Hello everyone and welcome to the seventy-fifth month of this competition. There were 41 entries from 19 authors for the theme of ‘a not-so-happy celebration’. NB You can all send in three stories for a better chance of being picked.
Please note: I have decided to cease the competition at the end of this year to free up time for my writing. It’ll have been 76 months in the making and a pleasure but sadly, as December’s prompt is going to be, ‘sometimes good things have to come to an end’. Any prizes won up to/including that point will still be honoured until the end of February 2022 so if you choose the editing option, get those stories written. 🙂
Speaking of which…
One was disqualified for only being 99 words, just for having a word too few. Another ended up being the same for having ‘mean time’ (a bad experience) rather than ‘meantime’ (duration) and another for having ‘good bye’ rather than ‘goodbye’ (https://www.lexico.com/definition/goodbye). Sadly they were all from the same author so missed out this month.
Another dropped a word for ‘well informed’ instead of ‘well informed’ (see ‘observation’ below) and another lost two words for having something ‘out-of-focus’ rather than an ‘out-of-focus something’ for the same reason. And another was 101 words, simply for having a word to many. One story was disqualified for having two single words that should have been two: fairylights (https://www.lexico.com/definition/fairy_lights) and night-nurse (https://www.lexico.com/definition/night_nurse), making the story 102 words.
‘forty three’ was incorrectly unhyphened in another story making it 99 when conjoined. It was my favourite of three submitted which was a shame so one of the other two went through to the judging. Other observations:
- ‘well’ is unhyphenated when used on its own (e.g. they were well known in the industry’) but before a noun it is (e.g. ‘they were well-known singers in the industry’ https://www.lexico.com/definition/well_known).
- its is possessive (e.g. ‘the newer version was shorter than its older one’) whereas it’s is short for ‘it is’. If you can replace the word with ‘it is’ then you need the apostrophe.
- when referring to family, mum/mom and dad should be capitalised when used as a name, e.g. “I know, Mum/Mom.” When used as a ‘job’, e.g. my mum/mom, my dad, my doctor etc. then it should be a small m, d etc. NB. There’s a comma before ‘Mum/Mom’ here because when you’re writing someone’s name – and a nickname or term of endearment counts as a name – when another character is speaking to them, you’d need a comma before the name, i.e. ‘Do you know Sam?’ is asking if the person knows someone called Sam. ‘Do you know, Sam?’ means that the character is speaking to someone called Sam but asking them if they know something. A subtle difference but you want to avoid confusing the reader so they jump out of the story.
The winning stories are ones that I reacted most favourably to. They were clever, surprising, eek-making (in a good way), or gave me a warm fuzzy feeling (without being sickly). Sometimes a story beats another because it has a stronger link to the theme so it’s worth writing a story to the theme rather than tweaking a story you already have to loosely fit it. Alternatively there may have been several stories on with same topic so I chose my favourite of those. With any competition, much rests upon the judge’s preference and it’s usually ones than garner a stronger (positive) reaction that do the best.
You may have chosen a different order or indeed not placed one or more of them so if you entered and didn’t find your story / stories here, don’t lose heart. You probably only just missed out so do enter new stories this month*, next month, whenever you like (but not in advance!). It’s an ongoing competition and free, so you could win at any time. There were new and familiar names this month so anyone could win… it’s all dependent upon whether your story grabs me, for whatever reason (whether it be clever, funny, unusual, quirky, or sweet).
Apart from the top three and highly commended, there are some ‘Honourable Mentions’. They don’t win anything but they were so close to being Highly Commended that I wanted them to know how close they came. It’s still something for them to put on their CVs.
*The theme for December – the last chance to enter this competition! – is ‘sometimes good things have to come to an end’ and you can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Saturday 31st December. Details and entry forms on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/100-word-free-monthly-competition. So without further ado, below are the successful entries this month.
Julia Ruth Smith with ‘Things to Throw on the Bonfire at the Closing of the Year’
Things are unwieldy; they weigh heavy on a shattered year. I create a base of delusion in the garden, small, insidious, slow burning. Then poems, rice-paper thin, see-through sentiments that stick; three desires soaked in doubt, a custom at year’s end; photos of lukewarm smiles on autumn beaches, a merriness around mid-summer, yellow wildflowers wilting underfoot, friendship that didn’t quite make the grade, panic-stricken days when we were more words than sense, a damning touch to my spine, a weakening; a surprise rekindling. Months are dry sticks, twelve broken bones; exuberant wine fizzes through gelid veins. Let it all burn.
Sue Massey with ‘(Un)happy anniversary’
Engagement: A sparkling sapphire ring.
Wedding day: Glorious.
New home: Exciting.
First anniversary: Joyful.
Second anniversary: Blissful. Still in love.
Babies: Adorable chubby twins.
Third anniversary: Strained. Lack of money. Demanding children.
Work: Delia gets a part-time job. She saves up and books dinner for two at Dino’s.
Fourth anniversary: Delia confesses. Dinner at Dino’s is a tearful affair. She’s lost her engagement ring. It’s not insured.
Another year: Exhausting.
Fifth anniversary: They celebrate with a take-away and open a bottle of cava. Paul presents Delia with a small, gift-wrapped box. A diamond ring. For eternity.
And this one’s insured.
Darren York with ‘Dinner guest’
The house was decorated with balloons and banners.
Candles were placed on the birthday cake for each one of his victims.
Many invitations had been sent out but only one would come tonight; that’s all he wanted.
Night had replaced day when the doorbell signalled her arrival.
A place at the table had been set already.
She was apprehensive.
“Some wine perhaps?”
“Red or white?”
She sipped lightly at first before taking bigger gulps.
Unconsciousness took her.
Her flesh tasted sweet with a hint of coconut butter.
Another candle was added to the cake, its flame extinguished.
Julie Gavin with ‘Out of Time’
It had been a wonderful evening. They made speeches and presented Ed with an engraved carriage clock, but Ed looked overwhelmed and began to cry and tremble.
“Cheer up, old boy!” his boss said, looking bemused.
“You don’t understand. My life is over.”
“You’ve had a fantastic career. You can retire knowing you were our top salesman for decades.”
Ed wasn’t listening. He was staring at the stranger in the back of the room.
“Thirty years ago I made a pact with him, my soul for a successful career. He’s here to collect his debt,” Ed said, before he vaporized.
- Cathy MacKenzie with ‘Beer Cheer’
- Denise Bayes with ‘Golden Celebration’
- Helen Sant with ‘Christmas Without Her’
- Joan Reed with ‘The World Has Changed’
- Wendy Howard with ‘Flying High’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Andrew Hyde with ‘Three Riders’
- Beth Ring with ‘The Ruby Shoe’
- Claire Ellen Delve with ‘Shotgun Wedding’
- Fiona McKay with ‘Sale Agreed’
- Marcelo Medone with ‘Red, Red Planet’
Congratulations, everyone. The entries for this month are already drifting in. Remember, you can send up to three per month so rather than miss out on a chance by sending one story, do submit more.
If you’ve enjoyed these stories and / or just want to leave a comment, please do so below and / or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org., although I won’t (can’t) discuss forthcoming entries unless it’s a general query.