Week 159 – Censorship, Statistics and Odd-Shaped Balls

There’s been a good deal of debate around LS towers this week about censorship. Self-censorship to be slightly less vague. The conscious and unconscious decisions made by authors to tone down content to be entirely more accurate.

Swearing is the main culprit but there are others – and in most cases what it seems to come down to is the ability (or inability) to separate author and character.

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Week 154 – Second Last, Panda Steaks And The Malevolent Hartley Hare.

Here we are at Week 154.

Well this is our penultimate post.

I’ve always wondered about the word ‘penultimate’, I think it’s a bit up itself. Why would you feel the need to have a word for second to last? Does that mean it was more important to come second last than last? Some would argue that but if you were in a field of more than three, it’s still not very good.

There’s only one thing that you would want to be penultimate at and that would be at an orgy. If you were a female, you wouldn’t want to seem stand-offish and if you were male you wouldn’t want to show off, so coming second last would suffice.

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Happiness by Fernando Meisenhalter

This work is below our minimum word count. However, as we have said before, when something comes in that is just demanding to be published we are perfectly willing to be flexible. We have added our thoughts at the end of the post so that you can see our reasoning. Please feel free to comment – as always we love to know what you think.


She has a tattoo on her boobs with something written on it, but I can’t tell if it’s a quote from Marx or César Chávez and the uncertainty is killing me.

“Take a picture,” she says.  “It’ll last longer.”

But a camera isn’t the issue, it’s the pronounced curvature.

“Don’t you think tattoos are like bumper stickers for humans?” I say.  “It’s like the graffiti that used to be on walls moved on to the skin of people, making it much harder to read.”

She gives me a Frida Kahlo look.

“We’re alone in the universe with only our tattoos to express ourselves; they’re the only thing they can’t take from us.  Show some respect.”

I apologize and change the subject, chat about the madness present everywhere and how we’re forced to squeeze a living out of whatever’s left.

“I work in a bar,” she says, “giving hand jobs.  I need to get the guys early, while they still have money.  It’s hard work.  Some are older, and it takes forever, especially if they’re drunk.”

“You must have a strong grip,” I say.

“You can say that,” she says.  “But work’s slow nowadays.  No one carries cash and everyone’s on antidepressants.  It’s like no one can handle happiness anymore.”

“It’s a damn shame,” I say.

“Happiness is in our Declaration of Independence, our Hollywood happy endings, our self-help books.  Now it’s Citalopram and Prozac.  It depresses me just to think about it.”

And I agree.  America’s missing something, something vital.  So, we keep lamenting our grim prospects, unpayable student loans, and I wonder how we’ll ever make it through the week, how will we ever survive.  It’s an uphill battle, each and every freaking day.  And I have no cash, and she has no hope.



I think it’s a real challenge to draw believable and visible character in such a short word count and that was the main thing that struck me about this piece, and what made me want to see it on the site. Just the very first line about the tattoo gives such a clear glimpse into the character of this woman. This is something with a literary quote on it, something more than just body ornamentation.  Then we find more about her, her struggle and her despondency, her strength and confidence. I think the woman is the deeper character here and the narrator a foil for our look at her life.

When you consider that all this is packed into 294 words it is very impressive. It is a social comment of course and if it had simply been that – almost a rant – I wouldn’t have considered it for a moment, but it is a multifaceted story, a tiny slice of two lives which perfectly encompasses the problems of misery and struggle of modern life, mostly in the developed world.

Very clever writing in my opinion.



I have just read Diane’s views on this wonderful piece of writing.

The comments and points she makes are concise and well observed.

I can only add, for me, such a small word count only works if it has a cutting point that is perceptive and relevant. This powerful piece of work does all of that superbly well.

If you are going to write under three hundred words, this is the way to do it.



I experiment a lot with short pieces – 50 word fiction, drabbles etc. – because I love the challenge of getting depth into a story within the confines of a strict word count. It’s critical in my opinion that you get in two great lines – one to open and one to close – and that you keep it very simple for the rest. This piece opens well, closes well and is just a simple conversation. And yet as a reader I was able to picture the scene, flesh out the characters and feel a sense of hopelessness and despair. Clever stuff.


Fernando Meisenhalter

Banner Image: Pixabay.com

February by Nik Eveleigh

Some days bring sunshine. Some bring rain. And somewhere along the line life settles in hard as a February sky. Locks down your dreams tight against the iron earth and dares you to object. For such a short month it exacts a long toll.

A bunch of scientists did an experiment once with fleas. They took half a dozen of the brightest and bounciest, dropped them in a jar and screwed on the lid. For a couple of days those fleas launched themselves into almost continually. Eventually, through pain or weariness or both, they stopped jumping so high. They settled on a spot two thirds of the way up the sides of the jar and that was their limit. Even after the lid came off and they could have bounded their way to freedom those fleas kept right on jumping to a place well below the potential of possibility.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic but if that leaden February sky ever clears I wonder how high I can still jump.

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