece you. Feel free to walk away, but that is what it's worth, and I can’t pay a cent more."

Deeeeeeeep breath. Focus on the sensation of the air filling my lungs. In. And. Out.

Accept the things to which fate binds you.

"I'm going elsewhere. This ring is worth $10k, minimum."

Delay.

Story 552

The Ghost Of Team Room 13A

by Johannah Lipscher Simon

Lorna sat quietly at the back of the room, her eyes purposely positioned down to focus on the nondescript pad of paper in her lap. A corporate chameleon. Angling her chair behind the boisterous gaggle of interns, she ensured she would not be seen or noticed at today's project kick-off.

Over her 20 year tenure, she'd mastered the art of blending in. Her track record was perfect, 1,000+ meetings and not a single action item assigned. 13 more months to retirement.

Story 553

The Doctor In The Family

by Haley M. Hwang

"How much this time?"

"Can't a mamma call her daughter just to talk?"

Jackie didn't have time for this. But if she hadn't answered, her phone would have persistently buzzed during the five-hour surgery. The unwelcome calls came without fail toward the end of the month when her mother needed money for rent, cigarettes, or booze. She demanded reverence and repayment for her promiscuity and prolific womb.

Distance had been Jackie's escape. But cell towers kept her shackled to her family.

Story 554

Infatuation

by Natasha Ali

She didn't need him. Wanted him, sure, but it wasn't a life requirement.

Nothing about him wasn't interesting. Every detail was a spark of knowledge. Electricity. Lust?

He didn't feel the same way. She didn't think he felt the same way. Or if he did, he was going to figure it out too late.

How badly could you want someone before igniting?

He was definitely a specimen.

Maybe he was interesting purely because she was interested.

He might matter too much.

Story 555

The Feast

by Yelena Kart

Another cup of pudding,

Another slice of pie,

One more piece of turkey,

I feel like I'm gonna die.

 

I shouldn’t have eaten,

That chunk of casserole.

And those garlic mashed potatoes,

really have taken their toll.

 

The last spoonful of salad,

Sits in my stomach with the rice,

And the chocolate-raisin cookies,

And the very berry ice.

 

Now I lay here on the carpet,

Clutching at my pain-filled tum,

I’m sure I’ll explode soon.

Saints or devils, here I come.

Story 556

Anticipation

by Colette Kriel

Pinky Bottom huffed as she sat down.  She had been waiting for what seemed like eternity. Oh wait, in Frothom Forrest there was only eternity, fairies never died.

Jemima Witch lazed languidly, after a hard day conducting Pinky's final lesson in working fairy dust.

"Jemima, do you think the children will notice?"

"Well, if I hadn't thought so, I wouldn't have allowed you to cast the magic. I don't waste fairy dust on pointlessness."

Pinky could hardly contain her enormous grin.

Story 557

Calling In Sick

by Noel Alcoba

"Hi, this is Nate. I won't be coming in to work today because…"

Why did I pause? It always sounds like a lie when I pause.

"Hi, Boss, my alarm didn't go off…"

No, that's a lie.

"Hey, craziest thing happened…"

That sounds stupid.

Fine, I'll just tell him the truth.

"Hey, it's me, Nate. I can't come to work because I followed my cat through a portal and I'm stuck 100 years in the future."

Funny. My phone still works.

Story 558

No Longer Missing

by Holly Garcia

Claire’s mother had been missing for seven years when she saw her on the crowded beach. She was applying sunscreen to a child's back, white streaks across dark brown skin. The boy ran into the waves, then her mother leaned back onto a towel beneath a large umbrella. Her eyes were still closed when Claire walked up, catching wafts of peach that had always been her mother's favourite shampoo.

Her mother turned around, startled, but saw only footprints in the sand.

Story 559

Sleeping With Stars

by Melody Bowers

I ask him to come to bed.

"I'm studying shards of Mars so I can visit it in my dreams," he says.

I sigh. He had spent thousands on tiny pieces of Mars that fell to Earth in the 1800's.

"Dear, I'd love to give you the Moon." He laughs.

"You could be rolling in Moon rocks now that your sister lives there."

He sings, "I only have eyes for Mars."

I roll over and count galaxies until I fall asleep.

Story 560

Surprise

by Nikki Butcher

I can't stand Crown Casino, but you like going there because it means connecting with your unsophisticated heritage, so I planned a surprise there for your 30th birthday.

Your friends were a glittering posse awaiting our arrival on the marble stairs. We downed cocktails, played your favourite tables, and then ended up bowling in our sequins and bowties at 1am.

As we stumbled to our hotel, you glowed like the house strung with the brightest Christmas lights on a suburban street.

Story 561

Driving The Slopes

by Dan McConnell

The icy drive home was a guarantee someone was going into a country ditch. Sure enough, he crested the hill, and down the dip to the side, on the opposite side, lights and flashers on: a car off the road.

Driving SUV number three (the first two totalled on roads much like these), he slid gracefully towards the guardrail, then back at that car. Deftly drift-cranking the wheel, he skated by, barely missing the opportunity to total two cars at once.

Story 562

The Locum

by Fiona Aitken

The locum doctor was greeted at the reception by the centre manager. "You're aware of our work?"

He frowned, unsure.

Reaching the patients lounge, he was greeted with sights beyond imagination: young women sawn in half, torsos hanging by a thread of skin; elderly men levitating, hands replaced by streams of coloured handkerchiefs; white rabbits and fluttering doves everywhere.

"At H. Houdini's clinic, we manage a variety of magical illusionist accidents. Understand now?"

The doctor nodded slowly, in amazement and wonder.

Story 563

Somewhere Under A Texas Range, 1869

by James Louis Peel

Billy put the glass down. "Johnson, this business is a-gettin old."

"It's noon. Sherriff's outside," the barkeep Johnson said, and poured another.

"Already?"

"Whisky again?"

"Yeah, I know. It's just that sign."

Johnson grinned, eyes red. "Outlaw's curse; as many times as sand's number."

Billy felt his navy colts holstered and stepped out.

Ka-baaang.

Falling face up, before his sight faded, he saw the sign 'Hell's Saloon ~Outlaws Welcome~' hanging over the door.

Billy put the glass down. "Again?"

Johnson grinned.

Story 564

Wind

by Josephine Queen

We listened to the wind howling all day. It sounded like ghosts tormenting wolves, or the other way around.

"Stop howling," said Sarah. "I'm trying to eat my soup."

Dad ran all the way to High Street to rescue the bins. Next door's cat flew off and was found three streets away, disheveled and annoyed.

The wind carried on into the night, upsetting cats and soup eaters all over town. It evaporated with the sunrise, fading into a sweet, morning breeze.

Story 565

Insomnia

by Laurie Hicks

My mind is blank. A thought creeps in, then another. Before I can stop it, there's a cacophony of thoughts clamouring for attention, creating an ebb and flow of invisible sound.

I imagine a blackboard and eraser, but chalk is held by an invisible hand, scribbling faster than I can eradicate. Imagining a whiteboard has the same result. I throw up my hands in despair and allow myself to be overrun. My mind overflows.

Suddenly it's blank once again.

I sleep.

Story 566

The Veteran Wants A Letter

by Laila Miller

The veteran wants a letter. He likes mail: rough envelope between his fingers, bulkiness within, contents he can guess at.

He thinks of dreaded telegrams to mothers, sisters, lovers. Welcome wedding invitations, thick, embossed. Christmas cards with family photos. Terse, thin bank statements. Funeral notices, folded, pocketed.

He will be 95 soon. Fingers once crack sharp tremble. His crew are gone.

Grandchildren plan: emailed invitations, recycled banners, square cake, wrapped gifts of black liquorice.

But all he wants is a letter.

Story 567

Best Served Cold

by Darren Hackett

All those times in your life when someone does you wrong, from when you're a small child to adulthood. Taking your lunch money, stealing someone away from your heart, ruining your life in either a small or seismic way.

And you may think that you've got away with it, leaving me to deal with your vengeance whilst you scoot along, thinking that I'll never gain my revenge.

Wrong on every count, amigo. It's your Uncle Bingo. Time to pay the cheque.

Story 568

Never Knowing What Came Next

by Barnaby Page

They met at 9: adjacent desks, glances, then giggles. At 18, each wondered if the other was the one, or if this was merely, concerningly, inertia. At 27, he wondered again, and took a woman's number in a bar. At 36, he rediscovered the scrap of paper and couldn't remember whose the number was. At 45, they rediscovered each other. At 54, they were young, they thought; likewise at 63. At 72, she felt him drifting, faintly, but still there, always.

Story 569

Recipe For A Fast Buck

by Doug Forrest

His words are drowned by the passing train. I'm glad. I've heard enough of his money-making ideas.

"Tomorrow, OK."

"What?"

"Tomorrow." There's conviction in his voice.

"What about tomorrow?" I ask.

"Told you. This time tomorrow." And he's gone.

One sleepless night later and I'm there.

He's capable of anything. I shudder.

He arrives carrying a box. I look round. It's just us.

He lifts the lid and hands me a cake. "Made them this morning to sell at the market."

Story 570

Daniel

by Sidonie Baylis

He punched me. My nose cracked. I doubled over. He brought his elbow down on my back, forcing me to the floor. There was a thud as I hit it. He kicked my back. I curled up into a ball, covered my face, covered my stomach. He forced me open. I screamed. He covered my mouth with his hand, pushing my head back and the knock as it hit wood vibrated through my teeth. I spat at him. He kissed me.

Story 571

A Mixed Dozen

by Kim Hart

He told them lies.

"You're so beautiful."

"I love you."

And they lied back.

"I love you too."

His mother had warned him about women.

"They're all the same, under the skin. Lying, cheating witches. Don't trust 'em."

And he hadn't.

He labeled each one:

  • White, age 22, "You're the only one."
  • Black, age 29, "I'll love you forever."

He sipped his wine as he refilled the bottle with the ashes of the last liar.

He'd order another mixed dozen tomorrow.

Story 572

Skin Deep

by Catherine Harkness

She watched her baby intently. The doctor spoke reassuringly. "I know it looks scary, but he's responding well."

He grew stronger daily, losing his premature redness, his hair turning dark and curly.  At last the doctor could say, "Good news. Now he's off the ventilator he'll be home soon."

There was something bothering her. "Is there anything you want to ask me?" Her blue eyes brimmed with tears. "Just tell me, I have to know. Is my baby black or white?"

Story 573

Get Off My Foot

by W. G. Miller

"Excuse me."

"Huh? What do you want, little fella?"

"You're on my foot."

"You sure? I can't feel anything."

"I can feel it. Can you move?"

"Nah. Don't think so."

"Typical."

"Whaddaya mean by that crack?"

"Typical of your type. I used to be like you. I know. You all think there's gold in your left ear. By the way, you have a crack in your head."

Along the highway, uncomfortable silence settled over the igneous rock and the sand grain.

Story 574

Just Saying

by Lydia Collins

Slithering. Sliding between saliva and sound. I don't make my presence known. The host is not ready yet. A little more seasoning, plus a feverish heat, is necessary to tenderise my meal. Just one more moment of rage. Just one more seething, screaming word and the psychic barrier will crumble. That is when I will strike, conquer, and snake my way towards the brain stem, happy to feast.

My host should be grateful. His own poison certainly tasted worse than mine.

Story 575

My Classmate

by Andrew McGill

A man I went to school with died last week, aged 35.

As I haven't seen him for 19 years, in my mind he will live on as he was at school.

Frozen in time.

The problem is that 19 years is a long time. And I struggle to remember what I did last week.

So, in my mind, in perpetuity, he is shouting, "Sod off," at Mr Hill, the geography teacher, then wetting himself in the classroom and crying.

RIP.

Story 576

Tingle

by Heidi Lobecker

"Can't you just look at what the mannequins have on and wear that?" Joe asked, pulling at Shelly's thick sweater.

"I hate shopping, it's—"

"Your body is a pear shape," he said, cutting her off. "You need to accent your top. Draw the eye away from the bottom."

Shelly's cold sore was back, a telling tingle on her lip. Her body's warning system, this guy is no good.

He moved in for a kiss. Mouth to mouth, she pressed hard.

Story 577

Cassowary Chicks And Other Fowl

by Huguette Van Akkeren

"Everyone, please be aware that many cassowaries displaced by Cyclone Yasi and are roaming freely between Mission Beach and Tully."

With this morning's briefing echoing in their ears, the two urbanites coaxed the young bird wandering aimlessly along the highway, into the backseat of the dual cab, using an apple from their lunch packs. Not knowing what else to do with it they took it to the local vet.

"This is a very fine example of a healthy chicken," he chuckled.

Story 578

The Proof

by Tim Gomersall

Syen-Tiss was very hungry and her feet hurt, but her vindication was worth all that.

To prove to her friend Thlatt-Uffa that their world was round, she had walked its dusty red plains in a straight line for four years, holding course until the day she returned to her starting position.

Now she stepped upon her own first footprints, elated.

"See my friend," laughed Syen, "our planet is a ball."

"You fool," replied Thlatt. "You've just walked in a giant circle."

Story 579

Secrets

by Madeline Green

The night of the circus, the moon took up the whole horizon and it scared me. Being only eight years old, I had never seen anything so vast in my life.

Inside the hot and sweaty tent, firebreathers and acrobats swirled and smiled inhumanly wide.

But the highlight, in my young eyes, was my dad buying me some candyfloss. He told me not to tell my mum, I wasn’t supposed to have it. Mum wouldn’t be impressed, so I stayed quiet.

Story 580

A Cat Owner's Question

by Kim Witbeck

Cat litter, splashed across the laundry room with excitement, as one imagines a child frolicking in a snowfield. Yet in actual snow the cat tiptoes daintily, leaving just the oval trace of her finicky paws.

Why the cat litter, cat? The large tray of glorified sand is a wonderland, and the basket of colourful, fuzzy toys is a no-cat's-land. In one room we trip over turds, the other forgotten catnip-sodden fake mice.

I love you yet can never hate you, cat.

Story 581

The Witness

by Arthur KC Chan

Tim was perturbed to see the pickpocket pushing his way out of the train.

A minute ago, the man's hand was creeping into the woman's handbag for the purse. Tim was stunned to witness the crime, which nobody else seemed to heed. When the man's eyes met his, the boy trembled and turned away.

Suddenly, a voice shrilled, "Thief, stop him."

Amid the chaos, Tim noticed a little girl sneering at him. Crawling up his face was a blush of shame.

Story 582

Pursuit

by Evie Nicol

I think I might die soon.

I'm being chased. I was ahead for so long. But I'm too tired. I've had to stop.

I'm writing this in the hope that someone will find it. Give it a read. Tell my story. But, even in this crucial moment, I cannot think of anything remotely profound or interesting to say.

I'm so sorry. Hopefully my end, if it comes, will be profound enough.

I would explain, but they're here. It's time to fight.

Story 583

Self-Checkout

by RJS Cantwell

I could see my reflection in his eyes, and that was all it took. The stare of a woman who had fallen in love at the most unappealing time. Yet love does not discriminate, no matter the depth of sacrifice.

We arranged our flights; my bags were packed and I kissed my children goodbye.

As I was leaving, my husband asked me to bring him back some cigarettes. I said I wouldn't be long; there was self-checkout at the Tesco now.

Story 584

Once Upon A Time

by Neil Davie

George slowly got to his feet, brushing himself off as he stood up. In the distance he could just see his horse galloping off into the woods. He turned to look at the creature that had thrown him from his mount.

Before him stood a huge dragon, covered in glistening, green scales, it must have been at least 30 feet tall. Smoke billowed out of its nostrils. Its mouth of sabre sharp teeth opened gradually and roared out, "Tag, you're it."

Story 585

A Guardsman's Duty

by Kim Steindel

Boring.

"Be proud, son, you are doing God’s work," Ma always said.

Nonsense.

There's a righteous war in a faraway land. God doesn't want me sitting on my arse watching peasants and fields. It has no meaning.

Enough.

I'm destined for greatness, father Joshua told me so. I will see him in the morning and join the crusade.

Satisfied, I stretch my legs and close my eyes. Soon I'll be a hero.

I wake to the smell of wood burning.

Eek.

Story 586

Sensory Reinnervation

by Matthew J Morine

Lab coats swarm around you. One holds a mask to your face as you feel a pinch in your arm. Slowly, the bright room fades to darkness.

As you lay motionless, the lab coats open up your flesh. Then, a flurry of nerve grafts and rearranged tissues.

Weeks later. You are awake in your room. You can’t help but smile to yourself as your polyethylene hand caresses your blankets. For the first time since your amputation, you can feel your hand.

Story 587

Rose In The Wind

by Ty Hall

Rose wakes up every morning and sweeps the floor like she's in the second ring of hell because the gap at the bottom of the door lets the dirt in. It's so gusty in Amarillo.

She'll buy a hat. A hat will improve her situation. That's the thing about hats and shoes: they'll almost always fit, no matter what. And Rose already has a pair of shoes.

She's happy wearing it out of the store, but it's so gusty in Amarillo.

Story 588

Bad Friends

by Caleb Jansen

"You know, I have no regrets. Even though I have made mistakes in my life, I feel reconciled for them."

"You're 100 percent sure you don't have any regrets? Any major ones?"

"Nope. I feel OK with how my life went."

"Really? Here's one you might regret. GETTING US PUT ON DEATH ROW."

"That's just something minor. Plus, this is the time we should forgive each other."

"Oh my god, you are the worst human being ever."

"Was. Was the worst."

Story 589

Return To Knowledge

by Jayanta Bhaumik

It was late afternoon when he started trudging up the hill. He had a hazy memory that the village was on the other side. He must cross the peak before it was dark.

Soon, he began huffing and proceeded haltingly. On and on, but the snaky uphill track reached no peak, mingling into dense jungle.

He paused and thought about the distance between imagination and acquiescence.

This was dangerous. It was pitch-dark. Turn back...

He quickly retraced his steps to safety.

Story 590

Missing

by Bekk Escott

In a matter of minutes, Jane's flat had turned from a place of calm into a whirlwind of chaos.

All of the cupboards and drawers were flung open, the contents strewn around on the floor.

"It has to be here somewhere," Jane shrieked out loud, to no one but herself.

But alas, as Jane sat, head in her hands, surrounded by the entire contents of her life, it all meant nothing. The only photograph of her late father was still missing.

Story 591

There Is No Punchline

by Jace Henderson

A man walks into a bar. Many men walk into a bar.

They keep walking, the bar does not impede them.

There they go, through the bar's wall. A roaming stampede of men keep walking. The bar is no longer their concern, world domination is what they lust for. 

The men keep coming single file behind them, the bar now tattered ruins.

The world forces try to stop them. All weapons fail.

The men walk past the bar, into the cosmos.

Story 592

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

by Rachael Hinshaw

I squirmed in my seat, my ears popping from pressure. My mum looked at me. She looked sad.

"What's wrong, Mum?"

"They warned us. We didn't listen. I didn't know today would actually come."

"Who warned us?"

"The scientists, protesters... so many people."

"At least we did what we could. We tried to recycle."

"It wasn't enough," she said, disappointment clear in her voice.

I sighed and looked out the window as I watched the grey Earth disappear behind the ship.

Story 593

The Kiss

by Fiona Flower

I saw her fall on the rocks at the edge of the beach.

I raced over, all thoughts of splashing in the boiling surf forgotten, the rain stinging my face and soaking my coat.

I dropped the stick. Her eyes were closed, rain drops sprinkled across her face. I nudged her gently. Her eyes flickered open. I kissed the salty water from her face. She smiled and ruffled my head.

"Throw the stick again. I rescued you. More sticks," I panted.

Story 594

The Duck's King

by Natasha Nagle

Today was a nightmare. A disaster.

The king asked for a duck. Mistake number one.

It was tufted, toddled and hated with a vengeance. Bandages covered arms and several men's prides needed to be stitched back together.

That it was to eat, mistake two.

Why might this have been so calamitous, you add? Surely innumerable mistakes have been made, this doesn't seem so bad.

Well... here's the thing. We don't have one of those; a duck nor a king.

Mistake three.

Story 595

Ice Blast Pink

by Linda Jones

James puts on the red dress.

Aged 10, his hair falling to the kitchen floor as Mum saved a fortune at the barbers.

Aged 13, standing miserable in the rain as the other boys found sport kicking the football at him.

Aged 21, tried kissing girls, tried kissing boys. A stranger to himself.

Aged 30, high flying career, wedding bells, fatherhood. Empty.

Aged 40, puts on kitten heels, paints on a smile in ice blast pink, time to face the world.

Story 596

A Cut Too Far

by John Rivers

The metal blade pressed hard against Mike’s face, sharp against his dry skin.

There was no time to waste. He had to focus on what to do next.

The day before he had avoided a similar encounter.

Concentrate. Stay calm.

Mike felt the grip on the handle move slightly, and the blade change angle.

A quick movement. Two drops of blood appeared as hundreds of bristles were cut.

Damn. He had cut himself shaving again, and would be late for work.

Story 597

The Recovering Perfectionist

by Laura Foakes

An open driveway.

Two adventurous dogs.

A fence was needed.

He sawed and sanded, shaped the laths, dreaming of gleaming white pickets.

A gate for ease of access? No problem. Heavy hinges for a satisfying clunk when the gate swung shut. Two coats of paint, no drips or brush marks, the Leonardo da Vinci of fences. His work done, he stood back and admired. Then:

Sheepishly.

Furtively.

He took it all down because he’d built it in front of his car.

Story 598

When The World Ended

by Beth Kander

I was in the bathroom when the world ended. It's not where anyone intends to be at a time like that, but there I was, on the pot.

When you think about it, at any given moment, millions of people are relieving themselves. I found some comfort in that, in those last moments. A sense of community.

After years of loneliness, I felt kinship with every other soul who was literally caught with their pants down when it all went dark.

Story 599

Shopping

by Sue Johnson

Sarah dragged her carrier bags into the kitchen, hoping John was working late. She hid the bags and pulled a ready meal out of the freezer.

A shadow moved.

"The wanderer returns." John's eyes glittered dangerously.

Sarah fussed with the oven.

"So you've been out all day spending money we haven't got and now you're going to feed me mush again."

Sarah froze.

"What's in the bags?"

"Just a few pairs of tights..."

"When did tights come in boxes labelled 'Louboutin'?

Story 600

Utero

by Judi Edwards

The fierce breeze lifts Monia's hair from the back of her hot neck as the queue shuffles forwards. The friends wait ready to raise the child as decreed by the matriarchs. Thoughts of the unknown donor fill her mind. Does he think of her? Of her baby? Of the many children he's fathered?

Feeling the life move inside her, she strokes her stomach whispering, "Soon. Be ready."

Her fifth and final baby for the population: she feels proud. She feels alone.

 

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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Mrinalini M
Hi Chris. What is the time span by which I can know whether my story is accepted or rejected?

Chris Fielden
Hi Mrinalini. Usually 48 hours, but sometimes longer.

I have published your story and emailed you the details :-)

Mrinalini M
Awesome, thank you so much!

Chris Fielden
No problem, thank you!

Michael S
Many thanks for publishing my story on the website.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Michael - thank you for submitting :-)

K. J. W
Many thanks for accepting my story. I'm very grateful.

Chris Fielden
No problem, K. J. Thank you for submitting.

Anna S
Thanks for accepting my story, Chris. There are some great pieces on here. I'm really enjoying reading through them all.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Anna - thank you for submitting. Glad to hear you're enjoying the other stories too :-)

Alan D
Hello Chris. Many, many thanks for publishing my little story! We haven't communicated since our very interesting exchange about the received wisdom of research being impossible for short story competitions, a year or so ago. I hope you and all your readers and writers enjoy my small contribution and look forward to flying the flag for Woking Writers' Circle, if I make it to your anthology.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Alan.

Was that a year ago? Blimey, time passes too quickly for my liking...!

Consider yourself in the anthology. It's not a matter of 'if' so much as 'when'.

Alan D
Tell me about it! That's great news about the anthology.

Colette K
Thanks for accepting my story, Chris. Only 81 words but so much fun! I'm enjoying reading the other stories and seeing the amazing creativity people have, with only 81 words.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Colette - thank you for submitting.

Glad to hear you're enjoying the other stories. I agree - it's amazing how much writers manage to cram into so few words. A talented bunch!

Josephine Q
Thanks so much for including my story, Chris. This is such an awesome idea, I've loved reading the other stories.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Josephine. Glad to hear you enjoyed the other stories :-)

Thank you for submitting - very much appreciated.

Evie N
Thank you so much for accepting my story!

Chris Fielden
No problem, Evie - thank you for submitting :-)

Jayanta B
Hi Chris, thanks a ton for publishing my story. And thanks, too, for your editing. It resonates now its inner hidden tunning more perfectly... Feeling honoured to be a part of your unbelievable trip!

Chris Fielden
No problem, Jayanta. Thank you for submitting - it's very much appreciated. It's nice to have so many people from all over the world writing for the same project :-)

Jayanta B
Truly, truly amazing! All my wishes and prayers for your unique website! And you're doing a tremendous job!