(Originally published in Kaleidotrope, April 2016.)
The witch had a favourite saying: where there's life, there's magic. There was a second part -- where there's magic, there's death -- but she usually kept that to herself.
She placed the newborn into the father's arms. He gazed upon the babe with wonder, then upon his wife with concern.
"Why does she still scream?" he said. "Can't you ease her pain?"
"There is still pain because she carries twins. There is a second part of this birth to come."
The mother lifted her head from the sweat-soaked pillow and shrieked louder. The witch went back to her work.
They called the first child Heavenly Gift. She had clothes and toys and kittens awaiting her, all stamped and stitched and branded with her name. There was also further coin for the witch, to perform magical blessings for her good fortune.
Her twin, unexpected and unasked for, had none of these things. They called this girl Second Part.
"That's not going to end well," the witch said, but nobody listened.
Since she hadn't been paid for divination, she didn't try to make them.
Michelle Ann King was born in East London and now lives in Essex. Her stories have appeared in over seventy different venues, including Interzone, Strange Horizons, and Black Static. Her favourite author is Stephen King (sadly, no relation), and she also loves zombies, Las Vegas, and good Scotch whisky. Her first short story collection, Transient Tales, is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon and other online retailers.
About the Narrator:
Nikolle Doolin a voice actor and a writer of fiction, scripts, and poetry. She has performed narrations for a number of popular and award-winning podcasts, such as The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and StarShip Sofa. She also narrates classic literature in her own podcast Audio Literature Odyssey. To learn more about Nikolle, visit her website at nikolledoolin.com.