The Man Who Left
January 31, 2021 10:15 PM   Subscribe

The Man Who Left
The Man Who Left is a short fairy tale about a man sent to war, forced to fight incomprehensible battles in unknowable places for increasingly unclear reasons, who has become so weary and distraught by this life of constant toil and terror that it is only his dreams of returning to his wife and child that keep him sane. It's the 150th (and final) tale in my Thousand And One Tales project (previously on projects: 1, 2, 3, 4), which I originally planned to keep up for another 851 stories, but in the end failed spectacularly to do so. But still I tried...

This story was first published in the anthology An Outbreak Of Peace, published by Arachne Press in 2018. It's also been adapted into a 6 minute krautrock-style pop song (by the wonderful Vom Vorton, one half of the equally wonderful band Vowl Sounds), and which is probably by far the optimum version of it.

Here's a full list of the 150 tales in this series (which can be read in any order, pretty much, although a couple come in pairs (Tales #28 and #29 are two versions of the same story; Tale #43 follows on directly from Tale #42; Tales #116, #117 and #118 are all from the same - larger, unpublished - piece; and Tales #133 and #134 are two parts of the same story). And while most of these are original, some are adaptations, retellings, or allusions of older tales: Tale #5: Lonely Isobel, and Tale #102: You Don’t Have To Read This, But I Hope You Do (Cinderella); Tale #19: The Three Doors And The Fourth, and Tale #130: On Bluebeard (Bluebeard); Tale #30: The King’s Daughter And The King’s Son, and Tale #82: Ariadne’s Web (Ariadne and the Minotaur); Tale #78: On Hansel And Gretel, And Horror, and Tale #79: Trail Of Breadcrumbs (Hansel and Gretel); and Tale #101: A Story In The Afternoon (Little Red Riding Hood).


Tale #1: The Unhappy Bride
Tale #2: Wun, Mun and Undun
Tale #3: The Cat Wife
Tale #4: To Follow A Cat
Tale #5: Lonely Isobel

Tale #6: The Farmer's Daughters
Tale #7: The Woman Who Was Granted Her Wish
Tale #8: The Three Wishes
Tale #9: The Saddest King of All
Tale #10: The Old Lady And The Three Brothers

Tale #11: The Old Lady And The Thief
Tale #12: The Old Woman Who Lived In The Woods
Tale #13: God, The Devil, And The Man Upon The Road
Tale #14: The Jealous Lord
Tale #15: (fragment)

Tale #16: The Man Who Made Himself A Wife
Tale #17: The Woman Who Lived Alone In The Woods
Tale #18: The King And His Weeping Wife
Tale #19: The Three Doors And The Fourth
Tale #20: (fragment)

Tale #21: The Wolves In The Woods
Tale #22: A Long Winter's Night
Tale #23: Old Tales Are Made New In The Telling
Tale #24: The Lunar Queen
Tale #25: The King And The Light

Tale #26: The Seven Sisters
Tale #27: The Three Sorrowful Sisters
Tale #28: The Wolf In The Woods
Tale #29: The Wolf In The Woods
Tale #30: The King's Daughter And The King's Son

Tale #31: The castle was a prison in a sea of untouched snow
Tale #32: The Grief Stricken King
Tale #33: The Offered Daughter And The Promised Sons
Tale #34: The Lonely Heart
Tale #35: The Lonely Man's Tale

Tale #36: The Old Woman's Tale
Tale #37: To Lose Your Faith
Tale #38: The Idle Wish
Tale #39: The town, the forest, the past
Tale #40: Methods Of Torture, Methods Of Death (extract)

Tale #41: (fragment)
Tale #42: The Bear In The Cage
Tale #43: The Girl In The Bear
Tale #44: The Falling
Tale #45: The Floating

Tale #46: (fragment)
Tale #47: The Old Lady And The Woodcutter
Tale #48: The Old Lady And The Crows
Tale #49: The Innkeeper And The Woman
Tale #50: The Stolen Child (A Tale Told In Tales)


Tale #51: The Cat In The Graveyard
Tale #52: The Silk Gloves
Tale #53: A Finger For A Favour
Tale #54: The Search For Lost Things
Tale #55: The Forgetful Prince And The Regretful Bride

Tale #56: In The Woods In The Winter
Tale #57: The Thaw
Tale #58: The Tree
Tale #59: (fragment)
Tale #60: The Lure

Tale #61: (fragment)
Tale #62: Lessons For My Children
Tale #63: And We Went To War
Tale #64: Memorial For The Executed Generals Of The Siege Of Colchester
Tale #65: And In Their Ships They Sailed Out Across The Sea

Tale #66: The Silver Ship
Tale #67: The Fountain
Tale #68: The Drunken Sailor
Tale #69: The Swift
Tale #70: The Crow

Tale #71: The Crow Tree
Tale #72: Our paths trace out behind us
Tale #73: (fragment)
Tale #74: The Woman In The Woods
Tale #75: The Woods In The Woman

Tale #76: Of Wolves And Women
Tale #77: The Wolf And The Girl
Tale #78: On Hansel And Gretel, And Horror
Tale #79: Trail Of Breadcrumbs
Tale #80: A Labyrinth of Streets

Tale #81: How to escape from every maze in the world
Tale #82: Ariadne's Web
Tale #83: Above the clouds, beneath the sun
Tale #84: The Fairy Tale Heart
Tale #85: Married Hearts

Tale #86: (blue plaque on ruined wall)
Tale #87: To Follow A Child
Tale #88: To Ponder Infinity
Tale #89: The Poor Woman
Tale #90: The Woman Who Lived In The Woods

Tale #91: The King's Wives
Tale #92: The Morning Birds Free The Soul, The Night Ones Take Them
Tale #93: A circle, whispering time
Tale #94: Beneath the weeping willow she sat down and wept
Tale #95: In The Garden Between

Tale #96: On her shoulders, ravens (a dream of judgement)
Tale #97: The Lord And His Angel
Tale #98: The Woman Of Small Miracles
Tale #99: The Protection of Bees
Tale #100: Old Hope

Tale #101: A Story In The Afternoon (alternate, expanded, 2020 version: A Story In The Afternoon)
Tale #102: You Don’t Have To Read This, But I Hope You Do
Tale #103: Lavenham Ghost Story
Tale #104: A Forlorn Appearance
Tale #105: Beneath A Ceaseless Sky

Tale #106: To Be Kept Safe
Tale #107: The House At Dusk
Tale #108: The Woman In The Bookshop
Tale #109: To Stroke A Hedgehog
Tale #110: To Lose A Beard

Tale #111: The Wooden Man
Tale #112: The Sad Tale Of Lonesome George
Tale #113: The Unfairness Of Being
Tale #114: The King In Red, The Queen In Yellow, The People Clad In Rags
Tale #115: A Short History Of A Minor Kingdom

Tale #116: The Third Dream Of The Waiting Prince, In His Time Of Seclusion, In The High Palace Of Eternal Solitude, Above The Clouds Of The Empire’s Reality, Beneath The Moons Of The Empire’s Imagination
Tale #117: The Eighth Dream Of The Waiting Prince, In His Time Of Seclusion, In The High Palace Of Eternal Solitude, Above The Clouds Of The Empire’s Reality, Beneath The Moons Of The Empire’s Imagination
Tale #118: The Fortieth Dream Of The Waiting Prince, In His Time Of Seclusion, In The High Palace Of Eternal Solitude, Above The Clouds Of The Empire’s Reality, Beneath The Moons Of The Empire’s Imagination
Tale #119: Little Sparrow
Tale #120: While The Peasants Tended Their Trees

Tale #121: Between The Hills, Beyond The Waves
Tale #122: The Dogs
Tale #123: (fragment)
Tale #124: A Dream Upon The Pyre
Tale #125: Reflections Of A Pale Moon

Tale #126: (blue plaque above nondescript door)
Tale #127: To Forget, To Forget
Tale #128: Song Of The Data Miners
Tale #129: The Playgrounds Of Our Youth
Tale #130: On Bluebeard (excerpt)

Tale #131: The Swan (A Morality Tale In Miniature)
Tale #132: The Cormorant In History
Tale #133: The Three Sons
Tale #134: The Three Wives
Tale #135: What Is A Child Worth?

Tale #136: The Bull And His Bride, or The Maid And Her Man (fragment)
Tale #137: The Snow Daughter, or The Voice Beneath The Snow
Tale #138: A Mother's Love
Tale #139: A Quiet Revolt
Tale #140: All I Know Is That I Am Not You

Tale #141: If You Describe Each Moment Of A Person’s Life, It Becomes A List Of Crimes, An Endless Recitation of Horrors, A Biblical Judgement Upon Their Worth
Tale #142: The Ship Sailed Into The Harbour
Tale #143: The Emperor's Zoo
Tale #144: The King In His Castle
Tale #145: The Ogre's Boots

Tale #146: Four Tiny Tales
Tale #147: The Toymaker
Tale #148: The Man Who Wept Too Much
Tale #149: The Woman Who Lived In The Woods
Tale #150: The Man Who Left
Role: writer
posted by dng (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

24. (((hugs)))

Thank you for your stories.
posted by stormyteal at 11:58 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Thank you for reading them (and hopefully enjoying them!). Cheers.
posted by dng at 5:17 AM on February 10


One of these tales (Tale #102: You Don't Have To Read This, But I Hope You Do) was performed at a live literature event tonight.

Video: You Don't Have To Read This, But I Hope You Do, performed (wonderfully) by Martine McMenemy.
posted by dng at 2:35 PM on February 14


« Older Finger.Farm: Advanced Finger Hosting...   |   Explaining Gritty to the Frenc... Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.