Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Elinor's Father

   He used the sharpest shark he could lay his hands on to open the envelope. The shark was upset at having Elinor's hands upon him. Elinor hoped that the letter from his father would explain how he came to have a girl's name, but it was a faint hope. He didn't know what to expect from his father. He hadn't seen the man since he was four-years-old. That was twenty years ago. His father had left under a cloud. He remained under the cloud and he went wherever it went. Elinor had made an attempt to find his father once before, when he tried to track down the cloud. If he could find it, locating his father would simply be a matter of looking underneath the cloud. He spent months looking at satellite photos, but he couldn't find what he was looking for. He considered the possibility that his father's cloud was hiding beneath another cloud. Elinor saw no way around this difficulty.
   He had given up hope of ever seeing his father again, until the letter arrived. He knew it was from his father because of the image of the cloud on the envelope. It was unmistakably his father's cloud. After opening the envelope he absent-mindedly thanked the shark and put it to one side, failing to notice how upset his make-shift letter opener was. He read the letter. It said: "Dear Elinor, I don't know if your mother told you, but I've been away for some time now. I can't say how long because I've been too busy to keep track of time. In the past, keeping track of time was a hobby I'd gladly engage in for hours on end, but I haven't had a chance to do it in... I don't know how many hours or days have passed since I last had a chance. It could even be as long as months. Sometimes when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror I wonder if I've been away from my family for years. I've travelled many miles under my cloud. It has come to rest over a golf course, where I now work as a green-keeper. Looking after the grass gives me great satisfaction. I get little satisfaction from watching people trying to putt birds on the greens. The birds will only roll into the holes if they want to. The golfers want the birds to roll into the holes. Hitting a bird with a metal object isn't an effective means of getting that bird to do what you want it to do. You've got to nudge it as gently as possible. Talking to the bird in advance might help your chances.
   "Sometimes my cloud doesn't provide adequate protection from the rain. I've found that a ceiling is more effective than a cloud when it comes to keeping the rain off my head. With this in mind, I moved into a cottage on land adjoining the golf course. I've recently discovered that there are spare bedrooms in the cottage. I can't say how many there are because I haven't had time to count them yet, but I'm sure there are more than zero. This should be enough to accommodate you, should you decide to visit. I have sent a similar invitation to your mother. There is more than enough room beneath my cloud for both of you. I look forward to seeing you again,
Your Loving Father,
   Elinor's mother, Harry, would have to wait a few months before visiting her husband because she was busy trying to get down from her shoes, but Elinor went to the golf course as soon as he could. Elisabeth was delighted to see his son again. He couldn't believe it had been twenty years since they last met.
   He showed his son around the golf course. On the twelfth green they saw a bird stop to lay an egg when it was ten feet short of the hole. When they got back to the cottage, Elisabeth made some tea and Elinor brought up the subject of his name.
   "Your grandfather was called Elinor," Elisabeth said, "and so was his grandfather, and his grandfather before him. The original Elinor got his name because his father, who was called Elisabeth, got drunk one night and foolishly accepted a challenge to jump over a horse. He had little trouble reaching the height needed to clear the horse. In fact, he would have been better off not jumping so high. When his head became embedded in the ceiling he questioned the wisdom of undertaking such a challenge indoors. He saw a woman in the room upstairs. She had every right to be offended by his intrusion, but she was very sympathetic to his plight. She rescued him, and he was very grateful for her assistance. Alcohol always increased the strength of his emotions. He promised to name his first-born son after her. He was shocked when she told him her name was Elinor. He thought she'd be called Paddy because most of the women he knew had that name. Almost everyone was called Paddy back then. Nevertheless, he kept his promise and he called his first son Elinor. The name was passed down through the generations until it arrived at you."
   Elinor was a changed man after he heard this story. For years he had been ashamed of his name, but from then on he took great pride in it. No longer would he fear appearing effeminate because of his name. He could tell people that his name originated in a propensity for drunken dares and being rescued by women, and these were masculine characteristics.

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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