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NPR Challenge: The Namesake January 1, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Nature, People, Word Play.

170px-Maes_Old_Woman_Dozing“Some people swore that the house was haunted, and wondered how I slept at night. I expect they pictured me sleeping with one eye open.”

“Did you, Grandma? Did you sleep with one eye open?”


“What did you see?”

“Well, it wasn’t so much what I saw, as what I heard.”

“Tell me! Tell me what you heard, Grandma.”

“I don’t know that I should.”

“Please, Grandma? Tell me.”

“Won’t it give you nightmares?”

170px-Suushi_Yurei“No, I’m brave. I’m five now. Nothing scares me.”

“Hmm . . . where should I start?”

“Tell me what the house looked like.”

“All right. The house was old.”

“Older than you?”

“Yes, by quite a bit. When I was born, the house had already been standing on the edge of the forest for more than 50 years.”

“Oh, that is old!”

“Yes. As children, we skirted around it when we walked through the forest.”


“It seemed that it wanted to be left alone. We obliged.”

“What does ‘obliged’ mean, Grandma?”

“. . . I forget sometimes that you are just five. Obliged means that we went along with its wishes.”

“Like when I want to stay up past my bedtime and Mom lets me. Is that obliged?”


180px-Leonardo_Skeleton_1511“Was the house haunted back then?”

“Don’t know. Never got close enough to find out.”

“Who lived there?”

“No one.”

“Why not?”

“It’s a long story.”

“Tell me!”

“Your grandfather was born in the house . . .”

“The grandfather I never met?”

“Yes. The one you never met ~ he died the day you were born.”

“Oh. Why didn’t he live there?”

“His mother died giving birth to him. His father sent him away to live with a distant aunt.”

“So the father lived there by himself?”

“No. He vanished.”

“Vanished? Like the Cheshire Cat?”

Chuckling, “Maybe. No one knows what happened to him.”

“That’s why the house was empty?”


“When did you move there?”

“After your grandfather finished school, he returned to the village and moved into the empty house.”

“Did you meet him then?”

“Yes. When I was seventeen, I went to the forest to pick blackberries. I stepped into a gopher hole and twisted my ankle.”

“Did it hurt?”

“Yes. It swelled and I knew I couldn’t walk back to the village.”

“What did you do?”

“I took my scarf, tied it around my ankle for support, and found a branch to use as a crutch.”

“And you walked back to the village?”

“No, the village was too far. I hobbled a short ways and saw smoke coming from the chimney of the house in the woods.”

220px-Francesco_Hayez_001“Grandpa was there!”

“Yes. He had just moved back and was raking leaves outside. He ran over and helped me to a bench.”

“What happened then?”

“He got me a glass of tea, made sure I was comfortable, and then ran to the village to get my parents.”

“He sounds nice.”

“Very nice. You remind me of him.”

“I do?”

“Yes. And you’re his namesake.”

“His namesake?”

“Patrick was his name too.”

“Oh. What happened after you met him?”

“We fell in love, got married, and I moved into the house.”

“Weren’t you scared?”

“No, your grandfather looked out for me.”

“Why don’t you live there now?”

“It’s not there any more.”

“What happened?”

300px-Mort“Your grandfather had an accident. He fell asleep while reading, and knocked over the kerosene lamp.”

“And the house caught on fire?”

“Yes. It burned to the ground.”

“Were you there?”

“No. I was here ~ you had just been born.”

“What happened after the house burned down?”

“Things changed. Nothing was ever the same again after that.”

Related post:  Fun with Words: NPR Challenge

* * * * *

Submitted to NPR Challenge on 9/17/10.  NPR’s right of first publication expired 12/31/10.  Official Rules:  Three Minute Fiction

Inspiration:  My Literary Quest ~ NPR Three Minute Fiction

Related post:  Need Random Story Ideas?  Check This Out (Maggie Madly Writing)


1. suzicate - January 1, 2011

This is an excellent read. You sucked me right in. At first I didn’t realize it was a challenge. I thought this was you telling your grandchild the story of his grandfather. Fabulous, loved this!

nrhatch - January 1, 2011

Thanks, Suzicate! No kids, so no grandkids. Just the world of imagination.

The first and last sentences were required as part of the challenge . . . the rest is my own.

Glad that you enjoyed it. It’s the first short story I’ve done is ages.

2. Brown Eyed Mystic - January 1, 2011

Aww that’s a delightful story! Thank you for sharing it. I hope you win 🙂


nrhatch - January 1, 2011

Thanks, Brown Eyed.

NPR announced the winner (not me) in November, but had right of first publication until 12/31.

Today being 1/1/11 (cool number), first rights reverted back to me.

3. jannatwrites - January 3, 2011

I enjoyed this story – I can’t believe you didn’t win 😦

I do think it’s interesting how you carried it through with all dialogue. I’ve never even tried that before. Great work!

nrhatch - January 3, 2011

Thanks, Janna. Winning would have been nice, but writing the story and meeting the challenge was a blast. So, no worries.

It’s all dialogue except for one word . . . “chuckling.”

Have fun with your upcoming post on dialogue.

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