In the 1920s, as the apocryphal tale goes, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story only six words long. He turned out the above story and considered it his best work. In so doing, he revived interest in the genre of flash fiction. Last week an old friend challenged me and others to write our own six-word stories. Let’s take a look at my entry and a few of my favorites after the jump.
I really don’t know how it came to me or what thought process I used, but here is my entry in all its glory:
His grave hid all, save deeds.
Pretty spooky, eh? I think that can be said of everyone. It really should have been “Our graves hide all, save deeds.” I only wish I’d thought of that sooner. The essence of a six-word story is the ability to make the reader imagine all the implications, whether they be back-story, epilogue, lateral meaning, or something totally different. In this case it’s more lateral. What exactly does it mean? That the deeds we do in our lifetimes survive after our death. Your kindness will be remembered, your financial decisions will reward or burden your heirs, your stewardship of the earth will be seen generations later. All of that meaning– that is to say, all those ramifications– is never stated in the story. A whole paragraph can be extrapolated from six little one-syllable words. Perhaps even more! What did I mean by “His grave hid all?” Did it hide his crimes, his stature, his physical shape? When you are in the grave you are neither white nor black, tall nor short. You are only your living deeds. You are your patience, you are your greed, you are the love of your relatives. But enough of that, let’s see some of the others!
I’m six words fewer toward death. -Reid Hardaway
The finger in the middle rises. -Joanne Mallari
After climax, she recalled he’s married. -Junshu Li
From the forest: Echoes. Whimpers. Silence… -Jake Flatto
A missing child regrets leaving angrily. -Marlo Zemartis
He saw the velociraptor too late. -Claire Jadulang
Time slipped under his soles, whispering. -Larry Davies
Carved on bridge: John didn’t jump. -Rachel Waymel
Pedicabo ego te et irrumabo, Nicole. -Lucas Tejwani (or Catullus, I’m not sure)
The paraplegic’s Zumba career ended shortly. -Jason Kreitz
“I whip my hair,” howled Medusa. -Leslie Simon
Skeleton in closet real. Engagement canceled. -Jasmine Way
My wife is pregnant. I’m sterile. -Katie Neipris
Oooh, cool! A haiku party! Wait… -Carl Monson
And now, to wrap things up, I’m going to try writing five six-word stories right now. Go!
The Nostromo is empty now.
“I need tissues!” cried the donee.
Clocks are never late; just slow.
His suicide note had no fingerprints.
“The bees. The Bees! THE BEES!”
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. You’ve been great.