Malinche On The First Night

A translator had value if she helped conquer empires, Cortes said. He rang a bell and had her bathed as was the custom in Spain: slaves scrubbing to remove brownness from her skin. Looking at them was like looking into a tomb—two ghosts staring at one another.

Cortes rang for her, though she had once far outranked him. He stank of dirt, sweat and the hunger of violent men. When he slept, she reached over his body and rang the bell with the hand he claimed to own. She would not die small in a home full of ghosts.


Story prompts: Historical fiction, ringing a bell, “custom.”

This story won 3rd place in its group in Round 1 of the NYCMidnight 100-word Microfiction Challenge! That means that from about 80,000 stories, this one is among the 1,600 winners, and puts me in Round 2!

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