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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Shah

September Writing Contest

Each month we hold a writing contest for our members, by our members. Writers are given parameters, such as a word count and/or a prompt. Entries are judged and discussed blindly. For September, submitters had write a story in 250 words or less that centers around an artwork (or something else) found in a museum.



Non-Compliant

by Autumn Shah


Less than an hour ago Charmaine had been peeling potatoes while Suzy sat at the kitchen table practicing her cursive. They both jumped in terror when G.U.M. agents exploded into the house. At first, Charmaine was confused; she knew they could appear anytime, anywhere, they wished, but there must be some mistake. They only appeared when a wife had transgressed in some way. She had done nothing wrong…unless she had left Suzy’s bike in the driveway too long…

She dried her hands on the dish towel and calmly told Suzy to run out the backdoor to the neighbor’s house and wait for her. Then, before she turned into the living room, something stalled her. Something she had overheard Roger say that morning suddenly came to her.

He was on the phone in the bedroom, which only now seemed odd. “Yes, thanks, that will be a relief. I’ve been noticing a lot of transient faults lately.”

At that memory, Charmaine had run. She didn’t think; her body had commanded, and she had obeyed.

Now, she posed in plain view in the Hudson Bay Fur Company’s window disguising among the mannequins. She posed with arms outspread allowing all to admire the fur cape draped across her shoulders as a flimsy disguise. GenUnion agents turned in circles and spoke into their watches.

“...we never…,”

“...she had…,”

“...no sir…”

And then words that turned her cyberneural column to ice. “All call for an N-C.”

She thought how her unskinned potatoes must be graying.


Artwork: Hudson Bay Fur Company, Reginald Marsh 1932 ; Columbus Museum of Art



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