2023 Short Story Competition

Onward Otis: The Empathic Onion

For the first time Otis felt the warmth of the sun as it kissed his outer skin. The only feeling of warmth
Otis knew was felt through the dirt. He was dusted off and shoved into a box with the other onions, a
feeling of anxiety overwhelmed him, and he knew the other onions felt the same.
A sense of companionship began to sprout with the other onions as they waited in their cardboard box
with strange red and green onions that were shaped differently than Otis and not purple like the others.
Under the weight of other onions Otis was plopped onto the truck, headed to the factory.
Onto the belt he went, giggling with glee as he was sanitized and sprayed…debugged and ready for the
next step as he and the other onions were moved closer to the drop off, anxiety started building again;
they had no idea what to expect.
Cold and wet, he shivered as he dropped down to the next belt alone as he watched other onions get
picked by workers standing next to the line, he rode along, waiting. He worried he would never be
He started to wonder what all the other onions had that he did not.
When was someone going to pick him?
Why were all the other onions being picked first?
What did they have that he didn’t?
Finally, a woman with frail hands grabbed him and placed him in her box. Otis felt a new feeling. Relief.
He assumed when he was finally grabbed by the frail woman, that he would be placed into a box full of
pompous and arrogant onions, but to Otis’ surprise, as he fell into the box on top of the other onions, he
felt the exact same feeling, relief. They were just as scared as he was.
On his way again, he felt a sense of adventure, as he and his onion companions bounced up and down in
the box together. Where could they be going next? What new feelings could he experience?
It was all so exhilarating.
The truck opened.
A Supermarket.

It had been days since Otis was first pulled from the ground. He already felt so many new things. He
could only imagine what was next.

As he was placed right on top of all the other onions, he felt a sense of pride. Otis sat and watched as
shoppers drove their carts along, trying to keep his best side forward.
A woman walked by and grabbed the onion next to Otis. He grumbled inside.
And then a man with a basket picked him. How special he felt being gripped again by a warm hand.
Sitting inside the basket with other vegetables that he’d never encountered before. How frightening.
A sense of similarity came across Otis, even vegetables he’d never encountered had the same feelings as
him. How exhilarating.
Otis, so proud as he was placed on the man’s counter, now the only onion in the room.
Loneliness is not what he felt. He felt like the best onion. The most delectable. The finest of them all.
Otis started to get peeled.
It was confusing.
The world had begun to change so quickly. In an instant the room was spinning. His outer skin now
gone. All that is left is what was on the inside.
“Is that what really matters,” wondered Otis.
The man cut into Otis.
He wiped the tear from his eye.

One Comment

  • Alicia

    This is a really wonderful story, I thought about it for many days after reading it. It’s both deep and endearingly simple. I hope you are proud to have written it.

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