How to Survive a Bear Attack

by Jennifer Moore

1. Avoid eye contact
An easy one to start us off. Easy for a two-year-old anyway. For someone who thinks covering their eyes makes them invisible.

2. Back away slowly
Oh yes, I’ve seen the footage the nice people took on their phones and plastered over the internet. It’s still up there all these years later. Backing away like a pro, I was.

3. Don’t run
On my little legs? Fat chance. I’d only just mastered backing away.

4. Make a noise
Screaming counts. Doesn’t matter what you’re screaming about – it’s volume we’re after here. Scream about the bump on your head (that’s what you get for backing into the wall with your hands over your eyes). Scream because you soiled your nappy on the way down. Scream for your Mummy. That works. I mean, it doesn’t bring her back, but it brings the other people running. It brings all the phones out. Sets them to ‘record’.

5. Stand tall
Not quite so easy for a two-year old. Especially not a malnourished one with stunted growth.

6. Fight back
Or wait for the pale-faced zookeeper to rescue you. That does the trick just as well. If not better.

7. Avoid eye contact
With everyone who isn’t your Mummy. And none of them will be.

(Feel free to carry on screaming.)

8. Lie
Tell yourself she didn’t mean it.

Tell yourself her hands slipped.

Tell yourself it was the drugs. That she didn’t know what she was doing.

That’s it. Keep telling yourself that.


Jennifer Moore is a British writer and children’s author from Devon. Her fiction publications include The Guardian, Mslexia, The First Line and Short Fiction.  She is a previous winner of both the Commonwealth Short Story Competition and the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest. Find her online at jennifermoore.wordpress.com or on Twitter @JennyWriteMoore.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “How to Survive a Bear Attack”?

“How to Survive a Bear Attack” grew out of a number of recent news stories about people jumping or falling into zoo animal enclosures, with terrifying footage readily available on the internet. I originally conceived it as a wolf attack but decided bears worked better. 


Congrats to the Best Small Fictions nominations from Matter Press for Compressed Creative Arts: Sara Backer’s “Oh, What a Night”; Dan Crawley’s “Powers”; Jill Talbot’s “Malahat Highway on Boxing Day”; Christopher Allen’s “Falling Man;” and Kathy Fish’s “Five Micros.” Congrats to Christopher Allen for being chosen to appear in BSF 2019 from Sonder Press.

Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions is now open. Check out our new category triptychs! The submission period closes June 15, 2019; submit here.


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