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Long Story Short · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Cat is a marvelous language. Volumes can be said by the angle of an ear, or just what body part it is that needs urgent grooming.

Some messages are simple; loud meowing by an empty food dish is hard to mistake. By comparison, only masters can tell the difference between a eagerly desired belly rub, and a viciously barbed hand trap, and even then not reliably.

Kitten eyes fell squarely in the first category, especially when backed up by a snow white coat and dainty meow. It all made for an underhanded, but brutally effective combination, employed indiscriminately on passers-by.

“Oh, honey, look! She's sooo cute! Let's buy her.”

“Of course it was a nonsense proposition,” the man at the bar intoned, gesturing expansively from his seat with a half-empty glass. His efforts were underappreciated, the room sparsely populated as it was, mid-afternoon on a weekday. The bags under the fellow’s bloodshot eyes didn't help, though his rumpled suit was tailored well enough to keep the bartender’s attention.

The bartender didn't skip a beat as he polished glasses, his raised an eyebrow the only sign he was keeping up with the conversation. That was all the encouragement the fellow needed to gulp down his drink and continue.

“You see, we have no provision for a cat. She just saw the little fuzzball in the store window as we were passing by. A minute before she was going on and on about clothes. Not the slightest mention of any sort of pet ever before. Now, logically-”

The bartender set another drink before him, cutting off his diatribe. “So you bought the cat.”

The man glowered at the drink for a moment before snatching it up and looking away. “Well of course I did. What else could I do?”

The bartender chuckled. “Women and cats - they get what they want. That's just how it is.”

The man leaned back in his chair swirling the drink before taking a sip. “Joke's on her, though. I'll get a dog, too.”

Upright ears can be a sign of happiness, especially when paired with half-lidded eyes as these were. They quivered ever so slightly as muffled barking was cut off by the slam of a car door. An engine revved, and then quiet descended, enough to hear faint purring.

Footsteps approached. “Well, that's the last of it. Good riddance to the both of them, isn't that right, Snowball?”
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#1 · 1
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Ratlab
I give this two meows out of one bark.

Not sure of what happens at the end. I believe the woman got rid of both her husband and his dog, right?.

Even with that, the only thing I think this entry emphasises is that cats and dogs don't get along. Aside from a smile and a chuckle, I didn't get much else. If that was what you aimed for, then congratulations.
#2 · 1
· · >>Ratlab
I lean more towards a break up brought up by their pets. Rock solid relationship right there. Otherwise, what Fenton said.
#3 ·
· · >>Ratlab
Well I don’t really see the point of the first part. I don’t disagree with what’s exposed within it, but I don’t really see how it fits into the story. You could redact it, and the story would be the same.

There are clunky sentences at the beginning of the second part, which seems to have been rewritten/edited in a hurry.

The rest is fine, and the end is a nice twist, but the rest of the story is, well, sorta meh.
#4 · 1
· · >>Ratlab
What a dick.

I think I can see what you're going for metaphorically with the first section, but, on the whole, I don't think it particularly gels with the remainder of the story and ends up using a lot of words to fairly minimal effect. The heart of this story is in exploring this totally fucked relationship and I think the words would be better served being put to that purpose. It is a cute little comparative setup, I just don't think it is quite cute enough to justify its inclusion.

In the end I kinda feel something is lacking here, and it might honestly this works better as something approaching micro fiction rather than flash fiction. It actually incorporates the prompt super well, to the point the everything outside the core to me actually ends up feeling a bit like padding. This is a particular abbreviated version of a breakup story that neatly incapsulates why the guy is a fucking tosser.
#5 ·
· · >>Ratlab
That last paragraph really threw me off. Door closes - engine revs - then footsteps? Is someone approaching a cat driving a car? Is the car revving it's engine by itself? What? Upon re-reading, I decided that the girl took his dog and left. Good riddance is probably right; she sounds like a jerk, if she just demands a kitten and expects him to give her whatever she wants. Probably took his car too.

The 'cat language' stuff is a cute gimmick, but I don't feel like it's really pulling its weight.

While this fits the prompt and does contain something like a full story, it's not having much of an emotional impact on me. I somewhat dislike both characters, and didn't feel really invested in either of them. It's a story I guess?
#6 · 1
· · >>Ratlab
I feel if the theme of body language was emphasised throughout (e.g. human body language instead of auditory information in the final section) and the first and final sections were from a human perspective rather than a cat's, or instead if the whole story was from the cat's perspective, the pieces of this story might fit together more effectively. As it is, it feels disjointed.
#7 ·
· · >>Ratlab
When this started, I thought it was going to be like Ted Chiang's "The Great Silence," one of my very favorite short stories. This was not that. Count me in with the group that doesn't understand the ending. The only way it seems like it the joke could land is if both the humans left somehow, leaving just the animals to take over the house, Animal Farm-style. But I get the impression that the dog has left, so...
#8 ·
· · >>Ratlab
Unlike many readers, I actually chuckled at the ending. Having this semi-serious examination of body language and personal relationships end with the wife ditching the man and dog was a humorous swerve. I also enjoyed how the cat seemed to be aware of what’s going on, showing an almost devilish enjoyment of the final events. It really paints a picture of the deviousness many cats have and shows Snowball in a more questionable light.

That being said, I think this is a story that was written with two different ideas in mind. The opening and closing feel like an attempt to really understand animal behavior, while the next one is an interlude about personal relationships and is there to explain what’s actually happening. To me, that’s a sign that the bookends of the story aren’t effective enough, given how they require a character to stop and recite dialogue to give us a clearer picture of what’s happening. And while I get that the style shifts are meant to be comedic, the change didn’t feel organic enough to make the shift work. There needs to be a certain consistency within a written work in regards to tone, even between style shifts, and this story didn’t have a solid enough tone to make the shifts feel natural.

A firm concept, but one that needs a firmer tone and a more graceful shift between sections.
#9 ·
Congratulations to our medalists!

As to Felines, this wasn't exactly my greatest performance, but it ended up not placing as badly as I feared.

Most of all, thank you >>Fenton, >>Zaid Val'Roa, >>Monokeras, >>AndrewRogue, >>Not_A_Hat, >>Astrarian, >>Dubs_Rewatcher, and >>libertydude for your comments.

Unfortunately, as is all too often the case, there were some serious mistakes from the very beginning. You see, my intent was for it to end with the girlfriend taking the dog, and him keeping the cat. Re-reading the story after seeing the first comment was basically a facepalm moment, as I never write a word indicating that the human was the man.

Of course that wouldn't have completely salvaged things; the other main issue raised was that the cat perspective/human action of the story don't really gel, either. So yeah, it'd need a fair bit of work.

Regardless, thank you all again for the feedback!