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81words - Stories Page 10

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 – 901 to 1,000

Stories 901 to 1,000 are published below in the order they were received.

Story 901

No Release

by Natalie Marshall

"Sorry, you have been unsuccessful."

I had no reply.

I needed the tears and doubt blown away. Find a new course. Beginning again, starting from scratch. Painful and heart-breaking – these words just don't cut it.

I know the breeze and the sea are not people. But they are the most comfort. They embrace me and listen. All that can be done for me at the moment. All that will help to fix me.

Then, the beach was deemed out of bounds.

Story 902

It's What I Do

by Phil Thomas

"Why are you waiting at the bus stop, George?"

"It's what I do. Every day. The 96A into town. Wait at the stop for an hour and get the bus back. It's the only chance I get to talk to anyone."

"But haven't you heard? They've cancelled the service. Nobody uses it anymore. The last bus was yesterday."

"Yeah. I heard."

"So… why are you waiting, George?"

"Like I said… it's what I do."

"Ah well… same time tomorrow?"

"I reckon."

Story 903

Making Friends Can Be Scary

by Rosie Arcane

Freddy always makes me laugh and says I should dream big.

Jason reminds me to call my mum.

Michael gets me excited for Halloween, and reminds me I should really learn to drive.

My little friend with orange hair and a foul mouth is incredibly childish sometimes.

One is really sweet, but I have to say his name at least five times before he listens to me.

Another is a fan of piercings, puzzles, and is a bit of a hellraiser.

Story 904

Mouse Or Mars?

by David Lowis

"After tonight, Mars won't shine as brightly again until the year 2035," I told my family during an afternoon walk in the woods.

My daughter held up her hand. "Shhh."

Rustling leaves heralded a mouse. It scurried from the undergrowth, then froze. We crouched, close enough to see its twitching nose and whiskers.

That night, we gazed at the sky, transfixed by the red planet's sparkle. We asked ourselves:  What was more astounding? Which was more humbling? The mouse or Mars?

Story 905

A Mystery

by Lim Swee Kim

Alas it is a mystery.

We thought learning,

Is safe, is social,

A normal part of life,

For the young and  youthful,

And with continual learning,

For the middle-aged and seniors,

We would be on the right track.

Many would say boring,

Somewhat unexciting,

Unlike DH Lawrence's Mystery,

Where the tall slim votaress,

Glimmers to fulfill the mystery,

And brain exercises give good mental health,

Especially with fun and friends.

Did we weave a tangled web?

Alas it is a mystery.

Story 906

Our Happy Place

by Cheah Yin Mee

"Now, pick one place where you have been the happiest."

Her mind races off like a startled pigeon. Kyoto? No, Istanbul.

Frantically, she searches for that magical place. Finally, aha. Smugly, she looks across at her husband.

He smiles serenely. "All ready?"

"Yes, Machu Pichu; we married there." She looks to her husband for affirmation. "And you?"

"It's home," he says simply.

She felt the air sucked out of her lungs. Once again, she had let her head rule her heart.

Story 907

Breathing

by Christina M. Y. Chow

In the Corpse Pose, she takes a slow long breath.

"Now hold for four," intones the yoga tutor.

She recalls her father's last breath, gasping into water's blackness.

And the midwife's calm voice, "Now pant quickly."

At night, peering into the Moses basket, she would listen intently to her newborn's soft breathing.

Years later, a breath's spaciousness coaxed her lower back to surrender its custodial spasms.

Breathing out, she counts to six very slowly.

Birth, Life, Death – cradled by Breath's hyphen.

Story 908

Chai?

by Shahnaz Ali

"One spoonful please." Masala tea was never good without sugar.

"Monica, you must tell me how to make Punjabi masala chai," I said. In India, we had our variations to masala tea, and the Punjabis were best at it.

"Well, you grate in some ginger, add cardamom, clove and, of course, tealeaves to the mix of water and milk. Boil. Strain. Drink. Easy peasy." Monica smiled while handing me my cup.

I could smell the spices as I took a sip.

Story 909

Guesstimate

by Jasmine Tan Chin Chwee

"How many teaspoons of garlic do we put in the pan to sautè, Mum?"

"Watch, don't keep asking.”

"But what if I put too much, or too little?"

Mum gave me a look that warned me to stop talking.

Is cooking instinctive or intuitive?

The finely chopped garlic took forever to brown. But take your eyes off the sizzling suspension for a second and suddenly, all will be black and bitter.

YouTube videos make cooking seem easy, but Mum's reality bites.

Story 910

Team Meeting

by Jennifer P. L. Leong

Boss: Everyone, get ready to play your part.

RL: Monumental task ahead, Boss.

LL: Really tough with team members like RL, RA and LA.

RA: Look who's talking.

LA: We are all of one body, we can surely work together.

Boss: Check with the others before you move a muscle.

Boss (AKA Brain), RL (AKA Right Leg), LL (AKA Left Leg), RA (AKA Right Arm), and LA (AKA Left Arm): Co-ordination is the key to success.

All exit for dance class…

Story 911

Ander

by Olatz Irigarai

The night is falling and the birds are quiet.

Shhhh… Listen, Ander, can you hear Kilikili? He is flying to you again. Look, today he went first to Leire, Oier and Aamir's houses. All of your friends are already sleeping deeply on Kilikili's multicolour carpet, can you see them? Yes, they are approaching quickly to your window. Are you ready to hold the rope and get on? Soon they will be close to you.

Good evening mum.

Good evening my love.

Story 912

The Dog Void

by Emma Nokes

No wagging or rolling.

No playing fetch.

No slobbering or salivating because you opened the fridge.

No hair on the carpet, sofa or armchair; no need for lint rollers.

No bin lorry barking or hailstorm howling.

No reason for mud all through the hallway or splattered on the walls.

No wet nosed sloppy kisses to gently push away from your face.

No click-clack sound from a yawn.

No sigh of content from a pre-circled resting patch.

No dogs?

No, thank you.

Story 913

Done With The Commute

by Rachel Wood

I reach my front door and let out a sigh of relief.

"Finally."

The 17:35 train from London was always grim, but someone had been hit on the line (read: jumped), and while it was obviously devastating, I am having a hard time remembering that in the cold November night.

I eventually locate my keys, turn the lock and trudge over the threshold to lock eyes with a perfect stranger.

"Who are—"

But the gun fires before I can finish.

Story 914

The Championships

by Rob Vogt

As a child in an American suburb, he watched Breakfast at Wimbledon on his family's hulking Magnavox: Borg's Nordic grace, McEnroe's precocious artistry, Connors' double-fisted fury.

Today, he and a buddy have quaffed a few pints and slipped past a Centre Court usher into third-row seats. There he cheers for an Eastern European pixie wearing a tight skirt smoothed over her tight bum. She does not immediately fit into the montage of his youth, but he finds her image pleasing nonetheless.

Story 915

Cliff Hanger

by Janet L Davies

Ella walked to the edge of the cliff, looking at the view. She heard rocks fall and turned to walk back. The ground beneath her crumbled.

She screamed, grabbing rocks in her hands, nothing to rest her feet on. Ella looked down, wishing she hadn't. She was so high above the beach.

Time passed and she could hold on no longer. She prayed death would be quick. There was a great splash. The tide had come in. She swam to safety.

Story 916

She Knows Me

by Jane Fell

Leaning forward. Not touching. My mask covering my face. My muffled voice escapes. Can she hear me?  Does she recognise my eyes, my voice?

Anxious, talking fast, agitated. I laugh. I sing. She smiles. Her shoulders relax. She hums.

"Who is this Joy?"

"This is the lady who looks after me," says mum. 

She knows I care. That I love her. She knows that feeling. She knows me.

I mentally hug her, my arms wrapping around her.

"I love you mum."

Story 917

The Age Of Fear

by Catrin Rutland

The lake seemed a little deeper now. As the years progressed, I watched my children swimming and the sense of foreboding grew. I'd splash around carefree in that water as a kid, but now it was more dangerous. Come to think of it, most things were. From skating along the sidewalk through to rides at the fair, they had lost their innocence.

Is this what being a parent was, continuous fear? I think I'll ask my husband if we can move.

Story 918

Child's Play

by Annie Francis

"Shut the door."

"Yeah, quick."

Click. Then I heard murmuring only.

Small in size but not in spirit, the room soon couldn't hold them. They spilled out, shouting. The game complex, my part unknown, I watched them stream past me, up the stairs, smothering their barely suppressed glee.

"Careful," I said.

No reply.

"Who wants ice-cream?" I called.

"Ice-cream," echoed back. Then a thundering storm of feet on a new quest. Energy unabated, they braved the cavernous cold for sweet bounty.

Story 919

Underneath

by Marie Arbon

"Mummy, why do I have two mummies?" whispers Sebastian.

"Seb, Emily and I love each other and you, so very much."

"I know, I love you both too, but why do I have another you, Mummy?"

"You don't, silly. Come on, time for bed."

Mummy turns on the nightlight and closes the door. "Sweet dreams."

A shuffle. Mummy Shadow appears from underneath the bed.

She grips his hand tightly. "Remember, Mummy will love you forever."

Sebastian shivers, closes his eyes tightly.

Story 920

Blowing Away The Cobwebs

by Andrew Dawkins

The wind tussled my hair as I stepped outside. The damp, dark evenings were setting in, however all my worries had disappeared and I was at peace with myself. The wind seemed to be blowing them away, stronger and gustier as I moved into the night.

It was strange how all the background noises of the day disappeared into the night, the transition from grey to black. The wind was really howling now as I fell forever faster towards the inevitable.

Story 921

Swimming In November

by Ali Clarke

It's cold, but that's how I like it. The autumnal orange and red trees surround the lake. The sun reflects on the surface of the water. I take off my dryrobe and step in. It takes my breath away.

Immediately, I find myself immersed in this water world. Nothing else matters. I've heard we are capable of one conscious thought at a time. For once, my mind is firmly in the same place as I am. I feel part of nature.

Story 922

Where the Wild Ones Swim

by Liz Howard

The fog hung low in the air, blurring the border between lake and sky. The mist enveloped everything in its path.

The swimmer stood on the shoreline.  Excitement and apprehension filled her heart. She stepped into the cold, clear water, took a breath, filling her lungs with the cold, claggy air.

Not yet, she thought, tasting the deliciousness of the peace she knew she'd find.

Finally, she launched herself into the water, screaming profanities and giggling as she swam, finally, free.

Story 923

Lost

by Shobha Wilson

So, there I was, swinging my legs, waiting for my mum and dad to come and collect me. How does a child get lost in Marks & Spencer on her 7th birthday?

Worst of it was, I had been described over the Tannoy system as a little boy. Did they not see both my ears had earrings in them?

I was thinking, What will happen if they don't come. The shop would be shutting soon.

Finally (about time) they arrived. Relief.

Story 924

A Home Ed Mum's Morning

by Ceris Brewis

6:03am: Zub zub.

Mad scrabble to mute alarm. Carefully disentangle myself from bedsheet and several night-time visitors. Tiptoe out of bedroom. Creak. Hold breath. (Note: remind husband to oil bedroom door again.) Breathe. Creep downstairs, yawning. Fill kettle, make tea, lean back into the sofa. Bliss.

"Mummy?"

Look up to see the four year old silhouetted in the doorway, dino tucked under one arm, a science book clutched in his hands.

"Mummy, how does gravity work?"

Yawn...

7:15am: Drink cold tea.

Story 925

Slap

by Kay Sandry

I suck on gas and air.

You draw vile substance through hollow cheeks.

I pant – shallow, quick.

You pant – quick, shallow – junk suffuses your brain.

I grip an unknown hand, crush it with my own.

You punch a hole in the nursery door, tear at pictures hung on the wall. Slap down the mobile hanging over the cot and then you start to kick.

Our son is born in a slippery slithering of liquids and excrement.

You slump, spent.

Labour complete.

Story 926

Seasonal Dreams

by Jodi Novak

Skin as pale as the fresh glistening snow that leisurely drifts onto her slim shoulders.

Cheeks that flush with a magnificent pink blush as the flowers bloom around her.

Heart as warming as the golden summer sun as it stands proudly against the blue sky.

Hair as fiery as the chestnut leaves that cascade and pirouette in the cool breeze.

She'll haunt my dreams again tonight, I know she will.

There she'll stay, frozen in my mind's eye for ever more.

Story 927

Tuna Casserole

by Tamsin Partington

It was one of those arguments that's like a little hangnail.

You take it between your teeth and tug. It's satisfying, you pull more. Then the whole, painful strip of skin comes off. You shouldn't have done it.

The door had been slammed, leaving a bellowing silence in its wake. I stared at the bowl, the remains that were left, contemplating what we had become.

Just because I hadn't eaten it yet, didn't mean he could.

Cats are obnoxious like that.

Story 928

Loved

by David Brewis

It is hot cocoa on a cold day, warmth radiating into the coldest pits, filling tummy and heart with joy inexplicable.

The sunrise, pouring its light, like oil onto my skin, eases aches and worries while every nerve relishes the sensation of its soothing influence.

A celebration, making my heart pound, pulling the corners of my mouth so I cannot help but smile with foolish elation.

Sadness, now gladness. Fear, now freedom. Ashes, now beauty.

It is good to be loved.

Story 929

Lava Run

by Maya Barnett

I bolted through the trees, the wind whipping in my hair. The heat from the volcano scorched every inch of me. I cradled my child close to my chest.

I made the mistake of turning around. I saw my house crumbling to the ground and all the memories with it. She squirmed in my arms. I held on to her for dear life.

I finally made it to safety. I collapsed into the fireman's arms, and then everything went pitch black.

Story 930

Merging

by Claire Schön

You put your dreams on hold.

"Best mistake I ever made," you'd lovingly say. "I'm still young."

Then time left your mind, or your mind left before its time.

Some call it role reversal, but I call it merging. My daughter is me long ago, I am you from the past, you've been her, you've been me, and now you don't always know who you are.

But sometimes you resurface.

"Don't you worry – you two have been my dream come true."

Story 931

The Once Great Athlete

by Danielle Linsey

"On your marks..."

Adrenaline rushes through me as I take a deep breath, preparing myself.

I place my right foot onto the block, shaking out my left, setting it down. My fingers hugging, but not crossing the line.

"Get set..."

I lift up my body, all my energy pushing into the blocks.

I feel a tightness in my calf and start to wonder, can I even win anymore?

There is only one way to know... I just have to run.

Bang.

Story 932

Resisting Temptation

by Lena MacDonald

My humans come in from the kitchen.

I smell meat and my nose twitches, identifying the scent.

I watch them quietly, waiting.

I sit close to them, closer still, my paw on their knee, big brown eyes pleading.

"You've already had your dinner," they say, smiling at me lovingly.

I sigh loudly, making my disappointment known.

A stroke on the head, a tickle behind my ears that I like and lean into.

I dribble on the carpet and wait for bacon.

Story 933

No Mercy

by Jenny Drury

He glared at the crouching man before him – there could be no mercy. Once again the advantage was his, but this time he would break him.

Drawing breath deep into his heaving chest, he turned his eyes heavenward, a mighty gladiator preparing his final blow. With a roar, he swung his arm, channelling the power that remained in his aching body, yet helpless as his adversary’s stinging reply wrong-footed him, grazing his tortured face.

"Deuce," called the umpire.

Damn. Not again.

Story 934

Climate Crisis

by Dorothy Francis

I sit in sweltering heat, watching the rocket take-off, loaded with the first global refugees.

Ugh, icy droplets start falling. Everyone pulls out umbrellas and jumpers. It's normal now; the threat of human extinction wasn't enough to fix our climate change incompetence. Giant puddles form rapidly around me. Everyone inflates their emergency lifeboats. Here comes the sweltering heat and water evaporates in clouds.

My ticket number is called. I board the ship, embarking on a journey to find our new home.

Story 935

The Singer

by Duane L. Herrmann

She sang, damnit, and wouldn't stop. The ringing keeps going in my brain. I wish that she was dead.

Oh.

She is dead. I still forget that. It's something I cannot quite believe. She's been part of my life all of my life. How can she be gone now? She is, and yet, her voice is still ringing in my mind.

It's not singing. It's screaming. Her screaming. She can't stop, because she has stopped. It's my brain that can't stop.

Story 936

The Message

by Colleen Hue

Dear mum,

I just wanted to say sorry for yesterday so i actually wrote this letter because you say you're fed up with only ever getting texts, i even went to the post office… that was scary at first i didn’t understand the queue but people were helpful and smiley… *where’s emojis when you need one? anyway i didn’t mean to come over all possessive and i am really glad that helen’s going to be my step-mum.

Big love, jesse x

Story 937

Room At The End Of The Hall

by Michele Kelly

I am about to walk into the room of my life's accomplishments.

I turn the metal knob, scorchingly cold, of a heavy wooden door. I expect a packed room. Like a hard-core hoarder in winter.

Scenes flash. Three children. The one man I ever loved. Words written. A business.

The door breathes a skinny whine.

The room is empty. Dead air.

"Have I done nothing?" I ask Him.

"The room is not empty."

"It is," I say defeatedly.

"You are here."

Story 938

High Stakes

by Pamela Hibbert

Jodie flipped into the backstroke turn. Length fifteen.

Her father pounded the pool's edge, stopwatch in hand, clickety-clicking at every turn.

"Pull, Jodie."

Flip, twist, push, kick.

Her father's dream was at stake.

The final length.

And touch.

Jodie climbed out for the verdict.

"You need to focus, Jodie. We've only got one more year."

"What's this 'we'?"

Hot chocolate in the café.

"More commitment is needed, Jodie. It's the Olympics or bust, sweetheart."

Jodie stared him down.

"It's bust then."

Story 939

Regret

by Marci Girton

She always caught household spiders and released them outside. "They are good," she admonished her phobic friends. "They look scary, but they kill bad bugs. They deserve to live."

Until the Brown Recluse infestation. They were everywhere: basement, bathroom, bedroom.

Sinister violin, spindly legs, dreadful poison.

"You are supposed to be reclusive," she cried, smashing the latest invader. She watched the threadlike legs wave slowly, then curl inward, and still.

Her heart no longer raced.

She regarded it sadly.

"I'm sorry."

Story 940

The End Of Imagination

by Ixai Salvo

The traveller got lost in a sea of imagination and came out being something else.

On the backs of whales he flew, and mountains he climbed as he went beyond sky.

Running back to fields of anthracite grass and forests of ash, the traveller discovered the end of imagination.

Thoughts of despair danced around the edge, waiting to jump and conquer.

Turning back, he looked, and decided everything was good; to try again.

Leaving, he continued, never giving hopelessness a chance.

Story 941

Lucky Number Nine

by Jennifer Hankin

You put down the phone and inhale deeply. Pick it up, dial, and listen.

Ring ring, ring ring.

Nine times it rings. It's always nine times, never eight or ten.

You sigh and down goes the phone. You're never sure why you keep trying. You spin the dial again, for the ninth time. Maybe you'll be lucky.

"Thank you for calling Company Nine. Your call is very important to us. Please hold the line, you are number nine in the queue."

Story 942

Dreams Do Come True

by Jake Cosmos Aller

In 1974, Sam had a dream that changed his life forever.

He fell asleep in a class and saw the most beautiful woman in the universe talking to him. She haunted his life for years. He went to the ends of the world to find her.

Then, one day in 1982, she walked off the bus, out of his dreams and into his life, to become his wife three months later. That is the beginning of the rest of the story.

Story 943

A Mother's Life

by Sarah Engeham

"Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, please can I—"

"Sweetheart, I'm a bit busy right now."

"Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, please can we—"

"Sweetheart, can you not see that I'm trying to sort the laundry?"

"Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, what can I do?"

"Sweetheart, what is your brother doing?"

"He's reading his book."

"Well what is your daddy doing?"

"He's busy, he said, ‘Not now.’"

"Give me 5 minutes, sweetheart."

...

"OK, what would you like to do?"

"I'm OK now, thanks Mummy."

Sigh.

Story 944

Scientific Mantra

by David Vargas Alfonso

Every sign looked insufficient. Even some messengers had died. Then, the cabildo called and the younger ranger took the floor.

"Today, I am a mediator. The orchids researcher asks permission to use the names we gave them."

The taitas concluded, after hours, the requirement was according to Komuya's will, a goddess hidden in the flowers. She answers health to contemplation and destruction to profanation.

'Orchidaceae Komuya', the common look to Nature’s claim, new dialogue between theirs and the rest of humanity.

Story 945

Where? Who? What?

by Sarah Hoad

The streets were packed and Ivy needed to catch the bus to work. She squeezed through floods of people tripping and pushing. She was already late and didn't have any time to waste. She jarred into a lady who came tumbling down.

Ivy reached out her hand to help but the lady didn't acknowledge she was there. Instead, she was looking around for the person who shoved her. The lady got up and walked straight through Ivy, still not noticing her.

Story 946

Lost In Words

by Alison Reese

Authors often say their characters take on a life of their own, dictating their own story. "Rubbish," I scoffed, "I'm writing it, I decide."

Apparently, my characters disagreed, as I find myself trapped within my words, a hostage to the characters I created. All attempts to break free have failed.

"What did you expect?" laughed my main protagonist. "You're the one who insisted that the author writes the story."

I pondered this. "But, if I'm here, then who's writing it now?"

Story 947

The Enclosed

by Katie Singer

Suddenly, she awoke, her face dripping with sweat. She frantically looked around, pondering where she was and when she'd arrived there. The room had cracked floorboards that were as black as coal. This is not my house, she anxiously thought. I've got to quietly escape.

Soundlessly, she crept, her heart beating wildly. She tried opening the ancient, hazel door, but the rusty lock didn't open. Worriedly, she searched for a key on the floor, when an idea filled her whole mind.

Story 948

Our Final Thoughts

by Julia Graves

His eulogy was perfect, just like the man himself. Always there with a pint or pound for someone down on their luck. Respected by us all, he loved the bookies, the horses and latterly the scratch card. He had a smile for everyone – even the wife. She had never cried once, just looked stern as he rolled into the fires.

"You try balancing the books when there's nothing to balance," she told us in the pub afterwards. "Great man, my arse."

Story 949

Deafening Silences

by Sam May

The sensation of Kikuko’s motionless heart sent me back to the years of our childhood that we would spend together playing with our mother in the garden. We would all talk back to our eerie echoes down the well that we found when we first arrived at our house all those decades ago.

My eyes swiftly shot to my father, moments before he hit the ground with a soft thud.

He too, I thought, will succumb to the fugu’s deadly poison.

Story 950

Good – Yawn – Afternoon

by Jeff Kemp

No free lunches when you sleep late. Calorifically, that gives the chance to experiment with fasting but were I interested in such a discipline, I'd start my day early rather than have two breakfasts at five pm.

It does, however, give me eco-credibility since I've become a vegetarian. Well, a semi-vegetarian since it's only my first breakfast that lacks meat. But that's half-way to saving the planet.

Since I sleep 12 hours out of 24, half way's good enough.

Good night.

Story 951

Night Electric

by Elena Zhuang

Assassins hold the pleasurable weight of the lives they have taken. Be aware of the assassins lurking in the town, they are always watching you…

Oh, sorry for not introducing myself. Name's Loom, the sniper of Night Electric, and you have just been caught... toodles.

Survive next time, if there is one. Now, time to clean my katana.

Natsuk: "Loom, you're always so social."

Loom. "It's not my fault everyone is so… interesting."

"Get to France, your next mission is there."

Story 952

Horror In The Basement

by Avery Pryce

The lights flickered in the basement just as Sophie took a peek. As quick as a flash, she dashed upstairs and told her family about her experience.

"Nonsense," her sister retorted.

When Sophie checked the basement… there was someone sitting in the corner with their back turned to her. Sophie tiptoed over to the mysterious person and tapped him on the shoulder…

Sophie trembled with fear. To her dismay, she was greeted by the abominable, creepy clown.

"I'M BACK," he cackled.

Story 953

The Zoo Trip

by Arya Amlani

Dear Mum,

Today, on my trip, I saw a great, colossal gorilla. It narrowed its beady eyes right at me. Gradually, it got to its feet and advanced on us. It suddenly slapped the glass, hard. I panicked. I ran, but Miss Reese called me back and soothed me like a parrot with ruffled feathers, which I saw a zookeeper do. But the rest of the trip was boring, even though Miss Reese kept the commentary up.

Filled with love

Arya

Story 954

Two And A Million In This Marriage

by Zoe J Walker

I put the plate in front of him. He doesn’t look up. Just a grunt as he picks up his fork in his left hand. His right permanently occupied.

Dishes done.

He's slumped on the sofa. The TV isn't switched on anymore. His face glows blue and he scrolls and scrolls.

I'm all out of words. I sigh and go for a bath.

Brand new underwear unearthed at the back of the drawer.

Will he even notice my bags are packed?

Story 955

Bon Appetit

by Cynthia Akagi

After 40 years of macaroni-Monday, taco-Tuesday, and meatloaf-Wednesday, I am expanding palate and vocabulary – fish puff tart, melanzane parmigiana, antipasto penne. But oh how to pronounce gnocchi and quinoa? Yet the eatin's good.

My grocery bill is higher with my new culinary waltz, but everything tastes amazing with cooking wine and butter. Julia was right. Food is love and romance, but a tricky waistline challenge.

I refuse fish-Fridays. I delight instead in pesto-chicken-tagliatelle with porchini mushrooms and cream. No belching, please.

Story 956

Bumpy Ride

by Myron Dunavan

The others crowding around, Harold flings the dice. Sevens: he’s the winner.

Her tug reminds him not to ride the crest. He flags his money, turns and smiles. They will eat.  Smart move. He hands the money to Mamma because she will manage it. It may last a few months this time.

Riding a dusty road home in an old pickup truck, he reflects about the bumps and twists in life. The bumps bind them more than money in Mamma’s bag.

Story 957

A Choice

by Kate Hamilton

The team of scientists sent by the Galactic Council was to (only) observe (yet another) planet on the verge of self-destruction.

They knew not to interfere with The Creator's quarantine for developing species, evolving through adolescence. But they were a bit tired of observing another beautiful world ruined by its inhabitants.

"ERRTH is doomed, but I really like butterflies and Beethoven," said the Biologist. "Perhaps if we give them a well-designed virus, they will have time to… consider?"

So, they did.

Story 958

Sweet Seduction

by Linda Hibbin

A pesky caterpillar nibbles the leaves of good intentions. My five a day on a good day. It wickedly wriggles in the chambers of my mind, taunting, reminding me of the bittersweet creaminess.

The monster in me consumes and spits out my resolve which too weakly resists. I know what I want, to be seduced, surrender to unashamed depravity. I need a quick fix, quickly, and lift the lid.

A sexy hazelnut chocolate whirl. Mmmm. This is a deliciously good day.

Story 959

Stepping Up

by Don Marler

Mary's head was tipped down as tears ran off her chin, quietly confessing to her father, "I'm pregnant, Daddy."

The old man glared at her as he shook his head. "Who's the father?"

Wiping away tears, Mary asked her father, "Do you remember Robert, the young preacher you introduced me to at your last revival?"

"Of course. He's the youth minister of my church."

Mary nodded. "Well... next Sunday, you're invited to our wedding. Robert is going to be your son-in-law."

Story 960

Vegan Burgers

by Jonathan Fryer

It had long been my dream to leave teaching, hit the road and sell healthy food from one of those mobile cafe type things. And so I did.

Vegan burgers became my speciality.

And you meet all sorts of lovely people. Vegetarians, vegans – they are welcomed with open arms. I am not judgemental. And they make a good burger. The best, in fact.

The trouble is, it is hard to find a vegan around here, these days. Time to move on...

Story 961

Careful What You Wish For

by Richard Anthony Morris

I've been telling my friends for years that I don't like surprise parties, but they insist. They spent the entire day acting casual, but I know they've found their way into my house to wait in the dark. May as well get this over with.

I make a lot of noise with the key in the lock. I take a deep breath, turning on the light as I walk in. Silence. Oh, OK, I guess I am alone on my birthday.

Story 962

Waiting

by Adam Waters

You'll be out tonight, holding court, as ever, and you probably won't notice her hovering in the background. Even if you do see her, you'll assume she's weak and you don't have any time for a weak woman.

You haven't the measure of her though. You can't see how excited she is because here you are, big, brash and wonderful. Eating a busy hole through her head. Making her mind drift off-line so that she can absorb everything about you, girl.

Story 963

Nibbler's Adventure

by Sarah Charmley

Nibbler the hamster hid under the kitchen units where it was dark and smelled of food. He heard footsteps and stayed still, listening. He heard Jade's voice.

"Nibbler escaped. I l left the door open."

Then crying.

Nibbler still hid in the dark.

He fell asleep.

When he woke, he smelled food. Following his nose, he found a peanut. And another. He followed them up a stack of books. He slipped down inside an orange bucket hamster trap.

Adventure was over.

Story 964

Unbelievable But True

by Tamires Cunha

Hitchhiking from another city back to my hometown, I found myself thirsty on a desert road.

Hey, universe, send me some water, I thought.

Nothing happened. Why did I think something would?

The few cars passing by didn't stop. When one finally did, I got in.

First thing I heard was, "Would you like some water? You can also have a piece of strawberry cake if you want."

As if the universe whispered, "Here's what you asked for, and even more."

Story 965

Witch Stalker

by L J McQueen

"She—"

"I don't care. You slaughtered her."

"Only once, Isabelle."

"We need to set this right. The witch queen will come for us."

"I've already come." Richard ripped off the skin from his face. The witch queen's violet eyes peeked from underneath.

"Have mercy," I said.

"Witch stalkers showed me no mercy."

"But I am half witch, half stalker."

The witch queen gave a gasp.

I placed the palm of my hand on her face and burnt her to ash.

Story 966

R. U. Bait

by Wyatt Payne

"Is your neighbourhood being overrun by rabid unicorns?"

"Yes."

"Then you need Rabid Unicorn Bait. Rabid Unicorn Bait is a human dummy that the rabid unicorns can chew on while you can capture and relocate them humanely."

"It looks really realistic."

"That's the point."

"I think it just said, 'Help me.'"

"If they do that, just hit them over the head with a bat."

"I think it's trying to move… did you tie someone up to be eaten by a unicorn?"

Story 967

Words

by Tony Tremblett

"Whatcha doing?"

"Writing."

"Writing what?"

"Flash fiction."

"Huh?"

"A really short story; just 81 words."

"Why 81?"

"Why not?"

"Ha, funny. Seriously, though?"

"It's a submission requirement."

"Weird. Sounds like an occult thing."

"It's not an occult thing. A guy named Adam Rubinstein started it as a writing competition years ago. Now Christopher Fielden wants to set a World Record for the most contributing authors published in an anthology of 81 word stories. I'd tell you more but I’m out of—"

Story 968

Ghost Or Ghostie?

by Neil Goodwin

Way down at the bottom of my garden, there be the scary shed. With resident ghostie, performing ghostly antics, clearly visible hanging around the bushes nearby. But, would ghost, or ghostie, best describe this creepy looking vision like something from an episode of Scooby Doo?

Proposal of distinction: Ghostie, a light-hearted fake ghost, usually made from white bedsheets with coat hangers and such, trying to imitate the other rather more serious, sinister ghost, that has little or no sense of humour.

Story 969

The Apocalypse

by Penelope Henry

Before the shot was fired, everything was mundane. The grass was grey and so was the sky. Flowers began to wilt, and things began to die. I felt trapped, wanting nothing more than to leave this wasteland.

And when the shot fired, the war had begun. I would finally be free. I hurried to safety amongst a crowd of people destined to life in hiding.

I soon learnt that the shot would further ruin my life, and I would never escape.

Story 970

The Old Lady

by Mohamed Atta Amer

A thief entered the home of an old lady who lived alone. He stole clothes and some bread, then ran away beneath moonlight.

The old lady stood behind the window, watching the thief running between fields. She looked at her necklace and said, "Ah, if you sat for a while and talked to me, I would have given you this necklace even though you wanted to steal from me, because I haven't seen anyone who is interested in me for years."

Story 971

Night

by Meredith Argent

Night prowled in, the moon in his hand and stars glistening in his fathomless eyes. A foreboding creature, he swept his shadow across the town, throwing his soul over the world, and the Earth fell upon its knees.

Night kicked out Day as if she were a mere twinkle of dust and killed the sky, ripping it in half and exposing the black abyss behind. The sky had no choice but to obey him – Night had come to seize the day.

Story 972

Angry

by Brian Mackinney

I'm angry again. Someone's always pinching my pencil.

I'm not ready to work because my pencil's not there. It's happened every day this week.

My gran brought me a new one from New Zealand. It had a rubber on the end. I was ready for work. It was a great pencil. Wrote neatly. Spelt correctly. Teacher praised me all morning.

By dinner time, it'd gone. To New Zealand I guess.

I'll get the little one or the blunt one. Angry. Again.

Story 973

My Dystopian Day

by Mehak Vijay Chawla

There was hue and cry in our abode, tried to make a landscape that I saw on the road.

My mother’s rebuke made me vexed, felt as I was a filcher who was under arrest.

My mother’s high sound cried into my ear, I felt I was not her dear.

She is so stern, that all the people in our neighbourhood are concerned.

Though she gave me tasty food to eat, thank God she was not in a mood to beat.

Story 974

Family Tradition

by Melissa Odom

Elizabeth breathed deep against the pounding in her heart as she tracked her prey with the barrel of the shotgun. Breathing deep, she pulled the trigger and watched as he went down.

Her mother, noticing the flicker of hurt in Elizabeth's eyes, reached down and placed a hand on her daughters swollen belly.

"He outlived his purpose, just like your father and mine before him. It's tradition."

She  had meant to be comforting, but her smile chilled Elizabeth to the bone.

Story 975

In A Lone Cup

by Imogen Argent

Swirling in the tea, a lone cup, I watch the milk of the day frothing at their feet.

This world is dissolved, locks and chains binding the spoon keeper who dared to look under the sugar. These coatings aren't sweet. Their cardboard boxes are all soggy and the constant 'This way up' are stark reminders of how we are all sombre teabags who are soon to be taken to this gritty exclusion.

We’re unnoticeable, sitting in the doorways of the world.

Story 976

My First Diary

by Ankush Vijay Chawla

Anne Frank made my heart bulge-out to write diaries. So, I asked my father to buy a diary for me. The diary he bought became my favorite in a few seconds and my sister used to envy me for it.

The diary looked simple, consisting of two-hundred and twenty pages. I preferred to write new things and events in the memoire. It had a fixed bookmark and, to make it interesting, I will write in calligraphy and fill it with poems.

Story 977

My Enemy's Friend

by IR Belletti

If Xavier had to choose between winning and being safe, he would have taken off his cracked armour and gone back into battle with a broken arm.

This time, though, he cried. The next day he was to fight his city’s archenemy, and his friends had just abandoned him.

His doorbell rang and his enemy was waiting on the doorstep.

"I came to cure you. If you won't be able to withstand me tomorrow, I won't win fairly."

Xavier welcomed him.

Story 978

Eggshell

by James Pemberton

The diary lay in the middle of the kitchen table, as solid and devastating as a brick through a window.

Ashleigh's mother sat next to it. Ordinarily, she never smoked indoors, or at all if pressed, but the open pack lay next to an ashtray with three identifiable butts amongst the ash.

Only the ticking of the clock could be heard in an eternity that aged them both, until one woman broke the silence.

"You know I’ve always loved you… right?"

Story 979

Rattlesnake Bite

by Sandee Lee

A yelp.

Brandy stood, staring at a grass tuft. Her head sagged.

I discovered fang marks on her nose.

I grabbed my cell phone from my left pocket. I looked at the time. The vet clinic closed in five minutes. We were fifteen minutes away. I called. I scooped Brandy into my arms and sped to town.

They said they'd be ready. They were. Efficient, caring and willing to delay ending their workday on time to care for my precious companion.

Story 980

In A Word

by Alan Greaves

I provide tuition for two girls. Their dad, a hairy, sporty sort, writes stories.

"I'm writing one now, it's good." His grimy index-finger rummages the depths of a large, misshapen ear. "Eighty words max, can you?"

Aware that he would oblige me to admire his effort, I was desperate to do better. After all, if an all-in wrestler can do it, so can I.

Alas, he bested me. My splendid effort was rejected, spurned for being just one over the eighty.

Story 981

A Wasted Life?

by Robert Brewis

"But it's so hard when structure interferes with rhythm."

"What structure? Put eighty one words in a row.

"And rhythm? This is prose to write, not verse."

"Prose too should have rhythm, go with a swing.

"Nine lines of nine words each, structured like Furborg."

"Think Occam. Why make it harder than needs be?"

"But I want both: nine nines are eighty one."

"Then you should have spent your life gaining skills...

"...with words, not dealing with numbers and flow charts."

Story 982

Faded Fabric

by Fliss Zakaszewska

Jason stroked the fabric, its soft cotton familiar under his touch. How old was it now?

Glancing to the other side of the room, Grandma smiled down. He was thirty-five now and she'd made it when he'd been born, his name embroidered on it.

He pulled the patchwork quilt over his sleeping baby. "It's yours now, Jason Junior." He straightened her photo. "You said it'd help me to remember, didn't you?" he whispered, recalling childhood memories. "It does. Miss you, Grandma."

Story 983

Hegel

by Livia Furia

I was half asleep when I heard the bedroom door open and something jumped onto the bed.

"Hegel?"

There was no answer. I felt steps, perfectly measured, crossing the bed from one end to the other.

"Hegel?"

The intruder carefully climbed onto my chest and curled up. She was heavy and cold. She sighed softly when I moved.

I jumped out of bed screaming at the top of my lungs. I had buried Hegel in the garden almost two months ago.

Story 984

A Train Of Shattered Memories

by Sophie Scriven

I saw the lights of the dining cart ahead.

I reached it with a sense of unease, but sat down for my meal. There were a few lone diners who passed smiles of condolence, although why they seemed that way is questionable. The rain had become fiercer and thrashed against the window like a wild animal, attempting to break free from its prison of normality. This trip was definitely a mistake. I checked the clock.

The train had crashed hours ago.

Story 985

The Goldfish

by Alex Fullerton

This morning I found the lonely goldfish resting on the floor.

"What are you doing down here, old chap?"

With a memory lasting three seconds, the creature was no doubt startled to find himself on this rather dry patch of carpet. Some journey, from those placid waters into the living room proper. I scooped the fellow up so as to return him to the bowl.

His scales were so wet and clammy, slipping right through my fingers. Just like last time.

Story 986

Battle Of The Sexes

by Heather Haigh

"I convinced the wife she doesn't need to work," said Don Walker. "I provide the money, she provides for my needs."

"Stella would never agree to that," Mike replied. "Are you sure Judy doesn't mind an unexpected dinner guest?"

"She knows how important this project is to me. She'll rustle something up." Dan opened the door to show his boss in, and froze.

The house was stripped bare. Save for a single book on the floor. Regaining Independence, by Della Walker.

Story 987

Spider Hands

by Cheryl Buck

Do you ever get spider hands?

Do you ever have hands that want to twist and dance and tap?

You can't keep them still no matter how hard you try, so you hold onto something like you're afraid to let go. But you do, almost without noticing, as though you've forgotten, and your hands are dancing again.

Together and apart, on anything they can reach and through the air. Twisting and touching and flexing, never ever still.

I have spider hands.

Story 988

Becoming A Legend

by N. J. Spencer

"I can't believe your husband hiked 485 miles on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. How long did it take him?"

"Thirty-three days."

"Did he enjoy it?"

"He did, except for falling on his face on day three."

"Was he injured?"

"He ended up with a purple face, which surfaced on social media. Later, on three occasions, strangers looked at him and asked, 'Are you Jerry?' Upon finishing, he received a Camino completion certificate and he has now become a legend."

Story 989

To Be Or Not To Be An Item? That Is The Question

by Geoff Holme

"Was that our last night together?"

"You awake?"

"Avoiding the question?"

"Would you want a long-distance relationship?"

"Can't you change your job?"

"Why should I have to?"

"Is your career that important to you?"

"Are you serious?

...

"Will I see you again?"

"Do you want to?"

"Would I ask if I didn't?"

"Can you give me some time?"

"Haven't we wasted enough time?"

"Has this week been wasted?"

"What do you think?"

"Bear with me, OK?"

"I'll have to, won't I?"

Story 990

Killed The Mall

by Ian Buzard

The doors slid open. It briefly amused him that the power was on.

Glass crunched on the tiled floor. Criss-crossing escalators now reduced to rusted stairs.

An entire community derailed and decaying.

The food court triggered his mourning for fries.

This was the only place he could think of. No longer an employee, no longer anything.

He knew the layout; lookout spots, safe rooms, escape routes. 

He stood, bathed in neon.

Someone had spray painted 'One nuke is all it took'.

Story 991

Murder He Wrote

by Roger West

"Do you have to use the hoover in here when I’m writing?"

"Write somewhere else then."

"I always write in the kitchen."

"We have other rooms, write in some other room."

"But I write best when I'm in here."

"So, what are you writing?"

"Turn the hoover off."

"No."

"I'm writing a murder story."

"What are you doing with that bread knife?"

"It's the murder weapon."

"In your story?"

"No, in your kitchen."

"Now turn the hoover off."

"Oh my God."

Story 992

Ugly Bryan

by Elizabeth Stanley

Bryan eyed the mirror. He was ugly and he knew it. No one liked him. Not girls. Not boys. No one.

He pulled his hoody on and slung his rifle over his shoulder. He walked to the door. The sound of groaning met his ears. He took deep breaths and pulled it open.

A hoard of zombies stumbled past. They were headed somewhere, but he didn’t know where.

He lumbered out the door. At least he was the best looking now.

Story 993

Hunter Wanted

by Grannd Kane

Wanted: Hunter to protect the settlements of Orlando, Versin, Gallus, Anvil and East Welwyn. Accommodation and payment provided. Report to East Welwyn Town Hall if interested.

Wanted: Werewolf hunter to protect the settlements of Orlando, Versin, Gallus and Anvil. Accommodation and payment provided. Report to Anvil Town Hall if capable.

Wanted: Hunter of werewolves to protect the settlements of Orlando, Versin and Gallus. Accommodation and payment provided. Report to Gallus Town Hall if capable. Hunters who are werewolves need not apply.

Story 994

The Tribologist

by Susanne Berger

I spent all my life researching the science of friction, lubrication and wear, but remained oblivious to the amount of interpersonal tribology that is happening all around me.

She's attractive alright – kind, supportive and very smart – but I cannot conceive what a woman could possibly see in me; a middle-aged workaholic whose hair is thinning and who is putting on weight round the middle.

If I had anything a woman could possibly want, how come I am still single at 48?

Story 995

In A Pinch

by Jaimen Shires

Frank keeps a large bag of peanuts beside the door.

Every night, before he goes out, he pulls a single shell from the bag and cracks it open. If it breaks cleanly like an eyeglass case, revealing two protein pills, he downs the medicine and lets the night take him wherever it will. If the break is rough or difficult, or if a peanut shoots across the room and is lost, he remains cautious and indoors.

The nut case knows all.

Story 996

Of Men & Lobsters

by Jessica Kirby

"But, what about the lobsters?"

No one had ever asked me that before. I thought I'd covered everything. Cuisine based questions made a change.

I remember the men feasting on lobsters with butter, washing them down with champagne until their cheeks turned red.

Two hours and forty minutes later, I floated away on a lifeboat in a sea of frozen bodies.

In the early hours of April 15th, the Titanic sank, and I guess the men went down with the lobsters.

Story 997

Venom

by Charlotte Ella Read

I don’t get angry,

It's not like me.

 

I don't raise my voice,

Don't lash out.

 

But sometimes,

My dear, sometimes my thoughts can scare.

 

My brain is venomous,

Poison drips from my lips,

And hostility bleeds from my fingertips.

 

I'm small, delicate,

Use soft touches, kind words.

But I can manipulate your thoughts,

Strike where it hurts.

 

My hands may not make you bleed,

But the ideas that I feed to your soul,

Will rot you from the inside out.

Story 998

Love Or Limerick

by CJ Nicol

Once, there was a man who spoke only in limerick.

Every morning, he would wake and say:

"Good morning, to the birds and the bees,

"Likewise, to the insects, the flowers and the trees,

"Blessed be I who wakes by sun or fine rainy mist,

"If only I had a lady, by whom I may be kissed,

"Perhaps, if I asked them nicely, please?”

Needless to say, he wasn't very good at making limericks; he died at eighty-three, lonesome and misunderstood.

Story 999

She Who Laughs Last Laughs Best

by Becky Benishek

My father invited the witch on purpose, but she cursed me anyway, before she'd even reached my cradle.

"A laugh that would end the world." Some prophecy that is. Wouldn't that kill her, too?

But life wasn't her aim, rather the ending of it, this world that abused her.

Being forbidden joy and delight abused me, too.

Was she the making of me, or were they?

They demand gratitude for letting me live. But life is no longer my aim, either.

Story 1,000

When Does Enough Become Enough?

by Anna Capstick

When does enough become enough? When the eyes which once sparkled are flooded with rain? When your inner lifeguard turns his back and leaves you drowning in your worries? Or when you begin to disintegrate under the merciless words which tear you apart?

Perhaps when the passion which once drove you burns out, or when you wither away at the thought of fighting that same battle continuously, or when staying silent becomes the easier option.

Maybe that's when enough becomes enough.

 

End Of Page Note

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

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Phil T
Thanks for adding my story, Chris (902). I look forward to the book when the 1000 mark is reached. Phil.

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

Rosie A
Hi Chris, thanks so much for including my story (903). Not far off that 1000 mark now, I can't wait to see the book when it's published. Rosie.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Rosie, thanks for submitting :-)

Emma N
Hi Chris, thank you so much for including my story in your challenge. I really appreciate it and can't wait to read the finished book.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Emma. Thank you for submitting - very much appreciated :-)

Catrin R
Thank you so much for publishing my work, I am enjoying reading the stories.

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

Colleen H
I felt quite thrilled that you included my story (936), Chris.  Thank you so much, and I eagerly await the finished book.

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

Duane L H
In my fifty years of writing (and being published), I've avoided prompts and challenges (unless assigned in a class), but lately, retired and confined as we all are, I have begun to participate. I find the word limits the most interesting challenges. What words are absolutely necessary, or not, to tell the story? That has begun to intrigue me. And the possibility of seeing the words posted is its own reward.

Thank you, dlh...

Chris Fielden
You're welcome, Duane. Thank you for participating :-)

Brian M
Thank you Chris for including my story in the 81 word challenge. I would welcome a relationship with someone who has a particular interest in helping a Drabble writer.

Thanking you, Brian M

Chris Fielden
No problem, Brian. Thank you very much for submitting :-)

Ian B
Thanks Chris, this is a great challenge.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Ian. Thanks for submitting :-)

Becky B
Thank you so much for including my story (#999) in this awesome collection. What a delightful challenge. I'm excited for the anthology!

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