2024 Intermediate+ Word of the Day Short Story Contest Winners!

Thank you to everyone who submitted stories for our contest! We loved reading about autumn and spring equinoxes around the world and we had a very hard time choosing the winners and runners-up this year! We also recognize some people who have participated regularly over the years and we are happy to see their English skills improving! Check out the winning story below!

And the winner is...

Melina Mercadante (Montevideo, Uruguay)

And the runners-up are...

Eva María (Peñíscola, Spain), Ludovica Gentile (Viterbo, Italy), Gabriela Patiño (Guayaquil, Ecuador), Basileios Grispos (Penteli, Greece) and Jennifer Ortiz (Mexico City, Mexico)


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

Here’s the winning story by Melina!


The nights began to lengthen. Lara contemplated the dry leaves DROOPING on the trees. She thought that maybe, if death was contemplated the same way we see the leaves fall, everything would be more pleasant. She never thought about those things, but there was something about the autumn, something stubbornly melancholic, that opposed her carefree nature. In fact, death was always there, everywhere.

The leaves were SLIDING softly through the park and finally they rested on the GROUND. Some of them, with a newest destination, ended up in the FREEZING lake. Lara thought how nice it would be to be one of those leaves dancing in the air. She also WONDERED if her death would be as nice as falling sweetly into the lake.

She wasn’t sure what event had given rise to such reflections; she was a very lively woman. However, there SITTING, observing the young and the old, in LIGHT of the beauty of life, seeing a PUFF of WIND SCATTERING those reddish leaves on the ground, she couldn’t help death, that appeasing image, from invading her suddenly.

She’d always had an inexplicable fascination with autumn. Perhaps it was the memories with her mother, playing to jump into the mountains of dry leaves. She would fall on a huge pile of leaves that her mother was gathering for her. Lara was so small that she would sink completely and get lost in the warm colors and ROUGH textures.

Lara picked up a handful of yellow leaves and hugged them. She thought of her grandchildren. Closing her eyes, she imagined herself taking the three children by the hand. Lara thanked her children, kind and strong, for so many years of loving her. Suddenly, she thought of the exact moment when the leaves had begun to change. The equinox, that transformative day which meant a lot to the leaves, but perhaps it would not even be noticed by passers-by. Life went on, but the leaves began a renewal. Discreet, the leaves embarked on a path of preparation to DEAL with goodbyes and then detached themselves forever from the world. They thanked the earth for the nutrients, the branches for holding them up, the roots for keeping the tree balanced, and they also thanked the sun for its energy.

Lara, at 87 years old, understood then that, like the leaves, she was grateful to all those who had accompanied her on the exciting journey of life. Lara had changed, as if she herself had gone through a personal equinox, a transformation. Now she was a weak leaf, but she had been strong and had enjoyed the vitality of yesterday.

A hidden smile was shown in her pursed mouth. Her eyes closed and TEARS fell down her pale cheeks. Lara’s senses started to BLUR and then, like an autumn leaf would, she SLIPPED on the BENCH, softly, as if in a dream.

And just like one of those leaves, Lara detached herself, forever, from the world.

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Word of the Day is released Monday through Friday.

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