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#100 Words story competition winners

We’ve had a wonderful time reading all the stories entered into our #100Words story competition inspired by a beautiful winter scene.

The shortlist has now been judged by Amanda Saint, author and founder of award-winning publisher, Retreat West. We’re delighted to announce the winners below. 

Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy reading the stories.

Congratulations to all the winning authors!

1st Place

Happy Holidays

Read ‘Happy Holidays’ by Martha Lane

A superhero mask lay half buried in the snow. Homemade. Jagged edges cut with those rounded scissors that couldn’t slice butter. She wore it when the shouting got too loud. The banging too close. Her superpower? Disappearing.

She’d fashioned an entire costume by the end of the week. Used paper, boxes, and dust. Couldn’t find any glitter. She’d spent so long in dress-up, creaking around the holiday cottage, that hope morphed into belief.

Certain the cardboard wings would carry her, she climbed to the roof. Put footprints round the chimney. Bellows echoed in the terracotta pots.

And then she flew.

Amanda said, ‘This heartbreaking story achieves so much in so few words. Such a vivid picture painted of this small girl trying to escape reality and the family she’s fleeing from are completely brought to life although we never see them. Lovely writing.’

2nd Place

The Shortest Day of the Year

Read ‘The Shortest Day of the Year’ by Cathy Lennon

It felt like a sign. Overnight snowfall making everything new. A palate cleanse after the awkward journey: her over-bright, him moody and taciturn.

Waiting for the kettle, she plans their day. Breath-snatching walk, soft handfuls of snow. Steaming jeans, wine, log-fire lovemaking.

His wife suffocated under an avalanche of new memories.

She opens the door to the crystalline air. The low sun dazzles and she looks down. Sees the dainty set of footprints that stop, turn, head round the back. Across the courtyard, the red Volvo gently ticks.

Frozen, she hears its echo in the dripping from the eaves.

Amanda said, ‘I loved the contrasts here of the fresh new snow and the narrator’s hope that it can wash away the stains of a marriage she’s helped to break. The ambiguous ending is great and I’m still wondering what happened next.’

3rd Place

No Two Snowflakes are the Same

Read ‘No Two Snowflakes are the Same’ by Katie Oliver

Trigger warning: Contains themes of miscarriage

She scuffs over the snow-strewn path: eyes down, knuckles white. It’s all she can do to put one foot in front of the other.

They say that no two snowflakes are the same. She imagines gently placing the nearly-baby under a microscope, marvelling at the perfect singularity of its cells. There will never be anyone else like you, she thinks.

She stoops, and scoops up a fistful of snow, launching it into the air. The flakes sparkle as they scatter in the soft golden light of a new day. Beautiful but fleeting; each one destined to melt away into nothing.

Amanda said, ‘Another heartbreaking story here but one that also has a vein of hope running through it by the end. The images of the sparkling snowflakes in golden light in the final paragraph are lovely.’ 

Runners up

Read ‘Great Grey’ by Johnny Restall

Who knows what sleeps beneath the snow?

It blankets the ground, a soft, smothering embrace, covering fields, fences, houses…

But I am not fooled.

I silently rotate towards the slightest sound; my piercing eyes blaze at the heart of the twin discs of my face. I pinpoint the minute rustle beneath the muffling expanse of white.

With noiseless grace, I swoop and claim my prize. Merciless patience is rewarded with a moment’s work for talon and beak. I return to the trees to wait again.

Who knows what sleeps beneath the snow?

I do.

Read ‘Neighbours’ by Stephanie Ann Studzinski

Heading to Earl’s…that bastard…now my only hope. And he prolly won’t let us in neither. No matter, the world is ending. No matter, I got something to offer…

All ‘cause I was smart, not when it counted so much so’s, but smart. That’s why we’s alive. Emma and me. When it started, I knew not to touch it and our Emma knew too, barked her head off she did. But it musta crept up on her at night… Near broke my heart, her cryin’ like that.

Now’s only one thing to do: get her to Earl’s…His wife sews real good.

Read ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ by Kathryn Marshall

Is there always this glow?

Yes, this time of day, this time of year.

The leaves look like lamps, signalling to us. Or flames.

Last thing you want in a wood. Flames. Do someone an injury. Unless they know.

Yes, I suppose so. But this glow? Always the same?

Yes, this time of day, this time of year.

Always the same. And you’re not afraid?

Of what?

The wood. The men. You know. What they said.

On the news? Oh no. We don’t worry about that. No need. There’s always that glow. This time of day. This time of year.

Read ‘Only Blue Light Survives a Long Travel Path’ by Katie Piper

The snow is blue and bare of footprints. She shivers and thumps her feet.

She tries not to spill the sherry trifle. The mince pies she made with Grannie’s orange pastry thud against her leg and warm her thigh. She’s tired of the narrative that sustained her, once – the obedient daughter, the only one that comes here. It will be just the two of them, again, with their thick skins, with no need for laughter, or love, or passion.

Just then a robin chirps from a thin branch, the red of her breast glows in the blue light.

Read ‘The Forgotten Cold’ by Nick Goundry

A melancholy educator sips tea from her flask before calling to the squealing children and showing them how to make angel shapes in the soft white powder.

The parents are as wide-eyed as the youngsters in the unfamiliar cold, marvelling at the steam of their own breath. All the visitors learned a new word today – ‘snow’.

No-one ever saw an icy winter in the real world. Only the whispers of history remain, the records lost to the Fire.

But this will be their haven; an education and a reprieve from the endless deserts beyond these walls.

Read ‘The Homecoming’ by Stuart James

Mother said I shouldn’t go.

With father gone, I had to help look after the beasts. That spring, the bull had trapped him against the gate. It crushed his ribs. But I did go, two summers back.

It’s winter now and I’m returning, though I can no longer be much help to her. The war took my right arm. The snow crunches under my boots as I walk towards the house.

I break the ice in the water butt and scoop cold water to my mouth. Mother looks out from the kitchen window. She smiles. Tears run down her face.

Read ‘The Perfect Place’ by Jill Veldhouse

He stood and quietly admired the deserted farm place from the snow-covered gravel road.

‘It’s perfect,’ he thought, ‘No one for miles’.

The dilapidated wooden fence surrounding the property reminded him of the winter he spent building a livestock fence with his grandfather. He closed his eyes and could taste the hot cocoa his grandmother had waiting for him inside along with a plateful of her famous oatmeal raisin cookies, his favorite.

He smiled and thought, ‘Such a simple life’.

The wind picked up, abruptly alerting him to the present.

It would be dark soon. He better start digging.

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