Saturday, February 1, 2014


For this month’s invitational 99-word story collection, I asked writers to send me stories with the following title or first line: “I promised my parents I would never tell this to anyone.”

Here are this month’s stories, and a fine bunch of family secrets they are.

by June Kosier

My father’s dog, Kap, got loose on Thanksgiving Day while Dad was out. Kap later came home with a fully cooked turkey and had the best meal he ever had.
Mom swore me to secrecy. Dad would be upset if he knew Kap had gotten away, and the neighbors would be furious that they would not have a Thanksgiving turkey.
Forty years later, when my father was dying, we spent an afternoon reminiscing. I confessed to him the secret I had about Kap. He laughed his head off and could not believe I could keep a secret for that long.


By Anne Schroeder

I promised my parents I would never tell this to anyone. But I lied. Not lied, exactly; I’m a sanguine, and the world is entitled to my business. In fact, I insist on it.
“Sheepherders came this morning,” Dad remarked at breakfast. “You girls leave those Basque boys be.”
Jareguy’s weathered gypsy wagon smelled of sweat and mutton. A jug of table red, one bowl, no cup. Banked embers in the cook stove illuminated the cot.
“Ya,” he blushed.
No English. We smiled a lot.
Afterwards, I stepped into the sunlight and my father’s frown.
Baa-baa, sheep.


By Jerry Giammatteo

I promised my parents I would never tell this to anyone. Until now. Uncle Alfie is an alcoholic.
When we were kids, he was always boisterous at family barbecues and functions. He made us kids laugh, but our parents seemed uncomfortable. He was hilarious. We loved him. Alfie would join our waffle ball games and hit the ball a mile, though he could hardly stand. He was a happy drinker.…
Recently, I was at the mall and heard my name called. It was Uncle Alfie. He told me proudly he hadn’t had a drink in years.
He looked great.

by Christine Viscuso

“I promised my parents I would never tell this to anyone,” Zoe whispered to her best friend, Zu Zu.
Zu Zu jumped on Zoe’s bed. “Tell me. I’m all ears. I’ll keep your secret.”
“After my birth, my mom decided she was better off a man and my dad decided he should have been a woman. They went to Europe to have surgeries. Now I call Mom ‘Dad’’ and Dad ‘Mom.’“
Zu Zu, upon leaving Zoe’s, retrieved her iPhone and pressed her second best friend Amelia’s number.
Amelia barely said hello when Zu Zu blurted, “Don’t tell anyone, but…”

Note: Christine Viscuso has another story at the end of this post.


by Jill Evans

I promised my parents I would never tell this to anyone, but one year they had a fight. They were so angry that no amount of talking could bring them back together.
At the time, I was writing for Hallmark. Separately, each came to me asking if I would compose a poem expressing sorrow and asking forgiveness. I did, and the next day they were in love again.
Neither parent discovered the source of the letter, but to this day their affection for each other has endured. They’ll celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on, of all days, Valentine’s Day.


by Phyllis Povell

It was the mid-1930s and Dad was driving a cab and Mom was taking care of two young children. On the Sabbath, they shared half of a chicken and soup made with old carrots and wilted celery. Other nights, they ate eggs or noodles with butter. They knew they couldn’t go on like this.
They applied for public assistance. No one was ever to know the shame they felt. Dad came home at three a.m., and while ashamed, he knew his family was being provided for.

When I was born, dad’s full-time job enabled them to be self-sufficient.


Attention all writers—
Next month’s prompt: Make up a story about a fight or argument that changed or threatened to end your relationship with your best friend. (Notice I said “Make up a story.” Use your imagination.)

Here are the rules:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot, characters, and conflict.
4. The deadline: the first of the month.
5. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to:


Coda: The following story arrived too late to include last month, owing to a cyberglitch.

by Christine Viscuso

“They’re gone!”
“Wha’dya mean, Lettie?”
“Harry, all my books are gone. Stolen!”
“Officer Sherlock Lepage here; what seems to be the problem?”
“I’m Harry Booker and this is my wife, Lettie. We’ve been robbed.”
“What is missing?”
“All three thousand of my books are gone.”
“Calm down, Mrs. Booker.”
“Yeh, Lettie. They’re just books.”
“They also stole your entire Tommy Bahama shirt collection.”
“The cads. Officer, I demand you track down these terrible miscreants.”

“And they took all my stuffed dogs. The beasts left a book behind which isn’t mine, however. It’s a book on how to avoid clutter.”


  1. Great topic, John, and I enjoyed the stories. I could probably come up with a story but - I promised my parents I would never tell it to anyone. :)

  2. Thanks for publishing my little story about my buddy Jareguy. I've forwarded next month's challenge to my critique members in Oregon. I hope some of them take up the challenge.