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Of Men and mice

by DancingFaerieChilde


I'm calling this Historical Fiction because it technically qualifies, due to the setting being on a ship. There are few details to prove it, but it is a merchant vessel, circa 1780. So, it counts. Anyway, this is a short story that I cooked up about an hour ago and, unlike a few on my others, it will stay a short story, due to the nature of the twist. So enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Of Men and Mice

I woke one morning and the sun shone bright and hot across my black hair. Oh! the morning light is glorious. I rolled around in the warmth and fell back asleep. Unfortunately, my nap didn’t last long because my boy, Richard, came in and began to tickle me. I sat up and smacked him across his face but he only laughed and buried his face in my stomach. I struggled to get out from under him so I could scurry away and look back at him reproachfully but his head was heavy and he wouldn’t let me go. I cried out and he giggled and picked me up. I hate it when he picks me up; I am not a toy. He snuggled me close and held me on his lap. It is not so bad when he just holds me. Sometimes I just want to roll in the sun away from people but I don’t mind sitting with him so long as he doesn't pick me up. I really love it when he strokes my hair and tells me that I am pretty.

Then one day, as I lay in my patch of sun, Richard came to me and stroked me like he usually does. “Oh, Mary. You’re such a pretty girl. Won’t you come away with me?” I looked at him blankly like I do when I ignore him and began to preen myself. He giggled again then swooped a burlap sack over my head. I kicked and screamed and scratched and howled as loud as I could but no help came. “I’m sorry, my pretty,” he cooed through the bag, but I was not consoled. I felt him move, swinging my bag ever so gently, as he walked. I noticed after some time that I could smell salt and I wondered what he had gotten himself into. He was young, I could tell, younger than he seemed to know himself. Nevertheless, I refused to stop screaming, despite his desperate pleas. “Shh…please, my pretty. It will be over soon. Oh, please be quiet!” No.

Soon however, like he said, it was over. I felt something hard and flat beneath me and I saw the puckered top of the sack widen and open, though no light shone through. I stood, but my steps were unsteady, and I glared at him as I crawled, disheveled, from the loose mouth of the sack. We were surrounded in darkness and my sack was set on top of a crate. Gracefully, I jumped down, but was toppled as the rocking compartment heaved. “Oh, Mary,” he whispered, pleading, “don’t be angry with me. I couldn't’t live without you.” That’s probably true, I thought, and began preening again. I may have been miserable, lost and unbalanced, but I was not going to be seen as untidy while being so.

Once I got used to what Richard called “the hold”, life was much easier. I was allowed to go above and lay in the sun. The men, hairy and smelly and fixated though they were with picking me up, were, for the most part, very nice, though they did make annoying catcalls at me every time I passed. But then they’d stroke my hair and tell me how pretty I was and I forgave them their gruffness.

I don’t know why men hate mice so much. They really are very good, if done right. I love to catch them and the men make a very good sport of watching me. They cheer and laugh, and pat me when I flounce past with my prize and sometimes they give me fish on my very own silver plate. I am the only one on deck with a silver plate.

No one on deck does anything right. It is clearly my duty to tell them what they need to do or else nothing will get done. If I see one slacking, I go right up to him and let him know that I am displeased. He will look at me sheepishly and get back to work. I am constantly climbing the ropes because these incompetent men can never stay on task. It does not do for Richard to spend so much time with them; even he must be reminded. My job is a thankless and tiring one, but someone has to do it.

Now, after a long, hard day of chasing mice, gracing the men with my presence, charming them out of their fish, keeping them on task, and napping, I will curl up on Richard’s pillow, wrap my tail neatly around my paws, and drift into sleep.


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Points: 990
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Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:19 am
eyesxsewnxopen says...



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11 Reviews


Points: 890
Reviews: 11

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Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:56 pm



Wow. Thank you so so much for critiquing my story. There are a few things that I think I cannot change.
1) I have to leave the actions as if they were human because I don't want the reader to know that the main character is a cat until the very last sentence. I'm a big fan of end twists like that; see "Kelpie".
2) Richard is not so much the owner, as he is her "boy". His character is one of the many young boys who ran away from home seeking adventure. He just took his cat with him. He is roughly twelve but age does not seem to be something with which cats often occupy themselves, so I made no note of it except that "He was young, I could tell, younger than he seemed to know himself".
3) As for the historical evidence, I could definitely add some details; remember I wrote this in an hour. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and I am no stranger to laborious research. I mostly have avoided the costume descriptions because I wasn't entirely sure yet what profession these men had; be that navy, merchant or pirate, though I do know an awful lot about pirate life, but that's neither here nor there. Thanks for your notes, though. :wink: I appreciate the help.
4) The title struck me as funny. It would have been "Of Mice and Men", seeing as she's a cat and that is what her life revolves around, but I thought that there might be a few protests so I tweaked it.
The grammar was inexcusable; I must have been typing too fast and I can change the dialogue structure.
Thanks again so much for your suggestions. Every little bit helps.




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Points: 496
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Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:45 pm
Fishr wrote a review...



Hi! Welcome to YWS! Hope you enjoy yourself here.

Couple things I noticed right way that should be changed. One, 'doesn't’t' is spelled doesn't. That goes for couldn't.

Two, the dialogue should be adjusted. Every time someone is talking, their should be a new line. Such as:

Then one day, as I lay in my patch of sun, Richard came to me and stroked me like he usually does.

“Oh, Mary. You’re such a pretty girl. Won’t you come away with me?”

I looked at him blankly like I do when I ignore him and began to preen myself. He giggled again then swooped a burlap sack over my head. I kicked and screamed and scratched and howled as loud as I could but no help came.

“I’m sorry, my pretty,” he cooed through the bag, but I was not consoled.

I felt him move, swinging my bag ever so gently, as he walked. I noticed after some time that I could smell salt and I wondered what he had gotten himself into. He was young, I could tell, younger than he seemed to know himself. Nevertheless, I refused to stop screaming, despite his desperate pleas.

“Shh…please, my pretty. It will be over soon. Oh, please be quiet!”

No.


All of the dialogue is like this in the story, so it would be awesome if you could change that. ;)

Third; the ending. The ending totally caught me off guard, lol. At first, I thought I was reading about people but it seems the story is about cats? That is very clever. So, kudos to you for an imaginative ending.

My comments:

The story itself is a little rough around the edges and needs some tweaking, like if this is indeed a story about cats catching mice, there should be more additional clues to the reader. Like I mentioned before, I originally thought this was a story about people and as I progressed through it, the story was confusing but I still enjoyed the ending. I just suggest to revise it slightly.

For an example - The sack scene:

Then one day, as I lay in my patch of sun, Richard came to me and stroked me like he usually does. “Oh, Mary. You’re such a pretty girl. Won’t you come away with me?” I looked at him blankly like I do when I ignore him and began to preen myself. He giggled again then swooped a burlap sack over my head. I kicked and screamed and scratched and howled as loud as I could but no help came. “I’m sorry, my pretty,” he cooed through the bag, but I was not consoled. I felt him move, swinging my bag ever so gently, as he walked. I noticed after some time that I could smell salt and I wondered what he had gotten himself into. He was young, I could tell, younger than he seemed to know himself. Nevertheless, I refused to stop screaming, despite his desperate pleas. “Shh…please, my pretty. It will be over soon. Oh, please be quiet!” No.
Now, that I'm pretty sure the story is about cats; a few suggestions to show the story may be about them but not spoil the ending. Instead of preening, how about licking myself?

Also, when I read this, I originally thought a man came to greet his wife and then tossed her in a bag? :lol: I was pretty confused and more so that the 'wife' seemed to be taking the situation so well. So, instead of saying, I refused to stop screaming (this is more of a human emotion; cats don't scream), how about hissing instead?

One other question. Is Richard the owner of the cat?

About the era we're in. ;) Reading the story twice, there were no clues to signal to me that we are in the eighteenth century, even though you said there were. The descriptions are very vague in that department. If indeed we're in the year (circa) 1780, people dress differently.

Although, I'm honestly not quite as familiar how shipmates wear in terms of uniforms but Firestarter might be about to help you out. He's writing historical fiction as well and his story is about a how a man adjusts on a ship in the late 1700s as well.

However, because I'm also writing in the eighteenth century, I a minor idea what shipmates would probably wear. I'm more familiar with militia combat and Infantrymen since I'm writing about the Revolution but sailors I believe would wear Monmoth caps, breeches, laced stockings, possible heavy woolen coats and possibly a cocked hat, depending if the crew member was an officer or not.

Again, Firestarter would probably be a better person to ask about clothing on a ship. I tried doing a search but couldn't find information about Monmoth caps but here's a picture anyway. Picture of Monmoth cap Through my notes, I have Monmoth caps are knitted woolen caps worn by sailors and slaves. The name is derived from one of England's great port cities and its particular associations with seafaring.

About cocked hats; a hat that is folded in usually three corners. Again, I'll just type off my notes. The cocked hat was replaced towards the end of the seventeenth century because men's wigs were impractical to wear the stylish broad-brimmed hat. In the eighteenth century, the three sided cocked hat became more of a fashion with different styles available. Beaver felt was the preferred material, including wool. Picture of militia cocked hat

Besides my notes, I found the pictures with Google. ;)

So, yes overall if this is to be a historical fiction piece, you should research so the readers will know that we are in the past but right now there is no knowledge or clues to show this to me. If there was clues, they need to be more precise.

A fair warning though, to even attempt historical fiction, you have to be absolutely dedicated. For my story in this section, I've spent five months researching as well writing about the American Revolution and I never stop reading (researching) because there is always something new to learn that could directly affect my plots.

If you're not willing to do the proper research to convey the time frame so your story is at least related to the historic part, maybe it should be moved to the Other section of the site.

I also do have on minor nitpick. Sorry, but I have to ask. :) Why is the title so similar to Stinebeck's Of Mice and Men? Just wondering.

If you want me to go on a full blown critique, you can PM me. ;) I'd love to break down your story more since I enjoy a good historical fiction story but I think I bombarded you with enough information, lol.

Again, the ending was awesome and with a little tweaking in the paragraphs I think the story would be even better! Thank you for posting it!





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