If Walls Could Talk Challenge Winners

An inside look into the Curation Team’s favorite stories from the If Walls Could Talk Challenge


If walls could talk, what would they say?

Of course, there’s so much more to walls, these ubiquitous, often overlooked necessities. Walls give us comfort but they also pen us in. They stave off the elements but also block us from the world. At once necessary and obtrusive, walls are often the only witnesses to our most intimate moments, and at the same time, the very things that allow us to be intimate.

We love paradoxes like this, which is why we were so excited to offer this Challenge. Though this was no easy Challenge. How to make a wall speak? Do you just go for it and give it a voice? Or do you only allude to a wall’s consciousness? If the wall speaks, then surely it must have a mind, eyes to see, ears to listen. So many decisions as a writer. So many hallways down which to write.

Here are the winners of the If Walls Could Talk Challenge and spotlight on two of the Runners-Up. You can check out the full list of winners HERE.

$1,000 Grand Prize Winner

One has not risen from the centre of the earth in a tectonic and seismic exaltation, stood stoic for three hundred million years through ice ages, through meteoric obliteration, and born witness to unprecedented evolution to be in any doubt of a few pounds of flesh such as you.

From top story to grand prize winner, and for good reason…

This story has pretty much everything we love. Confident language, a distinctive voice, beautiful imagery and even a twist! Though what really set this story apart was its ability to personify nature as a whole, to draw time into the story, which is what nature has on its side and humanity does not. It is through time that nature becomes so majestic, so awesome. And this wall, this sheer, haughty expanse of rock, knows this, and squashes humanity with this knowledge, lords over our mere flesh with its accretive wisdom.

This story defies the prompt by going much deeper into what we saw as nature’s ultimate victory over humanity. Humans believe they can master nature, conquer it, love it and it will love them back. But nature is the physical manifestation of time and no one can conquer time… Congratulations, Caroline Jane!

$250 Second Place Winner

Not everyone was happy to see me after I was first built. Some of them didn’t approve of my design. Thought I was too abstract. Some of them thought I was bullshit.

It takes a bit of gumption to personify one of the most famous walls in the world and we’re so glad Annie B did!

We thoroughly enjoyed this story about a woman’s decades of mourning, growth and surrender in the literal face of a wall. Returning to her husband’s name over and over, this touchpoint of grief and solace, we learned so much about Janice and Harold. And wow, did the wall have opinions about Janice, about her life and decisions! These thoughts gave the relationship a depth, as though they really were friends, allies in this fight against life. The wall was imbued with a voice by the author and it wasn’t afraid to use it. Who knew walls could be such tenderhearted, protective beings? Congratulations, Annie B!

Honorable Mention

I am your wall, and I’ve been holding your secrets. Closets don’t hold skeletons like I do.

We’re so happy to give this story an honorable mention. What really set it apart for us was how much it accomplished in so short a time. It’s not easy to be creepy, scary, spooky, realistic, nightmarish, all in a five minute read, to introduce a whole dark, demonic system, to move through centuries in mere paragraphs. This story left us dizzy from how fast it moved, and a bit reluctant to fall asleep. Well done, Kali Mailhot!

Honorable Mention

And yet, there is something to be said for continuity. For the unchanging and ever-present.

If there was one thread that weaved its way through most of the submissions in this Challenge, it was the passage of time in a home. A couple gets married, finds their dream home, moves in, life gets rocky, the next couple moves in, has children, life gets rocky, and the cycle continues.

We appreciated all of these narratives for their unflinching sense of realism. This really is what happens inside a home’s walls. It’s often nothing too fancy. It’s the day in, day out of a typical life. The good times and the bad, the quiet, quotidien stuff of great literature and art.

We loved this story for its humility. The wall was there to serve, to bear witness but never to pass judgment. It found peace and fulfillment in its station and that’s something, we think, that we can all use a little more of. Well done, Joe O’Connor.

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