High by Padrika Tarrant


For today, if you like, I'll be a girl.  I'll have two hands for you, and, let me see, I'll have brown hair, long hair that isn't brushed and flicks into my eyes unless I hold my head to the side.  If it makes you happy then I'll be seventeen years old.  I will wear icewashed jeans; I'll carry a windproof lighter, which I stole.  I'll even have a name if you want.  Why not call me Sarah.  I'm not changing my eyes though; I'm keeping those.

        Yesterday, and the day before that, I was a magpie, turning on thermals like a black and white kite in air.  My mind was small and sharp as a craftknife tip, and red.  When I spread my feathers, I could scribble poems in the air, so clever and so sad that the people in the market didn't know that I was there.  Before you made me sit and talk to you, before these pills, I was nothing but a pair of wings in the sky.

        Before today I was quick as silver, and I knew the secret things that hide among the city's pieces.  When I was a bird, I was cunning and magic, and a mystery to the world.  Before you gave me a blanket to wear, I was narrow like a dart; I could throw myself at people's heads, and spin away at the very last moment and vanish.

        From the top of the town hall clock, the world is flat and hardly there.  The sky is a landscape, huge, invisible, made of light and music, with great empty cathedrals and mountain ranges.  I knocked my head on an outcrop of nothing, smacked against the gusting morning, and I fell.  If you want, we can pretend that I'm a girl, just until my wings are mended.

• Broken things and broken people: a woman becomes a gas explosion; a kitchen knife crawls after a little girl to keep her safe; and an old lady hears her mother calling from a cupboard.

Broken Things is a collection of short fiction by Padrika Tarrant. It will be released in September 2007 by SALT Publishing. Full details at http://saltpublishing.com/books/smf/9781844713431.htm


  1. Anonymous

    Great read, hopen the rest is as good as this

  2. Yes – the other stories are fantastic too.

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