Mini-Contest #52

The 52nd OTP mini-contest launched in April 2022. This mini-contest asked contestants to write a story between 25 and 50 words long in which playing cards played an important role.

We received 135 entries. Here are the winning entries, then the honorable mentions. All six of the winners are new to OTP.

Third Place by Emily Bruce (new to OTP)

The automaton endlessly shuffled a deck of cards between rusted hands. Red sensor lights, dusted over, blinked faintly as if, finally, a player approached.

“Would you…”

The lights faded out. Hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs spilled to the ground. Only the wind was there to play with them.


Second Place by Sarah Kohrs (new to OTP)

“It was only one card,” my eight-year-old averred. The three of hearts dangled between his fingers and a flurry piled up like fallen cherry blossoms around him.

“From the base of a trussed pagoda,” I reminded, while guards escorted us away from the International Playing-Card Society’s convention hall of cardhouses.


First Place by Laney Lemon (new to OTP)

My blood dripped to the tile.

The thug held my face. “Are you going to show me?”

I slumped and nodded my head. “I’ll show you.”

Wary hands untied mine. I grasped the cards.

“Don’t try-”

I shuffled him in. I don’t know where they go. A magician never asks.


Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)

Three other entries earned honorable mentions.

One player. One deck. No friends. Loneliest game ever, but I pretend to like it. Noise across the street. Visiting, laughing. Smoke rising from the grill.

I hope they don’t invite me, but maybe they will.

Where was I? Red five on black six.

Maybe I’ll step outside.
by Mary Main (new to OTP)

The card sliced through the watermelon. Billy jumped and whistled through his missing front tooth. That tooth had been under his pillow for six days and the tooth fairy still hadn’t brought him a silver dollar. Now, with his new deadly weapon, he was ready to go hunting.
by Sara McBride (new to OTP)

“Is this your card?” the Magnificent Maestro showed the queen of diamonds.


He placed the card back into the deck, scratched his neck, and pulled another. “How about this?”

The three of spades. “Nope. This is my card.” I showed him the seven of hearts.

“How’d you do that?”
by Martin Greening (new to OTP)

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