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Bytestories Offers Bite-Sized Moments in Prose

ByetstoriesTheir website claims that “writing War and Peace is not required” to leave one’s mark on this world, and maybe that’s true in a time when the 140-character Tweet and thirty-second soundbite are all many of us have the patience for.

But Bytestories, a web ‘zine that publishes short prose under 1,500 characters (about 200-250 words), also wants their contributors to be able to share our insights in a timely fashion. To record those blips we see in our everyday experiences and, with a few quick keystrokes, publish and share them with friends and readers.

“The site is 100 percent dedicated to sharing stories based on personal experiences,” says Bytestories co-founder Luke Simmons. “It’s about sharing the funny, sad, dangerous, and/or embarrassing things that happen while at home or abroad.”

Published stories are filed under categories such as “Crime,” “Death,” and “Outdoors,” and readers can not only see how many others have read a particular story but also grade each story with a familiar five-star rating system. Would-be contributors need only to create an account or log-in through one of many social media accounts and fire away.

Writer Helen Townsend has been featured on Bytestories over twenty times because she believes that writing under a character constraint “helps her sharpen up her prose and practice the craft of writing.” Here is her story, “Burying the Body,” published April 4, 2013, on Bytestories.

We have Labradors like other people have children. I know you’re not supposed to rank your kids or dogs, but Lucy was the best – a relentless retriever, a childminder, a seriously crazy horse and eccentric dog. When she was dying the vet came to give her the last rites and the fatal shot.

“We can take the body for you,” the vet said.

“No,” cried my youngest son. “I want to bury her in the front garden under one of those stone crosses with the gold writing.”

I had my doubts about the stone cross, but I told the vet we’d bury her ourselves in the back garden.

“She’s a big dog,” he said. “And heavy.”

Prophetic words. Husband out, one child too small to dig. I labored like a navvy and when the hole seemed deep enough I dragged the dead weight of Lucy’s body there. Alas, too small, too shallow. I dug again. Still too small. The kid was crying and I looked like a mud splattered gravedigger. I hurt, physically and emotionally.

Then the lights went out. I’d dug through the electricity cable. But in the pitch darkness I toiled on, digging, digging, digging, the kid crying, crying, crying.

We couldn’t see a thing, but I tenderly laid Lucy to rest and devised an on the spot service. The kid was pacified. In the morning, the hole was revealed as a large mound, with a paw sticking out. I cried, and tenderly tucked the paw into the earth then planted a lot of flowers over the mound.

The bill to fix the cable was $500, I didn’t even price a stone cross. Vale Lucy. RIP

Visit to read more stories and, of course, to submit!