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

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

259 comments

Delia Tomkus
00:27 Mar 04, 2023

I only discovered this after you were announced as the winner, and you are most certainly deserving of the title. This is so different from other things I've read, and really gave me a cool, different perspective of writing. I love how innocent the story was at the start, before it progressively became more intense. Wonderful job!

Reply

Michał Przywara
00:29 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Delia! That's exactly what I was going for - innocent to sinister :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

I'm so happy to see that you have won! I remember reading 10 Days to Mindfulness after it also won! I love this story a lot, it definitely feels like it should be illustrated for a children's book. I actually have been trying to illustrate a children's book on Canva, and I can definitely say it is enjoyable and a good use of imagination. I like how it started off with little triangles and got progressively bigger and bigger. This whole story with the prose felt like poetry, the way it had a rhythm to it. It was really good!

Reply

Michał Przywara
16:05 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you, Wisteria! Yeah, the "beat" of the story felt like it kept pushing towards poetry. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
00:11 Mar 04, 2023

Well done!

Reply

Michał Przywara
00:30 Mar 04, 2023

Thanks :D

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
L J
00:03 Mar 04, 2023

Everything about this is amazing, This was the only prompt I didn't consider because I don't even know what it means!!. It is extremely complicated and you aced it! I can see why you won. Nice job (I can't even pronounce it.. Fibi..Fibi.)..lol Thank you for showing me something new

Reply

Michał Przywara
00:30 Mar 04, 2023

Ha, thanks L J! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kendall Defoe
23:42 Mar 03, 2023

I really don't know what to say about this one, so let me congratulate you on the win. Guess that I really have to try again. And I not much of a math-lover (no slur on you, brother). Great to see you get all the cheese this week! 🧀

Reply

Michał Przywara
23:44 Mar 03, 2023

Hah, that's awesome :) Thanks, Kendall! I appreciate it :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Delbert Griffith
22:45 Mar 03, 2023

Dude! Congratulations on the well-deserved win! I loved loved loved the triangular sequence and how you molded an incredible story within it. Just wonderful, my friend!

Reply

Michał Przywara
23:40 Mar 03, 2023

Thanks! It was a fun story to write :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
22:33 Mar 03, 2023

Congratulations on the win!!! Was this the contest where you get expert feedback? I do hope it's extremely useful - what a great prize! Well done!

Reply

Michał Przywara
23:08 Mar 03, 2023

Thanks! And yes :D

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Richard E. Gower
22:31 Mar 03, 2023

Hit it over the fence. Congratulations.:-)

Reply

Michał Przywara
23:08 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Wynette Worthy
21:13 Mar 03, 2023

Bravo!! I love this story! It was so unique and funny! I can see my grands loving this story at bedtime!

Reply

Michał Przywara
21:20 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you, Wynette! That makes me happy to hear :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Marty B
20:53 Mar 03, 2023

Well deserved- Congrats! Hope you get as good of feedback as you give!

Reply

Michał Przywara
20:56 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you, Marty!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kynlee Myth
20:19 Mar 03, 2023

Way to go Michal! Congrats on the win! This is a great way to use the prompt, a triangular sequence connecting to the triangles of cheese. Definitely got a little dark in the end, but in a good way. I'm impressed! Just followed you so I can read amazing future stories! Job well done!

Reply

Michał Przywara
20:28 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you, Kynlee! Yes, just a little dark :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Tara Leigh Parks
20:19 Mar 03, 2023

Congratulations!

Reply

Michał Przywara
20:32 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Helen A Smith
20:01 Mar 03, 2023

Congratulations Michal 🍷

Reply

Michał Przywara
20:31 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you, Helen!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Faith Yanai
19:57 Mar 03, 2023

I love this story, its poetry, the triangle formatting and the wonderful way in which you evoke emotions of pity, horror and relief. I don’t know if you intended this but the final sentence made me laugh.

Reply

Michał Przywara
20:30 Mar 03, 2023

Thanks Faith! Heh, actually I thought the ending was a little funny too. Take an opportunity to scram, sell the thing, and now it's someone else's problem :) Not nice perhaps, but sometimes it's just easier to run.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jane Andrews
19:19 Mar 03, 2023

Michal, this was so clever and absolutely hilarious - the way the mice kept multiplying in tandem with the numbers of words and lines had similar nightmarish vibes to the rapidly multiplying brooms in Disney's version of 'The Sorceror's Apprentice' in 'Fantasia' or the 'pink elephants' scene in 'Dumbo'. This was a well-deserved win.

Reply

Michał Przywara
00:28 Mar 04, 2023

Thanks, Jane! Yes, I did picture the Fantasia scene for a while, while writing :) A memorable movie. I appreciate the feedback!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Gabriela Wels
18:35 Mar 03, 2023

Good job! It was funny, and then it just got progressively more and more intense, like a feverish dream of some sort. I'm glad no one died at the end!

Reply

Michał Przywara
18:43 Mar 03, 2023

Yes! Feverish dream is an excellent way of looking at it :) Thank you, Gabriela!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Aeris Walker
18:32 Mar 03, 2023

When I first saw this prompt about incorporating a math sequence into the structure, I would have bet money that you would take on the challenge. Not only was I right, but you hit it out out of the park! This was truly a pleasure to read—really fun and imaginative, with a lilting “bounce” to it. I could imagine the shape of it stretching out sort of like a pyramid if it was on a larger document, but amazing job making this structure work while also telling a fabulous tale. Perfect ending. Congratulations on the win!! So fitting for your o...

Reply

Michał Przywara
18:52 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you! That bounce - the structure seemed to demand it. If I ever rivisited this, or a similar thing, I think I would double down on it. I'm glad it was enjoyable, and yeah, very nice one-year surprise :D

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Wendy Rogers
18:31 Mar 03, 2023

Congratulations! What a challenge this one was, you did such a great job using the mathematical prompts in your story!

Reply

Michał Przywara
19:51 Mar 03, 2023

Thanks, Wendy! It was a fun challenge indeed :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Viga Boland
17:59 Mar 03, 2023

CONGRATULATIONS on winning contest #186. You certainly received glowing praise from the primary prompt judge. Excellent!

Reply

Michał Przywara
18:17 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you, Viga! It was a lovely surprise :)

Reply

Viga Boland
18:32 Mar 03, 2023

That’s the second one for you now plus several shortlists. Kudos!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Laurel Hanson
17:50 Mar 03, 2023

Congrats! Well deserved.

Reply

Michał Przywara
17:54 Mar 03, 2023

Thanks! :D

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.