Tag Archives: micro fiction

2020. The camel was designed by a committee

(Today is story Number 2020 and will be my last posting for a while. (For those a little slow, 2020 is also the year!) Today too marks my 71st birthday, so what a splendid time to debloggerate for a bit! 2020 stories, 100 poems, nearly four hundred pieces of music – and thanks to you my readers, just under 40,000 comments! (Clearly, some of you can’t shut up!) I shall be back at some stage but possibly to do different things. After all, if a person hasn’t found a single story they liked out of 2020 then… whatever. I thought (inspired by a suggestion once made by Uma) that I might write some monologues. Or (as Iseult suggested) I might write Part II of an “autobiography”. Or (as I have suggested to myself many times) I might write another novel. Who knows?! Anyway, here is today’s story, the final, entitled “The camel was designed by a committee”.)

The Nobel Prize for Literature Committee called a very important meeting. They had invited a group of people to advise whether or not, for the first time in Nobel history, a blogger should receive the award. No one knows a blogger like a blogger. Apologies if your presence and what you said at the meeting was not recorded; the story would get too long – but whole-hearted thanks to ALL who read this blog.

Below is a rough transcription of the meeting. Andrea set the ball rolling.

Andrea: I really don’t think we should award Bruce the Nobel Prize for Literature. He would probably show his thanks by killing us all off in a story.

Uma: I agree with Andrea. Our world is dark enough without our adding to it. Mind you, it’s a Catch 22 situation; he’ll kill us off in the stories whether we say yes or no.

Nitin: What Bruce getting the Nobel Prize for Literature has got to do with Bozo the Clown is quite beyond me.

Yvonne: I’m not in favour of the Nobel Prize for Literature being given to Bruce. Imagine the interminable shopping lists he’d make once he got all that money.

GP Cox: He needs a bomb put under him.

Lisa: I agree with Yvonne on this one. I have tried to play his music on the violin and I think we should concentrate on his stories.

Keith: As a poet and story writer who has lived in France I really think there are cases more worthy, such as…

João-Maria (interrupting): I agree with Keith. I can think of lots of Portuguese poets who…

Ian (interrupting): Since no one knows who I am I can speak the truth without any negative repercussions. All I can say about his getting the Nobel Prize is – balderdash. Bunkum. Hokum. (And (although he might hate me saying) possibly the one who writes enough stupid stuff to be appreciated).

Max: He doesn’t know much about popular music from the 60s and 70s, so personally I’m more in favour of awarding it to Bob Dylan. Someone like that.

Matthew: Bob Dylan’s already got it once. I agree with João-Marie; but not Portuguese poets. Colombian poets would be more suitable.

Noelle: The Pilgrim Fathers (and Mothers) didn’t get off the Mayflower to award the Nobel Prize for Literature to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. I cry Murder! Murder! It’s a “No!” from me because I usually found his methods of killing people under researched.

Sylvie: I suspect he hasn’t written any haikus, so it’s “Non” from me (which according to Google Translate is French for “No”).

Herb: I’ve looked back over my own blog over the years, and if length of service is anything to go on I shall have to recommend the same as Sylvie, only in English.

Chelsea: As a mother of five boys I simply haven’t got any spare time to voice an opinion, although it’s pretty amazing how much I get done in a day.

Terry: From my point of view, all I can say is I’m an Australian, and my excellent stories are…

Sarah  (interrupting): As a published author I cannot recommend the prize going to someone who has never been published. In fact, in researching the history of the Nobel Prizes I can’t think of a single unpublished author who has had a book published. Nor for that matter can I think of a published author who has not had a book published.

Alex: They certainly haven’t made any films using his stories. For that matter, they haven’t made even a sitcom. It’s pathetic. What a pathetic loser! What an insignificant personage! It’s going to be a big fat “No” from me.

Chris: And “No” from me. His poems don’t rhyme. Nor do most of mine but that’s not what we’re on about here.

Cindy: If it’s photographable I’m in favour of it, although he’s not particularly photogenic. Then again, not every bird I photograph is pretty. Some are downright ugly. On second thoughts, I’m voting “No”. Sometimes one has to take into account the feelings of the camera.

Marina: Hello from Greece. I’m standing at my easel wondering whether to write or paint my “No”.

John: It looks like it’s going to be a unanimous “NO”. I should know because I write excellent poetry and have two daughters who live in New Zealand. In fact, Bruce and I have just had a series of poems published in a new poetry anthology called “No More Can Fit Into the Evening”. Published by Four Windows Press in Wisconsin. More of that anon.

Inese: Bruce is as cunning as a fox, although he’s never seen one. I went for a long and very picturesque walk along a river bank in Ireland to think about this award, and I got so distracted by the beauty of the environment that I quite forgot to think. Mind you, I have played all 160 of his piano pieces. Unfortunately there’s no Nobel Prize for Piano Music.

Lindsey: Speaking of walking… who’s this walking up the garden path this very minute?

Gulsum: Why! It’s Bruce himself!

Bruce: Hands up! Hands up! This is a hold up! Stick ‘em up!

Tom: We can’t say we weren’t warned. (And Tom’s publishing company – Four Windows Press – is the publisher of the poetry anthology mentioned by John above. And Tom is also one of the editors).

Paul: Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!

Iseult: Where is a murderous machete when I need it? Help! A machete! A machete! My latest novel for a machete!

Bruce: Ok. Just this once I relent. In today’s story, you’re all going to survive. Well, maybe not all… YOU – over there in the corner in the silly hat – I see you’ve already nibbled surreptitiously on some of the poisonous salami I put out for refreshments later on.

Simon: I haven’t eaten any of the poisonous salami. I eat only what I cook myself – unless someone else cooks it. Why don’t you get on your bike and pedal off?

Bruce got onto his bicycle and pedaled off into the sunset. Of course, he’s so unfit that it’s not impossible he won’t get far.

THE END

2007. What to do?

(Just before today’s story! – a quick note to say that my childhood “autobiography” – Bits of a Boyhood – has been wonderfully reviewed by Iseult Murphy – HERE! She is the most prolific reader online and she posts many reviews that are well worth it. Thank you, Iseult! And so to today’s story:)

 

Francine didn’t know what exactly she had in mind when she said “I would very much like to have some time alone.” She had said that to her husband. She needed space. It’s not that he did anything untoward; it’s just that she needed the occasional break from his sporadic odd behaviour. He wouldn’t go to the doctor; possibly he didn’t need to go to the doctor, but Francine was not capable of diagnosing “what was going on”. For example, he would open and close a door four or five times before going through it. He didn’t always do that. Things like that went in “bouts”.

And that is why Francine needed to take the occasional break. This time however, things were different. He had taken his pet canary out of its cage and thrown it to freedom out the window. He had set the dishwasher going three times when there weren’t any dishes to wash. And now he was standing at the door between the sitting room and the dining room and opening and closing it and saying over and over “Come in! Come in!”

Francine consoled herself by joking that perhaps he was trying to welcome back his escaped canary.

Eventually she said, as she had said before, that he needed to go and see a doctor. But he answered (and he seemed quite normal and lovely in his answer) that he didn’t need to do that. There was nothing wrong with him. The stress was all in Francine’s head.

And that is when Francine said, “I would very much like to have some time alone”. Arnold said, “Alright then, why don’t you go for a walk?” So Francine put on her walking shoes and went for a long walk, and thought about things without coming to any conclusion.

When she got home Arnold was in the kitchen cooking some bananas in the oven. She asked him what he was doing and he said the television had said not to feed the dog raw meat.

“But bananas are not meat,” said Francine, “and we don’t have a dog.”

Anyway, by evening Arnold was back to normal. They watched a TV program together and had a normal conversation, and then Arnold went to bed.

Francine sat in the armchair wondering what to do. She honestly didn’t know what she should do next. If Arnold had dropped dead it would be sad of course but definite. Instead, everything was so “up in the air”.

1992. Things that quickly fade

Annette loved flowers. She always had several vases of flowers in her living room and a little retro corkless medicine bottle on the window sill of the kitchen with a sprig of rosemary and a twiglet of this and that.

When her husband died the undertaker quietly asked Annette in the cemetery if she wished to have the flowers sitting on the coffin when it was lowered or would she prefer that the flowers were placed on top of the grave once it was filled in.

“Oh God no!” exclaimed Annette, speaking slightly louder than the undertaker. “I’m taking all the flowers home!” And she did! It’s not that she didn’t love her husband. But what use are flowers dying on a grave? Flowers from the funeral arranged in her living room were a much better reminder of her sad loss and a heart-felt tribute to her husband. That way too she could appreciate in full the kindness of the people who had sent condoling flowers.

Great-aunt Matilde paid a sympathy visit, mainly because Annette always served with a mug of coffee some homemade chocolate chip cookies that used ground oatmeal, nuts, and lots and lots of extra chocolate. In fact, Annette grated into the mixture several chocolate bars more than the recipe called for.

“I think flowers at funerals are a complete waste of money,” declared great-aunt Matilde surveying the living room bouquets. “When I die I don’t want people spending money on things that quickly fade.”

As occasionally happens, great-aunt Matilde was 88. She went home and sadly passed away shortly after. Annette arranged the surviving living room flowers and took them to place on great-aunt Matilde’s filled-in flowerless grave.

Not a dime was spent on things that quickly fade.

1888. I can’t think of everything at once

“I can’t think of everything at once” was Bella’s way of not only trying to find a reason for what happened, but her way of coping with the situation.

Dale had left Bella quite unexpectedly. One minute they were happily married, or so Bella thought, and the next minute he’d upped and left and was cohabitating with that floosy from the confectionary shop down on the corner of Shelley Street. Bella had no idea what he saw in her. And now Bella was on her own. The dividing of the matrimonial goods hadn’t as yet happened, but Bella was ensconced in the joint house and she wasn’t budging for the time being. Besides, it was winter and the house had a log fire and lots of firewood stack in the shed. She would cope.

On a rather chilly winter’s evening Bella discovered she had let the log fire go out. Dale had always set and lit the fire but she wasn’t entirely impractical. She screwed up some pages of newspaper and wigwammed some kindling over the top of it. That was when she discovered that she couldn’t think of everything at once. Dale had always lit the fire with his cigarette lighter. There were no matches in the house. Matches had not been on her grocery list.

Of course it was a silly idea, but Bella had heard since early childhood that primitive humans started a fire by rubbing two sticks together. She didn’t have a clue how to do it, and suspected very much that it wouldn’t work anyway. For a time she thought she would stay warm by wrapping herself up in blankets. She would buy some matches tomorrow. But then Bella thought of a solution.

She rolled up a sheet of newspaper tightly. She went to the kitchen, turned on the toaster, and from the element of the toaster she lit the rolled up newspaper. On the way to the wood burner with her burning torch she brushed past the lacy curtains in the dining room.

It’s always a shame when nothing is insured.

(Note: Today’s story number of 1888 is out of sync. That’s because a month or so back Story 1888 was missed – so this is a catch-up!)

1984. Honey, I never made it

Granville had made his wife, Doreen, the most beautiful rocking chair. It had taken him months of secret working in the shed out the back. Doreen never knew what he was up to. She supposed he was simply messing about, and then one day he produced the rocking chair and said “I made this for you, Honey.”

What a beautiful chair! Carved legs! A perfect, perfect rocking motion! Even the sweetest cushion on the seat!

“What a clever husband I have!” declared Doreen. “Who would have believed?”

But the truth was, Granville had started to make a rocking chair and things didn’t work out. It was a mess, so he had a rocking chair made. It certainly was a magnificent rocking chair, but he had merely pretended to have made it himself.

“What a clever husband I have!” repeated Doreen. “Who would have believed?” She was over the moon.

Sometime later, Granville was diagnosed with a terminal disease. He grew weaker by the day. He knew, as he reviewed his life, that entrance to eternity perhaps demanded sorrow for sins. He simply had to tell Doreen about the rocking chair.

It was clear that the end was near. Granville still hadn’t confessed to Doreen. And then, with one gigantic effort he declared “Honey, I never made it”. Within seconds he was dead.

Doreen always thought, as she rocked her way through widowhood, that Granville’s final “Honey, I never made it” was some premonition that he had been refused entrance through the Pearly Gates.

1972. Touch type

Hedwig always took the positive view of life. Her biggest challenge came when she lost her sight. It was a very difficult situation of course, made doubly worse by the fact that she was a professional typist. Mind you, she was a touch typist so she could still type transcriptions of audios.

It was a great help that her boss at work was in fact her first cousin. She said, “Hedwig, there’s no reason why you can’t continue to work here. And we shall begin with a short thankyou note I would like typed out that I have dictated on my phone. And make a copy.”

Hedwig typed it out in double quick time. It was easy-peasy. Hedwig’s cousin thanked her profusely. It looks like Hedwig’s job is secure. Here’s the copy:

Dear Mabrl

Thanekypi sp ,icj gpt uypi ;eyyer pg vpmspo;emn cr/ Annie anmd O ertr gr;ohjkyrf up trvrobr oy smf oy jhwbn5 or ,ifj fp,t;67

Kind re4ghartd
Dave

Hedwig’s cousin said she was delighted. She continued to employ Hedwig for years after.

1957. Class break

A group of pulchritudinous young ladies at St Ursula’s Finishing School for Girls were sitting in the sun during a class break discussing Ms Heidi Antrobus-Biddlecombe, their omphaloskepsic teacher.

“She’s a trichotillomaniac,” said Sylvia. “Her head’s all patchy.” All agreed.

“She looks like a pig,” suggested Angelique. “Her nose has been xenotransplantated!” Everyone laughed.

“Thank goodness she’s not polyphiloprogenitive,” said Denise. “We’d be overrun. AND she has ants in her pants!” It was a nice play on their teacher’s name!

“What a relief we’re not myrmecophilous!” exclaimed Petra. “Ugh! How disgusting!”

Again everyone laughed, except for Susannah who had been silent up until now and admitted she didn’t know what the word “omphaloskepsic” meant.

“I know the word omphaloskepsis,” she said. “But I have never heard of omphaloskepsic.”

Oh dear! What an ignorant little girl.

“Come along class!” called out Ms Heidi Antrobus-Biddlecomb in her wheezy smoker’s voice from the window of the Infants’ Classroom. “Playtime is over!”

“Good gracious!” exclaimed Minnie. “She sounds like she’s got
pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis.”

All went inside for their favourite class of the week: colouring in with crayons.

1943. A train to catch

I was scurrying to the train station to catch my usual morning transport. I was running late because I had spilt coffee on my trousers (thank goodness it had cooled) and had to get changed. In my haste I forgot to take my phone out of the wet trouser pocket, so I didn’t know by how much I was running late.

The clock on the town tower was renowned for its unreliability. Going by what it said I had five minutes to get to the station to get on the train to take me to work. I work as a bank manager, and today the big boss is coming for an important meeting. VERY important, he had said on the phone.

Only four minutes to go. I thought I’d start to run; actually trot along, as I didn’t want to be all sweaty during the VERY important meeting.

Two minutes to go. I simply cannot afford to miss that train. What the heck! I’ll have to run, sweaty or not! I can explain to the boss why I’m perspiring so profusely. And…

Made it! Phew! That was close! I got a seat too. No sooner had I sat than the doors closed and the train began to noiselessly slide away from the station.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a voice over the intercom. “Welcome to the non-stop day trip to the capital city. Refreshments are available throughout the trip in the cafeteria carriage.”

I was on the wrong train. It was going the wrong way and it would take all day to get there.

1939. To die alphabetically

Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund’s doctor had given him bad news. He had not been feeling well and was not at all surprised when the doctor announced (in a kindly and tender manner) that what Jerome Holke Barbarich-Askelund had was terminal.

“Oh well,” shrugged Jerome, “we all eventually get our marching orders I suppose.”

He went home and within a week had become obsessed with the death notices in the morning paper. Here was a list of those who had died – usually the day before. Jerome began to work out each morning where his name would go alphabetically if he had indeed passed away on the preceding day.

Amor
Austin
Baird
Burgin
Cain

If he had died his name would appear between Baird and Burgin.

Ackerley
Alexander
Batwell
Blayney
Blight

If he had died his name would appear between Alexander and Batwell.

And there, on the third day, BARBARICH-ASKELUND! There it was in print! In black and white! What a mystery!

Anderson
Atherfold
Aycock
BARBARICH-ASKELUND
Butt

“As far as I know,” said Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund, “we are the only ones in the country with this family name. It’s a complete bafflement. I’m in a state of stupefaction.”

After two weeks, Mrs. Barbarich-Askelund’s friend, Gloria Wiggins said, “Look Myrtle-Bianca, you have to admit that he’s been dead for two weeks now. You can’t go on pretending it didn’t happen. “

“Oh Gloria!” sobbed Myrtle-Bianca Barbarich-Askelund, “to die is one thing. To appear in print between Aycock and Butt is shocking. Jerome will never forgive me.”

1912. Woodland ghost

Whenever Russell went to stay with his grandmother she would tell him stories. Grandmother never read from a book; her stories were real. They were about things that happened in the old days, like when the river flooded and washed away their woodshed, or how the cat got stuck up a tree and the fire brigade came with a big ladder and rescued the cat.

This time Grandmother told Russell something true but a little scary. It was how a ghost appeared one night to her uncle. Her uncle was now dead, but when he was young he was walking home one evening and suddenly a ghost appeared from behind a tree in the woods. Her uncle got a huge fright, but then he calmed down a bit.

The ghost told him that he was enchained in the afterlife unless he could help a person on earth for a whole year. This was because when on earth the ghost had been mean and selfish, so he had to earn his eternal happiness another way.

Russell’s grandmother’s uncle said he was happy for the ghost to help him for a whole year. So the uncle invited the ghost to stay in his home.

The thing was, the ghost was not a nice ghost. It was a trick he was playing on the uncle, and within a month the uncle had completely disappeared. Just like that. It was suspected that he was murdered by the ghost and then the ghost inhabited the uncle’s body. “My uncle began to act very strange,” Grandmother told Russell. “We knew it wasn’t really him.”

Russell told Grandmother that he didn’t believe in ghosts. “The story can’t be true,” he said. “You made it all up.”

Grandmother assured Russell that it was true and he must be careful when he walks through the woods in the evening.

“Pooh!” said Russell. “It’s nonsense.”

Goodness! It was already evening. Russell would be late for dinner. He took the shortcut home through the woods.

“I like it when history repeats,” smiled Grandmother.