After the Will Was Read

After the Will Was Read 

The twin sisters hold each in a violent embrace like two exhausted swimmers. Alice’s hands are all over Maggie’s face, her neck, scratching and pawing and scraping at her skin in a filthy search for something to give her reason to surface. Anything to feel connected by blood and history to their dead mother and exclusion from her will except for the one flimsy object in Maggie’s possession.

The thrill of giving and receiving gorgeous violence shocks Maggie, so she hits and yanks again and again until she is lost in the sounds of tearing, the touch of slapping. Skin, so much living skin. Toxic and fantastic. The release of anger after months of tending to Mother’s needs before her death, the memory of Mother’s taunting she is not good enough to be her own flesh and blood and the blows she ducked because Mother didn’t know who she was.

Now Maggie’s hands are weapons. Sweat forms on her brow, above her lip, and saliva thickens at the corners of her mouth. The twins tear at each other’s clothes, at ears and noses, seeking flesh and bones, vessels and nails, each remembering Mother at her worst, at her best.

All there is left, is rage and being ravished by rage and the object in Maggie’s pocket. Both women are incensed by the twists of penniless fate befallen them and being touched and gouged all over is an answer to pain, so that when tomorrow comes, the memory of it will be in yellow and blue thumbprints and red sticky stripes printed on their faces to give shape and hue to suffering they cannot articulate.

Fat tears of blood roll down Maggie’s face in stripes where the cuts send the trickles this way and that. Her teeth are red, and the taste of iron is fierce on her tongue – a taste of violence blackberry-sweat like Mother’s jam, like Mother’s blood she imagines and smiles. Alice grabs her sister’s trachea, her ear; she hears the punching of her hands to rip out Maggie’s spotlight.

Collapsed, Maggie looks at the ground where she kneels; she sees the reality of dirt without flinching, and she bathes her striped face in puddles of rainwater, traces the cuts on her cheeks with her finger where her sister has marked her. The telephone wires above sway vigorously in the breeze sending a crow into the sky with its black feathers and its drooping claws. Alice watches the bird like a sermon. The copper tang in Maggie’s mouth makes her hungry for more to answer the fist of grief. 

She removes the photograph from her pocket to goad Alice. It’s a photograph of the three of them curling on itself at the edges. Alice snaps it from Maggie’s hand, wipes it clean then tears it in two.

‘Take your half,’ Alice spits at her twin sister. ‘Mother loved me as much as you.’

Louise Worthington

Louise Worthington’s short fiction has recently appeared in Scribble, Boston Literary Magazine, Microfiction Monday Magazine, Storgy (forthcoming), The Drabble, 101 Words, Fresher Press, Paragraph Planet, A Story in 100 Words and Northern Flash Fiction. She self-published her debut novel Distorted Days in 2019. She has a degree in Literature from Essex University.      


  1. Wow, visceral and charged throughout.

  2. passion is a missing component is too much short fiction these days. this work has life in spades. Super effort.

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