An Escheresque Dream

I dreamed I was stuck in M.C. Escher’s Relativity. I walked down to the upstairs and then up to the downstairs, and when I was down, I was up again, so I walked up in order to be down again. I tried the straightest path, but the room — if it can be called a room — tilted like the scene where Fred Astaire dances on the ceiling. There were others there in my dream, walking as if gravity did not exist. I waved to a man on the ceiling, only to realize that he was on the floor, and I was on the ceiling. After a while, I wondered what was my destination and how I would recognize it when I reached it. And wondering, I heard someone say, “Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.”

© Susan Joy Clark 2021

This was written for dVerse’s Prosery challenge, with requirements that it could not exceed 144 words and had to include the Jo Harjo quote, “Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.”

Nothing To See Here!

Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

It only took a blink for Toby to pour himself like liquid through the crack in the front door, run across the street and crash the neighbor’s backyard barbecue. I ran after him barefoot, imitating the hot coal dance as I crossed the asphalt and lolloped past my neighbors, grinning stupidly, as they enjoyed their burgers and brats. After two rotations around the house, I saw my chase was futile. Remembering some dog owner advice, I dropped prostrate into the grass. Neighbors lurched out of chairs, hovering over me. “Call 911!” Toby stopped, turned running, and I nabbed him.

© Susan Joy Clark 2021

This was written for the “unleashed” theme flash fiction challenge, using 99 words only, for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community. I did read that if your dog runs away from you like this, you should drop, and the dog, out of curiosity and concern, should come to you. A very similar scenario did happen to me with a little dog I was watching but without quite this level of drama and awkwardness. 🙂


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Kendra handed her neighbor, Irene, a pair of gardening shears, handles first, over the garden fence, then screamed.

“What are you screaming about?”

“You … you’re naked! I can not unsee that.” Kendra covered her eyes.

“It’s World Naked Gardening Day, and I’m in my own private yard. It’s liberating. You should try it.”

There’s a day on the calendar for everything! “Uh … no, no thanks. I’m good over here. Carry on.”

Before long, Kendra hears a kerfuffle, then a scream.

“Why are you screaming?”

“Bees! Bees! The whole hive is after me!”

© Susan Joy Clark 2021


This silly little story was told for The Carrot Ranch Literary Society‘s Flash Fiction Challenge, with a World Naked Gardening Day theme, in only 99 words. It was a challenge to tell my little story in such few words. 😛

Just some additional thoughts …

I do know some people who are attracted to the naturist lifestyle, so I had previously given the subject a lot of thought. My primary concern is with decency and modesty, but even in situations where that is not a concern, where a single person is alone or just with a spouse, I still have concerns about sanitation and protection from the elements. It just seems the body will be much more vulnerable to a number of things such as sun, harmful insects or harmful plants. I can see things going wrong in so many ways. I could have had quite a story with a few more words I think. 😛

I looked up World Naked Gardening Day on Wikipedia and read this quote, “Beyond body positivity, Corky Stanton of Clothes Free International, an organization that promotes nude recreation, has asserted that the event offers the ‘fringe benefits of bare, unabashed recreation: the satisfaction of exercising in the great outdoors; the attractiveness of an all-over tan; more Vitamin D on your whole body; the unbeatable experience of skinny-dipping if the naturist event involves a beach or a lake.'”

As an extremely fair-skinned person, an ‘overall tan’ was not my first thought. Instead, I’m imagining sunburn in places I would never had thought of.

I’ve read a number of true life accounts of both prisoners of war and political prisoners, and it seems that depriving a prisoner of clothing was often a punishment/torture. Many of you will remember a scene from Schindler’s List where the prisoners were made to exercise nude in the courtyard. Perhaps, humiliation of the prisoner is part of the motivation behind that, but I think it is also the removal of that protective covering from the cold, sun or other harm. In one account, I read about a POW captured in a tropical climate who was made to sleep nude in the jungle with no mosquito net, and you can just imagine what happened to him. My story may be silly, but I had these other more serious thoughts as well.

The Discussion

Flash Fiction

Photo by Julien L on Unsplash

“What? Did you not remember anything I said? I told you to get the creamy peanut butter, not the chunky!”

“But …”

“You never listen to me! I bet you picked up the wrong bread too.” She peered into the bag again. “It’s plain white. I need gluten-free bread for when your sister visits tomorrow!”

Her husband threw up his arms. “I …”

“You what?”

“Did you get the car washed today?” he asked.

“No, but I …”

“See then! You think I don’t listen?”

A second bag sat at her feet. Everything was there.

“That other bag is for the food pantry,” he said.

“And I had the car washed yesterday.”

“Only mouths are we,” she thought. “Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things?”


This was part of a prosery challenge for DVerse. The challenge was to write a short piece of fiction under 144 words that contained this line of poetry from Rainer Maria Rilke, “Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heat which safely exists in the center of all things?”