"Papa's Funeral" and "A Mean Wind From Unkind Places"

>> Friday, January 25, 2008

[I haven't had the right brain cycles to write a proper blog entry, but I did get back to writing at Ficlets today for the first time in almost a month, and wrote three short, standalone pieces during lunch, two of which I was particularly satisfied with as the result of an hour's work. Nothing massively awesome, but I should put more fiction up here. Anyway, here are the two short-shorts I wrote today that I thought went tolerably well for about an hour's work:]


Papa's Funeral

Monday, Nov. 4, 1889

We buried Papa today. The service did not proceed as smoothly as we hoped. Even after I crept downstairs last night after the house was abed and put my lips to the coffin and whispered, “Please, Papa, do not make a scene tomorrow.” I know he heard, for I heard him whisper back, begging for release. I left him before he made promises we both knew he would not keep.

Father Murray has not long been in our village, but long enough he should know to retain composure in such circumstance; when Papa began screaming obscenities and banging on his coffin lid in church, Father Murray faltered. This only emphasized the awkwardness of the situation. People coughed and shuffled their feet nervously in the pews. Eventually Father Murray resumed the sermon and managed to drown out Papa’s wailings, but I thought it was very poor form.

I regret to admit it, but Darby was right: we should have buried Papa with a stake. But Mother insisted.

Clouds tonight: it appears it will rain tomorrow.


A Mean Wind From Unkind Places

Incessant drone and rattle. It’s a mean wind from unkind places, locked up and chained up out west somewhere that got itself out and climbed the mountain and rolled down this side and beats itself ragged and torn against the window like it wants back in again. It keeps slipping through the peeling seal at the bottom, bringing tiny dusty balls of snow in onto the sill where they roll and melt into pinpricks of dew in the yellow light of the floorlamp.

I’m surprised, honest I am, the power hasn’t gone. When the ice brings the lines down, there goes the heat and light and all this shack will have going for it is that the wind can only get its fingernails under the windowframe.

The temperature will drop, and I will face a conundrum. A Catch-22, Heller called it in that book.

See, if the heat goes and I leave my gloves off, my fingers will be too numb for me to do much of anything with them. If I put my gloves on, my finger won’t fit through the trigger guard and I still won’t be able to use the gun.


[When writing a ficlet, I usually end up going over the character limit and paring the piece down. Sometimes that dramatically improves a piece, other times it means I cut something I really would have liked to keep. "Papa's Funeral" particularly had some lines I would have liked, but I can't quite remember what they were at this point. Ficleting is a bit like speed chess, I think: on the one hand, it teaches you certain economies that are useful skills to have--on the other hand, it can foster some bad writerly habits. Oh well. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed.]

("Papa's Funeral" originally appeared here. "A Mean Wind From Unkind Places" originally appeared here.)


Jeri Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 8:07:00 PM EST  

I really like ficlets, too, and haven't been back there in months! Thanks for the reminder. To me, it's a good writing warmup exercise.

I especially like "Papa's Funeral". Maybe I should go write a sequel or prequel.

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