For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

Our First Ever Short Story Contest

Attention and Attention:

We at The Short Form have recently come into possession of some books which are too good not to share. Hunter Kennedy, whom you might've seen around these parts, has sent our way three copies of Frank Stanford's wild and beautiful story collection, Conditions Uncertain and Likely to Pass Away. And we also have a copy of The Minus Times Collected signed by three of its authors: Hunter Kennedy, Sam Lipsyte, and Jeffrey Rotter, whose stories from the same book we have recommended in the past (and below).

Now to just hand these over to our readers, we will not. This is America, up by the bootstraps and all that. So we invite you, gentle reader, to enter our first ever short short story contest!*

We will select three finalists to feature on an upcoming week. The selected authors will all receive a copy of Frank Stanford's book. And then Mr. Kennedy will select the grand prize ultimate winner numero uno, whose story will be affixed with a computer rendering of a gold star, and who will also receive The Minus Times Collected, signed.

The guidelines are as follows:

  • 1. Up to two entries per person
  • 2. Story must be no longer than 500 words
  • 3. The subject must be anything you want
  • 4. Preferably English
  • 5. Send all stories as word document attachment to with the subject line “Short Story Contest.” Put your contact information in the email and not in the attachment. 
  • 6. Entries must be received by March 31st, 2013.

Thank you and we look forward to your submissions.

*Margie and plant not included.

A sample of what you're in to win:

Hitchcock's Tale

When I was fourteen years old I hit a man between the eyes with a pretty, smooth stone and killed him dead as hell. He'd shot one of Brother Yvo's deer. It was plain to see that the doe was thick in the sides with fawn. There was snow on the ground and the blood of the three slain creatures. Laudato si, oa la morte secunda no farra male. I put the man across my shoulders and walked back up the hill to the monastery.

I Tried to be a Beacon

I worked with rich kids for a while. I tried to teach them what I knew. I didn't know much, but substitute teachers aren't supposed to know much. Real actual teachers don't know much either. Or we'd all know more, wouldn't we? Take history. I knew some history. Not treaty dates. Not kings, or kingly edicts. Not the Pageantry of Democracy, or the Mosaic of Liberty, or whatever was my comparative misfortune. I made sure to implicate their ancestors — a continuum of villainy.

“Just so you understand.” I told them, “your trust funds soak in the blood of the people.”

“Just the principal,” said the tiniest one. He'd been born without kidneys. Some thought him plucky.

We read it in The Minus Times Collected 1992-2012.

Originally published in The Minus Times.

Not Right at All

I told him flat-out: “You don't look right.” The guy was young and counter-cultural, so he ignored me. He reinserted the buds in his ear canals, looked past me at our popular city going by. I could hear drums beat inside his brain, grown mean screaming like a pair of hornets in his ears. “Not right at all” I shouted over the music.

“Leave him be,” said a woman in the seat behind me, in the seat reserved for handicaps and the pregnant.

I had to turn around. She was neither handicapped nor pregnant, but she wasn't exactly an exemplary human, either. “He doesn't look right,” I explained. 

This was the woman's stop, not a desirable intersection by any stretch. She gathered her belongings, a bike helmet and a paper shopping bag from a panties boutique. “Maybe he doesn't want to look right,” she said.

He just sat there, his elongated head bobbing to the music. Why a stranger was defending the guy, I can't say. I tried to look inside the panties bag, but she covered it with the helmet. “You looking at my lunch?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “Not unless you eat underpants for lunch.”

We read it in The Minus Times Collected 1992-2012.

Originally published in The Minus Times.

Tales of the Wing

Every child in the family got a key to the door of the North Wing when they turned eighteen. My roommate and I were almost seventeen when the grandparents invited us to visit over spring break. Every night for weeks he described the depravity of the North Wing with such effect that I was ready to split town, steal the key, and not look back. The night before spring break, just hours before the bus left for the airport, I knocked his tooth out in a fight over whether he should bring aftershave.

We read it in The Minus Times.