Chorus: Short Story

This was not initially meant to be a short story, and it might not remain that way. Initially, I was planning on writing something based off of the myth of the Minotaur, where the narrator would act as the Greek “chorus” of the play – albeit, as you will see, disapproved of by the rest of the chorus/narrators. I’ve started working on other things, so this prologue may be as far as things go for a while, but it was still a fun piece to write.

This was somewhat inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ short story The House of Asterion, but of course that in itself was inspired by the myth of the Minotaur. I compiled a doc of research on it for this story and there are obviously several versions of the myth. This excerpt won’t quite get to the retelling of the myth, however, and will mostly be a conversation between the chorus I mentioned.

We would like you to imagine, if you will, a grand amphitheatre, stretching far and wide and rising in seats of stone. And we would like you to imagine that the sun is high in the sky and that birds are singing in the trees; or you may imagine the fall of rain and crash of thunder, whatever suits your fancy. Imagine that we stand on the stage with arms thrown wide, our voices carrying to your ears on the wind, and imagine that this is what we say:

“Well, the ampitheatre is rather silly, I think,” says one of several anonymously hooded figures.

What? we say.

“Nobody goes to theatres anymore. It’s unrealistic.”

You are being ridiculous, we say. Of course people still go to theatres. And you are not speaking correctly.   

“What?” The Figure coughs deeply. “What about now?”

No, no, no, you cannot speak with your mouth, you must speak from the untethered depths of your cosmic spirit.

The Figure pauses. “LIKE THIS?”

No! Now you are simply shouting!

“I don’t see what the big deal is,” says the Figure. “It’s the same effect either way, really.”

We sigh, and lower our arms. The Figure shuffles its feet as we all stare at it in admonishment, for it has done an unspeakable act. Of course, we would never say so to its face.

“Oh, ha, ha. You’re all very funny.”

You are new on the job, are you not? No, do not answer, it is obvious. Let us explain to you what it is that we do. We are the Narrator, the Storyteller, the Ones who push the Plot forward – we have a sacred duty to tell our tales and tell them well. We do not call the setting ‘silly’, and we most certainly do not use quotation marks when we speak. 

“The ampitheatre is silly, though,” says the Figure, drawing away slightly when we glare at it. “This isn’t a play.”

It is about the style of the thing.

“But the story takes place in ancient Greece!”

Hence the ampitheatre, hence the chorus.

“It’s pointless. No one wants to read about us going on like this for an entire page. Why not just move on with the hundredth retelling of a Greek myth?”

I think I will take a sick day, one of us says, a single voice, splitting off from the group and stepping down from the stage. This is giving me a headache.

“We don’t get headaches,” says the Figure. The one that has left the group breaks into a run and disappears from the ampitheatre in a wisp of smoke. “Look, let me tell the story. I can take it from here.”

You are new, you are new, we protest. You do not know a thing.

“Then this will be a good learning experience,” the Figure says with fake innocence.

We ponder this for a long, long moment. It would not be a wise decision, we are sure of that much. However, it would not be the most horrible thing, to have some time to ourselves.

“Great!” The Figure claps its hands, and in the manner of one that does not know the strength of their own voice, their own abilities, sends a booming sound throughout the ampitheatre. We flinch, already regretting our decision. “Good. All right. So…”

The rest of the chorus leaves the ampitheatre. It is only you and me. Our setting wavers, and shifts, until we are in the land of the Minotaur, the Athenian, and the Princess.

I tried to play around a bit with dialogue, here, because the narration is both directed at the reader and directed at the Figure in certain ways. The narrators are fairly passive aggressive, it would seem, but perhaps the Figure won’t be like that.

And even though it’s technically not part of a short story, I’ll call it that for the time being. Or maybe I should just try and write some actual short stories. We’ll see. At the moment this will suffice.