From the author: This is a very, very short story from back in the early days of Book View Cafe when I was publishing a flash fiction every week (eventually collected in Flashes of Illumination). I was inspired to post it by this article in The Atlantic.
Susanna offered to lay the body out, but Anne refused. Her spouse, her duty, though she cried as she washed that sweet flesh one last time. She reattached the beard hair by hair; no one would peek beneath the clothes, but the face must look right.
She cried again when the gravedigger began refilling the hole, but with relief. They had succeeded. Even at the worst time in their marriage – when Anne, bored alone in Stratford, had become pregnant by a traveling minstrel – they had kept their secret. Anne had lived free from male authority; “Will” had written and performed her plays.
But it was lonely in the second-best bed.
This story originally appeared in Flashes of Illumination.
When we started Book View Cafe, I posted a flash fiction every week. About half of them were reprints, but the other half were written on deadline. This collection includes all of them.
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