57 minus 07: oddity and ranunculus

Posted: 10 August 2021 in 57 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

I appreciate the forbearance shown yesterday. You get another couple of tales today, ‘nicer’ than yesterday’s I promise, then hopefully back to something approaching normality for the final week of the run.

It’s Tuesday, so a couple of more ‘fiction from the vaults’ posts, both from 2005.

Looking back at the 2005 run, there were some dark tales, some odd tales (some of them very odd indeed) and some, occasionally, nice ones.

Here are two of the last category. Two nice tales I look back at and wonder how I could have written them; I’m not sure I could now.

But I like them a lot.

The first tale shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows my love of ‘what if…?‘ stories. Hard to do one in 200 words, but I like how this one goes.

The second? Ah well, I don’t think the second one below is the first story I wrote in verse, but it’s one where I think I got it ‘right’; telling a story in verse… with a beginning, a middle and an end. In 200 words. And Ireally liked the rhyming cadence I used in this tale.

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.

I hope you enjoy them…

Title: Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
Word: oddity
Challenger: [Livejournal: malkavs_child]
Length: 200 words exactly

I could have, you know. On another day, maybe even I would have.


Three years later, and I can’t get him out of my head.

From that first day in the student refectory, queuing up with people I barely knew, soaking in the sounds.

And there he was. Sitting alone, reading a novel; a shocking neon yellow cover with crimson lettering, an oddity among the conservatively coloured and labelled text books others had.

I’d noticed the book before I had looked at the person holding it. I saw eyes narrowed in concentration, the face betraying someone on the edge of adulthood; features still acknowledging their heredity.

He shut the novel and stretched his long arms out, yawning. Then he stood, placed the book in his bag, and aimed himself at the exit.

As he passed, he gave a cursory look in my direction and continued past.

He stopped at the door, then turned and gave me a dazzling smile…

“I could have, you know. Maybe even I would have… Maybe.”

“What’s that, babe?” he asks sleepily, stirring next to me in bed. I stare at him for a long moment, thinking that I could have ignored him that day…

© Lee Barnett, 2005

Title: And For A Sequel
Word: ranunculus
Challenger: [Livejournal: elfie_elfie]
Length: 200 words exactly

And once again, the stranger came;
He came most ev’ry year.
To make a sound, and look around
But mostly to drink beer.

     He’d sully forth, first East then North
     And end up in our place.
     He’d get right drunk, with beer he’d sunk
     Through the hole at the end of his face.

But as he fell, he’d curse and yell,
For times of long ago.
And with each glass, (he’d swear, his last)
My, how the tales did flow.

     He’d tell of things, forgotten things
     Of centuries gone by.
     And challenge those, with woeful prose,
     Who’d call each one a lie.

To folk in town, he was a clown
And no more need be said.
They’d heard before, these tales of yore
And to their homes they sped.

     Then came that day, the first of May
     When spring was in the air.
     The stranger’s heart, it gave a start
     And muscles deep did tear.

He hit the ground, without a sound
The stranger bit the dust.
The doc was called, the body hauled
With very little fuss.

     Permission granted, the man they planted.
     The priest said “dust to dust”.
     Upon his grave, the priest did lay
     Some sweet ranunculus.

© Lee Barnett, 2005


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

Just dropping this in here, as I was asked by message the other day: the best places to contact me outside the blog are via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk and @budgie on Twitter.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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