The Little Mermaid

The girl was paid to be a mermaid. Every evening she fought her way into a mermaid’s tail made of cheap nylon and sequins. The sequins scratched her bare thighs and left behind a purplish rash that wouldn’t heal. Her hair grew coarse and sticky with salt. When she got back to her apartment, usually just as the sun was rising, she curled up in a narrow bed and dreamed of far-off beaches with sand as white as diamonds, and heard the distant roar and slap of the sea. Continue reading

Going Home

by Helena Lönnberg

She rose from a pillow that smelt like last night, of cold smoke and rain on tarmac. The mirror was cracked but her teeth weren’t, so it was all good. A good morning.

Somebody knocked on the door just as she put on her rough jeans. The blue cotton slid over brown thighs, enclosed a waist that had changed size many times. Right now it was slim and bony, one could count the ribs if one wanted to. But there was nobody around to care, so it was all good.

Continue reading

Singed

Dale comes swinging in through the double doors in a cloud of smoke and I tell you, I’ve had long-burnt chips in the oven that’ve smelled better than that. So I ask him,

“Dale, how’d it go in there?” and he says,

“Oh dandy, Chris, just fine. Like a furnace in there as always, but just fine.”

I can see his goggles have gone and he’s covered in soot, but his hood’s still on and he’s all suited up, so it must have been an okay run. I stick the air conditioning on: high.

Continue reading