For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“The Numbers”

Clare Wigfall


There were some on the island who wondered what we might need numbers for. These were the 1s who had never learnt to work with them in their day. They could count on their fingers if they were lucky, and hadn’t ever felt lacking in their lives. They didn’t approve of filling our heads with a subject so vague-like as numbers. Not that they’d say this afore the lady schoolteacher, mind, because she hailed of good family from the mainland; and besides, the woman was so awfy bonnie. Miss Galbraith was what she called herself, while the rest of us favoured identification through our faithers. Peigi daughter of Finlay is what they call me, Peigi NicFionnalaigh. The women held their tongues in Miss Galbraith’s presence and tried to affect that they were gentlewomen, and the men kept quiet altogether, which is a rare thing, I can tell you, and I believe was because they felt themselves abashed, she being that upon which they found themselves hankering when they awoke all feverish from a particular type of night-dream (I ken this to be true because my brother Iain told it to me when he was 14.)