A Very Short Story Contest—2018

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 five finalists:


She sat in the car wondering what other children did.

Maribel Ledezma-Williams
New York, NY


One heartbreaking cry. Hello, my baby. Goodbye, somebody else's daughter.

Casey O'Callaghan
York, PA

He looks like Pittsburgh, I thought. He's definitely my father.

Darlene Coker
Tampa, FL

Here lies Heather Washington, 2008–1866, World's First Time Traveler.

Kamaria Hatcher
Long Island City, NY

Children playing unsupervised. Oblivious that ICE rounded up the nannies.

Silvia Debenedetti
Princeton, NJ

They thought her senile. "Cretins," she whispered, completing Sunday's crossword.

Megan Ryan
New York, NY