The bottle of red wine, a Spanish Roja bought on the cheap, was almost done when he asked
“How come we have never kissed? Do you not find me attractive.”
The little boy hurt leaked into his voice, despite him trying to act the sophisticate.
She looked at him closely, considering, before finally saying in a voice far smoother than the wine.
” If I kiss you… you will die.”
He laughed, thinking she was making fun of him, or about to tell a joke, but his laughter fell away when he saw her expression of sadness tainted by anger.
“You’re…serious? Come on, it’s a great line but….”
He shrugged, dismissively.
She traced a fingertip over the rim of her glass
“Have I ever lied to you?”
Her glare stopped him dead, she continued
” My father was a scientist, my mother was an orchid…”
” You mean a flower? That Orchid?”
” Yes and if you interrupt again I shall never tell you the truth. My mother was an Orchid, a Brazilian Night Orchid to be exact, beautiful but quite deadly to the touch, but my father was a very stubborn man…. and thus they had me, I am both their DNA twisted and bent until… I am known as a Midnight Orchid, one touch of my lips… deadly. There is no cure, no immunity… Do you know how lonely I get? How I thirst for the touch of a lover’s lips against mine?:”
The tears fell like rain drops from an Amazonian leaf.
He wanted to reach for her, to hug her tightly and tell her everything would be OK. But he halted and suddenly a smile spread upon his lips and he laughed
“You almost got me…. Orchid…. Poison lips… come here you.”
He pulled her to him and pressed his lips against hers, for a moment she resisted but with a half moan, half sigh, her lips parted and the kiss deepened.
She kept kissing him as his heart slowed, then stopped, and swallowed his last dying moan before slowly pulling her lips from lips already cooling in death.
She stood, and with her petal fingers, the Midnight Orchid closed his eyes.
Alone once more she left to put down roots someplace new.
The Story of the Green One Beloved By All
A story from 2ch by Fafoo (alternate title: “1969”). Everyone knew the Green One, and so they shall again.
Short Stories: 10 Tips for Creative Writers
. Get Started: Emergency Tips
Is your short story assignment due tomorrow morning? These emergency tips may help. Good luck!
- Who is your protagonist, and what does he or she want?
(The athlete who wants her team to win the big game and the car crash victim who wants to survive are not unique or interesting enough.)
- When the story begins, what morally significant actions has he or she already taken towards that goal?
(“Morally significant” doesn’t mean your protagonist has to be conventionally “good”; rather, he or she should already have made a conscious choice, with repercussions that drive the rest of the story.)
- What unexpected consequences — directly related to the protagonist’s efforts to achieve the goal — ramp up the emotional energy of the story?
(Will the unexpected consequences force your protagonist to make yet another choice, leading to still more consequences?)
- What details from the setting, dialog, and tone help you tell the story?
(Things to cut: travel scenes, character A telling character B about something we just saw happening to character A, and phrases like “said happily” — it’s much better to say “bubbled” or “smirked” or “chortled.”)
- What morally significant choice does your protagonist make at the climax of the story?
(Your reader should care about the protagonist’s decision. Ideally, the reader shouldn’t see it coming.)
Drawing on real-life experiences, such as winning the big game, bouncing back after an illness or injury, or dealing with the death of a loved one, are attractive choices for students who are looking for a “personal essay” topic. But simply describing powerful emotional experiences is not the same thing as generating emotional responses in the reader. (See “Show, Don’t (Just) Tell.”)
For those of you who are looking for more long-term writing strategies, here are some additional ideas.
those of you who are looking for more long-term writing strategies, here are some additional ideas.
If you are having trouble getting started, look out the window. The whole world is a story, and every moment is a miracle.
-Bruce Taylor, UWEC Professor of Creative Writing
Read, Read, Read
- Keep a notebook. To R. V. Cassill, notebooks are “incubators,” a place to begin with overheard conversation, expressive phrases, images, ideas, and interpretations on the world around you.
- Write on a regular, daily basis. Sit down and compose sentences for a couple of hours every day — even if you don’t feel like it.
- Collect stories from everyone you meet. Keep the amazing, the unusual, the strange, the irrational stories you hear and use them for your own purposes. Study them for the underlying meaning and apply them to your understanding of the human condition.
Read a LOT of Chekhov. Then re-read it. Read Raymond Carver, Earnest Hemingway, Alice Munro, and Tobias Wolff. If you don’t have time to read all of these authors, stick to Chekhov. He will teach you more than any writing teacher or workshop ever could.2. Write a Catchy First Paragraph
-Allyson Goldin, UWEC Asst. Professor of Creative Writing
In today’s fast-moving world, the first sentence of your short story should catch your reader’s attention with the unusual, the unexpected, an action, or a conflict. Begin with tension and immediacy. Remember that short stories need to start close to their end.
To read the rest of this amazing article with tons of examples on what not to do, go to Jerz’s Literary Weblog!
How do you write a short, two page story? I'm thinking about this for english essay purposes. How do you keep stories short and direct, but still an enjoyable read? Would you suggest a more narrative or descriptive take?
I write short stories. I love short stories. Specially when I have ideas that can take a fair amount of words and narrative. The deal with them is that they need the whole story to be told in only a brief short spam, such as a long scene, or a set or short scenes.
In long stories you can take pages and pages or paragraphs whenever you want to get down your setting. In short stories, you need to find the best way to give your readers an idea of where they are.
But that does not stop you from creating evocative scenes. I believe any good short story should have a fair amount of both narrative and description. If anything, let’s say 70% narrative and a well condensed 30% of descriptions. There are ways to both develop the action and show the people reading the story what is happening, where is happening, how, and who is making it happen. Find those ways, which are often more interesting than paragraphs dedicated solely to narrative or description.
I found you these great links:
It had happened again, he’d woken up next to the body of a girl. He leant over and checked for a pulse. He hated when he found one as it was today. He assumed it was today. Yesterday was an alcoholic blur and tomorrow would be a drug-fuelled one. Too many questions and not enough answers. He picked up his inside-out T-shirt and read the label. So his name was John. It helped to write his name on clothing just like a child would. It helped because the blackouts were becoming worse recently. He probably ought to get that checked out, but he’d never been one for doctors. Fuck ‘em - he ate apples.
‘Good morning,’ said a voice thick with sleep next to him.
She was stirring, and very prettily too, all Bambi eyes and full lips. He felt something catch in his stomach as he watched her stretch out her arms like a cat.
‘Um…yeah,’ he said. John put on the shirt and then his jeans and stood up. The room was still dark and smelt like day-old sex. Not pleasant. He needed to crack a window. Actually he needed something else of an altogether more chemical nature but he’d have to call his dealer and he was pretty sure he wasn’t in town and that was shit. Really shit.
‘Come back to bed,’ she said.
John wrinkled his forehead and smoothed back his mop of hair. His whole skin itched and he scratched absently at his various Maori-inspired tattoos. Maybe that’s why the girls seemed to like him. Fuck knew.
‘I’m out,’ he said. ‘It was…fun,’ he hazarded with a vague motion of his arms.
‘It really was,’ she said smiling.
Shit, this girl was obviously a decent person and John hated being a dick to decent people but he’d just end up leading her down a really dark path and he’d done that so much recently and to so many people even he felt bad.
‘Yeah, Chloe, I’m not just saying this and hate me if you want, but I’m really messed up. I don’t know who you are, I don’t know where I am and I’m burning up on re-entry like a fucking asteroid and there won’t be much left of me when I do, so I’m going to go. I’m sorry and whatever but really, forget this ever happened, go on with your life and become a lawyer or something ‘cause I can see the law books on your table and work hard and shit. Chalk this one up to an experience you can tell your friends or your kids or whoever, but this won’t happen and it’s a good thing it won’t, just trust me on it.’
Chloe sat open-mouthed, covering her bare body up by degrees with her duvet as John switched on his 5% battery iPhone and softly opened the door and let it click shut. Yeah he was a fucking asteroid all right he sighed as he pulled out a crumpled Marlboro Red and it seemed for just a moment that it lit up just before he put the lighter flame to it.
“Lovers’ names, carved in walls/Overlap, start to merge/
Some of them underneath/Maybe they appear/In graveyards/
Maybe they fade away/Weathered and overgrown/Time has told/
Meaningful hidden words/Suddenly appear, from the murk/
Maybe they’re telling us/That the end/Never was/Never will/
The words have gone/But the meaning, will never disappear/From the wall”
Everything was blurry—like opening your eyes underwater in a lake. Except it wasn’t as nearly as silent as it would be underwater. Beep. Beep. Beep. She rolled over and turned off her alarm. Not hungover this morning—but she still felt like shit. She closed her eyes for a second. And dreamt. Her dreams still felt blurry. But at least she was dreaming again. Beep. Beep. Beep. She turned off her alarm again, and closed her eyes. Mornings were hard. Her mind moved too slowly, like cough syrup dripping out of its bottle into a spoon. The bed was warm. The sheets were soft. But it was Monday, wasn’t it? That meant his package would arrive today. That was worth waking up for. A car sped by outside; birds chirped incessantly—there was always one dove lamenting outside on the powerline for a mate; her neighbor just got out of the shower; her boss had just received a phone call from an employee who was sick; the employee just got back into bed with a slightly hungover blonde whose makeup was smeared; his dog sat outside watching a squirrel climb a tree and chatter; the mailman walked by and deposited some mail in the squeaky mailbox; coffee brewed; ties straightened; cars started; lunches packed for kids; bus stop; stop sign; crosswalk; sun visor down. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Rania's Only Friend
Please no re-blogs.
Safia took her hijab off a few months ago. Ever since that day, she’s been gradually progressing deeper and deeper into the stages of idiocy. Rania made sure to emphasize the fact that her friend wasn’t idiotic because she took her hijab off. No, Rania sensed her friend’s latent idiocy long before she decided to stop wearing her headscarf. It’s as if Safia had been waiting for years to reveal the idiocy lurking deep within her. Something strange happened to Safia after the day she dumped her hijab. It’s as if she had started crafting herself a new identity by taking quirks and traits from the disillusioned friends she had suddenly latched onto. Perhaps because the restrictions hijab placed upon her were no longer relevant, she finally had a chance to try on a new persona everyday, personas that would’ve otherwise clashed with her previous lifestyle. She was having a blast.
Rania knew a ton of girls who decided that the hijab was no longer right for them. They spent months deliberating over whether or not they were going to go through with taking it off. Even when they went ahead with the decision, they never did any of the dumb shit that Safia pulled. They all remained the same individuals they were back when they were muhajabat. They maintained the same identity and inclinations, only now you could see their hair. The difference between those girls and Safia, is that they had always known who they were. Safia never had a clue.
Safia started imitating others out of the blue. Rania wasn’t one to accuse anyone of being fake, but she knew Safia much too well to classify her new persona as being sincerely her own. Safia’s first line of business was to discard her silver metal frames and replace them with gigantic plastic Ray-Bans that swallowed her petit face in their abyss of unoriginality. After the glasses game on, the term “collective consciousness” suddenly appeared in every single statement she made as if it was some sort of default behavior attached to wearing those glasses. Even when the term didn’t quite fit in the context, she would force it upon a statement just for kicks. For example, when rallying up her friends to go for Egyptian rice pudding instead of gelato, you could be sure she was bound to get on her soapbox of cultural preservation.
“If you guys go for gelato or ice cream, you’re allowing our culture to slowly die off! We need to work as a collective consciousness to keep the rice pudding joints in business!”
Rania had enough of this newly-adopted, ready-made socialist persona that her friend had slipped into like a pair of mass-produced pants. She went from watching Arab Idol one night to boycotting it the next morning, replacing her Friday and Saturday “primes” with obscure French films and sessions of Nouvelle Vague and Japanese psychedelia.
“What’s wrong with the cigarettes I smoke?” She said, running her fingers through her freshly cut pixie do. “Do you think they’re more toxic than the air we breathe in this wretched city?” To Safia, Alexandria was always either parochial and pathetic or subjugated and delicate. She didn’t really know how she felt because her philosophy towards the nation as a whole was simply regurgitated verbatim. “I mean, just walking by the sewer we call the Mediterranean is like sucking from the tailpipe of a ’73 Fiat, for nature’s sake,” God’s name had slowly escaped from her daily diction and was replaced with a quasi-humanist rhetoric that didn’t make sense, either.
Rania watched her as she pulled out a pea green Moleskine to find the number of the studio they were trying to locate.
“Maybe it shut down,” Rania yawned. She wanted to go home.
“No! It’s the best studio in all of Alex! It’s printing is phenomenal, I tell you,” Rania was about to make a snap inquiry about how exactly Safia knew this supposed fact, considering her friend had never even been there. Rania decided to keep her mouth shut instead.
“I’m tired anyway,” Rania said as she watched her friend languidly puff on an L&M.
“I guess you’re right. Let’s go to the coffee shop,’ Rania rolled her eyes. Recently, her friend had been forcing her to tag along to all-men’s cafes. Safia said it was a way to “protest misogyny deeply-engrained in Egyptian culture”. Rania went with her a few times. Her non-confrontational approach was always getting her into situations she loathed.
The first time they ventured into the dauntingly sexist terrain of all-men cafes, a particularly sallow, wispy bearded sailor-looking fellow pulled up a chair next to Rania and with sleazy sex offender eyes, tried to get her to join him in a game of “backgammon”. He puffed watermelon flavoured shisha smoke in her face and wiggled his eyebrows like a first rate greaseball. Rania didn’t know if “backgammon” was some sort of innuendo or if he really did want to challenge her to a board or two. Either way, his hands were practically on her thighs the entire time. So, euphemism or not, he was a downright pig.
One man decided to play the role of the café’s mobile DJ and started blaring suggestive regional songs about eating freshly-picked fruit in the wee hours of the night. He held his shrill Ericsson up to the two girls and without speaking a word, dared them to silence him. Safia deluded herself by acting as if nothing was going on, pretending to read a column in the newspaper about the fantastical terrors of riding an Egyptian train.
“Let’s go to Carlos Café or Costa, or something. I’m not going to Zaghloul Basha’s again with you. I’m not in the mood to crusade against misogyny,”
“Ugh, tres blasé,” Safia replied, languidly flicking her cigarette into the street.
Rania raised her eyebrows, “What?”.
She was the type of girl who left lipstick and coffee stains wherever she went. The type of girl who young men asked if she wanted to grab coffee on a whim, a spur of the moment type of transaction. She was the type of girl everyone wanted, but no one was able to take home.
And that’s how he found himself across from her in a worn out booth in a worn down restaurant. A spur of the moment question, words just tumbling out of his mouth. There was a pen tucked behind her ear, which seemed forgotten. It almost mirrored the day old mascara wearing away on her eyelashes, as if she had either forgotten to remove it or reapply it. Her outfit was thrown together; a pair of ripped jeans and some ratty college sweatshirt with a gray scarf peeking out. Laundry day or thrift shop, some might say, but he knew what it was. She didn’t care, she had other things on her mind. It was as simple as that.
He watched as she poured one packet of sugar into her coffee, neither a smile or frown on her lips. Her purse was open on the table and he couldn’t help but notice the crumpled pieces of paper that had grown into the purse’s lining.
“What’s that?” he said, the first words he had spoken to her since they sat down.
She looked up, but the hand stirring the coffee did not still. “Hmm?”
He nodded towards the purse with its contents spilling out.
She followed his gaze and reached for the closest wad of paper. She opened the wad and flattened it on the table. Her eyes were sad, he noticed, and so was her smile. It was the way her lips turned upwards a little; it wasn’t a full smile. It was the memory of one. “Oh, nothing.” She crumpled the paper again.
“No, really, what is it?”
Her eyes looked up at him. There was that sad smile again.
“Just broken words.”
It was hours after the failed coffee date and he was staring at the ceiling, deciding if it would be better to count sheep or start at one hundred and go backwards. She wasn’t beside him, just as she was never beside anyone. She was probably halfway to the city by now, the thought of him somewhere in the back of her mind.
She was real. A real mystery. As his lids finally began to droop, he knew he would eventually turn into just broken words.