Snow White at the Automat by Alex Dally MacFarlane

Coins pushed in
and the glass door opens
with a click.
Lunch, there,
on a plate in the slot
third from the left, seventh row up.

The napkins are thin and rough
like her bed sheets.

This is very different to before.

No mother
smiling dangerously at her
over tight laces and a comb.
No fine-dressed husband
offering shining cars, babies,
a beautiful five-course spread.

She does not remember those fondly.

ten slots to the right
she sees it:
round and red and reduced to half price
and, hands shaking,
thumbs in her pennies,
opens the door.

She remembers her mother’s apple,
its glossy skin
its crisp, white flesh
its sweetness and the long, long dreaming
‘”she remembers it too well.

And waking married
‘”she remembers that, too.

“Tempting, Mother,
but you know I’m not seven now.”

The apple is lip-bright
as it falls from her hand
lands thunking in the bin
with cast-off packaging.

Her sandwich is lettuce-sweet
as she walks back to her office.

Alex Dally MacFarlane is a writer and traveller, often found in markets. Since leaving her job in July 2009, she’s visited North America, Greece, Turkey and Singapore, and called Australia home for half a year. Next she intends to travel through various countries of mainland East Asia. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in Clarkesworld, Fantasy Magazine, DayBreak Magazine, Jabberwocky 4, Electric Velocipede, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Goblin Fruit, Sybil’s Garage and several other magazines. To find out more, visit her website:

IMAGE: Petite fille tenant des pommes dans les mains, William Adolphe Bouguereau, 1895.