Drabble Lab round 3: Growth.

This round of Drabble Lab made me grin, because there were so many repeating themes. You know you write for a wonderfully skeptical audience when the prompt of ‘truth’ yields stories mostly about the fallibility of human reason and the possible reality of totally implausible situations. In short, in most of these stories, there was no truth. And that was awesome. Once again, I recommend everyone check back at the thread so you can read every drabble – they’re all great, and there was a very clever late entry which maybe even the people participating haven’t seen. But without further ado, here are the runners up:

I was drawn to this one, by Ryan, because I can so perfectly imagine the final line slurred, emphatic, and barely comprehensible.

“Reality is subjective. Objective truth, if such a thing can even be said to exist, must grind through our inherently imperfect senses and subsequently be processed by our primitive brain and seasoned by the biases built up through our many experiences. The truth as we understand it is a salami of what is real, a bologna of fact. The realities of the universe, as perceived by humans, are indistinguishable from hallucination.”
“How’d she respond to that?” queried the gentleman to my right as he signaled the barkeep, who refused us another round.
“I am now, subjectively, sleeping on the couch.”

This one, by Kayleigh LeBlanc, touches a common theme of childhood fantasy and childhood misbehavior, and I can just see the long-suffering face of the older interlocutor at the end of the exchange.

“Rufus used to be a pirate.” Her little voice said plainly; an incontrovertible fact.
“Is that so?”
She nodded solemnly, her small hand tightening around two of my fingers. “He told me so. And cats never lie.”
I watched the cat burying his face against the sofa, purring as Sophie ran her clumsy hand down his back. “Who told you that? I wouldn’t trust anything a cat says.”
She frowned, looking up at me with consternation. “What about the dog?”
“Dogs are usually pretty honest.” I admitted.
“Well the dog told me it was him that drew on the wall.”

And this one, by Anne S., is remarkable because it is barely fiction, which is rare in a drabble.

The hashtag started trending in record time. The tweets are coming hard and fast now, faster than she can refresh her feed. Each new string of 140 characters or less is more urgent, more graphic, more dramatic than the last. Teachers, lawyers, middle schoolers, dishwashers, plant managers—everyone is a journalist tonight. And if they aren’t journalists, they’re analysts—giving meaning to the events as they unfold, revising theories to match new information, or on a whim. She knows their sources aren’t good, even the eye witnesses. But she can’t tear herself away. Breaking news is breaking news, after all.

The winner, by Breadbox, is a classic drabble: starting out with careful imagery, embellishing for just a bit, and ending with a punch line. And it was such a cute punch line. Here’s the illustration, and the drabble!

Illustration of the winning drabble, by Brian!
Illustration of the winning drabble, by Brian!

The Sasquatch had made no footprints on the uncarpeted floor. The short fuzzy aliens hadn’t shed any tufts of chartreuse fur in their wake. There were no dropped doubloons to show where the pirates had scurried off to, waving their pistols behind them at anything that moved. And the zombies, oddest of all, hadn’t left behind a single rotting body part or bit of partially chewed gray matter.
The kitchen linoleum wasn’t even stained.
Sylvia could only look up at her mother, narrowed eyes glaring at her over the shards of the cookie jar, and say, “But it’s the truth.”

Congrats, and thank you all for participating!

The theme for this week will be growth.

Give me your best 100-word stories, in the comments, by Friday to get an awesome illustration! Hooray!

Elizabeth Finn

Elizabeth is a geneticist working for a shady government agency and therefore obliged to inform you that all of the views presented in her posts are her own, and not official statements in any capacity. In her free time, she is an aerialist, a dancer, a clothing designer, and an author. You can find her on tumblr at, on twitter at @lysine_rich, and also on facebook or google+.

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  1. Yesterday there had been a beard on his face. Today there was none. He looked younger without it, as though his hair were suddenly less gray and his eyes more blue. His friends remarked on hos spry he seemed, but he simply smiled enigmatically. The following month they were sure something was different.
    “Are you working out?” they asked.
    “Just standing straighter” he replied.
    By the end of the year Art knew he had to say something. His friend’s old staff rested uselessly in the corner while the man himself nearly danced across the floor.
    “Merlin, are you growing younger?”

  2. (Yay, login is finally working again!) Brian G, I *love* the illustration! All the little details are great.
    But I have to say that I think elfinn’s drabble would have won, if she (presumably) hadn’t disqualified herself. I loved the introspective tone. That, followed closely by scurvygirl’s and Anne S’s, were my personal favorites.

  3. Congrats and thanks, Breadbox! I do disqualify myself – it’s not really fair for me to be entering the contest if I’m choosing the themes, much less judging it. (That doesn’t mean I won’t write some drabbles for it, though. Because that part is fun.) In any case, I don’t know that I would have have chosen differently; there were a lot of entries – Anne’s especially – that dealt with how our idea of ‘truth’ changes over time, and with more subtlety and cleverness than mine. And I absolutely loved yours. I thought of having a voting system where you guys would all vote on the drabbles and we would determine the winners that way, but it would add another week to the whole process and a whole layer of complexity. I also tried to put the decision off on the artists, but that got shot down as well. So, yeah. For now, I think this way is simplest and works just fine.

  4. My 10 year old, Zoë, has a drabble for this week that she wanted to submit. Here it is:

    Growth, by Zoë

    I don’t want to grow-up. It sounds awful and dull. I wouldn’t get as much attention.

    You know what? I’m going to put books on my head to stop me from growing!
    Oh, darn, the books fell off! Well, I wouldn’t be able to balance them on my head the rest of my life anyway.

    What if I don’t drink milk? Then my bones won’t grow!
    Darn. Mom says I have to drink milk.

    Hmm, maybe if I bonk myself on the head, that’ll do it.
    OW! Nope, that doesn’t do it.

    All well. Maybe growing isn’t bad after all.

  5. He truly was as perfect as it was possible for someone to be. His ideas, his habits — everything. Even his unfashionable clothes subtly complemented his warm personality. Really, there was nothing about him that she would change.

    Not that she had ever said as much. No, she was his silent, singlehanded cheerleeding squad. But one day she mustered her courage and sought him out, to tell him plainly.

    She found him reading a book and scratching a darkened jawline. She frowned. “Did you forget to shave, Dad?”

    “Not exactly.” He shrugged absently. “I was thinking of growing out my beard.”

  6. @breadbox: It was my absolute pleasure and it was truly fun to illustrate. I should mention that I discovered too late that I got the color of the alien wrong. But I think that purple suits the little puff-ball just as well 😉

  7. “But…what is it?” Her nose wrinkled in disgust even as she leaned in to get a closer look. It looked back at her.
    “I don’t know, I just noticed it this morning in the shower.”
    “Should you see a doctor? Or, like, a vet?”
    I lowered my arm. “Ha ha. Very funny, Lucy.”
    “It’s not funny at all, Sam.”
    “Aw, come on. What’s the big deal?”
    “What’s the big deal? You wake up with this… this thing growing in your armpit, and you’re asking me, ‘What’s the big deal?’ We sleep in the same bed, Sam. What if it’s contagious?”

  8. Root stretched and yawned. Something was approaching. This was new. Root felt a push, a pull, and a headbutt. Root had been butted by a head or headed by a butt. It was so hard to tell with worms. The worm squiggled by, tickling her, and she felt jealous of its freedom. The worm, in its arrogance, did not acknowledge her existence. Warmth spread to Root’s extremities and she swelled, spreading down while pushing up, up, up. When she broke free to the surface, the world sprawled out in symphony. Soon, Root thought, she would be Queen of the Worms.

  9. I sat on the kitchen stool and scratched my stubble with bleary-eyed confusion, shave or
    leave? Too hard a question for this early in the morning. Next to me sat three years of
    bright-eyed morning person.
    “I’m getting bigger Daddy!” She declared.
    “I can see that.” Her dangling feet were hard evidence.
    “How big are you going to get honey?”
    “As big as you….but with hair!”
    In the familial fridge gallery there’s a photo of four generations of women, each one of the
    adults is maybe an inch taller than the generation before.
    Sometimes laughter is better than truth.

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