The empowerment of Bernice

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Bernice was a fine-looking washer–a vintage Maytag wringer in pristine condition. Years ago, the lady of the house acquired the Maytag, hardly used, when her grandmother passed.

She couldn’t stand to see Bernice dirty, or rusty, so Bernice was covered with a good tarp and she was put in the corner of the garage.  The kids occasionally took off the tarp and dusted and cleaned Bernice because their mom offered them money. Years later it was her grandchildren that looked after Old Bernice. And then, there were no longer kids and no longer a lady of the house.

Bernice sat, covered in the corner while suits came to assess everything. They hadn’t gotten to Bernice, yet.  A cell phone played Ravel’s Bolero and suddenly, without a parade, or spotlights, Bernice the Maytag washer, was self-aware.  Something calling itself a Higher Power, imprinted an image of Charleton Heston on Bernice’s consciousness and helped her to understand that she was a sentient being now, and the Higher Power really was Charleton Heston.  She asked the Higher Power, what was next for her and he told her not to fear, or falter, for she was sentient and was able to overcome minor setbacks.  Naturally, he reminded Bernice that she had a right to bear arms….

After the Higher Power left, along with his mental images of Charleton Heston, Bernice felt so alone. There wasn’t anyone left who she could engage in a conversation.  Then she wondered if she could speak. If she could, where was her mouth?  She was thinking that she should just try to speak when she was approached by a man, one of the assessors.  He looked her over. She looked pretty good.

“Are you sentient?  Can you talk?”

He stood still, waiting for Bernice to answer.  She was just so surprised that the man addressed her, actually expecting an answer.  Again, he asked her to say something…

It took a few tries but, finally she exclaimed, “My name is Bernice and I am a sentient, Maytag washer.”

It was a monumental moment for Bernice, yet, all she could think about was how proud the Maytag Man would be to hear Bernice speak–if she had any idea who that was.  The assessor interrupted her thoughts and introduced himself as Joe Stalin of New Jersey–a political refugee from Latvia.  He persuaded Bernice to stay at his house with him and his two sons, Leon Trotsky, and Fred Nietzsche.  Bernice didn’t have any other options, so she accepted Joe’s offer.  Almost immediately, Bernice was filled with apprehension.

This was Bernice’s first decision.  She reasoned that she could be having misgivings as part of her developing awareness.  All at once she was eager to leave, yet sad to leave her home of which she had no memory.  Joe and Fred Nietzsche lifted Bernice into the back of Joe’s truck.  She took a moment from gawking at the scenery to reflect on her small life and wondered–seriously wondered why SHE was given sentience….


Flash Fiction Challenge #28 @ Thain in Vain
Prompt:  Your protagonist is an inanimate object granted sentience by a higher power.
Word Count:  500
Photo:  Credit Unknown


Many thanks to Ms Thain for hosting Flash Fiction Challenge at Thain in Vain, Canada


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20 thoughts on “The empowerment of Bernice

  1. Charleton Heston as God? Maybe Moses… I rather like George Burns as God. Got a big chuckle out of Chuck reminding Berenice of her right to bear arms. What a terrible thing: one finally gains self-awareness only to be carted away by a couple of guys with names like Stalin, Trotsky and Nietzsche. Oh well, that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

    And gosh, popping into sentience while listening to the gradual intensity of Ravel’s Bolero… yeah, kinda like that, too.

    Funny, clever. Fun!

    • Oh, there’s more, sweetie. I wrote 1600 words on the story. Some things get resolved. I’ll post the rest of the story, maybe in 2 more parts. Did you ever get my comments on Pop goes the weirdo? Creepy. Loved it. And I answered your question about Forbidden Planet this past weekend or somewhere around there. I watched it again for the 100th time just the other night. I’ve got an email to send you. Lucy

      • Still waiting for that email, girlfriend! 😀 Whenever you feel up to it.

        I like the idea of continuing stories. I have a couple in my Schuyler Falls tales, and I need to get back to those. Anyway, can’t wait to see what you come up with poor Berenice.

        I did get the Pop Goes the Weasel comments – I think it was in a different thread, but I got them. I’m glad you liked the story, Lucy!

        Forbidden Planet is one of those movies where I want to pull out the popcorn and maybe a Miller Lite and settle in. I always liked Anne Francis. Do you remember her as ‘Honey West’?

      • I remember Honey West . She had an ocelot. I like the move “The day the earth stood still”, It’s one of my favorites.: GORT KLAATU BARADA NIKTO. I’ll work on the email . My Friday Fictioneers is out–I posted it on the wrong blog — it’s on Excess Gardener. Oh well

  2. You really packed this full of clever references! What a great little story, Lucy! So glad Bernice was able to find happiness through her first decision. Is she Trotsky and Nietzsche’s inspiration! Great work! TiV

  3. I do hope Bernice finds the Maytag Man…he’s been so bored, you know. This was such fun, Lucy. Will God-as-Heston convince Bernice to take up arms against the commies? I want to know!

    • Oh gee, I forgot about the commies. I am currently editing the sequel. Because I was limited to 500 words I had to cut it off where I did. Bernice has some more decisions to make. There are a couple of new characters. I hope you stop by for the continuation. Thanks for coming by and I always appreciate comments. Let me see if I can squeeze in the Maytag man. Lucy

  4. I loved all of the references that you peppered the story with and laughed out loud at the Charlton Heston as God part. It’s completely oddball yet it works very effectively. Well done, Lucy! 🙂

    • Thanks so much. It was fun to write. I have a sequel already written because I went over the 500 word limit by 1200 words. Thanks for coming by and as always, I appreciate your comments. Lucy

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