Category Archives: Vignettes

Quite short fiction or nonfiction

Still Life

He awoke suddenly.  He looked quickly around the dimly lit bedroom.  Everything looked to be in place.  A beam of light struck the wall above the low bookcase on which the TV set seemed to float.  He realized then that the framed print was missing from the wall.  He sat up, tossed off the covers, got out of bed. That’s when he saw a slight glint from the glass covering the print in its frame. The print lay between the bookcase and the shoe rack that was against the wall and behind the half-opened door.

As he reached for the picture, he remembered when his wife had bought it, a year before she died.  She’d found it at a yard sale a few blocks from their home.  In the faint light, he looked at the print, seeing it more in memory than with his eyes.

There were two teacups on a table, the farther one a yellow teacup, the nearer one more brown and tan.  Both were full of tea.  There were no persons in the picture.  It was a painting in the impressionist style.  The colors were all bright, especially the yellow of the one cup and the blue of one wall.  There was a brown chair near the blue wall, and a painting on the adjoining wall.  Between the painting and the chair, an oddly shaped string instrument, probably a cello, was propped against the mixed yellow, orange and beryl green of the wall with the painting.

He still stared at the print as the rising sun brightened the window, then the room.  When he had asked his wife why she liked the unusual still life, she smiled and said, “Because it’s you and me, two teacups, the same except for the different colors, both brimming with strong tea, brewed with love and care and raw honey.”

He smiled.

He put the picture on the bed.  Later he’d affix it again to the wall.  But now he went into the bathroom to begin the day.

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2012

The Magic Kingdom

She didn’t remember how she’d gotten there.  Her companion led her by the hand to the yellow teacup.  Other people were climbing into the seventeen other teacups.  She had last been on this ride years before with her husband and her young children.  She sat down.  Her companion sat down opposite her and snapped shut the little door in the side of the cup.  He wasn’t her husband but a dark stranger who turned his head away every time she tried to look into his face. They waited for all the others to be seated in their teacups and the little doors to be slammed shut.

Suddenly the pale yellow teacup and all the others started to move in large circles over the surface.  Then the dark stranger grabbed the solid wheel in the center of the teacup and began to turn it faster and faster.  The teacup rotated on its axis, spinning slowly at first, then more and more quickly until she could see only blurs where the other teacups were.  The dark stranger started to laugh as he turned his face toward her.  She could see only darkness in his face, with one large, dark closed eyelid, no visible nose, no visible mouth.  Yet he laughed and laughed maniacally.  She was on the point of screaming.

“Honey, honey!  Wake up – you’re having a bad dream!”

It was her husband standing before her.  She jumped up from the sofa where she’d fallen asleep.  She put her arms around him and rested her head on his chest.  But far off she heard the faint sound of the dark stranger still laughing.

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2012

Walking in the rain

Walking around in the rain can be a pleasant experience when it’s warm;  you just know that, even if you’re soaked to the bone, you’re not likely to shiver, or quiver, or shake with chills.

But walking in rain in the near wintry days of November or the late Winter days of early March is a gruesome task, a punishment, almost like being in a dark, dank, flowing dungeon, waiting for the rats to appear, and – uh, oh – that shadow up ahead may be the guillotine.

At last, relief!  A cruel respite but release from the cold rain nonetheless. (But, really, what is that thing up ahead?  Oh, yes! Of course!  The massive hulk of the oak near the turning of the path…)

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2012

Steam Heat

Those of us whose homes still have steam heat with those old, clunky cast iron
radiators standing in the corners of rooms like reticent and mutant miniature Bactrian camels are treated every winter to the wonder of the musicality of inanimate things.

Listen to the slow knocking, then the quicker banging and the cocky clanking of the pipes, the rattling of the valves as the heat starts, and rises, rises… A subtle clinking in the valves gets brasher and louder…

The pressure builds. Hear the cycling flat notes of the steam and then its half serious, half playful hissing, followed by its ribald whistling through the valves, pushing the air out at higher and higher compression.

Go with the steam’s sibilance, the valves’ jingling and jangling, the pipes’ clanging syncopation and the spasmodic whooshing sounds…

You can almost hear Peggy Lee or Patti Page, Ella Fitzgerald or the Pointer Sisters intoning I got steam heat… I got steam heat – but I need your love to keep away the cold…

Hsssss…  Klink…  Psssew…

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© Gregory V Driscoll 2011