Click on the arrow above to listen to Irma’s reading.
“Hi, I’m Irma Gold and I’m reading an extract from my short story called ‘Tangerine’, which has been published in my short fiction collection, Two Steps Forward.
He’s sitting with her at the train station. The sky is a tangle of stars and fluorescent stains. She is straight-backed, prissy almost. There’s a chunky bow in her hair. Tangerine. Her mother gave her this word and the girl says it like a caress. But not to him. Not yet.
Her mouth is like a piece of wire. It’s the mouth of a stern older woman, not a child. Her face is mealy in the flat light, the pale colour of lettuce.
‘Want a lolly?’ he asks.
‘No, thank you,’ she replies, her syllables crisp between her lips.
He frowns, looks at the gob of lemon sherbets in his fist and stuffs them into a corner of the bench, wiping his palm on his jeans.
‘I bought them especially for you,’ he explains, not accusing.
Her body communicates nothing. She doesn’t tell him that she stopped eating those lemony sweets when she was six. Two whole years ago.
He watches neon flickering in the puddles. Cold colours. Slippery green and blue and lavender. It makes him shiver.
The train clatters up, swaying shabbily, and he chooses a row of seats near the back that haven’t been slashed. They are orange-checked, covered with black-texta graffiti.
‘Would you like to lie down?’ he asks.
She shakes her stiff head.
‘You could have my coat,’ he says. ‘You know, to keep warm.’
‘No, thank you,’ she repeats.
He wishes she wasn’t so damn polite.
She takes a small travel pillow out of her backpack and slowly blows it up. I could do it in three breaths, he thinks. She neatly places the wedge of pillow against the greasy window and slots her neck into its groove.
‘Goodnight,’ he says. Her eyes are already closed.
He squints out at the oily black through the window, but the lights in the train are so strong he sees only himself. He appears grey, his face saggy, pocketed with dark pools. His eyes look as if they have shrunk back into his head – he could pass for someone terminally ill. He sighs, scrunches his coat into a ball, and tries to sleep.”
ABOUT IRMA GOLD:
Irma Gold is an editor and award-winning writer. Her short stories have won over 30 literary awards and been widely published in Australian journals like Meanjin, Island and Going Down Swinging. Her debut collection of short fiction, Two Steps Forward, was released by Affirm Press as the final book in its Long Story Shorts series in September 2011. Irma is also the author of two children’s books and is currently working on a novel. She blogs for Overland literary journal.
Irma has had an artsACT grant for a three-week residency at Varuna to work on her debut short fiction collection. She also came to Varuna with the LongLines Program Award to work on her debut novel, and received another artsACT grant for Professional Development Residency to work at Varuna on this novel. Click here to read about my time at Varuna.
Two Steps Forward, a collection of short fiction, Affirm Press, 2011
Bugs and Beasts 123, National Library of Australia, 2003
Bugs and Beasts ABC, National Library of Australia, 2003
Irma’s work has also been anthologised and widely published in journals and magazines, including Meanjin, Island, Idiom 23, Going Down Swinging, FourW, The Canberra Times, Tarralla, dotdotdash, Verity La, Green Left Weekly, Voiceworks, Pendulum magazine, Lowdown magazine, The Big Issue, Memento, Artlook, Muse, Dumbo Feather and Islet.
She is the editor of the anthologies The Sound of Silence (2011); Undertow (2009); A Meeting of Muses (2003); and an anthology of 100 years of Canberra writing to be released by Halstead Press in 2012.
Contact via Affirm Press
or via Varuna
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