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Edition 20: The Bone Maiden by Greg Chapman

Marcella is orphaned and her aunt’s prisoner. Seemingly without hope, Marcella finds a friend in her dark place that may be her only chance at freedom. SY

(Inspired in part by “The Maiden with the Rose on her Forehead” by Consiglieri Pedroso)

In a locked bedroom, Marcella clutched her parents’ bones between shivering fingers, wishing for the day they would return to save her.

The orphan wept into her tangled raven locks, soaking the filthy bedding and nourishing the countless insects that called her bed home. She wanted to be dead, resting deep and cold beneath the earth alongside her mother and father. But her aunts weren’t ready to let her die just yet.

Hearing the key turn in the lock, Marcella sat up in fear. She secreted her parents’ bones beneath a pillow and put on the bravest face she could as her aunts bled into the room. Both were swathed in muck-soaked gowns of tattered lace. Vorrada wore a pointed cone the tint of a winter storm atop her haggard head, while her twin Eseina’s swollen visage was framed by a crooked Elizabethan collar. The pair drifted like smoke across the floor, their sunken eyes and indigo lips wide and wanton. Vorrada held a silver platter in her gnarled hand.

“Here child!” she said. “Here.”

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