• Micro Fiction Contest: “Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt”

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 129 comments

    Discussion questions: In one hundred (100) words or fewer, write a scene or story that includes the phrase “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.” Write or paste your story into the comments.


    (To skip my narration and get straight to contest details, scroll down to the next heading.)

    After NYC went on lockdown I struggled to find something to read. It wasn’t a lack of options; it was more like none of the options felt relevant to the moment. I was finding plenty of escape in other forms (hours and hours and hours of Netflix entertainment), so I wanted my reading to speak to me in some way about what was happening.

    When a conversation about Vonnegut sprang up in the comments of our discussion post about quarantine reading, I had my answer. I had access to a Library of America edition of Vonnegut novels and stories, so I began reading Cat’s Cradle, an early-’60s novel about an apocalypse of sorts. His mix of disgust for and love of humanity turned out to be exactly what I needed. Next I read Breakfast of Champions, and now I’m almost through Slaughterhouse-Five, all for about the eighth time apiece.

    There’s a moment in Slaughterhouse-Five where Billy Pilgrim imagines an epitaph for his gravestone, conveyed to us through the illustration at the top of the this post. Though its use isn’t entirely sincere, it’s a pleasant line… and will make for an excellent Micro Fiction Contest.

    I know a lot of you are struggling in a lot of ways, including creatively. And many of you are struggling just to write anything. If that’s you, hopefully this will help. If you’re already writing, then… here’s another thing to write!


    What Is This Contest and How Do I Enter?

    In one hundred (100) words or fewer, write a story or scene — or even a moment from your own life; these don’t necessarily have to be fiction — that includes the phrase “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

    Enter as many times as you wish.

    Write or paste your story/stories in the comments section below.

    Submit your entries by the end of Sunday, May 10. I’ll announce the winner in the comments and in the following weekend’s email message (which, if you don’t already receive, you can sign up for in the right sidebar).

    My favorite story (stories?) will earn its writer his/her choice of book from the WBN library.


    You’ll Choose a Winner Based on What, Exactly?

    The usual metrics: style, concision (obviously), humor. Whimsy (mine).

    And I’ll take into account the number of thumbs-up each story receives. So if you really enjoy someone else’s piece, be a sport and give it an upvote.

    Good luck! And be well.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    Janet Schwartz

    Although tears should have been streaming down my cheeks while looking down on my mom’s lifeless body, all I could see was that everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. What a relief to see her so peaceful and not struggling for every breath she took. God speed, Mom, until we meet again.

    Joe Giordano

    Ben pleaded. “Can’t you bring Lisa out of the coma?”
    The doctor grimaced his answer. “There’s a DNR?”
    Ben nodded. His eyes were wet.
    Voices to Lisa, sounded like echoes in a canyon. A light appeared and hovered above her like a halo. She had the sensation of floating upward. Calmness overtook her mind.
    Lisa thought, No more pain. I just need to release, and I could stay here. But Ben loves me.
    Light surrounded her. Shadowy figures like flickering candle flames pulled her toward them.
    It’s so peaceful here. Ben, please understand.
    Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.


    Nicolas warned Collette not to go into the pit, but she needed that ingredient to finish the evening meal. It was the first room her grandfather carved into that mountain. Decades later, other levels added created this mountainous mansion overlooking lush valleys in Ayiti, land of high mountains. She placed the lamp by the propped door. She found the jar just as the earth moved. Boulders closed around her. A contraction brought her to her knees. Her back to the rubble, she breathed—pushed furiously. The light persisted. Collette brought her to her breast. Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.

    Thylias Moss

    Everything was beautiful, the lawn completely yellow-topped, this population of dandelions growing a road from a street that leads to my patio only when one is on the road the dandelions lead to where one feels refuge in more open space that leads to other fields of blossoming dandelions, healing blooms, at Gilead Apartment complex where I live, telling everyone that there’s a balm here, though some heard bomb with healing along the yellow line to my patio where nothing hurt the view of dandelions, as yellow as this dawn growing, expanding from patio to highest way..


    I love this.

    Thylias Moss

    Thank you


    Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt as I took the trail off to the far right. It led me past the fallen branch and the not yet blossoming wood. The tall pines steadfast in their green seemed to say, “I’m strong and always right here, rooted and deep.” I held fast to the path, to the evergreen way. The pines, a barrier from what lives outside of these woods. Only my memories tag along, like a trusted friend. The loop brings me back to the path that leads out. With the pines at my back, the sun urges me on.

    Joe Irwin

    Snow White had pastel woodland creatures helping her dress and cut flowers blooming a second time in her hair. John Muir paid a nickel to get pants patched and his beard deloused the morning before Grimm’s vernal equinox party. Muir was drawing mushrooms on a bevnap and Snow started talking about hallucinations. When they looked at hummingbirds, she heard a voice over actress. Muir smelled zinc. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt until she started reading poetry in bed. He pulled a moth-eaten Marlboro out of his beard; lit it by thumping an aggravating firefly and walked out toward Yosemite.

    James Patrick Rick

    A nap that Thanksgiving afternoon seemed like a good idea, but sleep wouldn’t come; I was restless. Plenty of white wine and that turkey- tryptophan-coma should have rendered me unconscious. I forced myself to roll over and get off the bed with that feeling my right leg was asleep. One step forward and that useless leg collapsed underneath me. My body came crashing to the floor. Confused, I managed to cry out a weak, “Help.” Jane came running. At peace, I thought to myself, Stroke, everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt. My ambulance ride to the emergency room was short.

    Aaron Reis

    I’d so rarely felt safe, and free, with someone being that close. I started to trust her; as the cases for and against me are both so strong. She wielded a soft and sharp touch. Sad, how Pascal perfectly described my feelings after letting her go, as the urge to sleep washed over me.

    Harper to me, Hoyt to you; words and signs came again and again in waves.

    Holding her on my lap, everything was beautiful – and nothing hurt.

    John Liebling

    Who knows what inflamed my herniated disks? Stress, after too many teaching colleagues expressed hateful anti-Israel, anti-Semitic views? Up and down my entire spine, I endured excruciating, never-ending pain. I actually contemplated suicide. Sunday morning, November 11, 2001, beautiful chirping song greeted me. For the first time in fourteen months I was completely pain free. The next day was Veteran’s Day. Empathy for others returned. Tearful for the victims of 9/11 and the men and women in uniform, who made the ultimate sacrifice, in protecting our liberty. For a moment in time, everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.


    Headhead wordswords. Nothing was beautiful and everything hurthurt. Shivering on the bed in the fetal position, her anxiety ravaged; heartbeat heartbeat quickbreath quickbreath… Boris heaved himself onto the bed and nuzzled her. His sixty chubby pounds leaned against and over her, a living weighted anxiety blanket. She hugged his warm belly and pressed her face into the black hair of his head. She stared at the bloody word LAZERBLADE she’d cut into her hand and outlined with ink, earlier. Drifting into a void filled only with love exchanged with her pet, her breathing eased and her heartbeat slowed. Soon, everything… Read more »

    harps mclean

    Accounting started an office pool last week and Ernie has me dying in my sleep on Thursday. He is actually really good at office pools. He claims to have played fish with tarot cards until his sister drowned at the kitchen table. I’m starting to feel not so good, then I remember Ernie died Sunday night; his combover was caught in the planchette of the ouija board repeatedly smashing his head through the glass coffee table. I fall right to sleep, smiling. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurts. While a cigarette ashes on my pillow.

    Thylias Moss

    Everything was beautiful, teacups filling with tea from Heaven, brown with a little iron and pollution that these days we have to have, the latest style of beverage, and nothing hurt the zero calories, of those basking teacups destined to grow into amusement park rides to glory of whacking down trees, by whackers who were the actual pain killers; at least the shards of China cups were blown by mighty wind to a gluon factory, particle accelerator, next to eat-it-all conic practitioners of sublime vanilla essences, spice from rusting bridgework in Aunt Doreen’s anesthetized mouth still blathering and spitting out… Read more »


    What wonderful poetry!


    thank you very much

    david lemke

    (I didn’t notice the 100 words stricture instead of the usual 50.)
    “If everything’s beautiful and nothing hurts, would that be enough?”
    “What about passion?” she frowned. “What about love? And beauty, isn’t that in the eye of the beholder, anyway?”
    “Yeah,” I said. “and morning coffee, and cheese and wine and shrimp Alfredo?”
    She laughed. I loved it when she laughed.

    david lemke

    It did. And when I realized the word limit was 100, I didn’t see that more words would make it better.


    He meets me on the corner, pushing it hard into the palm of my hand. Inside, with my back against the wall, I crush it with the butt, swirling the pretty poison, waiting for that exquisite viscosity. Out comes a remnant from a closet that belonged to a different girl, held up pants in a past when I could still imagine a future. I pull until it feels like my entire body will burst, find the spot, slide it in. For a moment, everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. I’m the girl from before, here but already gone.


    This is remarkable. It seems to me to be a particularly feminine viewpoint, to use the belt as the focus of change, the article of clothing which is repurposed for her new life. A good example of writing around the event, describing it peripherally. Balance returns for a moment, she can almost believe she is who she was, but she is who she is, a person who can be summed up and dismissed in one word. Well done, FWIW.


    I thought it was entirely about sex and didn’t even think about drugs, and maybe it’s about both–which makes the piece even more brilliant. Re: addicts, here, at our hospital they do not turn anyone away for lack of insurance or ability to pay, and there has been a marked increase of patients in withdrawal. I hope there are other shelters.


    I went the other way, I didn’t even think of sex. I agree, two different interpretations, or one, or both. Wow.

    david lemke

    Dull knives, sharp forks, nails on the chalkboard, pain beyond endurance, beyond escape, heart pounding too fast to count, and though tubes and respirator and useless lungs make it so I can’t scream, I do anyway, a silent tsunami inside.
    Something slipping, peering down, clockwise turning, my daughter, my son down there, he’s going bald, bending over, who’s that? Me? My body? Everybody’s frantic, like mad bees, but within me, everything’s beautiful, nothing hurts, I could breath, if I needed to…but they need me! I’m not ready, stuff to do! No, I can’t just leave, not yet… Yes, the pain.

    david lemke

    I used to do past life regression work going back to the early 70s. Looking at life from the other side was pretty routine. For many who have had a near death experience, but rejected heaven over the needs to stay, this says it all.

    stephen Glick

    Everything was beautiful and nothing was hurt. Till I noticed that smile on my sisters face. She had eaten the last twinkie, again.Not again ! No! no I offered her an old fashion to wash it down with . I am a fuckin saint no doubt.I mixed the drink and poured it into my special glass that I use to spread the rat poison with . It adds a special flavor to the drink!


    “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.” So, the night was just like any other night with my husband. I was sitting next to my honey, while we were watching our favorite show on television. And that is when he kissed me. I gave him a big kiss back. He was not drunk, but must have had a few beers.
    He thought he gave me what he thought was a nice loving kiss but then realized by accident his nose smashed my teeth.
    But it was so beautiful and nothing hurt.


    Thanks David. I have smashed teeth before and it is not as beautiful.

    Elissa Malcohn

    I stood before the firing squad,
    Stone at my back. Beneath me, sod.
    The other prisoners prayed to their god.

    Above, vultures circled like rings of smoke.
    In another reality, other folk
    Told lovers, “I waited until you awoke,”

    Then delivered news that they’d wanted to tell
    At a table with maple and coffee smell.
    Minuscule details, worn so well

    That I could recite them all, even here
    Where the only odors were shit and fear.
    What nightmare had made this world appear?

    Fingers on triggers, high alert,
    But riddled by sunlight’s sudden spurt.
    Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.


    The old man stirs beneath his blankets in a tent beset by freezing winds. He calls to me. The smell of rotting flesh verifies his frostbite is gangrenous.
    “This is far as I go,” he says.
    “Me too. The Sherpas are gone.”
    He nods, whispering, “Talos got to them. Bastard. One last cigar?”
    I light one and hold it to his lips. He manages a savoring puff.
    Through tears, I try to prompt him to a positive final memory. “Henry, what do you remember of Shangri-La?”
    “My real name is, Chalmers.” He smiles. “Everything was beautiful, and…nothing…hurt….”

    Elissa Malcohn

    Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt, and Georgie wanted cheese. (Poof!) He scarfed it down. More cheese? (Poof!)

    And there’s Sarah! Little girl Sarah! Cuddle before she went away Sarah! Hamburger dropped under the table Sarah! Georgie galloped up beside her on cool grass under the old tree that fell down in a scary storm long ago. Now it’s back, smelling of summer!

    “Algorithms look good.” Sarah dabs at her eyes and turns to the urn on its shelf. “That’s as close as we can get to each other today, Georgie.”

    Still leaning on her cane, she shuts everything off.

    Elissa Malcohn

    (I’ve got paragraph breaks here, but they don’t seem to be taking at the moment.)

    harps mclean

    We were kids. I carved your initials and the phrase “everything was beautiful and nothing hurts” into the shell of a tortoise. You were so mad while the tortoise waited in the yard. “I’m kidding,” I said. “Just a metaphor for how long our love will live”
    I carried that tortoise half a day away and prayed you never get out of your car to help him cross a highway.
    Tonight the dog is barking. You are gone and I hear a scarred reptile fall down our front steps and lay upside down in the aggregate night–thick legs treading nothing.

    harps mclean

    Something is killing the chickens. I suspect it’s either a racoon or my wife’s boyfriend. I read raccoons like marshmallows. But they are smart and after a week we have fat raccoons with type 2 diabetes until I add chocolate and a graham cracker. My wife hid my Smith & Wesson with the busted safety catch. The racoon gets me pretty good as I hold him down in the creek but raccoons can hold their breath longer than otters– twenty two minutes. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurts at least that’s what I told him over and over, without breathing.


    Google does the killin’ & the math — I just do the fibbing. Thanks for reading

    Susan Rene Barclay

    Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt. Then, I was born.


    “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt”. I went to grab a kitchen knife from the drawer. I needed to cut the cake for my son’s birthday party. He was turning thirteen and the cake was beautiful. But not the easiest cake to slice. No one wanted to cut it. So, I offered. The knife from the kitchen was not sharp enough and I needed to find something else. I grabbed the first thing I could find from my husband’s toolbox. I saw a hammer and a few screwdrivers. I did not know what to think but then I spotted the… Read more »

    David Lerner

    She puts on her makeup, picking from an endless array of pencils.

    He gets his car in gear. Another day at the pasture, meaningless and empty.

    The universe is quiet. Only they exist in a crystallized metaphor. Floating.

    She walks through a living room with nothing ever to be missed.

    The pasture is now an ashen field. No cows. Nothing.

    Was it ever a pasture?

    He doesn’t remember who he is. Panic.

    He swerves, crashing into a light pole. Pain.

    She looks in the mirror and sees the universe naked. It’s attractive.

    Everything was beautiful. Nothing hurt.

    For a moment.


    The rapping was insistent, so Asprocolas climbed down from the chair and answered it. The shortest gendarme he’d ever seen stood with a seven-foot tall prostitute covered in vomit. Asprocolas’ bulk blocked the rope from their sight.
    “Yours, sir?”
    “Not from here”, Asprocolas replied. He shut the door and climbed back on the chair. The note was placed and the half bar of soap covered in chocolate sauce would prevent his crying out inadvertently.
    His phone chirped from the breakfast tray. Hotel security, again. He sighed. All he wanted was to be where everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.


    I almost went with “Leszczynska” but a Proustian encounter with a can of asparagus reminded me of a paper boy named “Asprocolas” who grew up to be a straw man…


    “Uselessly inefficient, painfully redundant and toxically masculine”, Minerva had called him. Probably a quote from Upton Sinclair Lewis or some other the hell writer she liked. Damn her and her communist dream world where everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. Meanwhile he was the one out in the street looking for meat. He shifted the rifle on his back. She’d be dead now without him. His shoes squished with blood. Just a man, and his will to survive…now THERE was a song, he thought.

    david lemke

    It was Saturday when I burned brush piled up in the yard from two years a go, By the time the sun was falling, I’d gotten rid of most of the huge pile. al that was left was logs too big to break or cut without the help of the chain saw. I was quite satisfied, it was a lot of work and my body ached in places I forgot I had. I could hardly walk, quarantined but got something done, two days into May of 2020 was beautiful and everything hurt. (true story)

    david lemke

    Better today.


    “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt,” said a man passing me in the opposite direction.
    The woman in white scanned my microchip. She looked Hollywood—platinum, buxom and porcelain. Her badge read IVAT-373.
    Human or Android? I wondered.
    “Gate 4,” she said.
    “Why there?”
    Her eyes flickered. “You’ll love it there!”
    “Blue Sector.”
    “What is that?”
    “Great America!”
    “Oh! Do they have rollercoasters?”
    “That‘s not a real question.” She smiled. Her teeth sparkled.
    “Who else lives there?”
    “Other people.”
    “Blue people?”
    She pointed to a sign: FIVE QUESTIONS PER SUBJECT.
    “Next!” she said.
    JARK-88 escorted me to the gate.


    IVAT-373 is an android platinum, buxom, porcelain IVAnka Trump?


    Well, that’s what I was wondering too, but they wouldn’t let me ask any more questions! It could be Individual Valuation and Transplantation


    I couldn’t even handle the Wild Mouse at Dandelion Park. Did you ever go there, or was that before your time? It was in Muskego.


    He blew twin jets of smoke from his nose.
    “Much that is terrible we have not seen. Much that is beautiful we shall still discover. Let’s sail ‘tll we come to the edge”.
    She sipped her wine.
    “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt”.
    He blew twin jets of smoke from his nose. He relished mansplaiining.
    “My quote is reality, life, the sweet and sour, good and evil. Your quote is candy-coated bullshit idealism”.
    Her eyes fixed him over her wineglass.
    “You don’t have kids, asshole”.

    Caron Caraway

    I had to make a costume for the annual National Costumer’s Association entry for my new job. Costume shop, hot mess. Budget $100. Inspiration, Sulamith Wulfing. Took the moth/butterfly courtship dance poster to the workshop. Stayed early, went in late. That pictorial inspiration made me need another $200. It was speaking when I was alone there…I ran out of time to create perfection…but came the day I rolled it all into a golf bag luggage box and off we all went to the convention. Owner of the company and the manager of my store were there.They were in doubt. I… Read more »

    Caron Caraway

    Yep I got more of that

    Caron Caraway

    3/1/2 Teenagers The Alaska visit was an eye opener. Off the plane and into the mobile, 8 people on the considered Alaska summer trek. The flowers and vegetables and mountains huge, as were the 3 teenagers. Next to them was a girl half their size .The beautiful pain release was spectacularly painful as several journeys were accomplished. Under such bright Alaska nights I saw healing for my daughter; I watched my mother navigate a suitcase of pills. I cooked with a spectacularity I still hold today. The coolest thing I brought home from Alaska is what they do for each… Read more »


    He was left the guardian of the legacy. Which was a melodramatically crap way of looking at it. Damn Reynolds, leaving him as executor. He preferred the late whackjob to be only that, an interesting footnote to his life, a brilliant creative mind he could trot out over beers occasionally, “so I knew this guy”, etc. Instead there were boxes of video tape, handwritten score paper, smudged drawings, all elucidating a world where everything was easy and nothing hurt, and all stinking of the whiskey and marijuana that had formed them. He couldn’t bring himself to trash it all.


    Thanks. A dead legend is no trouble, a template for tergiversation, whereas a live one is a responsibility…or maybe it’s the other way around? Or like Benny Hill said, “a friend in need…is a bloody nuisance”?


    It’s based on a friend who was bequeathed a dead friend’s unpublished life’s work and wondered what he was supposed to do with it. Apparently they had not been particularly close, and he really resented being chosen, and the deceased had been estranged from his family so no help there. I thought he was a bit cold about it all…

    David Lerner

    “It’s really gone.” Tina said in awe. “Nothing in there.”

    “Not yet,” I said proudly. They’re going to put in a prosthetic.

    “When will the new ‘Everything’ get here?”

    “You remembered! How sweet.”

    “How could I not? You, naming your thing that. Just for the wordplay, too. Talk about crass.”

    “It’s not like I signed my mortgage with his name. It’s just for fun. Want to do ‘Everything’? Want to see ‘Everything’? All I have to do is take off my pants.”

    “You’re disgusting.”

    “Everything, well. Everything was beautiful.”

    “”…And nothing hurt”. Real poetic way of talking about dongs.”


    I am humbled by natural connections that, free of the trappings of professionalism, prove far more therapeutic than my counseling. Yesterday, on the ward, Ricky, Juvenile Court “incorrigible”, found his hinge. No longer swinging, he chatted up residents, especially Aoife, 22, who cried for hours most days. He’d charmingly enticed her to play the piano, leading her there by the hand. Hearing Bridge Over Troubled Water, Bibi, battered spouse, began singing, with harmony by Marguerite of the fractured mind. The looks on their faces… For one transcendent interval, everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt. Ollie came out of his room!


    Very interesting question. This is actually a true story, with names changed of course. Some sort of reunion between two of them would be interesting…Out of respect for them I’m not sure it would be right to “use” them as characters, or would that be honoring them? Bibi was actually married to a famous person, and it took courage for her to break away, as everything got in the papers. Marguerite was in her 70s and a retired and well-loved University Professor, no doubt with a complex history. Ricky was quite loveable.


    Did you tell those real people that you’re writing about them? I do think it would be an interesting post. I think that it’s probably one of those things where each situation has to be evaluated separately based on your own internal standards and values, with a mind toward the law…In my case, above, I could use the experience and some aspects of the characters could make their way into descriptions of other characters, but I would have to be careful to disguise the event and the people enough so that nobody could recognize themselves. It would not be enough… Read more »


    IIRC, Sylvia Plath had “The Bell Jar” originally published under a pseudonym and refused to have it published in the US because the characters were too obviously based on people she’d known, some of whom were hurt by their portrayals when the novel became well-known.


    I like Ricky


    I’m glad he did not allow himself to be “corriged”, at least not entirely. He brought a lot of love and joy to everyone.

    Caron Caraway

    The call and response is not only transcend/African, it is finding voice. Rusty at first then harmony finds a way to weave in and come out.


    This comment makes me think of many things, and I want to start writing a poem, or something. Thanks for the triggers.


    Yeah, cranked out an entire volume and found a publisher for it all while getting ready for work today. Sigh. It’s on the list… Gotta finish the big project first.


    Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt as I stared in the full-length mirror at my new breast that filled the empty hole where it had been missing. It was round and pert demanding attention. Whole and unbroken, I stood looking from every angle, seeing myself, almost beautiful. My femininity stared back. The surgery went well and I was whole- for awhile. It didn’t last, pain overtook, and my breast had to be removed permanently. Now I see the empty space, and my scars, the ones that shape me, but how I remember when everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

    Caron Caraway

    This pertains. The part of us underneath the puffed up flesh speaks. As to, who…


    She caught her breath. This could be. He could be.
    At twenty-two, he was old for her. But the instinct for womanly scheming was ripening in her adolescent mind.
    This could be. He could be.
    He droned on about the legislative process in that thrillingly soft Texas accent. That hard, mean face…that misshapen, boulderish bald head…she shivered.
    This could be. He could be.
    Her very own Sam Rayburn. The eyepatch was just an extra added attraction.
    She gazed into it now, feeling herself falling with a sweet helplessness into a world where everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

    Erica Craig

    “Don’t forget to grab Ruby’s leash!” I shouted. We were preparing for a hike to the top of Sawyer Mountain. Climbing Sawyer Mountain would be difficult, especially with three young kids in tow. We attempted it once last spring, but the black flies were so bad, and the trail too steep and rocky for young Violet to manage. We had to turn back half way, Andrew carrying her on his shoulders the entire way down. I saw her lean down, tiny hands wrapped around Andrew’s chin, snuggling close to his ear. “Everything’s beautiful and nothing hurts,” she said, “Thanks Daddy.”

    Erica Craig

    Thank you for taking the time to read. I’m looking forward to seeing who won! All the entries are inspiring.

    Anne Pratt

    Staring at the ceiling fan, she counts the number of taps its pull chain makes against the light fixture. It’s four am, and she’s awake again. His snoring doesn’t help. She remembers the last time she left the house. It was weeks ago. Months? Maybe. It was a cool Spring morning, with the loquat tree in the backyard just beginning to bloom. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt, yet she still counted the number of taps even then. Maybe I’m just not happy being happy, she wondered.

    Everything was Beautiful, and Nothing Kurt

    When he passed, I was happy. Not in a psychotic, sinister way as many believed. I truly missed him. But I couldn’t mourn. I promised him that. My son believed death wasn’t a sad thing. Rather, another stage in life where we rest to wake up in a better place. Paradise. He is there. At his burial, I smiled. I wore vibrant colors as the earth sung its wonderful song. It was strange how everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt. I didn’t even call it a funeral, only a temporary farewell. For I’d see him again. And that brought me… Read more »


    Mom meets me at the door. Hot smoke spirals up from the Salem between her fingers. Her lips are ashen, her jaw tight. Why was she home so early? Why was she smoking? It’s been ten years since she’s smoked. The door whines when she opens it. I follow her into the kitchen. Where was Daddy? Did he try to kill himself again? Did he hurt someone? Was he dead? “Daddy’s drinking again.” Her cigarette fades into its own smoke and disappears. I want to disappear too, to a place where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. Somewhere, Daddy’s liquor… Read more »

    P.K. Boast

    Every year on my birthday, my mom would ask me, “Tell me a time over the past year when everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.” She was a lover of Vonnegut. After a few years of this, I knew the question was coming so I prepared for it, took an inventory of all the life events that I’d experienced that year, and always had my answer ready. I guess it was her way of getting me to focus on the happy memories, and it worked. I visited her in the hospital today. “Don’t put that on my gravestone,” she said.

    Caron Caraway

    My favorite epitaph… from an APR commentator…he always gets off on time


    In my dream I was laying across my mother’s lap, my hair was wet from all the sobbing and the flood of tears. “No, no, he supposed to have a happy birthday, a happy birthday” I cried. In her calm, sweet voice she spoke to me,” Shhh…He’s okay, every day is happy for him now. In heaven, everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.” “His pain is gone, no more suffering” I looked up to see her face but she wasn’t there, they both died many years ago, but she came back to tell that she can see him and he’s… Read more »

    Robert A Norris

    The garden is ready for planting, you can smell the richness of the dark dirt waiting to spring forth the fruit of the plants hardening on the back deck. The dark clouds appear from nowhere like a hot and humid afternoon thunderstorm. Instead of rain, snow comes falling as a white scene from late October and not early May. What a strange year this is. Did I hibernate for a full summer? Perhaps this isolation was only a dream and I wake back up to a time when everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.


    hah … yes it did come from the weekend storms. My wife and I sat down to some wings and craft beer after working all day in the yard and garden. I looked up and saw the white out and my first thought was ‘good God … how long have we been cooped up in the house.’

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