by Mari Ness
Other people, it must be said, did not see a child, but rather rose petals delicately stitched together with what looked and felt like spider silk, soft and fragile to the touch. Yellow petals, for the most part, though where the child's face should have been the petals were white and pale pink, and where hands and feet might have been, the petals were dark red.
But no one said a word. They knew her tale: twelve children, all born dead, year after year, until her husband, broken with her sorrow, had also left, leaving the woman alone in a silent house limned with bright flowers.
And so, when she showed them the little bed of walnut and swansdown that she had made, the needle made of pine that could drip honey down a small throat, the blankets made of blue violets, they merely praised her work and her delicate stitches. When she spoke of her terror that the child might be snatched away, they countered with fears for their own children.