Mike Casper is in the swim of things beneath the surface

On the surface of Mars

by Mike Casper

(editor’s –that would be moi–note: the purpose of this site is to make us all better writers, and to save the world.  Mike took some feedback seriously and made a few subtle changes to his original story, which I have to say gives it more clarity.  So I made the changes; Editors can do that. It’s good to be king.)


Swimming upstream I strain and groan,

Competition all around.

Pushing and kicking, I fight my way. I am the chosen one.

My destiny.

Finally, I reach my goal. I dive in, expected.


The blueprint has already been drafted.

The change happens, we become one.

Out of two, many. Many more to follow.

I am aware, dimly, even now.




Hi Sue, good morning.

I feel funny, babe.

How’s that?

I dunno. I wonder if I’m pregnant.

Mebbe you’re just a little sick. What did you eat last night?

No, really. I think I might be pregnant. What would you say about that?

You think? Oh my God. That’s a disaster. I’m not ready to commit, Sue. We hardly know each other. I’m too young. This is too much. I gotta go.

What? What? Don’t hang up, babe. I need you. PLEASE.


Dial tone





Two sticks on the bathroom floor. Pink + on one.

II on the other.

And an ominous empty box.



I will love you as no other.

I will sing to you in the sunshine and smile in the rain.

I will gaze in wonderment at a mommy cat nursing her babies.

I will gaze with complete trust and love at you who made me.

I will be your best daughter.

I will show you that I am worthy of your love and devotion.

I will make you happy.

I will grow strong and tall.

I will have freckles.

I will get good grades in school, and write poetry.

I will learn to fly, and walk on the surface of Mars.

You don’t know this yet, but I do.




a knock at the door



Just a minute.




What do you want, bastard? I thought you were too young.

Here, Susan.

Oh my God. Pink booties.

Tears mingle

Hold me, babe.

I love you, my darling Susan. Our baby…it’s a girl, you know. We’ll make this work.

I know. I love you too, babe.

What’s that behind your back, girl? Morning After Pills? OH NO.










I couldn’t take em, babe.








16 thoughts on “Mike Casper is in the swim of things beneath the surface

  1. Michael Stang says:

    Mike, the poetry of the child brought me to my knees, Mars surface, outstanding. I so admire the contemporary pen you expose to us (me) in surprising fashion. All of your work is an anchor and a beacon.

  2. Mac Eagan says:

    I think some of us, as writers, overlook the opportunity we have to be visual artists as well. The power of this story is magnified through the formatting. Poetic in presentation, but retaining the feel of prose. This also made me think about how we read a paper book, flipping pages faster as the story becomes more compelling. I found myself scrolling instead of turning, but with the same urgency. The white space and gaps only heightened my anticipation for reading the next line.
    That’s not to overlook the story itself. The mother and daughter characters were well developed using so few words. I found the man’s only line to be rather generic and worn out, but it works here because it shows us how shallow he is.
    Another great story.

  3. Mike Casper says:

    Thanks for the kindness, Mac. The man’s role develops, he’s not just a one liner. Initially he reacts as an adolescent, caught in the adult world, and acts in a generic, typical way. You totally nailed my intent there. A boy would run away. A man stays. Yet after some reflection he embraces not only his girlfriend but his daughter too, therefore assuming the mantle of ‘adult man’ in my eyes. ‘Father’.

    Out of two, three.
    Out of three, one.

    • Mac Eagan says:

      With your comment, then, I (sadly) have a criticism. Since the dialog is written without attributions, I lost my place at the end. I thought “What’s that behind your back?…” was spoken by the woman – that the man brought booties as a gesture of acceptance but also brought an option to go back to the way life was. In other words, “I will accept my role/this child if I have to, but we have other choices. I am not pressuring you but we could. If you want. I came prepared.”
      I showed the story to my daughter, Mari, and just asked her to read it and she was confused in the same spot.(“Why did he bring a gift AND the pills?”). It could just be a shortcoming on our part, genetic in nature.
      Now that I understand, I like it even better.

  4. Mike Casper says:

    One of the coolest things about these contests is we get to mature and grow as writers. I think the dialogue is crystal clear…he said. she said. he said. etc.
    Viewed through your eyes, though, I can see how a reader can be a tad confused. Maybe I should have used pink font for her and blue for him LOL. Work on that, will ya, Thorn?
    Thanks for your comments, Mac, it’ll help in the future.

  5. Tiffany V says:

    I got the same hiccup and would prefer blue and red. But as a poet I also respect the visual nature of the story. Well done.

  6. Jon Tobias says:

    That was an intense read. I wonder what we are to make of the pink booties if they are brought with the pills, and what we are supposed to think of the unnamed man in the story who would bring both. All the little details really add up for an emotional read.

  7. Stef says:

    The formatting is definitely unusual but I agree it lends just as much to the poem/story as the words do. So much in so little; both the wheelbarrow and the womb carry so little yet so much. Lovely Mike as always <3

  8. Parisianne Modert says:

    A womb without a viewer, peeing off stick, love isn’t pink and blue, there doesn’t have to be a mourning after pill. Even I have the contradiction of the fantasy of becoming pregnant versus raising children, so I get it, yet am glad that I have no need to pee on a stick.

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