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✧ Winner of the 2021 World's Best Short-Short Story Contest ✧

Selected by Robert Olen Butler

The Night with James Dean

She tells anyone who’ll listen. The story, genderless and sexy as a dollhouse teddy bear, never changes. She wanted to be an actress. One night, an extra on the set, she went home with Jimmy. They made it at his place. He was a shy boy, so bashful, and not as tall as you’d think. A year later she posed for Playboy. That was it; she never acted or modeled again.

Her story ends sixty-six years ago, and she’s never broken character. Sighing, she looks up into the dark, dark hours, scanning the sky for distant stars and silver spiders.


ALLISON A. DEFREESE is a poet and literary translator. Her work appears in Hunger Mountain, New England Review, New York Quarterly, Plainsongs, and Quick Fiction. Her poetry chapbooks Nurdles and Other Poems and The Night with James Dean and Other Prose Poems are forthcoming later this year.


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