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from the May 2019 issue

Bea’s Egg and Esmeralda in Bloom

In these two microfiction pieces, a woman adopts an egg and a flower awaits a man to tend to her. 

Bea’s Egg

Bea returned from the intergalactic market with a smuggled mineral from the depths of the Universe. During the night, she heard a tick-tick-tick. She got up, turned on her bedside lamp and gasped. The light filtered through the rock, revealing its secret life. 

“An egg?”

Against the light, Bea saw a small winged creature. 

“A tiny bird?”

Her budgie had died two days ago. She had cried and cried. 

“You aren’t dangerous, are you?”

Inside the egg, the creature turned into a flower. 

“You can hear me?!”

A snowflake. Then two, then many.

Moved, Bea held it to her chest. A moment later, a small heart beat inside. Tick-tick-tick.

“An empathetic egg,” said Bea, “what miracle is this?”

She started to cradle it, whispering a lullaby—the one she would have sung to the baby she never had. 

Tick-tick-tick, went the egg. Bea lifted it to the light: inside it floated a tiny infant, in every way like a human being, except for its minuscule, as yet featherless, wings. 


Esmeralda in Bloom

Esmeralda opens her eyes. The room is empty. She can’t remember how long she has been alone. Her arm itches: it’s the shoot sprouting from her wrist. Esmeralda watches it grow and put out leaves. Now her leg, shoulder and left cheek are itching. Vivid green stems slither out of her; leaves unfold, caressing her skin. The first flower blossoms on her face, the others open everywhere. Esmeralda smiles and shuts her eyes. When she reopens them, she’s no longer alone. She’s lying on her side, across broad knees. He’s back. Patiently, he pulls out weeds and shoots, flowers and leaves, stitches up the tears with a silk thread. Turning her eyes, Esmeralda can see the large needle go in and out, joining flaps of skin, pulling and tightening. On the floor, the flowers and fronds are wilting rapidly. He snips the thread, makes a tight knot, then arranges Esmeralda among the cushions on the usual armchair and leaves the room.


"L'uovo di Bea" and "Esmeralda in fiore" © Emanuela Valentini. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Sarah Jane Webb. All rights reserved.

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