A collage of open books.

Editors' Pick: The Consumptive Heroine

This piece was penned by Luca Saitta for the Transcending Tropes Microfiction Competition. You can find Luca's blog at www.whollyonthelevel.com, or follow him on twitter at @servantofdagon.

In this tale, Luca explores the "old Victorian stand-by of the 'Consumptive Heroine', in which a beautiful white girl suffers from an undisclosed wasting disease that just makes her even whiter and more beautiful and ready to dispense comforting, authority-affirming wisdom beyond her years in the face of death."

The limpid morning sun hit her face just so that Sir Cecil Maitland thought he could discern in it no less than the whole of the beauty and wisdom of the angelic host singing the praises of the heavenly Father. Her pallid features and delicate hands wrought within him conflicting emotions. All his masculinity was urging him to kiss her right there, in the solar where she was spending her last remaining days surrounded by her favourite books and childhood toys. It was his paternal instinct that won out, however, as he merely stroked her hands and soothed her suffering with gentle words of devotion.

“Oh Anna… to give you the wedding you deserve! I do not have the means to do so, but I would call myself your husband before you are taken fr—“

Anna weakly raised an alabaster hand to Cecil’s cheek. She turned away her golden-haired head briefly, allowing her cough to dissipate harmlessly in the direction of the window. They both noticed the droplet of blood that stained the chaise Anna was lying in with a scarlet memento of the remainder of their time together.

“Speak no more, dear Cecil. What days we have on this Earth are exactly as many as God allows. If I spent them serving Him, then that is all I need to die happily. Only…”

“What, my love, what?”

“I know it is not proper… but we have so little time indeed...”

“Yes, darling...”

Cecil bent over closer to embrace his Anna. Anna opened her lower mandibles.

Half an hour later, the housekeeper opened the door to the blood-drenched solar.

“Will you be needin’ anything else, Miss?”

Anna, leaning on her formerly ivory palms, burped.

“More suitors, Margaret. Fucking consumption got me consumin’.”

The other editors' picks and the winning entry will appear in the coming days - so stay tuned!

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