Temperatures Rising Contest—2022

We invited you to tell us a story about temperatures rising, figuratively or literally, in 99 words or fewer.

Here we present the winners and finalists:


If one wanted to make an oozing molten lava cake, I would not recommend it as a first-date activity at his place. I wouldn’t recommend letting him press his warm, firm body into yours while you combine the ingredients in a bowl. I wouldn’t recommend suggestively leaning over as you slide the tray into the oven or letting him lick the spilled batter between your fingertips. In my experience, you’ll forget about baking until you’re racing out of his bedroom to deactivate the smoke alarm. I find baking a molten lava cake is best done alone.

Jordan Sese,
Astoria, New York


The match sputtered and hissed as the flame leapt to life. Jewel watched it burn and imagined she could feel the spark under her skin, in her brain. She would become the fire. She would make things right.

Her childhood home was dark and empty of everything but bad memories, silent but for the sound of the match sizzling and her own breath. Two seconds passed, then four, then ten. The flame burned down close to her skin. She opened her blistered fingers and watched it fall to the fuel-saturated carpet under her feet.

Julia Mumford
Conyers, Georgia

Matilde hit like a truck. We had expected the wheat to die, but not all of it. I remember the third day, going out into the fields, seeing the parched earth and dead birds. By the time Nyasha came, we were better prepared; there was less to worry about. It was only April, but half the alphabet was over. What would they choose after Zinnia? Uncle was old enough to remember a time before they named heat waves. Why are they always women, like boats and hurricanes? Powerful? Fiery? Easier to blame? The sun is setting now; we celebrate.

Shreyas Raman
New Haven, Connecticut

When the world ends, maybe we could hang out, watch it together. We can get drunk on hot champagne before the sun swallows us up. Smother melted chocolate over our cracking skins, and laugh hysterically while others run around and scream. Maybe then I'll have the balls to tell you that I've loved you since high school, but was too shy to say before. Or, maybe, I shouldn't wait. Would you like to hang out this weekend? See a movie? I hear there's a hot new apocalyptic thriller out. Maybe we can pick up a few survival tips.

Tracy Davidson
Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom
The contest is closed.