“Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment” — M. Rickert

M. Rickert’s stories have been appearing regularly in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for several years, starting in 1999 with her first publication, “The Girl Who Ate Butterflies.” Her work has also appeared in SCI FICTION and the anthologies Wastelands, Poe, and Feeling Very Strange. A new collection of her short fiction, Holiday, came out in November. Her first collection, Map of Dreams, won the World Fantasy Award and the William L. Crawford Award for best first book-length work of fantasy, and her story, “Journey to the Kingdom” won her another World Fantasy Award and was a finalist for the Nebula Award. This story was a finalist for the Stoker, British SF, and Shirley Jackson awards.

In 1979, Ruhollah Khomeini—Islamic scholar and fundamentalist—became the Supreme Leader of Iran. In this position, Khomeini served as the highest political and religious figure of the nation.  Under his leadership, a revolution swept across the country, brushing aside years of Western influences.  Women with college educations stepped down from their work as doctors, educators, and business associates, and returned to their traditional place in the home.  They put on their veils and scarves and became invisible to everyone except their closest family members.

Rickert says that our next story was meant to take a sort of sideways look at what has already happened to women in countries where their freedom is denied.  It’s a story set in an America that has made its own conservative revolution.  It’s a world with harsh rules for women, and a strict delineation of acceptable behavior.

In a such a place, where women have given up their reproductive freedoms, there are only two choices:  be a good girl—or die.