#136: The Old College Try
Though its origins are debated, it looks likely that the phrase “the old college try” was first used in baseball. According to Babe Ruth, to “give something the old college try” is to keep going, even when the odds are stacked against you — like chasing a flyball out into foul territory, just in case you somehow make the impossible catch.
There’s a lot to be said for those who keep trying despite knowing that their chances are slim. This week’s prompts take a closer look at those determined (or perhaps foolhardy) folk among us. After all, as the saying goes, God loves a trier.
This week's prompts
Start or end your story with someone saying “You’ll never know unless you try.”
Dialogue – 60 stories
Write about a character giving something one last shot.
Narrative – 51 stories
Set your story on a baseball field.
Middle School – 40 stories
Write a story where hard work doesn’t pay off.
Angst – 30 stories
“The House on High Street” by Michał Przywara
Knuckles, Chapman, and Whisky stopped in front of the house at 624 High Street just as the nearby streetlight flickered and then went out. Chapman looked up at the dead light and scratched his threadbare head. “Well, that’s convenient.” Knuckles played with his lighter, grunted. “This the place?” “Uh, yeah,” Whisky said, each word a whine. “I think so.” He pulled a crumpled paper from his vest and squinted ...
“To the Crater's Edge” by M.C. Washington
"You'll never know unless you try," the villager wearing tattered clothes shouted through an odd grin. He laughed mockingly, and his movements were deranged before his black eyes locked onto the traveler. The villager went still and became silent; now that his gaze was fixed, he was entranced. The villager's face was distorted and ugly, barely distinguishable from any other resident in the small fishing community. There was a pain to this man that made the traveler uncomfortable. The traveler could feel the villager reading his mind. The ...
“Lights Out” by Riel Rosehill
There’s no phone reception.Even the radio is breaking. “...animals found dismembered— …is the fourth case this mo— …issued a statement warning— …and this week’ lottery numbers a–…” I grip the steering wheel and bang my head on it, biting my lip in frustration as my windscreen wipers work at full speed against the raindrops. Every cell of my body wants to scream, but my foster staffy, Pretzel, is already anxious: it’s the worst storm in thirty years, it is the worst storm of both of our lives, with the Met Office advising a...
“"If you can't hack it in an honors course, perhaps you shouldn't be in it."” by Rebecca Vitsmun
In college, I had a teacher who, on the first day of class, said, "most of you will fail this class. Just because you get an A does not mean that I will write you a recommendation."As a person who believed myself capable of academic excellence, I didn't start by putting much stock in this, though it did seem as though he was standing in a serious posture. My early papers, where I was not trying very hard, returned scores in the 80's and I was surprised. I began to put more attention into the class and still received scor...
“Love at First Slight” by John K Adams
Dennis opened the front door to see his senior classmate, Dakota, standing on the porch. “Dakota? What do you want?” Not awaiting an answer, but leaving the door open, he returned to the kitchen. She entered, shut the door and followed. On her way, she sniffed the air. The odor of stale cigarette smoke being absent, the house smelled unexpectedly fresh. Walking by the living room and seeing well pl...
“The Free Throw” by Murray Burns
The Free Throw You may have heard a coach say something like, “What the kid lacks in talent can be made up for with hard work and desire.” Don’t believe it. Timmy was small for his age, clumsy, slow on his feet, lacking in any semblance of hand-eye coordination, and saddled with vision only corrected to a functional level with Coke bottle thick lens...
“Hard Work” by Jinx York
I felt a tickle on my brow and I nervously wiped away the trickle of sweat that had built up there. It felt like butterflies were whipping up a hurricane in my stomach as I sat in my office chair. I peeked over the low wall of my cubicle and looked around, but the only people I saw walking around were a few of my coworkers headed to the break room. I swallowed and rubbed my sweaty palms on my pants as I sat back down.Reaching out to my keyboard, I continued to stab quickly at my keys. Line upon line of code began to scro...
“Last Chance” by Alice Richardson
Last Chance Mum, dad and I lived on what you might call a hobby farm on the outskirts of a nice little country town. Big enough to have everything you could need, including a permanent doctor and staff in a well equipped medical centre, two hotels and two supermarkets. We had a few head of multi-coloured sheep that mum looked after lovingly. She used their wool to spin into thread that was ...
“Surrender to Madness” by J.C. Lovero
She was the last person I expected to see.“What are you doing here?”“I’ve been waiting years for this moment, Kate,” Jane said with a gleam in her eye.A teenager jumped out of the rusted red Chevy, face ashen with his mouth open wide as he held the phone up to his ear. I turned around, bile burning in the back of my throat as my dead body greeted me from the pavement below. It happened so fast: tires screeching on the road behind me, a horn roaring at me to move, and my dog’s whimper mourning me in the last s...
“Walls” by Maggie Gibbs
Young love. Whether it was something you said about a couple, or it was something an adult said about you, I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before. It’s how adults describe two teenagers who are infatuated with each other. Most young adults or teenagers experience this young love or even a first love and it shapes who they become as adults. It shapes how they handle relationships going forward....
“Postcard From Pollyville” by Elizabeth Napier
CW: mentions of child death, needles/drips, blood. Russ Carney could see through anything. Allie Creet had never found it particularly impressive. They all did something here, after all. Captain Bennet only liked children who could do things.
“Sampling ” by Kendall Defoe
“You’ll never know unless you try…” Corey loved his mother; he kept her words in his head as he stared at the dishes in front of him. The waitress was charming enough when she put the food in front of him, but was there something devious in her look? Was there a bit of a sneer? He had a little tick in his face that would not go away. It was growing from the spicy and steaming mix of items in the biggest a...
“Plot Twist” by Minerva Noiropp
Silence cloaked the moonlit expanse. Shanti held her breath, unwilling to break the spell. Gazing upwards, her eyes got lost in the myriad of stars, shining in various wave lengths.It was after midnight. Shanti was alone on the neighbourhood baseball field. The baseball field wasn't much more than a patch of dried grass and double-g's several kilometres from the outskirts of town with no street lights. The dim outlines of the spotlights could be seen hulking around her, the great metal trees that they were. It was the only place da...
“I Can't Say Good-'Bi'” by Shelby Rose
Stuck in a loop is an understatement. You could consider me stuck in a box. I try, I make progress, then I hit a wall. Once I have found that wall to be hard and near impossible to get around, I turn then try again.I’m stuck in a very boxy loop.Let me start from the beginning; I was once in a happy, fulfilling, and genuine marriage. A marriage I- along with everyone we knew- reveled in, but that was a few months ago back when I thought that nothing could shake us. Then something small happened, a pebble hidden in the road se...
“Thirty-Six Seconds” by Maria Avisal
One oppressively humid Saturday in late July while the rest of the city was at the beach, Rachel tried to maintain a 7:50 mile pace for a fifteen-mile run. The first mile was easy because she was essentially still asleep. She spent the second mile congratulating herself for getting out of bed, even though she had only gotten five hours of sleep and was still on Mountain time, instead of hitting snooze and convincing...
Ended on 23:59 - Mar 11, 2022 EST
Won by Howard Halsall 🏆
Title: Cigarettes: A Romance
Submissions must be between 1,000 - 3,000 words and will be approved and published on Reedsy Prompts within 7 days of the contest closing.
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