Submit Your 10th Short Story Today

Signature – Submit Your 10th Short Story For 2019 Today

If you are participating in the 12 Short Stories Challenge, today is the day to submit your 10th short story for 2019, using the prompt: Signature.

I hope it’s your signature you’re posting this week. See what I did there? Hehe. We only have two stories left for this year’s challenge. How amazing is that?

I will accept and approve posts for Signature (Word count: 1000 words) from 9 October 2019, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00), until 10 October 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 .

  • Log in.
  • Submit (Top right).
  • Complete the form.
  • Select the correct category: Prompt 10: Signature
  • Do not select any other category.
  • Your story must be 1000 words. I won’t approve stories under 950 or over 1050 words.
  • Submit for approval.
  • 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 September 2019, that will be month one for you and then August 2020 will be month 12. Sign up on

Here is my short story:

The Bomb Maker of Belfast by Mia Botha  

Prompt: The Signature | Word count: 1000 | Genre: Drama 

Warning: violence, profanity. 

He traces the grain, his eyes follow the familiar lines on the wood table. Worn out, rubbed smooth by his mother’s constant scrubbing. The tea has grown cold, but he clings to the mug. His head hangs low, his shoulders slump.

The room has grown dark around him, the faint light from the streetlight shines through her lace curtain and pools on the table in front of him. He can’t be bothered to move, to switch the light on. It is all too much. It’s all caught up with him. All at once. If only she would hurry up and come home.

The telephone on the wall screeches. He stares at it until it stops. The cord overly long and stretched out from the endless talks with his sisters. She always squeezed the phone between her ear and her shoulder while she cooked and moved around the kitchen getting the cord tangled around everything. She kept stirring and chopping as she listened to their endless prattle about husbands and babies. He wishes that she was doing that now. Talking to his sisters, cooking dinner. What a fuck up.

He jolts up. He must have dozed off.

She lays a hand on his shoulder and takes the cold tea.

He blinks himself awake. “Ma, you startled me.”

She flips the kettle on and leans against the counter. Arms folded. Eyes red and tired.

“How are you, Ma?”

She busies herself with the mugs, arranging them, handles to the front as she always does like soldiers lined up and ready for battle. She adds teabags, sugar and water once the kettle clicks.

“Where’s Da?”

She adds milk and stirs.

“I’m going away, Ma. For a while. I’m leaving tonight.”

She squeezes the teabags with the teaspoon, fishes them out and puts them on the saucer beside the sink.

“I just wanted to say goodbye.”

She puts the mug down and turns the handle towards him as she always does.

“I just wanted tell you and Da, bye.”

She settles in the chair opposite and looks at him. He can’t look at her, her eyes are hollow.

He peers into the milky mug instead.

“People died today.” She says. Her voice flat.

He nods, but can’t bring himself to speak.

“Good people.” 

Tears well in his eyes. Hers remain dry. She is done.

“And everyone will know it was my boy who did it.”

His heart freezes.

“It was her Declan who done it, they’ll say when I pass. Yes, Mary McKay’s boy. They’ll point and nod and I can’t tell them no. I can’t say anything. I can’t say I wish it was different. I can’t say I raised him well. I can’t say he is a good boy. I can’t say I am sorry for your loss.” She pauses. “I caused their loss.”

He shudders trying to form the words. “Ma, no…”

“Little Tommy O’Riley is fighting for his life.” She takes a small sip. “They cut off his arm this afternoon. A little boy of ten without his arm.” Her voice catches on that. Her words brand his skull.

“It was a mistake. It wasn’t supposed…” he keens.

She makes no move to comfort him and he realises that is what he needs most of all. What he desperately wants. For her to say it will be all right.

“Ma…” he reaches a hand across the table and she snatches hers back, crossing her arms and pulling the sleeves of her jumper down. She used to berate his sisters when they pulled their sleeves over their hands.

“Why’d you come here, Declan?”

“To tell you bye. You and Da.” He looks up, hurt by her words. Her distance.

“You haven’t been home in months. We have not heard a word. Nothing. And now on this terrible day you appear in my kitchen.” She gulps a mouthful of air. “We know it was you. Everyone knows.”

“No one can know that. They haven’t even started going through the rubble yet. They haven’t found the device.” He is tired. Ratty. This isn’t why he came. Not for this.

“But when they do, they’ll know it is yours. The bomber’s signature, that’s what they called it, will be all over it.” Her voice cracks and she wipes her eyes.  

“I have to go. I can’t stay here. They’ll be after me soon enough. I just wanted to say goodbye to my parents. I thought it would be important.” He stands as he says it. Incensed at her accusations. At the truth she has laid bare, the truth that should have brought pride. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. No one was going to get hurt.”

“Well people got hurt. Plenty of people. Little children, women I know. Women I sing hymns with in church. Women who have prayed for you since you were a little boy.”

“It wasn’t…”

“It wasn’t your fault?” she finishes.

He nods. Desperate for her to believe him.

“You build bombs, Declan. Bombs kill people.”

“I build bombs to free my country. I build bombs for Ireland.” He screeches. “You taught me that. You taught me to love my country. You told me to fight for what I believe in.”

“No, don’t make this about Ireland. You don’t get to dress up murder. You don’t get to pretend to be a patriot. You build bombs for yourself. Because you can. You are a bunch of little boys playing soldiers. Playing God. And you do none of it for Ireland.”

He takes his coat and folds it over his arm, mustering what dignity he can. “I just wanted to say goodbye. To tell you that I love you.”

She says nothing.

“I don’t know when I will be back or where I am going.”

“It’ll be better if you didn’t come back and that we don’t know.” She turns to the sink, opens the tap and reaches for the mugs.

The door closes behind him with a soft thud.

Here is the 11th prompt for the 2019 challenge:

Prompt 11 For 12 Short Stories Challenge

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

If you enjoyed Mia’s post, read:

  1. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems: The Ballad
  2. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems – The Villanelle
  3. Poetry 101: Kinds Of Poems – The Limerick
  4. Love Is Never The Goal – Even When You Write Romance
  5. Should Men Write Romance?

Short Story Challenge: Click here to read the short stories.