Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009



   The morning sun illuminated the kitchen in Olivia's apartment. This was going to be a good day, she told herself. She was going to spend the day with Darragh and Caroline, and she was determined not to spend most of it listening to Darragh talking about the blood he found on his feet. She had already spent too long listening to Darragh talking about the blood on his feet.
   She was also determined to forget about the footsteps she often heard on the spiral stairs outside the door of her apartment. It sounded like a group of people running up the stairs, and she never saw them because they moved too quickly. Darragh told her about models who get bored with being looked at all the time. They become depressed, and they start moving very quickly so that all you'll see is a blur. She couldn't find out any more about the models because Darragh started talking about the blood on his feet again.
   One day she ran up the stairs after them. She could hear their footsteps on the bare wooden floorboards above her as she went up the steps, but the sound of the footsteps stopped just before she got to the top of the stairs. She climbed up into a huge empty room. There was an open window at the other end. She went to it and she looked out. She saw a concrete path three storeys beneath the window. If something with feet had jumped out of a window three storeys up and landed on a concrete path, it wouldn't be using those feet to walk away in a hurry, but there was nothing on the path, not even any blood. She didn't mention this to Darragh because she knew what he'd start talking about.
   She didn't hear the footsteps over the following week and she thought that the feet and their owners might be gone for good, but then one Saturday evening she heard them again. She knew there was little point in trying to see who or what was making the sound, so instead she just listened. She tried to make out how many sets of feet there were. After weeks of listening she came to the conclusion that there were at least eight feet -- four sets if each owner had two.
   She got Darragh and Caroline to listen as well. They didn't think it mattered how many of them there were. Caroline suggested trying to remember the first time she heard the footsteps. Olivia said it was a Saturday evening in May when she first heard the sound. She had just come back from a boat trip with Darragh and Caroline. She hadn't taken much notice of the footsteps at the time because if she took note of everything she'd have very little time left to remember the afternoon she had just spent on the lake. In retrospect she realised she had paid too much attention to the boat trip and not enough to the footsteps, but Caroline disagreed. She believed that the footsteps required much less attention and the boat trip much more, so on this fine July morning she was ready to go out on the lake with Caroline and Darragh again. She was determined to forget about the footsteps and to ignore Darragh. All of her attention would be devoted to her surroundings.
   After an hour on the lake the plan started to work. The clear blue sky and the still waters of the lake emptied her mind of all but the clear blue sky and the still waters of the lake. Even Darragh seemed to have succumbed to his surroundings. He hadn't said a word about his feet since they left the car.
   She might not have thought about the footsteps or Darragh's feet until they got back to the car if she hadn't felt a breeze on her face. She got the impression that something was there, something that had reduced itself to nothing but its own breath, but in that breath she could sense what it once was. She had a sense of a being who was more powerful than anything else on the earth, someone capable of seeing and knowing much more than any human ever could. Of course, it might just have been the breeze.
   As they drove home she tried to convince herself that it was just the breeze, but she failed. She started to wonder if the footsteps were like the breath, the last remaining manifestations of beings who had once been much more than footsteps. She listened to the sound of the footsteps again that evening and she got the impression of a group of people who loved a good party. This impression was reinforced the next time she heard the sound.
   She took a small table up to the empty room, and on it she put a bottle of wine and some glasses. The next time she heard the footsteps she went outside. She stood at the bottom of the stairs. She could hear the footsteps moving across the floor above, but they stopped when they got to the table. When she went up later, the wine was gone.
   Her impression of these beings became more complete every time she heard the sound. She thought they'd like listening to jazz, so she left a record player and some jazz records in the room, along with another bottle of wine. The next time she heard the footsteps she went outside and shortly afterwards she heard the sound of jazz coming from upstairs. She looked up towards the top of the stairs, and she got a very brief glimpse of a face looking down at her. She found it very difficult to describe this face later. It seemed as if the features were blurred.
   She started to think that by filling in the details in her mental picture of these people she was returning them to the fullness of their being. This is a project she's still working on. She discovered that they also like strawberries and the music of Erich Korngold. Just last week she got a glimpse of a white dress and brown shoes at the top of the stairs, and she thought she heard one of them say the word 'orange'.

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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