Our event ‘107 word short story’ took place on Thursday 24th March 2022. It brought together 36 writers who read stories of exactly 107 words in length. It was an intriguing task with no set theme or guidelines other than the length. What could be done in such a short form? What narrative structures might emerge? How would writers work with characterisation, voice, detail, setting? And what stories would they tell?
Below are some examples of what was read on the night. This is part three of three, our last publication from the event. So finally, please enjoy reading 15 short stories in less than ten minutes.
This and That by Orla Owen
You said you didn’t like it when I did this, so I said I didn’t like it when you did that.
“Tit for tat.” you sneered.
“No. It’s true,” I replied.
Or should I say lied because to be honest I didn’t mind it so much when you did that, it was more the other thing that wound me up most of all.
Gone were the gazes across the breakfast table, the love of being together, excitement at the day ahead. Would it ever come back? I took a big bite of my toast and butter and strawberry jam. You put your hands over your ears. Twat.
If I were a Beatle by David Aitken
If I could have been anyone in the Beatles…
I might have been Paul.
Hot-blooded, fingers pulsing with melody, full of optimism and brotherly love.
Or perhaps John.
Brooding, erratic and devilish, a fuse wire, primed.
Or then there’s George.
Private, impatient, insecure, yet poised and in control.
Or maybe Ringo.
Always ready, never stressed, impenetrable monkish transcendence.
But if I had been a Beatle, I would never have been able to step back and drink it all in.
So, I would have been Mal.
Bringing them cups of tea, humphing amps, chipping in the odd lyric suggestion and hitting that anvil with all my brawny might.
Happy Rents by Ross Crawford
We stare at the form, share a look, then stare again.
I/We would make our landlord happy because…
An empty box squats below, demanding to be filled, the asterisk indicating it’s essential.
‘What the fuck?’ I say and your face expresses the same. We discuss what to write and rail against the why.
‘Just write something, anything.’
We think like one of them and arrive at:
We’ll try to pay our rent on time to the best of our ability.
‘That’ll have to do.’
Reaching the end of the form, we’re unsurprised to find no equivalent commitment to make us happy. After all, that’s not their business.
Books by Trahearne Falvey
They shrank with attention spans. Survival, shrugged the publishers, churning out volumes the size of postcards, then belt buckles, then fingernails; until they could be ground up and dissolved in water, until they could float, thoughtlessly, through the snoring nostrils of sleepers.
At this point the language, feeling close to extinction, gathered in the air and got organised, made itself mean too much: a now stood for apple but also amphitheatrical, and bioluminescence, because it decided it could, while b was everything, everywhere, a swarm that made the presses stutter and shut.
Survival, the words sang, shimmering together like a hummingbird’s tongue, a moth’s whisper, a virus.
That only happens to other people by David Cameron Young
It was everywhere in the news, but Liam was unprepared for the e-mail he opened on Saturday morning. He no longer had a job. If there was anything in his desk drawer that he wanted to collect, he should simply reply. It would be waiting in reception for him, along with his termination of employment notice.
Christine was out shopping, so he couldn’t tell her. He just sat and stared
at the screen. His mind raced. What about the holiday he had booked for July? Could he cancel, and would he get his money back?
He began looking, then he heard Christine’s key in the front door.
Stripped by Sally Dawson
He hadn’t offered them a drink yesterday. And he’d bumped into them in the corridor, as he fetched himself lunch. His usual awkwardness; he prefaced every exchange with a mumbled apology, careful not to make eye contact. He’d been grateful for his en-suite bathroom so he didn’t have to share a toilet. Still, it was only a matter of time before they’d be painting that too.
After they’d left, he’d stepped into her old room. Giant black bags sat stuffed with stripped curls of that wallpaper. The walls were now blank, finally peaceful. The room held a summer evening chill. Almost every trace of her gone.
Pulp by Ebba Strutzenbladh
On tiptoe, she pulls the knife stand towards the edge of the kitchen counter. The blade mustn’t touch her; there’s no one to call during Mummy’s meeting. Orange pulp soon fills the space between her fingers.
Grandpa is wheelchair-sleeping as she carries the tray to him. His face is covered in unprotected time, scarring her eyes. No, wait. It’s the pulp stinging. She rubs and rubs. Eyes bleeding, she sits at his feet without whimpering.
As she sucks her fingers, he wakes and puts his hand on her head. They take turns eating the orange. They mustn’t speak, because, as they know, words make everything too sharp.
Alopecia Barbae by Julie Rea
The beard took him six months to grow. Bushy and black, the same coarse texture as his pubic hair. I pleaded with him to cut it off; it had started to smell, even with the oils he rubbed in daily and rough circular patches began to appear along his jawline. In the bald spots, the skin was itchy and inflamed. It spread to his scalp, and he clawed it violently, like a dog with fleas. He wouldn’t shave it, he said he wanted to be a true representation of himself. I’d started masturbating violently while imagining the fragments of men’s faces that I had glimpsed that day.
The Local Museum by Ian Farnes
He was an exhibit in the local museum and had been for years. Not him per-se, a cardboard cut-out of him as a boy. You had to talk to the woman at the desk in the library before you could go and see the cut-outs.
The other cut-outs were his friends at school, but he had lost touch with them now. Mike was in L.A., maybe, and Debbie was gone forever.
There were other exhibits: a model of the now defunct shipyard, a photograph of the abandoned mining village, but these days you wouldn’t know anything was up there unless you knew to ask for the key.
Dolly by George Smith
Julia Trent’s up in first year. Met her walkin tae school. Turnin fur the secondary, she sais,
‘Johnnie, meet in the pen just after three.’
Julia’s two years above me. lives wae her mammy. Heard Mrs Trent’s bitter livin roon here.
Three Oh three, in the pen. Breathless, drummin ma fing-ers, tappin ma feet.
Smiles breezin up, short sleeved white shirt, brown ae her arms.
They’ve a pen cellar.
‘Kiss me.’ She’s no askin.
‘Again.’ Dae whit Ah’m telt.
Clocks her Timex.
She’s flustered. Ah’m thrown tae the street.
‘Happenin?’ ah whine.
‘First date with a third year, lost track of time.’
Toys by Kieran Pringle
Arthur pressed his eye back to the telescope. There it was, the star Ruchbah, dancing about like a firefly. He lifted his head crunched some numbers. Even rounded down they made no sense. Nothing could move like that.
But three thousand years ago and three thousand light-years away, a being was done. And when Arthur looked again, the star was still once more.
Falling back into the tent with his dog Arcturus, Arthur picked up his Rubik’s cube. Arcturus watched Arthur’s hand’s flurry before putting it down. Arcturus sniffed gingerly at the cube. Unable to perceive any difference in it, he could not even look for one.
Tears on the Tissue by Maggie Reeve
I couldn’t stop yawning. I took a tissue and blotted my eyes. When I removed it, the wet marks left by my tears made my eyes look really wide apart.
Look at this, I said. Look how far apart my eyes are!
Have you been crying? he said.
Of course not, the tears are from yawning.
I looked at the tissue and wondered again why the blots were so far apart.
Then I realised. It was an illusion. The tissue was crumpled up over my nose, so the distance between the blots were further apart than my eyes really are.
Thank goodness, I thought to myself quietly.
Burr by Marian V Jones
The race, the heat of the mountain road. The crash of my bike as it fell. A hazy cottage, three walls and a hanging door. The shade of a Cyprus tree for a roof, where my eyes struggled to adjust, and where half blind I glimpsed a woman ladling out a measure. Sip, she said, and feel. I felt her words flowing down to a beating heart, holding it like a hand cupping the head of a new-born. Pondering later, the smoothness of milk; and how the sun dipped below the peaks, to the bleating of a goat, and the burr of my tyres on the road.
Time Was by James McCrone
There might have been time for it not to begin. “Things you’d never do” becomes the inventory of what you have done. Your nose bleeds? Freebase the cocaine. Lungs sting like they’re full of fiberglass? Inject it. Nothing left to sell? Start pimping your equally strung-out girlfriend. Well, WE need money.
Pimps are supposed to keep an eye on the girls, a boyfriend is supposed to have a care. I had done neither, had been neither, leaving her alone and undefended so I could get high on her money. Junkie logic reduced the terms, but even as the choices diminished, the scope of collateral damage grew.
Spring is Coming by Gemma Elliott
It’s just a pot of dark and wet compost. A pretty decorative pot, terracotta painted yellow with little blue flecks, but that doesn’t hide the failure within. It’s on the front windowsill in the intermittent sun, there for coming on six weeks, and the only change has been a fuzz of mould developing around the wooden lollipop stick – sweet peas 10th February – and the soil has gotten soggier and soggier. Am I overwatering? Do I love too hard and care too much? Oh no actually, there’s something poking through in the centre. A tiny green dot of hope in sad sea of brown. Spring is coming, finally.
Thanks to all the writers who allowed us to publish their work here, and to all the writers who read on the night. If you’d like to participate in our writing groups and events, check out the details of our forthcoming Spring classes.
Thanks for reading.