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Maternal Instinct

As women, maternal instinct runs deep in some of us. I say some of us because, like any human trait, its presence or absence can vary to a great degree. I suppose it could be said that variation from the norm is the norm. 

I had no maternal instinct as a child and young adult. I hated dolls, didn’t like ‘playing house,’ I was a Sandlot kind of girl, hanging with the boys instead of babysitting, ripping the knees out of countless pairs of pants, hair a wild tangle, more likely to have dirt than makeup on my face. 

But then one day in 1992 someone put a baby in my arms. Not any baby. MY baby. And, Boom! There it was. A sudden and sweet and nurturing love and protectiveness. Mama Bear was born. It surprised no one more than me. 

For what it’s worth, I’m still more likely to have dirt than makeup on my face.

This month’s stories all rely strongly on some aspect or another of maternal instinct. 

First up, “Green on the Inside” by Star Spider–a haunting little piece of magical realism and a mother’s regret.

Next, from Lora Gray, “Nuclear Daughter,” in which the strain of post-nuclear devastation and the strength of the maternal instinct meet.

Chloe Clark’s “So This” is a powerful literary story of longing and loss and healing. 

Lastly, our recycled story of the month, “Birthday Child,” by FFO multi-published author, Caroline M. Yoachim, a fascinating look at a near-future world of infertility and pre-fab babies.


Suzanne Vincent

Suzanne Vincent is the editor-in-chief of Flash Fiction Online. That’s what people think anyway. Actually, she’s really a pretty ordinary middle-aged woman packing a few extra pounds and a few more gray hairs than she’s comfortable with. As a writer, she leans toward the fantasy spectrum, though much of what she writes is difficult to classify. Slipstream? Isn’t that where we stick stories when we just can’t figure out where else they go? Suzanne’s first professional publication was right here at FFO, published before she joined the staff: “I Speak the Master’s Will,” — a story she’s still very proud of. While she doesn’t actually have time to blog anymore, she once did. You can still read her ancient posts on writing at The Slushpile Avalanche. Suzanne keeps a house full of kids (3), a husband (1), and pets (too many to number) in Utah, USA. Yes, she’s a Mormon. No, there isn’t another wife. Mormons haven’t actually practiced polygamy since the 1890s. Too bad. She’d love to have another woman around to wash dishes and do laundry.


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I fell into this list sideways and was puzzled by the consistent thread of maternal loss; a feeling no male should assume to understand. I see now that the weave was intentional. 

Dreary here today, and it's not just the weather.

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