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Short-shorts — like spring

The beauty of the short-short is how it captures a mood, a tone, an image, quickly, fully, engaging the senses.

The beauty of the short-short is how it captures a mood, a tone, an image, quickly, fully, engaging the senses. The difficulty in writing them is how to get in and out of a story quickly yet leaving a long-lasting impression. See how this week’s readings bear this out. And again: why not consider trying your hand at writing a short-short. Send it to our contest.

Contest submission deadline: May 3, 2010.

Contest guidelines: Only Minnesota writers can submit. Only one short-short by an individual will be accepted. Your short-short must be under 400 words. Please put your last name and short-short contest in the subject line of the email. Include your name, address, telephone number, email address, word count and a brief biography (up to 150 words). Send your entry — in the body of the email, or as an attachment — to mbarrett [at] minnpost [dot] com. The file must be saved in Word.                                               

“A Short Tale” by Kate Meyer                                                      

Earth awakens! Spring surprises await me as I comb through the dull brown remnants of last year’s droppings. The decay of winter is now compost for the vibrant yellow and green sprouts that poke their heads up, sniffing the air to see if spring has truly arrived. Creatures hidden below the earth now emerge coaxed by the sun’s warmth. The breezy odor of freshness in the air and the mating calls of birds inspire a sense of joy, playfulness and delight. What’s not to love?

My raking comes to a halt when I suddenly see what’s not to love. In the middle of my driveway sits a vole, one of those mouse-like rodents, stubby little grayish-brown body with tiny tails and the face only St. Francis could love. These furtive little rodents love to wreak havoc in the garden. They’ve burrowed through the soil in my yard, which now looks more like a maze and a mess. It’s true, I have been trying to be more eco-friendly and get rid of more grass, but I prefer to do my own garden design. Voles like to leave their messy volcanic piles behind. There is nothing delightful about them.

The vole appeared startled as I stood still watching him. I began to formulate a plan of attack on that little varmit who appeared ready to bolt any second. I thought about my grandkids playing Whack the Mole, the arcade game which involves frantically bopping rambunctious rodents with a mallet as they briefly pop their heads out of their holes. I considered grabbing a baseball bat, but I couldn’t do it. I’m not one for violence, even against such vile creatures plotting acts of total destruction. I instead resort to what I know – How to Communicate with Animals 101. I center myself and feel the shift to a different more intuitive state of awareness. I begin to attune to his energy to build a relationship with him and send the message that I don’t want to frighten him. I tell him I really want him to leave, to go anywhere – the neighbor’s yard, perhaps. I then go into allow mode and wait for his response. He doesn’t budge.

Telepathy not working, I change my strategy. I decide to try and scare him away by doing a Brett Favre-like end run around him. I gather a few quick breaths afraid he’ll outrun me. I need to get closer before the final dash. I quietly creep through the garden ever so slowly to avoid the rocks and spare the violets. Inch by inch, I move quietly closer and closer. The leaf moves. The wind catches it. My vole blows away.

Kate Meyer is a psychotherapist who has a Reiki/Healing Touch practice in St. Paul. She is an emerging writer who has journaled for 30+ years and recently took her first creative nonfiction course at the Loft.

“You never walk alone” by Christine Krueger

Raising her son alone wasn’t a problem for Janet, until Richie was 16. Growing up without his dad was hard on him and he meant to make it hard on her too. He started smoking cigarettes and pot. He skipped a lot of classes, handed in his homework only sometimes and spent altogether too much time with Candy, a girl from school dipped in spandex and dripping with attitude. Janet worked, so she couldn’t keep an eye on him all the time. She did find time to lecture him once in a while, though she doubted the message took. She learned to walk around the subjects that would end in fights, sticking to things like the weather, Viking’s games. Then one Wednesday night he told her he was going to Church. She’d learned not to react to much of what he told her, so she kept her thoughts to herself. He started attending Grace Evangelical on a regular basis, participating in Bible studies. He became a born again Christian. She didn’t say a word. He graduated from high school and within a year started dating a girl with sweet eyes and a disposition to match. He married Stacy and they had a baby. It was then Janet finally asked him what changed his behavior, what put him on the path to religion and his new life of righteousness. “It was you, Mom. You made me realize God had a plan for my life. You told me someone was always watching.” Janet looked at her son. “Jesus Christ, Richie. I meant the neighbors.”
As a marketing communications professional with 25 years experience, Christine Krueger’s writing has been previously published under the names of public and nonprofit executives. Recently she started to write under her own name. National Public Radio’s This I Believe program last spring published a piece of Krueger’s creative nonfiction.