Babies born without souls die. Amma’s great-grandson, born with half a soul, appears to be failing. Vette, the baby’s mother, brings him to Amma, asking if there’s anything she can do. The baby is refusing to eat. Even if they spoon milk into his mouth, he pushes it out with his tongue and lets it dribble down his chin. Is Vette to blame? Did she do something wrong?
“Of course not,” Amma tells her. “It was the fire, eating up all the soul flowers.”
Vette does not hear her. “Maybe if I had rested more. If I’d sung to him more—if I’d eaten more bone broth….”
Amma hands her baby back, telling her she will see what she can do.
This is a magical little tale, one that depicting love between family members. The love is not spoken but shown. Is it even understood by the recipients? It relies on secret knowledge of elders. While the knowledge is secret, it is shared willingly with anyone who will listen.
As brief as the tale is, it says a much.
Author M. K. Hutchins studied archaeology at BYU, which, according to the bio note on her blog, allowed her to “compile histories from Maya glyphs, excavate in Belize, and work as a faunal analyst.” The final item, presumably, has to do with the examination of animals remains.
She uses her background in archaeology in her writing. To date, she has one novel, Drift, a YA fantasy based in part on Maya myths, and a collection of fantasy and science fiction titled Hidden Paths. Her short fiction appears in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Podcastle, Daily Science Fiction, among other places.
Title: “Seeds of the Soul Flowers”
Author: M. K. Hutchins
First published: Daily Science Fiction, July 2018
The story can be read for free here.