What Girls Really Think –by Berit Ellingsen
December 2, 2011
December 2, 2011
The guest blogger for the month of December is Berit Ellingsen, a writer I’m very fond of and lucky to know.
Berit Ellingsen is a Korean-Norwegian writer and science journalist whose work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, most recently or forthcoming in Thunderclap, Pure Slush, SmokeLong, Metazen and decomP. Berit’s debut novel, The Empty City, is a story about silence. This is her second story with predatorial fish.
What Girls Really Think
by Berit Ellingsen
They sat inside the smell of dead seagull, bleach and formaldehyde, beneath the mute stares of a stuffed red fox and a mounted brown and white marten that bared their small teeth ineffectually at the void.
The middle-aged museum taxidermist scrunched up his face, leaned forward and asked in a reverent tone:
“Do you get a lot of attention from boys?”
The thin, twelve year old girl in front of him tried to duck away from his sour breath. She didn’t know the answer to his question, because it didn’t connect with reality. What did “a lot” mean? What did he mean by “attention”? Compliments? Invitations to dates? Tugs on her hair? She received nothing of the former but plenty of the latter. Her long hair seemed irresistible for pulling, sometimes so hard the roots creaked when the braid was tugged like a church bell by eager little hands.
There was something more to the man’s question than just his words and curiosity, something unformed and threatening, like the shadow of a leviathan passing below the surface. But she wasn’t interested, because the man wasn’t interesting, so she refused to search for it, or be scared of it, whatever it was.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe sometimes.”
The taxidermist leaned back in his chair. He knew he had gone as far as he could risk.
The girl’s mind was cold and clear and still. She sighed and thought of the piranha in the display tank in the museum basement, how much she looked forward to watching them get fed and see the raw meat spread out in cloudy little chunks, blushing the water, instead of trying to reply to unintelligible, unanswerable questions.