The Remainder

Written by Felix, 2010-Mar-10.

This story is hereby published under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License. To view a copy of this licence, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California 94105, USA.


The climate of the kingdom-city of Morotia was damp and foggy year-round. Rain and fog influenced the architecture: The thousand-year-old rain had little trouble dripping from the traditional stone buildings.

Today it rained the way it did on any other day. But today was special, for Romiro. Today Julietta’s family had consented to their marriage. The family’s consent was a mere legal formality nowadays, but marriages still waited on it, as they had done traditionally. The present king could care less; a liberalist, he was.

Thus Romiro was happy. He looked up and smiled at the clouds as he walked, hand in hand with his beloved. None of her bitter cousins, nor uncles, nor even her parents had come to the wedding – but it mattered not. They were free of her parents until the day she died. As women lived longer than men, that concerned Romiro not one bit, and he was happy.

They would have many children together, and eventually have a cobblestone house of their own. They would live on the castle hill in the regal shadow of the king, where it rained less, being higher off the loch. Before long they would purchase seeds, and grow their own vegetables on a small plot. They would have chickens, and goats. Julietta wanted a cat; Romiro consented, but said that she would be the one to feed it.

For the time being the newly-wed couple lived in a nobleman’s sublet by Morotia’s small harbour. It was a small place, but their bed was clean and the fireplace was frugal with the wood they gave it. The wages they saved on fuel went to their purser’s account, and over time this would let them buy that house of their own a full seven months earlier, Julietta calculated proudly. She was good with numbers.

Married life was contented and hopeful. They enjoyed each other’s company immensely, and even a year later they would tell one another of their plain and joyous love. By that time they gave hardly a second thought to Julietta’s terrible family.

That was, until the day Julietta miscarried with their first child. In only her third month, she one night began to bleed and did not stop. By morning, she was dead.

Suddenly everything changed for Romiro, for her family was once again in his life. They had first rights to Julietta’s body – the body that he had known and cherished, and whose soul he had loved.

Romiro had heard that there lived savages to the south, who buried their dead in the ground. That would almost have been better for Julietta.

Traditionally a family waived its first rights to the husband of a married one. Formally, however, a family retained the rights – and Julietta’s, dutifully horrible, claimed them immediately. They arrived with four magistrates when Julietta’s poor body was still warmer than the news and took her away. They even obtained an order for the blood she had shed.

Romiro knew nothing but hell and loathing for the days after that time. He forced himself to continue living, but he felt as if his spirit was gone. He tried not to think about where it had gone; it was too horrible: it accompanied his dear Julietta, he imagined, on her passage through the dreadful bowels of her family.

It was more than he could bear, until one day he found a package on his doorstep. His insides tore at him when he saw that the return address belonged to Tiraltus, the foulest of Julietta’s nine cousins. He yearned for the strength to throw it into the loch, but the smallest of hopes stopped him. Against all of his better judgement, he untied the twine. Perhaps they had shown him some mercy – an insignificant bone of hers, or perhaps only her ring. He had to see.

But no. The box contained Tiraltus’ shit. Attached was a note, in his slanted scrawl: This is all you’ll ever have of her. Enjoy eating it.