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News & Features » June 2017 » “Coercion” by Mark Budman

“Coercion” by Mark Budman

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, Mark Budman bears witness to a bedtime protest. 

by Mark Budman
11-month old

I was putting to bed my 11-month old granddaughter, the half of the twin team. The other half was already asleep, her hands around her bunny, her binky dreaming its dreams next to her cheek.

The snow was falling outside, light and soft, and innocent. The first half of the team refused to sleep. She held her binky sidewise in her mouth, like a flamenco dancer holding a rose. She used the liberal slogan “Resist” to justify her refusal, but I overcame her resistance with the conservative coercion, namely by singing a Russian lullaby. She was asleep in five minutes.

The snow blanketed the trees in a tender hug. I could hear a gentle snore coming from the outside. Was it the climate change that fell asleep at the wheel or the wind singing the lullaby to the trees? Whatever it was, I stood firm, conducting myself well, the last line of defense.  


MARK BUDMAN was born in the former Soviet Union. His fiction and non-fiction has appeared or is about to appear in such magazines as American Scholar, Huffington Post, World Literature Today, Daily Science Fiction, Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, The London Magazine (UK), McSweeney’s, Sonora Review, Another Chicago, Sou’wester, Southeast Review, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, the W.W. Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, Short Fiction (UK), and elsewhere. He is the publisher of the flash fiction magazine Vestal Review. His novel My Life at First Try was published by Counterpoint Press to wide critical acclaim. He has co-edited flash fiction anthologies from Ooligan Press and Persea Books/Norton. He is at work on a novel about Lenin running for president of the United States.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jun 13, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , ,