The Decameron Project is committed not only to encouraging students to share their stories, but also to enabling young writers of exceptional fiction to win recognition for their work. We select winners on a monthly basis, for both themed and unthemed writing. Our team of readers –– ranging from students to Pulitzer Prize winners –– carefully weighs each and every submission before selecting such winners.  

This week’s winning stories are read aloud by National Book Award winner and New Yorker columnist Judith Thurman.

Winner | Justice

Impartial or Blind

Langston Hughes once said, 

That Justice is a blind goddess

Is a thing to which we black are wise:

Her bandage hides two festering sores

That once perhaps were eyes.

By Rhea Ahluwalia.
11th Grade, New York , NY

Winner | Horror


The ground is perpetually damp, the buildings creak, and the sun seems more like a hole forced into the sky than the real thing, but that is not why the town by the sea is ruined. The town has existed for centuries and will exist for centuries more.

By Tanisha Shende.
11th Grade, Hackensack, NJ

Runner Up | Horror

The Thing in the Wall

If we whispered the name of a dead person, it winked like a friend. If we suppressed our fright and kept quiet, it would leave quietly after several minutes. If it appeared in a wall and we yelled, we were doomed. The wall would shake, become hot and crack.

By Ife Olatona.
11th Grade, Washington D.C./Olun, Nigeria

Winner | Hope

Crossing the Rio Puerco

Every year, when late Spring brought the snowmelt from the San Juans, the Rio Puerco took a victim—just last year, Mercedes Guzman, who managed, in spite of her girth, to clamber out the driver’s side window of her battered minivan before the vehicle surrendered to the charging waters.

By Samuel Cooper.
11th Grade, Santa Fe, NM

Winner | Unthemed

Glory Be

The lights don’t turn on anymore. And the sink dribbles but doesn’t run. 

I drank all the sodas and crushed all the cans. There was nothing else in the refrigerator. I found a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard. I ate it with my finger. I turn the radio on and keep it on all day and all night because I don’t like the silence. She didn’t like it either.

By Aviva N.
9th Grade, Santa Fe, NM

Winner | Courage

My Friend Samantha

The day it happened was colder than usual, which was especially odd given the stifling humidity of a Maine summer. It began as camp days usually did. After the trumpet wake-up call, we rushed to get dressed, go to breakfast, and return to our cabin for clean up and inspection. Then we split up, each girl headed to her first activity of the day… 

By Sarah S.
10th Grade, New York City

Winner | Unthemed

Painting Answers

She is seventeen now and her hair is strikingly blue. She wears two orange clips behind her ears that clash with her piercing locks and pale skin. Her gentle blue eyes are tired and moist. She is sitting on a cold metal stool, gazing at her painting, her painting staring back at her…

By Jackie C.
11th Grade, New York City