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Short Shorts

We like short shorts …and here are a selection of ultra-short stories from visitors to The Word Factory. Contact us if you would like to see your work here. We are currently preparing to offer you a selection of unpublished and commissioned stories from your favourite authors. More news in due course.

Rhubarb

They had come from the city to spend Christmas with their grandfather. He was an intolerant, religious man, especially impatient with the younger sister. His hearing was poor, but he could see that she was bored. Read full story

Ghost House

By Elizabeth Simpson

Difficult to say when it started, or in which house. Probably in the dry-rot invaded brick walls or mushrooming damp plasterwork in the basement of number 72 in the 1840s-built terrace backing onto a stinking canal close to the City of London. Read full story

Looking the Other Way

By Fiona Knowles-Holland

Papa is not pleased. In fact, he has spent the last month expressing a deal of anger. He slams doors. He is rude to the servants. He even told Mama to get out of his sight. I am glad to say that she did not. She remained, steadfast, at the breakfast table, slowly placing pineapple, piece by piece, in her mouth, looking down at her plate. In the end, he stormed out of the breakfast room, and James had to pick up his fallen chair. Mama’s chin was trembling but she pulled her hand away when I tried to comfort her.

No-one tells me what is the matter, but there is definitely something very amiss. I have written to Caroline in Bristol, but she denies any knowledge. I think she is much taken up with the new baby. I have tried asking James but he is very loyal to Papa and will not tell. Papa spends much of his time on the dockside, checking the cargoes leaving and arriving into Liverpool. Occasionally merchants and agents come to the house to discuss business. Read full story

Compassion

By Mavis Moog

Put blinders on to those things that conspire to hold you back, especially the ones in your own head.” – Meryl Streep

Simon Spark sneered into his chest, the way he does. I could see he was about to annihilate me, and I chanted my mantra internally,
“I am talented. I am talented.”

Carol Chase regarded me through thick, black lashes. Her lips looked like they were made from crystallised rose petals and they were moving. I felt her soft breathy voice thick with pouts, as if she were blowing me kisses but you could water-board me and I wouldn’t be able to tell you what she said.

I was too busy preparing for Bully Spark to listen to anything anyone else had to say.

Someone I didn’t know was talking now. He smiled and looked pityingly at me, but his words were lost in the sound of blood rushing through my ears. I was deafened by the flub-flub of my own pulse. My wet hands hung like dumb-bells by my side. I tried to dry them on my thighs, while blinking the perspiration away from my eyes. My fringe gripped my forehead so I blew upwards, by sticking my bottom lip out and directing my breath up, towards my brow. The smiley man turned his attention to Spark, in a way that made it clear he was next to speak. My heart seemed to stop. Read full story

My Life As A Cat

by Alexei Sayle

When Bettina’s husband left her for his secretary, twenty years younger, compliant and vacuous, she decided not to deal with it in any of the ways her friends had coped, or failed to cope with the same calamity. Apart from her husband the love of Bettina’s life had always been her cat Monty. Read full story