Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Andy's Arms

   Andy had very long arms. They nearly reached his feet, and they often made him feel awkward. At times he didn't know what to do with them. Sometimes he'd fold them or wrap them around his neck or tie them in a bow. One day he tied the knot too tightly and he couldn't un-tie it. He needed help, so he went to one of his neighbours, a woman called Deirdre. She was a very capable woman. She could replace the broken slates on the roof of her house and push over Bingo Casey, a man who was said to be un-push-overable when he was launched from Dolan's pub every evening.
   She failed to un-tie Andy's arms. He thanked her for having a go at it, and he said he'd find someone else, but she couldn't bear the thought of someone else succeeding where she had failed. She didn't like accepting defeat. She told him to wait while she thought about the problem. Andy wanted to get away because he was afraid. If she was having trouble solving a problem, it wouldn't take long before she'd get out a hammer.
   After thinking about it for a while she said, "My cousin Alison is an expert with knots. She's into sailing. She might be able to un-tie your arms."
   They went to see Alison, but she was very shy. She couldn't look Andy in the eye, let alone touch his arms. She mumbled instructions, like 'Try dropping your left shoulder', but the knot remained as tight as ever. Deirdre said, "Why not try putting butter on your arms, and then use a crowbar to prise them apart?"
   Andy was afraid of the crowbar, especially one in the hands of Deirdre. He said, "No, I think Alison is really making headway here. I can feel them loosening. Any minute now I'll be free again."
   "That's good," Deirdre said. "I'll leave ye to it so."
   After Deirdre left, Andy said to Alison, "Actually, the butter wasn't a bad idea, but not the bit about the crowbar."
   Alison got some butter from the fridge. She managed to overcome her nerves and put some of it on Andy's arms, and she found that she actually enjoyed it. He enjoyed it too, but he still wasn't able to free his arms.
   He came back on the following day, and she put margarine on his arms, but that didn't work either. He couldn't understand why the knot was so unwilling to be un-done. Someone suggested to him that his arms were cursed. He tried to think of anyone he had offended recently, and he remembered Sarah.
   A few months earlier, a crow had landed on Sarah's hat at a wedding. She was normally very composed and she never used bad language, but she had a fear of birds on her head, and when the crow landed on her hat she started waving her arms about and shouting obscenities.
   Andy had been in the pub one evening when one of his friends, Ray, did an impression of Sarah taking on the crow. Andy thought it was hilarious. He laughed at it, and he wondered why no one else was laughing. He looked around and he saw a lot of people trying to hold back laughter and one person whose well of laughter was well and truly dry. That person was Sarah.
   But if Sarah was responsible for the knot on his arms, then something must have happened to Ray too. Andy went to see him and asked if anything out of the ordinary had happened to him recently. Ray said, "I wanted to ask what's-her-name out on a date. I can never remember her name. I have a sort of a mental block. I keep thinking it's Grainne, but that's not it. I wrote her name on my hand so I wouldn't forget it, but she saw that, and the fact that I couldn't remember her name more-or-less blew my chances. I asked her out anyway, and she wrote her response on my other hand. She used an ordinary ball-point pen, but I couldn't wash the ink off. It's been there for two weeks and it hasn't faded at all in that time. But it doesn't matter, because with the addition of just a few little lines I've been able to alter the letters so no one will every know what she wrote."
   He showed Andy his hand. It said 'BOOK ORP'. Ray didn't seem in the least bit bothered by having 'BOOK ORP' written on his hand, but Andy was very concerned about his arms. He needed to apologise to Sarah, and he thought that the best way to do this would be through a Christmas present. He bought her a tin of biscuits. He left it on her doorstep on Christmas Eve, along with a card wishing her a happy Christmas and apologising for laughing at her misfortune. He was too nervous to apologise in person, so he rang the doorbell and ran away.
   His arms were still knotted when he went to bed that night. He was hoping that he'd wake up in the morning and find the best possible present from Santa: un-knotted arms. But on Christmas morning he woke to find his wish hadn't come true.
   At nine o' clock the doorbell rang. When he opened the door there was no one there, but there was a box on the doorstep. It was wrapped in wrapping paper and a ribbon that was tied in a bow. There was a card on top of the box -- it said the present was from Sarah. He didn't know if this was revenge for laughing at her or a sign that she had forgiven him, so he un-tied ribbon very carefully just in case something would explode in his face. He opened the box. It was full of small pieces of paper. He thought that this was just the packaging, and he searched through the papers, but he couldn't find anything. It seemed as if Sarah was playing a trick on him, but then he realised that his arms were un-tied. He put his arms in the air and said, "Hooray!"
   He went back inside, and shortly afterwards the doorbell rang again. He looked out and saw Alison. She had brought some home-made butter that her aunt gave her. Andy tied his arms up as tightly as he could before opening the door.

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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