CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
I was taken aback, since no-one had ever delved so deeply into my mind, which had previously always been a private place. I was not sure what was expected of me but her question seemed to demand a reply. Not wanting to mention anything I should not—things, for instance, that perhaps my primary school teacher might frown upon—I told her she had a pleasing personality, at which point her personality transformed. She took the oar from me and tossed it into the lake, saying, “So, that’s what you think of me, is it!”
When the oar hit the surface of the lake I thought it threw up, what seemed like, congealed lumps of black water which landed in the boat, but when I looked more closely I noticed the lumps were alive and thrashing about. I lifted my feet clear of them and told her, “Well, it’s true; and also, you’ve always seemed most considerate.”
She took the other oar and tossed it over the side, sending more of those black lumps of living matter flying into the boat as she told me, “If only I’d known! I suspected something was wrong.”
The boat drifted on the barely perceptible current for a full eight years, all the time my body becoming ever more infested with those black fish-things which kept leaping from the water, landing in the boat and somehow finding shelter beneath my skin. I could not move without three or four of them stirring into action and testing the integrity of my skin as they did so, as a repeatedly opened wound is tested by the probing of a surgeon’s knife. Finally, it seemed my skin was no longer able to protect me from the world’s scrutiny, and yet still the woman kept beating me with my own words. I learnt to say nothing, which silence then became the club she would use to probe my wounds even more deeply with.
One day the boat came to rest on the shore and I ran for cover. I did not look behind me for two whole days, in which time the garden became a desert. My mouth was dry and as I continued to run—and my run gradually became a walk—I could feel those fish-things drying and falling from my skin, which, as the days and weeks went by, healed under the warm glow of the sun.
At the age of forty-two, I came upon a train carriage in the desert and I stumbled into it. It soon began to move. There was a feeling of inevitability about its motion, as though its passengers had no opinions of any value and would travel in whatever direction the train took them in. I noticed a group of people gathered around a table, watching the lighted candles on a birthday cake.
“Is this for me?” I said, amazed. I could not help it—the sight of that cake transported me to a period prior to when that first exam paper was placed on my primary school desk. Strange though it seems, I felt like skipping with glee. I watched a young child blow out the candles and then, as he looked up to me and said, “Thank you, daddy,” my heart sank.
I sat on a seat and watched the world pass by. I had no idea where the train was taking me. At the next stop, I got off and was in the garden again. I wandered its paths, looking for a haven for my troubled mind. A sign above a potting shed read “Place of Peace”. I, of course, entered. I sat in a deck chair, for I was tired after my journey.
In the first two minutes of my occupancy, I listened to the sounds from outside diminishing, as though they were retreating from me. All that was then left was silence, which I listened to like I had listened to no other sound in my life. The silence seemed to engulf me—as the darkness of a moonless night in the wilderness might. And out of that wilderness I then heard approaching footsteps. They entered the potting shed and a man’s voice asked, “Are you sitting comfortably?”
In the kitchen of 17 Misconception Boulevard, Sally Softly and the half‑dressed chief constable were standing beside the coffee machine. Above the gurgling machine, the muffled exchanges of the three visitors in the living room could be heard.
Sally was deep in thought about this man on the sofa whom she had deduced (by “scientifically examining the facts”) was Peter’s half‑brother. She then felt Roland Wise’s hand scurrying over the back of her leg. She recalled that look on his face as he got up off her in the living room—got quickly up off her and then sighed with relief. She pictured him with Peter on the golf course, both laughing about her. She shuddered again at the thought of their trickery, then grabbed Roland’s shoulder, said, “Right—we’ll start in the garden,” and pushed him towards the back door.
He seemed reluctant, “The garden—”
She tugged at his arm while warning him, with a playful smile, “We’ll have to be quick mind—”
His legs started to tremble, “But—”
She looked at his reluctant expression which appeared to be expressing disgust at the idea of having sex with her. And something about his expression incensed her even more than usual (—Right. I’ll get them both back for this. Wants to have a laugh about me, does he? Well, let’s see him laugh about this—). And she tugged more firmly on his arm, saying, irritably, “Come on,” and slipping his underpants down over his buttocks with her other hand as she tugged him towards the door.
Roland—holding onto his underpants—appeared to be somewhat flustered, “But, but—”
But she was not having any of this; she opened the door, snapped, “Get out there,” pushed him out through it (Roland still dressed in only his shirt, underwear, shoes and his chief constable’s hat—for he was still apparently unaware he was wearing it) and as they stepped out through the door, Sally’s smirk triumphantly returned at the thought of Roland’s marathon performance around the garden.

Links

Some links to other sites of literary interest.

Project Gutenberg. The first internet archive of free electronic books. There are now over 25,000 books available free at this site.

eBooks@Adelaide. The University of Adelaide Library’s collection of Web books. The collection includes classic works of Literature, Philosophy, Science, and History.

ReadPrint. Online books, free to read. From all the classic authors, though with some authors, only the most well known of their books are yet added. The books are nicely laid out easy to read.

Complete Works of William Shakespeare. The Web's first edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare. The texts are clearly and simply laid out, making them a joy to read. Navigation within each play is also straightforward.

The Literature Network is a vast store of online texts: books, short stories, poems. The full texts are included but the more popular works are peppered with advertising. If you don't mind that, happy reading.

Gaslight is an archive of classic short stories which were originally published as an internet discussion list. Genres include: mystery, adventure and The Weird.

East of the web. A growing collection of classic and newly-written short stories made available on the Web. Stories are organized by theme: fiction, romance, crime, sci-fi & fantasy, humour, horror, hyperfiction, children's, and nonfiction. Includes works by many famous authors.

George Boeree. This site contains many fascinating nonfiction etexts introducing every aspect of psychology. George's writing is clear and straightforward.

The Internet Classics Archive. An archive of works of classical literature in English translations. The works are mostly Greek and Roman, with some Chinese and Persian works.

Online Magazines

TheAtlantic.com. Current affairs magazine with short stories, essays and poetry. See the archive of short stories.

Narrative Magazine. Fiction, poetry, short short stories, nonfiction, features. Good quality writing. You can subscribe to the site free of charge, which will allow you to read the full text of the stories.

The Oldie. This magazine was created by a previous editor of Private Eye, as: an antidote to youth culture but, more importantly, a magazine with emphasis on good writing, humour and quality illustration.

Zoetrope All-Story. A short story magazine. You can read samples from many of the stories online, but will need to purchase a subscription to read the full text.

3:AM Magazine. Containing fiction, nonfiction, interviews, poetry, opinions.

Resources

How to Write a Story is a blog consisting of articles on how to write.

Refdesk.com. Today's news stories from around the world. And other similar reference material.