The man stoops over the lump, brushes at piled sand and stares into a woman’s face, her age indeterminate, arms around a girl-child. With care, he wraps canvas around both as if one, shivers in the heat, and marks the spot with tokens—a cholla flower and broken plastic jug.
Nancy Hartney wrote this story. See more at NancyHartney.com.
She had stolen the seed pod from Kew, years ago, when “borrowing” was still considered acceptable.
Cossetting it, encouraging it, keeping it safe. It took such effort. Gardening was her solace.
He picked the best stems, laid them on the coffin, and then, afterwards, poured bleach carefully over her plant.
Janet, who grew up near Detroit, now lives in Edinburgh and works for the newest Scottish university. She is a rubbish gardener.
I’d go down to the beach every day and watch him treading water, only his head visible. I didn’t know him. My name for him was Head.
When the doorbell rang, I recognised him at once. “How did you know where to find me?”
“I’ve been watching you,” he said.
David Mark Williams lives in Scotland and writes poetry and short fiction. He has published two poetry collections to date, The Odd Sock Exchange and Papaya Fantasia. See more at davidmarkwilliams.co.uk.
Saw my first tree today. So beautiful! Even better than the picture.
The museum guy said that in olden days the whole planet was covered in trees! I couldn’t imagine that.
Put my name down for the draw for tickets to see a mammal next year. Hoping for a rabbit.
Mick Mangan lives in England and writes plays, poems, songs, fiction, and non-fiction. There is more about his music at mickmangan.com.
I love taking a look back at the amazing work that landed at 50WS throughout the past year. It’s time to deliberate over the winner of the 2018 Story of the Year!
Here are the 12 Story of the Month winners for 2018.
JANUARY: Roommate From Hell by Sarah Krenicki
FEBRUARY: Gospel by Beverly C. Lucey
MARCH: Sidewalks by Arlene Antoinette
APRIL: The Night the News Came by Bob Thurber
MAY: The Art of Disappearing by Patrick Mc Loughlin
JUNE: Dependency by Carrie Backer
JULY: Another Misadventure of the Broken Boys by Bob Thurber
AUGUST: Pizza Night by Maura Yzmore
SEPTEMBER: The Summer of Sweet Mary (circa 1972) by Bob Thurber
OCTOBER: Understanding by Katherine DeGilio
NOVEMBER: Archived News Clipping (Filed Under Irony) by Jo Withers
DECEMBER: The last time I saw my brother by Guy Preston
The winner, as chosen by editor Tim Sevenhuysen, will be announced on Sunday, January 20!
The prize for the Story of the Year winner is:
- $50 (Canadian)
- Enshrinement in the 50WS Hall of Fame
Let everyone know your favourite story in the comments!
Throwback: In 2015, Bob Thurber won the Story of the Year award with his piece The Mapmaker’s Calligraphist Daughter. In 2016, Guy Preston took the prize with One Job Away From Retirement. The 2017 winner was Jennifer L. Freed, for Aunt Peg. In 2018, Constellations by Jonathan Kosik won the award.
The story of the week for January 7 to 11 is…
For Karen, from Seward, Alaska by Cinthia Ritchie
I kissed you on the mouth, lips desperate and soft. You married a white guy, had two kids.
I stole a man’s dog, ran away to Alaska.
The man followed but the dog died.
Evenings I walk the beach, wind bleeding my lips.
I haven’t thought of you in years.
Cinthia Ritchie is an Alaska writer, ultra-runner, and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Find her work at New York Times Magazine, Evening Street Review, Sport Literate, Rattle, Best American Sports Writing, Mary, Into the Void, Clementine Unbound, Deaf Poets Society, Forgotten Women anthology, Nasty Women anthology, Gyroscope Review, Bosque Literary Journal and others. She’s a 2013 Best American Essay notable mention, and her first novel, “Dolls Behaving Badly,” was published by Hachette Book Group.
Have you seen my left eye? I’ve misplaced it.
In 5th grade, my teacher told me to keep my eye on my paper.
So I plucked it out and kept it on my paper.
Don’t worry. It doesn’t hurt. It’s more of an inconvenience.
I found it.
LC Treeheart has survived two super typhoons and paddled outrigger canoes in the ocean. She lives with her wife, Lizzy, in Oregon. They share their home with two extraordinary dogs, Pakpak and Mozart, and their grand piano, Francesca.
He plunged the knife into his chest, carved a circle through the muscle and bone, and withdrew his heart. He placed it in a box and neatly wrapped it.
The day before she left, he presented her the gift, to carry with her to the other end of the world.
Francisco Tutella is a public relations specialist at Penn State University. His work has appeared in Fifty-Word Stories and Wilkes magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. Like him on Facebook.
We were pressed against the back wall behind a tangle of dresses and hangers, the Boone’s Farm in our stomachs rising against the reek of moth balls. Blue and red flashing lights stabbed under the bifold doors, licking my guilty socks.
She took my hand, and suddenly nothing else mattered.
Chip Houser’s short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, Every Day Fiction, and elsewhere. He’s a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, has an MFA in Creative Writing from UMSL, and thinks cedar is the better option for closets.