Short-short Story attempt for the 600 word contest, ” The Excitable Arts “

I couldn’t figure out the waiting room idea, but I did this instead for 600 words. I don’t know, maybe I need something more compact, intense, and complete. This doesn’t quite do it. (and I don’t think the 600 word limit is really enough of an excuse. Oh well, back to the drawing board. But I submitted it anyway. I guess there’s nothing to lose by doing so. I don’t know where I’m going wrong… I thought I almost had something… maybe I give details in the wrong place? Oh geez, I’m tired, I’m lost. Well, still have until before Dec. 1 to think of something…

The Excitable Arts

Most of the guys had said that the stars were just far away suns. Nothing romantic in a hot ball of gas, nor in ethereal talk. Unexciting.

But Diana had wondered about the romantic poets she had read on the internet. Some were unknown in more than one way, but reachable if a person were crazy enough to take a chance on a stranger with pretensions to be a broken-vernacular Shakespeare. But she liked the most mysterious one who was unreachable, she thought. She’d felt him whenever she could stay in to read a verse or two.

Diana hadn’t planned to go out. She had been real comfortable in bed with her dog Charlie and her laptop, reading romantic poetry, mostly by herself since he didn’t seem that interested, nuzzling under her hand so she would pet him. Charlie was a black Labrador retriever, although Diana always said that when people talk about “black” dogs, their perception is from the black fur, but Charlie’s skin was actually gray. He had been a good lap dog, willing to stay in for a snuggle unless there were things to do.

Unreal things had begun when Diana stumbled upon a certain list of links. Charlie looked up with his nose on the screen. He made a truncated growl followed by a flick of his tongue like he was lapping up water: a sort of gurr-ick and a cough sound or something else.

“Whaa…?” she said. “Charlie, did you say ‘click’?”

“Erreff, woof,” he said. Charlie jumped off the bed and fetched a thin stick near his bowl where he had sequestered it.

When he jumped back onto the bed with the stick in his mouth, she said, “Give!” But he refused to surrender it, turned his head to the side, used the stick to push keys on the keyboard, and with his paw turned the scroll wheel on the mouse. The screen changed.

A star chart appeared. “Welcome to the ‘Mystery Poets’ Official Website,” it said.

Charlie scrolled down the page. He said, “Woof.”

“You want me to go here?” she asked in a quivering voice.

“Weff,” he said.

“Oh God, I’m going crazy,” she said. “You said ‘yes’, didn’t you…”

He barked like a dog and spoke like a dog. “Woof,” he uttered in normal canine parlance.

“Oh geez, I need fresh air,” she said. But she wrote down the information from the screen. There was a meeting that night of “The Romantic Poets Mystery Society,” and pets were welcome.” Her favorite mystery poet was listed as a featured speaker. She ran out the door imagining what she thought his voice was like: “You undress in my river and I kiss your thigh…,” she conjured of him.

Drifting into the night, she soon found herself standing in a clearing with Charlie and the fallen yellow leaves at her feet. Was it not the season for seasoning lust into love, a rare spice he sprinkled into his verses. They had corresponded a little and with a little luck, something could be born out. It was the season. She stared at the stars and remembered, “The romp of love beguiles, a playful horse; my heart a rider gripping spirit’s trip…”

Charlie barked. A large globe hovered over the trees, and a beam of light lifted them into the sky. Seemed a poetic mystery. She met him in the conference room on board the ship.

With the seasoning of desire there would be a hybrid of lust and love born in excitement.

— Douglas Gilbert


10 thoughts on “Short-short Story attempt for the 600 word contest, ” The Excitable Arts “

  1. I’ve read this a few times and i love it! Charlie the dog is very clever and what a superb ending…”the hybrid of lust and love born in excitement”. Very romantic and enticing…
    i wonder what happens next…

  2. Thanks very much. I’m glad to hear the ending works. I kept running over the word limit. I kept having to ask, do I need this sentence. And then sometimes it didn’t make sense so I needed to add just one word to clarify and then needed to find a place where I could take out a word… it was funny but when I first wanted to make up a fictional word for the fictional poets in my other story I just took letter combinations I thought would rarely be used anywhere but then I figured that ‘xy” was good because though rarely used it was pronounceable as a ‘z’ sound and there are a few words like xylem. Anyway, originally, when I came up with ‘the Xyiwa poets’ I did a google search expecting to find nothing, but I found 2 references. One was from a dying language spoken only by a few people on an island off New Zealand or Australia(I forget which) and ‘xyiwa’ was the transliteration that the language experts had chosen for their study but they had weird pronunciations for letters — it was their specialized jargon to preserve what they heard. The other which came up first and then for some reason disappeared was a very long list of coordinates for stars. I think the search referenced it because XY referred to the X and Y axis of the mounting for a telescope. The search stopped finding it because I guess they got annoyed at how many irrelevant hits there were to their site and they took out the tags or something. It looked like an organized list of every known star… but who knows… and I never even found out who sponsored it.

  3. I guess I started in the middle and had to add a beginning and an ending to make it an official story. Otherwise it’s just a ramble. But working that way it’s hard to see if it’s really saying anything. It’s like writing nonsense first and then adding a beginning and an ending and a connecting word or two added to the nonsense part. Sorta like I suppose

    First there was
    and it was good
    for nothing
    and feelings were too much to be hurt
    and there was uncertainty

    So I never know how anything is working out. At this point I don’t care if it’s good — I just want to win a prize. And then maybe with a prize I’ll write something good. Something I can read and not think “well, almost”.

    1. I’d wondered where you came up with the name Xyiwa (not sure why i’ve never asked). It’s unique and the two other things you found while searching it are cool too…a dying language and secret disappearing star coordinates, romantic and mysterious in a way.
      Yeah, i know what you mean. But keep in mind that you are your own worst critic. I think everything you write is great, i always have.
      i think there’s a good thing about beginning with nonsense though, pretty much the ending is entirely up to you and since it began with nonsense i suppose you can pretty much take it in any direction. Now i may not be making sense…i think i’m talking in circles. My head is still swimming from my dreams last night, i’m trying to make sense of the odd flash frames i remember.

  4. If it were up to me, you’d always win first prize…

    I’ll come back in the morning and finish replying, i’m so, so tired, time to go curl up in bed and drift off to dreamland.

    1. Yes, that’s right — take in any direction. Odd flash frames: yeah, when I’m in a dream or half awake and half asleep, it seems to make perfect sense and be profound and obvious what it means but when I wake it’s “(Huh?)” but I’m sure there was some kind of meaning. Sweet dreams.

  5. i’ve been recording little tid bits of dreams for a while…i write what i can remember and try to piece together the fragments like it’s a puzzle. Sometimes it works, they fit together and there’s solid images that might make sense if you stretch the meanings of things, but most of the time it’s like a bunch of random moments…
    i like the little section of time when you’re falling asleep but you’re still awake and you sort of have that spinning feeling but your eyes are closed so there’s really no reason to be dizzy but you kind of are. that moment when you know the things that seem so real are just a dream but at the same time you don’t want to interrupt the moment because it feels good, warm in a way, so you just let it drift on in it’s little spiral until you spin on off too deep to be aware that you’re even dreaming anymore. I’m about to head there right now…profound and obvious, hopefully.
    sweet dreams.

  6. If you travel into the spiral while saying(silently) continuously like a chant, “I am dreaming, I am dreaming” you can travel down a road until you reach a dream-quality scene and be awake in a dream(lucid dream) still saying that.
        When you record dreams for awhile, it seems to get better and more detailed. It’s as if your subconscious is saying, “Oh, I see that you’re paying attention to me so I’ll start to cooperate more and let you remember more. When I used to write down dreams every morning(or waking at night), I started being able to do the spiral plunge. When writing down dreams it helps if you review the dream first without moving at all while still partly in the dream state — any movement seems to make you forget

    1. Well, i tried two nights in a row and didn’t stay awake enough for it to be lucid…tonight will be the night maybe? I’ve just been so tired lately…i mean it’s kind of pathetic, i’m not sick, no colds or anything like that. I just never want to do anything, i go to sleep early (for me) and i just crash out right away most of the time. I know what you mean about being able to remember more after you’ve been doing it awhile and it does seem like any movement makes you forget. Spiral plunge, nice name for it…

      1. update: i spoke too soon, apparently i AM getting sick…my throat is sore and sinus’ started draining all of a sudden a few hours ago. Hopefully it doesn’t get any worse, maybe it’s just my allergies, i did drag out all of the Christmas decorations earlier. i really don’t want to call in to work tomorrow.

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