A Very Short Story Contest—2013 Winner and Finalists

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.)

Competition was intense, with one thousand and one people entering the contest. We thought it was appropriate to give you the ten best. The winner receives a free Gotham class, of any type. The finalists get recognition.


The city burned. Alice lit up, watched. She'd quit later.

Ingrid Bohnenkamp

Springfield, Missouri


Used to be orthodox. Then Mardi Gras. Tzitzit. Beads. Whatever.

Eric Baron

Langhorne, Pennsylvania


Shoot us, the mother begged. No machete. Please.

Rois Beal

Hoeilaart, Belgium

Fired? Rhonda and John? You're kidding! On whose desk?!!

Judith De Leo

New York, New York

Back rubs. Hot baths. Foot rubs. Who created this devil?

Katie Erdahl

Plymouth, Minnesota

"Pastel Summer"

Dear DadIts done. Coming home. Love, Rob(in)

Linda Martucci

Pennington, New Jersey

The inmate always called, wrote back, easily her best boyfriend.

Dan Moreau

Chicago, Illinois

We went there we saw it then we left

Malcolm Price

Easton Maryland


The map was accurate. He waited at the edge.

Lynne Schappert

Sacramento, California

Glenn slow-danced with Tracey in the pizzeria. She stopped crying.

Therese Lanigan Schmidt

Saugerties, New York