Contest #186 winner 🏆

259 comments

Bedtime Funny Kids

(This uses a triangular sequence to determine the number of words per line, and per paragraph https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangular_number. A couple of the longer lines seem to wrap as well - not clear how to resolve that with this editor.)





Mouse!





In

my house.





I

know not

whence it came.





Eyes

beady eyes

glare at me

and whiskers chuff away.





“Shoo!”

I shout

and heavily stomp.

“Get you gone now,

beast, and forever hie away.”





“No,”

it squeaks;

its nose twitches,

“It cannot be done,

I’m so sorry to say.”

And I’m perplexed and ever vexed.





“What?”

I wonder.

“How dare you?

What insolence is this?”

Such a cheeky little mouse

defying me in my own house,

I simply cannot stomach this at all.





“Cheese,

please sir,

I beg you,”

says the fluffy runt.

“I am poor and famished,

and you have so much bounty.

Just a little nibble, tittle, and jot,

a slice of yellow heaven, a pungent triangle.”





Cheese,

of course

it’s always cheese.

I feel pity swell.

I cut a cheddar chunk,

an orange sliver, crumbly and sharp,

and hand it to the starving rodent.

“There there, of course, a triangle is fair.

And now you’ve had your fill my friend, adieu.”





“Thanks,”

it says,

and then: “But.”

But? Is there more?

“What of my wife, sir?

She’s dwindling fast, the poor lass,

and dearly needs a bite as well.”

A hungry wife? Well that’s certainly no good.

I grab my knife and measure the cheddar anew.

“Camembert, sir, if you please. Her tastes are quite refined.”





Again

I slice,

and give away.

“Is that all then?”

The mouse pockets the cheese

and squeaks, “I’ve two children also.”

I sigh and raise my knife again.

“Gouda for my girl Eileen, her favourite kind,

and brie, my boy Maurice – he can’t do without.”

I cut again and once more, my cupboard running bare,

my plans for French soup abandoned, and my toast left unadorned.





“More,”

he squeaks.

“I’ve cousins some,

arriving from all over,

and aunts and uncles too.

A mouse-ish wedding we will have

so cut and cut more triangles, sir,

of edam, feta, parmesan, and gruyere and blue,

and for the kids, a queso sauce, and cream–”

I scream! My shaking hand cramps from the endless cutting.

“How many more?” I fretfully ask. “How many kin have you?”

“Oh more, sir, a great deal so, from countries far and wide.”





Squeaks

and chitters

fill the air,

a thousand tiny feet.

Around me are a legion,

a million mice carpet my home

and drape the walls with beady eyes

and swishing cobra tails. They sniff and whisker

and debate which cheeses are best, and argue ceaselessly.

Then I hear my guest, “Keep cutting sir! More cheese!

We need halloumi by the load and much Havarti and Swiss.

Cottage by the bucket, and Muenster by the barrel. And above all

we need the cheese – that glorious, sumptuous, blissful cheese – that everyone calls cake.”





Sweat

drips into

my sorry eyes,

I hack my knife

so hard the counter splits.

The mice, they cheer and jeer

and hurry me along. Each new cheese

I cut into a slice and then again

diagonally; two perfect triangles filling the mice with glee.

“More!” they shout, their squeak a roar, a deafening tide

of joy. “More, sir, don’t lag behind! We hunger ever so!”

They pass me a new, bigger knife, and tip my fridge over,

and produce a better cutting board – big, industrial and made of stainless steel

– and shout “Our appetite keeps growing! Just cut and cut again, another cheesy triangle!”





Another

cheesy triangle!?

What to do?

My arm goes numb

and my back aches so.

I cannot keep this pace up,

but my guests do goad me on.

I fear what happens when I run out

the last of all my cheese. Will that sate

the little beasts? Or will their hunger just keep growing?

Each time I blink there’s even more mice by the dozen.

They walk on stilts and fill the air, hanging from tiny ropes,

a million million eyes on me. They bet each time another triangle’s cut

to see who gets the prize; and those who don’t just roar their ire:

“Cut faster, man, and harder! More triangles for us today! You’ve done okay so far.”





“Mouse!”

I cry.

“How much more?”

“More and ever more,”

he says, and they cheer.

“I’ve given you an inch already–”

“–and we’ll have a mile. You see,

we like your home and we’d simply hate

if we had to chew the walls. You agree?”

I don’t want them in my walls, yes, I concur

that cheese is the better of the two. “And,” he says,

“a small known fact: that mice, though small, are fond of meat.”

Of meat? I wonder what they mean. What next? A slice of ham?

Or chicken drumstick, turkey leg, bacon rasher, sausage, steak or big tin of spam?

My fridge is nearly empty as it is, and held little more than my cheese.

I may have a can or two of sardines in the basement, or tuna and beans.





Silence,

I note

all around me.

Not a single squeak,

peep, chirp, snuffle, or twitch.

All ten billion eyes on me.

“Meat,” says the mouse, “my good sir.”

And all their mouths drip with fresh saliva.

“No hard feelings, sir, but we’ll have our fill.

Keep the triangles of cheese coming, and cut them well,

or we’ll gnaw the cutter who’s surpassed his purpose. It’s recycling.”

My throat’s gone dry, I swallow hard, and get back to slicing.

I feel their eyes crawl on my skin and hear their slobber drip.

How did I get into this mess? How did the day turn so awry?

The sun was nice this morning and I never feared that today I would die.

I ponder all the plans left unfulfilled, as I cut another triangle and toss it to

the mass of mice. Another dozen slices of smooth mozzarella, another score or two of crumbly asiago –





Out.

Of cheese.

I swallow hard.

The tense mice shift,

my fridge a barren void.

“Thank you, sir,” says the mouse.

“You’ve done quite well, but that’s all.

We’d love more cheese, but now we’ll feast–”

“Wait!” I cry, interrupting the beast. “A moment please.”

“Well?” he arches an irritated eyebrow. “What is it then?

Hurry now, for our stomachs rumble so, and our young hunger.”

Think fast! I think I’ve done my good deed for the day

and don’t relish ending up a mousy meal. But what can I do?

There’s a billion billion of them, stacked so tight they run floor to ceiling.

If only I had more cheese for just another triangle or two. But that’s it!

“Mouse!” I say. “There is more cheese!” He frowns and scans the fridge, empty and lifeless.

“Not here, but at the store! I’ll grab my wallet and drive down, and return with more!”

The mice agree, and I flee across the sea. And the house, I put up for sale, as-is.

February 18, 2023 22:56

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259 comments

Ren Sabo
19:43 Mar 06, 2023

This is genius! I studied math in college so I love what you did here. This is a masterpiece story.

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Michał Przywara
20:52 Mar 06, 2023

Thanks, Ren! I appreciate it :)

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Philip Ebuluofor
15:53 Mar 06, 2023

Congrats.

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Michał Przywara
15:59 Mar 06, 2023

Thank you :)

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Philip Ebuluofor
16:29 Mar 06, 2023

Welcome.

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Alexey Williams
22:38 Mar 05, 2023

The layout of the text was perfect for the crescendo effect the story has. Even the mice become more bold and sinister as the story progresses. I highly enjoyed reading it.

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Michał Przywara
00:00 Mar 06, 2023

Thank you, Alexey! The triangles were a challenge, but yeah, they do add a nice effect to the story. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Catherine Weed
22:23 Mar 05, 2023

The form you picked is perfect for the tale, and you kept my attention throughout!

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Michał Przywara
23:57 Mar 05, 2023

Thanks, Catherine :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Nona Yobis
21:02 Mar 05, 2023

Congrats on the win!

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Michał Przywara
22:15 Mar 05, 2023

Thank you, Nona!

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Aron Niguse
12:45 Mar 05, 2023

Wonderful, I like it

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Michał Przywara
16:01 Mar 05, 2023

Thanks Aron! I'm glad to hear that :)

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Kelsey Mathias
01:23 Mar 05, 2023

Oh my...now I am hungry for cheese! You've got me in a triangular ambush of joy! Thank you for a tasty tale. Reminds me of...If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Your story should be published in a book for kids and everyone, mice, too! What a job for an illustrator! Congratulations on your win Michal...or is it now Mice-al!

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Michał Przywara
18:13 Mar 05, 2023

Ha, thanks Kelsey :) A number of people have made that suggestion - perhaps I'll have to give it some serious thought. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate the feedback!

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Mary Ann Ford
22:41 Mar 04, 2023

Wow! It felt like as the triangle grew the intensity grew. It kept me going all the way. Amazing.

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Michał Przywara
23:15 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Mary Ann! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Congratulations on the win, Michał! I was so happy to see it! You did well with the mathematical sequence, and I like the way the triangle format is directly tied to the cheesy triangles in the story. It read like a poem. I like the title, too. The simple exclamation is a good sum-up of the story. Also, Hannah’s right, this does turn a bit to horror. I question your ‘bedtime’ tag. As soon as the mouse said “Meat,” and the protagonist started wondering what kind, I suspected the truth. To top it off, and turn it back a little towards the ...

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Michał Przywara
17:59 Mar 05, 2023

Thanks, Guadalupe! I suppose a little horror before bedtime is an aquired taste :) Happy to hear the end was relieving though, and that you enjoyed the story! I appreciate you leaving your thoughts :)

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15:53 Mar 04, 2023

Just the best way to start a day, a story this way, sublime SIR, I must say, give me MORE (stories, not cheese and def. not the mice). LOL. Better than great and I'm glad I didn't enter as nothing could beat this win! But, the "moral" of the story doesn't sit well, but, then, the truth never does and, like people mice would prob. be more ruthless in paying back a kindness (although in the story they talk, they are still animals, after all). I always love when you win cause the story is so great. Oddly, all the times I happen to stop and read...

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Michał Przywara
16:57 Mar 04, 2023

Thanks, Jeneane! The moral - I think it might be about ground rules. I've heard countless stories of someone doing a favour for someone, and that favour then turns into two, and then into expectation and entitlement. A lot of us have a tendency to want to help others, to feel useful - but unfortunately there's others who all too readily exploit that. I guess a big part of life is figuring out the balance here, just like most things :) Yes, this is the second win, though there've been some short lists between them. I've no plans for an anth...

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Veronika Jordan
14:09 Mar 04, 2023

Congratulations. It was brilliant.

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Michał Przywara
15:18 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Veronika!

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Chris Morris
09:57 Mar 04, 2023

I have a new favourite story of yours, Michal! Not on Reedsy much these days, but came back to congratulate you and the others from our little group. I agree with what Deidra said about getting some images for this and putting a book together. I can see little cheese triangles with your words in them. I'd buy it! Going to read this to my 7-year-old tonight. I'll let you know what she thinks!

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Michał Przywara
15:17 Mar 04, 2023

Heh, thanks Chris :) Hopefully she enjoys it :)

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Sinbad Omorodion
09:41 Mar 04, 2023

This was immensely fun to read. And it shows me I really have a long way to go as a writer.

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Michał Przywara
15:16 Mar 04, 2023

Thanks Sinbad! We get there one word at a time, and I think all of us can always improve :)

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Belladona Vulpa
09:35 Mar 04, 2023

That was amazing, reminded me of a bedtime story indeed. Amazing that you were able to keep the form, really engaging and enjoyable read. I was growing annoyed by the greedy demands of the mouse. Smart what you did there, as readers we empathize with the person cutting the cheese. I absolutely loved the ending :)

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Michał Przywara
15:14 Mar 04, 2023

Thanks, Belladona! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Irene Duchess
05:06 Mar 04, 2023

Congratulations!! I recoiled from this prompt--math is not for me. this one gave me a laugh, though. :)

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Michał Przywara
15:11 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Lilah :)

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Vincent Moser
04:47 Mar 04, 2023

Incredibly well done. I very much enjoyed reading this! You are definitely a worthy winner!

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Michał Przywara
04:55 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Vincent!

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Nicolia Vypieski
03:44 Mar 04, 2023

Sounds like the issues with the southern border. First just one, then more, before you know it we will seek new shore.

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Michał Przywara
04:24 Mar 04, 2023

Oh, that's an interesting take! Not something I had considered. Thanks for reading!

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Valerie Shand
03:26 Mar 04, 2023

Wow! Your skill in writing meets or surpasses your skill in math. My mind boggles! I was entertained, and scared, by the subject of your story, and the fact that you could write it in triangles just overwhelms my capacity to understand how you did that. But do it, you did, and enjoy it, I did. Thank you!!

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Michał Przywara
16:42 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Valerie! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Tommy Goround
02:19 Mar 04, 2023

Just saw. Nice job. Clapping.

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Michał Przywara
03:05 Mar 04, 2023

Thanks mate :)

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Chris Campbell
01:30 Mar 04, 2023

Michal, Congrats on winning this week's contest. This was a very lyrical - almost poetic, well-crafted story. It is a stark commentary on how things can quickly get out of hand. The mouse offers nothing in return except more mouths to feed, then threatens the provider of food with retribution, when he runs out of cheese. The wisest thing would have been to eliminate the mouse at the start. No mouse, no problem; however, how does one refuse a seemingly innocuous starving animal? We are inherently programmed to feed the hungry or aid the ...

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Michał Przywara
16:24 Mar 04, 2023

Thanks, Chris! "Those at the far right, could easily use your piece" - oh no! Definitely not the intent, but I can see the line of reasoning. Only after I had submitted it did it occur to me, it could be seen as a "sharing is bad, kids" fable. I had actually been in mind of Roald Dahl's stories, where the endings weren't necessarily happy for everyone. Oh well. People will draw what meaning they will. I appreciate the feedback, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Chris Campbell
17:11 Mar 04, 2023

It was just tongue-in-cheek food for thought. A very clever piece.

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