The Short Story

Entry by: Godai41

22nd May 2015

Short; yes, they do call me short. I reach wide and high, even long, and stand out. Most important, my good friends, those who espouse and write me, know the secret: with me they try out ideas and longer stories. They learn from me how to do something longer. Even those longer works sometimes turn out really a bunch of me put together, as one of my friends, Mr. Sherwood Anderson, did in Winesburg, Ohio.

My friends, who write me, actually have more diversity than you would know from the invented category, short stories. I mean I’ve come a long way since my so-called ancestor, Mr. Fable, way back in BCE sixth century. I like to think I have more diversity than they.

Take a look. Didn’t Mr. Geoffrey Chaucer insert many of me in his Canterbury Tales, but back then in the 1380s and 1390s people didn’t categorize me as or name me short. Mr. D. H. Lawrence, a lot later, wrote quite a few of my breed even though people call him a novelist.

I often wonder if all these labels, novella, tall tales, novels (novel in what way?) have any real meaning.

Those who write me seem to know what they want to do. I mean O’Henry even spent some time in jail before he relocated to New York and began to spin lots of me.

Would a Finnegans Wake even have existed if James, excuse me, Mr. Joyce, had not first relocated to Trieste and written Dubliners?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention Mr. Hemingway’s idea that all I need is six words to emerge complete. Truthfully, I don’t know how he came up with that idea but maybe he birthed that working as a journalist on news stories or having lunch, as they report, at Luchow’s.

I still say practicing the short me leads to the longer oeuvre. Short becomes long, not a paradox at all.

On the whole, I feel blessed to be short. I wouldn’t want to end up a tall tail, oops, I mean tale. I’m better off short than they, I would say.

I really wonder about why they affix these labels anyway. Short stories, novellas, tall tales, etc. Narrow and arbitrary, don’t you think?

Now I leave you with one of me, the short but not sweet “Wood People,” a so-called short story. A current friend of mine asked me to share it with you. Enjoy.

Wood People

Blanca said that we could stop by and meet her friend’s friends at the raw wood shop and still have time to catch the 11:48 train for the beach.

She had told me about those free and pure guys who wanted nothing more than to saw, hammer, plane, and nail unfinished oak, maple, and, sometimes, pine. If Marina, the year-long-girlfriend of one of those worker-owners, John, stood for anything, then these wood people were as transparent and true as any surface on the earth.

We took Greenwich Avenue and cut quickly through from Sixth Avenue along Thirteenth Street, at the edge of the meatpacking district. The shop, alone on a corner, was close enough to the Eighth Avenue subway, Blanca had calculated, so we could spend up to 30 minutes chatting, run across the street to the station, and make it to the Long Island railroad in time to catch the train. I admired the way she took charge and elegantly arranged all the details so I could just follow her.

With all her craft and forethought she hadn’t figured on or even known or remembered the long ticket lines, so she told me to buy the tickets and she would wait on the platform and convince the conductor to hold the train doors open for me until I came. Blanca believes she can make anything that she wants to happen happen: convince people to believe incredible stories of her adventures, move strangers to help her with money and goods, have people hold doors open that should close.

She went down to the track, and I found my place at the back of one of the lines.

The ticket seller was fast, and the line moved quickly. My nervousness about missing the train slowly abated, and I began to think about how much I liked Blanca. Her white skin had a few perfectly placed dark spots, and when she walked toward me with her stately gait, she seemed just the right amount taller than her five foot three or five foot six. Yes, she was 40, but I remember her face with no lines and her mouth with no creases. She loved to run and exercise, even though she smoked, and her arms and legs were strong and solid.

After four or five minutes I was at the front of the line and bought the tickets. I hurried to the gate for track 17 and skipped down to the track. I could see Blanca just inside the train car door. No one was on the platform, and I had a sense that something permanent and even final I could not control stop was about to happen.

Blanca saw me on the steps and then down the platform.

The train doors slowly began to close, but her arms didn’t move and her face showed no reaction. Something between a frown and a grin took shape on her face.

Her stolid form remained firmly and proudly motionless at the doors as they closed and the train began its starting jerks.