Your cart is empty. Go to Shop

Milk and Moonshine Mercedes M. Yardley

FFO_Milk_and_MoonshineShe was cursed with a fairness that strangled her. Expectations woven into her dark hair, an openness and roundness to her eyes that filled her with horror. They were too pale, too pure, too winsome to protect her. Terrors poured in while tears poured out. Hate and bile ran through her veins, but when her white skin tore prettily, nothing oozed out but healthy scarlet.

What is your name? they asked. Townspeople. Sweet old women. Starry-eyed men, lads whose bones were made of milk and oatmeal.

Pestilence. Famine. Hatred. Murder, she answered, but the words changed inside of her mouth, left her soft, dewy lips like starlight.

“My name is Orva. It means ‘golden one’,” she said aloud, and blushed demurely.

She grew up with a boy name Jorge. His last name meant “meadow”, and he was just like a meadow himself, with soft and gentle hands. He caught animals in his traps, whispering sweetly in their ears as he twisted their necks or slit their throats. He skinned them, his beautiful hands slick and red, and this is how he helped feed their village.

“This is for you,” he told her once, as tender and new teens, and handed her a stole of rabbit fur. He wrapped it carefully around her shoulders.

“Thank you,” she said, and smiled charmingly, then tried to slash her wrists on the knife at his belt.  Her eyes merely flicked toward it, instead.

“I’m sorry that I have to use such a thing,” Jorge said. “I hope it doesn’t disgust you.”

She looked him in the eyes and took his hand. For the first and last time in her life, her lips said exactly what was in her heart.

“Jorge, some things need to be. And you’re so tender with them while you do it. I’ve never seen such kindness.”

She saw the light in his eyes, and knew what it meant. Over the years, she never saw it go out.

Orva tried to shriek for help, to scream in rage, but her voice was so dulcet. So small. It tinkled like bells. Charming. Merry. She ran to the elder in town. Told him what she thought of him, of the oppressive ideals and the spin-and-twirl roll that she played. She told him that his mother was a hag and he himself a goat, and she wished he was dead. That they’d die. That the entire village would burn and be pillaged and everybody, including herself, raped and murdered and scattered about in pieces.

The words escaped her cupid bow lips and turned to honey. She heard herself laughing with pure joy. Praising his robe. Musing about the darling shape of the clouds. He patted her cheek and told her to go gather wildflowers in her skirt. To plait them in her hair, like the good girl her Mama had always wished for.

“Wishes sometimes come true,” the elder said knowingly, and something passed across his eyes like clouds. Stardust and magic.

Orva obediently skipped off, and cried the entire way.

Her tears were pearls, and made the town rich. They were sewn into bridal veils and fine dresses that she refused to wear, except that her sweet mouth could make no such refusal.

So fine. So good, the townspeople said as they dressed her. Isn’t she the most magnificent thing? Thoughtful and cheerful and full of beauty.

The flowers made an exquisite crown for an exquisite beauty. She tried to pierce her eyes with the thorns so she wouldn’t see how people looked through her, but she merely fluttered her lashes instead. She took her tender wrist to her mouth, touched it with strong, straight teeth, imagining how it would feel to cut through to the vein, to release herself and let people see what she really looked like inside. Perhaps they could love her for her own kind of beautiful. Perhaps she could be enough.

Her teeth didn’t tear into her skin. She kissed her own wrist, over and over and over. She screamed, and the sound of her joyful singing echoed over the valley.

Starlight. Moonshine. She had girlish love in her eyes, color in her cheeks. Jorge was no longer a boy. He stole soft kisses from her, breathless, far too in love, dangerous. No, Jorge, she said. I don’t want this. You don’t even know who I am. Take that knife on your belt and use it. Place it to my throat. Let me go.

He reached for something at his waist, and her heart filled. Shone. He raised his hands, ran them over her shoulders. Upward. She closed her eyes, white teeth biting at her lips.

I have something for you, he said. Slim fingers on her pale neck. Something cold.

The blade.

She hoped the pain would be swift. She prayed it would be sure.


A necklace. Made of precious stones and metal and time and desire. He fastened it around her neck, nervously. Tears ran down her cheeks, wetting his fingers.

I’ll take care of you, he said. Love you always. I’ll feed you on milk and pray to always see the moon shine in your eyes. Will you have me? Will you love me?

No, no, I don’t know how to love. I’ll poison you with my kisses. Kill our children in my womb with bitterness. It will be despair, and you deserve so much better.  

“I love you,” she whispered, and fingered the necklace she wore. Kissed his lips shyly. Buried her face in his shoulder. He held her so close that she couldn’t breathe.

She glowed. Smiled. Inside, she turned her face to the wall and died.

© Mercedes M. Yardley

Meet the Author

Mercedes M. Yardley

Mercedes M. Yardley

Mercedes M. Yardley> wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair. She is the author of the short story collection Beautiful Sorrows and the novella Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. You can visit her blog at


  1. PrinceMeel
    February 1, 2014 @ 10:47 pm

    Superbly written! An excellent display of inner torment.


  2. Meredith Morckel
    January 21, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

    Disturbing and delightful – and somehow that doesn’t contradict.


  3. Flash Fiction Online
    January 13, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

    Love this piece. So wonderful and disturbing.


  4. Joanne Kwoh-Maysami
    January 13, 2014 @ 3:39 pm

    Wow, so dark and deep…


  5. MercedesMurdockYardley
    January 2, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

    Hi, guest. Thanks for your question.

    It takes place anywhere and any time that you want it to. It’s a small, rural area that is far away from modern technology. Other than that, it’s up to you. 

    Hope it helps. 🙂


  6. guest
    January 1, 2014 @ 8:14 pm

    Where do you think this took place like what year:modern day or 1900 or lower ( for school) and I also need to know where.


  7. DavidSomebody
    December 19, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

    LindajoyJoyful: Wow. Your comments reflect a lot about you. You suppose men are immune to feelings of low self-worth and never burdened by compulsion to please others. How I wish it were so.


  8. LindajoyJoyful
    December 18, 2013 @ 7:38 am

    ‘This Sucked’ – I’m hearing that you couldn’t relate to this, didn’t find it interesting. Perhaps you never struggled with low self worth or the need to please others. I’m guessing you’re male? If it doesn’t relate to your own experiences, perhaps you could use the story to understand others better?


  9. this sucked
    December 17, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

    BORING!!! first 2 sentences I read and I’m done!!! WTF IS THIS??? you made me fall asleep!!


  10. TellATale
    December 17, 2013 @ 6:42 am

    Beautiful story


  11. Eli Stockdale
    December 14, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

    This story was beautiful. The characterization was entrancing. Your style seems so simple, but so vivid and wonderful. I loved this piece.


  12. MercedesMurdockYardley
    December 6, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

    Thank you so much for your comments!


  13. OraVan
    December 4, 2013 @ 11:51 pm

    Wow, that was incredible.


  14. EdgarAPoeChick
    December 4, 2013 @ 4:10 am

    Wow. Beautiful writing. Amazing imagery.


  15. LindajoyJoyful
    December 1, 2013 @ 5:39 pm



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Support Flash Fiction Online

Flash Fiction Online is a free online magazine that pays professional rates. So how do we make that happen? It’s due to the generosity of readers like you.

Here are some ways you can help:

Become a Patron.

Sign up to become a monthly donor and gain access to exclusive Patron rewards like manuscript critiques, insider submission statistics, the Editors’ Wishlist, free downloads of our current issue, and Ask Me Anything chats with the FFO staff. Read more…

Subscribe to FFO.

Never miss an issue! E-reader formats delivered to your inbox. Available from

Buy our issues & anthologies.

Each of our issues and anthologies are available in convenient e-reader formats (epub/pdf). Available from the Flash Fiction Online Store and WeightlessBooks.


Consider a one-time gift that fits your budget.

Spread the word.

Love one of our stories or articles? Share it with a friend!

%d bloggers like this: