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. Watch out for another online publication from this event coming very soon. For now, please enjoy reading 13 short stories in less than ten minutes.
Shelter by Bechaela Walker
My mother gathered the six of us round her and said that, should the sirens sound, we would pray for a direct hit. She would stab the survivors to death with her best kitchen knife. On buses, she had the sensation of moving down the wrong side of the road. The food, she said, was unseasoned and dry, the meat tasting of animals that had never eaten a bug or a blade of grass. Even the earth tasted of something she was unable to name. All the others, she said, would die slow painful deaths in cellars, in thrall to their benevolent leader to the end.
Murphy’s Law by Mark Jackson
My wife always talked to the cat, but it’s escalated recently, as she’s started
replying to his imagined response.
“How’s my little Murphy today?” she’d ask, then answer in his voice
saying ‘I’m ok thanks, mum’”.
When I called downstairs to tell her he was stuck on the top shelf of the wardrobe, she
shouted, “Try and coax him down!”.
I asked her how the hell was I supposed to do that?
“Tell him the fire’s on in the front room”, she said.
I told her I wasn’t doing it and he jumped down himself in the end.
Then went to sleep, in front of the fire.
Opposites by Colette Hannigan
Streetlamps glow eerily in the darkness of a winter evening. You stand outside the magnificent iron-gates, and you wait, like Dorothy in the land of Oz, for them to be opened.
Your body registers your annoyance. He doesn’t even need to see your face to know how you feel.
He undoes the chain and pulls open one gate. He says coldly, Come in. Such a greeting does nothing to dampen the storm, gathering within you all day. You glare in his direction, eyes flashing. You growl some sort of greeting and he responds likewise. Now you make your way through the blackness, still holding your dignity close.
Compass Rose – Navigating By Words by Iain Mackenzie
North – 0 degrees
North by east
North north east
North east by north
North east by east
East north east
East by north
East – 90 degrees
East by south
East south east
South east by east
South east by south
South south east
South by east
South – 180 degrees
South by west
South south west
South west by south
South west by west
West south west
West by south
West – 270 degrees
West by north
West north west
North west by west
North west by north
North north west
North by west
North – 360 or 0 degrees
On the 15th Anniversary of My Abuelita’s Passing by Laura Givens
We are all yelling at my aunt, my grandmother’s sister. She is 92 and has lost her hearing aids again.
She looks annoyed because we keep interrupting her. She’s trying to tell us about the time our grandfather, very drunk, made a pass at her. She grabbed our grandmother’s favorite statue of the Virgin, and hit abuelo so hard across his cheek that he couldn’t eat out of the left side of his mouth for almost three weeks.
My Spanish is the worst, but I manage to call my grandfather a “cabrón.”
I don’t catch exactly what my aunt says next, but I reply
“Yeah, fuck him.”
In Spirals by Dom Howell
They were sat next to each other near the top of the hill. Below them were tents, stages and the colours of the circus. They were waiting for it to happen. A large shadowy triangle swept over the grey clouds then cut through them. Their foreheads and upper lips had started to sweat. They raised their arms up and watched as their fingers and hands turned into crawling honey bees that flew away in spirals making an almighty lawn-strimmer buzz. The bees, thick and black, made the shape of a trumpet. A human ear. And all things round about this patch of land heard the same beat.
Spring in winter by Ebba Strutzenbladh
Isla sits on the frozen lake, ignoring the suitcase in the car. Her grandmother twists her silk scarf between her fingers.
‘There’s no time, Isla, ’ May calls. ‘I have to go. Kiss me. Please.’
Winter overturned their summer lake. The rock-hard bottom rose to the surface and where the bottom used to be, Isla believes, is a baby blue sky.
‘Grandma. Italy’s far.’
‘You love-love Ms. Bianca?’
May’s heels click against the ice. She kneels by Isla. ‘You don’t know the years like I do, baby. They run out.’
It’s as though the lake will open and swallow them. It doesn’t.
That’s The Thing With Nature by James A. Crane
When I saw the old man, crying, I expected to be told that he’d been widowed, or heartbroken in some way. When a person gets to that age you assume they’ve experienced everything the world can throw at them. There was no evidence that he’d been subjected to physical punishment, and I put that in my report.
Back in my reading days I saw a quote that said nothing is really new, and each chapter of life is merely an instance of history repeating itself. But nobody I spoke to that afternoon had conceived of anything like this before. We hadn’t realised it was just the start.
Flatiron by Angela Arcese
The sun was going down, the world going gray. Outside Starbucks, on the sidewalk, sat a woman, maybe thirty-five, in a suit, with a skirt, green I think, heels high, her thighs showing white, her face stained with rivulets of black. In her phone she screamed: “You can’t do this to me!”
People parted around her, lips curled in distaste. I imagined her later, trying to get home.
I approached her and knelt. “Hey. Are you going to be okay? Are you safe?”
“You’re the only person who’s asked me that,” she said.
The problem with me is I’m proud. When I help someone, I congratulate myself.
The Family by Guy Baillie-Grohman
I glanced up the staircase, the heavy red carpet absorbed the sounds of clinking glasses and peeling laughter flowing from the drawing room. I advanced a few steps, the dark eyes of portraits judged my dirty white trainers. Who were they to judge, the blood soaked sugar barons.
I reached the landing, lowered my rucksack and withdrew the spray-paint. Sack the kitchen-porter and your ancestors are going to pay.
Then she descended. The Countess of Waverly. I hadn’t met her before. She smiled at me, her eyes reflecting the deep emerald green of her necklace.
I was in love. They still had hold of me.
Scratching – Marian V Jones
A scratching above. We think birds, or rats. Our neighbour scales the adjoining wall like Spiderman. He finds holes and fills them with concrete and steel wool. But, two days later the scratching sounds return. We fear an army will scratch through the ceiling whilst we sleep. Our neighbours’ weapon of choice is their corn snake, but Elio feeds less frequently than the army multiplies. We talk about poison but worry about the morality of chemical weapons. In the end we go for expediency and deploy our cats. Their terrifying yowls, and the sound of a thousand scuttling feet keeps us awake thinking. What have we done.
The List by Gemma Elliott
She had to volunteer somewhere to assuage her guilt and the dog shelter seemed like the least traumatic choice – other options included a cancer ward and a homeless shelter – because they promised not to put dogs down if they didn’t have to. But the place wasn’t like the ones you see on TV adverts. The first dog she walked was Freud. Was he always called that? No, the names are from The List. She was shown a whiteboard with dozens of unclaimed names – Potato, Zeus, Linda, Petunia, Tank. They’re randomly generated by The Site. What happens when you run out of names? Then they have to go.
The Sabbath by Joey Simons
I swore I’d never work a Saturday. But I’d been a great disappointment to my employers, and redemption called. As I exited Kilmarnock station, a bitter wind whipped the loose page of a book past my face. I ignored it and began hauling my weary body up Hill Street. But then another page appeared, then another. I turned the corner to where the HALO project had arisen on Johnnie Walker’s grave: a thousand pages danced shamefacedly in the wind. Underfoot, a title page was plastered to the pavement: The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. ‘The Seventh Day is holy indeed,’ I thought, and turned back home.
Thanks to all the writers who allowed us to publish their work here, and to all the writers who read on the night. Watch out for Part Three, coming soon. If you’d like to participate in our writing groups and events, check out the details of our forthcoming Spring classes.
Thanks for reading.