Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008


The Game

   I used to read the graffiti on the walls of my head. I was hoping that this would shed some light on my situation, but I couldn't even figure out who was writing it. Now I ignore it. I was living in a bin in a fog-bound town, and now I'm in a town surrounded by fields buried under snow. What am I doing here, and am I doing it right or wrong? A game is being played. I don't understand the rules and I don't know what the objective is, but I know there's a game. The farmers in the fields know this too, even though they're just pieces on a board, moved by invisible hands. Why else would they be farming snow? Sometimes a stray snowman slips away unnoticed because he doesn't want to be part of the game.
   There are people who think they're spectators, but they're just pieces as well. My boss thinks she's a player. The spectators love her style, a style that's evident in everything she does. It gives her the energy to do everything. Others have lost the will for action because they don't have a style and they don't have the substance, a reason for being. The style in which she does things gives her a reason for doing them. I'm re-writing classic books I've never read. This is my job now. I work in an office with three other people. I don't know what they're supposed to be doing, and I don't think they know either. One man looks at blocks of black ink on white paper for a few minutes, and then he says, "Is there something I'm supposed to remember or something I'm supposed to forget?"
   My boss keeps telling me not to forget everything I learnt from the plays she made me watch, but I didn't learn anything from them. I didn't know what she wanted me to learn. I used to meet trainee judges at those plays. They had no interest in learning anything. They'd inherit the title from their father, and judges had little interest in dying. The sons could be in training for decades. It doesn't really matter what they learn anyway because they never pass judgements. They just make wishes. I got to know one of the trainee judges. I told him about my theory of the game, and he said he'd believe anything. He took me to a card shop near the theatre. In a room over the shop people were playing a game. The players were moving figurines around a huge board. Some of the figurines were no more than piles of ash, but you could see ghostly faces in them.
   When I asked the players about the rules they just said, "It's complicated." I've spent many hours observing the game and the only thing I've learnt for certain is that the players don't understand the rules either. But I'm convinced that I'll find an insight into the greater game by observing this smaller game within it. Already I've started seeing things that I never noticed before. I never realised there was just a rich and varied life in the steam that rises from kettles. Every morning when I look out my window I see the ghosts of thatched cottages in the fields. They disappear as soon as I look away. I have a feeling that I have some sense of what's going on, but I've no idea how to go about formulating rules. And I also have a feeling that the snowmen know much more than I do, which is depressing.

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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