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 more online publications from this event coming very soon. For now, please enjoy reading 13 short stories in less than ten minutes.
SHEILA G GIVES BJs by Katie Paterson
‘SHEILA G GIVES BJs’.
That’s what the scrunched up note said that landed on his desk while Miss Traynor drew a burning cross on the blackboard with coloured chalk.
He looked over his shoulder at Benny Johnstone – he could tell by the childish not-joined-up handwriting that it was Benny who wrote the note – and they laughed together silently, and then he threw the paper ball at Sheila, who unscrunched the note, took the pencil out her mouth and slipped further down into her chair. The back of her neck was glowing pink.
He looked over at Benny again and they laughed, and he felt terrible.
Insurance by Tom Woodhead
He said: I’ve lost my keys, but don’t worry, man, we’ll claim on the insurance.
He picked up a long pole of deconstructed scaffolding, pulled back awkwardly and tossed it through the glass. We kicked away the shards and clambered through the windowframe; I snagged my thigh—Fuck. Once we were inside I put my finger to my thigh.
I’m bleeding, I said, and I was staring into darkness, but eventually I saw: it was matted in his hair and soaking through his pink shirt and clagging up his beard. It was dripping down his nose to the blue and purple patterns of his parents’ Persian rug.
Winnie and Joe by Wayne Connolly
Old men love their pressure washers, as everybody knows, and Joe loves his more than most. The patio is bone-white, blasted clean three times a year.
Winnie washes her kitchen floor the old fashioned way – on her hands and knees with a wet rag, red knuckles and a red face.
Winnie stands at the sink, wringing out the cloth. Joe’s laid out on the lawn, face down, the pressure washer cable round his ankle. His hip is shattered, his pride worse.
He raises his hand, opens his mouth and calls out.
Winnie waves back, smiling through the window: “What’s he looking for down there, the daft bugger?”
Did you hear about Davie? by David Aitken
— He’s given it all up. He’s either lost his shit, or he’s going to become a monk.
— I’d heard he’d jacked in going to the fitba, what’s it now?
— That was just the start of it. He’s now sworn off all sport, says it’s a ‘meaningless distraction’.
— He’s chucked the bevy, doesnae buy a paper anymore, and he’s become a vegetarian.
— Naw. No more pudding suppers? Daft bastard.
— Want to know the worst of it?
— He’s started running.
— Running? Like, for fun?
— Aye. Fucking queer fish. Here he is now, don’t say anything.
— Hey Davie. Yer looking braw mate.
— Aye, Davie. Remarkable. What a transformation.
Scrabbler by Marie McQuade
Knowing he is alone in his Dublin hospital bed I send him words, fast. Words I hope he will beat.
I play WHIN, with a H – the gorse, not the opposite of lose.
And he squats a Q above my I.
He’s been this bony before, in hospital before, near death before but normally he’s on a ward where he befriends guys more visibly worse off.
The man with the missing throat who he smoked with outside, the guy with one leg who he pushed to the canteen for decent grub.
Never a texter, never a talker but a Scrabbler now, he maybe.
Welly Weather by Ross Crawford
‘It’s gey dreich theday,’ you say, though A see that twinkil in yer een.
‘When’s that ever stoapped us?’
We race each ither tae the backdoor, furgettin in oor excitement tae grab lunch (cheese pieces oan unbuttered Scottish Plain). We pull oan oor wellies: mine bricht reid, yours spreckled wae glitter. A feel the cauld mair than you, sae A wear a thermal vest unner ma wattirproofs.
Then, wur oot intae the rain, feelin impervious. Wattir isnae an obstacle, it’s an invitation. Knee-deip in a burn, powheid huntin. Slungin through sookin mud. Twa-fittit puddle lowps.
We heid hame wae seelie grins, grey hair darkened fae the smirr.
Baa Mee Blues by Loretta Mulholland
I always loved my Thai mother’s egg noodles, but I never knew how to make them before that last Christmas trip home when she bought me a shiny metal noodle maker with rollers and ingredients and gave me a lesson on how to make the most perfect baa mee in the world. She had a secret binding ingredient to stop the concoction from crumbling apart and to give it the finest quality possible, but she couldn’t tell me what it was called. Try telling that to the Customs Officer at Manchester when he opens your rucksack to find a big bag of white powder from Bangkok inside.
Warm Up Act by Shelley Hastings
You let us bunk school that year. We were so young our faces burned with it. Bumming fags in the toilet till the ends were soggy. When the gig was over, we dragged your kit out the stage door like a magic trick, tiny muscles straining, we were your ponytailed roadies, your 3ft gang of thieves, living on fruit pastels and flat coke, eyes watering from tiredness, sugar grainy on our teeth. You would drive home fast, one handed, as we lay in the back of your clapped out Datsun, exhausted, the streetlights flickering through the windows. The sweet smell of your liquorice smoke filling our lungs.
Legacy by Paul Ryan
It had been his life’s work. The only thing he was passionate about, it seemed to us. His private world, off limits to others. It took a while to open the cabinet when it came time to sort through his things. The feeling of sacrilege.
Reaching in to take it out, I don’t recognise it. Everything about it seems unfamiliar. Features I haven’t noticed before and a weight I can’t make sense of.
Turn it over in the light. See it changing colour from different angles. Detailed and elegant from the side, plain and rough viewed end on. Bewitching or grotesque; without him I can’t decide which.
Glacier by Julie Rea
In summer, when I was young, I used to trap bees in empty jam jars and time how long it took for them to die. As they thudded frantically against the glass, I enjoyed watching their panic, their fear.
In high school, a girl had scoliosis and my friends and I would follow her home – jumpers stuffed down our backs – circling her, shouting ‘the bells, the bells’, as she cried and tried to back away. I enjoyed watching her panic, her fear.
But now, how panicked and fearful am I that all those easy cruelties of youth, have cracked and fissured my soul, like a craggy cliff.
A complex grief by Orla Owen
The car in front braked which meant I braked too which meant I came to a stop in the yellow grid, no other place I could go. My neighbour, Bob, he got a ticket for doing that; now I would too. I wanted to punch the driver in the face even though it wasn’t her fault that I’d followed like the stupid fool I was. Expletives. Too many, so venomous. Fuck you fucky McFuckface. Screamed rather than shouted or called. Both girls cried in the back. I didn’t apologise. I felt a fury that their Grandad had died and done this to me. What a nasty bastard.
Dog Head Sunk in Yellow Sand Yellow by Ian Farnes
The underside of the drawers needed painting: he’d wiped off the mould, let them dry, was about to get into it.
Better to paint in a well-ventilated space. He opened the windows. There were no birds singing and the sky was the same weird yellow as earlier. Dog head sunk in yellow sand yellow.
He remembered government information films from when he was a kid, white paint dripping from the brush tip, he was lost in endless winters.
No sound from the street.
Maybe the world would end like this, with him quietly finishing the drawers.
Just like him to be doing work no-one would see.
Santa Ponsa by Gill Davies
He comes in from his work and says, by the way, my mum’s coming to Majorca wae us.
I’m like. No she isnae.
And he gie’s me one of his looks and says, Aye she is. She needs a break.
I know what I’d break. That old bag ruining my holiday? I don’t bloody think so.
So, I goes, fine, you can go with her. I’ll go with the girls.
What girls? he says.
I’m like, I telt you. Kelly and Tammy Lee and her wee sister are booked up for the same week. They’re staying in the hotel over the road from us. Alright?
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 Two, 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.