Welcome to the eighth annual 101 Word Fiction Contest. We enjoyed reading the nearly 100 entries submitted by readers. We chose the 13 submissions you see here by removing the author’s name from each entry, creating a blind rating process for the three editors who then assigned a rating between one and five to each entry. Entries here scored 10 or more. We only learned the winning identities after tallying the scores, which is why you’ll see some writers appear more than once in the winners list. As always, we wish we could have printed more.
So with that, please read and enjoy this year’s winners and runners-up in our 101-word fiction contest. And a big thank you to these creative writers for sharing their work with all of us.
Keep Colorado, Colorado
by Matthew Trujillo
Pre-COVID and we’re in the hallway chatting. The nurse speaks. From our conversation, it appears she has been a lifelong resident of the state. Good for her. I ask her about my sister’s condition and she tells me that we have to keep Colorado, Colorado. Whatever that means, I think she’s referring to people moving here. I’m going to use profanity and say that I’m conservative too, when it comes to my money. Again, same rhetoric, we have to keep Colorado, Colorado. Yes ma’am, I understand where you’re from, I’m Navajo, how do you think my ancestors feel?
by Brianna Suazo
They’ve been dating for two hours and he hasn’t noticed the blood dripping from her knee, even as she bends down to pick up her neon green golf ball. It takes too long for him to realize that no matter where she was bleeding, he hadn’t looked at her directly since they first met.
So she tests the theory. As he lined up the putt, she gently touched the wound, smeared the blood on his left cheek, then started the timer on her phone.
At 17 minutes, 22 seconds, he says she has some lipstick on her face.
by Chris Norris
A man opens a gray door in the wall. A door among many others. He pulls a stainless steel looking table out of the wall, and there’s Ashley. My love. I can not support it.
Do I see his blue hand shaking, faintly? I look away, imagining Ashley’s hand touching mine. I turn to the attendant, his eyes wide above his mask, looking at Ashley. I watch her as she slowly straightens up. I’m crazy; I dream. Ashley’s legs dangle off the side of the steel table and her feet touch the linoleum.
by Hannah Grip
My daughter won’t talk to me. It’s been 15 weeks since she answered my Sunday afternoon calls.
Sunday afternoon now, I sit on my bed and look across the room at a jar on my dresser. I get up and shake it, briefly believing the phone is going to ring.
Her baby teeth clack against the glass. The telephone does not ring. I take the potty to the bathroom and empty my teeth. They do six quick plinks on the water. I press the handle and they are gone.
Then the phone rings. I slide to answer, think about the teeth and hang up.
by Greg Halbreich
His hands are on my body now, even though I don’t want them there. He breathless, desperately suffocated, torn between pleading and demanding. Tirelessly. And so I give in. After all, he’s just a child.
by Kate Jonuska
The spirits traveled like devils of dust, bodies dissolved in grains fine enough to mix with the sand. The four met among the monuments: a man clad in black northern leather; an eastern woman draped in white cotton and strands of shell beads; a boy in a turquoise swimsuit with southern turquoise eyes; and a girl in a western sundress, shaking sand from her yellow hair. Clasping their hands, the spirits became a whirlwind of four colors as they danced the dunes into new shapes and polished the rock monuments they had danced centuries before.
They said it would happen
by BR Holland
The first bronze light of the morning seeps through the broken zipper of the tent that has been your home for over three years. It brightens up your grimy sleeping bag that has a crispy cool frost on it. The cans are empty. The vodka bottles are empty. The cigarette packs are empty. Your pockets, your hopes and your dreams are empty. The only memories that play are loss and regret. The only desires are for alcohol and nicotine. Unsure when or why or where it started, or how it will end, only that they said it would happen.
Back at home
by Daniel Martinez
“You can’t go home anymore.”
Or so they say.
Alejandro peeked into the old condemned canteen. He had fond memories of the Saturday night dances there. Despite being just a teenager, Alejandro was allowed to attend – to drink a soda – and sit quietly on the sidelines. Mum and dad have come alive nicely after their many jobs and even the little old aunts made sure to primp – hoping someone would ask them to dance – their spouses are long gone.
Now the wind dances over the creaking floor, ghostly figures dance on the walls and there is a singing scent of roses in the air.
by Devon Nelson
Charlie and I knew the water was cursed, more or less. Rumors flew like flies around town. Always, “Watch out for the lake, boys” and “Better stay dry!” Of course, we never listened. We were too busy throwing pennies at death and faking exorcisms with the Church’s holy water.
After a bit of planning, on the last night of summer, we stole my grandfather’s boat to go “fishing”. Who knows what we thought we’d find, but Chuck got his hands dirty. Maybe to impress me, maybe as a challenge. Anyway, the last thing I saw was the whites of his eyes.
by Brianna Suazo
At least once a week, my little cousin drops out of class and comes to my work. She doesn’t recognize me. My mother and hers had a fight when she was very young.
I call her Slurpees and snacks, sometimes “forgetting” to call a candy bar or two. I watch her read her library books on the sidewalk and make sure the crackpots stay away from her. Every once in a while, I compliment her makeup, and she looks down and quietly thanks me.
I think she likes me better as a cashier than she ever would as a cousin.
What Twenty Dollars Get
by Chris Norris
I see Mikey walking towards me. I remember last night, if we had clashes… Nothing appears. So we say things to each other by adorning ourselves from front to back.
It’s always like that with Mikey.
“Can I borrow $20?” I will bring you back tonight.
I am amazed. But maybe every night is a blackout for him. He doesn’t remember the nights – “never”, I was told.
I’m considering that Mikey won’t have the money tonight, probably not tomorrow or the next day, that I’m unlikely to see him for several days at least.
by Greg Halbriech
In Washington State, there is an area called the Scablands. A geological wonder. The ground is torn and wavy. Stone cliffs rise from the pockmarked and fiery surface. The colors here are dull browns and deep, conflicting reds.
When I walk into the hospital room and see the scarred landscape of my daughter’s arms, all I can think to say is, “They thought the Scablands formed over thousands of years. ‘years. Erosion. Changes over time. But they weren’t. They formed when a glacier broke, a lake emptied, and water rushed hundreds of miles toward the Pacific.
by Barbra Cohn
After a grueling trek through the Himalayas, we woke up to birdsong floating through the air with my condensed breath. I needed chai, but the dining room didn’t open for hours. We walked up the road to catch a glimpse of Kangchenjunga before he disappeared behind the mist. I was surprised by a woman walking up a tree whose back was parallel to the ground due to the weight of the leafy branches. She disappeared into the forest as the rising sun illuminated the mountain. We remained silent, meditating on its greatness, marveling at its majesty, gazing at the face of God.