KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Micro-Fiction: 391 words

How Miriam Became a Poet

by Barry Peters

Screw this, Miriam thought, sitting in the high school cafeteria on a cold Saturday morning.

Screw the ACT.

Screw the prep classes her parents forced her to take after school twice a week.

Screw the hour of pre-coding name and birthdate and gender and street address and email address.

Screw the career interest inventory.

Screw bubbling in only one answer for each question in a heavy dark circle with a No. 2 pencil, staying within the oval, no stray marks.

The science section was first. Questions about Jupiter’s gravitational field and peony seeds in dry containers. Miriam bubbled ABCDE for the first five answers, then EDCBA for the next five, then ABCDE, then EDCBA. She admired how her bubbles made big Xs across the answer sheet.

On the math section Miriam was told that mines frequently fill with water. How many gallons per minute... Miriam forgot to bring her calculator so she sat there picturing martyred miners, the lights on their helmets shining up through the flood. Then she bubbled C for every answer and added ABDE on every fifth question, the crosses down the answer sheet illustrating her hope of salvation.

The next section was reading, something Miriam would have been more interested in, should have been more interested in, she thought, but the passages were thoroughly uninteresting—a comparison of perennial and annual flowers, the history of the paper clip, a short story about a man painting his house. Now Miriam became bolder, deciding to bubble C for the first fifteen answers and ABCDE for the final ten, giving the College Board a graphite middle finger.

The final section was English—agreement, apostrophes, fragments. Miriam knew this was grammar, not really English, the kind she learned from her smart and caring and philosophical senior British Literature teacher, Mr. Baader. It then occurred to Miriam that she could write a poem:


She left the next answer space blank for a stanza break.


Blank space.


Blank space.


The test was over.

When the results came in, Miriam’s guidance counselor told her that she scored in the seventh percentile nationally. She might consider technical training after high school. Miriam asked him what the “V” stood for in HVAC, but he didn’t know.

Verse, thought Miriam. And victory.


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