Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The Window Cleaner

   As she cleaned the shop window she looked in at the blank faces of the staff as they looked out at her. She wasn't bothered by the fact that she was being watched. Her mind was occupied by the same thoughts that occupied her mind every time she cleaned windows. She said to herself, "Why am I cleaning windows? I'm an opera singer. I've performed in Covent Garden, The Met, La Scala. I move in social circles where billionaires are as common as commoners at a football match. I've performed in front of Prime Ministers, Presidents and Royalty. Why am I cleaning windows?"
   This was a question she couldn't answer, but it didn't stop her cleaning windows. Every morning she left her house at seven o' clock and she started her rounds at a shoe shop. She finished at a fast food place, usually between ten and half-past. She could finish earlier if she tried, but the ever-present question 'Why am I cleaning windows?' tended to slow her down.
   Shortly after ten o' clock she arrived at the fast food place and she started work. For the next ten minutes she became completely engrossed in her work and in her questioning of it. She took no notice of the staff and the customers inside, though she was aware they were looking out at her. She only became aware of the audience behind her when she finished her work and they applauded. She turned around and she was surprised to see a crowd of twenty people standing there. She bowed for them. The applause became louder and some of them cheered.
   She appreciated their applause because for a while her mind ceased to be occupied by the constant questioning, but when she got home one of the messages on her phone was from her agent, who told her she'd been offered the role of Susanna in a production of 'The Marriage of Figaro'. The question returned.
   On the following morning she noticed the crowd when she arrived at the shoe shop. They applauded as soon as she finished each window. By the time she got to the fast food place she estimated that there were over forty people behind her. She saw their reflection on the spotless window as she finished cleaning it. She saw them break into applause. She turned around and bowed. The ovation lasted for nearly five minutes. It couldn't have been anything other than a standing ovation because there was nowhere to sit. One man stood on a bin to underline the fact that he was standing.
   On the following morning the crowd was bigger, the ovation lasted longer and a young girl emerged from the crowd to present her with a bouquet of flowers. She signed some autographs, and she made her exit to another round of applause. A man walked away with her. He said he owned a bookshop and he wanted her to clean the windows. At first she said she didn't want to take on any more work, but he said he'd pay ten times as much as she was being paid by everyone else combined, and she couldn't refuse.
   Over the following weeks the crowds kept growing and the offers kept coming in. A bank offered to pay her a thousand euros for every window pane she cleaned. The question 'Why am I cleaning windows?' no longer occupied her mind. When she was at a party one evening someone asked her what she did for a living and she said, "I'm a window cleaner." She hadn't put any thought into her answer but it felt right. She smiled when she heard herself say the words, and she looked forward to going to work on the following morning. She stopped wondering why she was doing what she was doing. Sometimes she said to herself, "I'm a window cleaner," and she smiled.

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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