Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head
This story was published on a site called f*ckfiction a few years ago. I realised the site no longer exists and, with it, my byline. I can’t be bothered to look for a new site as submitting to literary sites takes forever, even just finding the right one. And they never make any money so are as apt to disappear as its controversially-named original home.
I don’t seem to have written flash fiction for ages but it is an excellent way into reading for learners. Dare I say it, perhaps better for them than Graded Readers since the short length is not artificially imposed so can be seen as less patronising to someone who reads at high levels in their own language.
So, here is the text and some questions to use for discussion afterwards. Scroll down for a Word.doc handout. You could write your own questions, pre-teach some of the vocab or rewrite it to grade the language as it is quite high. However, the length (500 words approx) might mean that the hard work of the vocab is balanced out.Or check out the comment in the comments section for a fuller explanation of this great tip. “It would be interesting to allow reading of this one extract at a time so students could see how their perceptions of the situation change as they read on.”
I don’t think fiction like this, that carries a twist, is a good vehicle for the Simple Speaking/Reverse Reading approach where the questions come before reading as they spoil the suspense. But that approach works extremely well for non-fiction and you can find out more about it with this conversation class book I’ve put together. Using the “look inside” feature on Amazon, you can read the idea behind the lessons.
The row of men in their mid to late thirties stared straight ahead. Sarah felt uncomfortably like they could see her looking at them, despite the two-way mirror. The lighting angled into their faces would also make it hard for anyone to see out. It showed up every detail of their faces and clothing, every flaw. Sarah tried not to think about it.
Three of them were out straight away. Too short. They were so far off, she was surprised they’d been included. She crossed off two more with the wrong physique. Their shoulders weren’t broad enough. Number 7 had a terrible, affected moustache. It made him look like a pimp or some kind of cheap criminal. Wrong, wrong, wrong. She paused in front of Number 12 and chewed the end of her pen. Right height, right build but there was something she couldn’t put her finger on. She could always come back and look again. Thirty men, ten minutes. Plenty of time to make the right decision.
She moved along the line as her mind wandered to dinner. She’d come straight from work and had had to skip lunch again to run between meetings. She realised she’d passed over 19 to 24 while she was thinking about food. This was important. She needed to focus.
Number 25, balding, no way. So far she had crossed off over half of them. She ticked 28 and 29 just to allow some chance of finding the right guy even though they were blond and she’d said tall and dark. She went back to the beginning again and ticked five more. A second look at Number 12 and she immediately spotted what it was that had bothered her earlier. The shoes! Scruffy trainers with an otherwise not bad pair of jeans – not Diesel…
“Can they all turn round?” Sarah asked the attendant. A buzzer sounded and the men turned to face the wall. Number 12’s jeans were not only Armani, they were a great fit on a very nice bum. Maybe this guy had some style after all and the trainers were just an aberration.
One minute left. The buzzer sounded and Number 12 flashed a cheeky smile as if he knew where she’d been looking. Tick.
The Exit sign blinked and she deposited her clipboard in the box on the way out. She let some of the women pass her. She figured being at the beginning or the end of the women’s lineup was the best way of being picked. Ten minutes of holding your stomach in and smiling. MicroSpeed Dating, harsh but efficient. They should make that their slogan instead of “Takes minutes, lasts a lifetime”.
Word version here: the-line-up