Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brevity is the Soul of Wit, but Limbs and Outward Flourishes are Funner

Friend and wonderful writer Becky Povich recently had her September blog contest. The rules were: using the scene in the photo (reprinted with Becky's permission, below), write a story of 100 words or less. I don’t enter contests very often, but Becky gives some great prizes. Problem was (and always is) that word count. I just could NOT do 100 words. The leanest I could chop was 112. So after struggling far longer than I could spare, I gave up. Here it is, because now I don’t know what to do with all 266 words. Happy fall, y’all.

It was Cactus Day at the “Life is a Bed of Roses” nursery, and Berta Ebbercamper was feeling a bit prickly. So she tossed on her blue Ask Me About My Grandbabies t-shirt and headed on over.

When she saw the life-sized dragon sculpture out front, though, she knew it would look cute as a button next to some windmills on her front lawn, with maybe a cement goose in overalls underneath.

But when she reached for the door, Berta felt something hot on her back. Whirling around, Berta realized that it hadn’t been a lawn dragon, after all, but a real North American Brownbeard merely posing as one!

Berta hadn’t lived with Ed for 42 years for nothing. She knew ornery. She tripped that dragon with a pot of sedum ‘Autumn Joy,’ then beaned him with chrysanthemum ‘Golden Splendor.’ Berta, once a horticulture major on a fencing scholarship, fought the dragon off with the nearest carnegiea species, eventually pinning him with ferocactus horridus. Didn’t slay him, though. Berta was a practical woman and knew a real dragon might come in handy when Ed’s back was out.

Now the dragon sits nicely on a hay bale next to a garden gnome and two pumpkins, cradling some dried corn husks and a sign that says, “I ♥ Autumn.” Berta named him Ferdish, because it sounded like a fancy name, just like her real North American Brownbeard.

“Ferdish!” says Berta, “You go on an’ haul that wheelbarrow full of pea gravel out back, will you?”

“Yes ma’am,” says Ferdish.

Yep, dragons can go nicely in the garden sometimes.

You must bring us... a shrubbery! ~ Knights who say Ni (from Monty Python and the Holy Grail)


  1. Tammy---I enjoyed your story, even though it was too long for the contest. I entered, but really struggled, and would have liked to have a larger word limit. I got to the point where contractions were my friends...However, having that kind of limit is a great revising/word choice exercise.

    I liked the sideways snarky comments about Ed---ornery, and perhps a bit lazy (or does he have a LEGITIMATE back problem?). After reading your story, I reexamined the photo and felt like a fool---I had completely missed the dragon, instead fixating on the cacti and the fall flowers.

    Tomorrow I am going to have a contest---double the word limit of Becky's, a photo will be provided for "inspiration" and there will be a small twist. (I liked the "prod" Becky provided so much, I wanted to do a contest too.)

    Check it out at www.siouxspage.blogspot.com

    Also, I love your humorous postings...

  2. Thanks, Sioux! But...I didn't mean any snarky toward Ed, I swear! Just wanted to make it clear Berta was a real-life dragon slayer, is all! :-o In fact, I was implying poor Ed's been worked a little too hard!!!

  3. Girl! You talk about versatile; this is a riot. her name, her sweatshirt slogan, the dragon, the works!

  4. Thanks, Linda--I don't do fiction as often as I should, and your opinion means a lot!

    Thanks, Lisa!!

  5. Tee-hee! Dragons are handy creatures, aren't they?


  6. Heck, I thought I left a comment on here! DUH! Well, as you know, I loved this...hilarious!!


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