|Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.||
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The Butterfly Collector
Gary told Lucy about his butterfly collection. She said, "I think it's cruel, catching butterflies just so you can put pins into them and show them off."
"They'd only die anyway."
"Of natural causes, or whatever butterflies die of."
"If they die in the wild their beauty is lost forever. I'm preserving their beauty."
"Would you like it if you were put on display in a glass case after you die, without any clothes on?"
"No, but then, I wouldn't like to be on display before I die, and definitely not without my clothes. I'd rather not be looked at for very long at all."
"But you have no problem putting butterflies on display."
"They're like celebrities. Or models. They exist to be looked at. Butterflies even expect predators to look at them. When the butterfly spreads its wings, the predator will see two big eyes and it frightens them."
"It's still cruel."
She wasn't the only person who told him it was cruel. He knew other butterfly collectors who had been collecting for years without ever being accused of being cruel. He believed that people like her didn't really believe there was something wrong with collecting butterflies. She just didn't like him. She'd formed an impression of him based on his appearance, and this impression informed her opinion of his collecting and everything else he did. If he spent his time working with homeless children she'd find fault with it.
To prove his theory, he asked his friend Jason to tell her that he collects butterflies too. She'd already formed a positive opinion of Jason. But Jason didn't want to go along with Gary's plan. He said, "I don't want her thinking I collect butterflies."
"She won't think it's cruel when you do it. I guarantee that."
"I don't care if she thinks I'm cruel. She's already seen me throw a turnip at her brother. But if I tell her I collect butterflies she'll think I'm a bit... not odd, but... different."
"What did she say when you threw a turnip at her brother?"
"Nothing. She just laughed."
"I knew it. If I had done it she'd have said I was evil."
"The reason she doesn't like you is probably because you said that if poodles were human beings they'd soil themselves on a regular basis."
"I was joking. If you had said that she would have laughed."
"But I wouldn't have said that. That's the point. And I wouldn't collect butterflies either. There's no point in seeing how she reacts after I tell her that I collect butterflies because that's just not who I am. Confusion would be her reaction."
"So I should stop collecting butterflies and making jokes about poodles and women tennis players?"
"No. It's who you are. You're doomed to all these expressions of who you are. There's nothing you can do about that."
"'Doomed'. That isn't very encouraging."
"We're all doomed. Like your butterflies."
"I'll always be a moth, never to become a butterfly."
"Do you think that butterflies are any happier than moths? Moths don't look at their reflections in windows and think they need a new look. They just fly around and get on with it. They're oblivious to the fact that people would rather look at butterflies. If she doesn't like you, that's her problem. You should throw a turnip at her. I'd laugh."
"I'm not going to throw a turnip at a woman."
"Something softer then. A cabbage."
"Or a head of lettuce."
"No. I'm going to rise above people like her. Like any good moth I'll only be attracted to the lights and ignore the black holes like her."
"Or a parsnip."
The next time he met her he told her he'd started collecting mice. "I have to put a pin into their mouths," he said. "I do this after they're dead. Because it'd be cruel to do it when they're still alive. The pin comes out the other end. Sometimes I put the pin in the other end, but it's difficult to get it to come out the mouth. There's nothing worse than having the pin come out through an eye, especially if it's after coming from the other end. No one wants to look at that. Sometimes I have them on their backs, with their paws sticking up in the air. And sometimes they're facing down. They're funnier when their paws are in the air..."
He kept talking about his fictional mouse collection. She didn't say a word. The longer he went on, the more she struggled to hold back a smile.
The Tree and the Horse
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.
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