At one of our launch events for the ‘Sex’ issue, Rupert Thomson recalled that for a period in 1985 he wrote erotic fantasies which would be read over the phone to paying clients. They had to take exactly one minute to read aloud – this usually meant they were about eleven sentences long.

This got us thinking. Our latest issue focuses on the challenge of writing about sex, and the contributors responded in very unique ways. But what about readers? How would they have done it? We invited eleven-sentence fantasies – but deliberately set no other rules, nor a word limit. We set up the email address and went home for the evening.

Out of 106 erotic fantasies, we had a lot of the themes you would expect… But our inboxes were also – as we’d hoped – full of surprises; and we received so many good stories that we have decided to publish three runners-up. The irony in Mord Zook’s futuristic scenario entertained us, as did as his clever manipulation of singulars and plurals. Andrea Fischer’s story is tender and painful; and while David Backer’s involves no sex, it will surely resonate with anyone who’s ever got their hopes up about a party.

We’ve chosen Mark Mayer as the winner for his highly inventive use of language, and the immense suggestive power he manages to give to a humble egg. He will receive a bottle of champagne with our compliments, and all four winning entrants will receive a signed copy of Rupert Thomson’s memoir This Party’s Got to Stop.


The Winner: Mark Grayson Mayer

She say, Crack too long a word for the sound an egg make.

Air in here is hot like only water posed to be.

She say, Listen to that long sound cr-aa-ck, and she break the sound apart, real slow, to a raw feeling in the throat.

She say, The sound only kik, only a short little sound, thin as the shell.

And the hen smell and the heat in here like only water should be.

And she know that I know, and I know too, and her belly’s leaning out to mine, glowing wet and almost to me.

So I take an egg, I steal it, and we listen together, listen for its sound.

And the sound come quick and go quick, and we got no word quick enough to grab it, and the egg slip down on her belly, but I hold it to her. With myself, I hold it against her, and we let feel that warm wet egg, sliding its way slick as the sound down between us.

And sometimes the fast things make their own gentle time, and we know that. No time in this henhouse, and no word, just the hot slowing all the quick things out in between us.

Mark Grayson Mayer lives in Missoula, Montana. His fiction has been published in the Tusculum Review and the Austin Chronicle.


The Runners-Up: (In no particular order…)

Mord Zook, ‘Sex with Self

The future will be filled with clones, the kind you will have sex with. I will have a clone of myself – the perfect man – and together we will be naked and sexy and erotic, our twin bodies the fantasy of no one but us. When his tongue moves left in my mouth, mine will move right in his, and for the first time, my mouth will be filled with my tongue, part his, part mine, all ours, a jumble of moving muscle like a pair of toothsome worms.

We will not want what we do not want. Naked and statuesque, we will be in sync, our timing never off, our breath ever-pleasant, our idea of kink miraculously matched. We will finish our business and we will be happy, content with our self.

When I say ‘get off’, he will say ‘I know’, and we will laugh at our understanding, our prescience. He’ll say, ‘you didn’t need to say that’, and I’ll say, ‘I know’. When he stands there naked I see myself, strong, proud, nude. He flexes like he’s alone. I snigger at myself, satisfied, spent.

Mord Zook lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Andrea Fischer, ‘Something More and Something Less’

After the motorcycle accident, while you were still too unstable to bring home to the States, we began the process of naming things.

You pointed to the nightstand and I repeated – nightstand – to you. You touched the steel staples that began behind your head and I named what I thought mattered: head, head, head.

I moved into the narrow bed beside you, weaving myself under the plastic tubes that trailed from your wrists to conduct the machines beside your bed.

You pointed to my shoulder, uncovered by the hot Ankara summer, held your fingers there, pressing while I repeated – shoulder, shoulder.

I pointed to your chest, hoping to hear you name something back, but there was nothing, just the sounds of the nurses arguing in a language neither of us would understand. You pointed at my left breast, gingerly felt it.

I laid back and remembered another time, another place and said: breast, and took your hand and pressed it harder against me.

I kept naming more: motorcycle, Mt. Ararat, tea, Julia, cock, cock, cock, marigold, necklace, thigh, maps, fingers, more fingers – the words come quickly and then something that seems like memory, but might be more than and might be less than that, takes over.

And then there are no more words and my breathing, and then yours, changes, and I take off my shorts and straddle you, tight and dry at first, but then quickly warm and wet, we are moving together, swimming towards something without a name. When I come I hold your neck, the space where there is just enough room for my thumbs, and I wait.

Andrea Fischer lives in Pacifica, California.


David Backer, ‘Eight-Legged Freaks’

I’ve just moved to New York City and, somehow, Scarlett Johansson is at the same party I’m at. I’m standing next to her. I say the line I’ve been practising since I left Ypsilanti, the line I’ve come up with just in case I find myself standing next to Scarlett Johansson at a party in New York City.

‘I’m sorry, I have to ask you, were you in that movie Eight-Legged Freaks, with the huge alien spiders that take over the mall? I only ask because I saw that movie with my grandfather right before he died – he loved it. He was a quiet man, but after we saw ‘Eight-Legged Freaks’ together we talked non-stop about his time in World War II and how he always wanted to be a radio technician but he had such bad allergies that he’d always be sneezing around the sensitive equipment and how he met my grandmother in Brooklyn and how she rejected him fourteen times before she went on a date with him.’

‘That’s such a good story,’ Scarlet Johansson says with wonder. ‘Yeah, I was in that movie when I was like, sixteen.’

‘Oh,’ I say, surprised, ‘so you’ve been in other movies too?’

We go outside onto the fire escape and sit, drinking mixed drinks from cups that say our names on them, and we sit close to each other because it’s cold and we talk about our lives and our feelings and she asks for my email address. She emails me the next day asking if I want to get a cup of coffee.

David Backer edits, an aggregator website for online fiction. He also teaches the Theory of Knowledge at the American School of Quito, Ecuador.

Lunch with the Surgeon
The Unwriteable