130 Tales: 31 through 40

The majority of entries in this decade paint a picture: a scene, a person, a place, an emotion, a moment between moments, the very act of making a decision. The first five seem to give you everything you expect: setting, character(s), action. Number 36 really stands out to me. It begins more cryptic, poetic. Only at the end do we get a glimpse of character. I think it may be my favourite of the 130 Tales so far because I don’t fully remember everything about it but every time I read it I like, more and more, what I discover in it. The last four revert to the aforementioned structure: setting, character(s), action – even sparse Number 38 and humble Number 39 show this. I’m happy, overall, with re-reading these; it seems the groove I fell into during the last decade is still pushing Past Me forward.

130 Tales

31 – 40

31. The bus threw us from our seats. We laughed, heads dashing from smile to smile. Limbs flashing all around, animating redundancy.

32. It burns down his throat, cauterizing every crack and rip. The sting of health. His wrapped hand lowers the glass, red, newly wet.

33. Her lips absorb cold and rest on plastic. Dead eyes stare into the space beyond as a rainbow of cream dances in her stoic hands.

34. She smells of chocolate. He, probably of onions. He wants to say hello but is afraid she’ll laugh. We will never mix, he thinks.

35. His breath slows as shadowed stripes make-up her face. Inside, his heart plays a circus and he fears its trumpets will wake her.

36. Relief. Everywhere, it’s falling. Painting the ground with water like a phone call to say “I’m on my way.” A soft pat in my eye.

37. Head fuzzed, he tears the sheets in front of his eyes and finds the unknown. Muddled, he pushes hard, hands like clockwork.

38. Today, I think I’ll be three people.

39. The jovial brick exclaims, ‘Believe it or not This is the Place.’ Its youthful lustre shining amidst chipped paint and neon light.

40. The river never broke. Unlike the train stuck in its tunnel the people kept pouring in, clogging platform and stairwell.

130 Tales: 21 through 30

And already, it’s happened: I’ve fallen behind on posting these things that I’m literally copying and pasting from an open file, just like I had fallen behind in the creation of these 130 Tales the first time. I do, however, think I have a reasonable excuse, but excuses are excuses and really what I need to do is realize yes, I can write posts days in advance and set them to automatically publish at the future time of my choosing. Any way, with Fringe taking the majority of my time and my not having the internet at home, and, oh yeah, that flood / black-out thing that happened in Toronto yesterday (ugh… still managed to squeeze those excuses in here somehow, didn’t I? Why am I not surprised?) I’m finally posting the next instalment, the third instalment of 130 Tales today. Wednesday. Not Monday (really, I’m the only one keeping track of this).

This, like I said in my last addition to 130 Tales, is where, I think, the tales get interesting. I actually enjoy the majority of what was written in this decade; I feel like I finally let myself have fun with the limitations set upon myself. Let’s hope it continues until the end.

130 Tales

# 21 – 30

21. His eyes flutter above the scrim, from rope to hinge, weight and follow. Swallowed in black he alights on actor: jealous white.

22. The blade, sharp as wit feels nothing. Gliding smooth beneath his hand it curls up flesh, wood and finds buried treasure.

23. The three of them stare, reddened. Born of different times and morals, they finally become one as she dances this duet, partnered.

24. Form deflated, eyes down. She walks awkwardly, catching herself. Her lips read her thoughts: “Why haven’t I grown out of this?”

25. I second guess my hunger as I stand in a cafe watching two fruit flies court amidst the sugary folds of a strawberry Danish.

26. As she leaves he steals her eyes one last time. A short kiss without ever touching. Gifts given, they smile deeper than any other.

27. His hands open this book methodically. His fingers lick every page, tasting its life, eyes digesting himself for the last time.

28. I can hear the bass’ vibrations enter my shoulder; it is a touch, resting on glass, that caresses two of my five senses.

29. Her foot often kicks air. It is a hobby, if feet can have hobbies. But there it goes, kicking as the city shrinks out the window.

30. His heart screams. A breath is stopped, bubbling, boiling. Yet he sits, legs crossed, unable to move. Almost there.

130 Tales: 11 through 20

Today brings the next slightly embarrassing instalment of my old twitter project 130 Tales. I mean, it’s not really all that bad (I specifically like #s 11 & 13), but these first 20 are just so… cold? I feel like I was trying a bit too much to be deep, cryptic. After #20, I clearly relax a bit. Humour starts cropping up in unexpected places. And as much as I would like to skip these 10 and go straight to #21, I cannot. I must bear this, IF only for a week.

130 Tales

# 11 – 20

11. He lays there staring down his body at a dichotomy. One lithe and angular. The other rounded, puffy. When did he become two?

12. The bus pulls over to the side, its driver silent. The passengers get up, angry at his inaction. Witness the loss of importance.

13. Leaving, I feel a tap on my shoulder. A card pressed in my hands. “Call me later and I’ll explain everything.” What? “Just call.”

14. I saw the same cat twice, trailing itself. Real or fake, I don’t care. It was the exact same. Crossing my path. Telling me to go.

15. It wasn’t until that first mouthful. Before that I was nothing more than a spectre, floating amidst waking and dreaming.

16. My hand digs, past scab into flesh and bone, massaging bone as I lay beneath the forgotten trees of my dream.

17. My eyes catch leg, only leg, always leg. Soon she’ll stop, turn and our eyes will touch, belong… Yet our voices will never meet.

18. The earth moves, its structure rumbles. I see two lights break the darkness. My feet shake and my mind jumps. Still. This is art.

19. A moment like that: when people just forget – what they are, who they are and just Are. That moment – it’s why I do this.

20. The night of the theatre gives her freedom. Eyes, mind open, expanding, questioning until she questions herself: why is this new?

130 Tales

Today, I am digging around the old files on my computer (a strange expression, or combination of words, as the file dates back to 2009 yet I’ve only had this computer since last summer, so they were never really old to this computer and every time I open them they become new, or, at least, recent) to unearth a project I started when I started using twitter in order to make the service a bit more interesting for me.

130 Tales became a way to challenge myself as a writer to write a full story, the beginning of a longer story, or a complete image in a single tweet.

My limitations were thus:

  • Each tale had to be no more than 130 characters,
  • It had to include the hashtag #130tales at the end,
  • And I had to write 130 tales in 130 days.

My challenge began on November 4th, 2009. Meaning, one hundred and thirty days later, my projected end date was going to be March 11th, 2010. The idea was to write one tale a day. Not too tough. But I never really set that idea in stone. I allowed myself to write a couple each day, and then take a break for the few days following. For a while there, leading up to March, it was looking like my projection was nothing more than a fantasy; I had fallen too far behind and the ensuing pile-up never seemed to be clearing. As March hit, I thought it was hopeless; my experiment would fail and I would fall into utter self-loathing. But some inspiring words from my then-girlfriend in the last few days of the project lifted my spirits, and I began posting upwards of 10 a day. When March 11th rolled around, I was proud to be able to cross out “Projected” and write “Actual” with the following exclamation: “And it’s complete! March 11th baby!”

As I tweeted these tales to the world wide web, I kept this file not just to track how far along I was but to compile them in one central location with the idea that I could turn to them at any moment, choose a number and begin something anew.

I always intended for other people to read them. I know not all of them are perfect, and some of them simply don’t work, but that isn’t what this is about. This is about just writing something and then moving on to the next one. This is about struggling against the constraints of 130 characters. This is about not having time to think. As the project burst forward one month at a time, I started imagining these tales as tools for myself and other writers. I decided to keep some tales poetically vague, so if anyone was ever facing the demon of Writer’s Block, they could look at one of these and let their mind beat it back. I tried to write others as a possible story’s beginning, or catch line. Why not find one and continue writing after it ends? It might take you someplace you enjoy. You might meet people you never would have otherwise.

Who knows?

I certainly didn’t, and still feel like I don’t.

And here I am again, rifling through this document, unwilling to just let it stagnate. My plan now, in keeping with the theme, is to post 10 of these each week for the next 13 weeks. They will show up here, on the blog, as individual posts but I’ll also make a Page for them in the left link column where you can find every one posted to date. Let’s hope I don’t fall behind and let these posts pile up over the next 13 weeks. You’d think a person would learn over time, but you’d also be amazed at how surprising people can be…

So go ahead, I implore you to come along with me on this journey of 2009-writer-Andrew and if any of them inspire you, please, use it to produce something wonderful. If none of them inspire you, don’t tell me; I don’t need to know that. Come on, don’t be a troll.

And if the very idea of 130 Tales in inspiring to you, use it! Challenge yourself. You won’t regret it.

130 Tales

# 1 – 10

  1. “Why does a cat open its mouth as it dies?” Her life a puzzle, cryptic since I was born, how could her last words be different?
  2. We passed two girls, blurred in whispers. “Do you think we should tell them?” I turned and their eyes vanished. Tell them? Us?
  3. As the register closed Scot felt a long, wisp-like tug in the middle of his chest. Though the store was real he’d never remember it.
  4. Out of my head! Flee!
  5. Lying amongst dandelions, red against yellow and white and green, she’d offer them to the winds in return for his gentle voice.
  6. He’s returned from the trip, his face hard, unshaven. As he looks through the mirror to his briefcase a smile carves through stone.
  7. The lamp flickers. A blur rustles the grass. “Now we are three.”
  8. In another time they could have been sisters. Their movements precisely synchronized, conjoined. They would have lived forever.
  9. A yellow ponytail. A foreign cafe, sun-bathed and film-grained. She takes a deep breath as a milky work of art warms her fingers.
  10. Diligent, grabbing stomach, chest, neck. Always neck. She kneads, every night; it’s her only job and she always shows up. Always.