They Burn Women Here

“I’ll love her like my own, she’ll want for nothing,” the lady says as I leave, blanking my eyes to rose-petal skin, closing nostrils to sun-warmed scent, ears to new-born purrs.

When they come for me, I’ll know she’s safe with her new mama.

They burn women here.

The pyre in the village is stacked high with favourite trees – dancing willow, stately oak, gossipy alder, caring birch. I trust them to offer succour when I stand amongst spiralling flames. I hope to accept my fate.

My daughter is the seed that will flourish, grow roots, come into her inheritance, someday.

This story was shortlisted in the June 2023 monthly micro fiction competition.

About the author: Maria Thomas is a middle-aged, apple-shaped mum. Maria recently won Oxford Flash Fiction and named Best Speculative Fiction by Welkin Prize. Maria won Free Flash Fiction’s Competition 13, Retreat West’s April 2022 Micro. She placed in LISP and Propelling Pencil in 2022. She is on Twitter @AppleWriter and Insta @AppleShapedWriter.