Intermediate+ Word of the Day Holiday Short Story Contest


We are proud to announce the winning short story for this year’s Intermediate+ Word of the Day Short Story Contest, by Giulia Paone from Modena, Italy! We didn’t expect to get such a strange story from one of our users, but we loved it! Here it is:


The volcano was spewing ASH over the surrounding area. It was not a great beginning of Christmas. In some parts of the world, people think that Christmas brings snow and ice skates. In Santa Cruz de Tenerife it does not. It brings flames and lava. We do have Santa, but he is not the usual Santa Claus. It is an old man BUZZING around in a bikini, trying to bring all presents in time, despite the sweat and the ups and downs of the city.


The new Santa was sent from the North Pole to this hot island, where all resembles everything but Christmas. Here, it seems to be not only the end of the year but of all humanity. The weather is unbearable. The sun BEATS down with brutality and a storm SURGE is announced by the weather forecast. This climate DAZES the poor Santa, but he must accomplish his mission.


Once, he found human RIBS on the beach. The children laughed and said that it is normal to find human corpses on the islands, FLAYED by the hot weather or the wild ocean. They are all the past Santas who did not bring the presents requested by the children. “My God, I am lost…” overthinks Santa, and he knows that he has to find a GIMMICK, something to elude those evil children. “Come on, Santa, you have always been the best WHIZZ of the group. It is for this reason that the Confederation of Santas sent you here. It is the most difficult task, and they knew it.”


Santa Cruz de Tenerife has nothing to do with saints and CROSSES. On the contrary, its name recalls the huge cruises that come from Europe and occupy all the harbors. Millions of English and German couples traveling to the Canary Islands to celebrate their warm Christmas…and none of them know where they are going to end up!


The children requested a PLEDGE to release Santa. Actually, he does not like children. He has an old vision of discipline. Something like “spare the ROD and spoil the child,” which for those children would have been the best education. “We require that Santa Cruz stop being the HUB of all the European couples coming here just to do what they want, whereas, meanwhile, they ruin our Christmas. We took possession of the island, and won’t permit another terrible Christmas like the previous ones….”


“Well,” Santa takes his time. “Let me make a call.” He dials the number and murmurs, “Dear fellows, I beg you. I am hostage on an island controlled by children full of VICES. They SHEARED my beard and forced me to go around in a bikini, which is outrageous though comfortable, as the weather here is terribly hot. They asked that instead of cruises full of old English couples, we’ll send a COASTER full of candies here.”


“Oh what a surprise! Dear Santa number 111!” replies Santa number 724. “What is wrong with the Canary Islands? We thought it had perfectly MILD weather. Besides, we could not imagine children that bad….”


“Oh, fellow, one falls PREY to their tricks. At the beginning, they seem nice. They write you letters full of good words but it is a TRAP! Do not believe them! Please, help me, or I’ll be up the SPOUT.”


“Ok, well, we will PIN your requests….”


“What? What do you mean “we will pin it”?! You have to help me! My life is at risk!”


“Dear Santa number 111, Santa’s life is a risk! Enjoy!”


Santa 111 is an anxious type. He considers the most terrible death and he is sure it would be even worse. He could never fight alone against children like those. And their fellows simply abandoned them…such bad people!


At a certain point, something weird happens. The volcano is spewing again, but this time it is not lava. They seem like little ROCKS. “Perfect. It is the end of the world. Either I die due to the children or to the volcano”, sadly ruminates Santa. Then, he sees a horde of people at the foot of the volcano, collecting the rocks it is spouting and then…eating them! Suddenly, he understands. They are not rocks, they are candies!


For today, Santa is alive. “Thanks, my dear friend volcano,” he whispers. “This has been the best Christmas present I have ever had in my whole life”.



These are the runners-up (that means that we liked your story but you are not the winner):

Celeste, from León, Nicaragua

Magdalena Penczak, from Wilkowice, Poland

Enos, from Florence, Italy

Basileios Grispos, from Penteli, Greece


If you are the winner or runner-up, look for an email from us about your prize!


Thanks to all those who entered, and happy holidays and happy new year to everyone! Thank you very much for supporting Word of the Day. It is a pleasure to write it for you!


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Word of the Day is released Monday through Friday.

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