Hello everyone and welcome to the fifty-fourth month of this competition. There were 47 entries from 24 authors where the theme was to include the following words: single, cover, appear, close, case. NB You can all send in three stories for a better chance of being picked.
It was interesting how many of the stories featured affairs or illicit meetings – something I’d not expected when setting the theme.
Several stories were disqualified for not including all five words. In two instances, two of three stories were from the same author so their third stories went through to judging.
Another was unsuccessful because it officially only had 99 words. The hundredth was a connected series of hyphens which Word counted as 100 but they’re not an actual word. Sorry. Rule number two states, ‘To check you can use the likes of https://wordcounter.net. Be careful though that it doesn’t include a dash (or other punctuation) as a word.’ Sadly in this case it was the only story but that author so they missed out this month. Ditto a 101-word story by another author. Another ended up being 99 words because two weren’t hyphenated (set-up as a noun rather than set up as a verb).
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.
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 March is ‘since sliced bread’ and you can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Tuesday 31st March. 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.
First place (winning free access to three of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £60 / $60) or a free edit and critique of up to 2,000 words (worth £14 / $18):
Jennie Cordner with ‘Angels are Near’
“Mummy. Close your eyes and hold out your hands. I’ve got you a present.”
I felt nothing.
Perhaps Alfie had blown me a kiss. That was often the case when he said, “Close your eyes, cover your ears, I’ve got you a surprise.” However, I hadn’t heard him press his little mouth on the palm of his hand and make a noisy, dribbled-filled kiss.
“It’s there, Mummy. Look!”
As if by magic, a single white feather, gossamer light, appeared in my upturned hands.
“It’s an Angel feather. Someone’s died.”
My mobile vibrated alarmingly in my pocket.
Joint second place (each winning free access to two of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £40 / $40) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,500 words (worth £11 / $14):
Jane Brown with ‘Don’t Look’
‘Quick! Cover your eyes!’ Ben whispers. ‘He could appear at any moment. People have dropped dead from a single glance.’
My heart racing, I force my eyes to close, placing my hands on top just in case.
I hear footsteps.
I can’t resist anymore. I have to look.
‘Julie! No!’ Ben shouts. ‘Don’t do it!’
My eyes blink open.
I see him.
What a hideous sight. I bend over and start to dry retch.
Then Mum walks into the room.
‘Kids, don’t be so mean to your Dad. I think his new swimming trunks are rather fetching.’
Laura Besley with ‘Status: Single’
If Marianne had to describe herself, she’d say: short, covered in freckles and permanently close to tears. ‘Normal,’ people say. ‘Considering.’
They met at uni when she accidently dropped her pencil case into his lap. He held it to ransom until she agreed to a drink with him. The rest, they say, is history.
No future, not now, not since the accident.
Today tears appear as she reluctantly ticks “single” on a form. This had never bothered her before, but there’s a big difference between being not-yet-married and the blunt truth that the status of your not-quite-husband will never change.
Joint third place (each winning free access to one of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £20 / $20) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,000 words (worth £7 / $9):
Jane Broughton with ‘Lady in Red’
Dolores liked to appear stupid. It was good cover when she was on a case. It allowed her to get close to her prey. That night she’d chosen a scarlet sheath gown and ordered single malt.
“Can I get that for you, little lady?” slurred the overweight suit next to her.
“Why thank you, kind sir,” she simpered.
They moved to one of the dimly lit booths and Dolores giggled a lot, leaning forward to show her assets to best advantage.
She saved her genuine smile for later, when he lay in the alley, a whale in a copper pool.
Joyce Bingham with ‘Have You Seen Susan?’
A single duvet cover, blue with white stars. It had seemed ideal to carry his belongings to the car when Susan demanded he leave.
Who would have thought that the filled rolled duvet cover might appear to be a body wrapped up for disposal. Up close it was a pile of clothes, books and shoes.
He wished he had kept the duvet cover, but the matching pillowcase was at Susan’s, so he had recycled the cover in the textile bin.
He will regret that for the next twenty years or so, depending on good behaviour.
Unless Susan turns up alive.
Highly commended (winning my Entering Writing Competitions course worth £20 / $20) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,000 words (worth £7 / $9) – in alphabetical order:
- Carmina McConnell with ‘A Single Man’
- Carol Ann Allison with ‘The Black Widow’
- Cath Barton with ‘Captured’
- Christie J. Newport with ‘The Message’
- Diana Hayden with ‘Afternoon Tea’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Darren York with ‘Look But Don’t Touch’
- Lestie Mulholland with ‘Circle of Friends’
- Paul Mastaglio with ‘Checking In’
- Sophie Toovey with ‘Leaving’
- Sue Massey with ‘Dear John’
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.