Saturday, July 6, 2013


The theme for this month’s invitational blog post is standing up to authority. It’s appropriate theme for July, the historic month when the American colonies stood firmly united and declared their independence from England.
Here are five stories celebrating the courage it takes to stand up and tell those in power to stuff it.


by Margaret Bermel

Post-surgery, the oncologist recommended ‘precautionary chemotherapy.’ My husband asked what I was going to do.
I replied, “Of course I’ll do it. I’ll do everything I can to beat this.” This is the fearful, knee-jerk reaction the cancer industry counts on. I had been brainwashed over the years, and I was ready to sign on the dotted line. What the cancer industry doesn’t count on is a husband who says what my husband said: “Let’s not be too hasty, let’s research this.”
My research uncovered the truth about the cancer industry, enabling me to “just say no” to chemo.


by June Kosier

She was 91, with cancer, on dialysis and a DNR.
She codes. Stopping dialysis, I notice the machine was set to remove 10 liters of fluid. She had gained only one since her last treatment. We removed too much fluid.
I push the code button and she is resuscitated. I am criticized for calling the code. I tell the head nurse that we killed her and I wasn’t going to let the technician who initiated her treatment live with the knowledge that he pushed an extra zero by mistake and killed her.
 The hospital agreed.


by Phyllis Povell

She entered the room, belly first, wide as she was round. In her mailbox was a note to see her elementary school principal. “What does he want now?” she thought.
“You are obviously in your seventh month and must leave teaching immediately,” he stated.
“I just entered my fifth month,” she answered, “and can get you a note from my doctor.”
“Your doctor would probably write that you aren’t even pregnant.”
Horrified, angry and defiant, she spoke. “I am going to the Board of Education doctors, and if I give birth before October, I will buy you a present.”


by Jerry Giammatteo

I’d heard this garbage before at our annual staff meeting. Ms. Big telling us promotions for New York staff were coming.
We’d been hearing this crap for years. The result was always the same – nothing. Our boss hated rocking the boat and expected us lambs to follow. I’d had enough.
 “When you coming through?” I challenged. “We hear this nonsense every year.”
My boss sat mouth agape. No supportive words came out. However, I did get chewed out back in the office. I had broken his golden rule about not rocking the boat.
At least I’d achieved personal satisfaction.

by Christine Viscuso

 Eighth grade science class was filled with a cacophony of voices. Mr. Gerber (heartthrob to most females— except me) demanded quiet. Not getting his wish, he spoke directly to me.
“Stand up. Go to the principal’s office.”
I couldn’t go there! “Mr. Gerber, I wasn’t talking.” This was true. I had been rereading my homework.
“Yes, you were. You lie too?”
“I’m not going to tell you I never lie, but now I’m telling the truth.” I couldn’t let him see me cry.
He paused. “Stand up and face your class.”
A moment later—“Sit.”
Little me against Goliath.


Coming next month!

For the sweltering month of August, I invite you to send me a story about heat. Heat can be a good thing: it cooks our food, it kindles our love and our desire, it warms us in the winter, and it gives us the passion to create.
But heat can also get us in trouble. It stands for blame, for anger, for lust, hatred, even for war.
I challenge you to write a story about heat, and you get extra credit if you show heat as both a good thing and a bad thing.
Here are the rules:

1. Your story must be 99 words long, exactly.
2. One story per writer, per month.
3. The story must be a story. That means it needs plot, and conflict.
4. The deadline: the first of the month.
5. Email me your story (in the body of your email, or as a Word attachment) to:


  1. Thanks for this, John. I wrote to Margaret, Jerry, Chris and Phyllis, complimenting them on their stories. I don't know June Kosier. I'm teaching again as of this week so I'll bring your August challenge on Heat to my two groups. Great prompt that can go in so many directions. Margaret Bermel is on Facebook and has published a book, The Cancer Odyssey, which she may have mentioned to you. Happy July!

  2. Eileen, I'm always grateful when you spread the word!

  3. These were great John, I loved reading them. augie

  4. This is a great group of short stories. Thanks for sharing them with us!