A Very Short Story Contest—2016

It may be apocryphal, but the story goes that Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing a short story that ran fewer than ten words. One version of the story places the bet at the famed Algonquin round table. Whether true or not, there is an actual bet-winning short story attributed to Hemingway:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

You have to admit it's pretty good. It builds, and there's a whole world of background and emotion lurking beneath those words.

We made a similar bet with our audience. Write a great short story in ten words or fewer. (You may use a title or not, but the title goes into the word count.) Winner gets a free Gotham class.

Here we present the winner and nine finalists:


Her cubical life was breached, when his poems began circling.

Kim Geralds
Troy, Michigan


She folded herself into him like origami. Thin, tidy, silent.

Amelia Loulli
Lazonby, United Kingdom

Heartbreak: When you grow old alone, sitting next to him.

Emily Green
Flushing, Michigan

He guarded her grave, until the dogcatcher took him away.

Emma Williams
Friendship, Tennessee

When she stepped over the snake, it awoke and smiled.

Patricia Miranda
Columbus, Ohio

Hanged for treason, the jester dies on stage: gallows humor.

Susan James
Redditch, United Kingdom

She tuned her hearing aid, sat down, and played.

Pierce Gidez
Oradell, New Jersey

Matched on Tinder. Accidentally swiped right. Hopefully, so did Dad.

Christopher Gonzalez
Brooklyn, New York

She was blinded by the diamond manacle on her finger.

Heather Williams-McKenzie
Fryeburg, Maine

“Everybody just shut up...we’re having Klondike Bars for breakfast.”

Bradley Flatoff
Oostburg, Wisconsin