Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The Blackbird and the Ruby

   Cynthia arrived at her caravan at seven o' clock in the evening. It was raining, but she didn't mind. Some people's concept of hell was a caravan holiday in the rain, but this was her idea of a perfect holiday.
   There was a tiny restaurant in a nearby caravan. She went there for her dinner. The chef had invented a type of bean that makes other food hide. Apples would roll off the table to get away from it. He asked her if she'd like to try the bean, but she went for the chicken instead. The chef looked disappointed. So did the chicken.
   She started talking to the couple at the next table. It would have been rude not to talk to them because they were so close. An apple couldn't have escaped through the space between the two tables. They introduced themselves as Melanie and George. They said they enjoyed looking at the birds along the coast. Cynthia said she enjoyed bird-watching as well. Melanie warned her not to spend too long looking at the blackbirds around the caravan park because of one particular blackbird who had given the others a bad name. When he opens his mouth you'll see a ruby inside. You'll reach out for it, but it will always be just beyond your grasp. You'll keep reaching until you'll enter the blackbird's stomach. There's a good chance you'll get out eventually, but the exit might not be so pleasant. Cynthia said she'd bear this in mind when she was out bird-watching, but she didn't think there was much danger of being swallowed by a blackbird.
   The sun was shining when she woke up in the morning. She wasn't too disappointed because there was rain in the forecast. She stepped outside. Most of the other holiday-makers were still asleep. She went to the ditch at the other side of the caravan and she looked out over the fields. She listened to the song of the birds. When a blackbird landed on a branch near her she remembered what Melanie had told her. She didn't have much time to dwell on this thought because as soon as the blackbird opened its mouth she could think of nothing but the ruby she saw. She reached out for it.
   Her mind was freed of its fascination with the ruby when she noticed that she was somewhere dark and wet. She wasn't alone in the blackbird's stomach. George and Melanie were in there too. "I feel like such a fool," George said. "I've always prided myself on my ability not to look at things. I assumed that not looking at a blackbird would be a simple task, but I was wrong."
   They were in the blackbird's stomach for hours before they were spat out. They were dropped into an empty field, in an unfamiliar landscape. They walked through the fields, hoping to find a house, but after walking for miles they hadn't even come across a proper road, just dirt tracks. They tried following some of the tracks, but these always led them to more fields or into woods.
   It was the middle of the afternoon before they met another human being. They saw a small sail boat in a field. A man was sitting inside it. He was blowing into the sail. Cynthia asked him if he could give them directions and he said, "The only direction I know is the one I'm facing. It makes things much simpler when you only have one direction, although it doesn't help you get there."
   He started blowing again. Cynthia, George and Melanie walked in the direction he was facing. During the rest of the day they came across a few empty houses and barns, but they didn't meet anyone else. Clouds crept across the sky in the evening. They found a barn before the rain started, and they spent the night there.
   It was still raining in the morning, but not even this could cheer up Cynthia. They were planning on staying in the barn until the rain cleared, but at nine o' clock they saw the man in the boat again. The boat floated past the barn. "Sailing is so much easier when you have a bit of water underneath you," he said. "Climb aboard."
   Cynthia, George and Melanie climbed into the boat. They had little trouble getting into it because it was moving at walking pace, but it gathered speed as it went down a hill. They wanted to get off then because it was moving too fast, but it was moving too fast for them to get off. They narrowly missed many trees. Cynthia, George and Melanie kept screaming, and the sailor kept blowing into the sail.
   They came to a long flat lawn, but they were still moving too quickly. They were heading straight for a windmill. It looked as if they'd go in through the open door, as long as they missed the spinning blades.
   They narrowly missed a blade. They went in through the front door of the windmill and they came out through the back door. They landed on a circular lawn. They were slowing down, and they finally stopped when they dropped into a hole. Cynthia, George and Melanie climbed out of the hole, and they realised where they were. "This is the crazy golf course next to the caravan park," Melanie said. "We're back!"
   "I'm starving," Cynthia said. "I could really do with that bean right now."
   They went back to their caravans to change their clothes and then they met up again in the restaurant to try the bean.

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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