Author Topic: Two Short Shorts  (Read 2644 times)

Offline ChipTee

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Two Short Shorts
« on: January 29, 2006, 06:14:03 AM »
Time I posted for peer review - as frank as you like!
Two different pieces, I prefer 'Siblings', but 'Customers' got a tick in last year's Fish One page competition (not the top fifty as I said elsewhere, but the top 10%)

Two Short Shorts


‘You’re clumsy, Harold.’
The grey haired figure sat at the breakfast table knowing his fault; he’d reached for the cereal packet and knocked the jug, milk had  spilt, only a few spoonfuls, but the jug had been Mother’s gift to his sister Nellie.
‘Hardly anything is spilt, Nellie.   Let me...’
‘Just eat your cereal.’
Harold should have said nothing; he hesitated to ask his sister to pour milk on his cereal. He waited for her to leave the room.
‘What are you waiting for?’
‘I have no milk on my cereal’.
‘Can you do nothing for yourself?’   She splashed milk into his bowl and stalked from the room.
Harold fumbled things these days; in the supermarket shopping piled up at the checkout as he struggled to open the plastic bags and the queue stared. He hated it.
It hadn’t always been like this; aged nineteen with his wings proudly sewn on his RAF uniform by his mother, his sister had been tongue tied in her devotion. She and her fourteen year old chums had giggled in the background as their father searched for the young pilot in his box camera viewfinder.
The photograph, now faded and dull, hung in his bedroom. It had been in the sitting room until Mother died.


Impossible: no one can lick crumbs from a plate without dipping their head or, to be sure, lifting the plate to their lips. But he licked up crumbs without dipping his head. The man with the sallow complexion topped with a bizarre wig, ragged and chocolate brown; she was sure she had seen him lick from his plate. She worried on it all night.

Today she sits in the café watching busy people walk by, and waits for the man in the wig. At last he is there, wig lopsided and his thin hands gloved, sitting in the corner. Isobel’s sojourn at a table-for-three annoys the waitress; she has to cope with the lunchtime rush on her own, serving and clearing tables.
Yesterday Isobel thought the stranger to be a man, today she has doubts; something is awry, at times alien, in the person’s nature. The tongue flicks out in the blink of an eye and crumbs on the plate are gone; Isobel isn’t even sure they are crumbs; there are other things in the stuffy cafe.
A fly lands on the encrusted neck of a ketchup bottle. Isobel sees with the clarity of a slow motion replay lips part and a tongue unreels as if it is a children’s party toy blown through sticky lips.
The fly is gone, swallowed.
Isobel stares at her cold coffee.
The waitress turns the sign on the door; the café is closed.

Hope you (somebody) likes them.


Offline Angeleyes

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Re: Two Short Shorts
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2006, 06:34:48 AM »
Hiya Chip Tee. Really enjoyed reading both stories. :D Must admit I liked both equally.You can get lots of information into a short space, so, well done! Hope to read some more soon.  ;D (hope I can do as well with one I'm 'tweaking' now.)
May all your dreams come true.

Whether you think you can, or think you can''re right!
-Henry Ford.


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Re: Two Short Shorts
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2006, 01:28:15 PM »
SIBLINGS touched my heart and moistened my dry eyes.  CUSTOMERS brought back visions of beloved 'Twighlight Zone' episodes, it would have been perfect for them.

I have great admiration for those who write tight, engaging short stories and you are definitely one of them.

Offline Torma

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Re: Two Short Shorts
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2006, 05:04:56 PM »
Hi. Really got into the first 'short' felt it could go on
The Second 'short' good idea, always has been, did it get new in the end

Offline ChipTee

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Re: Two Short Shorts
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2006, 03:54:49 AM »
Thanks for your comments and to all who have taken time to look at these.

Yes, I find writing a tight piece is a very positive exercise. In the case of these two, the first - Siblings - is a distillation of the opening of a previously written longer piece (4,000 word), the second - Customers - was written as a one page story.

With the former, which has had several revisions, the distillation exercise has found an improved opening. I don't expect to develop the latter any further.

It's a good exercise, on those days when the work isn't flowing, to take a previous piece, say 1K words, and cut it by half. The result will often please, and show the morning isn't wasted.


Offline Symphony

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Re: Two Short Shorts
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2006, 05:39:11 PM »
Hello there,

Thoroughly enjoyed these - although Customers was a clear favourite for me. Loved the original description and the atmosphere throughout was great!

Siblings was emotive but I felt less satisfied - as if it wasn't quite finished. Don't know why. I was very interested when I read your post afterwards and you said it was originally a longer story. So I'm not going completely nuts after all ...



p.s. have you entered a few stories for Fish this year yet?

Offline ChipTee

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Re: Two Short Shorts
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2006, 03:46:25 AM »
Thanks Symphony for good comments, and well spotted, I like to have people wanting more, but it shouldn't leave you dsiappointed, just excited.

I don't know of any real market for 'serial' writing such as Dickens and his contemporaries had in Victorian times. I guess television soaps have taken their place.

Fish, yes I'll have a dip at it (I've exchanged a few comments with Ann J in her thread - Let me knowwhat you think of my short story). £10 an entry is a bit sharp (they had 1,800 last year), but it is still a good forum.

Thanks for all your, and other moderators, input to the circle. It keeps it bowling along, I just hope you have time to write.

All best, Chip