(100-word flash fiction)

The baby was a gruesome freak. Of nature. Born after years of prayer and pilgrimage. The nurses would bring him for a feed but she couldn’t bring herself to touch him, let alone take him to her breast.

The woman in the next bed sobbed through the night for her perfect, stillborn baby. The small room pressed down heavy and oppressive with the weight of two empty cradles.

Her depleted womb became a bloody battle ground. Disappointment warred with Despair until Guilt started to trounce them both.

Eventually, Self Pity won. Her room on the seventh floor had unbarred windows.


A couple of weeks before the festival of Diwali, Hindus celebrate the festival of Dusshera. Prior to that for nine days, Navratri (nine nights) is celebrated, culminating with Dusshera celebrated on the 10th day. In the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, during Navratri, a dance form called Garba is performed during the nine nights. People dressed in colourful attire dance around a clay lantern with a light inside, called a Garbha Deep (“womb lamp”). This lantern represents life, and the foetus in the womb in particular. The dancers thus honor Durga, the feminine form of divinity.

The lit tent reminded me of the lit pot with lighted little lamps around it with the dancers performing during the night. Except that, for the protagonist, there was no light.


This week’s photo prompt is so lovely, I was loathe to write such a sad story but life is like that. Thanks to Rochelle’s fabulous hosting, we have all gathered for another Friday Fictioneers feast.

PHOTO PROMPT© Jan Wayne Fields

43 comments on “Womb

  1. Dear Joyful,

    A very sad story for both mothers. I’m willing to bet the mother of the stillborn would gladly take the deformed child of the protagonist. Very nicely done. Thank you for sharing the cultural aspect.



  2. Sad story. like the notes on the festivals. Wondering how to tie the story and the festival together… no, that would just be too gruesome. Excellent story this week.

  3. This was deeply moving, thought-evoking and so were the comments. You did well putting these two women together and juxtaposing there situations so intensely. I’m so sorry the woman jumped and took her life without giving the situation time to come to terms with her child’s disability. Such a tragedy but perhaps the woman with the stillborn child will adopt the disabled one now.
    xx Rowena

      • In so manyt ways death and heaven are the ultimate “grass is greener”. Recently, my son asked me why don’t we just die and end our suffering. It was a very good question. Well, it would’ve been if there hadn’t been such despair and frustration behind it. I reminded him of his upcoming school ski trip at the time. I was looking for a circuit breaker at least until I could get my thoughts together and he’s not one to get stuck in a bad mood for long either. Anyway, I thought you might appreciate this rather long reflection on the subject: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/heaven-or-earth-reflections-from-the-dark-side-of-the-moon/
        I think we as a society do need to talk more about how to manage when things in life don’t go our way and how to get through it. There’s too much emphasis on being able to get what you want and always being happy.
        xx Rowena

      • Thanks for your thoughts Rowena. It’s past midnight here and so I shall read your post, maybe, tomorrow. Don’t worry, I am not in despair or suicidal. The story just came to me, that’s all. But being Indian, and believing in re-birth and Karma and all that, I don’t believe that death ends anything. More than our conscious mind, our soul decides when to depart from the body. But yes, you’re right, we all need to learn skills to deal with disappointment and despair.

      • I am quite conscious that creative people can be inclined to be quite sensitive and reflective. I heard of a family friend who took their life recently and I’m quite active no about reaching out to people not necessarily people in crisis but at the moment I’m just trying to be more positive and encouraging through everyday interactions, and I’m seeing that simply talking to people when I’m out walking my dog, brightens everybody up. I am seeing responding to people in difficulties being like an onion with crisis at the centre but these casual interactions on the outside on the onion and my thinking is that if we increase these positive interactions on the outside, we’ll help prevent people from ending up in crisis at all. Any thoughts? As you can see, I’m quite a deep thinker myself.
        xx Rowena

  4. I work with high-risk (and sometimes abnormal) pregnancies and I have seen both sides of this. I love how you contrast the two outcomes by putting these women in the same room. Sad talk, well told. Loved it.

C'mon, don't be a silent spectator ....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s