Fiction from Suzanne Verrall
There was a woman who loved her children so much she ate stones to fend off hunger while feeding them what wizened roots and tubers she could forage. She visited neighbours, begging for mean scraps to keep her family whole. The neighbours gave what they could, sometimes denying their own chickens or pigs, so evident was the woman’s love for her children.
She blessed her neighbours for their kindness, hurrying home with her meagre bounty, for her children were as demanding as fledglings, gawping and insistent, and she could not bear to witness the pain of their hunger.
All the while swallowing stones to keep her belly full.
Consumed by jealousy, the children sliced their mother open while she slept. Stones, sharp and unforgiving, tumbled from her gut.
“That’s her secret,” they said, and gobbled up every last one.
Of course by morning they were all as dead as doornails.
Suzanne Verrall lives in Adelaide, South Australia. Her flash fiction, essays and poetry appear in Flash Frontier, Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Fiction, Archer Magazine, Lip Magazine, Poetry NZ Yearbook and The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts.