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’Tis the season: Newest round of 'You Finish the Story' tackles holiday gifting

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Calling all fiction writers: Here’s another chance to write a story.

We’re back with “You Finish the Story,” a River Valley Media Group initiative in partnership with the La Crosse Public Library and the Winona Public Library.

This edition calls for all to imagine a not-so-unfamiliar challenge: seasonal gifting. This time, you’ll have to finish the story that is started below and send it in by noon on Wednesday, Dec. 8.

In this round of submissions, our window of length remains within or near a limit of 1,000 words. This does not include the words of the prompt.

Once you’re ready, simply send your completed story to, or by Dec. 8. Please include your name, city or town and contact information. Include your age and school if a student.

You are welcome to include photos and/or a video to help illustrate your story.

If you prefer to mail, send it to You Finish the Story, La Crosse Tribune, 1407 St. Andrews St., La Crosse, WI 54603.

Or you can drop off entries at the La Crosse Public Library or mail them to La Crosse Public Library c/o Barry McKnight, 800 Main St. La Crosse, WI 54601. You can also drop off submissions at the Winona Public Library’s original 5th Street entrance.

Our judges will select the winning story, which will be printed in the La Crosse Tribune, Winona Daily News and Chippewa Herald, along with our weekly publications.

Please contact Bob Heisse, executive editor, at with any questions or suggestions.

Here’s the start of the story:

On either side of the cubicle aisle, two coworkers had very different reactions to a holiday announcement.

Trisha blew out a sigh, fogging up her glasses behind the mask she set aside as she returned to her desk. She brought up her online calendar, speckled with a myriad of colored boxes denoting meetings, deadlines and, joining them, a note for the office holiday get-together... and gift exchange.

Bring a gift, $25-ish, popped into place in a tangerine square.

Her hand lingered, blunted nails tapping against her mouse.

What were the odds, she wondered.

Across the aisle, Cal scrambled to land in a chair, fingers tangling into the curls of a head that ducks beneath the protection of a drab gray wall.

Gift, is chicken-scratched onto a post-it. Trisha.

What kind of odds could it be that they drew to trade each other?


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