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It's a Small World

International entries horn in on our annual
55 Fiction short story contest

Putting the Heat On

Sun demanded to see the planets naked.

Mars, embarrassed, turned red. Mercury overheated. Venus glowed with desire. Saturn ringed Uranus with the news. Neptune, too bright to get involved, stayed afar. Jupiter, being large, didn’t mind. Pluto, being small, hid himself.

However, Earth — being a hard-core, crusty fellow — gladly obliged. He mooned them all.

Rich Regan

Arroyo Grande


“Dinner — my place?”


Their third date. She’s still mysterious.

A woman’s freezer stores secrets, though. So, when alone, he always peeks.

Vegetables signal healthy intentions frozen by a lack of commitment.

Tubs of butter brickle are sweet, but fat, lonely, and in the dark, besides.

In hers, the worst.

Only ice.

Arlo Oviatt

Leawood, KS

Love Letter to Santa

I first saw you on a wet December eve, rain blurring the Christmas lights into a multicolored fog.

Since then, my days have been black and white; crossed off my calendar … waiting.

For Christmas, I’d like a pair of glasses with Technicolor lenses.

Because I can’t stand another 365 days of monochromatic anticipation.

Jessica Rosenberger

Grand Cayman

British West Indies

True Confessions

before we meet, Cheryl e-mailed, i have to confess something.

me first, Jeremy typed. my real name is susan.

Cheryl laughed. i think we’re going to do just fine. my real name is mike.

Lisa Feld

New York, NY

Catchers in the Rye

Dear Mr. Antolini:

I heard that I’m gonna get out of this dump in about two weeks.

What’ll I do? I know — I’m gonna take an Oral Expression course at Pencey. And dear old Phoebe, she flunked primary school in her last year. I knew she’d take after me, goddamn all you bastards.

Holden Caulfield

Ashley Kilchenmann

International School of Basel


School Daze

“Do your homework,” Mr. Haislip says.

“But this is stupid — I’ll never need this in life,” Sachit says, defiantly.

Mr. Haislip smiles at Sachit sadly. “You might be surprised.”

Years pass. One day, Mr. Haislip sees Sachit at lunch.

“It’s good to see you, Sachit.”

“You, too, Mr. Haislip. Would you like fries with that?”

Robert Bryant Crisp

Indian Trail, NC

The Sleeping Prince

The princess fought the dragon as bravely as any man, where Prince Phillip had slept soundly for 500 years.

The dragon finally fell to the ground.

The princess dashed up the staircase

and sprinkled the dust of the dragon’s

scales atop his eyelids. The prince opened one eye.

“Just five more minutes,” he groaned, sleepily.

Kelly Anne Tang

Grade 5

Oak Elementary School

Los Altos

In the Beginning

“It’s frustrating, Peter — it doesn’t matter what I do; they just keep crawling out onto the land.”

“Have you tried inhibiting the growth of those limb things, Lord?”

“Done that, yes … ”

“Shall I erase it then, so you can start again?”

“Hmmm. No, let’s leave them. It might be interesting to see where this leads.”

Eddie French



Miss Communication

She admired him from afar for months.

A week before her office Christmas

party, she gathered her courage and approached him.

“I never do this kind of thing, but would you be interested … I mean, it isn’t really that, I don’t … ”

He gazed at her sweetly with his deep, brown eyes.

“No hablo inglés, senorita,”

Charlotte Chen

South Pasadena


He’s verbose. She’s concise.

He’s monomaniacal. She’s multi-directional.

He’s classical. She’s jazz.

He’s dark. She’s light.

He’s winter. She’s summer.

He’s direct. She’s oblique.

And every year, he says to her, “This marriage is never going to last.”

And every year, she says to him, “It’s a good thing we have wine.”

D. J. Hoard

Grass Valley

The Lost Gift

The Wise Men had followed the star for many days.

They were a congenial group who, apart from one, discussed many important topics as they traveled.

The Fourth Wise Man, being never wrong, turned left into the desert, and it was nearly two thousand years before the world rediscovered plastic.

Simon Holtom



The Conspirators

As a lone son and heir is committed to the mourning flames of his funeral pyre, two shadows spy a dying king.

“Soon, my dark angel.”

“The queen is inconsolable.”

“For now.”

“Her sorrow will linger.”

“I will be her solace in her time of need.”

“Of course — Your Majesty.”

“Patience, my devious friend. Patience.”

Michael Nelson

Los Angeles

Rainy Day Woman

It rained the day I asked her to marry me.

It rained on our wedding day.

It rained all through our honeymoon.

It even rained on our first anniversary.

On the day a man broke into our house and took her away from me, it was clear and blue and perfect.

Erin Kitzinger

Orlando, FL


The trench was freshly dug. The guns fired, bullets like wasps one by one stinging the bodies into submission.

Pushing them into the trench, the gunner picked through the bodies, looking for anything of value.

He found only a picture of himself, standing beside the man he’d fought next to in the First War.

M. Brady



My brother’s best friend’s girlfriend’s aunt’s son’s best buddy’s rival used to like my mom’s friend’s half-sister’s daughter’s cousin, but now he’s together with Anna’s mom’s brother’s daughter’s best friend, Jessica.

And I am still alone.

Ivna Zic

Rockton, IL


He stands there, mouth agape.

Is he being jilted? After all he has given?

Yesterday, his true love (his sugar!) fell for him completely, and now (incredulously!) refuses to be with him at all.

I’ll make you pay, he vows.

He considers shaking.



Until he realizes:

Change is inevitable.

Except from vending machines.

Arlo Oviatt

Leawood, KS

Anything for Her

He loved her so much that he would have done anything for her.

He would have stolen for her.

He did.

He would have killed for her.

He did.

He would have died for her.

He will.

Tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. at the prison, sitting on a chair.

Where is she?

Y. Anantha Narayanan

Bangalore, India

Political Chaos

A butterfly flapped its wings in Central Park and … caught the attention of the frog that ate it. Curious, a boy captured the frog. Bored, he left it in his mother’s car. Startled, she crashed. Snarled, traffic delayed the obstetrician. Late, the baby died during childbirth. Dead 54 years … a lesser man is elected president.

Gary Hubbard

Carrollton, GA

Tune In or Tune Out

I thought we’d make beautiful music together, but Charlie wouldn’t tune his banjo to my accordion. He was an “artist”! Who was I to tell him what to do?

Then I met Sheila and her 40 bass Soprani. We played duets in perfect harmony. Our repertoire expanded.

I left Charlie, dancing to a different tune.

Kathleen Allen

Shelburne, Canada

Cautionary Tale

of a Perfectionist

Lucy awoke every morning, writing. Not a minute passed in the day that she wasn’t jotting, scribbling, refining, and editing.

Yet she was never satisfied with what she wrote.

Every moment, until the moment she died, Lucy continued writing.

She died dissatisfied; heartbroken that despite her life’s work, her epitaph would never be “Just Write.”

Jessica Rosenberger

Grand Cayman

British West Indies

Fifty Five Fiction is a short story contest held each year by New Times, and is open to writers everywhere. Two volumes of the best short stories from past years are available through your local bookseller, “The World’s Shortest Stories” (1998) and “The World’s Shortest Stories of Love and Death” (2000), published by Running Press.


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