Once upon a time, I wrote many short stories. Forty-one short stories, to be precise. Until I was twenty-five, in fact.
Alas, I translated all those stories from Mac to PC and only four survived. Also alas, it was the four worst stories that survived. They’re very useful for teaching how not to write, but not for much else.
The reason I personally didn’t have a printed copy was reasonable. I’d moved from Melbourne to Sydney to Toronto to Sydney to London to Paris to Sydney and then to Canberra, all in five years. I didn’t have much of anything that couldn’t be fitted in a single suitcase. Being a cautious tyke, there were copies of everything safely stored with my parents.
Then my father died. Mum moved house. We couldn’t find the stories when this happened. They were officially deemed missing.
This week, my mother asked various relatives of they would remove their belongings from under the house. When they did, a box of papers appeared labelled “Gillian.” Mum thinks they might be my stories and will post them to me in the near future.
At this moment, we have no idea how many of them there are, or how good they are. Several of them were accepted for publication, then the magazines collapsed, so they never saw light of day. One of them won an award. We don’t know, however, if those stories are in the box. For all we know, the stories that survived might be the same appalling stories that I occasionally use to teach bad writing. In fact, the only thing we’re certain of is that the box smells frightful, having been confined under a house for nearly three decades.
This is a mystery worth celebrating. Make a guess at how many stories of mine are in that box (1-41). If you’re right, I’ll let you see one of them before the rest of the world, before I so much as decide what to do with them. In my early twenties, I wrote some very good stories. I also wrote some amazingly bad ones. I can’t guarantee which you’ll receive. The only thing I can promise you is that it will be fiction, by me. You have until January 8.
All guesses that reach me (that I actually see ie that don’t get eaten by spam or a ferocious internet tiger) will be valid. If a thousand people guess correctly, then a thousand people will receive a story. If one does, then one will.