Lena Bertone has stories in Prick of the Spindle, Matchbook, Corium, Gigantic,
NANO Fiction, and other magazines.
One version had it that a tiger returned from the dead and ate the missing babies, its eyes lit golden in the dingy brown of night. In another story, they sprouted wings and flew away to America. Some thought they heard cries from a sealed cave, but it turned out to be hundreds of fruit bats, rabid and emaciated. The mayor was devastated by the news, even though the missing babies were just dirty peasants. Many potions for sadness were mixed and consumed. Some were rubbed into the skin and others burned like incense and inhaled. Upstairs neighbors had seen a suspicious couple with tattoos and a wheelbarrow loitering in front of the building. Small dogs barked out pleas for the safe return of their tiny human companions. The mothers were trying their best, their bodies exhausted with grief, but they couldn’t recall where they had last left the babies. They had put them down for just a moment—that’s all it had been, they swore, clawing through their hysterical tears: one moment of peace, of looking away, of imagining that they could be childless, and then the wish had come true.