2020 Intermediate+ Word of the Day Short Story Contest Winners!

Thank you to everyone who submitted stories for our contest! We had so many creative entries that we were sorry not to be able to choose even more runners-up (those are the people who come in second, third, fourth, etc.). The Word of the Day team loved reading your stories about hope and new beginnings. Here’s to a much better 2021 for all of us!

And the winner is...

Alexandra (Athens, Greece)

Runners-up: Rebecca (Saint-Joseph de Rivière, France), Tomasso Tufano (Pisa, Italy), Maurizio Negri (Milan, Italy), Jennifer  (Mexico City, Mexico), Santiago Drews (Buenos Aires, Argentina)


If you are on this list, please keep an eye out for an email from us about your prize!

And here’s the winning story by Alexandra from Athens!

Last day on Earth. Last hour. Last duty.

Last stupid duty, chimed inside his head for the hundredth time as he was entering the DIMLY lit Vocabulary Retrieval Chamber of Evacuation Station 13. Almost a fortnight had passed since the day that BLAZING comet RAMMED Asia causing a chain reaction of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that wreaked havoc all over the planet, thus triggering the most massive evacuation CAMPAIGN in history.

He left the trolley bag near the entrance and HEADED towards the AWKWARD instrument at the center of the chamber. Vertical, translucent pipes, similar to those of a pipe organ, protruded from the back of a seemingly ordinary keyboard. He reluctantly pressed N to retrieve the first of the four capsules.

“Dictionary entries” his mother called them; words that had to be saved and transported for storage and further use.

“And why don’t we get to pick our words?” he insisted.

“You get to pick the initial letters,” she argued patiently.

About three months before the collision, scientists and officials started organizing the evacuation to the colonies in space arks. People were divided into age groups and assigned specific tasks before boarding. Children and teenagers were responsible for carrying the world languages away; they would retrieve and transport specifically engineered capsules in the shape of hourglasses, containing vocabulary entries enriched with historical, cultural and sensory content.

The BLINKING light above the third pipe turned GREEN as a purple hourglass came SPINNING through an oval SLOT at the bottom and landed on a soft PAD in front of him. Familiar with the process repeated endlessly in social media commercials and on their private optiphones, he gently placed the capsule labeled “Omnipotent” in the second HOLLOW and pressed “A.”

The task had no APPEAL to him whatsoever. Due to limited space on the arks, people were advised to avoid overpacking and with so many of his favorite things left behind, he BROODED over the inevitability of carrying around the silver-lined CHEST with the stupid words.

“I just don’t get it! Why carry words around when we already carry them inside our heads? They have no use, they just name things!”

“That’s not true, dear! Words have power! They are not mere names, they are vessels; they carry more than images, they carry ideas. They feed our spirit when we’re hungry, they warm our heart when we’re cold, they strengthen our body when we’re weak. Words are all we have when everything else or nothing else is left behind….”

He gently placed the last capsule, labeled “High,” in the SHALLOW DENT next to the other three and secured the chest. A GUST of FRESH air entered the chamber as the door SLID open, a sign that the process was successfully completed and he could board the ark.

Noah collected his trolley bag, instinctively CLUTCHED the silver-lined chest and FALTERED for a split second. Then, he entered the ark and let himself be carried forward, up and away.

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Word of the Day is released Monday through Friday.

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