Literature 9-23-2008

miniStories: “On Telling Her” by David Doody

David Doody's winning flash fiction, "On Telling Her about the Short Story 'On Wanting to Get Three Walls Up Before She Gets Home,'" is a funny little meta-fiction gem about love, writing, and home improvement.


On Telling Her about the Short Story “On Wanting to Get Three Walls Up Before She Gets Home”

They were in the city standing on a dock jutting out over a lake, the walkways around which were bustling as usual, though where they stood–about five feet apart–him nervously pulling himself to and pushing himself from the railing of the dock, they were pretty well left alone. The exception: two young girls sitting with their feet dangling in the water lapping close to the shore; far enough to be inaudible to them and them to the girls. It was in this moment of relative seclusion that he told her that when they had been together he had had conscious thoughts of a desire to do something great for her, so that she might be impressed with him and his ability to deal with this world; so that she could be proud when speaking of him to others.

As he stood, trying to be, and for the most part successfully being, confident, he told her of a short story where a man hopes to erect three walls of a shed before his wife returns home from some errand or another, so that she will be impressed by his ability to build. In his use of the story in relation to him in relation to her, he hoped to show her that others too felt this way, that he had not been alone in his desire to be special in the life of a woman.

His words, his attempts to explain this desire, had always failed to hold the urgency he needed them to. So, he would use the words of others—stories, poems, song lyrics—and wish later that he had used the words of many others: quoted limitlessly the ways in which men have, over the centuries, been confident in a woman, and, through her, in themselves.

In that moment, however, he would use his own words. He would tell her how he was able to strive for greatness when he was with her, whereas before he sunk in bogs of mediocrity. He would look and, as confidently as he could in his state of shock brought on by having seen her again, say, “Because I still love you.” And he would walk away thinking she may have understood his desire to be great for her. As simplistic as it may be, he thought she might get it. As muddled as his words may make it, he thought she may understand.

About the author: David Doody is the co-founder and co-editor of InDigest Magazine, an online literary magazine. His writing and interviews have appeared in Guernica Magazine, The Minnesota Twins Yearbook, in|ur Magazine, and InDigest, among other places. He keeps an online home at