May 20, 2008 by Tracey S. Rosenberg
Agent Nathan Bransford (man, that’s a cool title) is having a dialogue competition over at his blog, so I thought, hey, I can polish up 250 words and it will seem like actual work. Pulled out a couple of short stories and settled on the first bit of a finished-but-abandoned story titled ‘Still Life With Grapefruit’. Rewrote in the manner of Dorothy Parker, namely: ‘I cannot write five words but I must change seven.’ And here ya go:
“How can I sketch a bowl of fruit when my bowl has no fruit?”
“Blame Dr. Hopewell, the man who remembers Etruscan lineages but forgets to buy food. Have a cookie.” From my perch on the countertop, I waved the package at Doug. “Leave it to the English to describe chocolate cookies as ‘digestive.’ No wonder they all look so glum.”
“They’re called ‘biscuits’ here.” Doug swiped another line on his sketchpad.
“The English are called biscuits? They’re weirder than I thought.” I swung my legs, beating my heels against the kitchen cupboards. “Seriously, do you want one? I think it contains oats.”
Doug’s fingers clenched around his drawing pencil. “Why does Dr. Hopewell keep a lawn tennis ball in his fruit bowl? Do English people still play lawn tennis?”
“One, you’re the expert on the English; two, it’s a grapefruit; three, I’m about to eat the second-to-last cookie.”
“Grapefruits are pinky-yellowy,” he muttered, lightly sweeping his pencil to darken the shadows. The table top and its contents were clearly outlined: his keys to the flat, a tourist brochure from the Royal Academy of Arts, four straw mats, the wooden bowl. “Not shriveled and white.”
“Oh! It’s an English grapefruit, so when the sun comes out, it hides. Last cookie!” I crinkled the package at him.
“I need grapes, bananas, bursting strawberries and ripe mangos. Not biscuits and squishy pale lawn tennis balls. Hmm, still life with lawn tennis balls.”
“Anyway, isn’t drawing fruit in a bowl a bit…simple?”
I must say, there’s much more of an edge to it than ever before. I may keep going!