Micro Narrative 1 : Ice Fishing on Acid

(image from: braai4heritage.co.za)
(image from: braai4heritage.co.za)

So What is a "Micro Narrative," anyway?

The following is a piece of creative writing that I do alot of.  They are not quite stories, not quiet poetry, not quite essay, not quiet anything, except short.  The only other thing to say is that they are told as if they are some sort of narrative, but I shy away from label things more than I absolutely have to, as far as defining the expectations of your experience with out-dated terms that refer to "print" genres.  I would rather you just (hopefully) enjoy.  So without further unwarranted speculations by the author, I give you my first "Micro Narrative"


The following piece is an original work by Clark Waggoner

(c) 2009 Clark Waggoner

Time. Spent like a dripping faucet pouring down a drain.

A lost plug and you can’t save a drop. They aren’t big enough, and I’m not old enough.
                The last thing the colonel said to me was ‘boy study hard.’

                                ‘why sir?’
                                ‘to leave a legacy.’
                                ‘to what sir?’
                                ‘to your children’
                                ‘why sir?’
                                ‘so they can be proud of you.’
                                ‘why should they be proud sir?’
                                ‘because you studied hard.’

There were three men round a circle in the ice. Staring intently for the bald head of a dead accountant to come up one last time. Nothing…bubbles…It Is Finished. All is peace. The sun melts small pieces of ice, yet merely glints off the big ones. If there was anything to say it had been said.  So they stood their silently, staring into the hole, each  positive he would come back up again.  What can one say when the sun goes down  and the run-off freezes once again? Over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

He lived a good life. He died too young, but not so young as to not know life. He lived well and left his family he cared for. They have lots of money to buy things and spend their time with. If a new gadget comes on the market, he made sure his sons would have it. He left nothing to chance, but paved out everything. There is money in the bank! A sign of a good man. He never depended on anyone, but made his own way!He was self-sufficient! He had money in the bank!

                                ‘why did daddy die?’
                                ‘we all die.’
                                ‘what will happen to his money?’
                                ‘it will be spent’ – (like pouring the water out… melting the
                                 ice, it’ll freeze again in a new shape)
                                'can I have a new radio? one with 150 watt speakers?
                                 they are good to drown in. I won’t have to think.’
                                'but you must think!’
                                'why?’
                                'because you will one day have a family.’
                                ‘will it last?’
                                ‘why does that matter?’
                                ‘I don’t know, but it does. I don’t want to think anymore,
                                nothing lasts I don’t like it. buy me a radio.’
                                ‘we’ll go to the store tomorrow. Sleep now and stop these                                          foolish thoughts.’

The last thing the colonel said to me was ‘live like it’s your last day… so you have no regrets.’

                                ‘what do I do on my last day sir?’
                                ‘you do the things you’ll never do again.’
                                ‘my grandfather was in bed all his last day. should I
                                stay in bed sir?’
                                ‘no! see the world!’
                                ‘why sir?’
                                ‘because you must, think of what a waste it would be
                                 to not see it all.’
                                ‘so if I was blind I was a waste. if I never left here
                                 I was a waste. if I was caught and kept in prison camp
                                ‘til I died I was a waste. I was a waste because of what
                                 I did or didn’t see. what if I don’t want to see them sir?’
                                ‘what is your problem son?’
                                ‘I’m going to die sir.’
                                ‘so am I but you don’t see me complaining.’
                                'why aren’t you sir? are you content with death?’
                                ‘no son. I will live on through my legacy!’
                                ‘but it will be forgotten soon sir, very soon.’
                                ‘I’ve done my best, boy, you should learn from that.’
                                ‘why sir?’

The rounds start in October and the whole community searches in unison each performing their ordained task so that the next round may begin. It’s a good cycle of things, as far as unity and cycles go. It keeps everyone distracted. In circles following. Busy with the task at hand. We must be busy with the task at hand! Don’t waste your time on foolish thoughts. If only we were all brainless… or if only we all didn’t care that we died. Why do we try to ignore? Why do we try to live on? Why does everyone become unrecognizable in the end? But mostly, why do we care? Why do I care?

Where in the compounds the make up, the atoms, the chemicals, the tissue, the water, where in there is this dissatisfaction with death?

LORD DELIVER ME WITH A THOUSAND DISTRACTIONS! LET ME NOT LOOK AT THE TRUTH! LET ME NEVER FOR AN INSTANT REALIZE WHAT IS COMING. IF I WERE TO, HOW COULD I GET UP TOMRROW? HOW COULD I LIE TO MY CHILDREN? MY BOSS EXPECTS ME THERE AT 9:00… LORD DISTRACT ME SO I CAN MAKE IT.

It's passing. That’s nice… I just remembered next week is the social at work, I think I’ll bring chicken salad. I love the times we get together and talk and talk and talk. The noise is like a warm buzz. Like a warm bath I can sink into and forget myself. So warm and soothing and comfortable. If only I could always be in that warm water, quietly, contently soaking. Maybe I could move the TV in so I could watch it. I wouldn’t feel so alone.

                            --we all must get up and study. Because one day we’ll have to have a job. One day they’ll depend on us for a few years before we die. We all must get up and study. We all must get up and learn. We all must get up and go through it together. One day they’ll depend on us. (if you listen to him you’re fooling yourself—your single efforts amount to nothing… and it won’t save you from death. And what lies there after. You cannot escape it. Study and forget this! Work and forget this! Have a family and lie about what you have forgotten—this is all that matters.)

tick tock
            tick tock
who could ever
            outlast that sound?
Drip, drop, tick, tock,
Time, pause, time, pause, time, pause, time, pause, time, pause, time, pause, tick, tock, drip, drop...Someone dies down the hall. I’LL SCREAM IT LOUD ENOUGH HE’LL HEAR IT:


                  ‘TICK TOCK KEEP GOING TICK TOCK KEEP BEATING
                   WAKE UP THE CLOCK IS STILL TICKING. WHAT IS YOUR
                   PROBLEM?’

The results aren’t due back ‘til next week sometime, we suggest you take this opportunity to visit with friends and family. Make sure to keep the monitor on you at all times and return if anything out of the ordinary turns up. Have a pleasant life, don’t forget to renew your subscriptions. Be back by Tuesday, and take your pills!

-Study harder! -


The last thing the colonel said to me was ‘I lived a good life! I fought hard I shouldn’t have to die! I’ve known secrets to a good life and I passed them on! Study hard! Live like it ends tomorrow! Cost no one anything! Why am I scared?’

                                ‘you’re dying sir’
                                ‘I’ll live on yet!’
                                ‘how sir?’
                               ‘look at all I’ve left behind!’
                                ‘but YOU are dying sir’
                                ‘don’t say that boy, do you know who I am?’
                               ‘a dead man, sir’
                                ‘yes. Yes. Yes. But a better one than many.’
                                ‘how sir?’
                                ‘isn’t it obvious?’
                                ‘I’m not sure I understand…’
                                ‘I was better than most!’
                                ‘by your own standards, sir. some don’t like war.’
                                ‘what do they know?  I liked you better when you kept
                                 your mouth shut.’
                                ‘I don’t know, sir. but some would disagree.’
                                ‘what comforts a dying man?’

1,0,1,0, 1,0,1,0,1,0,1,0,1,0,1,0,on,off,on,off,on,off,on,off,POP,

The sun is setting and the ice is melting. But soon it’ll freeze in a new shape, and no one will recognize how it was before. No one will remember. And maybe the world will pop too. And what have we then? What have we?



(c) 2009 Clark Waggoner


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