Short story: Going out on a limb

13 01 2008

I was trying out a creative writing exercise that I put myself up to: Write a one-page short story in an hour. This ended up being a two-page short story, but I did write it in an hour. I suppose finishing is the key, and I could probably go back and cut this down to a one-page deal without losing too much. Anyway, I feel like this story sucks, but I guess I’ll get better. On the plus side, I’m pretty sure no one is going to pass this story off as their own. ANYWAY, I wrote it. I WROTE THIS STORY. With apologies to a few Web sites that mention the concept of writing a story using the basic plot elements of putting a man in a tree, throwing stones at him and getting him down.

Billy Gomez likes to climb trees in the backyard of his sprawling estate. It’s good exercise, and once he gets to the top, he can sit there for a couple hours and jot down a few poems or crank out a short story. It’s a good break for him.

He lives in the country in southern Georgia, and though the beach is only an hour away, you could never tell from visiting this town. So when he climbs the limbs of the old oak, he can see all the treetops like a bushy, green-knitted baby blanket that stretches on forever. This lends him inspiration that knows no bounds.

One day, he climbed this tree and sprained his ankle just as he got to the top. How would he ever get down? He remembered the words of an old English professor who had reminded him that all he had to do to write a good story was to “put a man up a tree, throw stones at him and then get him down.”

Billy looked around and nobody was throwing stones, not just yet. Still, things didn’t look too good. He was up in a tree, of course, and he had to get down. How would a Disney movie handle this? A talking animal would pop out from one of the tree knots and start singing a Broadway-style show tune. He looked and there it was. A squirrel was perched on a limb not far away, and it didn’t seem to fear him. He decided to sing to it.

“Hakuna matata,” he bellowed. “It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s a problem-free philosophy, and…”

The squirrel slowly backed away from Billy, with a terrified expression and wide eyes.

“Figures. Well, you’re no Timon, either. I mean, I’d climb down, but my leg hurts like a son-of-a-gun. Hey, don’t run away!”

The squirrel froze in its spot, maintaining its terrified expression but not leaving the area.

“Ha, it’s a good thing you’re not a fully sentient being, I suppose. You’re mine now. So how am I going to get down. I mean, if I was you, I could just leap from limb to limb. I wouldn’t have sprained my ankle up in this tree.”

The squirrel looked at him blankly.

“Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it. I mean, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

The squirrel looked at him blankly.

How to get down? Firemen rescue cats, people climb. He of course had left his cell phone on the desk in his bedroom, so he couldn’t call for help, and jumping down wasn’t an option. He looked around for people out and about. His neighbor, two doors down, was out raking leaves in his yard. He called out to the neighbor.

“Hey Bob, can ya help me? Help me get down!”

That annoying neighbor. The two of them had never gotten on very well, and Bob couldn’t be counted on to help Billy unless there was a motivation for him to do so.

Billy and Bob weren’t yet in communication. He had to think of something. How would Peter Pan handle this? He would fly. He would never grow up. He would call on Tinker Bell. What would Superman do? Same thing. How would Star Trek characters handle this? They would probably transport themselves elsewhere. As for a mere mortal, there isn’t a whole lot to do. Or is there?

His only options were to sit in the tree for a while longer and write the greatest story ever told with all his spare time until someone came to find him, or to leap down from the tree and injure himself further.

Was anybody coming to throw stones? Maybe that had to happen first before he got rescued. Stones … stones. It dawned on him, maybe he had to do the throwing. But he didn’t have any stones. Tree limbs would have to do. He aimed a few at Bob’s yard.

Throw… arc… hit. Throw… arc… hit.

“Hey Bob, I’ve sunk your battleship!”

Bob looked up from his yardwork and got on the phone with everyone he could think of, and soon everyone in the neighborhood was bringing Billy down from that tree, including the local police.



Billy sat in a tiny jail cell, waiting for his wife to literally bail him out of his latest adventure. Lucia would be embarrassed, but she would figure out why he had needed to do what he did, even if a few misunderstandings got in the way. Fairytale wives always do.

Then, he noticed a shining white light. A beautiful woman appeared a few feet from him, with a halo of light surrounding her lithe body. She wore a low-cut blouse and a short jean skirt. Her voluptuous cleavage emitted light, rather than beholding shadows.

“What the…”

“Hell? What the hell? Is that what you’re trying to say?”

“Who are you?”

“I’m your freaking fairy Godmother, and you really jumped the gun, sir. I was coming for you.”

“But you didn’t. How could I have known you were going to come? You can’t count on magic! And you sure don’t look like one.”

“Hey, I ain’t gonna look like no frumpy old hag. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. So… there was a bit of a traffic jam on the fairie expressway, so I had a little trouble getting here. But I assure you, I was on my way!”

“You mean to tell me that you’ve got magical powers and you can’t just wish your way out of traffic?”

“Well… I mean, they’re not like human traffic jams. They’re magic traffic jams created by magical people. We kind of cancel each other out, you know. And come to think of it, I stop traffic wherever I go.”

“So are you gonna get me out of here?”

“No, I can’t really do that, because you had the power to do that all along. It’s kind of against the rules.”

“Don’t pull a Wizard of Oz on me now. Couldn’t Cinderella have made it on her own if she really wanted to? Get me out of here!”

“The thing is, Cinderella was in a bad domestic situation. We’re really sensitive to those sorts of things because they can escalate into something much worse. There’s no way she could have gotten all that bling for the ball on our own. She needed our help. Whereas you, your wife could bail you out. See, this is totally different.”

“Oh for crying out loud… you’re a fairy Godmother and you bothered to show up. Help me!”

“All right, all right, hang on a sec… maybe I can work my magic after all.”

The fairy Godmother walked over to the policemen at the front desk, flirted with them a bit and handed them some dollar bills she had magically counterfeited.

She strutted back toward Billy, glowing in the tiny institutional cell.

“Good doesn’t always win out,” she said, winking as she disappeared into nothing.





4 responses

14 01 2008

Ya know, I think I wrote the Fairy Godmother like that too in something. O_O

Cute little story.

14 01 2008

I think we’ve all been tempted to make her … like that.

15 01 2008
Matt Adams

I enjoyed that…definite 100% rating. ^_^

I liked the ironic twists on standard fantasy tropes, especially when it started out so realistic. I also liked how you avoided the rather cliche and cynical ploy of having the protagonist run off with the Fairy Godmother. =)

27 01 2008

I’m glad you liked it! Thanks much.

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