Story Words
Very short fiction, written on the fly, from words submitted by readers.
© 2002, 2003, 2004 Jay Lake

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Violence had never come naturally to Kate, but in the seconds after her husband spoke the words that would end their marriage, her hand seemed to fly, of its own volition, in sweet slow motion she'd later replay again and again in her mind's eye, to meet with Bill's cheek not once, but twice. The roseate welts it left behind were almost as bright as the shock in his eyes, and Kate would cherish the memory of both for a very long time.

(Today's story courtesy of guest author Tiger Lily)

Friday, July 23, 2004

She dreams of a place with desert and sand. A place she has never been, likely never will be, but then, she thinks, that's the nature of dreams. She deftly flips sizzling eggs as she hears the sound of wind, feels sand brushing across her face in a light breeze.

The eggs are on the table, over easy, centered on a white china plate, and framed perfectly by silverware by the time her husband comes to breakfast. She hands him a napkin, and in that gesture of graceful flesh, she dances to the lyric of a flute, one of many women in the shadow of morning, dancing the sarabande when it was still true and strong and spoke of beauty and passion.

Rinsing the plate after he finishes is a matter of moments, and though it's water running over her hands, she feels grit as she scrubs the china clean. She smiles but says nothing as her husband mutters and brushes a slight scattering of sand from the table.

(Today's story courtesy of guest author Diana S.)

Thursday, July 22, 2004

We stele what we cannot urn, we brake what we cannot boil, we flea what dogs us most. The Homonym Army roles over the horizon, bent on reeking confusion at every steppe.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Bob's drunks tended towards the lachrymose, late evening often finding him folded over the bar with his sleeve in a puddle of gin and his cheeks damp with sorrows left over when the bartender was incapable of absorbing any more of them. Sometimes sad ladies of the night, down on their luck, would drink his tears in preference to purchasing beverages, and sit beside him sighing until well after closing time.

(Today's Storyword courtesy of guest author BridgetM)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

They took you to the Empyrean. I would follow, but I have no wings to take me. They took my flight from me, left my wings on the grass beside me, feathers settling in the grass like moths on tree leaves. I watch the sky turn and dim while you fly to some realm I'll never see, wondering how much sweeter the air there might sing.

(Today's Storyword courtesy of guest author Jannas)

Monday, July 19, 2004

"This court will now hear the charges of apophallation against the defendant."
"Your honor, if it pleases the court--"
"Not much pleases the court any more, son. is son isn't it?"
"That's sort of the point, your honor."
"Oh, I see."
"No, sir, you don't. There are certain...shortcomings...associated with the charges."
"No need to be stiff about it."
"Stiff is the last thing, your honor."
"Move it along, then, son."
"This is going to be a real slugfest, sir."

("Apophallation" courtesy of LeonW)

Sunday, July 18, 2004

We procrastinate because amateur crastination is such a painful experience. The widges never fit without the right moly grease, and no matter how hard we try, it's impossible to accurately remember the jumper sequences when the air pressure's falling and the marmosets are howling. Besides, the United States Crastination Association has put out such a great ruleset, or will have when they get around to it, that no one ever has to worry about the mauve shirt penalty or why the bananas have to be rotten. So we procrastinate because we can. Or could. Or would if we ever get around to it.

  I've been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and for the John W. Campbell, Jr. Award for Best New Writer!
Award info | Me

Read the Hugo-nominated story for free at

Q: What is this?
A: A fiction experiment. Every day, people email me words. At some random point in the day, I pick a word, write a quick story about it on the spot, and post it unedited (except for a quick typo patrol).

Q: What did that word mean?
A: Look it up:

Q: Can I send you a word?
A: You bet. Include a definition if the word is deeply obscure -- or not, if you prefer. Send it to

Q: I've got something to say about this.
A: Click over to the Story Words discussion topic.

Q: Who else is silly enough to do this? I think it's kind of neat.
A: David Jones, for one. Surf over there and check him out. Drop him an encouraging word, too. He's a brave man.
A: Jeremy Tolbert, for another, with his Microscopica project. Likewise show him some love.
A: Jason Erik Lundberg with his Mythologism blog.

Q: You're even cooler than KITT the Knight Rider car. Do you have a mailing list to announce your latest hijinks?
A: Of course I do. What kind of self-promoting, narcissistic writer would I be otherwise? Email me. Occasional mailings regarding stories appearing in print and online, weird stuff in general, and appearances of the Greek Chorus.