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Raw Literature: Themes from Peregrine Arc

By A. R. Clayton

Ms. Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch accepted my request to write a guest blog. A big thank you for inviting me to Carrot Ranch and for your ongoing kindness and support of writers. I appreciate Ms. Mills’ honest, detailed writing and am enjoying the stories she shares about her childhood and life. From one cowgirl to another–yeehaw! (Also, I’m not actually a cowgirl, but I do so enjoy that expression.)

Charli’s request: “I’d be delighted if you addressed the topic of what it means to you as a writer to include themes of “disabilities, adversity and resilience, criminal justice, and minority populations. The best way to approach the essay is to answer the questions, why do you write, or why do you write about certain topics.”

To dip my toes into this broad question, I write about these topics because I care and want others to consider these sticky, flytrap areas of society. We often avoiding discussing uncomfortable topics and want to believe the world is fair and comfortable. I don’t believe the world is particularly fair, kind or interested in our general well being. This is especially evident if we’re not white, rich, or have something noticeably different about our bodies or minds. My country (America) bases healthcare on capitalism, charges exorbitant amounts of money for wonder drugs and penalizes people for their skin color and socioeconomic status. Our jails are mostly filled with poor minorities — juvenile jails included — many with mental illnesses and histories of abuse.

In my novel M.B., all of these themes play into the narrative and wrap around the characters. Anne (my protagonist) is delivered a missing children’s flier shortly upon moving into her new house. The missing child is a young, Biracial female named Shannon who was born into a dysfunctional, poor family. The girl has hearing loss and lives with her uncle in the poor side of the mostly white, working-class village. Anne’s realtor uses racial epithets to describe Shannon’s family and makes no qualms about how he feels about them. The realtor also shows his ignorance about mental illness, comparing bipolar disorder to schizophrenia in the same terms. I use the realtor as a diving point to begin illustrating the town Anne finds herself in.

Further on in the story, Anne finds herself trying to help locate the child. The detective Anne works with mentions the weak support of the village in the search efforts, particularly as time passes. The detective bluntly blames this response on Shannon’s race:

“…If Shannon was white, bam! News crews, leaky eyed interviews, community restaurant fundraisers, the whole nine yards. But Shannon’s half black and all this village can give is a half assed response for one month before they move on to gossiping and every day routines. What a joke.”

Why do I write like this? Do I think I’m some kind of perfect angel, hovering above the masses, free to pass righteous judgment? Am I doing it for sensationalism, to poke at old wounds of a country repeatedly tripping over its history of slavery? No. I write what I observe and synthesize from the world around me, the good and the bad. And I believe we can — and must — do better, myself included.

If we pivot ourselves, approach things a little differently from the “others'” perspective, our compass would be oriented. Braille, Sign Language, acceptance and an understanding of history are a few tools we need to get started. Then watch the desert flowers bloom into fireworks and turn the desert of ignorance into a beautiful oasis.

Humans are resilient and adaptable — let them be and watch them thrive.


A. R. Clayton is an American writer hoping to become published one day, or oh so very soon. Peregrine Arc is a platform she created in March 2018 to help steer her publication dreams. Until then, she continues to write and talk with her characters, wondering what they’d like for dinner in the next chapter. Genres include young adult fantasy, horror/mystery and science fiction.

Special themes that resonate with her include disabilities, adversity and resilience, criminal justice, minority populations, humor, history, the fantastical and limitless imagination.

She’s currently working with an editor to have M.B., my first published novel, finalized. Subscribe and follow for upcoming publication dates and other updates as they arrive.


Raw Literature posts as an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99-word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at

Seeking the Well

I’m like an eagle standing on the ice. The thaw is near enough that I can hear the trout beneath claws designed to grab what I need — words like trout populate the pond of my stories. So close. So close.

But the words I wrote populated pages requested by clients. Nothing creative. Nothing literary. I interview board members and vendors. Such as the ice-cream maker who explained the moment she realized sugar was killing her husband. It was Valentine’s Day and she returned home with a box of chocolate. He loved his chocolates and Mountain Dew. But on that day he met his wife at the door, he told her he had diabetes.

This client told me her story and how years later she still has that unopened box of chocolates in her kitchen cupboard. Her husband stuck to a life-changing diet until he told his wife if he had to give up ice-cream he didn’t think he could stick to it. They were chemists and turned their kitchen into a working laboratory until they created a satisfying, sugar-free, dairy-free, whole-ingredients, plant-based ice-cream.

The secret to their company’s success? They made their mission fun. They were the eagles who broke through the ice and found the pond swimming with all the trout the would need.

I was that eagle on the ice trying to figure out how to break through after my second run at NaNoWriMo in 2013. For 22 years I had been writing for businesses and organizations, writing features, local profiles, and columns. I was a professional writer, a marketing communications manager with a thick freelancing portfolio, but I faced the ice — I wanted to write creatively; I wanted to spread my wings and be a literary writer.

After reflecting, as I do every turn of the year, I felt ready to make the literary leap. But how? I knew I could address writers with my professional experience and share business skills and marketing communication strategies. And that was the first stab I took as the eagle on the ice — Tips for Writers: By What Authority. One person read it. I thought of attracting readers through Ranch Recipes after all my writing beat had been local food systems — artisan cheese-makers, food-justice advocates, and chemists-turned-ice-cream-makers.

No, it was time to take the full literary plunge and it had to be fun.

Anyone who has been writing since the 1990s likely knows who Julia Cameron is — she wrote The Artist’s Way. She is someone who shares my love of Joseph Campbell’s work (especially the hero’s journey), reminding me to follow my bliss just as the creator’s of healthy ice-cream followed theirs. Her method includes daily free-writing, a practice that silences the inner critic. After all, we want to play with our bliss, not analyze it into an early demise.

The other part of her method includes a weekly activity to “fill the well.” She writes:

Art is an image-using system. In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. We’ve got big fish, little fish, fat fish, skinny fish– an abundance of artistic fish to fry. As artists, we must realize that we have to maintain this artistic ecosystem.

If we don’t give some attention to upkeep, our well is apt to become depleted, stagnant, or blocked. Any extended period of piece of work draws heavily on our artistic well.

As artists we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them– to restock the trout pond, so to speak. I call this process filling the well. (From The Artist’s Way, posted at Julia Cameron Live.)

Understanding that the well is filled with the art — and raw literature — of others, and that creativity is a tribal experience, I sought to make Carrot Ranch a playground for writers. Flash fiction would be the game we played. Nearly four years ago on February 13, 2014, I wrote my first Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge:

Word prompts continue to make for enjoyable practice. Practice makes for better craft, of course, but it also can be freeing. If it’s just “practice” then the writer can leave behind her critic or his editor, and just do the one thing we all want to do–write.

Take a break to have fun, and you just might return to your work renewed with playful creativity. I’m looking for some writers to play with once a week. The game is flash-fiction and each week will have it’s own prompt. Only 99 words, so not a big commitment. You can even develop a blog post around your submission and meet other writers–poets, bloggers, authors, j-students, teachers. If you write you are invited to play. Nothing serious; it’s just practice.

In other words, I had played with raw literature in mind from the beginning. I had no tribe. I trusted the ice would give and trout would be plentiful beneath. I trusted that if I sought the well every week, other seekers would show up. The first to do was was Norah Colvin. Norah’s first words to me ever were: “Powerful. Sad. Unjust. Distressing. Hateful.” I’m not sure those are the attribute of a strong friendship, but she trusted the space to leave a meaningful comment.  And she later returned with her own flash fiction.

We all improved our responses. Practice with any art or skill results in breakthroughs. But the greatest breakthroughs came in recognizing the power of the tribe. I’ve never grown tired of what the well reveals each week. I can’t predict it. But I know it’s going to be powerful.

From our earliest attempts at Raw Literature, our tribe became the Rough Writers. We’ve grown and taken on more Friends as writers also seek the well at Carrot Ranch. We are now a literary community and have debuted an anthology based on our earliest 99 words. We launch our book on February 4 with a live Facebook Event on February 4 from 11:00-11:20 am (EST, same as New York City). Like our flash fiction, it will be quick, inspiring and celebratory of the tribe.

On Monday, February 5, Geoff Le Pard will kick off a Rough Writers Around the World Tour. Every Monday will be in a different country with a different Rough Writer. February’s line-up includes:

Geoff Le Pard (UK) at Tangental on February 5
Anne Goodwin (UK) at Annecdotal on February 12
Anne Edall-Robson (CA) at Ann Edall-Robson on February 19
Sacha Black (UK) at Sacha Black on February 26

This is what one reviewer has to say about The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1:

“A fascinating book packed with bright ideas and worthwhile material. I was greatly entertained by the stories and essays and so taken with the idea that I thought I would give it a go with a 99-word review.

Stories of ninety-nine words, no more, no less, little gems from the Rough Writers of the Carrot Ranch. Like wild flowers in an early morning meadow glistening with dew and I, a butterfly or bee, flitting from bloom to bloom, immersing myself in a kaleidoscope of experiences which pass through my mind like an ever-changing dreamscape. Stories of love and loss, victory and defeat, struggle and gain from the pens of talented authors with backgrounds as diverse as their stories. A brilliant idea that has created an astounding anthology, one that you will return to time and again.” Charles Remington, Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review

You might think that a 5-star review from an independent source before a book has officially launched is tops. But it’s the fact that the reviewer found the well and was inspired to write his own 99-word story. That’s the beauty of the Ranch — a deep and open well for all who seek.

The eagle has plunged through the ice.

Me, Too: Sexual Harassment Before It Had a Name

By Paula Moyer

Oprah Winfrey nailed it in her recent speech at the Golden Globe awards when she accepted her lifetime achievement award. Yes, we want a world where no one ever has to say, “Me, too” again. But we’re not there yet. In fact, we are so far from there that for a long time, these words from the poet Marge Piercy have captured the way these moments have landed in my heart and stayed:

A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
— Marge Piercy, “For Strong Women”

So much has changed since 1975, the year I began graduate school at Oklahoma State University. This idyllic campus is the location of many of my “me, too” stories. Now, at the beginning of every school year, faculty members and graduate assistants attend a required annual orientation on preventing sexual harassment. I attended this school three years before the first sexual harassment lawsuit was won – therefore, before we had a name for the stares, gropes, and butt swats. Names have power – therefore, not having a name for one’s experience takes power away, tells the survivor: What happened didn’t really happen.

The faculty had one woman – an adjunct professor. Among the 15 or so teaching assistants, all but two were men. I had made the decision too late to apply for financial assistance. Instead, I got a job as the first female letter carrier on campus.

The following is just a partial list of the incidents I experienced or witnessed during the year I was there:

  • A faculty member berated a female graduate student in front of all the other guests at a holiday gathering and summed up this dressing down by calling her – well, a vulgar name for female genitalia that begins with a “c” and rhymes with “hunt.” (Over 40 years later, I can’t even bear to type the word.)
  • I was flatly told by a fellow graduate student that “no woman has ever gotten a Ph.D. from the history department at OSU.”
  • My department was on my route as a letter carrier. Often when delivering mail to my department, I was swatted on the butt by faculty members and fellow graduate students alike.
  • At an event that called for getting dressed up, a fellow graduate student interrupted me to tell me that I looked “good enough to rape.”

We had no name then for what was happening. We know now that the perpetrators were laying the cornerstones of a “hostile environment,” a key phrase used in sexual harassment cases.

Regarding the long-term effect of these events, I can only speak for myself. I left OSU for another school and then dropped out. Eventually, I went back to graduate school in creative writing and focused on memoir. But hold off – don’t say, “See? It all worked out.”

I have earnestly tried to not let these stories be part of my material. In fact, it has taken me a long time to write about what happened. When I first tried, several years ago, I got stuck. I felt like a time traveler, trying to describe to a modern audience something from the distant past, like polio epidemics before the vaccine. Then came the revelations of first one celebrity taking liberties with subordinates, and then another, and then the politicians. And then came the “me, too” movement on social media. My heart broke each time one daughter-in-law, and then the other posted their respective stories. I had wanted to help create a world where such remembrances were truly a thing of the past.

Apparently, this speaking out is part of how we bring about that new world: we “silence breakers” are Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” Such stories, then, are still relevant. Further, I have to admit, so are annual orientations. The institutions offering the orientations may be flawed and self-seeking, but in this endeavor, they’re on the side of the angels. The speaking out and the laying down of policy may, indeed, help bring forth a place we can lay down the burden of watching our backs. Just as the scourge of sexual harassment has contaminated our writing, the freedom from it will bring fresh air to our material.

Toward that end, let us join forces to banish this pollution from our atmosphere. In this newly clean, newly pure space, may we reclaim our cores, our dreams, our souls — the drive that this tyranny has so wrongly depleted. May we rediscover our focus. May we commit ourselves afresh to our work, our stories. Our precious callings need nothing less.


Paula Moyer is a freelance writer, memoirist, and birth doula living in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is currently working on her memoir, An Inheritance of Spirit (working title).


Raw Literature posts as an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99-word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at

Art and Literature in the Raw

Essay by Urszula Humienik, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.

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Kurt Vonnegut once told The Paris Review, “I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.” Which is something I must have thought or heard or read somewhere sometime in high school, because instead of writing and literature, I decided to pursue a degree in my other passion.

I didn’t decide to go into some useful and prestigious field like law or medicine, like many other writers such as Harper Lee, John Grisham, Anton Chekhov, Khaled Hosseini, or even Gertrude Stein. No. I decided to go into art, a field even more useless than being an English major. Of course, I don’t believe that. I believe both art and literature to be essential. These two fields make us truly human while simultaneously showing us the human condition in the raw.

As a smart English teacher once said, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” (John Keating, Dead Poets Society)

There seems to be an interwoven connection in my mind between art and literature, and it’s possible I’m not the only one. Lots of writers and poets made art, including: Sylvia Plath, Kurt Vonnegut, Lewis Carroll, Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Herman Hesse, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, William Blake, e.e. cummings, and many others. Some artists also wrote. The surrealist painter Leonora Carrington wrote stories. Salvador Dali wrote screenplays. Even such brand names as Warhol and Picasso wrote. Gertrude Stein straddled the fence between these two worlds as a writer, art collector and muse. Her home was filled with artists of all types, including writers – so many of whom we know and love (or love to hate).

Then there are people like Patti Smith and Audrey Niffenegger, most known for The Time Traveler’s Wife, who make a living working in several artistic fields. I admire them both, and hate them just a little out of jealousy for being able to do what they love without staying within the boundaries of a neat label. We so love to label and put things in their place. I remember a friend once yelling at me in the stairway in high school, “Are you an artist or a writer? You can’t be both.” My answer throughout my life has always been why not.

There are several things I believe to be unarguable truths. One, our passions make us more interesting. Two, writers without passion for writing and the subject cannot write well. Three, any activity done without passion cannot be sustained for very long.

Somehow, in my life, I was fortunate to develop several passions. Two of them – art and writing – developed almost simultaneously, interwoven, interconnected to the point of being inseparable, one needing the other. I do not know if one can exist in this mind without the other. The way I see it, writing and visual art are just modes of expression, of connecting to another human being, of creating a space for an idea.

Visual art and literature begin in the same place in the psyche of their creator. I’m not sure if the spark to create them are the same, but maybe it is. Sometimes I feel that something that has come to me must be in the written and sometimes in the visual form, but I cannot explain the why or how I know that. The most interesting is when these two intersect. I have characters in my stories that are artists, for example, and I am drawn to create their art.

My art background also provides material for stories. An example is the following flash I came up with in response to one of Charli’s prompts, where I imagined what it would be like growing up in a house with a stolen painting hidden in plain sight.

Father’s Poppy Painting

A painting hanging in my father’s study figured large in my childhood. I remember its exotic golden yellow and crimson poppies on a background of burnt sienna and ochre. I remember days spent studying and copying it. I remember my mother constantly practicing Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in D minor. I remember father always gone on business. I remember the scent of Arfaj flowers wafting through the windows. Father’s poppy painting was the reason I decided to study art history at university.

One day when taking a class on famous stolen paintings, I discovered father’s poppy painting in my book.

There are several similarities between art making and writing. For starters, they often begin with a concept. Sometimes it’s just a word or a color or a vague idea. Once you have a concept, art and writing both have different phases of creation and exploration before achieving the final product:

  • play and experimentation – I’d argue that this may be one of the most important stages for both;
  • sketching, what would be akin to raw writing;
  • planning or outlining – depending on how a writer/artist works, this may happen earlier or later in the process;
  • and application of several layers.

This last phase may be thought of in different ways, but over time it has become how I think of the formation of a piece (of artwork or story). In a painting, this phase is obvious. The painter begins with a sketch or several, then the canvas is prepared with a base paint, next several background layers are applied, details are added, and added, and added, and added until the painting has achieved the painter’s intentions.

This is an oversimplification, of course, but a similar process occurs when writing. We begin with an outline or maybe just a rough story idea, which is then written and refined over layers. Some parts of the original raw writing become hidden under the layers of “improved” writing, but they are still there. And in my experience, the raw writing is necessary and enriches the final piece in ways others may not fully comprehend.

I spend much of my time thinking how I would describe a piece of art. It’s an exercise that’s more difficult than it seems (try it). There are many ways to talk about color and qualities of a line. It’s possible I could write essays on just those two characteristics alone. I also spend a great deal of time visualizing things I am writing, and I hope that improves my writing, deepens it, making it more tactile. I hope this means my writing is refreshing in the way Vonnegut said.


Urszula Humienik is a freelance writer and editor from Chicago, currently living in Bialystok, Poland. When she’s not working on her first novel, she’s doing yoga, meditating, or making delicious vegan food. You can find her on her blog or her latest obsession, Instagram.


Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at

Raw Literature: Spring Review #1

January 4, 2017 we kicked off the new year at Carrot Ranch with an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers. What marks us as literary artists is not poetry or prose, it’s not genre or length of writing. What marks us as literary artists is creativity with the written word. After three years of writing with diverse writers from around the globe and across genres, I was curious about how we create in our chose medium.

It’s interesting to explore the whirring behind such inventive minds, and understand that the term raw literature applies broadly to what we do as much as what we first write. So far, we’ve had ten writers talk about what raw literature means, why writing is a creative process and how literature impacts other areas of life. It’s a dialog that could continue indefinitely and the conversation grows as we ponder what another has said.

That is why I’ll periodically pause for reviews of previous essays in the series. There’s good pondering and inspiration you don’t want to miss. This week we’ll catch up with the first three essays from guest writers.

  1. Sherri Matthews introduced the guest series with Memoir and What Lies Beneath, and reflects on her initial idea for a memoir. It’s a deep and introspective path to recreate life moments with words on a page. She writes, “But I am not writing a memoir for personal catharsis, nor to air the family’s dirty laundry, wreak revenge or set the record straight.  It’s an itch I can’t scratch, the baring of my soul in a gut-ripping, blood-letting, snot-flinging exercise in pursuit of the real story.”
  2. Sarah Unsicker has temporarily hung up her writing hat to serve constituents as State Representative of Missouri’s 91st District. What an historic time for a woman to be elected to office in the US. While she might not be writing creatively in her new role, it’s influence remains. She tells us in an interview for Rough Writer for Congress, “Literature helps people consider different situations in life with more empathy and understanding.”
  3. Geoff Le Pard jumped into the conversation with a lawyer’s regard for definitions. In Natural or Explicit, he explores the meaning of raw and goes beyond definitions to what it means to feel exposed, writing, “For any work, if we truly want to get that rawness, newness, freshness, we should be prepared for some hurt and not be scared to expose our vulnerabilities.”

Be sure to join catch up with us some more the next two Tuesdays. Join the conversation or consider adding to the continuing dialog. What does raw literature mean to you? How do you view yourself as a literary artist and what do you do with your first efforts? If you are launching a new book, consider writing an essay in this series as part of any blog tours you might be doing. You can share how your published work began as a literary artist’s first raw attempt.

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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at

Not Allowed

not-allowedThat’s not allowed. Sometimes the phrase is spoken or is like a sign on the grass. Other times what is not allowed passes without expression.

This week writers explored the phrase and the ideology behind it. In a tumultuous world climate, perhaps growing pains to growing globally, what is and isn’t allowed is scrutinized. Writers have explored, using flash fiction as the lens.

The following are based on the December 2, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about something or someone not allowed.


Not Allowed by Norah Colvin

She knew they were in there. She heard their chatter. Her knocks began timidly, then louder. The room hushed. There was rustling, then padding feet. She waited. The door opened a peek. Her loving sister’s smiling face appeared, then contorted unrecognisably.

“You’re not allowed!” the monster screeched, and slammed the door.

She froze – obliterated, erased, smashed to smithereens. She was nowhere, nothing. Why? What had she done?

She could only shrug when Mum asked why she wasn’t playing with her sister.

Later, at dinner, she viewed her sister’s sweet smiles cautiously. Was she real? When would the monster reappear?


Emergency Delivery: Hjordis by Liz Husebye Hartmann

She’d traversed the mountain, her skis crackling and sparking as she streaked down the final slope. Just a few kilometers more across the icy flatlands; she would reach the Hold before full sunrise.
The half-human bundled to her chest moaned as she swayed from side-to-side, and the blizzard drew nearer. Looking down at her niece, she growled comfort, but continued apace.

Kicking her skis off at the back gate, the giantess crossed to the kitchen window, gently laying the woman on the snowy stoop. A light flickered. She dashed into the shadows and watched with her goat’s eyes.



The Book of Rules by Irene Waters

“Don’t do ..”

“You’ve got your rule book out. Every day it gets longer. Can’t do cause its Monday, don’t do cause there’s an R in the month, don’t do, don’t do.” She could hear the angry frustration in his voice.

“No, it’s danger…”

“I don’t care. We’re doing it. I’m sick of you. Always negative.” He stacked the wood inside the deconstructed bookcase. Lifting the timber to edge the trolley under it the loose timber fell forward. He watched the skin peel off her leg as easily as she removed her stockings.

“See, I told you it was dangerous.”


Silence Please by Ellen Best

She shushed me as the door slammed,

My arms full of books.

People peered above their spectacles,

Gave me dirty looks..

She wagged a silent finger and

pursed her lips tight.

When I slipped to the carpet

And toppled off the light.

My card was marked at the library door,

When a cough sent bubblegum

To skid across the parquet floor.

Her sole was stuck fast

As I staggered past.

just to round the debacle off

I snorted as I laughed.

Her teeth you couldn’t fail to miss

As the librarian delivered an Almighty hiss…

and pointed to the quote


Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

She had watched over her children for several decades, but now her time had come.

In a few short weeks, she would be removed and taken away, her caring stance no longer welcome by the hypocritical world of ‘correctness’ and those imposing restrictions on beliefs and traditions.
Her sightless eyes wept, though none would see her tears as they mingled with the rain.

No-one would witness this travesty as the deed would be done by cover of night so as not to be thwarted.

Representing purely an Image of Peace, she could not protect them from what lay ahead.


America As Seen by A Canuck by Bill Engelson

Well, I tell you, looking’ back on it, we Canucks were quivering in our boots.

It seemed to some like waking up on November 9th and finding yourself in bed with a grizzly. You don’t have the remotest interest in cuddling, no ‘well, aren’t you the cutest thing!’

You just want to put some distance between that bear and you.

But countries can’t pack up and move. You’re neighbours for life.

Some joked about us building our own fence.

That isn’t the Canadian way.


We’ll send our logs south, have you process them and you’ll build the fence.


Flash Fiction by Kate Spencer

“Hey Gladys, they’re allowing the church bells to ring again this year. How long has it been?” asked Jim, looking up from the newspaper, his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose.

“’Bout time this town got some Christmas spirit back,” said Gladys, wiping her hands on the dish towel.

“It says here that old St. Andrew’s is going to chime a different carol, three times a day until December twenty-fifth.”

“They should start with ‘Joy to the World’. That’s what these bells will bring.”

“And will you be singing along with them?”

“Darn tooting I will.”


Thwarted (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli MIlls

“Ma’am! You’re not allowed to leave your vehicle.”

Danni stopped. Ike had slipped through the airport doors beyond the security officer who wasn’t about to let her chase him down. Damn these men in uniform.

Driving home in the snow, scraping ice off the inside windshield because the defrost quit, Danni lost it. She pounded the steering wheel, yelling, “Not allowed! I’m not allowed to say whether my husband can go get himself killed in action.” Red and blue lights flickered from behind.

Danni groaned when she got the ticket. Evidently she wasn’t allowed to run stop signs either.


Get Out! by Allison Maruska

The enemy jet comes straight for me. He fires.

“Not this time!” I dive. The rockets fly over me, falling to the ocean.

I shake my fist. “Ha ha! You think you’re so cool!”

He loops around. My alert sounds. Woop woop!

Banking to the right, I avoid his rocket and launch my own. I hit him! Kablooey!

His parachute opens as the fiery remains of his jet splash into the water.

I raise my arm. “Woo hoo! Victory!”

My door creaks open and Mom peeks in. “Lunch is ready, honey.”

I drop my toy plane. “Mom! Get out!”


Not Allowed by Ann Edall-Robson

“Birthday cake, everyone?”

“Not allowed!”

A questioning look bounced around the table resting on Grandpa sitting in the head chair. Sometimes the outbursts were prodded on for no reason.

“Why not Grandpa?”

“You know.”

Silent stares and shrugs spoke volumes between those gathered for his 90th birthday celebration. The younger generation did not understand the explanation.

The matriarch Aunt finally spoke up.

“It would be O.K. for today, Dad. You can have some cake. It’ll be our secret.”

“I’ll get found out. I didn’t finish my supper, no desert!”

Grandpa had once again regressed to his childhood reasoning.


Wild Fire by Felicity Johns

It was the kind of kiss that started wild fires. He took her hand and held it with his in her lap. He leaned across the console. “Every touch is a promise,” he said, and his voice was soft and deep and warmed her like aged whisky. His lips brushed her nose, and she closed her eyes and instinctively tilted her head. How did she know to do that? It was not only their first kiss…

“But you’re not allowed,” he said, and the tip of his tongue brushed the cupid’s bow of her lip. “To fall.”


Even in Fiction by Anne Goodwin

From their very first meeting he’d set her spine atingle. Now, as he confessed his desire, her juices pooled in her pants. For weeks she’d suppressed her own yearning, averting her gaze from his groin. Slowly, she rose from her seat and turned the key in the door. Swapping professionalism for passion, she pounced on the couch, and cradled his crotch.

With a sigh, Anne highlighted the paragraph and pressed delete. It wasn’t only the threat of being nominated for the Bad Sex Award. Even in fiction, therapists aren’t allowed to have sex with their clients.


No Service by Ruchira Khanna

The bell chimes when the door opens.
This was a usual affair of this restaurant that served an economical menu to anybody and everybody who would walk in.

But today when the door creaked open, all eyes fell on this individual. The noise of cutlery dimmed. The jaws of many customers dropped as they stared at this person who walked in with confidence. As he stood at the counter waiting to be seated.
The waitress gave him a dirty look.
He looked poised and unperturbed.
“Excuse me, Sir,” she said with an acerbic tone, “No Service if No clothes!”


Naivete, Nativity by Geoff Le Pard

Mary hurried forward, followed by Paul. ‘If they’d let me park where I wanted… Not allowed indeed.’

Mary stopped by a row of empty seats, guarded by a boy. ‘Hi Tim. Can I…?’

Tim blushed. ‘Sorry, they’re for my grandparents.’

‘Oh of course.’ Mary turned towards the back.

A woman passed her stopping by Tim. She ushered two children forward. ‘In here…’


‘We need these seats. Curtain’s nearly up.’

‘But they’re taken.’

‘Tsch.’ The woman pushed passed. ‘Not allowed I suppose.’

Tim’s family reached the row; no one argued with Alice. Paul smiled. ‘This’ll be the real drama.


 At Home by Sarah Brentyn

The other 5th graders’ desks were covered with pink and red Valentine’s cards. Hers was empty. At home, her tears were met with laughter and reminiscing of “school days”.

Rumors went round the 7th grade about her and Marcus Paloni. She stood alone. At home, her tears were met with suspicion and annoyance of “gossip girls”.

Peter Morris dumped her three days before prom. It was a prank. At home, her tears were met with wistful sighs and talk of “childhood crushes”.

At home for Christmas.

Her tears were met with anger and accusation. Other people have “real problems”.


 Forbidden Grass by Jane Dougherty

‘Keep off the grass’. One of the first things she learned to read. The neat little notice stuck neatly on its little stick in a sea of smooth close-clipped green. With the years, the fear of stepping where feet were not allowed turned into a terror of stepping out into any open space, jumping into the placid water of swimming pools, entering examination halls, impeccably carpeted rooms. It took a student dare, to scale the railings of the park at midnight, make love in the middle of a summer silvery lawn, to end it. Grass didn’t bite after all.


Flash Fiction by Lady Lee Manila

The ground beneath my feet begins to crumble
I’m left with nothing to hold on to, null
I have to admit, I have lost the battle
You are there, so far away, unreachable
I say this, you say that, misunderstanding
Causing pain in the heart and soul, shattering
For what I’ve done, I’m blameful
The world is against me, my fight is extinguished
You have abandoned me, the one I cherished
Forbidden love is painful
Forget the pain and move on, as I mull
I’ve learned my lesson, time to rise again
Rainbows and sunshine, all beyond my ken


Whites Only by Diana Nagai

As the college sweethearts said goodbye, Maya remembered their hurtful conversation.

“Why don’t we do Christmas together?”

His pause cut into her heart. “But where would you sit?” His grandmother, the matriarch, was set in her traditions.

Maya wondered if there really wasn’t room for one more or if he wasn’t serious about their relationship.

Later, he confessed his grandmother’s racism; he was protecting Maya from the “Whites Only” atmosphere. Maya tried to understand. She had been fighting ignorance her whole life; facing bigotry was new to him. She was going to have to guide him.


A Gross Injustice by Michael

I was good at sport. I played in the top teams. I was one of the first picked. But I was never made captain. No matter my success I was overlooked for lesser players.

I wasn’t the right sort of chap I was told. I came from the wrong side of the tracks. My background they said was dodgy.

I was far too working class to be considered. So lesser players were selected and I was ignored. A good team player. That was my lot.

I resigned myself to my fate. But underneath I fumed at the gross injustice.


Why by Joe Owens

“Mommy why is there a line through me?” little Sammy asked. He was only three years old and did not recognize every sign at the new preschool.

His mother smiled at his description of what he saw.

“It is not really through you honey. It means no boys can go in this room.”




“You’re a boy.”


“God made you that way?”


“Because Sammy is a boy’s name.”

“No mommy I have a friend named Sammy who is a girl.”

“Anyway, you cannot go in this room.”


You are not a girl!”

“Okay mommy!”


A Boy Called Billy by Sherri Matthews

When she heard the car door slam and Billy ran past her to his room sobbing, Karen knew.

John grabbed a beer from the fridge. “She’s a pain in the ass, I’m never doing that again…”

“Let me guess…she only wanted boy’s clothes…”

John glared, swigged a few. “I told her she wasn’t allowed to go to the party unless she wore a dress and she lost it.”

Karen snatched the bottle away, cold beer spilling down her front.

“Goddamit John, when will you wake up? She is a he, a boy called Billy!”

John reached for another beer.


No Girls Allowed by Jules Paige

Once upon a time…There was a room where the sleep talker
was overheard – The sisters shared a dark basement for their
bedroom. A dividing bookshelf existed to separate the large
space. The front portion was the hangout and party space.

The back side was the space for beds, desks and dressers.
There was one closet behind the partition, and one under the
stairs. And there was one more door… for the utilities, thankfully
it had a lock and neither teenage girl had the key. Maybe there
was some storage space. Surely it was where spiders …and
nightmares lived.


Sound Plans (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Cobb stared at Sarah, arms folded. Slowly a grin gave way to laughter. “Rosebud, you can’t start your own accounting business in Denver!”

Sarah flushed, having hoped Cobb’s silence meant he was listening. Now he was roaring as if she’d told a vulgar joke about pettiskirts. “I don’t understand what you find amusing.”

Cobb slowed to a chuckle. He took Sarah’s ledger and flipped through the pages, nodding, reading. “It’s sound, but…”

“But what?”

“But, Rosebud, pretty round butts aren’t allowed to sit in the seats meant for the big boys. Brains aren’t common or liked in a woman.”


Not Allowed (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane forks over a hard-won two dollars and tucks the Gatorade in her bag. “Can I have the code to the restroom, please?”

The man shakes his head shortly: No.

“But I’m a customer.”

“It’s after eight o’clock. Employees only after eight.”

They stare at each other, an impasse. Maybe if she’d ordered a sandwich. Too late now. Jane turns her back on his smirk.

Out on the street, she hands the Gatorade to shabby man by the door, curled against the dirty bricks. Westlake Tower is a few blocks away – maybe the shopping center is still open.


SO WHERE DO WE GO? by Elliott Lyngreen

Waking and snaking faults, over bright river. as if King bridge collapses behind; sift down the East methane veil and fishy smearing pseudo American villagers scattered… Like we sneaking instantly ancient, accelerate barely. Dernest’s digital tingles, flips rotten replies, swift mingles, “he’ll be on 2nd an…” …symmetrically grazes cornices only two stories, and oracular glass. We been through each of our lives; it actually rains — oh how clever our dude stands through. Such disbelief, hand him cash.. “where he slip..?”

Waiting, D melts, “kill this f_r if he dont come back..”