Winners of our FREE monthly 53-Word Story Contest

Each month we offer a prompt to subscribers of Prime Number Magazine to write a 53-word story—no more, no less—and send it to us by the twenty-first day of the month. Our guest judge selects a winner and we give the winner a copy of the guest judge’s book and publish the winning story here, in Prime Number Magazine. Want to play along? Subscribe to Prime Number Magazine and we’ll send you the prompt on the first day of each month.

Read our winners by scrolling or clicking on the links

December–Meg Freer / January–Jolene Thibodeaux / February–Aisha Ashraf 

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Meg Freer

December 2018

Prompt: write a 53-word story about contradiction

Judged by Josh Woods, author of O Monstrous World!


Followed by 53-word Bio

Cold War Paper by Meg Freer

The large, green and gold hotel room with views of Moscow’s colored domes had only cold water in the marble sink, rough brown paper for the toilet. A woman at a desk handed us sheets of black-market toilet paper when we passed. Coins we weren’t supposed to give her sometimes made her smile.



Meg Freer grew up in Montana and now lives with her family in Kingston, Ontario, where she teaches piano and music history. She enjoys outdoor activities year-round, photography, and running, and wishes she had more time for writing poetry. In 2017 she won a fellowship and attended the Summer Literary Seminars in Tbilisi.

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Jolene Thibodeaux

January 2019

Prompt: write a 53-word story about waste

Judged by Tara L. Masih, author of Where the Dog Star Never Glows


Followed by 53-word Bio

The Village Elders in the San de Christo (Blood of Christ) Mountains by Jolene Thibodeaux

Some keep the river. Others work to shepherd the young. The dump they left to me. I fix the fishing poles, resole cowboy boots, and polish the crucifix abandoned. Someone else will need them. In the shadow of the San De Christo Mountains, even the Blood of Christ is saved by the sunset. 



Jolene Thibodeaux hails from the American South. Her love of a good story, and any ability she may have to craft one, is a direct result of her deeply diverse cultural heritage. "The storyteller should tell the tale with pure intention so even if it's all made up, it's the God's honest truth."

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Aisha Ashraf

February 2019

Prompt: write a 53-word story about the high road

Judged by Press 53 Editorial Staff


Followed by 53-word Bio

Taxi Ride by Aisha Ashraf

He accelerated hastily and in false agreement mumbled, “Mhmm.” His passenger continued to critique the country’s shortcomings, proud that he had left years ago. It’s easy to judge from an ocean away. He exhaled slowly, gazing at the small flag he proudly hung from the rearview mirror as he turned toward the hotel.



Aisha Ashraf lives in the Seattle, Washington area and spends her days sharing her love of reading and writing with her kindergarten class. She majored in English at the University of Washington and has recently rediscovered her passion for storytelling. Familial history inspires her to write about immigration, loyalty, relationships, and identity.