Drabble Lab Round 2: Truth

Drabble lab last week went phenomenally! There were so many great entries that I had a desperately hard time choosing a winner. You should definitely check out the whole thread, with all 14 drabbles (that’s only 1400 words; it won’t take you too long!). But in the meantime, here are runners up, a winner, and a new theme!

For those of you who don’t know what is going on: Drabble lab is a new feature. Every week, we’ll post a theme, and you’ll post stories of exactly 100 words in the comments. We pick a winner who gets illustrated the next week. It’s great fun!

Here are the runners up:

I loved the clever concept on this one by commenter Scurvygirl, the fact that the title is part of the piece and gives it more information, and the sheer cheekiness.

“Penicillium digitatum

The clementine wasn’t growing moldy; it was cultivating mold. The fridge was a nurturing environment, but also stifling. The clementine knew if the light went off when the door was shut, but kept it secret. Later, it would know what happened in the office when night fell. It would enjoy being dumped from bin to bin to landfill. It would feel pressure, its sides splitting like bloated roadkill. It would know how that last gasp of air tasted as its juices dried up. It would observe landfill anatomy. Cultivate mold; that was step one in its five-year plan.”

When I’ve written drabbles, I rarely name characters — it’s often just too short to make it worthwhile. But this one, by Maggie, uses names to add a whole other dimension.

“Beginning to End

It wasn’t as if William didn’t like being alone. He did. But alone in a world full of people, not in the literal sense. Yet it seemed to him that — and everyone else thought he was bonkers, mind you — people around him were beginning to simply disappear. Wallace was fast approaching a world which would, based on his napkin math, soon be devoid of humans. How could this possibly escape the notice of the entire planet? Of all the people in the world, Arthur was the only one who noticed the terrifying plucking of Earth’s people from existence.”

A few commenters tied beginnings to endings, but this drabble, by breadbox, manages to do so with a lovely circularity.

“He gave his permission. The nurses began removing the tubes from his mother. Her eyes were open but impassive. They reminded him of the way she looked at his father’s funeral. If only she would cry or shout. Make some acknowledgement of this moment. But her face remained motionless, as it had one day decades ago when she had stared at a particular man across a crowded room, expressionless but meeting his gaze steadily, until finally he began walking towards her, and she watched him walking towards her, until he stood before her, at the spot where it all began.”

And finally, for the winner and the illustration! The winner, by beautifulmutant, is a very simple concept done very well. I absolutely adored the language in this one, and the imagery.

“She’s handsome and erudite and I am intimidated. We make small talk with large implications. I feel wound, taut, warm bellied, and I can’t sit still, now sprawling, now tucking limbs under me. She rolls up crisp sleeves to reveal blue ink, to calm clenching hands. When she sips her scotch and smiles, my breath catches. I can’t stop staring at her mouth, that mouth, a flower bud, pink petaled and perfect; a promise. Our future is laid bare and bright as pale skin in moonlight, but I don’t recognize it yet. She leans in, the whole universe is new.”

Jill's illustration of the winning entry!
Jill’s illustration of the winning entry!

But seriously, I could have said similarly awesome things about most of the drabbles posted. You guys are impressive, and you should go read all of the entries!

For the next round, the theme will be truth.

Happy writing! I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with this time!

Elizabeth Finn

Elizabeth is a geneticist working for a shady government agency and therefore obliged to inform you that all of the views presented in her posts are her own, and not official statements in any capacity. In her free time, she is an aerialist, a dancer, a clothing designer, and an author. You can find her on tumblr at, on twitter at @lysine_rich, and also on facebook or google+.

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  1. Oh! Hey, hi, wow, thank you! I’m pleased and blushing. Also, that illustration is the cutest EVER. This is such a great project. I love reading everyone’s fantastic pieces; can’t wait for more! Now, what to do this time? …

  2. The Sasquatch had made no footprints on the uncarpeted floor. The short fuzzy aliens hadn’t shed any tufts of chartreuse fur in their wake. There were no dropped doubloons to show where the pirates had scurried off to, waving their pistols behind them at anything that moved. And the zombies, oddest of all, hadn’t left behind a single rotting body part or bit of partially chewed gray matter.

    The kitchen linoleum wasn’t even stained.

    Sylvia could only look up at her mother, narrowed eyes glaring at her over the shards of the cookie jar, and say, “But it’s the truth.”

  3. I gut-punch the love-stuck with whispers of regret. I pop bubbles before fingers or static. I carve out a niche in the human mind, frame it like an empty box. Inside, I place encyclopedic knowledge amidst memories. I shake it up. I slowly upend the box. Statements spill out like waterfalls, some swept up in the current, lost. Some get picked up by the wind and twisted like tornado alley and an inaccurate victim count. Some cross paths with wisdom, fertile grounds. Some wither in silent frost like forget-me-nots. Some let the other thoughts thrive by example. What am I?

  4. Eve Would Like To Tell You Where You Can Stick Your Fig Leaf
    This is me, in the garden which has given over to burrs and thistles and ragweed, performing a slow striptease of admission. This is me, peeling off each layer of lingering guilt, each judgment, from my body, and discarding them in a heap at your feet. This is me, standing tall in the burning sun, naked and raw, scarred and swollen. This is me, meeting your gaze, palms upturned, shoulders shrugging, eyebrows raised, bare feet planted wide in the soft earth. “Well,” I say, “This is me.”

  5. “Reality is subjective. Objective truth, if such a thing can even be said to exist, must grind through our inherently imperfect senses and subsequently be processed by our primitive brain and seasoned by the biases built up through our many experiences. The truth as we understand it is a salami of what is real, a bologna of fact. The realities of the universe, as perceived by humans, are indistinguishable from hallucination.”
    “How’d she respond to that?” queried the gentleman to my right as he signaled the barkeep, who refused us another round.
    “I am now, subjectively, sleeping on the couch.”

  6. You guys are great! I loved all of those!

    And then I wrote one:

    “It wasn’t me.”
    At first it is a knee-jerk reaction, a lie you recognize as it leaps out of your mouth. You can still feel the porcelain bumping your shoulder.
    “It wasn’t me.”
    The mess is cleaned, a new vase bought. Your denial becomes a mantra. It wasn’t you. It was just something that happened. The image of bright blue china tipping – falling, shattering – fades.
    “It wasn’t me.”
    Later, you think back, years of life clouding your memory. You recall only one thing. Perhaps it was a sudden gust, perhaps a tiny earthquake. But on your life, it wasn’t you.

  7. She sat down again, on her bed. It was time to begin searching, again. Things were gnawing at her, as they always did, and she would answer, again and again. She whittled herself away trying to find it, and again she could not. Without it she would not bother waking up tomorrow, she told herself again. But again she knew that was a lie. Yesterday she had not eaten, and again today she would not. She wouldn’t let herself again until she found what she was looking for. Truth evaded her when all she wanted was to have certainty again.

  8. “Rufus used to be a pirate.” Her little voice said plainly; an incontrovertible fact.
    “Is that so?”
    She nodded solemnly, her small hand tightening around two of my fingers. “He told me so. And cats never lie.”
    I watched the cat burying his face against the sofa, purring as Sophie ran her clumsy hand down his back. “Who told you that? I wouldn’t trust anything a cat says.”
    She frowned, looking up at me with consternation. “What about the dog?”
    “Dogs are usually pretty honest.” I admitted.
    “Well the dog told me it was him that drew on the wall.”

  9. The hashtag started trending in record time. The tweets are coming hard and fast now, faster than she can refresh her feed. Each new string of 140 characters or less is more urgent, more graphic, more dramatic than the last. Teachers, lawyers, middle schoolers, dishwashers, plant managers—everyone is a journalist tonight. And if they aren’t journalists, they’re analysts—giving meaning to the events as they unfold, revising theories to match new information, or on a whim. She knows their sources aren’t good, even the eye witnesses. But she can’t tear herself away. Breaking news is breaking news, after all.

    (Inspired by current events and this Onion article.)

  10. It wasn’t going to work, he was convinced of that. No one had ever managed to lie during a neural scan. It was impossible. No matter how skilled you might be at bending the truth to avoid the prison planets, it would find some variance in your brainwaves and off you’d go. The entire galactic law system boiled down to sensors, chips and wires. He wasn’t planning to lie. Even honesty wouldn’t help him, this time. He was innocent, this time. The problem was that, this time he still couldn’t believe what had happened. No human or machine ever would.

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