Her Friends Have Begun to Worry

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By Anonymous

She speaks of Tinder dates. Blackouts. Vague feelings of shame and regret, shards of memories, bruises of unknown origin. What she doesn’t mention is the ache – at once heavy and empty – burning, burning. Surely no one could ever love her again.

Tonight another stranger across a table raises his glass, “In vino veritas.”

Clink.

           
Anonymous writes to be heard.

October 3rd, 1873

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By River Rivers

My ancestors, the Modoc Natives, were colonized. My home is Oregon. My home has a dark-side. After a great battle, Captain Jack shot General Canby. For their “war crimes,” four Modoc were hanged. That’s when the spectators took their souvenirs of war.

They auctioned off the ropes, strands of hair, and pieces of the gallows. That was nothing compared to what a D.C. Medical Museum received from a surgeon. Four skinned, defleshed, and preserved heads. Labeled 1018, 1019, 1020, and 1021.

By 1898 that collection had grown to 2,206 skulls. Four of them being Jack, John, Charley, and Jim.

         
“I write to overcome dyslexia.” – the author

Lucy

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By Beth Moulton

My cat Lucy sleeps on my chest in the night. Sometimes I startle awake from the weight of him, afraid my heart is squeezing shut, but no. It’s just Lucy. He lays purring between my breasts, his heart to my heart.

When Lucy was a kitten, the vet told me he had a heart murmur.

“So do I,” I said.

Now, on bottomless nights, when Lucy aligns his heart with mine, and his purrs rumble through my chest, I wonder what my murmur feels like to him. And I hope with all of my heart that it feels like purring.

         
“I write because there are stories that need to be told and writing is the only way that I know to tell them.” – the author

What Exactly Is Drabble?

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By The Drabble

Poem? Story? Brain vomit? Snapshot? A representation of a thought, idea, feeling or emotion? An entry point for thought or feeling? Drabble can be all those things. Drabble is a form, not a formula. Just as a haiku or sonnet has rules, so too does drabble. Words – 100 or fewer. Drabble is a form requiring concision.

You may wonder if it’s even possible to write a good story in fewer than 100 words. We say yes, although it’s certainly not easy. Most modern narrative art adheres in some way to Shakespeare’s three-act structure (i.e., conflict, rising action/crisis, resolution), whilst presenting a clear theme. Must all these elements be present to tell a good story? Grant Faulkner, co-founder of 100 Word Story, thinks so. In his essay, “Writing with Gaps,” Faulkner says,

“I think the best 100-word stories move with the escalation any story has. They have a beginning, middle, and end—a telling pivot, an emotional velocity.”

While the old writing workshop trope, “What’s at stake?” is still germane; with drabble, the stakes needn’t always be presented upfront, but the subtext should be clear. To illustrate, we offer two examples of drabble done well by two great writers.

Example 1 – Lydia Davis
Look at what Davis pulls off in just 37 words in her story, “Contingency (vs. Necessity) 2: On Vacation.” (From her book, Can’t And Won’t: Stories)

He could be my husband. But he is not my husband. He is her husband. And so he takes her picture (not mine) as she stands in her flowered beach outfit in front of the old fortress.

This is a story about the timeless themes of unrequited love and regret. In this case, it’s about a woman who regrets missing her chance to marry the man she now covets. Conflict: a woman covets another’s husband.

The rising action takes place in the narrator’s mind – the woman watches a scene that touches a nerve and stirs the inner conflict. Although Davis doesn’t offer an obvious resolution, she gives us just enough information to formulate one of our own.

Example 2 – Hemingway

Back to the iceberg, Hemingway wrote,

“If a writer knows enough about what he is writing, he may omit things that he knows, and the reader … will feel those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.”

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As legend* has it, while imbibing with some writing buddies, Hemingway boasted that he could write an entire story in six words. He then wrote these infamous words on a napkin:

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

In writing workshops we’re often told to avoid using clichés, which is good advice, but with drabble, they can sometimes be used to paint a fuller picture in fewer words. This would be an example of a writer exploiting a cliché (in this case, the ubiquitous vernacular of the classified ad). Here, Hemingway seems also to be heeding his own advice, that is, showing only the top one-eighth of the story, while leaving the remaining seven-eighths below water to be conjured. In six short words he manages to paint a vivid picture of hope, loss, grief, and acceptance.

Does Hemingway’s story have a beginning, middle, end, a telling pivot, and an emotional velocity? No, not explicitly. Here he gives us only a tiny glimpse — a snap shot — but it’s all the pretext we need to fill in the rest of the story (i.e., sense, feelings, fear, thoughts, subconscious, etc.).

*See Snopes re: the veracity of this legend.

The White Cat

catBy HS Quarmby

Huge photos of her wedding day still hung on her wall, she was now divorced. The brilliant white of her dress the same white of her cat, now her only companion. The poor creature was overly pampered, overly loved and only allowed out on a lead. So we saw her, for hours every day, wondering the streets, walking the cat. Occasionally she talked on the telephone, sometimes smoked a cigarette, as the cat meandered around her feet. And then it died, as cats do, so her parents came to take her away, she couldn’t cope anymore.

Shame

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editors pick

The boy is eight when his mother dies. Her death floods him with a grief he’s far too young to comprehend. He vows never to cry, lest he look weak.

Left to fester, his grief becomes shame—a shame that infects everything.

He feels unworthy, undeserving of love.

Later, his brain’s learned response to trauma of any kind will be shame.

In high school, he will do poorly in Algebra – Shame.

In college, he will self medicate – Shame.

One day he’ll lose his job – Shame.

Divorce – Shame.

He will point a finger always at himself, never at God.

Shame.

Agnostic Storm

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John stopped going to church after his mother died. He’d only gone to please her anyway. He remembers sitting on her lap as a child, and saying

“Just in case, when I die

look everywhere for me. If you die

look everywhere for me while I look

forever everywhere for you.”

Now he sees a storm on every horizon. Inside, he’s a rumbling kettledrum, a choir of wind chimes. He no longer seeks — but rather craves that certainty the faithful have that there is something that lives beyond this body, like amputees scratching at limbs that are not there.