Monday, March 22, 2004

500 Words

Hmmm... since I haven't gotten into my writing in my blog recently (think: never), I've decided to try an experiment so bear with me.

I recently picked up a local book entitled Fast Food Fiction by Noelle Q. de Jesus, a short short fiction collection. This is fiction that deals a story with a word count ranging from 500 to 2,000 words but with a 'twist' or surprise ending (as defined by A Handbook to Literature based on the original edition by William Flint Thrall and Addison Hibbard and edited by C. Hugh Holman).

Of course, the most famous of short short fictions are O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi and De Maupassant's The Necklace.

Anyway, looking through some of the local efforts submitted to the collection, I figured that I could do better (O the ego! the arrogance!) and thus, this writing exercise of an average of 500 words, more or less.

After all, if you can't indulge in your own blog, where else will you go?


The Limbo Blues

Three true things Tom Revilla knew after he died.

One was how he died—inadvertently surprising a robber in his apartment one night. Two was being lost in a gray, fog-filled, lightless place. And three was a beautiful girl he didn’t know.

As he wandered in that vague almost-there place in what seemed to be both now-and-forever, he kept thinking about the girl and why he should care about her.

At odd intervals (which was an absurd thought since he seemed to have lost all sense of time and place here), he would see the girl’s face loom distinct and heartbreaking solid before him amidst the banks of mist. He would reach out, to call to the girl but she would turn and suddenly disappear and he would be alone again.

For the life of him, he could not remember who the girl was no matter how hard he tried to remember his past life.

He was a dazed wreck when he first got here, scared of his last living memory and the bullet that turned his beating heart into something like a smashed tomato. And the enormity of his situation—

Oh god oh god where am I am I in hell is this my punishment for my sins I don’t deserve this there must have been a mistake I can’t be dead I don’t want to be dead I want my mother my father even that girl I used to like I haven’t even gotten laid yet I’m still a virgin oh god oh god—

would send his mind and heart screaming into incomprehensibility.

It was then he saw her in formed out of a bank of clouds, leaning on a doorway with her head crooked to one side, her arms crossed and one foot athwart the other. And he grasped at her beauty like a drowning man clutches a wooden spar.

He thought that he loved her.

Finally, one time he saw a light flickering in the mist and he ran towards it. As the fog swirled and roiled in a strong wind, it parted to reveal to him his old apartment, barely recognizable with furnishing that bore a feminine touch.

As he felt himself buffeted by the wind, he saw a group of people holding hands in the darkened room and chanting around a single, large, burning candle.

And numbering among the group was the girl, scared and pale but bearing a brave face.

“Tom?” cried one of the group, he couldn’t see who it was but he didn’t care, “Is that you? We’re here to help you move on!”

Tom did not reply but struggling, stepped forward to the girl, who drew back as if sensing his presence.

Who are you? Tom screamed against the roaring wind.

The girl—as well as some other people in the ring—screamed as well as the candlelight was snuffed out suddenly, leaving the group in darkness.

Tom tried to reach out to the girl’s face. He saw the girl flinch at his touch and then Tom found himself catapulted back into his gray realm once more.


In the darkness of the room, someone sobbed in despair as the group groped to their feet. Somebody lighted a match and set the candle burning merrily again.

“Well, I hope that’s that” a voice said.

In another kind of darkness, Tom Revilla woke up knowing three true things…


Word Count meter: 566 words. Time spent composing this story: two days.

Now the ending's a pretty tricky thing and though I did say around 500 words, I wasn't sure about the 'twist'.

The fact is, the reason the story took two days to finish is because of the ending; I have a hard time with endings.

Ah well...

No comments: