Small and Cold

(written 10/25/91; Webbed 10/12/95)

Small. And cold. They were small and cold. And green. But that was all. There was nothing more to it than that.

Some of them, admittedly, were round; others were oblong, or ovoid, or shaped like a cross between the number 23 crosstown bus and a bar of soap. With just a hint of a Smith-Corona typewriter thrown in.

But all of them were small. And cold.

“Far and few,” they sang to each other, “far and few.” It was a feeble attempt to keep warm, this singing was. Warm and large. That’s how it made them feel. They were one warm large unified mass when they sang “Far and few, far and few.” But they were still green, even then. And some were round, and others oblong, or ovoid.

There came a time, in that cold small place, when they (who were cold and small themselves still, individually, despite their singing) were indeed far and few; and they became colder, and smaller, as they huddled deep within themselves. Some even became greener. And yet, still, indomitable, they sang.

Once, one attempted a new song. “Many and close! Many and close!” it caroled. It interrupted the dolorous warm, large sound of others singing “Far and few, far and few.” This new sound was harsh and bright, clear and alone, cold and sharp. The others ignored it to the best of their abilities.


This was simply a ten-minute timed-writing exercise—put pen to paper and don’t stop writing for ten minutes no matter what. It obviously owes something to Edward Lear—“Far and few, far and few, are the lands where the Jumblies live / Their heads were green and their hands were blue, and they went to sea in a sieve.”

As with the other exercises I’m publishing here, this isn’t intended to be a complete story and hasn’t been revised at all (even for spelling or grammar) since writing. Though I edited it while I was originally writing it—crossing out phrases, making false starts, and so on.