Gazing at the Navel

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

April 27, 2017

What is it we hope to find, gazing at the navel? Maybe we seek our own beginning or that of time. Perhaps we feel a severing of bonds to establish who we are. We can stare at our navels, self-obsessed, or dare to reveal it to others. Somewhere between holding on to our beginnings and letting go with freedom to be we find stories of the humble belly-button.

Writers were tasked with navel gazing this week and many dared to return with a story.

The following are based on the April 20, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a navel story.


Ghawazee by Kerry E.B. Black

Dumbeks drummed a summons, and dancers stepped from hidden corners, bells tinkling with each movement. Tentative as deer approaching a clearing, the graceful women searched for authorities who declared dancing a crime. They hopped in time, their footfalls punctuating the rhythm. The beat quickened. Their skirts and veils eddied around lithe forms. They reached heaven-ward, exposing glimpses of navels whittled with exertion. Colorful tassels bounced from tribal belts, and tinny bells added to the magic of the dance.

A whistle warns, and they scatter, but for the length of a song, they re-created their heritage and defied the regime.


The End by Liz Husebye Hartmann

Vast ocean pounded a heavy drumbeat, intense wind carrying bright droplets up to the woman poised on cliff’s edge. A sheer of brine slowly covered her naked form.

Her thin fingers brushed a whirl of ashy salt and skin from wasting limbs. With each sweep and release of her fingers, she became less and less, her curves releasing to the granite and scrubby wasteland that led to this spot.

“Oh Angus,” she breathed. “You were my only god!”

Weuigwefq cwnjqoie.

The tomcat bumped her chin, and lay across the keyboard. “Too much drama, Navel Gazer…feed me NOW!” he growled.


Science is Coming by Elliott Lyngreen

Nate’s been expecting there will be a grand movement i step aside myself. Or lose myself. Exist around, outside myself.

Instead of inside this womb prosing on about and ever contemplating.

Charges coins now to share. The game is its more instant – but is, not speaking.

There’ve always been rules.

For speaking?

“Cant stand my echoes.”

Frees sound even my exhaling bellies; executes me further en passant. . . .

Pressing into the navel of a fuzzy peach. Nate cannot eat them.

Tainted on this bird repetitively clunking its reflection; for once, i want to remove the windows.

“Check, Nate.”


The Need to Know (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni sat on her haunches, studying the bone fragment. The school bus had left, but this piece found by a third-grader intrigued her.

“Is that one of my ancestors?” Michael had returned with Bubbie.

“Mmm, probably not, unless your ancestors ate each other.”

Michael snorted. “You bone-diggers. Navel-gazing at everything.”

Danni stood up and stretched, surprised to hear the pain in Michael’s tone. “I’m sorry. No offense intended. It’s a deer bone, likely, but has pot-polish from being boiled. It says something about what occurred here.”

“Let the place be sacred, Danni. You don’t have to know every detail.”


Omphalos by FloridaBorne

“Your name means Earth’s navel?” I asked.

“Mama said Omphalos was sacred,” a 12-year-old with medium beige skin replied. “She said we came out of Earth’s navel a hundred years after mushrooms destroyed all life.”

Amused, I asked, “Were the mushrooms edible?”

“You can see the mushrooms grow when you’re in Las Vegas.”

“Thank you for your presentation,” I said. “You may be seated.”

“Miss Phillips?”

“Yes, Omphalos.”

“Did you know your people are building underground cities?”

Keeping a straight face, I replied. “No.”

“You’ll need them in 2020.”

“That’s 60 years away,” I said, chuckling at his superstition.


Homage by D. Avery

That immobile travel trailer under the trees is a sanctuary. It stands on columns of humble cinder blocks, the destination of a pilgrim. Inside it is luxurious. There’s an abundance of books, one comfortable bed, and small altars enshrined with shells and pebbles. Yet this trailer overlooks the actual temple.

While the red-capped stewards drum rhythms on riddled trees, juncos sanctify the space with their spring rituals, alighting on a rounded glacial erratic before continuing their northern pilgrimage.

This omphalos stone holds all the answers for the pilgrim, but there at the center, the questions have now drifted away.


Gazing into Her Navel by Anne Goodwin

“Where should I start?”

“Wherever you like.”

She blushes, gazes down at herself pointedly. Was it sex? (It’s always sex.)

“There’s no rush. You’ve already taken the most important step by coming here.”

She hesitates. Opens her mouth and closes it again. I’d like to make it easier for her, but she has to find her own way.

She strokes her abdomen. Pregnancy ambivalence? But she isn’t showing. Yet.

Through her thin T-shirt she dips her middle finger into her belly button. “It might sound stupid,” she says, “but I’ve felt all wrong since the day I was born.”


Fluff by Hugh Roberts

“Oh, my goodness, what are you doing?”

“Well, you did say you wanted me to help get the fluff out.”

“Yes, but not with a screwdriver. Is there anything else you can use?”

“No. Nothing to hand. Now, do you want me to remove the fluff from your bellybutton?”

“Yes, but I’m sure I can hear something creaking.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. Right, here we go. Ready? A slight twist and it should be out.”


“Oh, I’m so sorry. I never expected that to happen. Allow me to pick up your bum and screw it back on.”


Moral of the story – never insert a screwdriver into your bellybutton and twist, because your bum will fall off!


Navel Contemplation by Norah Colvin

Billy watched Mother bathe Baby.

“What’s that?”

“The last bit of his umbilical cord. Soon it will fall off, and he’ll have a belly button, just like you.”

Billy lifted his shirt to inspect.

“What’s billy cor?”

“Umbilical cord – it’s where Baby was joined to me before he was born. Everyone has one.”


“Everyone with a mother.”

“So, Silas don’t have belly button.”

“Silas would have a belly button. Everyone has.”

“But Silas don’t have a mum.”

“Oh. But he would have had a mum. When he was born.”

“Nope. Not born. I made him up.”


Origin by KittyVerses

Suddenly there was brightness all around.The darkness that I was accustomed to, was gone in a matter of minutes.

A buzz of excited chatter all around, disturbing my serenity. Unknown images were excited about something but I was clueless and at a loss.

The yummy supply of food through the umbilical cord, will it cease now, I let out a cry.The images rose in unison to console and welcome me. But one touch said it all, up she lifted, holding close to her, I could feel her warmth.A gentle kiss on my forehead, I knew her, my origin, Mumma.


Fruitful Blessings by Lisa A. Listwa

He watched his wife dress, her navel peeking from beneath a camisole and between stretch marks as she reached above her head to fix her hair.

That small, intimate part of her reminded him how he worked to know her, to break through the rough, vibrant skin and bitter layers of pith surrounding the most delightful, refreshing burst of fruit inside.

He remembered her beautifully life-worn body when it swelled to carry and nourish the children who shouted at one another just down the hall. And he – he was lucky enough to taste of this bliss every single day.


Where Do They Hide the Navels by Joe Owens

Jerome never had seen belly dancers, at least not in person. When he imagined it he chose to rely on the one image burned into his mind, that of a beautiful Barbara Eden in her genie outfit. So one could imagine his excitement when he saw their would be belly dancing in this three hour dance recital.

When the music began Jerome sat up in anticipation, but ten seconds later he sank back dejected. There was no Barbara Eden to bee seen anywhere near the stage. Instead it resembled a cruel joke. There was plenty of belly on display.


Aloof by Reena Saxena

Apsara was totally taken by the intellect of this man, and the peace that he radiated.

Ten years later, she wondered if Vishwa had ever loved her. He was so wrapped up in himself – his books, meditation and his international talks. There was no space in his life for anyone else.

“Will you ever stop being a navel gazer, Vishwa?”

“Apsara, the navel is what connects you to your mother, your origin. Do not use that expression in a derogatory manner. One needs to decipher all mysteries of existence.”

It was not her existence that he was talking about.


Life Gets Complicated by Geoff Le Pard

‘Penny come here.’

Penny looked at her form teacher’s stern face, mystified at her tone.

‘Did you call Melanie a freak?’

‘I…’ Penny’s face flushed. ‘I just said her belly button was weird.’ Everyone had laughed, even Melanie. She’d showed them after all. ‘Is she upset?’

‘Melanie doesn’t know we’re talking. Someone else told me.’

Penny felt anger swell inside her chest. Sophie.

Miss Johnstone sighed. ‘She has an umbilical hernia. Just be a little careful what you say. You don’t know who might be upset.’

Penny held her gaze. ‘If Mel doesn’t care, why should anyone else?’



Navel (Jane Doe Six Sentence Stories) by Deborah Lee

“Is that a bra strap? That better not be a bra strap,” Michelle says. “We don’t do the Madonna look around here.”

Jane cocks her head to her shoulder, displays the wide strap of the tank-camisole layered under her blouse. “Not a bra strap.”

“And tattoos. Caroline hates tattoos. Keep your tattoos covered.”

“For the…third?… time. I don’t even have tattoos.”

“Or piercings. She doesn’t hire people with piercings.”

Jane surreptitiously pats the soreness at her belly-button, her brand-new glittering dragonfly. Good thing she doesn’t wear Madonna crop tops. She turns back to her desk, rolling her eyes.


Emily’s Navel by Michael

The class had been going for some time before Dash woke up to gazing at Emily’s navel. Navel’s fascinated him and Emily had the most alluring navel he had seen.

It was an innie, outies he found somewhat gross, though he knew it was no fault of the navel owner.

But Emily was caught up in her pose, oblivious of Dash’s attention.

He wanted to reach out and stroke it with his finger, feel the soft smooth folds of skin. The instructor’s strident voice woke him to reality. He stored away the memory and took up his required pose.


The Cadaver’s Surprise by Allison Maruska

The cadaver rests naked on the table. Her skin is ashen, her face covered with a white towel. My mind tricks me into thinking she’s breathing.

This was someone’s mother, someone’s grandmother. Now she lies here, pre-dissected for us, the potential medical students of tomorrow.

“Know what I wondered before I studied anatomy?” the teacher asks.

We stand in respectful silence.

“I wondered what the back of a belly button looks like.” With that, she lifts the skin covering the abdomen, revealing the dark side of the navel.

I bet the dead woman never thought anyone would look there.


Holy Holes and Adoration of Ashes? by Jules Paige

More than
Just an orange
For energy or even

I read
A model had
Hers surgically removed…for

Navels from
Mother to babe
Centers of life blood

Been to
Maui – I saw
Different kinds of hard

Is sharp
A’a is smooth
We did not see

All ash
Is the same…
‘Wildcat Scattering’…she did

My father
At his request –
In the Gulf he

Uncle left
His body to
Science – his ashes were

(…what tradition will I follow?)



You May Also Like…

To Leave a Leak Collection

To Leave a Leak Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to...

This Is Awkward Collection

This Is Awkward Collection

Welcome to Carrot Ranch Literary Community where creative writers from around the world and across genres gather to...


  1. robbiesinspiration

    A lovely selection of flash fiction and poetry, Charli. A most enjoyable read.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for reading, Robbie!

  2. A. E. Robson

    Stopped by for a read and as always was not disappointed. Looking forward to when I will be able to join in, again.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Ann! I was just thinking about you! Best to you in your busy days!

      • A. E. Robson

        Thanks, Charli. I have been saving all the prompt I have missed over the weeks while I have been focusing on publishing The Quiet Spirits.
        I am looking forward to some breathing room time so I can do catch up.

  3. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    Love the various takes on the prompt – a really good one!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for adding your story! It’s always so interesting to see how they come together.

  4. Norah

    What an interesting collection, Charli. I think humour rated a little higher than usual in this one, which surprises me. There is quite a variety though. Always fun to read.

    • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

      I think it’s hard to be serious when you think “belly button.” 😀

      • Charli Mills

        Ha, ha! True!

    • Charli Mills

      There was definitely a strain of humor running through this collection.

      • Norah

        There was, and you interspersed it nicely. 🙂

Discover more from Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading