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State Press Submissions: Tiny Stories

The first edition of a new series from the Echo, featuring creativity from around the State Press newsroom and State Press readers on returning to in-person learning


State Press readers and staff share their short stories. Illustration originally published Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.

The first half-semester back on campus brought with it a flurry of feelings, both confusing and enlightening. We asked State Press staff and ASU students to write to us about their experiences returning to in-person schooling in 100 words or fewer.

These "tiny stories" were submitted as the first part of a new series from the Echo desk where both State Press staff and readers can submit creative writing pieces according to a specific theme or genre chosen for each collection of stories.

The upcoming theme will be fear in all shapes, sizes and forms. How has fear affected you — whether comically or seriously —  and how have these experiences shaped your time at ASU?

Respond in a short story of 100 words maximum by emailing them to The Echo at or filling out this form. We look forward to hearing from you for the Halloween edition of this series.

“The sheer number of people walking around campus still shocks me. I was a freshman in 2019, and it seems like there are so many more people on campus now. I've been on several ASU shuttles that were filled to capacity, and once or twice, the bus drivers had to turn people away because there just wasn't any space left.”

“I'm a first year transfer from (Chandler Gilbert Community College). Before this semester my last in-person class was in the fall semester of 2019. The way I learn best is very tactile with visual stimulants, so I largely favor in-person learning at whatever reasonable cost. Wearing a mask and being vaccinated to attend physical class settings are reasonable requests, in my opinion, and those are things I have done to prepare myself for coming back to the classroom. Because of that, I am grateful ASU offers vaccines and other resources like the Community of Care packages to students. I think the transition back into traditional learning should be optional and gradual for those who choose to come back. So far, that seems to be how it's going.”

“It's odd to 'return' to college while simultaneously attending for the first time. I've seen (the Cronkite School) and even lived in downtown Phoenix last year, but my educational interactions were exclusively virtual. This has led to some new and unexpected insecurities — I have no clue where some classrooms or locations at Cronkite are, so for all intents and purposes, I'm a freshman. (COVID-19) has turned the usually singular experience of coming to college for the first time into a "Groundhog Day"-esque reality.”

“The two gaping caves gazed over the edge of the cloth barrier. I want to yank the fabric over those holes, but I am frozen in my stature of politeness, in my desire to be absent. I watch the lecture at the front of the room, but I cannot be sure I understand what is being said. My focus dwindles, eyes crinkling into crescent moon slivers, as I try to keep them away. But I am an astronaut caught in the gaze of empty blackness; mesmerized in my anger and fascination. Pull up your mask! I want to scream.”

If you are interested in submitting your own piece for our next round of submissions, keep an eye on the State Press Twitter account for more information. We look forward to seeing your spooky stories.

Have any ideas for themes for future editions of this series? Reach out to the Echo desk at

Reach the reporter at and follow @beal_camden on Twitter. 

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