Susan Cornford

Posted on July 31, 2017


Venus Calling Mars

Janine took a deep breath and opened her mouth. Months of preparation had gone into gathering data, planning her presentation and building up her nerve to confront the glass ceiling in her part of the world.

“Gentlemen, I would like to present my findings, regarding the disparity between male and female workers in our industry.” She looked around and saw yawns, watch-gazing and coffee-studying. She felt her heart rate and breathing increase, her skin flushing hot; a full head of steam was building that would soon escape explosively.

Chanting an internal mantra, she shuffled her notes as if seeking a pivotal fact. And then she found one, deep inside herself, where she hadn’t thought to look for it. It was something her mother had said to her when she was still quite a little girl.

Putting aside all her carefully collated material, Janine looked each of the men in the eye in turn, got their full attention and then spoke to them from the heart. By the end of the meeting, she had got some reflective looks, questions of interested speculation and even a few nods. They all shook her hand and thanked her before she left them to work through the remainder of their agenda.

She knew they would forget most of what she had said, but she had planted the seeds that, like jungle plants, would eventually rupture the glass ceiling with upward pressure. She had risked her job, but had been bold enough to plant those seeds.


Susan Cornford is a retired public servant, living in Perth, Western Australia. To date, she has (co)won one competition. She has pieces published or forthcoming in 50-Word Stories, Antipodean Science Fiction, Ghost Parachute, Switchblade, The Fable Online, The Gambler and The Vignette Review. She now considers herself an emerging flash writer.

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