Wednesday, October 24, 2007


For the past eight months, Leslie Strange has been cowed by this acronym: “LMP.”

First of all, Ms. Strange despises acronyms; to her, they are like Dixie cups or swizzle sticks, things once intended to be useful but eventually inadequacy renders them kitschy. She doesn’t think it’s cute the way the newspapers refer to an institution as NATO or the UN. Why not just write out the whole stinking phrase to avoid confusion? NATO could stand for “North Atlantic Treaty Organization” or “National Association of Theater Owners” or the name of that Queen album “Night at the Opera.” Likewise, UN might stand for “United Nations” or “User Name” or “Uranium Nitride.” Acronyms and abbreviations might seem convenient and cute, but they can cause confusion, especially if a reader only gives the content a cursory eyeball. Considered in this way, acronyms reveal themselves as unstable little beings that might be diagnosed as Bipolar or Schizophrenic if they were to pay a visit to Doctor Dictionary.

Leslie Strange cringes when she reads LMP.

To Ms. Strange, this acronym stands for both “Literary Market Place” and “Last Menstrual Period.”

Ms. Strange is a struggling writer who also happens to be eight months pregnant. When she fills out medical forms, the box asks “Date of LMP?” She assumes the doctors want to know when she had her last menstrual period, not the date of the latest rejection she received from the Literary Market Place.

But as Ms. Strange’s pregnancy nears its final stages, well-intentioned women, who like to offer advice, warn her about PREGNANT BRAIN. “Pregnant brain,” referred to by some as PB, is a mythological condition in which the pregnant woman is supposed to experience some sort of clumsiness in her intellect; she loses her normal mental focus and turns into a veritable dumb dumb. That hasn’t happened to Leslie quite yet. But supposing it may happen, Leslie Strange is likely to get confused about the meaning of “LMP.” Perhaps she’ll start to worry that the Literary Market Place has ceased altogether on that fateful day in March when she ceased needing a tampon. She’ll assume there’s no use writing another word or trying to get published because her pregnancy is the equivalent of the financial industry’s Black Tuesday market crash. She thinks about this prospect with some narrative distance: "The writer Leslie Strange’s menstrual cycle is on hiatus; consequently, the Literary Market Place experiences a Great Depression." Now, Leslie thinks, that’s not a bad beginning for a wild-minded story.


Rob Hopcott said...

A great story.

How it must feel to be a struggling writer and eight months pregnant.

Personally, I don't bother with publishers et al, preferring to rely on people coming back to my site regularly if they like my flash fiction stories.

'Pregnant brain' is a nice phrase, though, which could also refer to the feeling of having so many ideas for stories trying to get out.

Hey ho! I'd better get back to the grindstone for one thing is sure. Pregnancy is the last excuse that is likely for me.

Demon Hamster said...

Excellent stuff, I love the way you take the pregnancy/writing parallel and follow it all the way out. I suspect I may find myself referring to the giant book on my desk as "Doctor Dictionary" from this day forward.

Tom Evans said...

I like Pregnant Brain too. This story isn't one for the men.

Seems a pity that pregnancy has caused a hiatus to this site.

(Assuming life imitates art!)

Casey Quinn said...

Wow, I really enjoyed your story! I wanted to pass on my information - I am the editor of a Short Story Ezine located at and was hoping you would consider submitting a story for a future issue.

Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

Loved it!