When Deer Shed Antlers

Flash
Josephine Greenland


Photo Credit: Noodlefish/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Contractions hurt like twenty bones fracturing simultaneously.

Fear twists inside me, more alive than the child wanting out of my womb. I bite down on the antler velvet, feel sinewy, vascular skin, raw and bloody against my tongue.

Taste the deer’s spirit, they say. Shed your fear like the deer sheds its antlers. Become the deer.

I close my eyes. Rub antlers against legs, velvet peeling off like old paint from a wall.

I stand tall, let the pain bleed out.

Birth is re-birth.

Afterwards, I remove the milky vernix and see my fear transformed in the newborn’s eyes.

Courage.

pencil

Josephine Greenland is a Swedish-English author living in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Birmingham. Her debut novel Embers is forthcoming with Unbound in March 2021. She was a finalist in the 2020 Literary Taxidermy Competition, won the 2019 Bumble Bee Flash Fiction competition by Pulp Literature and the 2017 Fantastic Female Fables competition by Fantastic Books Publishing. Her work has been published in twelve online and print magazines. She works as an English teacher and enjoys playing the violin and hiking in the mountains. You can follow her on Twitter @greenland_jm. Email: jm.greenland[at]telia.com