Tag Archives: fiction

1500. Reaching the pinnacle

 

Bruce hadn’t achieved much in his life. There was one thing, however, he could do: he could be the first in the history of the world to climb one particular peak of the local mountain range. Reaching the top of this peak had been an insurmountable problem for many who had attempted it. Although few had died in the attempt, no one had arrived where apparently “no human had ever trod before”.

It wasn’t the most earth-shattering thing to do, but Bruce would attempt it come what may. At least to himself he would achieve something of note: a legend in his own mind.

He set out.

After many strenuous days, after falling rocks and slippery shingle slides, after warm days and freezing nights, after scratches and insect bites, after encountering inquisitive tourist parties and aspiring solo mountaineers, he had only a few feet left to go. He reached up to the last crevice on the mountain peak to pull himself up to the top. And…

… he did! He did it! “At last!” he said, “at last I have arrived where no human had ever trod before!” The view wasn’t as spectacular has he had imagined. And scattered about were a couple of squashed coke cans and some cigarette butts.

Post Script:

Dear Reader,

This is the 1500th story on this blog, and the final posting! I would like to end on a personal note:

Back in 1986 I was studying for a degree in a relatively famous institution in Boston, Massachusetts. It was possibly the most flamboyantly happy time of my life. I was very popular! North America was big, and I came from a tiny island at the bottom of the globe. I revelled in the vastness of it all, and delighted in the generosity and openness of Americans!

When I came back to New Zealand, in the first month I received over two hundred letters. This was the days before the media revolution. I began to answer the letters, starting with the ones from people that I didn’t have a clue who they were! The people I was closest to could wait. The people I didn’t know answered. I replied to them again. The people I knew the best waited. And waited. And in the end, all drifted away.

These days I would not know who is dead and who is alive. These people are memories, but no longer personal friends. This seems to be the friendship cycle in my life.

For the past 1500 stories – and some music and poems as well – I have enjoyed the company of many – some for a long long time. I would like to mention names but won’t! Most I don’t know much about. Have you family? Where do you live? In many cases I’m not sure I even know your real name. That’s the strangeness of friends on the blogs! Some I have offended, and I’m sorry.

Thank you to all who walked all or part of the way with me (those of you who are still alive!) I have enjoyed the privilege of your company. I suspect there are other adventures waiting for me. I hope so.

I sometimes thought (in highfalutin moments) that some people (maybe creative-writing teachers) might like to use these stories as “starters” for their pupils to extend to new and exciting conclusions. There are enough weekly starters to last roughly 38 years before a teacher need begin to repeat! (Boring bloody teacher, repeating stuff after 38 years).

I wish you every possible wonderful thing for always.

Bruce

1499A. I’ll take you there

(OK OK – I know I was stopping at Story 1500, but this one is 1499A. It’s one I wrote but never got to use. It’s for Christmas!)

Andrew lived with his grandma in a little cottage. He helped his grandma grow vegetables and flowers. He also helped his grandma milk the cow. The cow lived in the shed out the back.

A big snowstorm came. Andrew was sad because the weather reminded him of the day his mother died. Grandma said that if he looked into the frosty night sky he would see lots of stars brightly shining. Perhaps his mother was looking down.

Andrew made a great big star out of silver foil and hung it in the window so his mother would know where to look.

A little later Grandma was busy making cinnamon cookies in the kitchen. There was a knock at the door.

“I’ll get it, Grandma.”

Andrew opened the door. The winter wind swept in.

There stood Three Kings. What a glorious sight! They were dressed in cloth of gold studded with jewels. They wore crowns and had rings galore on their fingers. They carried gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

“We have been following a star,” they said. “We saw the star in your window and wondered if this was the right place.”

Andrew said he didn’t think it was the right place, but there were some people in the shed out the back sheltering from the snow. They might know something about it.

“I’ll take you there.”

And that is how Andrew changed the history of the world.

1499. Please pass the condiments

Nancy wasn’t so much a snob as someone who gained her superiority with put-downs. She made herself big by making others small.

When she invited the ladies from the canasta club for lunch she announced that the theme was Korean. She spent the entire luncheon saying things such as “Daphne, would you pass the cheonggukjang, please” or “Marjory, would you pass the myeongnan-jeot”. Of course, Daphne and Marjory didn’t have a clue what cheonggukjang and myeongnan-jeot were, because on the table Nancy had also placed nabak-kimchi, guljeot, and bagoóng alamáng.

“I would’ve thought that bagoóng alamáng was more from the Philippines,” suggested Eleanor. But it fell on deaf ears.

“What would you know?” spouted Nancy.

The following week it was Eleanor’s turn to host the lunch. The theme, announced Eleanor, is Chinese.

“Could you pass the soy sauce please, Nancy,” said Eleanor.

“Which one is that?” asked Nancy.

“It’s the bottle with 黃豆醬 on the label, stupid.”

1498. Hi Magdalen

Hi Magdalen
This’ll have to be a quick note because my wife’s due home any minute. I just want to say that little Julia is loving being in your class. She came home singing Little Bo Peep and Mary Had a Little Lamb. I also wanted to say that I’m pretty upset about the rumours of you having an affair with one of the parents. If my name gets out I won’t be at all happy. Hopefully we can carry on. Speaking of which – when’s the next parents’ interview evening?
Herb McCauley

Hi Magdalen
This’ll have to be a quick note because my wife’s due home any minute. I just want to say that little Archie is loving being in your class. He came home singing Little Bo Peep and Mary Had a Little Lamb. I also wanted to say that I’m pretty upset about the rumours of you having an affair with one of the parents. If my name gets out I won’t be at all happy. Hopefully we can carry on. Speaking of which – when’s the next parents’ interview evening?
Clive McCormick

Hi Magdalen
This’ll have to be a quick note because my wife’s due home any minute. I just want to say that little Francesca is loving being in your class. She came home singing Little Bo Peep and Mary Had a Little Lamb. I also wanted to say that I’m pretty upset about the rumours of you having an affair with one of the parents. If my name gets out I won’t be at all happy. Hopefully we can carry on. Speaking of which – when’s the next parents’ interview evening?
Jack Flanagan

Hi Magdalen
This’ll have to be a quick note because my wife’s due home any minute. I just want to say that little Bart is loving being in your class. He came home singing Little Bo Peep and Mary Had a Little Lamb. I also wanted to say that I’m pretty upset about the rumours of you having an affair with one of the parents. If my name gets out I won’t be at all happy. Hopefully we can carry on. Speaking of which – when’s the next parents’ interview evening?
Ivan Ainsworth

Dear Parents
I’m happy to announce that Clarissa Dobbs will be the replacement teacher while Magdalen
is on maternity leave.
Charles Allen
Principal

1497. Honeymooners

Ursula and Lockwood are newlyweds. They are honeymooning in an exotic island location. (We shall not name the exact place as we wouldn’t want paparazzi to ruin their blissful time).

How they did things hand in hand! watched the fountain play with fantasy lights; visited the zoo and laughed at the spitting llama; fed the ducklings at the park. Next they went to the village market. Lockwood tossed balls at a bunch of coconuts and won for Ursula a fluffy stuffed panda with a bright red ribbon. And then there was the fortune-teller…

“Throw these cards into the air,” said the soothsayer. “One card will land face-up. That will be your future.”

Ursula tossed the cards. One fell face-up.

An argument will end your marriage. You will both die in a plane crash.

Ursula and Lockwood are scared stupid. They are currently staying in separate hotel rooms afraid to speak lest they argue. They await separate flights out.

1495. The colour pink

… and they used to do everything together. When they were first married Thelma and Rohan would decide everything together. What is the best variety of lettuce to plant in the garden? What shall we do for our anniversary? What painting should we hang above the fireplace? What special things shall we do this coming summer?

These days it was altogether different. After forty years each presumed they knew the other’s mind. The presumption was that years’ of teamwork meant the other rarely need be asked.

So when Thelma went to stay for a week or so with her elderly failing sister, Rohan decided to surprise Thelma by repainting the dining room. And indeed, Thelma was surprised! She didn’t say a word other than cluck with delight, but what a disgusting colour! Bright pink! She would have to live with it for the next ten years or so.

When Rohan’s saw bench reached the end of its earthly usefulness, Thelma bought him a new one for Christmas. Of course he acted delighted. In fact he acted quite tickled pink, but it was the wrong type of saw bench. Rohan had to secretly buy another one and pretend he was using the one from Thelma.

These were little things of course, but they built up, built up. One day, Thelma blurted out that she hated the colour of the dining room. They argued and Rohan revealed that she had given him the wrong saw bench.

These days, they’re back to discussing things and making mutual decisions. Life is a lot easier.

1494. Punting on the river

Fintan knew the time had come for him to propose marriage to Angela. What was holding him up? He wanted to propose creatively. He wanted it to be memorable. He wanted it to be both romantic and different.

He suggested to Angela that they hire a punt on the river. The river was deep and slow and picturesque. They would take a picnic lunch and pull over to the side, perhaps under a weeping willow. And then either before or after lunch, when all seemed most idyllic, he would propose. Of course, Fintan made a few trial runs in a hired punt secretly. He wanted to know how best to guide the boat, and best where to go.

It was a beautiful summer’s day. Birds sang. A fish jumped up out of the water just as their punt passed by. It was as if it was dancing for the joy of the occasion. A mother duck protected her batch of newly hatched ducklings. How wonderful! At one stage, quite by accident, some sad, winsome, romantic oboe music wafted from a manor beyond the expansive lawn on the river bank. This would be the moment, the perfect moment to propose.

Fintan went down on one knee. “Angela,” he said, “will you marry me?” Fintan’s change in posture unbalanced the punt. Angela didn’t even have time to say “Yes!” before the boat toppled over and they drowned.