• Micro Fiction Contest: “What Happened in 2020?”

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 79 comments
    Aug
    22

    Discussion questions: Using fifty words or fewer, write a short story or scene that answers the question, “Grandma/Grandpa/Whoever, can you tell me that story again about what happened in 2020?” Write or paste your story (or stories — enter as many times as you wish!) into the comments.

     

    It’s been a wild year, and I have a sinking feeling it’s going to get only wilder as we slog toward November 3, and then after November 3 there’s a not-zero chance we’ll look back on the previous ten months as a period of calm relative to what will come after.

    There’s a tweet that sticks in my mind: “Future historians will be asked which quarter of 2020 they specialize in.”

     

    What Is This Contest and How Do I Enter?

    In fifty (50) words or fewer, write a story or scene in response to the following question: “Grandma/Grandpa/Whoever, can you tell me that story again about what happened in 2020?”

    (I realize “Grandma/Grandpa” can be seen as exclusionary, so imagine whatever kind of scene you’d like. Maybe a stranger stops you on the street? Which calls the “again” into question… ugh! The gist is, someone in the future, who didn’t experience 2020, asks you to talk about it.)

    Feel free to take this in whatever direction you want. Maybe you think little of import has happened in 2020 and nothing of import will happen in the rest of 2020? Maybe you want to conceive of an alternate history of 2020? Maybe you want to write about something that happened in your own life and has nothing to do with the wider goings-on? Interpret it however you’d like to.

    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, August 30. 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!

     

    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.”

    If you like it, share it...Share on Facebook
    Facebook
    Tweet about this on Twitter
    Twitter
    Email this to someone
    email
    Print this page
    Print
    0 0 vote
    Article Rating
    Subscribe
    Notify of
    guest
    79 Comments
    Oldest
    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    Elissa Malcohn

    I remember your birth. Your grandmother’s ecstatic Facebook posts, you in onesies. She fought as hard as I did, probably harder, because she fought for you. I always clicked the heart icon, grieving for the world you came into, fearing what it would do to you. But love, love wins.

    Elissa Malcohn

    They were not masked balls, my love. They were masked protests. The fairy tales you’re taught are modeled on those told during the pandemic. The gowns were not floor length and sequined. They were plastic garbage bags, when we had no PPE. But we still danced, and we always will. 

    20200822-SaveTheUSPS.jpeg
    Joe Giordano

    Uplifting. Good job. Joe.

    Susan

    This is wonderful. I imagine, or actually I’ve read, that most of the fairy tales we know are true events disguised.

    Joe Giordano

    I’d hunkered down like human contact risked death, chancing doomsday only to food shop, wearing a bandanna, looking like I intended to rob the place. I reorganized every drawer, closet, and cabinet, taking small pleasure in shredding old bills, binge-watched Netflix, and sometimes contemplated suicide for something different to do.

    Elissa Malcohn

    That ending is a kicker. Love the nonchalant tone of it, too.

    Joe Giordano

    Thank you for reading and the kind comment. Joe.

    Angela Grout

    Joe- what a great way to use 50 words. Accurately describing life in 2020. Glad suicide wasn’t an option but the reference of it being “something to do” gave the piece a hilarious spin. Sad to say many didn’t say it with humor but their drug induced lives created the reality which changed the issue of mask wearing to casket laying.

    Joe Giordano

    Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments. Joe.

    david lemke

    Why would a smart robot want to know about the Great Blood Bath, when billions died and that crazy country of America, became a radioactive wasteland when their Final Revolt began and Emperor Trump pushed the button? No I won’t tell you.  Eat your curried eel, it’s good for you.

    John Bordeaux

    It was the year we left home, heading North. I can remember dressing you in several differently colored outfits, changing you into the safest colors as we passed through some of the wilder territories. We made it a game for you, but sadly we lost your sister in New Dakota.

    Angela Grout

    2020 was the year my book tour for APRiL RAiN was suppose to happen but on March 13- the day of your mom’s 9th birthday party, as she blew out her candles, my phone rang with the news that school and all events were cancelled until May Day!

    Angela Grout

    Parades of cars drove by the homes where graduates and birthday candidates lived to toot them well wishes. Grocery stores taped their floors with stage direction to control traffic to eliminate Customer contact. Learning to smile with our eyes was difficult to communicate while hospital style masks protected our breath.

    Joe Giordano

    Well done. Joe.

    Susan

    Learning to smile with our eyes might actually be one of the unintended positive effects of masking?

    Susan

    Just feel whatever you’re feeling that’s making you smile–laughter, warmth, kindness, irony, mischievousness, and imagine it beaming through your eyes. Your eyes will glow, or have a glint, or soften, depending. Just keep practicing on people who aren’t wearing masks and see if they smile back. It works because I have to do it constantly at work.

    Angela Grout

    2020 disappointed sports players and fans; though it brought about more time for household to-do lists to get done. Rooms were repainted and organized. Families had cooking contests, game nights, and talk time. The instant gratification which society often lived on was shelved and people survived.

    Angela Grout

    Taking online opportunities to join writing communities, working on my work in projects, appreciating the flowers, and of course playing with my kids.

    Angela Grout

    Late summer of 2020 was relaxing except for the financial fears from business closures and layoffs. Floating in the water we anxiously to hear when and if school would ever resume back to normal. When the news came, we continued to relax in the sun accepting the news could change.

    Angela Grout

    We were told Covid19 spread via air, then transferred on plastic and metal surfaces. News reported even eyes could pass the virus. Inconsistent reporting became a tennis match struggling to learn truth. Social distance created fear, loneliness, and depression which lowered immunity. The Government guidelines changed daily.

    Mary Jeffredo

    So much truth in there, Angela. I believe the fear and depression was intended.

    Angela Grout

    Yes. I just finished writing a short play called covid 19. Well I may change it convention2019. Stay tune. There may be a reason for it all. Idk 🤔

    Angela Grout

    March 2020- covid warnings and fears alerted us something was going on. April 2020- the world seemed to be shutdown. May 2020-Zoom became every parents new vocabulary word. June 2020- fear, disappointment and summer was forced upon us. July 2020- neighbors became the social family circle.

    Angela Grout

    Oh dear grandchild, if 2020 could be told in one word, I would chose the word Faith. It was a year where faith allowed you to control your own life with hope its ripple effects would resemble others. Many lost faith in authority, experts, and leadership. (And it was scary.)

    Angela Grout

    Needed to be included as a side note. 😉

    Angela Grout

    2020 was the year all people everywhere needed to be reminded about personal hygiene, personal space, and what to do when sick. Many forgot a body needs to heal when it’s sick, good health must be practiced to protect everyone.

    Angela Grout

    Oh my child, 2020 was the beginning of living. It was the year people were encouraged to stay home and tend to their lives. Many put money making ventures ahead of family, health, and community. Time was seized to evaluate what was really essential- Toilet paper, food, and compassion.

    Angela Grout

    After a 29 year journey in space, Penny unscrewed a tube labeled APR-1L; instructions said, “Open in Time Square”.
    She did and covid19 Traveled through the air from every corner of the earth and fit in that tube. She added some tequila, then swallowed it all.

    Joe Giordano

    Reading all your posts, I feel like I’m in a Greenwich Village coffee house, clicking my fingers to the beat of your words. Joe.

    Angela Grout

    Awe thanks.

    Mary Jeffredo

    2020 – the year when spring disappeared; when summer was gobbled up by lockdowns; when smiles were defeated by masks; and – it was the first recorded phenomena of the disappearance of toilet paper. Most made it through the year; many didn’t. Hands together. Pray for a better “21.”

    Angela Grout

    “Smiles defeated by masks” totally shares the reason hands together are important. Stay well!

    Mary Jeffredo

    Yes. Thank you, Angela. It’s so satisfying to watch humans regather their wits, finding ways to overcome new limitations by helping those with greater needs. We will come out of this much stronger than we went in.

    Angela Grout

    My dear let me share how I survived 2020. I turned off the news and painted rocks. I prayed for scientists and listened to nature. I sent flowers to nurses and wrote a love letter to my husband. I spoke well wishes to strangers and played with my children.

    KevinW

    Jeffrey4029 activated the Virtuancestor and the hologram appeared. Ghostpa smiled at him.
    “Again, 2020?”
    J4029 nodded.
    “In the springtime the Great Death began. Insanity, murder, suicide. That’s when we started preserving coded DNA for the future The real Death began on 12121, the day after the Presidential inauguration, when nuclear strikes on New York, Chicago and Portland were authotized. Everything died then, and then human life was recreated from the stored DNA. Always remember your secret name, Jeffrey. Trump.”

    Margaret Coggins

    The shift of intelligence from books to Reality TV had finally taken its toll on the country. Twitter directed each plot twist and thousands of lives were destroyed before the streets and government could be taken back by those who had awakened from the melancholic drug of complacency.

    Margaret Coggins

    That was the year that The Divided States was created. Before that it was called the United States.

    Angela Grout

    Yikes. I pray we reunite!!

    delconte

    I sashayed into that financial institution like Billy the Kid, masked, preparing to leave with a lot of money. I had no time for niceties; I meant business. I strolled right up to that counter with only my eyes visible, voice muffled, and made a hearty withdrawal from my account.

    GaryB

    We were at once directed to hide ourselves from ourselves, promoting security behind bolted doors and shuttered windows. Our own personal Abbeys. At once both haven and prison. Time passed, as it always will, and loss of freedom rankled, so we ventured forth resplendent in red masque proving Poe a Prophet. 

    Raymundo

    The boy’s biometrics glow green through his pupils from the processing prompted by his question. Looking for input. Compassion contends with disgust and sorrow over the tone in my answer. “I’ve told you, boy. All the real people died, except for me.”

    Susan

    “No story to tell. Mr. Erbe lied, Rupert. There was no pandemic in 2020. That was a hoax.”
    “Is it possible something like that could happen, Grandma?”
    “No, the Society of Stable Geniuses decreed that is isn’t. ‘Is possible,’ then, can’t even be a concept.” (Note to self: Report Erbe.)

    Susan

    Could be beer, I suppose, considering where I am of course. I thought about making the name mean something, but I didn’t have time; I just picked the first surname that popped into my head–someone I went to high school with. Since we’re talking about is isn’t, maybe it means to be er not to be….

    Susan

    “Ripple”
     A man lay on the grass. Sturm walked past. Why? Could be dangerous, maybe dead (no point), wants to sleep…Sturm had a conscience, went back, called 911. Later, the man was released from the hospital and headed to his original destination—the ballot dropoff. Hearing the story, hundreds voted.

    Susan

    In March, Walter stopped watching television. He couldn’t hear. He stopped reading papers. He usually sat at the window, watching birds–especially the cute sparrows. Why the masks on people? Pollution? One day an angel told Walter he had one day to live. He spent it happily at the window.

    Susan

    Wise Cora spoke: “In 2020 we won our place at the table. Compassion poured upon people, animals, water, trees. Not a tear for the lowliest—who fought hatred, vaccination, anti-virals! They called us half-life! Humans loosed their grip on life. We rose! Now they listen.” (Teachings of Corona, Ch. 1.)

    Susan

    “Kids, wanna read this story from 2020? ‘Uncrowning’: about a vain despot outwitted by a hairdresser, who kidnaps the despot’s wife and, as Scarlet Pimpernel II, evades everyone. The ransom? The despot must shear his locks. He refuses, the wife’s stylist retaliates, infusing the despot’s shampoo with depilatory. He abdicates.”

    SusanH

    LAST ONE, I promise. I think I had to write the other ones before I realized this is the one I wanted.

    Global warming was about more than glaciers. The powerful and the silent clung violently to icy white bergs. Muddy waters rose, black earth churned, red fire burned, hot lava spewed. It seemed the center would not hold. What have we done, a few asked themselves as they began to melt.

    Susan

    possibly some good can come from melting. Doesn’t have to mean destruction, just softening, opening up, becoming fluid.

    KevinW

    “E Cinere Unum” The tiny tattoo was under the armpit. The old man”s arms were corded muscle, the chest hard and powerful, the scars jagged red and white. “Never forget what they did to us, Jeffrey. But we’re still here”. Jeffrey goggled. He’d never seen grandpa with his shirt off. “This is called a ‘book’. Read it, guard it, and hide it. They will kill you if they find it. This is the true history. Of what this country was, good and bad, how it was desttroyed by politics and how we are rebuilding it into what it always should… Read more »

    Susan

    E Cinere Unum? “This is called a book.” Scary.

    Barbara A Marx

    Pandemic
    Pandemonium
    Panic
    Prayer




    Latest Tweets


    79
    0
    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
    ()
    x