To celebrate the recent Shortest Day of the Year (21 June 2018), we asked you to write us a story in 21 words or fewer. It simply had to contain the words “short” and “day” in it.
On the day, we received nearly one thousand stories! What follows is a curated “long list” of 42 stories that jumped out at us, made us smile, shocked us or made us think. If your story is here, congratulations. If your story is not here, congratulations also on taking part. (These things are subjective after all!) Watch out for future challenges, and be sure to sign up to our free Furious Fiction competition, where each month you can win $500 with just 500 of your words.
But for now. It’s time to take things 21 words at a time…
She sips at his short black with one. Every day starts the same, with shot of sugar-coated bitterness.
“One more day,” she begged.
“Use it well,” He warned.
She spent it on her phone, then Tweeted, “Life is short.”
My day in short:
FAIL: Wearing dressing gown and slippers all day.
WIN: Wearing dressing gown and slippers all day.
Dad's ring made a short cut across my cheek. Mum glanced at the phone, then resumed cooking. Not today, maybe tomorrow.
She was short of breath as she looked up to the moon. It beckoned, its blueness bright like day. Onward.
Clenching coins in my small hand. What a good day. Chicken flavour selected. “21c short”, the man boomed. My heart sank.
The letter was short, sweet and darkly terrifying. She didn't know who had sent it.
“Let's spend our last day together.”
His phone buzzed. A short message. “It's over.” Hours later he remembered what day it was. He'd forgotten her birthday again.
One day the letter came. He packed his bags, said goodbye to blood and love cut short. War claimed another life.
Sean sighed. He hated being short.
“It's obviously not your day,” said the tall man as cereal fell off the shelf.
Day time dating. Weird. Too much light.
Her short, bitten nails didn't appeal.
I draw my eyes away from her feet.
It was a short platform.
She stood there every day. Numb.
She itched to cross the yellow line.
Fully trusting, husband and wife took turns. She did his. He did hers; not quite as short. It was haircut day.
It was the first day of winter. A taste of frost on our fingertips. Short bursts of pleasure. Her touch, warming.
Pop! The cork whizzed right over my head and hit poor Wendy between the eyes. Another great day to be short.
The day over. Short shallow breaths spinning in darkness. Stomach rolling, hands clenched, screaming cries then laughter. One last ride folks.
Only a short day today.
“Tick tock,” said the clock.
That means the clock must do fewer ticks and fewer tocks.
FOR RENT: One useless husband. Good at heavy lifting. Bad at empathy. Available any day. Short term lease only.
“How was your day?”
“Got up late, went to bed early.”
“Yep. Short day.”
I was allowed to take home a short giraffe for the day. It ate my garden. It will not be back.
“I've got all day” said Mina, watching a naked blonde and her short, also naked, husband explain themselves.
June's day grew short as her life stretched long – crystalised in a wren's high song; its infinitesimal splash in a puddle.
The sun rises and bows in short hurricane blinks on this day, over a large frosty shadow and oh, found my car!
Johnny was a tall man. His wife was quite short. She seemed to need something from the top shelf every day.
He knelt that day, humbly. “Goodbye then.” Eternity drew their eyes into an endless chasm, and the short winter sun beamed.
The day is almost over. She hasn't seen you. She puts the short skirt on as you watch from the wardrobe.
When I visited Mum this morning she remembered me. Just for a few short, magical minutes. It made my day.
Each day I stare into the short black coffee thinking of her, till the last sip and then she is gone.
Ten short, pudgy, fingers? Tick. Ten toes? Tick. Nervously, we wait for the cry. There it is. Relief. Happy birth day.
Golden sun pulses life into the new day. The dew of the short grass glistens, and the posies stretch to wake.
They complained about long days. On another planet, Martians laughed. Earthlings had no idea. The day would soon become very short.
Seetha Nambiar Dodd
Plump. Short. Boring. Every day he felt inferior. Until the curtains opened and the spotlight hit his candy apple red heels.
Such a short but daunting distance, but this is the day she would do it. That corridor, that door, that man …
The day the witch reappeared, Gretel kissed her, crying. The witch became a short, stumpy frog. They married and lived forever.
Childhood dog Toby. Holding mum’s cold hand. Wedding day kiss. Love. First holding Ella. Short gasping breath. I’m about to-
“Don’t mock my short arms! I’ll run faster than you.”
But on race day, neither T-Rex or Triceratops outran the asteroid.
This wasn’t a day for long explanations. Her story was a short one told in response to a single question.
Everyone in his family was short but this was the day they would all stand tall. Their stilts had finally arrived!
‘You're short today.' He inspected a soul, frowning. ‘They're weak, too.'
I trembled, eyes downcast.
He sneered. ‘You'll cover the difference.'
Heartbeat. Shallow breath. Machine beeps. Short pause. Slower breath. Calm silence.
Day darkens. Tears fall. Mascara smears. Heart aches. Time stops.
Green Day t-shirt on hallway floor. Short skirt on stairs. Underwear on landing. Mum opens bedroom door. Legs akimbo: Chloe's Barbie.
I'll make it short. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. I’m bored. Mars sucks.