Gone Art (Jane Doe Flash Fiction)

Each week, Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch hosts the Rough Writers and Friends flash fiction challenge. This week’s prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) go down the rabbit hole to a place where art is not allowed.

Jane sits quietly in the sand, eyes toward the horizon. The trees blur into smudges as the lines of sea and sky draw her eyes.  The breeze whispers to her, a voice without words.

Her fingers almost itch to feel the smoothness of the blank page beneath their tips, to hold a charcoal pencil. She has written poetry on her phone before but in these days of want, sketch pads and pencils are a luxury she cannot afford.

As if by magic, a stick is in her hand and her hand is moving, lines in the sand, then more.


So, I walked away from the cue with the wrong thing in my head. It read “a world where art is not allowed,” and I had taken with me only the idea of no art, not disallowed art. I could have had a horrific little dystopian flash there.

I think my take would be same, though: A world with humans in it, and no art, is simply not possible. I’m not trying to normalize defunding national arts and humanities programs; far from it. But I also believe that, once again, Der Pumkinfuhrer just doesn’t get it. This is a guy who only thinks of tits and makeup when he thinks of beauty; who measures success by the size and altitude of the office and how much gold gilt crap is covering every visible surface. We had art long before we had programs or even schools for it, and we will have art even without those things. The human spirit has always communicated itself, expressed itself for others to know: its dreams and nightmares, its love and its fear, its laughter and its anguish and its thanks to God, by whatever name you choose, for such a beautiful, terrible world. The Talking Yam can take away money all he wants, but art is about so much more than money. Just ask a typical artist, the community theater actor or writer or Etsy shop-owner who has a day job because art doesn’t pay that well. Even without financial support, artists will make art.

This doesn’t mean I think we should sit by and let this defunding just happen; no. Captain Chaos will never get it, but that doesn’t mean we should let him win. Art is vital to humanity, which is why it’s always been. Where there have been human beings, there has been art. Art reflects our society, and informs it; graffiti is art. Art tells stories and changes minds. Art makes us look at ourselves, and it looks back at us. Humanity does not exist without art that expresses it. Why else is the study of the arts called “the humanities?” (And this is why The Trumpster doesn’t get it: He’s not human. He’s a space alien. You heard it here first.)

Keep making your art, even if you’re drawing pictures and scribbling haiku on the backs of old bill envelopes. And just as importantly, keep resisting. My lovely friend Soraya turned me on to this cool tech that makes it a piece of cake to perform one act of resistance every day: ResistBot. Check it out.


Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

7 thoughts on “Gone Art (Jane Doe Flash Fiction)”

  1. As Churchill famously (didn’t) say when asked about cutting arts funding, ‘then what are we fighting for?’

    He may not have said it, but the point stands. Art, in whatever form (and I include people like that dude who jumped from space a couple of years ago – people who do stuff just because it’s there) is what separates us from the animals. It’s a beautiful thing and it will always be made. I’ve spent thousands and thousands of hours on a novel that will likely not make me a penny. But as you say, that shouldn’t excuse the the attacks on it in times of austerity/ignorance. We have the same in the UK. This Tory government can’t cut arts funding quick enough.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, I think that’s been an overwhelming response this week: you can’t disallow art; it will continue to be expressed. For Jane Doe, it reads like muscle memory. And as for your alien scoop, I hope you can sell that and make money to pursue your art!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Love this piece, Deborah. I love that Jane Doe’s fingers twitched and that she found the stick to draw in the sand. Drawing in sand is so therapeutic. Maybe she has found a new way to care for and express herself.
    I totally agree with everything else in the rest of your piece. Yep, art has always been and always will be.

    Liked by 2 people

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