Stories of Clarice cross time and countries, capturing the essence of a name full of strength. Maybe the Clarices of the world were silenced in a way. Here, they burn bright enough to catch the flame of 99 words.
Writers accepted the challenge to write about a woman named Clarice — from history, family, or fiction. Her many manifestations break the silence of forgotten women. Each story is a window to a different woman with a shared name.
The following stories are based on the March 5, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about Clarice.
PART I (10-minute read)
Sonnet For Clarice (after Shakespeare) by Geoff Le Pard
Shall I compare you to a Summer’s day?
You’d not be flattered but angry and pissed,
Sneering at my explanations and insist
I’m a retarded male with nothing to say.
My compliments are often misconstrued
As the feeble patriarchy at work
And if I protest that I’m really woke
You’ll say sexism isn’t just bloody rude;
It’s objectifying through praise
Treating you as a stereotype.
But Clarice sweetness don’t believe the hype
If I look to Shakespeare’s to find the ways
And means to win your heart. And dear Clarice
If sonnets fail, how about a trip to Paris?
Clarice by Joanne Fisher
She said her name was Clarice. We had arranged to meet in a café. In the end, she was thirty minutes late when she finally turned up. I don’t know why I waited for so long. I had already decided that she wasn’t coming.
Her skin was pale and her hair was long and dark. She had green eyes that seemed to shine in the dull light. I was feeling annoyed when she arrived and sat down before me. Her incandescent smile alone was enough for me to forgive her. So I stayed, and slowly we fell in love.
Voices by Hugh Roberts
Having decided to follow the cat, Sophie came to a grinding halt when the cat stopped and turned around to face her. “Clarice isn’t who you think she is,” echoed a voice in Sophie’s head. But who was Clarice?
Turing the handle of his hotel room door, Mike let out another almighty sneeze. “Clarice, are you in there?” came a voice from the other side of the door.
Two floors above, Doug’s eyes flickered before suddenly opening. The familiar face of a woman peered down at him. “Hello, Doug. I’m Clarice. How can I help you?” asked the woman.
Clarice Orsini, Go-Between by Anne Goodwin
I took 6000 florins into my marriage, and almost as many staff. But when my confessor sneered at Florentine heathens, I banished him to Rome. I hadn’t wed to be controlled.
I lured Lorenzo nightly to my chamber, not for love or lust or desire to produce an heir. Because if he strayed he’d get the pox and pass it on to me.
I wanted to live forever, or past thirty years which is near enough the same. Despite birthings, plague and politicking Pazzis, I would surely thrive. Petitioned by both Medici and Orsini, I revelled in my power.
Clarise by Violet Lentz
Clarice, the understudy, stepped onto the stage that had seen the show’s star vanquished mysteriously while enacting the death scene just three days earlier.
Under the smoky stage lights, she recreated the classic role.
She brought a pathos to the character that not even Shakespeare himself had imagined. Delivered her dirge of dialogue with the solemnity of postcards sent from an execution. Indeed that night, Ophelia was reborn.
Unfortunately, the life into which she was reborn ended with Clarice’s most pedestrian delivery of the line, “It’s got nothing to do with me!” whilst being served a warrant for murder.
Oh, Clarice by Donna Matthews
It all started innocently enough. I mean, I guess, if murder could be considered innocent. But if there was anyone who deserved to die, it was him. She relished the time working alongside him as they developed the virus that would take out the world. Not because she wanted to take out the world…that was always his plan. Her plan was always to stop him. And what better way than with his deadly creation? But then Clarice. Clarice the mistress. Clarice the one tricked by “love.” Clarice the one who stole the vial. Oh Clarice, what have you done?
Clarice Vance in Court by Kerry E.B. Black
Miss Kingston represented Mendel Kingston during the court case.
At over six feet, Clarice Vance commanded the courtroom. Her rich voice reverberated. “Your Honor, Mendel Kingston’s cloak material is a blatant copy of my famed dress’s material.” Clarice spun slowly. Mirrored material accented her waspish waist and full, jeweled bodice.
Miss Kingston objected. “My father invented that material over forty years ago. Back then, ‘flirtation numbers’ used hand mirrors to reflect the spotlight, so Papa designed the material to imitate that.”
Clarice smiled. “In 1870?”
Miss Kingston smirked. “Yes.”
“Well, the first spotlights were Jablachkoff Candles. Used in Paris. In the early 1880’s.”
Clarice won her case.
Clarice Morant by D. Avery
Clarice Morant was Classie to family. The articles about Classie tenderly caring for her aged younger sister and brother for years mightn’t have been written except that at the time of their deaths Classie herself was over 100 years old.
A two-sentence obituary mentions when she died and at what age, and that she is survived by numerous “nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends”. That’s it. She’d been married, but children aren’t mentioned. Neither are a younger woman’s heartbreaks, nor dreams noted.
I choose to presume Classie was a remarkable woman throughout all her decades, even the unwritten ones.
Clarice the Polka Dot Bowed Reindeer by tracey robinson
Clarice begged him not to go-
Look at all that wind and snow!
But Rudolph was not afraid,
So Clarice said fine, have it your way.
Clarice knew Rudolph would soon run into trouble
So she got ready to leave on the double.
With grace and ease she tromped through the snow,
Without a doubt she knew just where to go.
And when Rudolph ran into trouble,
Just as she knew he would,
Clarice was there to do what she could.
She saved the day in the ice and snow
‘cause Clarice was one helluva reindeer
don’t you know!
Clarice by clfalcone *
A loud crash shook the ranch house, rattling windows, jarring dishes, jolting the old man from his afternoon nap.
Something was clomping, pawing outside.
“What are those damn fools doing now?”
Another crash, louder now.
He rushed out, suspecting the caribou got loose. Sure enough, they were out, Rudolph scratching the lawn for lichens, Clarice munching porch plants, knocking ferns, chairs, tables over.
“Be gone, silly reindeer!” And he raised his arms, shooing them.
They looked up, blinking, then continued their respective meals, velvety antlers bobbing.
He shook his head, returning to his nap, dreams.
He’ll clean up later.
First Cow in Space by Norah Colvin
“We are here today with the first cow in space, whose identity, until now, has been kept secret. Will you please welcome [drum roll] Clarice Cloverdale.”
“Clarice, please tell us about your adventure and why your identity was undisclosed for so long.”
“It was simply a non-disclosure agreement. That contract has now terminated so I’m free to tell.”
“We were all tired of playing second-fiddle to Cat. Dish and Spoon ran away so Dog had no alternative but to make me the star. Needless to say, I was over the moon. The rest is history.”
Clarice’s Conviction by JulesPaige
It was without mock shock
That with barrel, lock and stock
That Clarice as if a typhoon, no committee ad hoc
Led body, fetlock and hock
Of her horse across the course… no crock would dare to block
Her determination with her livestock and flintlock
Deterred any who would backtalk or try and sweet talk
Her into any other course, once in motion, onward ticked her clock
The rope bridge wouldn’t be a roadblock, she had her lucky shamrock
Clarice would not rest to count her assets until safely she reached bedrock,
Only then would she assess her frock
Clarice by Saifun Hassam
Clarice was at Marta’s Log Cabin on a ridge overlooking Green Lake. A ranger and ecologist, she loved the Green and Crater Lakes biohabitats, their diversity of animals, birds, trees, and geological history. She was fascinated by the history of ancient peoples, and later pioneers who lived here once.
Somehow the cabin had survived many fierce winter storms. The backyard well was overflowing with water. Lodge pines stood tall over tangled blackberry and honeysuckle shrubs.
A lot of hard work lay ahead, but she knew each day the rangers would do whatever they could to protect this precious biohabitat.
The Search Goes On by Susan Zutautas
Looking for her brother, in an old abandoned warehouse, Clarice picked up a piece of a shirt that looked exactly like the one she’d given him two years ago at Christmastime.
Amongst the decaying garbage making the entire place smell rancid there were needles scattered here and there along with a few old mattresses.
Clarice who was once quite close to her brother now feared the worse had happened to him since he first started using hard drugs to depress the death of their mother three years ago leaving them to live with total strangers who beat him savagely.
Clarice by FloridaBorne
Mrs. Wilson answered the door. Outside awaited a child her daughter’s age wearing designer clothing.
“Is Clay home?”
“You mean, Clarice?”
Her twelve year old daughter ran toward the door, yelling, “Mom, I got this.”
“Your name is…is clear rice?” She giggled, glancing inside a dirt poor home. Her friends were correct; Clay wasn’t worthy of sitting with them in the cafeteria. She walked to a waiting limo and never looked back.
“I hate my name!” Clarice yelled at her mother.
“That rich bitch isn’t worth your time.”
“I hate you!”
There are some truths a mother can’t teach.
Bonecrusher’s Wisdom by Bill Engleson
“What’s your poison, hon?”
“Comin’ right up. Anything else?”
“Pardon me for buttin’ in but you look like you’re down in the dumps.”
“Just politics. That’s all.”
“All? ALL? Let me tell you, hon, if my name ain’t Clarice Bonecrusher, politics is everything.”
“Figure of speech. My waitress nom de plumer. Anyhoo, it ain’t about Elizabeth steppin’ aside, is it?”
“Smacked me too. Know what I thought? You can get all mopey or you can agitate, make sure a woman is chosen VP. Lots of great choices.”
“It’s not easy.”
“It’s inevitable, hon. Infriggininevitable.”
The Invitation by Allison Maruska
Clarice ran her fingers over the paper’s guilded edge, eyeing the words written in fine calligraphy: You are cordially invited to the Clarice Cliff Design Exhibition.
The exhibition, the first showcasing her work that spanned decades, would be the pinnacle of her career, according to the newspaper. Her designs had made a lasting impact on the art world.
Gazing at the delicate script, Clarice positioned the invitation over the candle on the end table. As the flame reached her fingers, she dropped it into a ceramic bowl, one displaying her favorite crocus design.
The pinnacle would proceed without her.
PART II (10-minute read)
The Physical Therapist by Susan Sleggs
Michael’s mother and Tessa both held wadded wet tissues. They were looking at a photo album that chronicled Michael’s recuperation after his IED blast injuries.
Tessa blew her nose. “No wonder he doesn’t talk about that year. Who’s the cute, young nurse?”
Mom laughed. “She’s a physical therapy specialist, Clare Stelzenmuller. They nick-named her Clarice Alphabet. Michael said she wouldn’t take ‘no or I can’t’ from anyone, and Clare was too sweet a name for her bulldog ways. Expect to see the occasional card from her asking if he’s walking or riding. She’d be happy to know about you.”
Clarice of the Light by Doug
‘Oh, that Clarice. Fancies painting more than men. Imagine that? Still, she’s done the right thing by her parents. Even if she doesn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain.’
Robbed of her days by bedpans and sponge baths and soiled sheets, she inhabited the fringes of light, the beginnings and endings.
At the end, all of that light was in the shed, rotted and torn by the deniers of her eyes.
Yet the sun rose from her grave and illuminated her beaches and her streets anew. And now the monied hang the consequences.
Author’s Note: Thanks to Bill Engleson for the reference to Clarice Beckett. You can learn more about her here.
Urgency by D. Avery
Clarice was tired of not getting out. She used to enjoy the ‘girl parties’ where she and her friends dispensed comfort and commiseration; welcomed and advised another to widowhood; or bolstered grieving husbands with casseroles and sidelong confessions of loneliness. That’s when funerals were social gatherings, deaths predictable and occasional occurrences.
Now there were no gatherings. She and her friends that remained stayed home, kept updated by phone and facebook. Deaths were frequent, funerals hasty transactions for proper disposal.
At 85, Clarice thought she’d be ready when her time came. But this virus unnerved her with its urgent insistence.
Ode to Clarice by Jo Hawk
Her obituary shocked me. The journalist revealed a woman I had never known. Who was this glamorous enchantress, this caster of spells and literary legend?
I caught her scribbling in her notebook either early in the morning, or sometimes late at night. She would look at me, smile, unceremoniously fold her pen within the pages, and conceal her secrets. By day she was nothing more than a middle-class wife and mother.
I discovered what she had shared with the world, unbeknownst to me. Ghost-haunted words portrayed silent and silenced women. I wept for Clarice. And I wept for me.
Our Night by Ruchira Khanna
“Clarice! are you ready?” inquired Dad as he stepped into the house after a grueling day at work.
He was quick to walk towards her and find his preteen daughter lazing on the couch with a partially opened book on her chest.
“What happened? I thought you were keen to go to this concert?”
“My friends refuse to come. I’m not the popular girl whose likes are supported by friends,” she said in a sulky voice as tears dripped down her chubby cheeks.
There was a brief pause.
Then Dad proposed, “How about we make it OUR night.”
Clarice by Pete Fanning
We’re in the dairy section, on the hunt for banana yogurt because it’s the only one my child will eat. The child spinning out a new spell when someone blocks my view.
The lady’s eyes crinkle with concern. She nods at my daughter. “Why would you let her dress that way?”
“Huh? Oh.” I turn, regard the pointy hat, black cloak, the stick wand. “Clarice, dear. Why are you dressed that way?”
Clarice giggles. “Because I’m a witch, Daddy.”
I shrug. “Witch.” The lady shakes her head, tears off. I find the last of the banana.
Let There Be Light by T. Marie Bertineau
Clarice eyed the heavy brocade, fingered the lush chenille, flicked dust flecks from the folds. Ahh, yes. The draperies were the culprit. The draperies. They had deprived her of light, cast shadow on her temperament, caused her to shrivel in this god-forsaken season. Impulse reared. She craned her neck, grasped one stiff panel, and yanked, good and hard. A stitch split, a seam ripped, a dozen bronze rings fell from the heavens and with them, the burgundy brocade. It collapsed in a swoosh, covered her completely, shrouded her fiery eyes. Linen, she thought. It was time for linen.
Clarice’s Apron by Lisa A. Listwa
Clarice wiped her hands on her apron for the fortieth time that day. After many hours of doing, she was ready to sit, to read perhaps, or to reflect.
“This is not my life,” she might once have said.
She never imagined this version of Clarice. Never allowed herself to consider it. But life changes, she thought, and so do we.
Almost as quickly as she learned that an apron is truly practical and not merely old-fashioned, she found herself in love with this Clarice.
“This is my life,” she said and hung the apron on the pantry door.
My Name Is Clarice by Tanya Fillbrook
The cobwebs once weaved are now broken strings, she tells me, and then sweeps away her tears.
She looks through the bay of her window and she sees her!
She tells me: ”I am Clarice and I stand tall above the grimiest of floors, and the deepest of gutters.”
I have sweeped, and picked the cotton in the bleeding fields, of the hands that toiled.
I could cook no more as the whipping of my back left my scars stained.
I will have the square-shaped ice cream if I wish, she said.
”My name is Clarice,” she said.
Escaping to Misery Bay by Charli Mills
Viv drove down a narrow two-track, brush scratching Hal’s 1956 Ford Victoria. How that man would howl if he saw his car now. Viv smiled, keeping both hands on the wheel. She’d hide out at Clarice’s cabin on Misery Bay. A few deer camps populated the unmined swath of land void of copper. Clarice escaped the mines to live carefree, growing vegetables and chickens. Driving the Ford out of the brush, Viv lightly honked. Clarice – born Clarence Guntecher – strode out to the porch wearing only a long flannel shirt and unlaced boots. Clarice snapped fingers and shouted, “Girl party!”
True Love by Gloria McBreen
No one knew Clarice Mansell like Jenny did.
‘Oh Clarice, of course you’ll marry him,’ said Mrs Mansell.
And she did, regrettably. He wasn’t a bad man, O’Shea, but he was everything Clarice never wanted in a mate, and Jenny knew that. For eight years of married misery Jenny was there for her friend; in more ways than one.
Eight years of saving, plotting, and planning.
Now they were flying high in the sky on their way to Canada for a new life together. Beautiful Clarice belonged to her now. O’Shea and Mrs Mansell would find out soon enough.
Courageous Clarice by Reena Saxena
I’ve never seen a boss as evil as Sanjeet Anand. If he decided to destroy someone, he would, for no reason and revel in pure joy.
It was performance appraisal time, and he used decimal points in the excel sheet in a manner, that the score of people he did not like fell below the median line. He would have sufficient reason to chuck them out.
It was Clarice, his courageous secretary, who corrected the formula to bring many employees above the median line. I could only thank her for being what she was, not for what she did.
“Hmmph. I delare!”
“Clarice! We have ta write about Clarice?!”
“Think ya mean ‘precisely’.”
“Z’actly. 99 words. No more, no less.”
“Thet heps with clarity, don’tcha think, Kid?”
“Not clarity. Clarice! I need hep with this Clarice prompt.”
“Here’s Frankie’s with the mail. Frankie, where’s ol’ Burt?
“He’s on furlough. Because of eatin’ up Doug’s flash.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, this un’s a fine lookin’ filly. But why’re you sportin’ a eye-patch today?”
“This filly’s got a rough gait, Pal. Bounced me so hard, I had trouble keepin’ my eye off the road. Dang Clarice.”