Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, July 06, 2010


It's the thought that counts

   When Alfred became king, his first act was to instruct his architect to design an observatory. For years his sister had been claiming that she could see ships with bright red sails in the sky at night. She said they were carrying well-dressed horses, cows and pigs between the stars. When the observatory was built, the king's astronomers spent three years observing the sky at night, but they found no evidence of fashion-conscious farmyard animals in transit between ports on stars. So the king fired the astronomers and hired astrologers instead, and they found evidence of the ships without even having to use the telescope.
   The astrologers also told him that he'd marry the woman who had played the harp at a recent ball. Her name was Jemima. Alfred did everything in his power to win her heart. He bought her flowers and gardens. He hired three bakers to make cakes for her every day. She'd take a small bite from each cake and the rest of it would be discarded. When she started spitting out the small bite, he hired someone to take a bite for her and someone else to spit it out. Years went by and she didn't see any of the cakes that were being made and discarded for her every day, but she was given regular reports on them.
   The bakers only stopped making the cakes when Jemima agreed to marry Alfred. He was overjoyed when he finally broke down her resistance and she resigned herself to the marriage. He instructed the bakers to start work on a wedding cake ten times bigger than any seen before in the country, and he hired hundreds of people to take bites from it. He instructed his scientists and his engineers to build a ship that would float through the night sky to a planet where you could pick all of the ingredients for an excellent dessert from a single tree. This would be the location of Alfred and Jemima's honeymoon. He had always been interested in visiting this planet because he'd heard that its inhabitants had embraced democracy, and he was curious about these strange aliens. All of the politicians on the planet were forced to live in isolation with no knowledge of what they were doing or how their decisions would affect the lives of the inhabitants. It wasn't the ideal system, but it was the best they had.
   The scientists and engineers started work on a craft that would convey the newly-weds into space, but the best they could come up with was a ship that would take them to a bog where very old people went to laugh as if they knew something that no one else knew. On some days you'd find hundreds of old people shaking their sticks and laughing at their secret knowledge. Alfred was furious when he saw the ship. The bog was a place that even drunk commoners could fall into. This sort of journey was a far cry from sailing majestically through a star-filled sky to a place where cream grew on trees. He sent the scientists and engineers to a bog at the foot of a faraway mountain. They'd stay there for a year, spending their days laughing at how worthless they were.
   He regretted not getting his astrologers to do the job, but it was too late then. The wedding was only weeks away. To compensate for abandoning their planned honeymoon in space, Alfred decided to arrange a grand pageant. He told Jemima that it would involve thousands of people dressed up as animals, thousands of animals dressed up as people, and bonfires so big that democratically elected politicians would be able to see them from the windows of lonely mountain retreats as they gazed out at the night sky.
   Jemima said, "I know I must have given the impression that all I want in life is cake, but all I really want is for someone to tell me they like the sound of my voice or the way my hair curls, or that they like spending time with me, doing nothing."
   "I'll hire five-hundred men on five-hundred horses on five-hundred elephants to tell you these things twenty-four hours a day."
   "No, I just want you to tell me these things every once in a while. Once a year would be enough. For my birthday."
   Alfred was speechless. He didn't speak to her for seven years because he didn't know what to say, apart from when he said 'I do' on their wedding day, and he wouldn't have said that if he hadn't been told what to say.
   When he eventually thought of something to say to her he spent another few months wondering if he should say it. He came to the conclusion that it was worth taking the risk, so at the end of another silent breakfast he cleared his throat and said, "I like the sound of your voice."
   She couldn't have been any happier. He was amazed at how dazzling her smile was. It only took him another few months to think of something else to say. On her birthday he made a comment about her hair and she said it was the best present ever, so he decided not the give her the birthday cake or the orchestra inside the cake.

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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