Short and Sweet Stories: Updated Monthly

It seems that almost no matter what you do, warming up helps: A musician practices scales, a runner stretches, a ball player takes batting practice, and who doesn't like appetizers before a meal?

Press 53,  based in Winston-Salem, N.C., runs a free, 53-word contest that I'm using as my writer's BP. The publishing house provides a new topic each month. Haven't won yet but I do see improvement in my submissions since I started in April. Can't tell you why I skipped June. I’ll keep updating this page.

January 2019: Higher Ground

The Higher Ups

The executive maintained her neutral expression as she stiletto-clicked through the sunlit corporate hallways until she entered the restroom. She locked the slatted door to the handicap stall and pounded her fists on the marble wall as the tears of frustration erupted. How she had wanted to yell back at that fool.   

December 2018: Waste

Gordy and Gladys Waste the Day

Gordy hopped out of the truck and sized up the curbside find: a toilet. Gladys sunk down in her seat. He lifted the porcelain commode in the rain, lost his grip, and howled when it crashed down on his toe. Scrapping the cracked crapper and their movie plans, they drove to urgent care.

November 2018: Stuffing

Wreck a Bear

Wheaties picked at the synthetic stuffing popping out of the seam. Her mom sat beside her on the bed, wanting to wrap herself around the tween. She remained still, waiting. They watched Wheaties’ fingers as she pulled a cloud of tuft from Cinnamon Bear’s torn belly. Wheaties looked away. She chose her father.  

October 2018: Doubt

That Novel Goal

The Post-It note goal once stuck to the bathroom mirror now hid behind body spray on the counter collecting dust. Muriel had written it New Year’s Eve, confident she would finish the novel in 2018. Her eyebrows shot up as she pondered her shortcomings, critics, and excuses. Another day, not today. Maybe never.

September 2018: A fall

Told Him So

He warned his son not to do it. Flying over the water on a sunny day felt exhilarating after years of being imprisoned in a tower. As flecks of wax sprayed down and feathers fluttered free, Daedalus yelled, “You’re too high!” He never forgot watching his young boy’s disappearance below nor forgave himself.

August 2018: Sour

To Better Days

As she waited for the bartender’s attention, Alexandra kicked her broken stiletto against the foot rail and reflected on her awful day: She had been stung by a bee, gotten a speeding ticket, tripped in front of the CEO, and dumped via text by her boyfriend. Let the healing begin. “Whiskey sour, please.”

July 2018: Aliens

Where Smart Friends Go

The general looked the space creature right in the nostrils. He didn’t know better. “Have you come here as a friend or an enemy?”

“That depends on the intelligence of your life forms.”

The general smiled. “Let me take you where the most intelligent among us can be found. It’s called Area 51.”

May 2018: A sock

The White Sox Player’s Lucky Lost Sock

Furious that he lost the game, the rookie punched himself in the face. “PITCHER SOCKS HIMSELF FOR BLOWING GAME” the headlines screamed. The next day, fans twirled socks over their heads and held up signs that read, “GO SOCK YOURSELF!”  Pocketing a lost sock on the mound for luck, the closer threw strikes.

April  2018: A poem

Words That Moved Maud

The dead man’s legs dangling out of the shopping cart caught the young officer’s eye. She rolled the patrol car next to the crying elderly woman as she pushed along the sidewalk near the bridge overpass. “Frank didn’t amount to much. But he’s the only one who ever wrote me a love poem.”


Jennifer Zajac