Saturday, July 14, 2007

Seven 50 Word Stories

50 word stories are as addictive in the writing as in the reading. They have the newness of poems without the tedium. They have the mysticism of a number, like haikus. The good ones are story and aphorism in one. The bad ones are over quickly. Read mine. Write yours.

“I am strong and full of longing,” I said. My cat did not answer. Nor did she answer when I picked up a sheet of very white paper and folded it in half four times very neatly and without any wrinkling or overlap, and so I watched the news instead.

“The examined life is not worth living.” That sounded right, so I read seven large books on the topic and dreamt about logical operators. This was worthwhile, in its own way, but when I tried to write things down there was nothing there. The unlived life is not worth examining.

The grey trees were even greyer in the pictures. They were thin and grey and leaned out like hungry ghosts. I tried to remember how they had been when I was small and hungry, but I always came back to the pictures. I hid them in a drawer and forgot.

It was five o’clock before they got any sleep. They had been up all night watching the grass change colour, and it was so exciting that they had sat there talking about it for three hours. It was one of their biggest nights, but they slept soundly in the end.

Once there was a large pond, full of bones and daisies. A man went to see it. He was warned very ardently but he went along anyway, saying: “I lost my bones long ago.” He never came back. There were many more bones in the pond, and three more daisies.

Near the end of my Honours year I spent two hours writing fifty words when I should have been writing two hundred words every ten minutes. “I am full of words,” I thought, “but most of them are badly shaped and hard to get out.” I must be more disciplined.


Andrea said...

These stories are great. I particularly like the sixth one. Economy is an admirable thing in writing, I think. There is something nice about those short forms, whether they are very short stories or haiku. They let you focus on a very precise thing and remove all the extraneous detail and in doing so what is left is often much more vivid.

Michael Bycroft said...

Thanks Andrea!