100-Word Short Stories

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I participated in a “Word of the Day” storytelling challenge in 2014. Many American University students and professors were given two or three words, mine were coffee and balcony, and tasked to tell a story, using that word, in about 100 words.


All I can see is the top of dead trees. Every now and then, the top of a truck enters view and I go crazy. Trucks are the best, and trucks are a tease. How can I stay strapped down when big things are peering down and that red line by my handle won’t stop taunting me to see if the door is locked or not? I have asked what would happen; I was told not to. But I’m alone and curious and I need to know, so I slowly reach forward and—
“Shit!” Coffee burnt my step-dads tongue.
That’s not what I expected. I promise I will never try to open the door again.


The ‘70s really knew how to ugly up a place, and it doesn’t help me sell a house now, in the twenty-teens. They would install these obnoxious hanging light fixtures just low enough to hit your head, the most baffling wallpaper, and who is it that decided wasting half of the second floor with an indoor balcony was a good idea? The most interesting things you’ll see from up there are the stains soaked into your shag carpet. Each stain has its own story, but the realtor insists that they all have to be slowly quieted, killed, with chemicals and a few hard scrubs. One story refuses to die, yelling from the grave— the spot that has been rubbed cleanest, no trace remaining that there was ever a collapse. Things are starting to quiet down now, one sale, many months and too many chemicals later.