The Binnacle (University of Maine) runs an Ultra Short Writing Competition every year. (An ultra short is a brief short story, usually under 500 words, that stands on its own.) My piece “Empty Forks” received an honorable mention in the 11th annual competition.
or read it here:
Vanessa was seated at the dinner table pretending to lift Beef Stroganoff to her mouth. When she was little, Vanessa had loved her daddy’s signature dish. She used to call it beef strong enough. Sometimes she would take three helpings.
Now she was twenty, freshly released from the Whitson Institute For Eating Disorders.
Her parents just called it Whitson, of course.
The skin on Vanessa’s arms was pleated, like a window shade.
“More bread, anyone?” her mother asked.
At 88 pounds, the girl still felt like a blimp, but no one noticed. Not even the psychiatrist.
“Best in his field,” her father had said.
Vanessa moved the noodles around on her plate like specimens on a Petri dish.
Her father, an engineer, rattled on about bridges. Her mother, an artist, announced an exhibit. Her brothers sopped up gravy and grunted.
Vanessa continued to raise her empty fork, tasting the air.