Saturday, February 16, 2013

Alice and the Clown

About a year and a half ago I decided to explore the idea of getting a master's degree in French. Studying French on a higher level is something I've always wanted to do since learning French in Canada as a missionary. So I signed up for two classes at ASU: advanced French writing and 19th century French theater. While I loved both classes, my heart wasn't really in it so I decided not to pursue that degree.

In my writing class, one of our assignments was to write a short story using words from a word bank. I came up with a story called "Alice et le clown" and I posted it on my old blog about a year ago. Which was a bit useless because very few people who read my blog read French.

Earlier this week I thought I'd revisit that story and translate it into English. Here it is, "Alice and the Clown":

We arrived at the train station in Düsseldorf as the last train of the night pulled away. Alice let out an exasperated expletive. We met during my last year of university in London where I was studying European literature. The first time I saw her was at the library where she worked. It was in helping me locate a volume of short stories by Anton Chekhov when I fell in love with her.

But she didn’t reciprocate my feelings of love. Regardless, we he had become good friends and she accepted to grace me with her presence during a literary research trip for two weeks in Germany.

During our first afternoon in Berlin, on returning alone from a trip to a nearby cafe, Alice noticed something strange on the corner across the street from our hotel: an old man with bright lemon hair wearing a dilapidated pink clown suit from a time long passed.

Two days later, Alice saw him enter a store in Hamburg. Curious, she insisted that we follow him but in the store we didn’t find any clown. When she saw him the next day in Hanover she started to believe she was crazy. Finally, in Düsseldorf, after seeing him exit a cafe where we were ending the evening, she asked in tears that we leave immediately for Paris where her parents live.

Now here we are alone on the platform. Tears appear in the corners of her eyes and roll down her cheeks every time she blinks. She shivers from the cold. I know she’s not crazy but I don’t see what she sees. I approach her and hold her in my arms.

I've tried to write (lengthy) short stories in the past but with no success. I guess I just don't enjoy writing fiction enough (and I'm absolutely terrible at writing dialog) to tackle any sort of fiction over 1,000 words (this story weighs in at a light 283 words). So maybe really short fiction, or flash fiction, is my calling. Or at least a good place to start.

So here's where I need your help. I want to establish a word bank -- words I have to use in a future short short story -- to help inspire me. So please post a few words in the comments. Any type of word will do (except adverbs, I'm trying to steer clear of adverbs). I'll do my best to use them in a (very) short story.


  1. Rambunctious
    Simon & Garfunkel


  2. veranda, empathy, subdue, tiff, moisten, impending

  3. trite, snow, sheets, footsteps, aware