Your Story 51 Winner: Stray Lust

Prompt: Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following line of dialogue: “Heads, we get married; tails, we break up.”

Once again, you’ve made the Your Story competition a success! Thanks to everyone who participated in the competition (either by entering, reading or voting).

Out of more than 800 entries, readers helped us pick “Stray Lust” by Elijah Wess as the winner. For winning, Wess’ story will appear in an upcoming issue of Writer’s Digest.

“Stray Lust”
by Elijah Wess

“Heads, we get married; tails, we break up,” Ben told her. A look of uncertainty crossed Gale’s face as she searched his eyes for an answer.

The song faded in the distance as the last of the vocalists skipped home, ending the continuous ballad that had started after the final bell rang: “Ben and Gale, sittin’ in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g!”

It wasn’t the first time they had been teased at school for walking together, but now he seemed upset. The sight of the coin brought tightness to her chest.

A cool wind blew through the treetops behind the school. They both turned and watched the tall trees at the edge of the woods sway and bow as if waving them entry, the massive plumes of leaves rolling like thick, green smoke.

“Follow me Gale.” His voice carried something she had never heard from him, something that commanded her to give chase as he disappeared like a ghost into the wall of darkness.

Her green eyes quickly adjusted to the dim light of the familiar path. She followed the foot trail, worn smooth by generations of child and critter traveling under the dark umbrella of ancient wood. She ran the winding passage, between enormous trunks that seemed to stretch into the sky, soon hearing the gentle flow of water ahead.

As she crested the high bank beside the stream, she paused to survey the scene below. Ben stood near the tree bridge, his back to her. Walls of forest surrounded him with steep, sloping hills of old growth. The runoff of recent rain escaped the wooded heights and formed a calm pool below the bridge before it narrowed and carried on.

She watched Ben cross to the middle of the bridge and sit down. He called to her. “Sit with me Gale.”

She closed the distance between them, cutting from the path and sliding down the loose soil of the bank. Sittin’ in a tree, she thought. His legs dangled over the edge of the felled tree and thin beams of sunlight broke through the canopy, creating a golden mosaic on the surface of the black water.

Gale stepped onto the tree remembering the first time she had crossed it, weak in the knees, looking down into the dark pool below fearing she would slip backwards into that terrible water. She now walked with the confidence of a thousand crossings, and admired the gleaming safety of gold and black that would cushion any fall. It was the coin in his hand she feared.

Ben watched as she approached, moving nimbly across the bridge, while the sheen of her jet-black hair caught the light like the water below. She looks just like the cats, he thought, and for a moment she transformed into a thin black stray and the coin, a can of tuna.

She sat down beside him, extending her legs to hang beside his own. Her filthy hand-me-down sneakers threatened to slip off of her small feet and into the black. He looked into her unwashed, freckled face. She was a stray.

He had decided months ago that she would be the one. Out of the entire sixth-grade class, she was the obvious choice. She had no friends. He had made himself hers, and she clung to him. The walk home from school was their time together, and she never missed it.

Ben’s heart rushed in his chest. It was finally happening. His desire for this moment had been obsessive, and he knew that she would give it to him. She’s perfect, he thought. He held the coin out between them. “Now close your eyes. It’s bad luck to watch.” He whispered.

As her lids shut, he threw the coin high and reached deep into his pocket. The coin spun, falling to the pool below, and Ben’s adrenaline was at climax.

He thrust the small knife into the soft of her neck as the water surface broke, a ripple of dark water and a spray of warm red. He watched her eyes explode open in shock and pushed her over to join the cats. Splash. Ben released a shaky moan of breath, feeling as though he was breathing for the first time. His body buzzed in ecstasy and he felt strong enough to fly. Watching Gale’s weakening body thrash in the water, he bit his lower lip and wept tears of euphoria on the bridge.



You might also like:

47 thoughts on “Your Story 51 Winner: Stray Lust

  1. sreemoyeenag

    though its not the correct time to give you the story yet it was fun writing upon ur prompt and its just my first attempt…it would be your emmence kindness if you please go through it 🙂

  2. sreemoyeenag

    The Other Side of the Coin
    “Heads, we married; tails, we break up”- she muttered to herself as she resorted on to that silvery round object to take the decision for her. She waited a moment, had a look on the dripping blood through the tube, smiled feebly and flipped the coin up in the air.
    Sunlight pierced her eyes while she tried to open it softly. A hazy table with two glucose bottles and few medicines on it; as she immediately turned her head towards her right.. Rimli closed her eyes again and felt better. She is too weak to keep her eyes open. Faintly she could understand her mother’s voice talking to somebody unknown. ”Oh God!! Is Ma crying? What are they talking about? How long I was senseless? When I came to hospital? Which Hospital is it?” All the questions which flocked together in her mind stampeded as her mother’s whimpering -sound came closer and that unknown heavy male voice said- “Control yourself Mrs. Mitra. Rimli would be getting back her senses anytime and trust me it’s very very early stage of ‘Leukaemia’ and look at her age; she is young. I bet she can fight off.”…… Mother’s tears- unruly!!
    “Leukaemia?? Did he really pronounce ‘Leukaemia’ or do we have nightmares even when we are senseless??” – As if she at this moment is having no other crunch than this word- ‘Leukaemia’ which suddenly smacked her whole world into obsolete morsels. “Have I really got my senses back?”- Rimli tried to open her eyes again to get the proof. Mother standing in front of her. “Hey how r you feeling now?”- Mrs. Mitra managed to utter. “Absolutely fine, Maa!”- Rimli with a grin. Mother smiled back and a long mother-daughter conversation followed. “The visiting hour is over; I have to go now dear. Will meet in the afternoon. Want me to get anything for you?”- Mrs.Mitra pulled her purse and hurried towards the corridor. “Just my phone, some books and my purse, Maa”- Rimli tried to wave her hand steadily to her mother.
    Tunir- a guy whom Rimli knows since she was 20. They were college besties- an extension of each other by now. It’s been 9 long years to this symbiotic relationship and when they pull in to the fact that loving and knowing each other couldn’t be more, the decision of ‘tying knot’ was axiomatic. It’s just 1month left to ‘The Day’. It’s just 1month left for them to get married and it’s 1 whole day of combat which Rimli faced with herself in this one day in hospital-“ to get married or not to?” Life seems so futile without Tunir. How would she manage without “the name” which has blended thoroughly with each drop of her blood? Instantly she votes for the marriage and almost immediately in the next moment her perplexed eyes chance upon the channel on her hand through which she is receiving blood into her body. She realized she is left with no alternative when that each drop of her ‘baneful’ blood would abjure ‘the name’ from her life slowly and she changes her mind saying to herself-“I can’t do this to him. I can’t finish his life by marrying him.”And the battle continues between No-i-can’t-live-without-him and No-i-can’t-leave-him-alone-and-go.
    “Thank you, Maa. It seems ages I have not used my cell phone.” She promptly checked the missed call list.7 new missed calls but none from Tunir. “Huh, busy man” she sighed. It’s been a week she is not hearing from Tunir .He’s busy with his new project. “Ok bye Maa, see you soon tomorrow.”Both waved hand to each other and Rimli lied down, again bewildered. Astraddle, she decided to toss.
    It’s head. All the three times. Anxious and baffled face is all blush-and-smile now. Relieved, Rimli leaned over the pillow on the tilted bed and complacently checked her mobile phone. An e-mail on gtalk caught her eyes. She runs through. “Hii, what’s up Rim?? Sorry, was tied up in work last few weeks. Fever ok now?? Rim, it’s been a month I wanted to tell you something and you know more that it’s no-go to keep back from you. I know you will be feeling horrible of me but then as you know I have none to bank upon but you and I knew no better way to convey than to mail you…Rim, I think I have fallen for Esha…. I know it’s obtuse just a month before marriage but, …”
    Remaining text- blurred..!!
    She is sitting inert, immobile- coiled up in one corner of the bed putting her head on her knees. The white-face gazing vacantly on “Ashok Stambh” of the coin as if there is no end to it.
    “Head” it was….!!

    1. Don Quixote

      “Late July.” I bet we’re but few among many that check the site twice a day to see if our beloved stories have made the cut. I’m sweating now. Alas, me and Sancho have the road ahead and I cannot linger….

      1. JMD

        Wouldn’t the winners be notified already? Although I guess it would be more exciting to find it in the forum. Well, here’s to holding out hope! *fingers crossed*

  3. MikeFarad

    You’ll appreciate my story if you are familiar with the famous thought experiment: Schrodinger’s Cat (below is the youtube link). And, that the explanations given by Wigner and Weigner are their real interpretations, and more physicist are partial to Weigner’s interpretation, the many universe or multiverse interpretation. Also, all the names in my story are nobel prize winners in physics (the exception being Cat). I hope you enjoy it.

    1. MikeFarad

      When I saw that the prompt had a coin toss in it, I immediately thought of quantum mechanics.

      The Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment reveals the absurdity of how quantum mechanics projects itself into macroscopic world we observe, the world we live in.

      These concepts are difficult to put in layman terms, especially when there’s a word limit. It was quite challenging to explain the experiment and the interpretations under such constraints, as well as making it interesting.

    1. Tiffany Luckey Post author

      As per our guidelines, by submitting your entry, you have agreed to the official rules giving us first-time publication rights (in print and/or online). After it has appeared in print/online (if your entry is picked as one of the top 5), you may wish to post it elsewhere.

  4. gdugal

    I’ve enjoyed writing for this contest. It’s given me the motivation to complete something; and the 750 word maximum has forced me to revise, revise, revise! At the time of my first revision, I had over 1,100 words. After more than 15 passes at it I hit the 750 threshold and was very excited. Thanks WD!

      1. turnthepage

        Tiffany, I lost internet access in the middle of submitting something to Your Story #51 so not knowing if it went through I submitted it again. Will it not be read at all if it did submit the first time and now is submitted twice? Thank you.

  5. Dictionary3

    Every time I look at these prompts I think, ‘This is stupid how can anyone think of anything that has to do with this,’ until I think of something. Then I’m you’re number one fan! Keep these coming, they’re great! Even if I don’t win I’m building a collection of short stories that I really take pride in 🙂

  6. buffalois

    hi – my first entry was for story 51 – and i just realized that i forgot to enter ‘story 51’ ( or anything ) in the subject line – do i need to resubmit it? thank you –

    1. Jayez

      It’s my 1st time as well. I also forgot the title page or something for an introduction. Does that matter? I enjoyed this exercise and look forward to others!! 🙂

  7. kporotsky

    When I cut and paste my entry into the submission form (or when I try to put it into the body of an email), it looks like all paragraph indentations are lost. Is that a problem?

  8. Rache

    How often are these competitions? I really enjoy them. Is there a way I can get an e-mail or something to notify me when there is a new competition?


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.