She is, there—amongst the Mango Trees—a Flytrap Garden

Here’s a flash prosetry piece of mine which appeared in Verse Kraken in 2014! The formatting in this inspired me to do “stone”, my twine poem.

“She is, there—amongst the Mango Trees—a Flytrap Garden”
by Penny Stirling

For the summer holidays she goes north to her girlfriend's family's mango farm
of         parental introductions and appraisal—oh, scriptwriting? many jobs?
           red dust, sweat, spiders, mosquitoes and flies, wondering if she'll make it 'til New Year's.

bit overwhelmed but okay!
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painted skins, ungendered words, agender heart

The latest issue of Lackington’s is online for all to read now! You read my story, “Kin, Painted”, right here and see Likhain’s illustration for it, and there are other great stories and art to see. Ebooks are still available of course, and if you enjoy it then consider a subscription!

This story originated on a postcard in 2009. I was having difficulty getting back into writing back then, and I found that writing flash fiction on postcards meant I couldn’t agonise over words and sentences, what to do next and then after that. So I wrote a lot of them. Most weren’t that great but they were words, characters, plot, concepts that I managed to get out without a Word document driving me to anxiety. Last year I remembered this particular one and wondered if it could make a decent short story. In the postcard the narrator’s arc ended differently. Unique in its own way, but ultimately I prefer the newer version!


the origins of Kin, Painted

We painted our bodies.
My brother: gold like the ideal sun, rich like all the treasures of the world melted onto his skin. He went to the emperor, to be a measure man. If anyone gave the emperor a gift less amazing than my brother’s skin, it was to be melted down.
My sister: silver like starlight, as bright and glossy like a still lake had dyed her. She went to the …

I wish I could remember to whom I sent the postcard, see if they remember it and see what they think of its descendant.

And now I’m going to talk about being agender and writing ungendered and the stories and poems that I’ve had published this winter.

I have always been confused about gender. Society and presentation and theory, sure, but that’s all outside your skin. What was inside? How does gender inside people work? How does gender inside me work? Spoilers: it doesn’t. Earlier this year I had a series of epiphanic thoughts and was able to push through the “I don’t know I don’t know” that had always stopped me from progressing past “gender wh?” in the past. I mulled over it for a while, and it’s the only thing concerning gender inside my skin that’s made sense to me: I’m agender. Non gendered, rather than neutrois or androgynous. Gender is just not a thing that I have.

Yep, I’m a triple A. Aromantic, asexual, agender. My orientations and identity all default to “nope”. For the record, she/her pronouns are still fine, and I’m femme. UPDATE: I now use ou/ou or them/they pronouns.

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More Embers than Feathers Filled the Firmament

My consonance-based story “More Embers than Feathers Filled the Firmament” is online for everyone to read in Lackington’s issue 4! With stunning art by Kat Weaver! *___* There is some beautiful prose in this issue, as there has been in the previous issues! I’m so happy to be part of such a luscious endeavour.

(A-and it got such a nice review at Clavis Aurea, bwee!)

One note for the curious: “carnivore demon ducks” refers to the extinct Bullockornis planei, nicknamed the “Demon duck of doom”, the 2.5 metre tall carnivorous duck. There’s a collection of them at Kings Park.

I wrote a bit about the journey of “More Embers” earlier, and there’s the very short genesis of the birds’ war if you would like some more weirdy birdy words.

I don’t know anything about wagtails outside of Australia (didn’t even knew they existed until a few months ago!) but it’s difficult to imagine life without willie wagtails. They’re tiny, adorable, inquisitive and utterly fierce. They’ll attack any kookaburras, magpies (also wow non-Australian magpies are weird, I don’t know how youse cope), crows, falcons, eagles that get too close to their nests. And they’ll follow you around the garden as you weed, hopping about and wagging back and forth.


The Secret at Long Canyon

The Secret at Long Canyon
prompt-based, sword & sorcery, nakama; 2011; 950 words

digital picture

To say that they had let their guard down was an understatement even larger than the danger they currently faced. They had been carefree — their chatter verging on celebratory — and even Imoguin had sipped some of Swikae’s whisky.

Imoguin would not wake up now. Swikae clutched at the mage lying on her lap, relieved that at least she still breathed.
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Kan and the Corpse

Kan and the Corpse
fantasy, family, grief; 2011; postcard

Kan dragged her mother’s corpse back to town. Her brothers were waiting for her at the gates but did not help her with the body. They could not — they were dead.

“Where is she?” they asked and cluttered around Kan, for none of them had been separated from their corpses until cremation.
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Sun Words

Sun Words
australiana, fantasy, summer; 2011; 700 words

It is the longest day of the year. She has waited for today’s sunrise not just since she was abducted from her bed several hours ago, but since she was a child.

Or so the priests said.

She is chained to the stone slab. A quill pen is tied to her right hand. The sky begins to lighten. The priests bow one more time and leave her on the hill. They will come back at sunset. For her work, at least; there is no guarantee that she will last until then.
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Elie and the Ship

Elie and the Ship
fantasy, non-humans; 2011; postcard

It wasn’t the fact that the ship was conscious that bothered Elie. Nor the fact that it had developed a soul over the years — or had had a sailor’s soul grafted into it; the stories conflicted.

The thing that bothered — really seriously bothered, to the point that she was considering leaving at the next port — was that the ship kept trying to flirt with her.
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A Wagtail’s Wail

A Wagtail’s Wail
fantasy, surrealism, birds; 2007; 200 words

“To wit!” wailed a Willy-tail. “Westward toward wild laid-back drawling droving brethren we wish. Whether we shall sever summer’s ever-very-vast straining constriction never will we know. When wily coyote to canyons cavernous sent the Swan twins searching, gnarly gnome-nemesis satan assailed our silver city tree, each leaf laid down with yon wild betrayal twisting aside safe nests. Stunned, soon stenching, once-starry stencils staunchly stemmed the drawn demon tide.”
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Tegan and the Queen

Tegan and the Queen
fantasy, non-humans, relationships; 2011; postcard

Tegan kills the King for the princess. She has always done everything the princess has asked of her, for better or for worse.

In better times, Tegan would have been tried and executed for treason — and lied for the princess — but with the King’s possession there are few people saddened at news of his death. Sad death was the only exorcism, yes, but not that the throne will once more be taken by a human.
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