Your 23-word stories

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Recently, we thought we’d inject some creativity into our community’s week with a simple tiny fiction challenge.

There were only two rules – the first that it had to contain no more than 23 words. And the second, that it must be inspired by the picture above. 

We received almost two thousand stories (definitely jumbo-sized) in the space of a few days – thanks to all who submitted something. There’s a selection of our favourites below (and if you enjoy fun creative challenges, you’ll love MOJO MONTH – starting 1 August).

Happy reading!


Ask her to leave,' I whisper.
‘It's technically still the inspection window.'
‘She's knocking everything over.'
‘She's making sure there is enough room.'
– Ellana Costa

I wonder how it will be before they acknowledge I’m here? She thought, fully aware of the irony of her situation.
– James Farish-Carradice

Gertrude the elephant had finally moved out of her parent's home and into her own lavish, inner-city apartment. Truly a big step.
– Glen Donaldson

The lease said ‘No Pets Allowed.' The inspection is in two hours. I stare at the litter tray, it's going to be close.
– Axel Francis

I knew I wouldn't be able to get my arse into that tiny chair… damn diets don't work. The lounge it is then…
– Rebecca Waples

If an elephant is in a room and nobody is there to see it, does the elephant exist or is it still invisible?
– Chris Marcic

Did you… cheat?” I look down, away from him.
The room shudders as Elephant brings us popcorn and peanuts. “Did I miss anything?”
– Riley Cross

Cashed up.
Drunk.
Surfing the web.
This is something I can't live without.
The morning after, many regrets.
Prompt delivery, but no returns.
– Matthew Gregory

“I said I wanted to look elegant genie. Not like an elephant!”
“Sorry Steg, my bad! Now what was your third wish?”
– Bridget Haug

“I thought working from home would be easier than this. I just don’t know who to trust anymore!”
– Darren Moroney

“But you said you wanted a pachyderm!”
“I meant a rhino, Flora! Not an elephant! Honestly, it's like you don't even know me!”
– Dave Evan-Watkins

In his deepest being, Johan yearned for the wide, undulating savannah. “I’m tired of working from home,” he thought, wistfully.
– Mary Claffey

“Shouldn't we talk about it?” she asked, picking up the chair.
“What?”
“Seriously?” she sighed.
– Steve Sloat

The author stared at another picture of an elephant inside and came up with 143,296 captions. But not a single story.
– Michael Burns

I’m not a bull. This isn’t a china shop. I’m going to have lots of fun. Is that beer I see?
– Anthea Adams

‘Can we talk about the elephant in the room?’
‘It’s a lockdown beard, I’m not keeping it.’
She pointed behind me; I froze.
– Matthew Wilson

The exterminator pulled the used trap from her bag and tossed the stunned mouse toward the interloper's feet, solving one problem, initiating another.
– James Earl

Auction sale, three bedroom house with north aspect, polished floors and high ceilings, double garage, with internal access, two bathrooms. Near Taronga park.
– Georgina Chaseling

Awkward glance, lingering stare, I see you, I know you're aware. Sinking stomach, spinning head, I'd say hello but it's not fair.
– Harvey Watson

A noise in the lounge. I go in. A chair is knocked over. Some beers drunk. What am I missing?
– David Rawet

Mary wanted a new vacuum cleaner; John needed a garden hose. Seemed like a cost saving investment. Kill two birds with one elephant.
– Victoria MacGregor

“Frank, we need to talk about the Human in the enclosure.”
“Give it a break, love. Humans manage to ignore plenty of us.”
– Bianca Millroy

Petrified.
Can't move.
Is it real or am I dreaming? How did it get here?
Wait… I've still got the VR headset on.
– Veronica Farrer

The elephant smiled, rearranged the zookeepers room, threw water around and dusted up the place. Never ignore the elephant in the room.
– Alison Eaton

“I’ve gained a few pounds during isolation. Grazing and not exercising’s taken its toll. My skin’s suffered.”
“You just need a new moisturiser.”
– Sue Mitchell

Crap! Being an idiom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Pass me one of those beers and I’ll be on my way.
– Cherie Mitchell

2020. The zoo's closed. “We have to do our part,” he said. Too late I realised the enormity of my agreement.
– Sue Price

A big fat elephant in my living room! The astonishment was not why but how the hell it came through the small doorway?
– Poonam Chowdhary

The lounge room was smaller than expected.
On days like this, Jumbo the Elephant questioned her decision to become a real estate agent.
– Wayne Murphy

“Elsie! Get your act together and move your bloomin' arse before the visitors come for dinner!”
– Wendy Barrett

If they would just talk to each other, I’d be able to stay on the savannah! But at least there’s something to drink!
– Gael Cresp

For sale: Elephant.
Works for peanuts.
– Jenny Lynch

A lamp askew, a light adrift, a chair tumbled, Detective Elle Phant knew something big had happened, though the victim was not talking.
– Celia Sutterby

The elephant was still there when they woke. They had grown so fond of it that they decided not to discuss it further.
– Gill Ryan

New pet? Just met.
How get? Internet.
In debt? You bet.
Seen vet? Not yet.
Trunk jet? Don't sweat.
You'll regret—
I'M WET!
– Annaleise Byrd

The property agent is staring. Stephanie shuffled uncertainly behind us, knocking another trash can over.
“The ad did say pets are allowed,”
“Well -”
– Kate Masters

In came an elephant. Out ran the dog. I released our mouse. Out ran the elephant. In came the dog. All was well.
– Rainie Zenith

CHILD PRODIGIES: WHERE ARE THEY NOW? – Today’s story, Dumbo: “I was a star. Now I’m making my own IKEA furniture like everyone else.”
– Alf Dean

Let's talk about your mother. She's stayed too long and she's very untidy. You need to put her in a nice old folks' home.
– Elizabeth Bresnahan

Elephants never forget? Ha! We do as we age. And we develop wrinkles. Now, where did I leave my car keys? Not here!
– Jeanette McInnes

Shaynna Blaze was scathing on their design; ‘elephants are very last season.'
– Kerryn Mayne

The exterminator walked into the lounge, took one look, and walked out. ‘Sorry ma’am’, he said. ‘Removing elephants is not my specialty.’
– Chris Botha

“Oh no not again” squealed the three bears. “Last week it was that juvenile tearaway Goldilocks, now an elephant!”
– Gerard Hayes

They think I've escaped again, packed my trunk, run off to the circus.
Au contraire:
I’ve remembered my magic trick: invisibility.
– Eileen McNally

‘I’ll let you and Mark get to know each other – so glad you can come to the wedding.’ She hugged her sister.
– Christina Chisholm

Oh no! In five minutes I have a work meeting. How am I going to explain the elephant in the zoom?
– Helen Hudson

Write a 23 word story about an elephant photograph they said…
As if I didn’t have enough to do.
I did it anyway.
– Terry Malone

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