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Illustration by Andreea Dumuta @galactixy_illustrations


Little opened their eyes. The sun, in this place, was gentle and far away, which made the colours of the things close to Little clear and strong. The stalk of the plant they slept under was pale green, the colour of honeydew (if Little had ever seen a honeydew). Little thought they remembered that at one time, the stalk had supported a burst of golden flowers, but this would have been when Little was much littler, and when they told Ma about memories from then, she often told them they were wrong, that they were imagining and not remembering. For the time that Little was sure of, the stalk had ended in a globe of white webbing. On this morning, Little opened their eyes and watched in astonishment as a particle of the web detached itself, wobbled under the weight of a seed half its size and, finally finding its balance, danced away into an empty sky.


Andromeda (“but my friends call me Andi”) knew that she was going to fall in love with Zach before she ever saw him. The day they met, she was on a Greyhound bus. When it stopped in a nowhere, roadside town, she joined the fold of people blinking in the light and stretching their legs, but when they got back on, she stayed. To an observer, this might have seemed boldly, even dangerously spontaneous, but it wasn’t, and there was no one observing.

She soon realized that the backpack holding all of her worldly possessions was heavy and its straps cut into her shoulders. She was also overdressed for the early fall weather; she became sweaty and out of breath and it was hard to feel as fanciful as she was supposed to be. She went into a coffee shop to set her bag down and regroup. That’s when she saw him.

Zach was sitting at the same table as always, in the town he’d been born in and never left, where nothing ever happened (except the customary births and deaths, illnesses, fallings in love, learning from books, becoming an adult and then old, etc.) until Andi arrived. He was trying to write a novel. He was tugging at his lip. Every few minutes, he leaned forward and stared into his laptop screen as if it held in its depths the answers to all the great questions of his life. Andi saw that he had hazel eyes that tended toward green, that his dark hair, almost black, fell into his face and that he brushed it back often with hands whose delicate thumbs curved away from strong, square palms. She consulted her instructions. He was the one.


“I don’t understand how this happened,” Andi’s case worker said. She looked so anxious that it almost made Andi feel better, either because she felt she should be calm for her case worker’s sake or because the magnitude of this distress made the problem itself seem laughable.

“Every Manic Pixie Dream Girl is implanted with an IUD upon issue. It’s regulation. It always happens.”

“Someone messed up, I guess.” Andi crossed her hands over her belly, which seemed to be growing defiantly even as they spoke.  

“And you didn’t use condoms?” The case worker looked up hopefully for a second and then, resuming the frantic tapping of her pen on the edge of her desk, answered her own question, “Of course not. What MPDG would use a condom? It just doesn’t happen. And here we are, so…you didn’t.”


“A defective issuance hasn’t occurred in decades. There is a protocol, but…” The case worker put her pen down and stared at Andi with something, regret or pity, in her dark eyes. “I suppose it can’t be helped.”   

“What can’t?”

“We can’t send you out again like this. You’ll have to be discontinued.”

Andi started to say, “What does that mean?” but before she could finish, she was enveloped in total, impenetrable darkness.


Andi’s instructions told her that Zach was the man she was looking for. From there, instinct set in. She laughed right, dressed right, moved her hands perfectly when she spoke. It wasn’t so much shrewdness as an effort of will – she imagined his ideal woman and became her. And the questions she asked him, in their all-night talks, were always the right ones to uncover the tiny, septic wounds he’d never spoken about. One day, he looked at her and said, “Andi, I don’t know what I was before I met you. I was…going nowhere. All of this is because of you.” (He’d finished his novel; it was surprisingly good and set to be published.) “I love you.”


Little had lived all of their life in a kind of blissful state of boredom. Each day was filled with examining one’s own whims, determining from moment to moment what pleasure was most compelling. Luckily, the place where they and Ma lived was full of potential enjoyment, of plants and wild waters and small animals. Little picked berries and ate them or played with what we would call rabbits, except they had many more legs, or chased birds with scales and peacock’s tails through the wood that surrounded the open field where they and Ma slept. Nothing was dangerous. Nothing was ugly.

Little’s day usually started with finding Ma. If Ma was in a good mood, she would be a companion in Little’s meandering adventures, but more frequently as of late, she was sad, quiet, and better left alone. When she could be convinced, Little’s favourite pastime was to make an animal with Ma. Today, she was smiling, eating breakfast, so Little felt brave enough to ask and she agreed.

Holding hands, they walked out to the far end of the field. As was their custom, Ma sat cross-legged and Little sat in the bucket formed by her folded legs. Little would say something – “fur” or “claws”, for example – and Ma would make it appear. Today, Little wanted something bird-ish, so they started with feathers and an almond-shaped body.

“Big tail,” Little said, and Ma stared at the creature, pressing her chin upwards slightly as she always did, and they both watched as great, colourful feathers sprouted and grew from its rear.

“Six wings!” Little exclaimed, but nothing happened. They stood and whirled around, ready to complain, but Ma wasn’t looking at them. She was making tiny, faint coughing noises, bent over her own lap. Little cried out and dropped to their knees beside her. “Ma!”

Slowly, she started to regain her breath. She still didn’t seem able to speak, but Little could see that she was staring over their shoulder. Her eyes were wide open in fear. Little turned.

The bird had stopped growing. It had laid its head down and was making coughing noises just like the ones Ma had been making, but louder. Its feathers were falling out, leaving raw pink patches on a body that had otherwise turned entirely grey.


Andi was a novice. When he told her he loved her, she said it back. She meant it. Sometimes the MPDGs with more complex missions said it and didn’t mean it, or didn’t say it at all, but they would be equipped with things like logic defying bangs/headband combos, eyes that took up improbable territory on their faces, threatened indie bakeries. By comparison, Andi’s task was straightforward and she had been left more or less to her own devices. Now that the novel was done, Zach’s life turned around, she was supposed to make her exit quietly, leaving him with a scar that would make him better rather than ruin him.   

She could see that he was a good man. There was something oddly noble about him, a trait that seemed not only out of place in his person – buried in his softness, the apathy that pulled at him too easily – but also anachronistic in his strange world. She realized that she was pregnant a few months after they said they loved each other. She hadn’t been taught much about pregnancy – it not being something that was supposed to happen to MPDGs – but she’d absorbed enough of the TV shows Zach watched and the books he read to recognize what was happening to her.

The evening she took the test, she went for a walk by herself. She liked Earth, not that she knew any other real place – the sterile lab that served as a womb, a series of training courses – but there were elements of it she found jarring. She’d found a walking route that took her away from streets with cars, McDonaldses, bars spitting their smokers out. It led down lonely streets to a little park. It was almost dark and the trees were black outlines of grey leaves, but even in monochrome, the park was beautiful. She’d taken this walk many times when Zach was writing, not having much else to do with herself.

It might have made sense to sit on a bench and contemplate, but she found herself so paralyzed by thought that she just stood in the middle of the park. It would have looked strange to someone walking by, but no one walked by. She didn’t know what to do next. Her ideas danced around an impossible pearl of a dream, one that was too painful to think about directly but that gleamed in the shadows of every other option. (She could stay here, with Zach. They could have a life. They could have a baby.)  

In the end, she’d gone to her case worker. She didn’t know, in retrospect, why she’d done it. It was easiest or she was too trusting or when you want something that can never happen, it doesn’t matter what you get instead.       


Little woke up and stayed a moment on their back, staring upwards. The globe, once bursting with fluffs, was now dented on one side; a quarter of its offspring had departed.

Unusually, Ma was still asleep, lying on her side beside Little. She was drooling a bit. Her upper arm was flung out toward Little as if she had been trying to hold them.

“Ma?” Little shook her. She opened her eyes blearily.

Little knew they shouldn’t, but they asked anyway, something desperate in their chest pushing the question out: “Can we make an animal today, Ma?”

“No. Don’t ask me to do that.”

“Please, Ma.”

“Don’t ask again.”

She rolled over, away from them, curled the outstretched arm back into her own body.


Suddenly, she was in complete darkness. The last thing she remembered was that word her case worker had said, “discontinue,” but it seemed very far away. Other things seemed closer: the flecks of colour in Zach’s irises; the memory of the white moon of his naked ass, which always made her wonder how she could have so much repulsion and love for the same thing; his breath on her neck when he fell asleep on her pillow.

Complete darkness had the texture of felt but was elastic. When she pushed against it, trying to see if she could – what? Swim away? – it resisted her limbs. She pushed harder. She gasped as her arm broke through. Beyond, there was nothing. Nothing against her skin, no resistance to her body. Her arm slid through the air like it would keep going forever, tear itself from her torso and fly into the void. She pulled it back into her chest, shivering.

She didn’t know what to do next. She curled into a ball and wept. When she couldn’t cry anymore, she closed her eyes and let the dark cradle her. She turned herself inward and set herself to forgetting.


Little had a creature that liked to live near the stream that ran through the woods around the perimeter of Ma and Little’s place. It played in the stream, slick like an otter, and ate the tiny fish that lived there. When it was tired or afraid, it became a ball of fur, unrecognizable as a living thing, but when Little would pet it, it would feel safe and let eyes, mouth, nose out like a turtle would its head. Little had a shimmering, flat flying creature that looked like a silk scarf twisting itself into knots in the air. They had a snail whose shell was so large and roomy that one could walk in and visit the snail in its own home and comment on the good taste of the furnishings. Ma had made it very slow to prevent the complete destruction of the forest, so that it took many months for Little to notice that the snail had made it half or a quarter of the way around the place in its constant orbit. Little got to name these creatures. When they couldn’t think of a name, they would ask Ma – although many of the animals remained nameless, because after all, they were so rarely spoken of.

Little had an entire forest where they could explore, watching to see which animals got along with each other and which ones quarreled and wondering whether they were actually talking to each other with those sounds they made.

One day, just once, there was a person standing in the trees in the woods. Seeing this person, Little realized that Ma looked different now – she had looked like this once, fresh, with smooth skin and dark hair. The stranger had greenish eyes, like Little’s, not like Ma’s. They were staring straight at Little. Little called out, just a sound because they didn’t know what to say. The person looked for a second more, really looking, and then, abruptly, turned and walked off between the trees and vanished, leaving Little with a vast aching feeling. In that moment, they realized that a quieter version of this ache was always with them. Little knew that they could never tell Ma about this.    


She must be dying. The creatures she’d made were limping. Reptilian things were in an unending shedding; fowl were dropping bloody feathers. She’d spent an entire day staring at the gargantuan snail, trying to see whether it was still moving. It was impossible to tell. The dandelion had a last few seeds hanging from its pockmarked face.

She felt an immense sadness for Little. She hadn’t thought this far ahead.


She gave birth there, in the darkness, the pain waking her up as it ripped through her.

And then she was holding a little, naked baby in her arms, and she loved it, and she could not pretend anymore that she wasn’t.

She knew what to do as she had known what to do to for Zach.

She closed her eyes and imagined, a forest, a stream, a field where a child could play.

She willed it to be.


Charlotte Joyce Kidd


Charlotte Joyce Kidd thinks that showing someone else what happens in your singular, freaky imagination is the scariest thing a person can do, and she does it constantly to prove to herself that she can. She’s close with her grandparents, all four of whom are living and know how to use the internet. Because of their deep love for her, they never mention her writing. *If she’s figured out social media by the time this is published, she’ll let you know.


    1. gogmagog ( Likes: 0 ) says:

      like a drawing of a flying little girl on a Starbucks promotional material. floating, flying, little girls… the 90s ended 19 years ago

    1. Larry Brown ( Likes: 128 ) says:

      congrats charlotte! free advice: when you meet with the writing world people (part of the prize for winning) don’t sign anything without reading it carefully…) keep writing!

    2. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

      Why would they give her anything to sign? Never sign anything without reading it, but I don’t think that applies here.

    3. Larry Brown ( Likes: 128 ) says:

      that’s the thing about free advice…afterwards you think, why did you say that? ok here’s a better piece of advice…drink coffee black…think of cream and sugar and those sprinkly things and those little umbrellas as unnecessary adverbs…while enjoying a real coffee mull this over: why Analyze This & Meet The Fockers and Grudge Match? (This is the same actor who did Taxi Driver…what happened?)

  1. Michael Kimber ( Likes: 213 ) says:

    Sometimes I feel really strange about the way we think of love. Like it’s a house we have to be able to afford by a certain age. I think this piece provides an interesting comment on the way we imagine other people as instruments of our own desire.

  2. Michael Kimber ( Likes: 213 ) says:

    Someday I’m going to find a page where I can find literary quotes and then I’m going to post all of them. It’s going to be an every hour sort of thing. To show that I read and I write stuff. I’m pretty excited about it.

    1. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

      Here’s one you can start with! “What keeps us from being monsters are the great artists who teach us to love.” —Ken Kesey

  3. Larry Brown ( Likes: 128 ) says:

    charlotte, went over the beginning of your story again, up until the caseworker scene…question you might want to ask yourself…how much (or how little, no pun intended) of the story can be cut…or what really needs to be left in…

    The day they met he was tugging his lip. first line.

    and can he not be writing a novel….and a nowhere roadside town…every town, every dot on the map, is unique…life doesn’t just happen in toronto, n.y….what is unique about the town…even when you take stuff out of a story, it is still in there, in a way… bet you could tell the story in half of the length it is now (gotta look at our own stories with a cold eye…everything we write is not great…and I mean all writers….how many novelists get to page 121 and think, Now this is where the story begins!

    keep writing!

    1. Charlotte Joyce Kidd ( Likes: 1243 ) says:

      Good question – guessing as is, but it would be cool to get to make some changes.

  4. vvinaric ( Likes: 372 ) says:

    Alright, following the new rules of engagement that our leader has committed us to, I have to say, “Go, Little!”, this is the best story in the competition!!!!

  5. liucc ( Likes: 233 ) says:

    Char where do you get your inspiration and ideas for your stories? How do you know when to end them? I always wondered that about fine artists, which stroke is the last?

    1. Charlotte Joyce Kidd ( Likes: 1243 ) says:


      Okay, um…I usually rip off my own life in some fashion for my stories, although obviously not this one.
      Sometimes they kind of just appear fully formed and sometimes they’re ideas that have been marinating forever. I’m trying to write a novel right now and I’ve been stumbling and struggling with a lot because I find that it takes a lot more planning and forethought, it’s not enough to have something just rolling around in your head and then let it out.

      I also find with short stories that once I start writing, they’re often about something other than what I’d initially thought, and I have to refocus on a new part of the story – what’s actually important and interesting.

      Little was a combination of a couple things – the MPDG thing, which was both old and re-ignited (see essay-comment below) and a theme that I’d been playing with for a while, which is this idea of wishing that you and the person you love most could have a world to yourselves.

      I’m generally extroverted and social and I love my friends (I love you, friends!) but I also struggle with depression, and I go through extended periods where any kind of interaction can be really painful (sorry, friends). This can put a lot of strain on a relationship, because when I’m in a state where I really only want to be with the person closest to me, I tend to drag them into isolation with me. I’ve been thinking for a long time about a character who could create an alternate reality, and how they might – out of selfish love – trap someone there with them. This idea isn’t really what Little was about, but the idea of that world – how it could be sort of a love nest, but also a place of extreme isolation – came into it.

      I wrote a more realistic little piece for Word & Colour a few years back that was about this same idea: https://wordandcolour.com/2015/06/03/on-mental-illness-ag/

      As for when things are done, I never know, and as a master procrastinator, I usually have a much too soon deadline to help me out. When I do have more time, I show a couple people a story or try to read things out loud, and if they’re not confusing/don’t make me cringe, I accept that they’re good enough. I could be fiddling with words forever, though.

  6. Donnie Schultz ( Likes: 725 ) says:

    Hi Charlotte, I’ve read through this a couple of times and I have some criticism I’d like to point out:

    You’ve created a world that’s unique and contains things in it that aren’t like anything we have in our world. I’m speaking mainly about Little’s reality. While at some points you do an excellent job of describing these things, at a couple points you rely too heavily on the “like this thing but different” pattern. At one point, you just break the fourth wall and go all out: “Little picked berries and ate them or played with what we would call rabbits, except they had many more legs, or chased birds with scales and peacock’s tails through the wood that surrounded the open field where they and Ma slept.”

    What “we” would call rabbits? Who’s we? Who’s the narrator here? Unless I’m missing something, this is the one and only time you make the narrator explicit and it doesn’t fit. It feels sloppy.

    I also thought a lot more about the MPDGs and the pregnancy thing. Here’s my hangup:

    It’s not clear exactly what the MPDGs are. Are they genetically modified humans? This is suggested by the descriptions of their appearances and the ability to conceive. If this is the case, why haven’t they been made sterile? Are they cybernetic-biological hybrids? If this is the case, again, why aren’t they sterile? Are they human slaves essentially that have been selected based on their naturally occurring genes? Why aren’t they chemically sterile?

    If it’s a broad restriction on ALL MPDGs that they can’t be allowed to carry a child to term, it doesn’t make sense to me that the solution here would be an IUD. First of all, even IUDs fail. It’s really unlikely that Andromeda would have been the first MPDG in decades to conceive a child (though this wasn’t explicit — all the story says is that she’s the first in decades to not receive an IUD). Second, it seems cheaper and more effective to just tie the tubes on any MPDG. If even that’s not the case, then it makes more business sense to just abort the fetus and put her out on another profit-earning assignment. These things can’t be cheap to produce, so decommissioning one due to one fetus is illogical. The ethics obviously don’t matter, since this company is ok with “decommissioning” a sentient thing as a matter of protocol.

    This hole in the worldbuilding is reminiscent of one of the most popular criticisms of Dune: how could the Lady Jessica have been the only Bene Gesserit in thousands of years to disobey the Reverend Mothers and conceive a child outside of her orders? I point out this flaw because literally your entire story rests on it.

    I also have a question: How did you come up with the idea to make a world where MPDGs are consumer products?

    1. Charlotte Joyce Kidd ( Likes: 1243 ) says:

      Hey Donnie,

      Thanks for the thoughtful criticism. Of course, this is not a perfect story and the flaws you’ve pointed out are very real ones. When I first told my mom about this competition, she asked me whether they would let us write new drafts of our stories between rounds based on comments, and I think that would have been such a cool idea. (Maybe I’ll suggest it to Broken Pencil for next year – it would also give writers/voters a bit of a breather to keep the madness at a manageable pace.)

      I don’t usually write stories with sci fi or fantasy elements. I stick to things that can and do happen. World building isn’t something I have a lot of experience with, and it’s not really my concern, either. In Little, I was much less preoccupied with figuring out the logic of the MPDG than I was with telling the story I wanted to tell. However, I see that this approach wasn’t fair to my readers or to writers who do spend time and effort creating believable worlds – in a future draft or in future stories of this kind, I’ll take more time to figure out how this all works. I know that it bothers me to read a piece where the rules of the world are ill defined, and I should carry this into my own work. This competition is about learning, and this is a great lesson.

      Here is what I was trying to say, and where the story came from:

      I’ve spent time thinking about the concept of Manic Pixie Dream Girls. It was a critical term in film and literature that was being thrown around a lot when I was in undergrad, especially. It was a trope that frustrated me in some of my favourite works of fiction, movies and books which I nonetheless loved, and as I grew older, I realized that it was a role into which real women are sometimes slotted, one which can be incredibly frustrating. I don’t use Twitter anymore, but when I did, my handle was @noturmanicpixie. I watched women trying to reclaim this idea in some fashion – I was thrilled with Frances Ha when it came out, a film that showed women being whimsical and playful and weird and manic and confused for their own sakes. At the end (sorry, spoiler) it’s Frances who’s grown as a person, settled into her artistic pursuits and her sense of self, not any of the men in her life.

      For those of you who weren’t familiar with the term before Little: MPDG was coined by film critic Nathan Rabin in 2007. It was initially a criticism of Kirsten Dunst’s role in Elizabethtown (which I’ve actually never seen), although he also mentioned Natalie Portman in Gardenstate, which I ADORED in high school. He said, “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” You can read the original article here: https://film.avclub.com/the-bataan-death-march-of-whimsy-case-file-1-elizabet-1798210595

      (Rabin has since expressed frustration with the term, saying that it’s ballooned past its intended use and actually been used to reduce more nuanced characters to expressions of tropes – I’m not sure that I’m totally expressing his critique properly, but you can also read that full article here https://www.salon.com/2014/07/15/im_sorry_for_coining_the_phrase_manic_pixie_dream_girl/)

      I started thinking about the idea again after seeing my best friend perform in a production of Once at the Segal Centre in Montreal. While the entire cast was excellent, the female lead was captivating to the extent that she made her character, a Czech immigrant to Ireland called only “Girl”, seem like the true hero of the story, while her male counterpart (“Guy”) paled in comparison. Girl is introduced into Guy’s life, tells him he has to seize the day, gets him inspired about life again, helps him writes songs, single-handedly arranges the recording of his first album, they fall in love, his career takes off, he goes to New York – she stays behind because she has a daughter and a mother to take care of. She stays in a small town, saying that she’s going to try to patch things up with her husband, the father of her child. The play seemed to suggest that the tragedy of this ending was that Guy and Girl didn’t get to be together – but in this production (admittedly the only production of the play I’ve seen – it’s based on a film), the tragedy actually seemed to very obviously be that an extremely talented, lively woman put all of her energy into advancing the life, career, and art of a man, while her own life stayed stagnant because of a very noble sense of responsibility to and love for her family. It’s not an unrealistic story line.

      And so I started thinking about this idea – how could an MPDG become real? If they’re these manufactured, deus ex machina women, sent into stories to make sure that a man fulfills his full potential – how do they become a problem? How do they fuck up that role? OF COURSE I’m not saying that having a child ruins anyone’s life – I have so much respect for parents and all that they do. Having a kid can be a fulfilling role on its own. But for someone who wants to devote a lot of time to a passion, raising a child can also involve a lot of compromise. A lot of the time, these compromises are demanded of women in a way that they are not demanded of men.

      In this world, MPDGs are manufactured (not sold as a commodity – the MPDG oversight body is some kind of magical, otherworldly operation – again, world building wasn’t my primary concern) and then sent to Earth to enact their stereotypical role. They’re not supposed to get pregnant, because that would involve asking the man they’re sent to serve to compromise in his pursuit of his passion, his destiny. When Andi does, she’s recalled to avoid this potentially complicated situation.

      My thought (and this is the part that, honestly, I think I could have done a way better job of expressing) was that Andi turns the talents she has for creation – the ability to make up a person, mannerisms, sense of humour, etc. from scratch to suit another person’s sensibilities – to creating a world for her child. She’s able to make these things that Little wants because they want them, and her duty is to care for another person. In this case, she’s just chosen to make this person her own child, not a man she’s been mandated to serve. But she’s expiring, and she’s not going to be able to do this much longer.

      I hope this answers your questions, Donny! And to the people asking me to explain the point of the story, hopefully this clarifies things.

      I think that knowing the background of the term MPDG was essential to understanding the story. It’s familiar to most people my age, but a quick Google would have explained it. I often have to look things up to understand what I’m reading. Other than that, if I didn’t make these things clear, it’s on me. I do tend to write with a lot of subtlety, and I’m working on finding the balance between the poetically implicit and the just plain confusing. I’m constantly improving as a writer, and (as advertised) a huge part of this competition was getting harsh, honest criticism. I’ve certainly received that, and I’m genuinely appreciative of it.

    2. sclar021 ( Likes: 213 ) says:

      Maybe the MPDG is a play on a modern woman? “She imagined his dream girl and became her”, when really “her backpack holding all of her worldly possessions was heavy and its straps cut into her shoulders… it was hard to feel as fanciful as she was supposed to be”. Women are often encumbered with the weight of this kind of expectation. There’s conflict and stigma around fertility, motherhood, remaining a perfect dream girl, I think there’s a lot more to her than being a shiny, baby making machine, I think that’s actually the point.

      MPDGs with more complex missions said they loved these men when they didn’t mean it, and would be equipped with unrealistic features (logic defying bangs/headband combos, eyes that took up improbable territory on their faces etc.). Andi is a novice (implies she should be more like these other shallow, unfeeling MPDGs?), she means it when she says she loves him. I think this shows a contrast between all women, how they are perceived and what they are expected to be. It makes you think about these issues and which version of MPDG is supposed to be appropriate.

      Afterthought, if this perspective is to be considered, IUDs are just the popular choice for BC these days 😋

    3. sclar021 ( Likes: 213 ) says:

      Lol I posted that before I saw your explanation Char, glad to know I wasn’t tooo far off the mark 😅

    4. Rashalans92 ( Likes: 48 ) says:

      Also yeah, shout out to IUDs – they are neeearly 100% effective (and amazing for the women they work for – we’re getting a little too personal here but whatever) and to me, they seemed like the current BC of choice for a woman who’s being slotted into the “perfect girlfriend” role – no condoms, no fussy pills, no mood swings, no surgery. NOT TO SAY THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH ANY OF THESE OPTIONS OR THEIR SIDE EFFECTS, this is a story about a woman being conditioned/literally physically molded to be a feminine force in a man’s life.

    5. Charlotte Joyce Kidd ( Likes: 1243 ) says:

      Oh, as to the part about how we would recognize stuff/comparisons to our world, this was one of the parts I struggled with the most and that changed the most between drafts. Another thing to keep improving – how to describe things from the perspective of a character who doesn’t have the same terminology as the reader?

      I just finished Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black (highly recommend) and something I noticed she did expertly was write from the perspective of an older narrator looking back on his childhood, keeping the balance between the childhood innocence of the younger character, while using the later knowledge of the older character to explain things that the child wouldn’t understand.

    6. Naaman Edward Sugrue ( Likes: 106 ) says:

      This is some good substanive stuff and I’m learning lots. Very thought provoking – bravo all.

    7. Donnie Schultz ( Likes: 725 ) says:

      Thanks for the explanation. I appreciate the lengthy analysis of the story’s background. As with my own writing, I have to accept that the writing itself is self-contained. I can explain ad nauseum what I meant, but if it didn’t come across in the story, it’s all for naught.

      That said, my husband read Little with no knowledge of the concept or trope of the MPDG, and ascertained the purpose of this archetype just from reading your story, so good job there.

    8. Donnie Schultz ( Likes: 725 ) says:

      RE: Birth control — yeah IUDs are great. However, manufactured people who shouldn’t get pregnant wouldn’t need them. They would just be sterile.

      If I had to satisfy this logical sci-fi conclusion AND use having a child as a way that the MPDG “fucks up the role,” I would just do away with the IUD thing and turn to “how the hell are you pregnant, that’s incredibly rare, but we do see .006% of MPDGs exhibit fertility despite the genetic modification against ovum production.” You’d still have to justify why they wouldn’t just abort and surgically sterilize, but that’s just my sci-fi mind.

      Thanks again for the detailed response!

    9. Charlotte Joyce Kidd ( Likes: 1243 ) says:

      That’s actually a really good fix, Donnie. New editing trade-off?? You impregnate my cyborgs, I’ll de-frazzle your magistrates?

    10. Jill M. Talbot ( Likes: 804 ) says:

      You can tell that Donnie is a sci fi writer, he’s very concerned with practical details. I’m more concerned with lack of meaning and lack of character development, and what the point of the story is. And just so you know, expecting a reader to rely on Google will never fly with an editor. That said, that wasn’t a huge issue for me, just saying… A commentary on mpdg really needs to have characters with depth.

  7. Joëlle Corinne Marie Nadeau ( Likes: 81 ) says:

    Love the illustration! This might have been answered already but how long were the graphic designers given to work with? The colours and the maternal vibe perfectly capture Little

    1. Charlotte Joyce Kidd ( Likes: 1243 ) says:

      I honestly don’t know, it seemed like they were done incredibly quickly! They went up overnight between the first and second rounds, but they might have been thinking about them for longer. Or made 16 images and just not used the 8 that were eliminated in the first round.

  8. sclar021 ( Likes: 213 ) says:

    “Little had a shimmering, flat flying creature that looked like a silk scarf twisting itself into knots in the air. They had a snail whose shell was so large and roomy that one could walk in and visit the snail in its own home and comment on the good taste of the furnishings. ”

    Whimsical af <3

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