This contest, inspired by our Write-Ins, challenged writers to take a writing prompt and let that prompt inspire an intriguing piece in 50 words or fewer. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, anything goes.
Here's the prompt we offered: When nobodys watching...
Out of several hundred entries, we present the ones that most captured our attention.
Eight Year Old's Lament
I landed the perfect cartwheel, arms and legs extended to the full extent of Vesuvius Mans circle, graceful as a leaf on the wind, toes pointed, lips smiling, every cell of my being celebrating triumph over gravity.
That was nice dear, you said, looking up from your book.
A Surprise in Every Box
Everyone left for lunch except Marcus. Digestion slowed him down.
At the control panel on the factory floor, he pushed buttons. There, he thought. The conveyor belt moved.
Decoder rings, stickers and temporary tattoos filled a hundred Cracker Jack boxes. He grinned like a child while he sealed them.
Clinton, New York
When nobodys watching, the embalmer collects body parts. Right now, he has three eyes, two penises, and an assortment of toes in the fridge for tonights dinner. The spices are what trouble him.
Love is Strange
Lele had a fetish for all things divine and the watchman looked like Jesus. When he pulled her from the water, her forearm swelled up like a salami from her elbow to her wrist. Now she can't stop walking on the edge of the bridge, second shift, Tuesday through Sunday.
North Tonawanda, New York
Elizabeth looked left then right, and then she quietly shut her bedroom door. She pulled her Mother's worn-out ballet shoes from under the bed and slipped them onto her feet. She stood in front of the full-length mirror and adjusted her feet into first position.
Lexington Park, Maryland
Empty Nests, Full Bowls
I watched as my mother spat into the puppy's bowl of water. It's to establish dominance, she said in response to my bewildered look.
I began to question why we'd always been so close.
Things sure have changed since I've moved out, I said before continuing on about my apartment.
Brooklyn, New York