Flip Sides

Soldier and civilian. We move in parallel, our paths destined never to intersect. The soldier a force of order, marching ever forward towards her mission. The civilian a creature of chaos, wandering aimlessly with no direction. We are two sides of the same coin, each one made up of the same restless energy and fierce determination.

We are the same person – soldier and civilian. Soldier-us is a small spark, a firefly stuck to a mountain. A large spark, fireflies stuck to a galaxy, is who we are as civilian.


Want is the enemy. It fosters in soldier-us a yearning for a massive war machine. Soldier-us craves a barrel the size of Rhode Island, a magazine containing thousands of rounds. Civilian-us wants to destroy soldier-us for desiring a weapon that could wipe out a city of civilians. The destroyer within ourselves, we will annihilate. Her weapons we will spurn.


Salvation is a tall man with red hair, robed in white. He carries a sword of orange flame in his right hand, bears all the world’s sacred texts in his left.

Big guns spew big shells. The ground shakes under his feet.

Soldier-us and civilian-us are now separate, each a single person. Destruction has been averted, but the heroes are no more.

Soldier-us and civilian-us collide; each knows the other. Each sees the other’s heart; knows we are the same. Knows we are flip sides. Soldier and civilian. Wanting and spurning. Salvation and waste.


I used a random word generator https://randomwordgenerator.com/ to provide the starting words for each section:

  1. Soldier
  2. Want
  3. Salvation

I picked opposites based on the instructions in the Pick a Word script. 

  1. Civilian
  2. Spurn
  3. Waste

I fed the pairs of words into Creative Writing AI machine Sudowrite https://www.sudowrite.com/  in turn as the Pick a Word Script dictated, and used the ‘describe’ function within Sudowrite to generate suggested story arcs. 

For each section in turn, I selected a piece of text that was both concise and which I felt offered me scope to rewrite the paragraph to start and end with the relevant pair of words. 

I then manipulated the resulting paragraphs to follow the Pick a Word instructions with regard to the constraints on adjectives, word length (used a bit of discretion here), narrative perspective, tense, etc. 

Jo Clark is a genre-fluid writer from the North of England who begrudgingly co-habits with a passive aggressive domestic micropanther. Jo left behind a trail of abandoned work-in-progress novels in 2021 when she discovered flash fiction, but continues to harbour an unrealistic intention to return to longer form fiction. Proud to have words in a range of places including voidspace, Splonk, Daily Drunk, Cutbow Quarterly, Free Flash Fiction, and Ram Eye press, she tweets at @the_joclark