Thursday, 17 February 2011

My name is Lily and I'm a... February Femme Fatale.

February Femmes Fatales - February 17th

My third filler piece on the Femmes Fatales showcase is one that is dangerously close to my heart. It has 'done the rounds' but hasn't been quite right for any publication so far.

Sometimes the desire to get it out there is stronger than the need to be paid (please don't quote me on that!) so I'm bringing Birthright out into the light. My protagonist is very dear to me, tortured and divine as she is; she makes me remember...

Please be gentle with her.

Birthright by Lily Childs

There is a child in my belly; in my womb. Yet no-one put it there. No-one I know.

Sixty seven years I have drummed this landscape, dancing and playing around the coasts of this island, but it is a good ten years since a prick thrust its way into my orchard.

Voluptuous was I. “Homely” they said. Vibrant of face and auburn of hair. Breasts to sleep against, curves to wallow in. But I slipped, and I fell, until my inevitable profession became one of passing love, a satisfier of desperate lust - over in an instant. Pregnancy, blissful and joyous, became an occupational hazard. I bore one child. It died. I bore a second – to order, and a third; fees of which I only saw a shilling or two, quickly spent. I could bear it no more; thereafter the back street snippers stole my earnings. By my fortieth year their butchery and the syphilis had taken its toll. No more a mother to be. Yet here I lie, a babe inside.

I am half-blind, toothless. My breasts hang to my knees. I can imagine how aroused you are by my unique beauty. But someone must have been, to have paid to experiment upon me. Someone slit me, opened me, stuffed me with nonsense, chemicals and embryos.

I feel it growing. My hands pulse with its heartbeat as I splay aged fingers across my rounded stomach. The size of it pushing upwards makes it hard to breathe. It means I must lay, propped up, when I need to sleep. The child kicks me, headbutts and beats my insides, making me shit and puke ‘til I faint on the floor. Everything I eat, it consumes. All I drink, it sucks dry.

I question the origins of the thing within me; it’s been two years in gestation. But I feel a mother’s love no less. Even as it eats me from the inside out, I adore it. Where it leaches my every last ounce of energy, I offer up my strength freely.

I lie in no hospital bed. No nurse, quack or doctor cares for me. My apartments are regal and glorious though I cannot tell if I linger in a fairy-tale tower or slumber beneath the ground, staring as I do through gaps and spaces. Windows on high, or subterranean vents - I know only that clawed creatures fly by the spines and vines that crawl with unspeakable insects, illuminated by stars and moonlight at the strangest angles.

Maids dress my suppurations, unseen servants deliver my feasts – for they are feasts, and they are extraordinary. Rare fruits dance across pewter platters with vials of rust-brown liquid peppering the scene. Here is softening laudanum; it dulls my senses, opens the blossom of my creativity, speaks with my soul, makes me cry…

Nothing, they tell me, can stop the progress. ‘Perceived genealogy’ means everything. It matters not that the foetus does not usher from twixt the legs of a Royal. Whatever the babe - miscreant or fully formed - they will nurture it, shape it, form it. It is their tool – political, governmental. A forgery. The princess, as in time immemorial will drop the cushion from beneath her dresses to show the next heir to the masses, and to her king. It is as it has always been.

“My son” the princess shall say. “His Royal Highness.” The crowds will adore their monarch as they have for centuries… And me? I will fade away, quietly, discreetly; a simple vessel for the monster.

I fought against this, my destiny. I knew, you see. Parading my flesh, denying my heritage - it was to no avail. The old blood of England fires through my veins. No Queen am I. A whore, they call me, but my mothers have slept with and comforted the Edwards, the Georges, the Henrys and Charleses. They tended the Annes and the Marys even, though no issue came from those unions. We, we are of ancient dynasties, as old as this land; worshipped ourselves once as deities – as Goddesses for the people. Look how far we have fallen.

Labour. Heavy, agonising labour courses through me. I vomit between screams, dropping in and out of consciousness. Women – women of child-bearing age with child-bearing hips unlike me stand around, deliberately ignoring my plight, waiting only for the birth.

It begins. Raging. Stinging. Even in my slack, flaccid, well-used tunnel the creature gets stuck. It flails around in my entry, causing us harm. But still I push. Hours; brutal, painful hours later the thing slithers from my blistered hole. Finally, I get some attention.

They take it away, expressionless.

It lived, I understand. You will know better than I if it was a girl or a boy. In your generation, or your descendants’ history books they will talk of this king or that, this princess or prince, waiting in turn to serve on the throne whilst the government bows its head in servitude. You will not hear, or read of the women left to bleed, untended until they die, their purposes served, again and again and again. All you will recognise are the tales, wondrous and heroic of your leaders, the Kings and Queens of England.

There is no Prince Charming. No happy and glorious benefactor reigning over us. There is only dominion; a bloody empire that accepts no blame.

Blame me. Blame my mothers and sisters.

Swear at me, tear at me. Point your fingers in accusation and disgust. But I beg you - not too much.

I had no choice. We did it for you.

Lily Childs is a writer of dark fiction and horror. Her stories have been published in several small press anthologies including Their Dark Masters; Extreme Vampire Horror, Daily Bites of Flesh 2011 and Caught By Darkness. You can read more dark fiction and poetry here on her blog Lily Childs' Feardom, where her demons dance in tutus.


  1. Fuck me, Lil!
    I'm full of wine 'n' that just tipped me over the edge. Wow.
    Nighty, night.
    Sleep well. Not!
    Ps. Sorry I couldn't say summat more articulate... amazing write, Lil.

  2. Amazing write, Lily.

    How dare you call your work "filler?" This and all the pieces you've given us this month stand shoulder to shoulder as some of the most wonderful, diverse shorts I've read together in one place, and your work is more than deserving to be among them!

    There is so much pain, and raw emotional suffering in this, it was difficult to go on in parts, such empathy did I have for the narrator.

    I did NOT see the ending being what it was, and it was perfect - the final turn of the screw.

    Awesome work.

  3. I think I know why this piece has never found a home. It's too raw, too sharp, parts of it cut deep into any woman's psyche so the editors who were female would reject it out of hand (had this with one of my novels, got told it was too close to the bone, a female editor) and the men - most of them - would never understand the depth of raw emotion on display. It's stunning.

  4. I think Col hit the nail on the head with the first line of his comment! What a great story, Lily!

  5. Astounding writing, Lily.
    As Chris says, hardly a "filler" !
    The "best" work of an author is not always immediately recognised. Good luck with placing it.

  6. Fat and lush, this piece is a volume. Just wondrously good Lil.

  7. Strong, angry, painful stuff. Well done Lily

  8. A two year pregnancy! Must admit, I was hoping for a monster or an anti-Christ. Wonderfully written as always, Lily.

  9. Stunning, stunning writing! So full of emotional artistry. It's both forceful and deeply sad. I'm glad it saw the light here and wish you best of luck with it.

  10. Thank you everyone, so much, for your kind comments.

    Antonia, that's a really interesting observation, well worth considering. Thing is - that's me, that's how I write. I would love to meet a publisher prepared to accept and pay for stories such as Birthright and those of other authors on the FFF showcase.

    As Col Bury always says "Tenacity is key."

  11. This piece cuts to the very marrow of the soul. It makes you feel so that you can't think. It's not what you say, Lily, but what you leave unsaid. This is a powerful, emotional piece. Feminine. I think my favorite of all I have read this month. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. A very articulate piece, Lily! A two year pregnancy - no-one deserves that! Emotionally draining to read - this poor soul used up and discarded.

    Well done!

  13. This is one of your strongest pieces that I've read. I felt as if I was in the hands of a master, this had such force and control behind it. And lately, I've been all about voice. This is exactly what I'm talking about when I say that -- the narrator couldn't be just anyone; the voice was unique and--did I say it already?--strong. Yeah, I'd look to place this somewhere if I were you.

  14. Perhaps it is the way you weave such a dark tapestry with slow and assured fingers, perhaps the layering of styles that evoke history, this achieves a rare balance between narrative and allegory. The strength of this piece stems from the figurative violation of some timeless womb, this is brilliant Lily.

  15. Apologies for my lateness. That was so emotional, brutal and above all excellent. It was bursting with great imagery and very well written. I have to agree with Chris. That was no filler!

  16. I thought this was a raw tale, one that would cut at our nerves and beg us to take it's hand along a journey of decay. In fact it felt like I was watching a time lapse film of a life rotting away like abandoned fruit. I was enjoying it a lot.

    Then this line leapt from the paragraph like a blade, 'Someone slit me, opened me, stuffed me with nonsense, chemicals and embryos.' I knew then we were in for the full darkness. Wow did it ever pay up.

    Brutal and eloquent without a word wasted. I loved this story. Thanks Lily.

  17. In no way can you call this story a filler - I'm slapping your hands! I loved the raw emotion and harsh tone of this piece and I'm glad you took the decision to post it for us all to read.

  18. Your protagonist seems archetypical -- distorted, ruined and victimized she is still The Mother. With a very unique voice. So much nakedness and pain in this. Well done, Lily!

  19. Wow! I don't know what to say Lily. This story simply speaks for itself. I love the raw emotion in this piece. It should be snatched up just as it is!


Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.