Morass, A Flash Fiction by M. Pax


Overcoming Adversity Bloghop


Nick Wilford is hosting this bloghop in honor of his amazing stepson. He asked folks to write short pieces to fill an anthology, the proceeds of which will fund Andrew’s college education. My best to Andrew and his family in accomplishing his dreams. Some paths are harder than others, but I do believe all things are possible. I suppose that’s why I write the stories I do.



Muck suckled at my knees, gripping me, drawing me down beneath the earth. Around me, smothering shale walls rode up out of sight. Droplets coated their ragged frailty, and a lungful of sweet air eluded me. So did the sky. My world became mud, rock, darkness, and chill, permeated by the faint malodor of sulfur.

My muscles spasmed and twitched, cramping from the struggle to stay above the sludge. The effort seemed so futile, and I soon grew tired of being tired. I leaned back against the rocks, their myriad edges biting into my skin, their constant weeping soaking into my bones. Slowly, I slid down. The cloying mud claimed all but my shoulders, head, and neck. Somewhere in the murky depths were my hands, my poor lost hands.

I mourned them and my toes, the sun, and a sound sleep. Day and night I battled, and I seriously considered surrender.

When I was just about to succumb, one small sunbeam found its way down, warming my cheek, brightening all before me. That one brief respite reminded me I still had breath, and my mind still worked.

With those two precious gifts I floated above my morass to worlds never seen, worlds that never existed until I commanded them. I surfed nebulae and flew over Mars. Castles opened their doors and so did a land of mist and moss hidden in a great tree. I met diplomats from far off galaxies, fell in love with fantastic heroes, became the hero, and I stood tall. In new languages I spoke like a poet, and I danced on clouds with friends. So many friends. We laughed in a constant sing-song, and I always felt the sun.

My prison still exists, but it no longer matters. For despite all I’d lost, I can still dream. Wonder will always be mine.


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  1. February 4, 2013    

    “Castles opened their doors and so did a land of mist and moss hidden in a great tree.” Gorgeous…

    Loved it! I thought it was stunning. So happy to see so many fabulous entries for Nick and Andrew’s hop. Think it’s going to be a big success!

  2. February 4, 2013    

    Hi, Mary,
    You painted a yucky, hopeless picture that turned around at the end. Adversity overcome, even if it is in the mind. Well done.

  3. February 4, 2013    

    I hope the anthology is a big success, EJ. I was happy to take part.

    Thank you, Joy.

  4. D.H. Burns D.H. Burns
    February 4, 2013    

    Thanks for sharing this sparkling little piece. I loved it; well done!

  5. February 4, 2013    

    I thought this was a pretty depressing story at first. Then the sunbeam came. Nicely inspiring post Mary. It’s all in the mind.

  6. February 4, 2013    

    Hey, I can comment now!!!!
    The mind is still free, no matter what happens to the body.

  7. February 4, 2013    

    Thanks, David. It was great seeing you on Saturday.

    In many ways it is all in the mind, Maurice.

    Yeah, there was some glitch when I was editing yesterday and I guess comments got shut off. If my mind can’t soar, well, then I’d have a problem, Alex.

  8. February 4, 2013    

    A wonderfully evocative piece. I could feel that mud! You’re free as long as you have your mind – a great point to make. Thanks for taking part, Mary.

  9. February 4, 2013    

    Your writing is stunning. This was such a great piece.

  10. February 4, 2013    

    Amazing piece, Mary! Love the imagery and the struggle.

  11. February 4, 2013    

    Wonderful piece, excellent description — I was there in that ooze,

  12. February 4, 2013    

    Your entry is absolutely stunning, Mary! I love the speculative fiction. Incredible.

  13. February 4, 2013    

    You have a gift when it comes to writing vivid imagery. I could totally feel that mud! :D

  14. Pat Pat
    February 4, 2013    

    The human spirit is one tough SOB…
    Beautifully written Mary.

  15. February 4, 2013    

    Perspective and attitude are everything, Nick. Thanks for putting together this great bloghop.

    Thank you, Kelly and Chrisitne.

    I hope you found your way out, Yolanda.

    Aww, thanks, Michael.

    Hope you felt the sun, too, Melissa.

    It certainly is, Pat.

  16. February 4, 2013    

    I LOVE the way you write, M Pax! :)

  17. February 4, 2013    

    The little slice of sunbeam penetrating a hopeless world of mud, rock and darkness and the mental liberation…. a testament to the power of the indomitable human spirit!
    I love this piece!

  18. February 4, 2013    

    While this story is presented with the scenario that the narrator escapes from prison when her mind takes her to other places, perhaps this person is actually free in all those places she appears to be “dreaming” about while the prison is really what’s going on inside her mentally… Or maybe I’m just being overanalytical. Thanks for sharing. This is great!

  19. February 5, 2013    

    wow you are an amazing write, I love your descriptions :).

  20. February 5, 2013    

    Wow, that was really beautiful, M. Just wow. :)

    I’m jealous that I can’t write like that.

  21. February 5, 2013    

    You are an amazing writer, I am simply enchanted with your descriptions.

  22. February 5, 2013    

    Very descriptive, M Pax. Imagination knows no boundaries.

  23. February 5, 2013    

    Love the message in this, as well as the images! Thanks for sharing–it’s lovely!

  24. February 5, 2013    

    Thank you, Carrie.

    That was the gist of it, Michelle. Thank you :)

    That is exactly true, Cynthia. Bonus points for you picking up on that.

    Aww, thanks Unikorna and Stina.

    Which is the beauty of it, Diane.

    Thank you, Meradeth.

  25. February 5, 2013    

    I participated in Nick’s auction last year with a donation. I’m so happy to see everyone continuing to support this cause.

  26. February 5, 2013    

    I loved your short! Thanks for sharing.

  27. February 5, 2013    

    I hate it when muck does that to you, but there’s more than one kind. Awesome story! :)

  28. February 5, 2013    

    This is such an inspiring piece, Mary. I loved it! Honestly gave me chills as I was reading. Well done! :)

  29. February 5, 2013    

    I like seeing all the participation, too, Lee. I hope this contribution helps.

    Thank you, Julie. :)

  30. February 5, 2013    

    The sun is powerful thing, there are days when it’s the only thing that keeps me going as well. Very cool story!

  31. February 5, 2013    

    This was an amazing story filled with incredible imagery, and a powerful message! Now I’m off to rinse the mud off.

  32. February 5, 2013    

    The word morass alone has such connotations, and you certainly came through with quite the muddy, murky adversity. I love how literal this is. Really strong piece. I hope Andrew is reading these, too!

  33. February 5, 2013    

    Wonderfully unlifting story. Hope the anthology is a success

  34. February 5, 2013    

    Oops, I meant uplifting. I need auto-correct :)

  35. February 5, 2013    

    I mourned them and my toes, the sun, and a sound sleep.
    That’s an amazing line. Loved all the descriptions, Mary.

  36. February 5, 2013    

    I love this Mary and your ending, glorious!
    Well Done….I want more ;D

  37. February 5, 2013    

    Thank you, CM.

    There are many kinds of muck, David.

    When we moved from the rainy side to the desert side of the mountains, JA, I realized just what a big impact sun can have.

    Consider it a spa treatment, Julie.

    There’s also a metaphor in there. I’m glad you liked it, Shell.

    I figured it was a typo, Nigel. Glad you liked it :D

    Thank you, Damyanti.

    Thank you, Ella :D

  38. Elise Fallson Elise Fallson
    February 6, 2013    

    I was so relieved to see the sun come out after such a dark beginning. You write such wonderful detail, and in the end it’s just all about perspective. Great entry, Mary.

  39. February 6, 2013    

    Wow, Mary. Your little story had me in tears. What a beautiful and powerful ending. Just amazing writing, Mary!

  40. February 7, 2013    

    Your description is amazing! This story is beautiful even though it’s sad. I find myself wanting to see your character escape. Still, it’s an uplifting ending.

  41. February 7, 2013    

    I didn’t know how this was going to end, I felt the despair and then the spirit was lifted and the mind soared free. Lovely piece.

  42. February 7, 2013    

    I think happiness is about perspective, Elise.

    Glad you enjoyed it, Loretta.

    Thank you Trisha and Sally.

  43. February 7, 2013    

    I really loved this story, Mary! Very well done and a lot of great sensory input. Very nicely done and definitely uplifting, despite the sense of struggle.

  44. February 7, 2013    

    Thank you, Tamara :)

  45. February 8, 2013    

    Such a poetic and moving picture you draw with just a few words – I’m impressed! A beautiful and hope-filled piece of writing.