Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Flash Fiction by Michelle Ann King

Eternally Fecund

Every day, it was eggs.  Boiled eggs.  Not scrambled, poached or fried, not even an omelette.  Jerry could have dealt with that, but no.  Every day, she ate boiled eggs.  The pinprick in the rounded end, the fast boil, the perfectly timed three minute simmer.  The unvarying, inviolate quality of sacred ritual.  It made him nervous.

"I like eggs," she said, when he insisted on explanations.  As if anything was that simple.

He became worried about the violence of it:  the crushing of their flecked brown skulls with the back of her teaspoon, the deliberate picking away of their protective shell, the exposure of their soft inner flesh.

"Would you smash my head in like that?" he asked.  "Sprinkle salt on my brains and eat them?"

She gave this some thought while yolk dripped from her lips and nausea tightened in his throat.  "I suppose so," she said, "if I was hungry enough.  We do whatever it takes to stay alive.  And sometimes life demands sacrifices."

Jerry looked away.  He didn't like it when she talked like this.  She never used to.  When he met her she was sweet and golden and pliable, and she looked at him like he was a hero.  She told him her name was Iku.  She said it meant "nurturing" in Japanese.  He thought that was sweet, too.

"I think you were a witch in a previous life," he said.  "Making voodoo dolls, souring milk and cursing your neighbors."

"A previous life," she said, and laughed.  He didn't like it when she laughed at him.  Especially when he couldn't see what was funny.

She didn't answer to Iku anymore, and she didn't treat him like a hero.

She put down her spoon.  "The eggs are symbolic," she said.  "I am consuming possibilities, filling my belly with potential.  By making the egg part of my body.  I am assured of regeneration.  I am eternally fecund."

This is how she talked to him now.  Fecund.  Was he supposed to know what that meant?  The word made him feel more nauseated than the eggs.

"What happened to you?" he asked.

She might have looked sad, but he might have imagined it.  "What always does," she said.

You scare me, he thought.

"I know," she said, and cracked another egg.

Michelle Ann King was born in East London and now lives in Essex.  She writes mostly speculative fiction and has published short stories in over sixty different venues, including Strange Horizons and Interzone.  Her first collection, Transient Tales, is available in ebook and paperback now.  See www.transientcactus.co.uk for details.