Logo, MacQueen's Quinterly
Listed at Duotrope
MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Microfiction: 293 words
By Rebecca Dempsey

Woman of Salt


Annihilation is so complete, chemical traces of your composition contaminate the soil for centuries. Evidence rises, reluctant, through layers of broken earth. Crusting surfaces like snow. That’s all that’s found in disturbed dirt. No bones but fragments, no handprints, no jewelry. No weapons. No grave goods. No reed marks in baked clay. This is not Pompeii. It’s a city in diffusion. There are no casts poured into the hollows of your torment. Not here. Just invisible granules of palace plaster, vaporised iron, shocked quartz. Pulverised mud bricks in a disaster layer. Surfaces boiled into a debris matrix of shattered glass. Minuscule diamond detritus birthed from concussive force upon gardens and kitchens. A gem-studded blast radius scattered across a plain. Heat fractured stone; floor for a flattened, sterile hearth covered in a carpet of ash. A city carbonised in a cosmic airburst. Out of nowhere. Beyond nightmare. No dream divination, no dissected liver, no omen, no star foretold this. Unsought. Unpredicted. Un-oracled. You were dead before you could salt the ground with tears from eyes blinded in the instant you knew. Then you were particles in a scorching gale.

Myth rose like dust from obliteration so thorough it felt like the hand of divine wrath. No turning back, unlike survivors from further afield, who ran across barren land, then pilloried the victims with irresistible hindsight. Impulses to apportion blame: demonise a weathered pinnacle. Wife turned to halite for worrying her daughters weren’t following amid a cataclysm. Don’t tell me angelic retribution wrought this as punishment. Don’t tell me it was a comet, exploding in the sky. No deity spoke from within a whirlwind this time. More than angels or meteors, it was storytellers choosing to leave out your name.

Rebecca Dempsey’s
Issue 15, September 2022

recent works are featured in The Ekphrastic Review, Arteidolia, Livina, and Gastropoda Literary Magazine. Rebecca has an MA degree in Writing and Literature from Deakin University, and a BA Honours in Humanities from La Trobe University. She likes history podcasts and doodling, and lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Author’s website: WritingBec.com

Copyright © 2019-2024 by MacQueen’s Quinterly and by those whose works appear here.
Logo and website designed and built by Clare MacQueen; copyrighted © 2019-2024.
⚡   Please report broken links to: MacQuinterly [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡

At MacQ, we take your privacy seriously. We do not collect, sell, rent, or exchange your name and email address, or any other information about you, to third parties for marketing purposes. When you contact us, we will use your name and email address only in order to respond to your questions, comments, etc.