55 plus 17: lenient and pedagogy

Posted: 3 September 2019 in 55 plus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

I’m going to keep going with the ‘stories from the vaults on Tuesday’ posts. People seem to like them, and with around 700 of the buggers in the vaults, I doubt I’ll run short for a while.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

Here are two very different tales about about the same emotion. The first I remember as taking ages to get just right; the words kept not doing what I wanted. And then, suddenly, they did and I could tell the story I wanted to.

However, sometimes, very rarely, I get an idea from a title and the story just flows. The second tale below was one of them; it wasn’t the first I wrote in verse, but it’s probably one of the most suitable to have written in that format.


Title: Dizzy With Wonder
Word: Lenient
Challenger: Anna Parat
Length: 200 words exactly

I’m not sure when the exact moment occurred.

But at one point or another, general chatting had turned to mild flirting, and by the time I realised it had happened, we were already sending messages to each other with our eyes.

We were both attending the same conference, she as a speaker, me as a delegate, and when I’d disproved during the Q&A the old line about there being no such thing as a stupid question, she’d been lenient with me, answering the question in a way that didn’t make me feel a complete idiot.

A partial idiot, for sure, but even that was better than I deserved.

To make amends, I’d invited her for dinner, fully expecting to be turned down. Attending numerous conferences over the years had led me to a convenient pattern: dinner alone, meeting up with others for drinks, and then crawling off to bed, alone, in the smaller hours of the morning.

However, she’d accepted and somewhere between being handed the menus at the start of the dinner, and sitting on the sofas ordering brandies a few hours later… magic had taken place.

I was in love, and I never knew when it happened.

© Lee Barnett, 2005

Title: She Loved Mr Valentine
Word: pedagogy
Challenger: Lisa Philpott
Length: 200 words exactly

It wasn’t only lust she felt,
’Twas nothing less than love.
Her thoughts of fondness for the man
Had to come from heav’n above.

The credit was her teacher’s,
The books he’d shown the class.
Pedagogy worked too well –
She’d found her love at last.

And like so many girls before,
She fell for love’s temptation.
Obsession showed her such appeal,
Both fetish and fixation.

Emotions that were new to her,
She revelled in the feeling.
Drowning in desire’s grasp,
Her senses always reeling.

Never thinking that her love for him
Should need to be defended,
Never wond’ring whether innocence
Once broken could be mended.

She knew it was impossible;
She knew they’d never touch
That logic told her to forsake
Her thoughts and dreams and such.

He’d been long dead these hundred years;
His legacy his verse.
Words of love he’d left for her
Her aching heart to nurse.

Constantly reading lines of love,
Her tears making poetry blur
Aching she’d never hear his voice
Reading them lovingly just for her.

And yet in depths of fantasy
Her phone would ring, and he would call.
And then she’d smile.
And cry again.
And stroke the poster on the wall.

© Lee Barnett, 2008

Something else tomorrow…

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