Wednesday, April 08, 2009
"MY ATTEMPT AT WRITING A SHORT STORY"
Wilson woke up one morning and realized that all his friends were into writing short stories. The straw that broke his lumpy back was an email from the sixth friend – this was Gerald, though his name is unimportant as he will not be mentioned for a second time – sending him a manuscript and asking him for feedback.
He thought to himself - and did so while sitting in what should be a poignant thinking posture except that on him it just looked comical – and thought about the words “He thought to himself”.
“Oh my sunshine,” his brain exclaimed. “There’s a redundancy in the line ‘He thought to himself’. Clearly you can’t think to anyone else.” Wilson smiled.
Feeling awfully clever, he turned on his computer and started writing a short story. He even had the audacity to call it “My attempt at writing a short story”.
And so Wilson wrote all morning, skipped lunch and wrote all afternoon and was about to consider pulling off a grand cracking romantic tortured writer’s move by skipping dinner as well when the smell of fried chicken made him consider otherwise.
I’ll just have some chicken and continue after dinner.
He didn’t save.
Halfway through his fifth piece of chicken, a thunderstorm struck. The trees outside his house – in fact, outside his room – were creaking in the wind. Rain at eight thirty was followed by hail at nine. Lightning bolts crashed through the roofs of two houses on his street, setting fire to the houses and lawns and their trees too. Their trees fell. One landed on their dog’s kennel, but the dog was not inside. Another fell on a stranger’s car, which already had a ticket anyway, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how one sees these things.
One of the lightning-struck houses was inhabited by Indonesian factory workers. They were the object of hate and disgust by their racist middle-classed neighbours, and those neighbours watched on as three men from that house ran out with fire on their heads. Another one lay in the living room, apparently dead.
While all these things happened, Wilson continued to eat fried chicken at his dining table. Five pieces soon became nine pieces. He was about to begin eating his tenth when the front door fell in and a truck drove into the living room. Not being the kind of truck that stopped at the sight of a television set and a four-seater sofa, the mighty behemoth razed through the entire ground floor of Wilson’s house. The living room, the store room, the common bathroom and the maid’s room were all ploughed through.
This time, Wilson would not be oblivious.
“A truck!”, he exclaimed.
And then, without much logic, Wilson was reminded of his unfinished – and unsaved –short story sitting on his computer upstairs.
“I shall go and finish it”, he thought, evidently now to himself, to himself.
And so he did. He lumbered up the stairs, got back into his room and plonked himself back onto his computer table where he would spend the next two hours finishing his short story. And all the while, carnage ensued outside his house. Fire trucks had arrived and three doors up the road, two elderly women had died of supposed natural causes. The hailstorm had receded but it had already left two firemen injured and the entire road’s cars smashed in.
Wilson wrote his last line.
He liked his last line a lot. He kept reading it. And reading it. And reading it. What an awesome line.
Then he saved the file. And he attached it to an email.
And bypassing all his six fellow-competing friends, Wilson sent in his short story for competition without so much as a second draft.
And his ego, like his town, had to be rebuilt from scratch again.
5:26 pm ]