For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“The Ice People”

Gerður Kristný

Excerpt

It wasn't long until all the appropriate questions that we could possibly think of had been exhausted. The silence spread out from around us on the sofa and consumed the remainders inside of the crystal candy bowl. The girl shot glances around the room like a searchlight and then out of nowhere she asked, “Have you ever fantasized about being someone other than yourself?” The words came out slowly, as if she didn't trust that they could survive in this cruel, friendless world. 

My heart immediately began to pound wildly, like it had to free itself from its suffocating ribcage prison. “Yes,” I wanted to say, “Yes, I'm the keyboardist in a band that practices in the garage at home! All the guys are fantastic and maybe we'll even go on tour soon!”

But I decided to let Steina and Olga go first. Perhaps Steina wanted to be some Swedish handball star? And Olga could then, for example, be some kind of working-class hero, the type that her father used to tell her about. But, instead, Olga and Steina just looked puzzled. “Nooo,” said Steina after a silence, and she squinted at our host. “So... what else do you like to do?”

“Nothing?” said the girl and drew her feet up beneath her on the easy chair. I could still detect a trace of hope in her voice. I looked over at Olga and she shook her head slowly and finally said, “No.”