“The setting is inspired by southwestern Shropshire, and the period by the Elizabethan era. The story concept came from playing around the ideas of the Four Humours and spontaneous generation, although of course the generation I ultimately went with wasn’t really spontaneous.”
Thing in the Bucket
by Eric Esser
‘Are you all right?’ he said.
She whispered, ‘I am bleeding.’
Pritcher dealt in the art of the bleed, so it was unsurprising she had come to him. ‘Can you show me?’
‘From inside.’ She pressed her belly, then brushed at her petticoat.
Pritcher considered Sarah’s young age and air of shame, and then smiled. ‘You mean it is worse than usual? Or at the wrong time?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘The time of month you bleed.’
She stared at him blankly. Was it possible she did not know? Her parents had died some years before, so she’d been raised by the barkeep, Elias Grubbs. He was well-meaning, but not the brightest man, and a widower without daughters of his own. Such subjects were not spoken of in Drumby Hole between young girls; the vicar taught them not to succumb to the corruption of flesh, to focus on God when it tempted them.
Surely someone must have taken an interest. That older barmaid, perhaps. ‘Has Lizzy never mentioned the curse?’
Sarah shook her head. ‘I’m cursed?’ Her voice trembled.