Mini-Contest #15

The 15th mini-contest was held in August 2011. This mini-contest asked contestants to write a story on any subject between 25 and 50 words long… but they couldn’t use the letter “e” even once.

We received 86 entries, and 10 were disqualified for using the letter “e.” It’s harder than you might think not to let even one of them slip by, but our “find” function spotted them right away.

By the way, we had a greater difference of opinion on these entries than we’ve ever seen. Six judges, six different favorites. Nearly every finalist got at least one “no” vote and several got at least two “no”s, and at least two “yes”es. But when the dust settled, we knew what entries made the final cut.

Below are the prize-winners and the honorable mentions. We have our usual mix of writers who will be well-known to OTP readers, and others we’ve never published before.

Third Place ($5) by Ken Liu (last seen in issue #13)

Mom still buys in lots of six for us: Abigail, Brian, Carolyn, David, … Frank.

All of us hold room for him at lunch, in photographs, during walks and talks.

“I can’t match a ghost!” Frank shouts, and slams his door.

Mom stands, lips apart, but says nothing.

Second Place ($10) by Dawn Rae (last seen in issue #12)

Drowning his sorrows, Sam grabs a drink. Clair still won’t go out with him. Sam lifts his glass, noticing a familiar form through its bottom. Clair is in a booth cuddling a woman. Sam laughs. So that’s it! Contrary to popular opinion, lifting a glass brings clarity to his world.

First Place ($15) by Margaret Peacock (new to OTP)

My son lifts his right crutch cautiously, as if it might fly from his grasp. Walking is painful and hard, using his artificial right foot, his original limb still in Afghanistan. I watch, biting back a cry. My son winks slyly. “Poor old Mom!” Putting his foot down, John walks.

Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)

Three other entries scored highly enough to earn honorable mentions.

D ar Tom,

Your kl ptomania has gott n out of control.
Pl as r turn my missing k yboard k ys.

Attach d to this l tt r is a list of psychologists. Call
som body. Pl as .

You alr ady stol my h art. You don’t n d to st al anything mor .

Your wif and lov r,

(by Billicent San Juan, new to OTP)

I ran whilst it was dark, and struck my foot upon a coat of armor.

“Damnation!” I said. “Who is this black-clad scion of nobility lying on stubbly grass?”

A murmur: “It is I, Sir Richard…”

Truth dawns: It was a stark and dormant knight.
(by Anatoly Belilovsky, new to OTP)

Gray hair, tight in a bun.
Skin that is rough, work worn hands.
Past is past, family far away.
Still toiling hard, it’s all that is known.
It will go on until God calls this old woman.
(by Molly Porter, new to OTP)

Congratulations to the winners and our sincere thanks to everyone who entered the mini-contest.