Mother’s Milk | M.A. Blickley| Flash Fiction

My lips tremble as if I am about to cry. Why do I constantly nurse wounds that open from my expectations of others? Sometimes, it feels like I’m the suckling of a Tin Woman who warns me she has no heart, yet dopamine builds with each puckered kiss.


You lactate a complex flow of contradictions that dribbles down my chin. I want to forget the day I found that first red stain on my nine year old’s Wonder Woman panties. Terrified, I run upstairs to tell Nana. My gentle grandmother slaps me across my face.


I cry, “Why did you hit me?”


Nana says, “Ask your mother when she comes home from work.”


The moment I hear your key click in the keyhole, I run to the door. When I speak, you slap my face too. You, who never laid a hand on me. Why? You shrug, “I don’t know, it’s what mothers do. That’s what Nana did to me.”


Why doesn’t my mother’s milk offer me the nourishment and immunity from judging myself as being nothing more than my menstrual flow? From fertility to maternity to menopause, must I believe that I am simply what I bleed?


Your milk sours in my mouth whenever you try to convince me your slap was done with love to awaken me from my childhood slumber. I was nine years old.


If I’m ever blessed to one day suckle my own daughter, I will offer up a kiss, not a slap, when she comes to me with her first red stain. I will celebrate her menstrual flow as sacred and beautiful, not shameful, as it honors her passage from childhood and will continue to do so right up to her old age.


Should someone ever claim her blood is a curse, I will ask: why is it painful to be reminded of your youth each month?


Images by Zoe Anastassiou.



Mark Blickley is a widely published author of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. His most recent book is his text-based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams.


Zoe Anastassiou is a Greek-Aussie-British actress. She can currently be heard as podcast regular Maddie the 8 yr old CEO on How We Manage Stuff, and daily, she can be seen in her 365 Blog videos. See more at

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