Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Short stories

In that last post I remembered that I don't have to write a long treatise. There's a place for short blog posts, just as there's a place for short stories.

Last month in the showcase at Midwest Arts, I had fifteen minutes to present what I do. In that time, I gave snippets from my longest story ("Tristan and Iseult" which weighs in at 95 minutes), and from six or seven other tales. I also told two short stories ("Truth and story" and "The twist-mouth family"). I think I came up with a minute to spare.

Much as I love telling a long story like "Tristan", I like having a pocketful of two-minute stories. Back when I was a librarian in Connecticut, a friend and I put on a Teller's Day. We invited all the storytellers we knew to turn up for a day of storytelling and discussion. Admission? One two-minute story.

These are the stories that work when I'm put on the spot by "You're a storyteller? Tell me a story." (that means you, Mom!). They're the stories that fill in spaces in a performance or that simply add a flourish to a program.

Here's my version of "Truth and Story," which I think has Hasidic origins:

Truth walked into town one day, thinking she'd go shopping. She walked into a store, but the storekeeper said, "Get out of here! We don't want your type around here!"

Truth went outside and some kids started taunting her. They yelled at her, threw rocks at her and chased her out of town.

She stood near the edge of town, crying. Along came her friend Story. Truth said, "Story, I don't get it. I wanted to go shopping, but they chased me out of town. I don't understand."

Story said, "Honey, look at you. You're naked! Nobody wants to look at naked Truth. Let's get you dressed up. I've got some clothes in my bag. What size dress do you wear? Oh, you'll look good in this blue. How about some earrings? Makeup?"

Story dressed Truth up, and the two walked into town arm in arm. Everybody who met them said, "Story! Truth! So nice to see you!"

From that day to this, whenever Truth has gone into town all dressed up, arm in arm with Story, she has been welcome."

©2000 Priscilla Howe

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