|Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.||
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
When I was young there were always lots of things for myself, my brother and my sisters to do during the summer holidays. On rainy days we'd remove the contents of the kitchen shelves: the antique plates and jars and jugs, the glasses, the vases, the figurines of dogs or of saints, the candle holders that held candles, used batteries, coins, key rings, old keys and paper clips, the pens and pencils, the knitting needles, the plastic flowers, the maps and the single cornflake that always found its way onto one of the shelves. We'd wash the plates, the jars, the jugs, the glasses, the vases and the figurines. The contents of the candle holders would be removed and the holders would be dusted. The pens and pencils would be placed into a jar. The cornflake would be disposed of. After it was sent on its way we'd wonder what adventures it would have, and would it find its way back to the shelf again.
It always gave me a sense of satisfaction to see the clean, shiny surfaces of the plates, jars, jugs and so forth. Their year's worth of dirt and dust had been removed. The shelves themselves would be dusted, and all of the items would be carefully replaced in the places they had occupied before. We'd argue about where certain things should go. Someone would claim that the one-eared dog belonged on the top shelf, next to the jug for Paddy whiskey. Someone else would insist that the dog's home was at the end of the middle shelf, where he could guard the knitting needles, and that the Paddy jug should go at the other end of the middle shelf.
One year my older sister produced a sheet of paper and she said, "I've taken the liberty of writing down where each item belongs. That way I can tell ye when ye're wrong." She often made records like these, and she also made illustrations of us doing the wrong thing, such as poking a sleeping lion with a stick. We'd be represented by match stick people. The match stick man who played the part of me always wore a hat to distinguish me from the others. My brother's match stick man carried a lamp shade. In real life he often spent days carrying things when he didn't know what to do with them.
Every summer we'd spend a week in a caravan by the sea. One day myself, my brother and my sisters were exploring the countryside around the caravan park. We came to a green door in a wall. I gave my brother a leg-up so he could see what was on the other side. He could just about see over the wall, and all he saw was an empty field. I opened the door and a hen came out. As we were trying to convince it to go back inside, another hen came out, and then another one. After the tenth hen had made its bid for freedom we ran away. We all went in different directions. I hid behind a tree for half an hour, until I realised that I'd only be hidden from the view of people who were at the opposite side of the tree. I'd be perfectly visible to anyone behind me.
I walked back towards the caravan park, and I met my younger sister on the way. We saw my older sister outside the caravan. She was drawing something, but she stopped drawing when she saw us. She showed me a piece of paper and she said, "You should have paid attention to this drawing I did last month." The drawing showed a match stick man (I could tell it was meant to be me because of the hat), and he, or I, was opening a green door in a wall. A match stick version of my sister was wagging a finger at me and saying in a speech bubble, "Don't open doors if you don't know what's on the other side." A giant squirrel was nodding his head to indicate his approval of her advice. She had drawn arrows to indicate the movement of his head.
I turned around when I heard footsteps behind me. My brother was running towards us. He was holding the cornflake. "I found it in my hair," he said.
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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