Short Story Contest

Hope in the midst of isolation

Short Story Contest authors reflect on finding beauty and solace during unconventional times

With the pandemic creating a newfangled reality around the globe, it's not surprising that the first-place winners of this year's Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest submitted pieces that reflect on the struggles, beauty and humor of those living in isolation.

Whether reflecting on changes in their own daily routines or examining the impacts of social isolation on older adults or those living in impoverished neighborhoods, each story offers hope: from the father who ultimately finds sanctuary in life's typically uneventful details after suddenly finding himself shuttered at home; to an ill girl who finds solace in playing music from her apartment balcony after encountering an elderly neighborhood musician; to the angry, closed-off teen who brings attention to his forgotten neighborhood in an unexpected way.

Each of the writers drew upon their personal experiences and those of people around them to breathe life into their works and to shed light on the beauty that can be found in the most unconventional places.

The Palo Alto Weekly thanks all of the writers who submitted stories for this year’s contest; the judges for the Adult and Young Adult categories, Tom Parker, Nancy Packer and Debbie Duncan; and the Teen category judges Caryn Huberman Yacowitz, Marjorie Sayer and Nancy Etchemendy.

Lastly, the Weekly extends its gratitude to the contest co- sponsors, Bell’s Books of Palo Alto, Kepler’s Books of Menlo Park and Linden Tree Children's Books of Los Altos.

Adult Winners

First Place

David Woodbury
Love, and a Vaccine

Second Place
Tim Kane
Hegemony Falls

Third Place
Craig Evans
Mulberry Lane (Phase Two)

Honorable Mentions
Vignettes, by Paige Walker
The Final Magic Of My Uncle Sid, by Bill Burns
Wonder Girl, by Liliana Williams
Sunlight, by Simone Clements Leedeman
Mother's Favorite, by Kimberly Young
To Be King, by Tjasa Kmetec
Half a Tank of Gas, by Winifred Campbell

Young Adult 15-17

First Place

Sofia Lucas
Poetry from the Outskirts

Second Place
Isabel Harding
Magic Number 3

Third Place
Rachel Lysaght
Slán a Sionnach (Goodbye Fox)

Honorable Mentions
The Calling, by Abigail Milne
Someone Else, by Juliette Kilgore
Daughter of the Last Witch, by Lucas Huang
Folded Eight Times Over, by Ally Mediratta
By Your Side, by Sydney Lee
Doll in a Box, by Helen Tian
The Art of Making Dumplings, by Sarah Yung
Her Dream Man, by Jessica Wang

Teen 12-14

First Place

Claire Xu
An Evening at Sunset

Second Place
Jason Hu
The Pendant

Third Place
Avni Nath
Puddles and Pirates

Honorable Mentions
The Battle Between the Unpredictable and Unseen, by Taylor Tam
The Illusion of Sonhe, by Kristy Rueff
The Mistress of the House, by Mei Knutson
Early Birds, by Matthew Herrema
The Café of Stars, by Sydney Ling
To Save a Pigeon, by Cayden Gu

Short Story Contest judges


Kepler's Books and Magazines, Palo Alto Linden Tree, Palo AltoBell's Books, Palo Alto


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