Last week, we asked you to come up with a story that was exactly 29 words in length. No more, no fewer. But that wasn’t all. We also wanted the first and last word to be the same. And finally, we wanted this story to take us somewhere, somehow, by including the names of two countries (yes, sorry, countries – not cities, not states). Nearly a thousand submissions later (!!!), we thank you for your stories – and thought we’d share a small selection of our favourites with you.
Sirens’ calls lured her to Peru, whispering of big money making opportunities. Desperate to return to Mexico, she ventured on, pausing only for the familiar red and blue sirens.
Small though it was, the bird’s tiny heart had carried it from Australia to Russia. Had the child in detention realised this, her world would have felt less small.
Seductive prose by Dinesen and Hemingway lured them here from England and France. Now those books are fly swatters and fans. In print, Africa had been far more seductive.
Over. Batsman takes guard. Crowd hushes, expectant. Slipsmen crouch. A red cannonball smashes stumps awry. The enemy is routed. England all out. Victory to Australia. Game and battle over.
He left Australia, headed for Thailand. He was nervous as he waited at the rundown hospital, but excited that when she got home she was no longer a he.
Trapped under six kilograms of child. Memories of freedom (cheese in France, tea in Taiwan, carbs in Ireland, wine everywhere) interrupted by a sleepy smile, returned indulgently. Happily trapped.
It won’t happen. France to Germany on bicycles? He’s nuts. Deluded. “Bikes are outside,” he says. Those eyes. That optimism. “Oh, what the hell,” I say. “Let’s do it.”
After waiting in the cold and rain for twenty nine hours I finally caught a boat from Italy to Greece to meet my love and live happily ever after.
“You should go.”
“Your life is in Australia, not Canada.”
“I’ll never see you again.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Just remember how much I love you.”
You entered the world one month ago today. I laboured in Australia, my mother in Canada, her mother in Denmark. Generations of daughters, our pain, love, awe, in you.
Dinner, that’s how it began. A restaurant in Australia, serving delicious fare from Italy. Then came marriage and kids. Now I’m driven mad by the question “What’s for dinner?”
Australia twirls to face the day, morning dew settling on its soil.
Britain welcomes the night, drinking in the stars.
Spinning. Days and nights twirling.
Limitless. Endless possibilities. Fly to France for croissant breakfast, then Ecuador to save endangered species. Tick tock, twelve noon, reality. Washing, shopping and…school pick-up. So much to do. Limitless.
I gaze, thinking of summer and you. Australia. Away. Surf and sea. And you.
Outside, rain batters. All Ireland is grey and damp. Surfing? Online. Plane tickets. Shall I?
Anyone could save the world if they wanted. That is why I chose to conquer it. From Japan to Peru, it’s mine. So you see I’m not just anyone.
Philipp M. Kroiss
Love is a wondrous thing.
Italy. Belgium. France.
I’d follow her anywhere.
And for two years, I had.
Soon I may even talk to her.
A wondrous thing, love.
Her pleas meant nothing as the train crossed the line between France and Belgium. Exhausted she succumbed, willing it to be over. ‘My death, my way,’ he reassured her.
“Write about what you know!”
Shona detested that chestnut of writing advice!
She’d never been anywhere exotic, like Djibouti or Belize…
What the eff was she supposed to write?!?!
Stars don’t disappear. They fade in glory, slowly. Yet, one night, Australia noticed the pointers were missing. Then Russia lost Orion’s belt. The world worried. Where were the stars?
Mail, how exciting! From Australia or France? Adorned with calligraphy I noticed it wasn’t for me. Sadly I wrote return to sender and slipped it back in the mail.
Love letters. Yellowed. Mildewed. Tied with ribbon. Postmarked England and France.
I devoured the spidery copperplate in the secondhand store. Passionate declarations of longing…
I Instagrammed them. Hashtag love.
The man was everywhere. Piercing eyes, watching, following her, creepy. Departing Canada would leave him behind. Back in Australia, a fearful chill made her scan the room. What the…?
Kisses in Thailand; first sparks of my tropical fling. He followed me to Australia and I thought it was true love. But he didn’t want me, just my kisses.
J. P. Roquard
Talk, now or never. Twenty-four hours from England to Australia, to white walls, antiseptic, tubes, wires, electronic beeps and the wheezing breath of my shrunken father. We never talk.
“Watch it with your buggy old man!!!”
“Shouldn’t be allowed on footpaths!”
“So I’m thinking Sweden and Norway next holiday.”
“Whaaat’s the matter?”
“Buggy man – he nicked my watch!!”
Finally, Madagascar. It had been my honeymoon destination. Another island, just like Australia. Until that prick left me at the altar. Now I’ve left everyone. I’m here, alone. Finally.
Five looked at Ten.
“How about it?” said Ten.
“We can’t change,” she said, “You’re from USA and I’m from Australia.”
“We need another Five.”
Leaves haunt the footpath like that first autumn together in Canada. I thought he’d warm to the fleeting winters of Australia, but he doesn’t look back when he leaves.
I hide. China is broken on the floor. A mesh of turkey, potato, gravy splattered where his footsteps crunch; close to me now. Silent and safe …or am I?
“Ouch.” I stabbed myself with a paper clip. The travel agent pushed a piece of paper towards me. My planned trip including Peru and Bolivia, and the cost, “Ouch.”
Next. Kate raised the stamp on autopilot. The ink stared up at her. Australia. Closing the passport she noticed the moon and star. Turkey. She sighed. One day. Next.