Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005


What Might Have Been

   Nigel sits alone in an arbour and looks up at the stars. There are lots of other people in the garden too. The kids are around somewhere. The dog is with the thing the dog is with. Whatever it is, it doesn't have much choice in being with the dog.
   Nigel can hear the sound of the dog barking, but it's always closely followed by another sound that he can't decipher. He remembers a night years ago, walking down a quiet garden path with Marlene, just after the sun had gone down. They looked towards the west and he said to her, "Those bloody lantern bats."
   She was about to inquire what he meant by 'Those bloody lantern bats', but she decided not to. She went down an alternative path, and ended up marrying Sam instead.
   As Nigel looks up at the stars he says to himself, "She could have been mine if I hadn't inexplicably said 'Those bloody lantern bats'. Or if she'd given me a chance to explain."
   He leaves the arbour and goes to find the kids. They're with the dog under a tree. He says to them, "I know one of those noises is the dog, but what's the other one?"
   "The dog's name is Scrooge," Sally says.
   "Oh... Oh right."
   He leaves them again. He walks down the path towards the pond. Eve is standing next to the water. There are tears in her eyes. Her ears were having an affair with a spider. When she found out about it she broke down in tears. She poured herself a glass of whiskey to steady her nerves, but the tears return every time she thinks about it. She wonders how her ears could do this to her. She hates spiders.
   Nigel joins her at the pond. He stares into the night and says, "I once knew a dog called Bloodlet, and I could understand that."
   He kicks himself for saying that. He thinks this is like Marlene all over again, but Eve couldn't care less about what he said. She's just glad to hear the sound of a voice, something to distract from the memory of what her ears did.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


The Sea Breeze

   The breeze blows dust and sand over a vast field by the sea. A woman with a guitar stands in the middle of the field, and next to her is another woman who's holding a tambourine. The one with the guitar starts playing and sings: "The hall floor is covered in blue paint again..."
   In a pub late at night, Michelle sits at the bar with Nick. He buys her a drink, and they listen to the music. She says, "My clothesline blew down." There are only a few other people left in the pub now.
   On a cold afternoon they walk around the gardens, and stop by a small stream at the end. They look down into the water, and she says, "Was I telling you my clothes line blew down?"
   They turn around to look at the monkey as he pretends to lecture a mouse about eating too many bananas, but Michelle suspects that it's really the monkey who ate them.
   Andrew says, "I couldn't reach the hat in the tree. And I'm over six foot tall when I vandalise abandoned warehouses."
   He regrets mentioning the vandalism. Michelle and Nick stare at him, but they're just wondering what height he is when he's not vandalising abandoned warehouses.
   They walk back towards the house. The window in the shed is broken, and illegible words have been spray-painted across the side. Michelle thinks she can see the word 'blue'.
   "And I think the monkey must have done that too," the woman in the field sings at the end of the song. As she plays the final chord, the woman next to her shakes the tambourine and smiles.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


The Snow

   It stops snowing late in the afternoon, and the sun comes out again before it sets. The back yard is covered in snow. The fields for miles around are white. Jimmy stands at the kitchen window and stares out in silence. Elaine is at the shelves at the other side of the room.
   "I can twist my head all the way around," Jimmy says.
   Elaine looks through the time table for the jam jars. She looks up at the row of empty jars on the shelf, then back at the time table again. While she's looking down, one of the jam jars falls over and breaks. "Damn, I missed it." She looks at the time table again, then she turns around and says to Jimmy, "Did you say you could twist your head all the way around?"
   He shakes his head and says, "I've said this before: you're going insane."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Bing Crosby

   April and her brother Billy went out to the garden to eat their ice creams. They watched a Bing Crosby impersonator, who had his head stuck in an armchair. They had no idea who Bing Crosby was, so they thought the armchair was part of his act.
   The man in the armchair called out for help, but his voice was muffled. "I heard this song before," Billy said.
   There was a chat show on TV where two women from a girlband were being interviewed by a man with a spider on his face. He asked questions about their latest tour and how they got together, but his guests always hesitated before answering because they wondered if they were being asked by the man or the spider. The host didn't know there was a spider on his face.
   At the end of the interview he said, "It's time now for our first musical guest. Would you welcome please, Mr. Bing Crosby."
   The audience applauded, and then there was silence. The man with his head stuck in the armchair seemed to have accepted his fate. After a minute he said, "Hello?" There was a faint trace of desperation in his voice, and then there was silence again.
   Spider: I know this is going to sound stupid, but I thought I was on a suitcase.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


A Coin on the Carpet

   The light fades in the late afternoon. There's a coin on the carpet near the fireplace. The head is facing up. The tail of the coin says, "Where am I?"
   "Well I know where I am," the head says. "I don't know where you are."
   "Shh. I'm trying to figure out where I am."
   "I don't even know who you are."
   "Be quiet."
   The head stares up at the room around him. There's no one there. A painting of a mountain hangs on the wall over the fireplace. "Do you know who Dirk Bogard is?" the head says to the tail.
   "Yes. So it looks like another afternoon of nothing at all. Absolutely nothing again. They write poems about it. 'Poor me, I'm nothing at all.' But that's nothing compared to this. This is nothing. You need to know something before you can understand nothing. They know next to nothing. Their nothing is just a small step from everything in their minds. They step down into nothingness and it's two inches below everything, and they ask themselves, 'Am I a little bit smaller than I was two seconds ago?' Our nothing is a chasm beneath us, always there."
   "So who is he?"
   "Who's Dirk Bogard?"
   "We're nothing at all, and they think they're everything but they're less than us. We're like sheep to them, or furniture. How could they ever cope with this. The blackness would be bearable if I didn't have the light in my mind. In my mind I see a room. I'm standing at the door, looking back into the room, and I say, 'I am going there now... I'm gone... I said "I'm gone".' While I'm still waiting at the door, I'm over in the other room, sitting on the sofa, chatting with Irene. 'I'm gone, you know.' She nods, but I get the impression that she doesn't know what I'm talking about. 'I said "I'm gone".' She just stares blankly back, but in fairness, I wasn't entirely sure who I was talking to when I said that. And I don't know who I'm talking to now. No one, I suppose. Myself. No one."
   The head smiles. He had never thought he was as important as furniture before.

The Tree and the Horse
Henry Seaward-Shannon
A Walk in the Rain
The East Cork Patents Office
Words are my favourite noises




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very slight stories

They Met a Bear
  They stopped in a small seaside town and they went for a walk. They met a bear.
  This is one version of the story. In another version, they met a sailor, and in this one they ended up being held at gunpoint on a speedboat and becoming unwilling participants in a diamond robbery while disguised as a cow, and sharing in the proceeds of that crime.
  So when they tell the story they just say, "We met a bear. He waved at us."

The Story of the Fortune Teller and the Alarm Clock
  A fortune teller threw an alarm clock at me. This story is deliberately lacking in details to mock the predictions of the fortune teller. Although she was right when she said she'd throw an alarm clock at me.

  One. Two. Three, the study. Four, a candle stick. Five. Six...
  Seven is missing, presumed dead. One has taken up the case, and two is helping him in his investigations. They both suspect six. Seven was last seen next to six in the garden.
  But seven isn't really dead. He's consumed half a bottle of whiskey and he's currently in the orchard, talking to a rabbit. "One of us is as boring as a gate post," he says, "and it's not..." He stops to count on his fingers. "No, actually it is me."
  Eight nine ten.

Debbie and his dog
  Debbie was sick of people mistaking her for a man.
  "Is your dog my parole officer?"
  She was sick of people asking her that too.

Very Slight Stories: like short stories, only shorter

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