Funny stories in under 500 words.


Everybody said I had a problem. So, I wouldn’t step on a crack. So, I wouldn’t walk under a ladder. If a black cat ran out in front of me, I would stop in my tracks, turn around, and head back to where I came from. What was the big deal? I was a bit superstitious. Better safe than sorry, right? But no, they wouldn’t let it go. Live a little, they said. Relax. Quit worrying about something you have no control over. Quit being so superstitious, everybody said.

I still don’t know why I listened, but I did. And not only did I listen—I decided to take it a step further. I decided to tackle every superstition head on. All at once. That would show everybody. That would prove that I wasn’t obsessed with superstitions. Wouldn’t it?

So, one day, on a Friday the 13th, I woke up and got out of bed on the opposite side that I climbed in the night before. I put on a James Harden jersey—unlucky number 13. I shattered every mirror in my house. I went down to the basement and killed every spider. I opened an umbrella in my living room. I rocked an empty rocking chair. I spilled salt in the kitchen. I put a pair of new shoes on the table. And then a hat. And then a set of keys. I went outside, through the backdoor, even though I came in through the front. Walking down the sidewalk, I stepped on every crack I saw. When a black cat ran out in front of me, I continued on my way. I picked up a penny that was tails up. I went to a busy construction site and walked under every ladder there…

And now I’m dead. Thanks a lot everybody.

Jon Penfold is the author of The Road and the River: An American Adventure, which tells the true story of his travels across the United States by bicycle and down the Mississippi River by canoe. His short stories have been featured in numerous anthologies. For more of his writing, please visit


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