Friday, December 13, 2013

To Laugh or Not to Laugh

I wrote this piece for Rebekah Postupak's Flash! Friday competition. (150 words, give or take ten. I took them and came in at 160 exactly) I have no idea why, when prompted with the word 'laughter' and this picture:

Sandy Straits Fisherman, ca 1920. Australian publid domain image.

I thought of Hamlet... It is decidedly odd. And now I can't refrain from speaking in a (most likely horrid) British accent. Please read my following story in one, if you can. :)

To Laugh or Not to Laugh

It’s not a question of whether my situation is funny, really, but rather my perspective.

This undignified and truly humiliating ride in this miniscule dinghy, being pulled by the slowest little fishing boat in the entire world, is nothing compared with my other ills.

The stares of the man and his son – I’m assuming, since they only speak in incomprehensible grunts – are only mildly disturbing compared with the hateful eyes of my enemies.

Don’t even get me started on the fish – horrible, disgusting creature! It won’t stop staring, its beady eyes accusing and unrelenting.

And to be dragged unceremoniously from the water – Why had I chosen water? – and flopped onto their boat as though I were a fish myself.

And yet, as I look at the fish, I see only my certain death in his domain and his in mine. Whose position is more enviable? I am too much the coward to try again.

I laugh, for otherwise I’ll cry.

For those who are interested, here is Hamlet's soliloquy that inspired the whole thing (Read this out loud in a British accent too!):

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.


  1. Love the piece.. Didn't reread the soliloquy since Hamlet was never one of my favourites, or even one of my 2-star-plays.
    Good luck with the contest.

    1. Thank you! I included the soliloquy to explain why my piece was so dark as well as the choice in structure. The whole thing was decidedly out of my comfort zone, but I kind of like it too! I appreciate your encouragement. Oh, random fact about me, Hamlet was the only paper I ever got an A on in English class. Have a happy day! :)

  2. Replies
    1. :) I'm glad you enjoyed reading it with the accent! It kept the piece lighthearted when it was really just so sad. I'm glad it worked for you.