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I can't think of any other stories in the anthology and have no memories of the book cover.

The story is told from an adolescent girl's viewpoint in what appears to be a low tech agricultural society.

She lives with her mother, grandmother, a couple of aunts and some younger sisters. Also some man who is known as the yearfather.

The narrative reveals that every two or three years of her life there has been a new yearfather for twelve months or so, always quietly spoken young men who are nevertheless bubbly and entertaining. Then one day they are gone.

Due to circumstances, I think a younger sister has a minor accident, the girl protagonist finds herself alone in the house for most of an afternoon with the current yearfather. Nothing much happens, just some casual conversation.

However, when her older female relatives realise she's been with him they get her alone and ask if, at any time, her stinger had felt funny. Obviously, at this point, the reader realises they are not quite humans.

They make an issue of carefully keeping her away from the yearfather for a few weeks and then decide she is now mature enough for the revelation.

As always by this wintertime, the yearfather is acting unwell, her aunts and mother chain him in the root cellar (I think they do but not certain) and she is taken to witness. He starts whimpering and ends up screaming as big grubs burst out of his body, then bore right back in and begin eating him as he dies.

She is told the facts of life, very soon she will want to sting a male, a yearfather will be procured for her and she will want to mate and then implant, then she too will be a mother.

(Question also posted in SFF Chronicles)

Note: There are some similarities but this is NOT 'Bloodchild'.

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This is The Cabbage Patch, which I found in The First Theodore R. Cogswell MEGAPACK ®: 16 Classic Science Fiction Stories. You can read it on the Internet Archive here as part of a Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. As for where you read it, you can check ISFDB for publications where it appeared.

However, when her older female relatives realise she's been with him they get her alone and ask if, at any time, her stinger had felt funny.

Here's this part:

Once Aunt Hester caught me alone with [the year-father] and her face got all hard and twisted and she was going to call the patrol and have him beaten, but Mother came in just then. She sent the year-father to his room and then took me into the parlor. I knew that she was getting ready for one of her heart-to-heart talks but there wasn’t anything I could do about it, so I just sat there and listened. Mother’s talks always got so wound in on themselves that when she was through I usually couldn’t figure out what all the fuss had been about.

First she asked me if I’d felt anything funny when I was alone with the year-father. I asked her what she meant by “funny” and she sort of stuttered and her face got all red. Finally she asked me a funny question about my stinger and I said “no,” Then she started to tell me a story about the wasps and the meem but she didn’t get very far with that either. She wanted to but she got all flustered and her tongue wouldn’t work. Aunt Hester said nonsense, that I was still a little girl and next year would be soon enough. Mother said she wished she could be sure, then she made me promise that if ever my stinger felt funny when I was around a year-father. I’d run and tell her about it right away because if I didn’t, something terrible might happen.

  • Good answer! I had read it, in A Shocking Thing. – Organic Marble Mar 9 at 4:19
  • @Organic Marble quick query, what's it mean when it says "user was removed"? – DannyMcG Mar 9 at 21:35
  • @Danny3414 The account of somebody who had voted on one of your posts got deleted and all reputation from it vanished. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/126470/… – Organic Marble Mar 9 at 21:38
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    Ok cheers, I was searching through the site to check but wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again – DannyMcG Mar 9 at 21:41

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