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One Word Competition - May 2015

edited May 2015 in - WM and WN
The word for this month ( May 2015 ) is LIBRARY.

Please write a short story of not more than 200 words &/or a poem of not more than 40 lines inspired by the above word. Stories must state the word count; poems must state the number of lines.

Only one entry per person to the story category. Only one entry per person to the poem category. You may enter both categories, however.

The challenge will run until midnight GMT on the last day of the current month i.e. until 31st May.

N.B. Be aware if reusing your entries, even when rewritten, some organisers may regard them as having been ‘previously published’. Writing Magazine does regard OWC items as ‘previously published’. If you are considering entering a former OWC piece, even if used as the basis of a longer story, it is suggested you clarify with the competition organisers if you are in any doubt about qualifying.

The winners of the story and of the poem categories will jointly decide the following month’s word AND be the judges of the entries (story winner to judge stories; poem winner to judge poems).

Comments by Talkbackers about individual entries should be constructive and by ‘private message’ only until the judges have made their decisions. Please don't clog up the challenge entries with off-topic comments, either.

Note from Webbo:
“I wouldn't want any writer to feel restricted about sharing their work, but we can all exercise some discretion: perhaps brief warnings from the edgier writers would not go amiss?” (Note from Jay: If this issue poses a problem for either of the judges, please let Carol know.)
There is an ongoing list of monthly words and winners here: http://www.writers-online.co.uk/talkback/#/discussion/73232/one-word-challenge-words-and-winners/p1
**Your judges for this month are Seaview for poetry and Neil for prose.**


  • DDC 823.364

    A fading torchlight beam flowed across row upon row of shelves revealing nothing more than... books. A bad night getting worse for Constable Black; first an empty ballroom broken into and now this library. He'd joined the force to investigate real crimes, not fictional ones. With a torch whose batteries... The room plunged to darkness. He called the station.

    'No forced entry. Someone probably left the door open.'

    'You're bre—king up.'

    Black terminated the call, cursed the chunky Met-issue phone and used its dull screen to inadequately light his way out this biblio-maze. A rope barrier cordoned off the aisle and as he stepped over didn't see the water pipe protruding at head height.


    Seeing stars, the policeman backed into a stepladder sending a wrench, left on the top step, clattering across the floor. Along with his phone. On his knees in the pitch-black, he searched for his mobile. Instead he found a knife. A yellow candle flame flickered into life. The pale ghostly female holding the candlestick spoke.

    'A proper whodunnit, don't-cha think? The clues were all there.'

    'What?' PC Black wished he hadn't but did indeed work it out: Mrs White, in the library, with the gun.

    (200 words, excluding title)
  • edited May 2015
    The Liberry – 16 lines

    When Mummy goes to work putt time, I sometimes go there too,
    I play behind the counter with my toys,
    I’m not allowed to rund or yell; it hurts the people’s ears,
    If someone accidentally makes a noise.

    My mummy’s hair is just like my, in long and curly trestles,
    But she wears hers in a bund to neat her looks,
    She covers up her light brown eyes with glasses not to drink,
    But to help her read the words in all the books.

    There’s lots of them in liberries on shelves and stacked on tables,
    In the cupboards, out the back or jammed in files,
    Her job is sorting big ones from the small ones and the rest,
    So that visitors don’t trip across the piles.

    They ask her for the ones they want, then get the books for free!
    All day I see the happy on their face,
    They’re allowed to take six threety ten to read them at their house,
    What a parrot eyes of treasure in one place.

  • Clearance

    The candlelight was necessary, Elachai had said, so I waded through the shadows, my hand trailing rough spines until I located him, flickering at the end of T-Z. The way that his elaborate robes skirted the stool gave him the appearance of floating.

    ‘I have it,’ he said, without looking up. A shaft of moonlight fell across the book. He was supporting it on open palms, and, from what I could see, it was tatty and hand-written.

    ‘Magical incantations. Conundrums. We must go beyond this world for answers.’

    I knew what was coming. He had forewarned me.

    The babble began in the depth of his throat and, within seconds, had gathered speed and volume. The bookshelves rattled, and up at the window, cloud silhouettes sped across the moon.

    ‘…Archangel Uriel!’ he bellowed as his crescendo.

    The silence struck me first, then the glowing light from above. I dared to raise my eyes.

    Sitting on top of the bookcase was an angel, blindingly bright, enormous golden wings folded behind him.

    ‘You summoned me?’

    Elachai shielded his eyes. ‘The tables. You must translate them.’

    ‘A wasted opportunity. Only Archangel Michael knows the secret.’

    As Uriel faded, Elachai, acknowledging futility, clutched his chest.

    (200 words)
  • edited May 2015
    The Librarian

    Clickety-clack, clickety-clack
    Heels that march from stack to stack
    Clackety-click, clackety-click
    Shelving novels thin and thick
    Clickety-clack, clickety-clack
    Stern of face and straight of back
    Clackety-click, clackety-click
    Stamping books at quite a lick
    Clickety-clack, clickety-clack
    What could make that stiff mask crack?
    Clackety-click, clackety-click
    The latest bodice ripper – quick!

    (Just for fun, as I wouldn’t be able to judge next month!)

  • edited May 2015
    Life Library

    Baby Book

    Damp, and discarded, chiffon pink pages,
    part pulled-out prologue, frames with no faces,
    orphan holes patched up, newly re-opened,
    little to read, words left unspoken.
    Rescued from rubbish, rescued, re-bound.
    Rescued. Rescued. Cherished, once found.

    Childhood Chapters

    Buttercup yellow, embellished edges,
    etched with Crayola, mummies in dresses,
    sunshine with stick rays, ribbons and rainbows,
    lovehearts and laughter, angels with halos,
    circles with smiles, dolls in white nappies,
    red balls and high kites. Filed under ‘Happy’.

    Teenage Tragedy

    Washed pages of blue, disordered and stray,
    singed, stained and scrunched, hidden away,
    cross-outs and cross-outs, and cross-outs and rips,
    temptations and Tippex, ink blots, regrets,
    typos and typos and typos. All wrong.
    Tpyos - dark basement. Pytos. All gone.

    Adult Adventure

    Table of contents, crisp clean white pages,
    pages and pages, unmarked and spacious.
    A story not written, a book in black velvet,
    uncertain, expectant and open to edit…

    (26 lines)

    I carry my library in my mind
    So I can read books any time
    On the bus or on the beach
    Stories are always within reach
    I probably receive some funny looks
    When I'm reciting from one of my books
    But I don't care; I do not mind
    For, after all, I'm only blind
  • Okay, it's 8 days until this month's competition closes, and we need more entries. So get thinking- and writing.
  • Gateway

    Alternate Tuesdays,
    by the shops
    they parked the mobile library van
    and after school
    I’d climb its steps
    and lose myself in storyland.

    Picture books
    and fairy tales;
    adventures spanning time and space.
    With just four cardboard
    library tickets
    I could travel any place.

    All those worlds
    of imagination
    helped to make me who I am;
    dreamer, poet,
    thanks to the mobile library van.

    18 lines
  • The Library

    The stale, still air was filled with the quiet hiss of whispered words.
    “Listen, Sam. Communication!”
    “But they are only books.”
    They edged along the aisles. The shelves towered above them, leather bound volumes filled every inch-space. So much knowledge radiating into the world, so much information hanging in the air, waiting to be inhaled.
    The farther they went, the older and mustier the books. The tone of the voices changed, now they seemed like they were Latin, then Greek. There were scrolls on wooden spindles, wrapped in flaking velum, or may be papyrus, all too fragile to touch. The voices were deeper here. A darker tone, of knowledge serious with age, originating before Man could write. An original knowledge, a knowing without teaching; of natural laws. A knowledge of things only the gods should know.
    At the far end of The Library, the only light was from the tomes themselves; a grey-green, primordial emanation from between the covers.
    “Look, Joshua!” Sam’s whisper barely louder than that of the enveloping shelving. “Could it be the meaning of Life itself?”
    A volume, embossed 'Number 42', glowed brightest, high up, just beyond his reach ... as always.

    195 words
  • “On The Shelf” - 198 words, not including title.

    As Michael added more books to the table, Hillary reached for a worn Charles Dickens, her hand lingering.
    “I’ll just pinch this little gem before someone else nabs it.”
    “Classic taste,” complimented Michael.
    Hillary tittered, “You might say I have great expectations.”
    “Oh, aha, I see. Most clever,” he said, his clear blue eyes crinkling at the corners.


    “Do you know, it was six months ago that we met over by that table?” Hillary said quietly, fluttering her eyelashes as though she were attempting to dislodge a fly with them.
    “Is that so?” Michael adjusted his spectacles but didn’t look up.
    “We’ve experienced so much…’The French Lieutenant’s Woman,’ ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover,’” she said, deliberately emphasising the final word.

    Michael stopped moving the computer mouse. “Is something on your mind, Ms. Hunter?”
    “I can’t keep hinting, so yes. Are you ever going to leave your wife for me?”
    “I don’t think he’d be too pleased to hear that. Barry’s sensitive.”
    “I fear you have your…genres…a bit mixed up, dear woman.”
    Hillary blushed when Michael handed ‘An Affair To Remember’ back to her.
    “I don’t suppose you’ve ever read, ‘The Wrong Man?” he asked, stifling a grin.
  • Reminder that this month's OWC closes at midnight, so you have a few minutes under 8 hours to post any remaining entries.
  • I will post the closure notice tomorrow- too many late nights this week already- so judges please go ahead as soon after midnight as you like. :)

    1 hour and 47 minutes left to closure of the May OWC.
  • Salvation

    I’m not sure of the time, they took my clock away. A clock on the stand in the corner was surely the ultimate irony. It’s not like I ever needed to set the alarm. Time means nothing here.
    I sit on the bed, the day passes as ever, but today is no ordinary day. The room seems bigger somehow, the chair is missing as are the sheets. Why would they feel the need to remove them today of all days?

    I survey the room. A shaving brush sits on the sink, a toothbrush too. Both are almost bristle-free these days. I could have had new ones but it hardly seemed appropriate. A postcard sits high up on the window sill, a far off beach, faded blue sky and washed out sunshine. I never got there.

    And then there’s the lone book. Hardback, shiny dust-cover, un-thumbed pages. Books became my salvation. Time stealers, dream makers, hope givers.

    I suppose someone will return ‘Papillon’ to the library.
    I won’t have time to read it.

    172 words
  • The May One Word Challenge is now officially closed.

    All being well, the judges will announce the results on or before the 7th of June. Optional runners-up in each category may be chosen by the judges.

    Entrants are requested to check the discussion/thread daily to see if they are one of the winners. While the judging is in progress, entrants should think of a word for June’s Challenge as May’s winners will choose the word for the new Challenge (and also the winners thereof).

    The winners should liaise with each other by ‘private message’ and then ‘private message’ the new word to Carol on or before 7th June, so that she may post the new Challenge. (Please see the thread One Word Challenge - winners and words:

    There is an ongoing list of monthly words and winners here: http://www.writers-online.co.uk/talkback/#/discussion/73232/one-word-challenge-words-and-winners/p1 to see which words have already been used.)

    Please be wary of similar user names.
  • My task was both easy and difficult this month – the former, because I didn’t have lots of work to do in terms of reading and critiquing, but it was still difficult because I found it hard to decide on a winner.

    The title of Island Girl’s poem ‘The Liberry’ intrigued me until I read the first line and discovered this was written from the point of view of a little girl. It had some lovely lines like ‘a bund to neat her looks’ when describing her mother’s hairstyle and the wonderful number of books the library-goers are allowed to take out - ‘sixty three ten’! If I were to offer any useful suggestion, IG, it might be to watch out for words that a young child might not use, like ‘stacked on tables’ and ‘someone accidentally makes a noise’ – but a really delightful poem. Thanks for sharing!

    I loved the use of sound throughout heather’s poem ‘The Librarian’. The precisely alternating clickety-clack, clackety-click’ also gave me an impression of the character of the lady (although perhaps I shouldn’t make gender assumptions!) as quite a prim, organised person. The ‘stiff mask’ backs this up and then we get a wonderful image of her all hot and bothered immersed in the ‘latest bodice ripper’. Very effective ending.

    The ending in Noodlehendon’s ‘In My Mind’ is also very striking, but for
    different reasons. The surprise (or perhaps shock) that this reader is blind packs quite a punch, although the person seems to be quite happy and not at all concerned about the ‘funny looks’ he/she might receive. A good take on the theme.

  • Tiny Nell produced a lifetime of library memories in her lovely poem ‘Life Library’. The first stanza is quite sad, with ‘discarded’ pages, a ‘part pulled-out prologue’ and ‘frames with no faces’ but then, thank goodness, the baby book is rediscovered and cherished. I loved the description of the childhood chapter and its bright colour contrasts well with the teenage pages of ‘blue, disordered and stray.’ The poem ends literally with an open book – perhaps a hint of the erotic within the ‘black velvet’! There is a lot going on in TN’s poem and it was very enjoyable to read.

    Smaug produced a memoir-style poem, ‘Gateway’, about the local library van. I am not a big fan of rhyme but I thought the simplicity of full and half/slant rhyme in this poem worked very well - shops/steps, van/storyland, space/place and who I am/library van. I absolutely loved the lines ‘With just four cardboard library tickets/I could travel any place.’ Being of a certain age, this brought me right back to the days of those little tickets at the front of library books! I was a real bookworm as a child and was fortunate enough to live within skipping distance of the library, so this was like a memory of my own.

    I’m probably being selfish here, but I think for that ‘four cardboard library tickets’ line alone I’m going to give Smaug first place!

    Thanks to all who entered. :)

  • Congratulations, Smaug. And thank you to Seaview for the brilliant judging as always. :)
  • Well done, Smaug.
  • Oh wow, thank you so much Seaview - I figured I was up against some pretty stiff competition this month.

    (I still hanker after a date stamp and red ink pad...)
  • Small, they say, is beautiful. This certainly applies to the minuscule batch of prose entries for May's One Word Challenge. All were well written, intelligent mini-works - which didn't exactly disburden the judging process.


    The winner is Red Lucy with her 'show, don't tell' master class describing someone's last hours in a condemned cell.

    Of the rest there was very little between them. But rather than cop out by calling them all runners up, I'll give the thumbs-up to Mike Olley's witty homage to Cluedo.

    WINNER: Red Lucy.
    RUNNER UP: Mike Olley.

  • edited June 2015
    Simple words, but a host of memories. Lovely, Smaug - and well done!

    red-lucy, as the last entry, I nearly missed reading that one. Glad I did. Poignant, and a worthy winner. Well done!

    Well done to you, too, Mike. I always enjoy your stuff!

    Seaview and Neil, thank you for your succinct judging. Good choices.
  • Congratulations red-lucy, and Mike Olley.

    Thank you to Neil for judging.

    I will update the Words and Winners thread, so when Smaug and red-lucy have decided the new word, you can let me know. :)
  • Congrats to winners, Red-Lucy and Smaug, and thanks to Neil and Seaview for the judging.

  • Congratulations to our May winners and runner-up, Smaug and Red-Lucy, and Mike Olley.
    And the OWC couldn't work without the very clever judges, which in this case are Seaview and Neil. Well done, all. x
  • Wow thank you Neil-nearly missed this month as I was away. Generous words TN. Congratulations to Smaug for the poetry and runner up Mike. Hopefully we'll get a few more entries next month.
  • well done Red Lucy and Mike
  • Well done Smaug and Red Lucy! Well done judges, too!
  • Congratulations Smaug and Red Lucy.
  • Many congrats to Smaug, Red-Lucy and runner-up, Mike Olley.
    I was sorry that I wasn't able to enter anything this time - just impossible while I was travelling with very few opportunities to get online!
  • Well done Smaug and Red-Lucy and thanks to Seaview for judging and comments and to Neil.
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