Little Pilgrim

Gillian O’Shaughnessy

Your cousin sees it first. Look. There’s sauce on your dress. You twist round, see a crimson bloom flood the white cotton, the colour of roses in grandma’s garden, their heavy scent, the flowers you use to pin in your doll’s hair or gather for vases. At night when he creeps in for goodnight kisses, he presses his mouth down hard on yours like you’ve seen cowboys do on Saturday movies. Well, he says, before he turns off the light, you’re a woman now. You curl up small, think about John Wayne and how you hate the smell of roses.

This story won Second Prize in the July 2021 Monthly Micro Fiction Competition.

About the author: Gillian O’Shaughnessy is a writer from Australia. Her work has been published in SmokeLong and Reflex Press.