Saturday, February 27, 2010

Skeleton Stories

Week 5 of my on line writing course has moved on to skeleton stories – bare bones stories. No subtleties, straight forward motives, a linear narrative and morality seen in black and white. A beginning, middle and an end and not too much fleshed out, I guess. I wrote my story and posted it.

As a writer you invent people all the time, or places or objects. What is especially great is when the things you invent are convincingly real. I can remember in a Faithwriter’s challenge describing a sculpture in a gallery. So convinced were the readers that they wanted me to either post a photo of the sculpture or tell me which gallery it was in so they could visit. It didn’t exist in real life and, yet again, I wished that I had a more tactile talent so that I could actually create it.

Here’s my skeleton story – If you think you have read it before, I did borrow the story idea from a past Faithwriter’s challenge. Don’t you think my ibby worms are gorgeous?

The Laughter Thief

Zandrick woke up one morning to discover his deep throated belly laugh, the one that made his side ache and his eyes water, had gone missong. He looked under the chairs and around the table. He checked the books on the shelf, all sixty two of them. He even looked behind the tapestry above the fire place.

From noon till dusk he visited some of his favourite places to see if he had left his laugh somewhere. He checked beside the bench beneath the chestnut tree in the village green. He had been watching children stamping in puddles and joined in their laughter. He searched carefully but his laugh wasn’t there. He walked beside the river, watching the sun wink at him on the water. He’d laughed at butterflies and the summer sunshine warm on his back. His laugh wasn’t in the grass by the bank. He looked under the bridge where the men in the barges walked their feet along the low curve of the tunnel roof but his laugh wasn’t there either. Finally, he went the hat shop on Briant Street. All the ridiculous hats he had tried on were still on their stands. The mirror on the counter was still there. He opened a few of the drawers, stuffed full with ribbons, just in case his laugh had somehow fallen inside, but it wasn’t there.

Head hanging heavily like a millstone, Zandrcik walked wearily home. He stopped off at the shop to buy a small pork pie.

“Not another one that can’t raise a smile!” said Picclalet from behind the counter. “I do declare we must have a laughter thief in our midst!” Counting on his fat sausage fingers, Piccalet listed all the people he had seen that day who had lost their laughs.

Now, Little Couton, just beyond the bend in the river, had been plagued by a laughter thief last spring. Someone had snuck into people’s houses and stole their laughter while they slept. A good thief could make a great deal of money selling laughter to people who had nothing to laugh about.

Zandrick quaked at the thought of his own deep throated belly laugh booming out of someone else’s mouth, making someone else’s sides ache and someone else’s eyes water. What he needed was a plan to catch the thief. He stared at a tiny spot just above Piccalet’s left eyebrow. Then, he had it!

“A large can of ibby worms, please!” Zandrick tipped a pile of coins onto the counter.

Ibby worms, hailed as the fishermen’s friends, giggled hysterically when tossed into water. The fish swam close to see what was so funny, and all that was needed was a net to scoop them out of the water. Everyone knew that fish caught smiling tasted so much better than one’s caught with a line and hook.

Zandrick threw his worms into a large bucket of water, and ran behind a stack of wood beside his back door. The worms began to giggle. Raucous laughter spilled from the bucket filling the air.

Suddenly a dark shadow slipped in through the open gate drawn by the laughter, just like the fish in the river. Zandrick was upon him, engulfing him in the folds of the tapestry taken down from above the fireplace.

The scuffle was short. Zandrick struck the thief solidly on the head with a piece of wood and began to peel back the folds of the tapestry. A wiry little fellow with thick bushy eyebrows was clutching a big black bag. The thick material of the bag muffled the sounds inside. Zandrick opened it, careful not to spill any of its contents. There were a dozen light titters, a loud ho ho, a playful ha or two, a sprinkling of mirthful hee hees and a couple of snorting honks. There in the bottom of the sack Zandrick could hear his own deep throated belly laugh, the one that made his sides ache and his eyes water.

1 comment:

ToastyKen said...

Hey there! It just so happens that I independently wrote a story recently of the same title! Mine was inspired by how I felt when I take pictures of my friends. Here it is: http://subjunctive.net/klog/2010/05/the_laughter_thief/

I just thought to do a search for "laughter thief" to see if anyone else had the same idea and came upon your story. I like yours, too! :)