Rome – Submit Your Short Story Today

Rome – Submit Your Fifth Short Story Today

We have written five stories for 2019.

May is over. Done. Gone. And your fifth story for the 12 Short Stories Challenge goes up today. For some or other reason this was a tough one, but you made it. Well done.  The prompt for June 2019 is at the end of this post.

I will accept and approve posts for Rome (Word count: 1200 words) from 22 May 2019, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00), until 23 May 2019, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00) on  Please ask Google to figure out what time that will be in your part of the world.

Please submit your story on

  1. Log in.
  2. Submit (Top right).
  3. Complete the form.
  4. Select the correct category: Prompt 5: Rome.
  5. Do not select any other category.
  6. Your story must be 1200 words. I won’t approve stories under 1150 or over 1250 words.
  7. Submit for approval.
  8. Read and comment on four other stories. Please spread the love. Look for stories that haven’t been read, instead of everyone reading and commenting on the same stories. If you want tips on how to comment, read this post: The Complete Guide To Evaluating Your Short Story.


  1. This is an exercise in discipline. The comments are a bonus. There is no prize because I want you to focus on writing for yourself and to try and take more risks.
  2. Be kind when you comment. Start with a positive comment, suggest an improvement, and end with something positive. We are here to learn.
  3. Our next prompt is at the end of this post.

A few more points:

  1. I will try to read as many posts as possible, but I do have a day job that I would like to keep.
  2. NO hate speech. None. If you see something nasty that I should be made aware of, please send me a message.
  3. Be careful of profanity.
  4. I need to approve every post. Please be patient with me. I am teaching during the day and I will approve them as quickly as I can. They will all go up. 

Can I still join?

You can join the 12 Short Story Challenge in any month. So, if you start in June, that will be month one for you and then May 2019 will be month 12. Sign up on

Here is my short story:


We’ll be back by Mia Botha 

Prompt: Rome | Word count: 1200 words exactly | Genre: WW2 Historical Romance

Warning: Reference to war and violence

My shoes are caked with dust, a fine grey powder that no amount of cleaning can get rid of. We trudge through it every day with determined optimism. We say it is over, but it isn’t. The bombing. The war. The bodies. The rubble. Piles and piles of rubble. Piles and piles of buildings and bodies.

I perch on the side of the fountain. I will wait here. Just like I did yesterday and the days before that. The water spills from the fountain, foaming from the hooves of the horses and from the feet of robed men.        

“Here.” He had said as he wove his fingers through mine. “Right here, in this spot we’ll meet again.”

“When it is over.” I whispered.

My forehead was pressed against his. His lips brushed mine. I kept my eyes closed. I didn’t want it end. I didn’t want it to start.

He pulled a coin from his pocket and held it up between us. He touched it to my lips and then to his and with a grin tossed it over his shoulder.

“And now,” he threw his hands wide. “We have to return – here - to this place.”   

He kissed me again. “I promise. We’ll come back.” We held each other a while longer and then he kissed me one last time and walked away. An officer reporting for duty.

I stare down that street now. The one he took that day. I keep looking, wishing him to appear, wishing harder than I wished all those years ago. A whole war ago. The fountain froths unperturbed and I wait. It has been so long. The letters had stopped eventually, but all letters did.

London had throbbed with American music and the heat of summer. The war was still a whisper but would soon be a scream. He had been standing near the bar surrounded by a group of younger officers. He was the kind of man you noticed right away.

I had just received my first orders. I was to report in less than a week. The band thrummed a Benny Goodman tune and everyone, everyone was dancing.

‘Sing, sing, sing’ was picking up, reaching a crescendo, the band belting it out and the trumpets were leading the way, couples spun across the floor and yet, the crowd had parted as he walked towards me. He looked at me with grin and glint in his eye. I blushed. He bowed slightly when I grabbed for my cigarettes. Alice giggled and I glared at her.

“Shall we?” he grinned and held out his hand.

I hesitated.

Alice pushed me towards him. “For heaven’s sake, Reggie, it’s 1939, dance with the man. He’s not asking you to marry him.”.

I slipped my hand into his and he twirled me on to the dance floor. The room became a blur of uniforms. It was a beginning for us.

“James.” He said when I asked his name.

The band skipped a beat and slipped into Moonlight Serenade.

“Regina. Reggie.” I answered.

“Regina meis. My Queen.”

“You speak Latin, too.” I flutter my eyelids and bring a hand to my forehead, “be still my beating heart.”

“All proper second sons do. Horrid tutor all through my formative years. Had to conjugate the verbs for hours.” He shakes his head.

“Poor you.”

“Where have you been posted?” he asked as his eyes danced over my new uniform.

“Rome, for now, but I’ve been told it’s temporary. Apparently, we’ll only be moving through. Don’t know what happens after that.”

“Why did you volunteer?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

He wouldn’t meet my eyes, “War is an ugly thing. Not a thing one should volunteer for.”

“Why are you here then?”

“I have no choice.” He said. “It’s my job.”

“I have no choice either.” 

He looked at me for a moment. The glint in his eye gone and swung me towards the door. “Let’s get out of here.”


A dented Vespa potters down the street toward me and I hold my breath and hope, but a soft wave of polka dot cotton passes instead, and I sit back down. He said he would be here. The shadows grow longer, and I shiver. I should go. My dress is damp from the spray and it will be dark soon. Just a few moments more.

I ticked off the last of the boxes, checking the contents against the inventory.

“Reggie.” He said

I froze. I put the list down, then the pencil and took a deep breath before I turned.

“Hello.” My smile filled with false bravado.

“I’ve been looking for you.” He leaned against the doorjamb. His eyes were hard.

“Well, you’ve found me. Here I am.” My smile cracked.

“Why did you leave?’

I saw it all again. The sheets. The curve of his shoulder. The dark shadow of his beard in the morning light.

I couldn’t think of what to say. “I had orders.” I tried.

“You didn’t have to report for two days.”

“I…I had to do to a few last things before I left. Say goodbye.”

“But not to me?”

I look away.

He nodded, “I read your file.”

I stiffened.

“I know why you are here.”

I met his eyes. “I have to find him.”

“And you think joining the army, fighting Germans, is the safest way to save your little brother?”

“This was as close as I could get.”

“Do you know what happened to him?”

“Missing in action.” I crossed my arms. “Lost behind enemy lines. Who knows? No one will tell us anything.”

He put his hands on my shoulders. “I’ll see what I can find out.”

I closed my eyes and rested my head on his chest, savouring the spicy scent of his aftershave. 

“Thank you.” I whispered.

“What time do you finish?”


“Want to go for a walk then?”

I looked at him again. “Why are you here?”

“Well, orders and there’s this woman I can’t get out of my mind.” He smiled.

“I’m sorry.” The tears I had been holding back spilled.

 “For what?” he frowned and wiped my tears with his thumb.

 “For leaving, the way I did.” I bite my lip. “I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I’d never done that before.”

His smile was soft. He brushed my lips with his. “See you in a little while, at the Café, on the corner.”


I collect my purse and walk across the piazza. I amble, trying to stay there as long as possible.

“Reggie!” A soldier calls.

I can’t see who it is. I narrow my eyes and peer at the figure.

“Reggie.” He says again.  

Blood drains from my body and I fight for breath, “Tommy?” I sink to the ground. I force my eyes open. He has changed. Gaunt, but grown up, older.

“How?” Is all I can manage.

“Captain Addington, James?” He nods. “He rescued me from the camp.” Tommy hugs me again.

“Where is he?” My voice is a whisper.

Tommy stills and then digs in his pocket. “He asked me to give this to you, if he, if he didn’t…”

I take the letter and collapse into my brother’s arms.

Here is the sixth prompt for the 2019 challenge:

Short Story Prompt 6

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a short story, sign up for our online course.

 by Mia Botha

Buy Mia’s book on short stores: Write the crap out of it: and other short story writing advice

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