Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


The Pond

   The pond where I went fishing served many purposes when I was young. I'd build rafts with my friends, Seamus and Ronan, and we'd watch them sink. We used to go ice-skating there in winter. There was never any ice, but there wasn't any water either. Our ice-skating was basically just sliding in the mud. We found this hugely enjoyable when we were young, but we reached an age when it started to lose its appeal, and only then did we wonder what had happened to the water.
   There was a cave in a hill overlooking the pond. When we explored the cave we found a dragon. He looked as if his mouth was full. I said to him, "Are you holding the pond water in your mouth?"
   He nodded. He had been keeping the water in his mouth for years because he was always burning his tongue. We thought we could release the water by poking him in the stomach, but we were afraid of getting too close to him. We tried tying broom sticks together to poke him, but they got stuck up his nose.
   We decided to throw stones at his stomach instead. Myself, Seamus and Ronan stood in a line, about ten yards away from the dragon. We agreed to throw our stones on the count of three. On the count of one, myself and Seamus turned and ran, but Ronan counted all the way to three and he threw his stone.
   He hit the dragon in the stomach, and a torrent of water came out of the dragon's mouth. Ronan didn't have to turn and run because he was swept along by the water. Fire followed soon after. It singed the back of Ronan's hat. He had to put his head into the water to save the rest of his hat, and his head.
   We were glad to have our pond back, although the water tasted funny after spending so long in the dragon's mouth. It had a strange smell as well, but this didn't stop us from building rafts that sank.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


My Right Hand

   I've always had very quick hands. There wasn't much demand for gun-slingers, so I started using my talent to catch fish instead. I'd stand in the shallow water at the edge of a pond. I'd wait for a fish to come near me, and then I'd reach in and catch it.
   On one fine day in June, I'd been standing in the water for over twenty minutes before I saw a fish. I reached in to catch it, but when I pulled it out the fish was stuck to the end of my arm and my hand was swimming away. The fish looked worried, and I probably had a similar expression on my face. I put my arm back into the water because I didn't want the fish to die, just in case I couldn't get my hand back and I was stuck with the fish. I'd already had a lot of trouble with smelly hands. Having a dead fish for a hand would be a nightmare at a wedding on a hot summer day.
   I needed bait, something that would tempt my right hand. There were some obvious things, but I couldn't think of any woman who'd put those things in the water just to do a favour for me.
   I had recently taken a pottery class to impress a woman who was also in that class. Both of my hands enjoyed shaping the clay. When I'd completed my first vase my hands liked to feel the smooth surface of the glaze. Ever since then they'd been feeling vases.
   I phoned my brother and I explained the situation to him. He arrived twenty minutes later with a fishing rod. He had attached a vase to the end of the line. He lowered the vase into the water, and I held a net in my left hand.
   It didn't take long for my right hand to approach the vase. My left hand was just as quick as the right. As soon as my right hand was near enough I caught it in the net. It was clutching the vase when it emerged from the water. I made a quick switch, returning the fish to the pond and re-attaching my hand.
   That was four months ago and my hand is still holding onto the vase. I think this is its way of getting back at me for out-smarting it. I had to go to a wedding with the vase. But it wasn't really a problem -- certainly nowhere near as problematic as having a dead fish on the end of my arm. I just put some flowers in the vase.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The Unusual Road

   The Unusual Road has been the subject of heated debate for over eighty years. Many strange occurrences have taken place on one long, straight stretch of the road. The road here is flat, but some people who walked it claimed that it felt as if they were walking up a very steep hill. Others have said that even during heavy rain, the road remains completely dry.
   The road was deemed to be supernatural by two priests who conducted independent studies. Some say they were really the same person, and that it was a supernatural priest, not a supernatural road. This claim has been fiercely contested by those who believe the reports of the people who struggled to walk along the flat surface and the people who got wet in the rain while the road remained dry. Both sides in the argument agreed to refer to it as 'The Unusual Road'.
   A man called William lives near one end of the road. He once got into a fight with his neighbour, Conn, over a patch of land. William threw the first punch, and he connected with Conn's jaw. Conn staggered backwards. When he had regained his senses he took another few steps backwards to give himself a good run-up for his punch. But he found that he was standing in mud, so he went further back to find the right ground to begin his run-up.
   He spent three years looking for good ground. When the thought crossed his mind that people might accuse him of being a coward he began his charge straightaway, even though he was standing in a bog. Running out of the bog was exhausting, and he was still miles away from William. He had to phone William to find out exactly where his opponent was. He said his punch would be landing sometime that afternoon.
   It was late in the afternoon by the time Conn got to The Unusual Road. He was exhausted, but he didn't have much further to go. As soon as he set foot on the road he nearly fell backwards. He tried to move forwards, but it felt as if he was walking up a mountainside.
   Darkness fell and William was getting impatient, so he phoned Conn to find out where he was. Conn said he'd made a camp in the ditch to rest, and he was just about ready to make another attempt on the summit.
   An hour later, William went to the end of the road and watched Conn crawl towards him. Conn stood up. He waited for a few minutes while he got his breath back. He swung a punch at William, but he missed. William pushed him over, and Conn rolled to the other end of the road, as if he was rolling down a mountainside. When he finally came to a stop he could hear William laughing.
   William turned around to go home, but he found himself confronted by two priests. One of them said, "That wasn't a very Christian thing to do."
   "It certainly was not," the other one said. "What are ye fighting over?"
   "A patch of land," William said.
   "Where is it?"
   "It's at home. I keep it in a suitcase."
   "First things first. You're going to help your friend."
   They went to Conn, who had managed to get back to his feet again. William helped him walk down the road, but this time it felt as if the surface was flat.
   They went to William's house. The priests made them divide the patch of land into two equal parts, and they took one half each. The priests also suggested that they celebrate their new arrangement with whiskey, which they did.
   Both William and Conn insist that this really happened, although Conn says there was only one priest. William is adamant there were two. This disagreement could erupt into violence any year now.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The Monkey

   Mathew had a recurring nightmare about his wedding day. He'd be standing at the altar with his bride and the priest would pronounce them husband and wife before saying, "You may now kiss the bride." He'd lift the veil, and only then would he notice that his new wife was a monkey.
   He only mentioned this to one person: Andy, his brother. Andy said, "That's funny, because I have a similar recurring nightmare. When the priest tells me I can kiss the bride I lift her veil and I see the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life. She's looking at me as if I mean everything to her, as if I've just made her the happiest person in the world. And then I kiss the priest."
   Mathew chose not to discuss the matter any further with Andy.
   When he got engaged to a woman called Natalie the nightmares became more intense and more frequent, even though there was nothing monkey-like about her. He tried to get the image out of his mind. He closed his eyes and pictured himself at the altar with her. He imagined lifting the veil and seeing her face smiling back at him. That's when he realised what was wrong. He didn't want to marry her. He'd have been relieved if he'd lifted the veil and seen a monkey because it would be easy to get a marriage to a monkey annulled.
   He was walking through the park one evening when he saw some kids playing Frisbee. One of them threw the Frisbee into a tree. Mathew watched as a woman climbed the tree with the speed and agility of a monkey. She threw the Frisbee to the kids, and she was back on the ground within seconds.
   Mathew was convinced that this was a sign. She was the monkey. He asked her how she'd become so good at climbing trees and she said she used to be an acrobat in a circus. He told her he was fascinated by this, and she agreed to let him buy her a drink so she could tell him more about her former career.
   He had the dream about marrying the monkey again that night, only this time it wasn't a nightmare. The monkey smiled at him when he lifted her veil, and he smiled back at her.

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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