Teaching Daydream Flash Fiction
By David Hartley Mark
The words floated into his ears, and eased slowly into his mind, as if from afar.
He had been brandishing his vorpal broadsword, twirling it in the bright noonday sun, while his knightly comrade, Sir Galahad, called to him, “Come, Sir David! Come, and we will conquer the Castle Perilous!”
“Mr. Mark? Can you help me here, please?”
He opened his eyes—that is, his eyes were already opened, only focused within—but Galahad had thundered off, castle-bound, leaving him forlorn. The student—she of the thick glasses and thicker ankles—was calling to him, staring at him, puzzled, blinking, owl-like, poor thing.
“I don’t understand this writing exercise—what’s the difference between connote and denote?”
He sighed, and pushed away from his desk. Galahad was gone. He stood, turned, and walked over to the hapless young woman.
“Denote is what the word means,” he said to her and the class, slowly, “Connote is the mood it creates: ‘I defeated my enemy,’ is one way to denote a victory, but ‘I smote the dragon, fang and claw,’ is a better way to connote it.”
The girl listened, thought, and nodded, knitting her brows. She picked up her pen, and bent her head down over the book, beginning to write.
Far far away, off in Faeryland, Sir Galahad was smiling.