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  • Writer's pictureDylan Roche

Very Short Stories of 2019

This post was originally published on my old blog in December 2019 and has been republished here for posterity.


One of my favorite daily writing exercises I adopted in 2019 was participating in Very Short Stories 365 on Twitter. It’s pretty simple: Every day, there’s a new prompt word with the trending hashtag #vss365, and you have to compose a very short story — in 280 characters or fewer — using that word.

On some days, I feel really inspired and creative. On other days, it isn’t so easy, and what I produce isn’t my best. But I like how it gets me to think creatively, express my ideas succinctly, and engage with other writers who are doing the same.

I didn’t do it every day last year, as life just sometimes got too busy, and sometimes the prompt word was too obscure for me to come up with anything good. In 2020, I’m committing myself to be a more active participant. However, I wanted to go back and find some of my favorites from the past year and collect them in one place.

For those who are interested, here are my top 15 very short stories from 2019 (the prompt word is in boldface):

· Some called it serendipity. Others, divine intervention. However they thought of it, they were grateful. Nobody has any idea I time traveled to orchestrate the whole thing. And though nobody can know my secret, sometimes I do wish I could take credit for everything.

· Some people come into your life and touch your soul. What I didn’t like about her was that she picked up the crystal jar on my mantel and examined it as if she knew somehow it was where I kept mine.

· As the stormed raged, the little rubber duck, lost out on the open sea, rose and fell with the violent waves. Amidst the flashes of lightning and roars of the wind, all alone in an unfamiliar place, the brave little toy at last succumbed, and the ocean consumed it.

· I guess it was inevitable our high school production of Macbeth would get crashed by a clique of teeny-bopper neo-pagans offended by its representation of witchcraft. I heard this play is cursed, but now I believe it. Oh, and the girl playing Lady Mac has gone missing.

· It is a truth universally acknowledged that “If you like Pina Coladas” would be much more relatable if the personal ad listed a love of straight bourbon and Netflix documentaries about murder.

· Everyone thought them highly motivated sellers, but no home inspection could ever show how some of the previous residents had never really left nor reveal the demon awakened by some meddlesome Ouija use a few years earlier. Buyer beware? Ha, more like skeptic beware.

· Awkward. She, her boyfriend, ex, and best friend were cast as the four lovers in Midsummer that semester, but an ecstasy-fueled party had matched the play’s events a little too closely, and she would’ve gladly told Will himself it was less a dream and more a nightmare.

· Teddy had lost his license the year before after falling asleep in the job one night when a monster actually came close enough to lurk under the bed. The child could have been attacked, and Teddy had done absolutely nothing.

· What all the gods of high Olympus failed to understand was that a hero can’t be brave if he is invincible.

· “The rule of time travel is refrain from anything affecting the future.” “So I can’t point out the iceberg, and I just watch the Titanic sink?” “But think how history would be—" “Oh, yeah, maritime law and a blockbuster movie. They’ll be happy to take one for the team.”

· Disney gave us unrealistic expectations about love. Like when two dogs share a plate of spaghetti sans utensils in a back alley, it’s a romantic date, but when humans do it, it’s embarrassing and trashy and they need to learn to hold their liquor better.

· The Earthlings have a ritual called Black Friday that is as dark and menacing as it sounds. Every year after the Feast of Bird Slaughter, they swarm in masses to the indoor market to fight and tackle one another for the lowest bidding on material prizes they don’t need.

· Another strange Earthling practice is how they casually endanger many animal species but will maintain plush bean-filled imitations of them in mint condition, presumably for their monetary value. The power of the plush imitations appears to be in their heart-shaped tags.

· He was the type of guy who was badly in need of either a self-help guru or a manic pixie dream girl to enter his life. It was hard to say which would be more effective.

· “I mean, I like it a lot, even if I don’t totally understand it.” “Sorry, I zoned out. Are we talking about sex or red velvet cake?”

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