While winners of this year's Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest submitted pieces exploring different kinds of characters and settings, one theme unified them all: connection. Every story represents a struggle to connect, including a grieving family reaching out to a lost loved one by sending gifts into the afterlife, a mother teaching her child how to survive war through seemingly carefree games or someone learning to communicate with their own distinct personalities.
Each author explored the process of understanding other people, ourselves and the world around us in different ways, from imagining the far future through science fiction to pulling on memories of their own real experiences.
Whether examined through fantastical or grounded means, this central struggle to connect is undeniably relevant in 2022 as we continue to rethink and reestablish how we interact with our families, friends and selves in the wake of the pandemic.
In their own unique ways, these winners found ways to remind us how important it is to connect to each other, showing us how we can better support and understand each other even in the most trying times.
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, Debbie Duncan, Devi Laskar and Maud Carol Markson; and the Teen category judges Nancy Etchemendy, Caryn Huberman Yacowitz and Marjorie Sayer. Lastly, the Weekly extends its gratitude to the contest co-sponsors, Kepler's Books, Bell's Books and Linden Tree Children's Books.
Eileen Bordy Skidmore
Oscar King IV
Chalk, by David Vaughan
Extra Innings, by Craig Evans
Fables for the Fabulous: Out of the Mouths of Babes, by Lori Ann White
Ready or Not, by Monica McHenney
Stealth, by Robert D. Hof
Theseus's Ship, by Hana Chang
Waiting for the Angel, by Myra Strober
The Sarajevo Game
Worn Red String
A Penny for Your Thoughts, by Matthew Herrema
Asters, by Justin Gu
Borderline Us, by Celeste Younger
Bright Green Ink, by Asha Kulkarni
Esme and the Sea Sprite, by Clarissa Kam
If the Mask Fits, by Cherianne Yoon
The Sendoff, by Claire Xu
The Whole Time
Chiaroscuro, by Kaylee Cheng
Fear, by Maia Wilson
Fred the Bee, by Anya Lu
Tag in the Dark, by Jeeth Das
The Ghost Society, by Keli'i Halualani Chiao
The Loss of Likable, by Ellis Shyamji
The Unseen, by Anica Gaggar
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