You know the drill. Every once in a while I gather up all my little couple-paragraph-long “stories” and post them here together instead of separately.
The funny thing, though, is that I actually wrote all of these just today. I’m reading Ron Carlson Writes a Story, which is fantastic by the way, and did a couple of the exercises (and then wrote one other little thing that came to mind).
1: The purpose was to write a story about someone washing a car, make it enjoyable and give some implied history/plot about it, without really delving into the thoughts of the main character. (Which is rather difficult to me, since being embedded deep in the mind of the narrator is where I like to be.)
Troy walked across his yard towards the old blue-green Volvo 850. Paint was chipped and re-painted over with a mismatched color, the driver’s side visor had been removed and the shorted electronics resulted in a perpetual bing-bing-bing whenever the car was on, even the ceiling fabric itself was gone, but the least he could do was give it a wash.
He unlocked the car, got in, and started it up. He sat there for a moment, looking at the “For Sale” sign taped to the inside of the window, which had been there so long it was so faded that it was a miracle if anyone would be able to read it, before tearing it down and crumpling it up onto the seat beside him.
He pulled the car out onto the road and into the driveway, gingerly feeling out the car’s speed as it met the three-inch-curb dividing the street from his property.
Five minutes later he had two buckets of sudsy water, a sponge, and thirty minutes before the U-Haul was going to get there. Troy had never washed a car before, but he seemed to have the essentials down. A splash of water here, scrub it around with the sponge until it kinda looked like it might be cleaner, then another splash and another scrub.
He came to one of the headlights and paused. It was filthy, it was doubtful whether any light was able to make its way out from that opaque prison, but should he actually clean it? There was a crack in the plastic, or glass, or whatever it was, and some water would inevitably end up inside. Would that fuck with the electronic components of the car even more, or would it be okay?
Troy left the headlight alone.
He realized later that he had spaced out and had been rubbing away at some little spot on a window that hadn’t changed a mote since he had started. Was it a little chipped section where the unlucky window had caught some small pebble thrown up in traffic, or was it a new type of permanent bird shit? In either case, it didn’t seem likely that he’d get it off.
As he moved across to the back of the car, he caught a look at the heavily-worn and slightly stained backseat through the rear window. He froze, involuntarily, and stared. His mouth muscles formed a bubble out of the gum in his mouth and it popped, sticking to the top of his lip.
He tore himself away from the car and chanced a glance back at the house. A curtain in the window rustled, as being pulled forward suddenly. He turned back to the car.
2: The purpose was to write a ~200 word-long story about some mundane, quick task, like tying a tie, but sort of “slow down” time to lengthen out such a short action.
He flipped up his collar, standing in front of his closet, and slung the tie around his neck. Almost autonomously, he began tying the boring old Half Windsor knot, but quickly became disenchanted with it. He needed to make a statement by his very appearance, and a Half Windsor wouldn’t do it. By the time he had come to that decision, though, his hands had already performed the cross-around-up-and-over and had begun tugging up the knot to tighten it, holding the weird little useless tail, when he pulled it all out and started over.
The Van Wijk knot. Eccentric, relatively unknown, and suitably stylish for his own standards. It had been years since he had tied one, though, and it was complicated enough that he wasn’t sure if he could do it from memory. Or was that the Trinity knot?
Yeah, it was. What was the Van Wijk knot, then?
In the few moments this took place in, his hands had been fiddling around with the tie, as though thinking that they’d try their hand – please, ignore the pun – at creating a “brand new innovative knot that will revolutionize fashion!”. He told his hands to shut up, kindly, they weren’t that brilliant, and began trying to tie a Van Wijk.
It was just kind of like a Half Windsor that looped around two-too-many-times, he thought. Cross-around-around-around-up-and-over, then? He tried it, but couldn’t find the space to put the end of the tie through. There were just too many damn loops. He pulled it out and tried again, sticking his thumb in to keep open the place where he thought he was supposed to tuck the tie in at the end. By the time he got to that point, though, his thumb was stuck in there and the tie nearly came undone in his efforts to disentangle it.
One last time, no thumb, just keeping it loose until the end. The end of the tie slid through perfectly, he tightened it, turned to look in the mirror, and the tail was hanging far too low.
3: The purpose was the same as #2, but after finishing that one I had an idea for a dialogue-based version of a woman helping a clueless man with his tie. This, somehow, evolved into a mother helping her foul-mouthed son with a tie. Didn’t really finish this one.
“No, not that one.”
“What one do you want, then?”
“The fancy one. Eldritch.”
“Don’t fucking step to me, bitch.”
“Have we met? I think I’m your mom. “Eldritch” it is, then, though.”
“Not so tight!”
“Ooooooops, sorry about that.”
“You just made it tighter!”
“It’s too long.”
“It’s too short.”
4: This just came to mind when I saw something about Elon Musk’s plans for mars habitation. Which I’m totally on board for, by the way, as a math/science major this is in my kind of interest, but wanted to twist it a little bit. Not sure if this is finished or not.
Bubble boy. Most notably, bubble boy from that episode of Seinfield. But bubble boy, an entire race. An entire nation of bubble boys.
Protected from the harsh red environment. But more importantly, the bubble protecting the rest of us from them. It had all been a simple little conspiracy, like the conspiracy on Golgafrincham to get rid of that third of the population. But there the motivation had been mere uselessness; here, it was genocide. Not genocide of the humans themselves, there would still be more than enough of them on earth, but genocide of the things living in those humans. Every disease, every mutation, every deviation from the perfect human image. They didn’t know it, of course. They thought they were just incredibly lucky to be chosen as those to go, and simultaneously unlucky to be stuck with “so many sick people”.