Mini-Contest #28

The 28th OTP mini-contest was held in November 2015. This mini-contest asked contestants to tell, show, or evoke a complete story in no more than 50 words, and exactly ONE of those words had to be “xylophone.”

Here are our winners, then our honorable mentions. Four of the six winners are new to OTP.

Third Place by Kate Spitzmiller (new OTP author)

A lurch. A shriek. Unsinkable steel scraping against…something.

The chandelier sways. Ladies stop dancing, hands to mouths. Gentlemen pause, concern clouding eyes.

We’ll play on, Wallace says, no matter what. Ragtime. Ragtime is best. I abandon my xylophone; take the piano.

The White Star Orchestra plays on. Iceberg be damned.

Second Place by S. Bullard (published in Issue #26)

The pirate wrapped his arms around his treasure, unwilling to let go, even for a chance to save himself. Clinging as the ship capsized. Centuries later a diver found him, hollow eye sockets, skinless face, ribs a bony xylophone. Arms still clutching his greatest treasure. She was a skeleton, too.

First Place by Devan Wardrop-Saxton (new OTP author)

We line up outside the stage door, self-consciously grand in our long polyester dresses and borrowed tuxedos, instruments clasped in our sweaty hands. We can hear the group before us, a xylophone quintet from a school district with money. We smile: two bars in, and we know we can win.

Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)

Three other entries scored highly enough to earn honorable mentions.

“Dad, can I have this?”

Kyle looked at the broken xylophone that Davey was holding. Not something he expected to find while emptying Mother’s house. Even now he could hear her: “Stop that racket! You don’t have any talent.”


“This one has cooties. I’ll get you a better one.”
(by Erica Hershler, new OTP author)

Graduate students cluster, discussing Christmas plans. Using the skeleton’s ribs as a xylophone, Dr. Zimmer taps out “Joy to the World.”

Katie walks in.

Deep breath. “Look, an obligate hemiparasite,” I say, holding a sprig above her.

She laughs.

Amid bone-rattling carols, under the mistletoe, our lips meet.

Joy, indeed.
(by Michelle Soudier, new OTP author)

Words squirmed into sounds that never made it out of my throat. Can’t sing.
My limbs went akilter. Can’t dance.
I’d show the snickering audiences.

Not usually a violent person, I snatched the mallet.

Crash! Bam! Squawk!

Nope. I would never have musical ability.

Poor Xylophone.
(by JC Sullivan, published in mini-contest #21)

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