Friday, January 18, 2008

55 words is awfully close to three lines

This morning, Scott received an e-mail from the Virginian-Pilot's Lon Wagner, always a friend to narrative writing. Lon saw our three-line exercise and sent along 55 WORD stories, taken from the journal Literature and the Arts in Medical Education. These are closer to personal essays but they work as complete stories.

Think Feneon meeting Raymond Carver.

Here's one example:

9th and Carson

Twelve patients in a waiting room small enough for four. A young man whispers his sexual history while a makeshift partition away another man tries hard not to listen. A free medicine cabinet, expired lidocaine, a psychiatry consult in a closet, falling plaster. The United States spends over $1.7 trillion on health care.

Try not to be intimidated.

Looking around online, I found another 55 word story page. I'm pretty sure they are not related. In fact, I think most of these are fiction. But they can still be good.

Here are the rest from Lon:

55 WORD Stories from the journal Literature and the Arts in Medical Education. They were written by fellows at the University of Pittsburgh in a class called "Teaching Care of the Underserved." I guess there is also a book called "The World's Shortest Stories."

I Had No Idea

He said the Zantac helped his heartburn. The house was quiet when she came home. He had no other complaints. The steps to the attic were lowered. His exam was normal. He was on a rocking chair. He thanked me and shook my hand. He put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

i have Saved the world

stars have aligned themselve above in the Cold nigHt. The presIdent knowZ who i i camOuflaged myself by the dumPster. as the conspiracy grows, my mind connects tHem all together. i am the key to a fRagmented ExistenNce. I must hide to sAve the world from its own destruction.


Elderly, frail; thinning gray hair in cornrows; quietly dignified. No diagnosable malady, just old age. Her time had come and we both knew it. They told me to order another test. She just wanted to go home. But, she endured our unwillingness to give up, only to die on the transport stretcher. I wept alone.

Missionary Medicine

Every six months the people come to see El doctor Americano. They share their pains from the prior 6 months and those they fear in the next 6 until el doctor returns. I am el doctor. I heard these complaints six months ago. I hope to make a difference. I fear it's a revolving door.

Fighting the god fight

Struggling less and less and less. Praying none, for fear God would help her. Dreams gone of liberation from her white master she hates, but has elevated. She bows: genuflected-head down-eyes closed-nose open "Sell all you have to follow me," he beckons. "...i...will..." she snorts her all-powdered god.