Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
Click here to buy the paperback or download the ebook for free.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Spanish Eyes

   I saw her in a bar, and her Spanish eyes said 'come over here'. Because she was from Spain, her eyes were Spanish. I think the same applies to her neck. I went over to her and said hello. She said, "Of all the places the world could come to rest on a Tuesday afternoon, this is just about the best."
   I looked around. She was right.
   She said, "Some people say to me, 'You have little legs,' but I say to them, 'You're holding the binoculars the wrong way around.'"
   She smiled. I didn't know if that was meant to be a joke. It's the sort of thing that can happen -- holding the binoculars the wrong way around. I said, "Does the same apply to your neck? I mean, can I buy you a drink?"
   "Sometimes I wonder if we're all just little dots on a blank page," she said. "Little pencil dots, not even ink. Little ill-defined dots. We're lost on the snow-covered mountains, and there are monks with Saint Bernards out looking for us. And as you wonder if they'll ever find you, you remember the film Roxanne where Steve Martin had a really big nose, and he was in love with this woman, and she falls for him in the end, I think. And you remember someone who had a big nose and you didn't fall for him because of his nose. You wonder how you could have been so shallow. It all becomes clear then. He did smell a bit funny. And I couldn't get the words 'you can take your stinking armbands and put them in your stinking bottle with your model stinking ship' out of my mind."
   I looked around again. She was right about that too.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006



   They gather in the garden as the sun descends, a deep breath of summer air. "Let's all dance." They dance and drink. "Let's all drink." They drink, and a feeling of deja vu grows.
   "I don't really know," Phil says. "I mean... I don't really know, to be honest. They call him Hatter and he goes away." He moves his hands out to indicate the dimensions of something when he says 'goes away'. "And they said something to him about the white -- that there was too much white. He said something he wrote on the wall, and then he said he'd like to recite a poem he wrote or remembered from something. And then he went away. But as I said, I don't really know." He smiles when he stops talking.
   William swirls the drink around in his glass and says, "I can't help feeling that all this has happened before."
   "I have a feeling that none of this day happened at all," Laura says. "We were in a cafe in the morning, and the man with the blue briefcase met the woman with the white sunglasses. He gave her the briefcase and she gave him an envelope. We followed her through the city, down streets and through buildings. We lost her for a while because Jimmy has this habit of looking up at things, and we wondered which way to go. We should have asked that Irish Wolfhound. He seemed intelligent. Jimmy didn't see him at all because he was looking up at something. We stood completely still in the park, trying not to be noticed, a breeze bringing movement to our clothes and hair, a hand over our eyes to shield them from the sun. And what do we do then? Where do we go and what do we really have in this life? Nothing more than the walls we built around ourselves and the little dance we do to distract from the grand dance we should have done, and after that you have to just sit down and there's nothing at all, just a feeling that none of this happened. These things have a habit of writing themselves into our history books and when we read through those books at the end of the day we say, 'Did I really do that?' And yes, I did if the book says so. Events happen to us, and we get carried along by them, taken by the wind and deposited in an armchair safe and sound at the end of the day, with a drink in our hands."
   Nick and Ray try not to laugh. It was actually Ray who wrote all that into her history book.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


The White Line

   Emma's phone rings. "Hello... I'll be there."
   She rides down the street on her moped, moving very slowly, whistling as she goes.
   She sits at a table on the pavement outside a cafe and drinks coffee with her friends.
   They go to look at the ducks in the pond behind Clare's house. Joe draws a white line on the concrete at the edge of his life, only then realising that Miriam is at the other side of the white line with the ducks.
   Emma, Miriam and Clare wait for a duck to say something, looking down at him, but he just looks back. Miriam closes her eyes and grows. Her hands go deeper into her coat pockets as she rises slowly into the pale blue sky, a breeze on her face. A smile grows as the world below moves further away. She sees Joe behind his line, looking up at her. "Hello," she says and waves.
   When she opens her eyes she's waving at the ground in front of her. She looks up. They're all looking at her. "Sorry, I just thought I was taller than I actually was."
   They still stare at her. She hopes the duck will say something to distract their attention, but the duck has gone to Joe's line. It stops at the line and looks up at Joe. He shakes his head and mouths the word 'no', but the duck steps over the line. Joe slowly shakes his head. Miriam nods.
   Duck: I don't react well under pressure.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


The Chase

   A man with a beard goes to the podium and says into the microphone, "We, the people..." He pauses to wag a finger at the audience, then he runs away. The audience follow him.
   The chase goes on down the streets of the town and out into the country. Sophie and her friends stop at a quiet crossroads to find out where they are. She looks at a map and says, "This little road looks a lot like this little road."
   Keith plays a few notes on his tuba. He always plays that tune after she says things like that. It's meant as an insult, but she smiles and claps her hands.
   They see the man with the beard on a bike. He's cycling very slowly up a hill, and the speech is in a basket on the front of the bike. He's being chased by a woman who says, "You left me at the altar."
   "It was an accident. I got lost."
   "Why didn't you call me?"
   "I tried. But I couldn't."
   "Why are you trying to get away from me now?"
   Sophie turns to Keith, smiles and says, "Do they meet again in a garden, surrounded by daffodils and this fish, and they don't know they have feet -- they just forget for a while. And she gets a call on her phone from the fish. The fish and all his family work in a call centre. Then it gets dark and the moon opens his eyes and smiles at them. He was in prison once, the moon, and he worked in a call centre too. They sit together at a table and eat dinner, and all the wine bottles dance for them. And then they have to pay for their dinner and the wine. They forgot about that too. And the fish had told them this would happen. Then they run away to get married. And they all live happily ever after. In a shoe."
   Keith takes a very deep breath, and then he plays those notes on the tuba as loudly as he possibly can. Sophie jumps up and down and claps her hands.

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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