Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, January 01, 2008


The Song Contest

   Arabella wrote a song every day. She'd walk around her father's estate and let the landscape inspire her. On rainy days she'd stay inside, but there were over eighty rooms in the house, so she could explore these and find ideas and inspiration for her songs. She'd hum the tunes, and Ralph, her assistant, would write them down in musical notation. He also wrote down the lyrics she came up with.
   One day she was working on a song for a local song contest, which she had won on the previous year with a song about a cow's trousers. She was humming a tune as she walked across the lawn, with Ralph following close behind, trying to capture all of the notes on paper. Her happy tune was interrupted when a crow attacked Ralph. He waved his arms about, but the crow wouldn't go away. They had to go inside. The crow waited in a tree in the garden. He was ready to attack as soon as Ralph set foot outside.
   She wondered if she'd upset the birds by stealing their tunes. She'd hear them in her semi-conscious mind as she woke up in the morning, and she might well be humming those tunes later in the day, and thinking they were her own compositions. But the other birds had no interest in attacking Ralph. She wondered if he'd done something to upset this bird, but she didn't want to say anything about it.
   Ralph couldn't go outside, and then her string quartet all got the hiccups. She thought she could cover this by integrating the hiccups into the song, but it was affecting their playing too. A hiccup could cause a sudden movement of the bow. She tried scaring them to get rid of the hiccups. She got someone to hide in the suit of armour that was on display in the hall. The string quartet were terrified when the armour came to life and raised an axe, but this scare only made them nervous, and they seemed to hiccup even more.
   A crow attacking your assistant was the sort of thing that could happen to anyone. A hiccupping string quartet was more suspicious, and when it was combined with the antagonistic crow it suggested that someone else was behind it, someone who didn't want Arabella to win the contest.
   One day she met Kate, who had come second in the previous year's contest. Kate smiled and said, "Have the birds released all the music in your head? Or in Ralph's head."
   Arabella knew that Kate must have got someone to put a curse on Ralph and on the string quartet, and she was determined to respond in kind. She went to see a man called Ethering, who lived in an old cottage. He was always experimenting with potions, spells and curses. He once made some sailors so drunk on water that they didn't know which end of their bodies should be pointing upwards. Many stood on their heads. Many others remained horizontal. Arabella told Ethering about the crow and the hiccupping, and he came up with this plan: he'd put a spell on a man called Ronnie to make him fall in love with Kate.
   Ronnie was seven foot tall and he weighed over twenty stone. He'd be the man to call if you ever needed a human wrecking ball, or if you needed someone to put an arm down a hole that may contain something living, and if it doesn't contain something living, it would contain something dead.
   He turned up on Kate's doorstep with some flowers he had picked. The flowers looked tiny in his huge hand. He was wearing a suit, but it was too small for him. It used to belong to his uncle (it was the suit he died in, but most of the evidence of his passing had been removed). Kate was horrified by the sight, and it seemed as if Ronnie's love would be unrequited, but he had as much persistence as the crow, and he wore down her resistance. She fell in love with him. Arabella had told Kate that she'd only remove the spell on Ronnie when Kate lifted the curse that made the crow attack Ralph and made her string quartet hiccup. Kate refused to do this at first because she didn't want to accept defeat, but when she fell in love she developed an affection for the whole world and all of its inhabitants, even her rivals. She lifted the curse. Ralph was free to go outside again and the string quartet could accompany Arabella as she sang her song in the contest. She sang about tickling fish, but Kate won with a song about communicating telepathically with sheep.

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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