Our families introduced us the day before we were to be married. I picked a mango from the tree in the garden, ripe and golden like a little sun, to bring to you. Your door was locked. I pressed my ear to it. The nib of your pen stuttered as you furiously scratched your heart onto paper. Then, another sound. Something unfolding. Something being torn. I crept away and stayed downstairs, listening to you stomp overhead. A door opened and slammed. The babble of the bath running. Later, the squeal and gurgle as it emptied. When I brushed my teeth before bed I found soft, white feathers clinging to the rim of the tub. I went back to your door and pressed my ear to it. Again, the strange, papery rustling. The next morning, I made jasmine tea and brought you a steaming cup. Your door was ajar, and your window was open. The dress hung in the light, made of paper, hemmed with the drowned remains of your inky words. The curtains billowed and fell in the quiet breeze. Soft, white feathers scattered across the floor.
A photo. A story. A tiny tale.
Tiny Tales is a project I created using Instagram to combine visual storytelling with bite-sized fiction.
This is how it works: I choose a photo that I’ve taken on my travels and subvert my memory of it by writing a short story of an alternate memory it might have in a fictional life.
For example, the first bluebell woodland I saw in bloom in England is the place young love stays unrequited.
A dress made of paper I swooned over at an art exhibition is a woman’s protest, and farewell.
A donkey I became best friends with in a Bulgarian village is an old man’s dead lover.
The stories range in length. All are less than 500 words. Each one is a flash of what might have been. They are a photo, a story, a tiny tale.
Want to give it a try?
Pick a photo from your camera roll, or even an analog album (oh, the magic!) and imagine what other story it might tell than the one you know.
If you’re on Instagram and feel like sharing the story of your photo, mention @hollygoeslightly and hashtag #tellingtinytales – I’d so love to see your tiny tale and share them here.