Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Eight beginnings in search of an ending

I did some digital house cleaning this week. Scoured through digital folders where I keep short story ideas. I found eight potentials that will never go beyond the title and the first few paragraphs. Rather than keep them hidden, I thought I’d share.

Cimco Lewis
Old man Cimco has cold hands and a warm heart.

Little Stories
A small ad in the classifieds:

Mail me a sheet of clean white paper, with any one word typewritten in the centre. Include $5. I will send you a story within a week.

Dozens of people followed these instructions. None were disappointed.

Book Club
The room has plain white walls. No windows. We occupy five chairs, arranged in a circle. Our moderator wears a black tie.

“Today we will orchestrate dialogue in a counter-clockwise direction,” he says.

A murble.

“The rules have been previously explained,” he says. “Now let us begin.”

The Hospital For Minor Complaints
A petty grumble can indicate serious psychological distress. Paper cut?

Broken heart.

Sore knee?

Loss of ambition.

We provide daubs of ointment for abrasions of the soul.

I eventually learned she had dabbed Sunlight dish liquid behind her ears, just before our first date.

"You smell good," I said, when I was close enough to make an accurate assessment. I kissed her ear lobe. "It's like no perfume I'm familiar with. You smell --"

"Clean?" she suggested.

I stopped for a moment and looked at Joy. "Yeah."

She was anything but her namesake.

Until You Can Turn No Further
The rain became larger.

“The drops are so big,” she said. “They’re like little fish.”

Silvery water fish danced outside her window. She stuck out her hand and caught one. But it turned soft, a puddle in her palm where once was a rainfish.

Destroying Green Towers
The notice slid beneath my apartment door on a Thursday evening. It was straightforward, except for this:

Tenants are the true energy of any building. Yet when a building is sick and in need of replacement, we abandon it. Rather than letting strangers with no emotional attachment to this place destroy our building, I think there is a better way.

“That kook wants us to tear down our own damn apartments,” Kelly said in the hallway, two days later.

The notice promised it would be a celebration. A chance to release old ghosts and terrible arguments trapped behind walls. A final visit with our memories, good and ill.

A meeting was inevitable. The landlord was offering a six-month notice of demolition and a relocation offer for all residents. Still, no one was happy.

A Number of Birds
Five thousand blackbirds, unable to fly, drop toward the ground.

Blackbirds against blacktop. Atop white roofs. Into blue ocean.

The loss of flight, a sudden inability to flap wings, this loss of birdness, worse than death.

The blackbirds bruise the city in every possible location.