Lions, tigers, and … lizards?
by Lorien E. Menhennett
Some time ago, I wrote a post about Ernest Hemingway’s use of the so-called “six-word story,” its explosion on the Internet, and my own attempt at a tiny tale. Good six-word stories, like Hemingway’s, convey an entire world with only a few strokes of the pen (or keyboard). Writers accomplish this by what they do say – the imagery and feelings they conjure directly – as well as what they don’t – the questions and curiosity they raise.
You want to know more. But there is no more. It’s delightfully frustrating.
Here is my second attempt at a six-word story. After you take in the words, think about your own interpretation. What do you think the backstory is? Then scroll down to find out what it’s really about.
There’s a lizard in my underwear!
So. Where did your mind rush to when you read those words?
Those of you who know me well may have guessed that like all of my writing on this blog, this, too, stems from reality.
I fail at fiction. Trust me. I’ve tried.
This is truth.
In fact, these very words flew from my mouth in a gasp (or maybe a growl?) of surprise this morning as I was about to sit down and drink my morning coffee.
I’m in rural Uganda. There’s a washing machine here, but no dryer. I’d gone out to enjoy my coffee on the back patio. Where, I discovered, my recently laundered undergarments were hanging, ruffling in the breeze. One had slipped to the brick floor of the patio. I stooped to pick it up and lay it across the bars of the metal clothes rack. As I did so, something small and black flopped out.
“A stick,” I postulated.
And then the stick moved. Darted is more like it.
I saw it in one spot, near my foot. Then a quick black blur, and my black stick was suddenly 6 inches away. And then another 6 inches. And another.
I realized my so-called “stick” had legs. I know it actually did have legs because when it paused briefly, and I counted them: Tiny. Four.
I grabbed my phone, the journalist in my dying to capture the evidence. In a stroke of pure luck, my hurried snapshot caught the critter next to an actual stick (a brown one) that was the same length as the lizard. That picture, and a picture of my left hand next to the same stick to provide scale, are below.
These two words, “lizard” and “underwear,” are words I never thought I’d hear in the same sentence. This is certainly not an autobiographical tale I ever planned to tell. Or yell. Or think! Not anywhere. Not even in Uganda, where I’ve learned that anything can happen.
In these anything-can-happen environments, people always tell you to “expect the unexpected.” But if it’s unexpected, how can you expect it?
After today, I know that you really can’t.