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81words - Stories Page 8

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 – 701 to 800

Stories 701 to 800 are published below in the order they were received.

Story 701

My Muse My Motivation

by Violet James

The blank page stares back at me.

Taunting me.

It's milky white surface pristine, yet vulnerable.

Dare I mar it with unwarranted superlatives?

Shall I scroll along the edges with flowery prose?

Or simply state the facts without frivolity.

In the depths of sadness a swirl of light beckons.

Tactile and pure.

My muse is nearest in the dark.

He holds my hand.

Nudges me forward.

A kind word.

He comforts me.

He is the inspiration for all that I do.

Story 702

Those We Love

by Rex Charger

"Daddy, is Mum up there?" Lying on the soft grass beside her father, Lily stared at the night sky.

"Yes, baby."

"I miss her."

He sighed. "What happened?"

"My concert..."

"I'll be there."

"But, I wish Mum..."

"Baby, she's with us, always. Wait." Holding the phone up, he turned on the front camera. "See your eyes?"

"Yes."

"They're hers, and this mole on your chin."

She giggled. "Mum had that."

"See, I told you she's with us. You'll make her proud."

Story 703

The Stop-Start Journey

by Beth Greenwood

Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Thoughts of motorways cross my mind, back when travelling was easier.

Stop. Start. I guess being environmentally friendly isn't that bad.

Stop. The thing about electromagnetic travel is that if there is no electricity – something rarely used nowadays – you don't go.

Start. Hydropower is the only source and it is drying up.

Stop. Demand for water is too high. That and the politicians take a percentage.

Start. They introduced the tax on water is 2026.

Final stop.

Story 704

Car Shopping

by T. W. Garland

Lined up like beauty contestants at a pageant with large numbers painted on windscreens, the cars slope and curve in even waves. A variety of colours offer shades of luxury.

Jordan ponders before the selection box of vehicles. Sprayed on new car smell and the shine of turtle wax drives desire towards decision, hesitation towards hastiness.

A salesperson steps out, the tip of snakeskin boots peeking out from under his flared trousers. Behind him, costly repairs and invalidated warranties approach silently.

Story 705

An Open Letter

by T. Luxton

At our breakfast tables, we see headlines in the newspaper; in our cars, we hear the flat voices of experts on the radio. We are told you are vital. Without you, our flowers, our beautiful flowers, would crumble to dust.

In our minds, your honey reshapes itself into the golden, untouchable ambrosia of a new, healthy world. We are not so different. We breathe and eat and make more of ourselves, just as you do.

When will you save us? When?

Story 706

Diamonds In The Faucet

by Danny Macks

A diamond fell out of the faucet and made a solid tck, tck noise as it bounced off the metal sink and fell down the drain.

"Honey, guess—"

Nevermind. She was gone.

I spent too much time away and not really home when my body was in the house. I argued that we needed the money, that the house depended on my paycheck, that we couldn't get by without it.

Then I heard the lonely tink of another diamond falling.

Story 707

Who are you?

by Carla Vlad

I heard a noise but I didn't bother checking. It was still light outside.

"Sorry, can I hide in here?"

"What are you doing?"

"I'm hiding, hopefully."

I heard a knock on the door. We looked at each other for a long second and than I stood up to answer the door.

"Food delivery for Bianca."

"Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. Thank you." I closed the door and turned to face the man as soon as possible.

"Who are you?"

Story 708

Chrysalis

by Felix Castrillon

She dreaded staring at the deep darkness underneath her. She had been hanging from a tree for ages now. She wanted this moment to be over, she wanted to become something else, that ancient promise told from one generation to the next one.

She had heard all the stories, all the greatness and all the beauty. She loved all of them. However, all she could yearn for was her final destination.

Once free, that abyss would lead her to the stars.

Story 709

Three Doors

by Tessa Elliott

Three doors led off from the dark, dank hall, and its small rag rug of flimsy warmth.

One led into the parlour, with its upright piano and corner shrine – photograph, crucifix, gold rimmed black vase of plastic flowers.

One revealed the pantry, with its tin stacked shelves, marble slab and smell of stale, rancid fat, seeping from its walls.

The other led onto to the front garden, but was never opened, except once, for the entrance and exit of the coffin.

Story 710

The Visitor

by Shelly Teems

The woman was in her early twenties. Her brown hair shone, and blonde highlights glittered in the sun. She carried a light red and white striped parasol. Her dress had a petticoat, was tea length, and a buttery yellow. A matching Chanel shoulder bag with chain was slung over a shoulder.

She glided through the crowd, confident, smiling, nodding to people she passed, stopping briefly to chat with a man or woman, but always with momentous purpose.

Finally, there he was.

Story 711

Way Out In The Water, See It Swimming?

by Blake Holcomb

Today I uploaded my prefrontal cortex to Eta Ursae Majoris via an infinite TB tachyon through a network of wormholes. Relatively speaking, my thoughts travelled 80 light years, arriving 32 seconds before I sent them, allowing me to generate an immeasurable cognitive reverberation which will pierce the space/time barrier, escaping the mainframe housing our universe. Once free of that vacuum, it will proliferate the 26 dimensions of Kaku's conceptualisation and simultaneously strum all the strings of totality.

Where is my mind?

Story 712

The Dead Wife

by Christine Bukania

I give the landlord notice to vacate my flat.

His bulldog face creases in concern.

"Is it the leaking pipes?" he asks me.

"No, my carpet got soaked yesterday but I hung it out to dry."

"Is it the smell of sewage outside your kitchen window?"

"No, the smell of excrement chased my appetite away. I'm now six kilos lighter for it."

"What is it then?"

I know he won't believe me when I tell him his dead wife is here.

Story 713

Practice

by MF Mika

"You're overthinking this."

"No, I'm not."

"I don't know what else to say. Do as you wish."

And so I did.

I couldn't help but to meta. I just have this intuition that, if I keep peeling the meta, something will turn up.

Two months later, I take the final steps: review, replace this word by that word, then count again: 80.

I will add another word.

Let's read it one last time.

Good enough.

Copy, paste, send – am I published?

Story 714

The Lament Of All Our Tomorrows

by Bart Elbey

One afternoon, while walking in the forest, a prince heard a woodsy whimpering from the shady tangle of tall trunks.

"Who sheds such tears forlorn?" the prince enquired.

The soft tremble of leaf and branch was stilled then and the trees fell fast to sombre silence which dared to endure as long as the proud prince's patience.

Finally, a twiglet voice conveyed a whispered portent.

"Let not the eternal echo of my legions' slaughtering be the lament of all your tomorrows."

Story 715

Pause A Moment

by Kennedy Meechan

"With all due respect, sir, please reconsider the consequences of what you are about to do."

Surveying the room, he looked at his ashen-faced colleagues one by one. The enormity of what he was about to set in motion engulfed him.

"I don't have a choice, Tom. May God forgive me, and may God have mercy on our souls."

As he pushed the button, the door flew open with a crash.

"Mr President, it's a computer virus. There is no attack."

Story 716

Scrum Time

by Mason Bell

"Come on, lads. Remember our chat in the changing room before the game. I want a nice solid scrum that we can actually complete."

"I want never gets, sir." Unusually witty for a prop, this one. It's normally the sort of lip one expects from their team's number nine.

"Crouch, bind." One second pause. "Set." Down it goes again. "Up, here's the mark, let's go again. Any questions?" Big mistake, the mouthy loosehead's hand shoots up.

"What's for tea?"

Abandon scrum.

Story 717

The Mirror

by Roberta Scafidi

The shiny mirror stood tall before the fools.

"Who's this persons staring at we?" Illiterate fools.

"I've no clue. But that one look like you, friend."

"Your grammar bad. And also, the other one look like you."

"Do you think they will rob we?"

"They seem to be talking."

"They're close enough to hear we." One of them stepped ahead menacingly.

"Hey. If you hear we, leave we alone."

"He shouts at you, but I don't hear."

"I scared, let's leave."

Story 718

Stockman

by Kathryn Joyce

Jed stands tall in his Stockman coat. William sees him arrive, cross the bar, his mouth twitching as women notice him. There's a flick of finger against lapel, the hook of thumb in pocket, the drawl of, "Cold beer," as his polished boot rests on the brass foot rail.

William folds over his table, his fists curling. William is a stockman; he works their late father's farm, north of Auckland. William has a Stockman coat too. His has seen the rain.

Story 719

Life Finds A Way

by Matthew Bines

Emptiness. Space's abyss loomed over the planet's arid surface. Not a mutter, a whisper or a signal could reach it. Life was unlikely.

No. It was impossible.

An endless grey surface, the taste of space, the smell of nothing. The desolate wasteland of wastelands trapped in a spiral headed out of the universe.

Nothing could live here.

Yet, when I left my ship, beaten and bruised by cosmic storms, I was greeted by a feeble green plant growing in the vacuum.

Story 720

This Page Left Intentionally Blank

by Andy Ball

But it wasn't, was it? Instead of being actually blank, it had this message – this barefaced lie – printed right across the middle. And on an official government document, too.

He'd always suspected you couldn't trust the government. Didn't this just prove it? And what else were they lying to him about? UFOs? Social Security? The flu vaccine? National security? The list went on and on.

Suddenly, all those conspiracy theorists ranting on the internet didn't seem quite so nutty after all.

Story 721

The Red Crayon

by Yvonne Clarke

"Who's got my red crayon?"

"Not me," – a collective chorus of five-year-olds.

It was essential, this red crayon. How else could he depict the kaleidoscope of colours in the circus ring: the horses' finery, the fiery lions' manes and the crazily contorted crimson lips of the clowns?

Dusk started to cast its gloomy grey cloak, and the ring of the school bell was conclusive.

Too late to finish it now, he thought disconsolately, tossing his masterpiece into the waste paper bin.

Story 722

Knife’s Edge

by Olivia Ackers

Prey.

That's all she was to her.

Alice's slender finger traced the edge of the knife, slicing her skin. The curtains allowed a slither of light to seep in as she held the instrument above her head, the blade shimmering in the pale moonlight.

It plunged into her sister's body beneath, which limply convulsed as Alice ripped the knife away.

Blood stained her victim's clothes and bed.

Tears slid down her pale cheeks as her crimson covered hand stroked her sister.

Story 723

Fine Art

by Hilary Taylor

I spent hours carefully composing the structure of it, ensuring there was enough depth and movement, and I had achieved the correct mood: modern art, not classical.

I stood back, pleased with my efforts.

"Bad dog," my human exclaimed. "Now I'm going to have to clean that window all over again."

She does this every time. I really don't know why she doesn't appreciate my efforts.

But at least I get a brand new canvas every day for my beautiful creations.

Story 724

81 Years

by Marco Cardoni

The grapnel wire snapped, sending my love and thoughts to their demise in the frozen depths below. Thud. I defiantly rammed my pickaxe into the rock face. It wasn't time.

Every muscle in my body screamed with pain. The remnants of my teeth ground themselves to dust like beached pebbles. Each pickaxe swing was more strenuous than the last, until…

My life’s work — a human-shaped sculpture in the mountain — was finally finished.

Breathtaking.

But... who was it supposed to be again?

Story 725

Forgotten Plants Won't Always Die

by Liz Krogman

At first, I watered them on principle. Even though it was my brother's job to take care of his plants, not mine. And then I forgot about my principles and the plants. But they carried on living. Cacti, they're an amazing thing.

I noticed after a year, when I gave in. Poured the glass of water I no longer felt like drinking into one of the pots. I finally got close enough to tell. I'd be darned, but they were plastic.

Story 726

The Thing That Floats

by Lee Holland

The woman walked along the lakeside. A light breeze swept through the trees, tickling the leaves. She looked over the lake and gasped. She immediately dialled 999.

"Help, there's something floating on top of the water."

She waited for what seemed like minutes.

The officer finally showed up. The woman pointed at the floating body, bobbing on the water.

She watched as his face turned from friendly to confused.

He turned back to her and said, crossly, "That is a duck."

Story 727

A Sudden Expression Of Unsudden Thought

by CompletelyBoofyBlitzed

"How can you even look like you're enjoying it? You know I have spoiled it, I can taste it."

Cassidy had tried to make a fish pie with a creamy mash that David had wanted for a long time, but she'd burned it.

"I almost believe you. You know, you could be an actor?" she giggled. "You are really good."

He was quiet for a moment and than he uttered, "I think my most successful role is loving you."

"What?"

"Nothing."

Story 728

Susan's Bench

by Jill Lang

The Lutyens style bench was made out of solid wood – probably oak – and had been dedicated to Susan Sitwell. 

I knew Susan Sitwell. Sadly, her surname never sat well. At school, she was constantly chastised for fidgeting, whispering and worse – daydreaming.

It was daydreaming which brought about the dedication. She was found face down in the pond in front of the bench, a sodden copy of Wuthering Heights on the bank.

She never went anywhere without a book in her hand.

Story 729

The Election

by Ibukun Keyamo

The election was short; violent, yes. I look at the upturned tables and chairs. Fatal even.

I try to avoid looking at Toby, whose severed head is still lying a few feet from his body, but short. It's unbelievable.

My cup of tea sits untouched as I stare scathingly at Mimi and Lucy. Because of them, my beloved purple giraffe doesn't have a head and, by a vote of 2-1, of all my dolls, Mirabelle had become Queen of the dollhouse.

Story 730

Making Peanuts At The Fruit Factory

by Paul Rhodes

Nothing made sense.

There was a raid. Immigration took the Afghans but left the Iraqis.

The Iraqis stole satsumas. Stuffed them down their trousers, shoelaces tied around the ankles to stop them falling.

My boss was mid-forties but had acne. He wanted to promote me with no extra pay.

Said it'd be good for my development.

"I'm just doing this until I get a proper job," I said.

"I thought this was a proper job," he said. "It is for me."

Story 731

A Wife, A Mother And A Daughter

by RL Comstock

A father and a son, while waiting in the park, were watching a mother and a daughter crossing a street in the dark.

Their glances would suddenly turn to a frightful stare, observing a bus going fast and people shouting, "Beware."

Later in the hospital, a husband appeared. He found his wife who was struck, just as he feared.

Earlier from the park, came her father and her son. You see the wife, mother and daughter were all the same one.

Story 732

Motherhood

by Marsha K. Hanson

It was definitely not what anyone thought. The wolf they had tracked disappeared into the night. Her mouth was covered with fresh blood; she had sustained several fresh paw cuts.

Quietly, the thick brush covered her trail. Following her was the only option. No one could be safe if she was left wounded, able to attack again.

After several thousand yards, it was discovered: a den, a fresh kill and several pups whom she had returned to nurse. All was well.

Story 733

It Happens

by Muriel Garvis

I stared out the window, waiting.

Always waiting.

Soon they will come.

I know they will, they said they would.

Waiting still another day.

If only they knew, I need them.

Time goes by so slowly without hope.

Today the car comes, they get out.

The door opens, I feel life is good.

Their presence fills my soul with hope.

Children, pictures, hugs and kisses.

Time goes by so quickly. Now I am alone again.

Waiting, staring out the window, waiting.

Story 734

Land Of Candy

by Kaelin Lee

On a dangerous quest to arrive at the colourful kingdom before my enemy, I trudged through a forest blanketed in fluffy snow. Suddenly, I stepped into a gooey pit pulling me in.

However, determined with the sun setting, I pushed myself out. Sprinting along the path, I encountered one nutty lady and an icy land. Panting, exhausted, in the corner of my eye, I spotted a shadow of an enormous monster approaching.

"Aah."

My friend said, "Geez, we're just playing Candyland."

Story 735

Teambuilding Logic

by Tony Lawrence

None of us is smarter than all of us.

But some of us are less smarter than others.

And some of us are smarter than the rest.

So split us up into smarter and dumber teams.

By putting the smartest person with the dumbest group.

And the dumbest one with the more smarter others.

Is the smartest person still smarter than the rest?

And is the smarter team now smarter than before?

Which team is now the smartest of the two?

Story 736

Rollercoaster Apocalypse

by Kate Miller

The world was ruined, but I was the only one who could see; the sky bright red, buildings burning. But the world still seemed normal to everybody else. Overgrown carousels with faded creatures and bumper cars mocked with the inability to move, carrying instead a ride into fear. The wind rattled the swaying signs – 'you must be this tall to ride’ – but it doesn’t matter now.

While you drown in fear, I will be joyfully laughing in all but creaking memories.

Story 737

Dark Mark

by Clarrie Rose

Maggie stood at the copier and stared at the dark smudge on the wall. Was it coffee? Ink? Blood that dripped from someone's nose?

"Mike, what's that?"

"Dunno," he sighed as he lurched out of the copy room.

The whirring of the machine filled Maggie's ears, making her feel oddly settled. She gnawed on her nails, the red varnish sticking between her teeth. 

She stood there, distant, as the copier spat out its last piece of paper and fell into silence.

Story 738

The Hare & The Owl

by Jordan B. Jolley

At six the Hare woke.

At seven he went out.

At eight he saw nothing afoul.

 

At nine the Hare stopped.

At ten he took off.

At eleven he was caught by an owl.

 

At twelve the Owl left.

At one I came by,

Following a coyote's howl.

 

I saw the Hare's words.

He had written his story

Of how he was killed by the Owl.

 

These words I have read.

They are all around.

They speak for fur and fowl.

Story 739

Compulsion

by Emily K Martin

I won't do it again. The last time was the last time. I'm not bulimic. I don't purge often enough to be diagnosed, anyway.

The binge lasted only minutes, or seconds; did it even happen? I don't feel full. I slip into the kitchen and dig through the trash, finding a plastic tray shaped to cradle three rows of fudgy cookies. I lick the chocolate smears before tossing it back.

My legs and backside grow as I run to the toilet.

Story 740

A Father's Perspective

by Jonathan Pacheco

Raining down are the reflecting shards, as I see the crystal lights from all around. All the pictures from each memory show from the miniature mirrors. On this ground is only me, for everything is only magic left, which even when passing can her beauty show.

The tears shed  but I beg to not grieve. This little angel I always picked up and hugged before school started and now I see a grown woman.

A smile is on my face, happy.

Story 741

A Night To Remember, Or Not

by Sebastian Cowen

It was a night to remember, yet I don't.

All I can remember are the sequences of nine.

The blotchy nine seconds of sobriety and of clarity.

However, there were 27 seconds of respite where all my mind converged on a single point, and all the secrets of the universe became clear to me.

To write so much, to wonder if I even ate that night and to publish a book all myself.

And yet, I don't even remember writing it.

Story 742

Our New Pet

by Chloe Testa

"Honey, guess what I got."

"Milk?"

"No."

"Eggs?"

"No..."

"Chicken?"

"Shoot, I knew there was something else..."

"The kids from school?"

"We don't have kids."

"Good job really, or you'd forget those too."

"You're missing the point. Guess what I got."

"OK, fine, I give up. What did you get?"

"I got a cat. Isn't she gorgeous?"

"Love of my life, light of my world, you know I love all of your quirks but, that's not a cat. That's a badger."

Story 743

Bus

by Clare Owen

Step on. Pay money. Get shoved. Fall forwards. Say, "Oi." Turn round. Glare sourly. See gang. Eyes fall.

Gang push. Gang threaten. Driver shouts. "Clear off." Gang laugh. Bus quivers. Sense doom.

Boy moves. Raises fist. Hits window. Driver shouts. Hits again. Hits again. Window shakes. "Stop now." Police radioed.

Hits again. Hits again. Window smashes. Glass flies. People duck. Gang laugh. I tremble.

All quiet. Look up. Eyes meet. Teeth smile. Teeth bared. Raises fist. See exit. Leap forward. Escape.

Story 744

Reminiscence

by S. Rupsha Mitra

The twilight glimmered on her visage as she opened the window. The zephyr was zestful. It caressed her rosy cheeks, plunging her deep in reminiscence.

She recalled how she had relied on her subconscious, praying to meet him. Then he appeared, but fleetingly…

Suddenly, she woke up from her daze. John asked her, "Won’t you have coffee? I made it for you. Still walking down the memory lane?"

She grinned, and her heart whispered, what seems illusive can later come true.

Story 745

The Bristlecone Pine

by Taylor Moore

Thwack.

"It's a shame this beauty's coming down." Thwack.

"It's just a tree, and we need the land." Thwack.

"Yeah, but a cool tree. Shame." Thwack.

With one last swing of the ax, the pine tree crashed to the ground, its 5,000 year legacy ending. The woodcutters surveyed their work with something akin to pride. It's not every day you cut down the oldest living thing on the planet.

"Anyways, what do they want the land for?"

"Golf course, I think."

Story 746

Illusion

by B. K. Bolen

Sitting on the sidewalk, Noah laboriously sketched out a picture of a tiger, using chalk. Now looking up, Noah saw a miniature dog approaching, limping as though it was hit by a car. Seeing the dog struggle caused Noah to wince.

He got up and went over to the crippled canine. The dog reacted suddenly and leaped into the air, eagle-like wings sprouting out, and took flight. He watched the animal fly as it evaporated into nothingness.

Noah woke up sweating.

Story 747

Dry Hands

by Christine Reeves

My hands were changing as I looked at them.

All colour leeched from the skin until it was pale and transparent, papery and thin. The sinewy blue veins became more prominent, the finger joints knobbly.

Small cracks appeared as my nails turned into claws.

Finally the flesh fell away leaving just white bone.

What was happening?

"I'm sorry," I screamed out, remembering my light-fingered habits, "I'll put it back."

Then I woke.

Whether nightmare or retribution, theft was not the answer.

Story 748

The Forever Night

by JS Cline

All is dark. Two days have gone by, but San Francisco remains warm. Where did the sun go? What caused the Forever Night?

Not the most pressing question. Scientists shifted their focus towards retaining what little heat
we have left, and inventing new methods of creating heat. We have several weeks trapped in the valley, retained by the bay.

Several weeks. Or less. Other cities have gone cold.

We check the news constantly. Hoping for hope, it's all we can do.

Story 749

The Colour Red

by Lisa Reynolds

When quarantine ended, she drove to the store and purchased hair dye.

For three days, it sat on her bathroom vanity, untouched.

Each time she entered the room, the pretty redhead on the box said, "Do it. You know you want to."

With renewed excitement, she opened the box, followed the instructions, then stared at the result.

Her grey hair was gone but the sparkle in her eyes had returned.

She struck a pose and giggled; her eighty-two-year-old lips spread wide.

Story 750

Daughters And Mothers

by G. Gaurav

"Want to join our revolution, Ma?" my 15-year-old asked.

"Revolution?"

"A real one."

"Real?"

"Not on FB, Twitter, Insta."

"What do you want?"

"First, smash my face."

"Why?"

"It begins at home."

I punched her face. Blood dripped from her nose. She stood steady.

I told her to hit me too. She did.

"We are ready."

We followed our children.

You heard it right. A billion died.

10 years ago.

The wild bees are back. I talk to the rivers again.

Story 751

Date

by Doug Hawley

I tried to get a date with the girl at the grocery store. Because I was a little nervous and wasn't ready, I asked where the bananas and apples were.

She said, "Aisle 26."

Ashamed of my cowardice, I got a cart and picked up some bananas and apples.

I got up my courage to ask her out, so when I saw that no one else was in
line, I boldly asked, "Now, how about a date."

She said, "Aisle 15."

Story 752

They Are Coming

by Sylvia Ketchum

"What are you doing, Gregg?"

"Prepping," he said, his voice muffled behind a gas mask.

"Whatever for?"

"Them," he said, pointing to the stars.

"Seriously?" I rolled my eyes. "Get inside, dinner's served."

"Nope."

"Suit yourself." I slammed the door.

I picked the bones from my fried fish as his went cold.

Search lights flashed through the window. I peeled back the curtain. Nothing.

I opened the door. "Gregg, where are you?"

An alien spacecraft beamed him up. Gregg was gone.

Story 753

The Bait

by Neil Renton

I put all my energy into catching that mouse. I'd sit in silence jumping at the slightest of non-existent movements or jerk my head in the direction of a sound that didn't happen. I put traps out with peanut butter as the bait.

One of the traps was empty. No bait. No mouse. I'd been outsmarted by a brain the size of a peanut.

I went to bed and kissed my sleeping wife. Guess what I smelt? That's right. Peanut butter.

Story 754

An Explanation

by B.C. Ong

"Mum, why can't we go out?"

"Well, it isn't safe outside."

"Why isn't it safe outside?"

The mum sighed heavily. She didn't know how to explain the new reality they were facing, especially to a three-year-old girl. She took her time regaining her composure – something she had to do more often these days. She then took a deep breath and said, "Honey, we could get very sick if we leave the house."

Her daughter looked confused, then asked even more questions.

Story 755

Nauroz In The Time Of Social Distancing

by Mahek Khwaja

I served the egg pulao on a silver tray, a smaller tray this year. Before 2020, Nauroz was about festivity-fret; the blouse must befit the bosom aptly, excessive water must not make the rice soggy, we must reach Jamatkhana for the prayers timely and what not.

I snugged on the dining-chair in cotton pyjamas and wished Nauroz to my family. I took the first spoon of pulao smelling irresistibly of nuts, egg and saffron, slowly if not civilly. This was new.

Story 756

New Life

by James Northern

"I got the job," I say. "The one in Australia."

Carla squeezes my hand beneath the table. I finally told them. Patterned crockery and silver cutlery lie on bamboo placemats before us.

"When do you start?" asks Mum.

"February. For three years."

Mum stares at the sideboard where an Arabian dagger lies beside a photograph of my cousin with her baby. Strips of moist turkey fall beneath Dad's quickening blade. Mum's mouth opens.

"Did you see the Liverpool score?" asks Dad.

Story 757

Life

by Madiana Dethan

Not knowing why, or rather not wanting to know why, he fell to pieces, again and again. The actual truth was that he knew full well what was going on but was apparently stuck in an endless circle or an impossible labyrinth. It felt horrible, he was drowning, no one could help him…

It was what it was, though. Confused and lost, he had to deal with it, lock horns with it, live with it. Much ado about nothing, really. Life.

Story 758

Sweet Talk

by Hullabaloo22

It's been a bit of a long journey, but now I've found my destination.

I can smell the sweetness on your breath. I'm not interested in reality, facts; I live for the syrup that accompanies lies.

You talk the kind of talk I love to hear.

Feather-like, my footsteps on your lips; I wonder if you realize I'm here. Don't swat me or you'll just hasten it.

I'm prepared to indulge myself on lips sweet as honey, before delivering that sting.

Story 759

Life In Lockdown

by Sarah Brown

Monday: Did nothing.

Tuesday: Had a shower, then did nothing.

Wednesday: Had a cup of tea, had a shower, then did nothing.

Thursday: Got dressed, had a cup of tea, had a shower, then did nothing.

Friday: Cut toenails, got dressed, had a cup of tea, had a shower, then did nothing.

Saturday: Read the paper, cut toenails, got dressed, had a cup of tea, had a shower, then did nothing.

Sunday: Did nothing.

Do you think I shower too often?

Story 760

Camping Insomnia

by Miriam Hurdle

"How was your sleep last night?"

"Awful. I'm not the camping type."

"You slept in a cot. Didn't it help?"

"Not having walls around gave me a nightmare."

"The tent is the wall."

"I could see the moonlight through the tent."

"That should be soothing."

"But... it's like transparent. I felt like sleeping in the open air. I heard growling and saw a bear. It chased me."

"The bear didn't chase you. It visited and stole our food last night though."

Story 761

It's Never Enough

by Siegfried E Finser

"Do you love me?"

"Of course I do."

"You have to say it."

"How can you doubt me?"

"I don't doubt you. It's not that."

"Then what is it?"

A pause.

"Do you still love me in the same way?"

"The same way?"

"You know, like when you proposed? It felt so strong."

Another pause.

"You keep giving me more reasons to be with you."

Comfortable pause.

"I wish – just wish – some things could stay the same."

Pause.

"I love you."

Story 762

Please Go On

by Mark Pritchard

Please go on. I'm asking kindly. Official parts should fit precisely. With special grease you should slide in nicely. Perhaps too gentle, then try and push harder. Jiggle, wiggle, muttering with gentle taps.

Video experts ease these things on, smiling. Some video trickery may be included. Not one mention of special clamps, black magic or dynamite.

Reaching for my biggest hammer, I warn you, this won't end kindly.

Push hard here, then hit just there.

WACK, WACK, SNAP.

I hate you.

Story 763

Kitchen And Disaster

by Lee Foley

Dave was going through his kitchen cupboards to see what he had left. He picked up the bread and found it was still in date. Excellent.

Soon, he had everything he needed; bread, cheese, ham, pickles, tomatoes, mayonnaise and English mustard for that extra kick. That was when he saw on the news that an asteroid was heading for Earth and everyone only had a few minutes to live.

Oh well, he thought, at least I have time for a sandwich.

Story 764

A Fragile Boy

by Rudy S. Uribe, Jr.

I babysat my five-year-old nephew. He loved playing draughts. My sister always let him win, hoping to bolster his self-confidence. He was a great kid, kind and gentle, and self-confident.

"King me," I said.

The boy hesitated. Slowly, he placed his piece atop mine. His eyes looked downward, his fragile self-confidence slipping.

"It's your move," I said.

He made a mistake. I looked him in the eye. Do I let him win, or teach him to lose?

I moved my king.

Story 765

The 10th Step

by Oliver Lynton

Steps one to nine are an easy hop, skip and jump. Number ten is wider though, so the gate can swing inwards. In easier times it was always left open, inviting people to enter and admire the secret gardens within.

Life was simple and carefree then. Strangers came to chat and left as friends.

Today, as I pull open the gate, my heart fills with sadness. Fitting my mask and gloves, human intimacy precluded, I step out into the deserted street.

Story 766

Last Seen

by Bert Velthuis

1943. Darkness. Light from the Lievendach's open hallway on the other side of the street is the only illumination. A grey Wehrmacht truck next to the pavement. Soldiers with rifles. An officer shouting into the house, "Schnell, beeil dich."

The Lievendachs appear. Yellow armbands. Mr Lievendach, a suitcase. Mrs Lievenbach with little Samuel, toy horse under his arm. Louis, my friend, last.

"Einsteigen." Open tailgate. Dark interior. Mr Lievenbach climbs in, soldiers assist his wife and sons.

The truck drives away.

Story 767

Pecking Order

by Gordon Williams

He watched through the kitchen window as blackbirds bullied the chaffinches, robins and blue tits away from the bird table. Then two magpies commandeered the food as the blackbirds fled.

Annoyed at these interlopers stealing the small birds' food, he went outside and threw a handful of gravel at the black and white bullies to frighten them off.

Indoors, his wife watched him and shouted, "Michael, leave those birds alone."

Once again, he obeyed her angry command and skulked back inside.

Story 768

A Love That Defies Death

by Madeleine McDonald

The dying woman knew peace, for she would see her beloved husband again. Long ago, a Mongolian shaman had foretold their reunion. They were newly married then, exploring the world. Despite the tourist trap flummery, she treasured the prophecy.

"When you die, someone waits for you, with love that defies death."

The portal opened. The woman stepped into the light and recoiled, fighting the grip of a guy she had slept with twice at university because she felt sorry for him.

Story 769

Andy The Ant

by Andrew James Spence

Andy ant looked up; a long way but he smelt honey.

Up, up, up he climbed. The stalk was slippery, down, down.

More ups, what a view.

No branches, but he managed.

He was an athletic Andy ant. He was high. Up he went.

Is this stalk Metal?

He saw a hundred miles. There were discs, wires, cross-pieces. 

There; a dropped slice of bread, honey. He filled up.

So tasty, he ate more.

Didn’t pay attention.

He slipped, down, down...

Down.

Story 770

Footprints In The Snow

by Dave Firth

A gentle fall of snow caressed our sleeping village. Footprints left the village square, crossed the street, and scaled the library wall. Onward, over the roofs of houses they marched, then they climbed to the top of our church steeple, and simply disappeared.

A man with four toes on each foot, or two feet short one toe, who can walk up walls and vanish in the night. It seems to me that such a man could not be one of us.

Story 771

Freedom

by Fabio Crispim

I wake but they're still asleep. Their snoring echoes through the halls of the dark building. No food until they wake, so I wait.

Hours later, there's movement. Doors open and close, footsteps thump the floor, and they whisper. From a distant room, I hear the clang of a steel bowl. It's filled with chunks of processed meat – the only thing I can eat.

They leave, slam the door, and I eat alone. Nine hours until they return. For now; freedom.

Story 772

Going Viral

by Adrian Hallchurch

"It's about planet Earth," said St Peter.

"What's the problem?" asked God.

"The new species, the humans, they're getting a bit full of themselves."

"How so?"

"Flying in planes, polluting everything, wrecking it for everyone else."

"Mmm…" said God, rummaging in his toolbox. "I've got these."

He held up two small packets. "Viruses – one will shake them up a little and the other will wipe them out completely."

"Maybe the first... let's just remind them who's in charge."

"Here goes, then."

Story 773

The Most Delicious Turkey Leg

by Peggy Gerber

Marianne first saw it on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. A woman kills her philandering husband with a frozen leg of lamb, later serving the meat to the police.

Marianne sneers as she scrutinizes her husband in front of the TV, with his beer belly and halitosis, thinking about 19 long years of being called fat, dumb and useless. As she walks into the kitchen, she wonders if the frozen turkey leg will work as well as the leg of lamb. It does.

Story 774

Things

by Christian Andrei Nuez Laplap

I have always wondered what it was like to die.

I gaze at the dim sky above me as thunder echoes below. I am not fascinated with death, but lying here does kind of make me question things. Things I have never thought of before. Things I seem to take for granted.

Things like how impactful just a few seconds are to a simple change of a stoplight.

Feeling the shards of glass around me, my consciousness slowly fades into darkness.

Story 775

The Heirloom

by Karen Waldron

My great Uncle Herbert left me the time machine. He was quite the writer in his day. Nobody knew he owned a real machine himself, and who knows if that famous novel was based on his own experiences.

I’ve had it all these years and I’d love to be able to tell you about where the machine has taken me, and how far into the past and future I’ve travelled. But, I’ve absolutely no idea how to work the blessed thing.

Story 776

Marvellous

by Ross Lowe

My final magic trick was an absolute world-changer.

One minute I was stepping confidently into my Mr Marvellouso Disappearing Box at the Bull's Head, in front of a crowd of bored, unimpressed punters. The next minute, I stepped into a field of bemused cows in what looked like Switzerland. Ha. That showed them.

Hmm. Problem was, that showed me too.

Unfortunately, I hadn't brought my wallet or my Disappearing Box (which had disappeared) to what was now clearly my new home.

Story 777

The Detail's In The Devil

by Alison Wren

Dad says wasps are evil, the work of the devil.

Pointless little critters, with no purpose in this life.

So the empty jam-jar sits on the windowsill with a hole in the lid.

It's half-full of water. Or half empty, as he says.

Either way, it's half-full of dead wasps.

You see, they're not devious like Dad.

They just like strawberry jam and crawl in the top.

They buzz, bloat and bubble to death

So who's the devil and who's not?

Story 778

Sceptic

by Phil Maud

It came at me, a distended deathly white.

Pox-ridden face marking an ancient pestilential suffering.

Those vacant cataract eyes held a deep menace, kindled in their milky depths.

Its glowering animated corpse loomed above me, from which came a voice like the creaking of 1,000 rusty hinges. "Despair, I have found thee."

Dimming lights attended this utterance, the only clue to an unfathomed netherworld power.

I shrank bank at once, cowering in fear.

Then I realised.

I don’t believe in ghosts.

Story 779

Man, Woman

by Nili Roberts

"Difficult, man, woman," a young gardener once told me.

He didn't mean to be so concise; that was the extent of his English.

Fitting, I thought. This was the country of the haiku and the bonsai tree after all. But I would have preferred a more detailed report. Even in Japanese, a verb and perhaps a subordinate clause would have gone a long way.

Versed in the art of pruning, did he think a frank breakup talk would have been uncouth?

Story 780

The Lark Ascending

by Bridget Yates

Her golden voice soared to the rafters, echoed round the ancient stone walls, ricocheted  from the carved columns and embraced  the dark, gleaming wood. The thrilling, exultant  notes brought tears to the eyes of the three people in the  congregation. Eyes blinked away the feelings and suspicions they might be hiding, but she was triumphant as she followed his coffin down the aisle with measured steps.

He hadn't liked her singing.

But he had liked the way she made his coffee.

Story 781

Is This The End?

by M Anthony David

Sam sat dozing. His bus would arrive home in 10 minutes. He yawned, stretching out. His 4 hour long journey was ending. He thought of what awaited him.

The bus swerved violently. It whirred back, with a screeching noise. And then, there was stillness.

Moans and groans broke out. His life played out like a video. Is this the end? Sam wondered.

His neighbour howled in pain, arm hanging loose from his shoulder. Shell-shocked but unscathed otherwise, Sam paused, thanking God.

Story 782

In The Details

by John James Morris

Yuri stood upon a plate of trembling rock, surrounded by plumes of fire and blazing waterfalls.

Winged demons used jagged pitchforks to torture hell's denizens, trapped within dangling metal cages, their tormented screams echoing throughout the chasm.

Sitting, in a towering throne of skeletons, was her: a hundred-foot tall manifestation of evil.

She grasped a handful of writhing bodies using her talons, then spilled them into her splintered mouth, crunching their brittle bones.

Her black hole eyes noticed Yuri.

She smiled.

Story 783

Autumn's Arrival

by Sachin Prakash

It was the season the house moth had been waiting for – autumn. He couldn't wait to hear the ignoring humans crunching the umber leaves, disintegrating to nothing but what looked like dust fairies would like to collect, thank you very much.

The fields, like green canvases filled with leftover ginger pieces and flecks of molten bronze, seemed much politer to tenants and much happier. He wished the world was like this all year, not just gentle, also with amber leaves drooping.

Story 784

Joy Of Summer

by Farzaneh Hajirasouliha

It was a sunny evening of summer, with the shiny blue sky full of moving cotton clouds. Behind the window, I was able to see people laughing, running, biking, walking, even shopping.

But it was not a perfect time to go out, lying down on the grass ground, enjoying the breeze on your face.

The joy of summer is to lie down on your sofa, open a packet of cheese ball snacks, excitingly staring at TV until the football match starts.

Story 785

The Empty House

by Vicki Sinclair

The house is quiet without him, more still. Like it fed off his energy, and without him became dormant, waiting for that single flicker of life to awaken it.

Slowly, his possessions are boxed up, the materials of his existence destined for the skip, or, if worthy, the charity shop.

The dusty floors mopped, cobwebs cleared, the pantry cleaned out.

All traces of his story wiped away.

Then, the exchanging of keys. The beginning of a new chapter.

The house stirs.

Story 786

Imposter Syndrome

by Lucy Lucy

I'm sure you won't believe me when I say I wrote a children's opera and put it on in Alaska, went to Hull University, married a farm manager who pretended to be fifty four but was in fact fifty six, taught Saddam Hussein's nephews, ran a charity for asylum seekers, had an American friend who was nuts about Istanbul, hitch-hiked to the Arctic Circle in Finland and spent yesterday working on Chopin's 'Polonaise in A flat'.

Not necessarily in that order.

Story 787

No Words

by Rebeccah Yeadon

London was mesmerising, relentless.

She had to retreat into cafes to process it all over a notepad and a hot drink. Every borough, every square, every cobbled street held a unique character she tried to memorise.

Yet later, saturated with sights, she could never capture their essence. The life and colour slipped out of reach like a sunset melting into black. She would push the pad away, resigned to sit, full of unwritten stories, hoping some day the words would come.

Story 788

Hangover

by Julie Mayger

I turned on the shower and tentatively stuck my head under the sprinkles of water.

The pain was terrible; it felt like someone was throwing needles at me. I closed my eyes and felt around for the shampoo, flipped up the lid and felt nauseous from its smell.

Zombie-like, I let the water trickle over my head and slowly began to massage the shampoo over my aching scalp, nearly passing out from the fumes.

I squinted at the label: 'Hair Remover'.

Story 789

Grief

by Mariam Bibi

She dropped into the middle of the ocean, barely having a chance to breath as she struggled and fought against the waves. The undercurrent tore through her. She let it, just like the water filling her lungs.

There was no point fighting against nature. Nature is terrifyingly beautiful and will always win. She learnt to work with it, learning not to fight but to accept the inevitable.

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and got out of the car.

Story 790

Metropolitan Memorial

by Kirk I Holden

These waters had always been notoriously treacherous and I had wagered all I had on this tattered old map.

The sun beat down on the boat and I wiped the sweat from my brow. I wondered if this trip would be worth it.

Then I saw them, two metal fragments, waves crashing violently against them. This was the spot that had been crudely scrawled on the chart: 'The Shard'.

Somewhere in the depths an ancient city, and all its treasures, waited.

Story 791

Timbuktu

by Zoey Rowan

She had only meant to stay over the long weekend. But situations changed, she changed. She wore pink now.

The plants in her apartment drooped, wilted and died. Her neighbour kept the cat. Bills addressed to Mrs Leonora Hill went unanswered. After a long overdue outstanding balance and countless unreceived phone calls, her apartment had been gutted, but Nora didn't know that.

If Nora had still been Elly, she would have calculated her cost. Now she couldn't imagine who would care.

Story 792

A Prick Of Pain

by Jose Luis Torres

The young raised his hand and pointed to the free space. The old man obeyed the rest of his indications until the car was finally parked.

The improvised parking assistant waited patiently before performing his usual low-head and extended-palm approach. That cane tip made him look up and recognise Mr Rogers, his now retired teacher. The same who kept repeating he would get far in life.

Alone, still evoking those words, he ducked down by the tyre and opened his knife.

Story 793

An Invitation

by Michael Lane

Dear Prince,

You came to me that day in the forest. Come to my palace and be my king. So you don't get lost, I have ordered the trees cleared. Oh, and my friend, the woodsman, has wandered off somewhere.

I tend to fall asleep suddenly, but you are in my dreams. I don't mind the gap of reality.

Our dwarves sing too much. They refuse the apples I offer for their health. You order them properly.

Your  loving,

Princess Snowy

Story 794

Letter Found In A Dry-Stone Wall

by Rob Bray

Emmot,

I sat quietly by our stream all morning, though you didn't come. I burn for your embrace. My sister says you should flee, let the rats eat themselves and the plague with it. From our farm we can see the graves multiply. I say Eyam's reward will be in heaven. She laughs. The rich have left, she says, the vicar's children too. Those who remain have nowhere to go.

But I know that you stay for me, for us.

Rowland

Story 795

Pumpkins

by Holly Webster

My pumpkins are the best, round, plump and sweet, not those huge tasteless monstrosities from across the pond. I'm the envy of every plot, they all want to know my secret.

Sometimes I say it's plenty of fresh manure dug in deep, sometimes I say it's consistent watering. When I'm feeling whimsical, I tell people I dance naked through the pumpkin patch every full moon.

One day someone will find out, but not soon. After all, people rarely dig that deep.

Story 796

Meditative Awakening

by Linda Smith

Emerging gently from sleep, I keep my eyes closed. Calm and relaxed. My days are often so intense that I fall asleep at the drop of a hat, but now I can't think where I am. I can feel I'm lying flat so not on the sofa. No pillow, so not in bed either.

Something I feel under my fingers sparks a memory. Mat.

Oh yes, now I remember. I'm in my yoga class. And I just know I was snoring.

Story 797

Alternative History

by Michele Witthaus

We don’t know it yet, but it’s our last working lunch. We hesitate over the menu, contemplating a glass of wine. Bad idea, we agree, both thinking of afternoon responsibilities.

What if, instead, we’d ordered a bottle and let the conversation roam? What if, then, we’d strolled out into the cold, bright London air and walked, diving into one of those tiny Italian cafés that’s been there forever to sip espressos before at last releasing each other into our separate lives?

Story 798

Isolation

by Gwyneth Williams

You told me as a child I wouldn't eat. They sent me to hospital, in isolation, only some buttons to play with. They said no visitors but you insisted. When I saw you, I held out my arms for you to pick me up. You told them I'd die and they moved me.

Now, we're 30 miles apart and you're in isolation. Every day we talk on the phone and I hear in your voice your arms held out to me.

Story 799

Cursed

by Ivan Richardson

I wake to see a ghostly figure sitting on my bed.

"You have been cursed." A bony hand points from beneath black robes. "You will die this time tomorrow. But I will grant you a chance for vengeance." Laid out on the bed are a key, a glove and a photo. "Discover what links these items and you shall know your killer."

I pull the covers back over me. Forget revenge, this is my last chance for a good night's sleep.

Story 800

Gaia's Lament

by Julia Wood

Today, I'm sad. The grey carpet is re-gathering itself above me, waiting to cover me, as though I am an unsightly thing, to be hidden away.

My holiday is coming to an end. And you know how it is with holidays? You never want them to end. I don't want my flourishing flowers, my rejoicing creatures, smothered.

The humans are returning, rolling out the grey carpet, token of my unimportance. Soon, I'll be hidden again. Neglected. Forgotten. No one will cry.

 

End Of Page Note

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

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G. G
Hi Chris, I am delighted to see my story on your 81 word writing challenge site. Thank you so much.

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

Nili R
I love every entry I have read on this page. What an impressive collection. Thank you for adding mine!

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

Julia W
Chris, lovely to read my story 'Gaia's Lament' on your page. And also great to read fellow Leicester Writers Club members' stories as well! Keep up the great work, pushing for that record anthology.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much, Julia - will do :-)

Phil M
I really like the  The Heirloom by Karen Waldron - it built me up thinking we were going to hear of past times but at the end I had to laugh. Very good, very funny.

Chris Fielden
That's great, thanks Phil. And thank you for submitting too :-)