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Flash Fiction
1207 words
SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013


Line-Maria Lång

Translated from Danish by Thomas E. Kennedy

Yesterday Britta fell on the asphalt. She was going to look at the little birds and give them some goodies with Barbie. Barbie was never called Barbie. Barbie’s name was Charlotte like another one of Britta’s dolls. It could peepee when you gave it something to drink through the little opening of its pouty mouth. Charlotte couldn’t do that, but that was okay. Charlotte had a boyfriend and all that. They fucked when they’d been to a party. Snip snap and her dress was off. She was a bad girl who didn’t wear panties. They were too much fuss.

Britta and Charlotte had gotten into some trouble. Britta had cut her knee, and Charlotte twisted her head out of joint. There was already a clot on her knee. Britta liked to nibble on the scab. She was a bit of a cannibal.

Charlotte had been taken care of. Her hair was set, and she wore a pink riding suit and rubber helmet and carried a little plastic whip. There was plenty to do. They had to go out to the fold and say hi to the horsies that were corralled in the rubbish room. And there were the tweetie birds to see. They must also take care of Charlotte’s make-up before she went to the gala with He-Man at the Magic Pony Castle. Britta had birdseeds with her, and she squeezed them tight. Mom would soon have dinner ready, and they also needed time to eat. The birds wouldn’t come down and perch on their hands. Charlotte frightened them. She thought she was a bird herself and flew high toward the tops of the trees but fell and landed with a thud in the grass. It tickled in her nostrils. The flowers stretched toward them and the birds could be heard but not seen.

Charlotte begged to have her ear rings on, but there was no use in that. The ear rings were home, and she had to put on her evening dress. This was no good. Charlotte wept heartbreakingly and wound her thin legs around Britta’s arm. Her blonde hair-do collapsed, and she began to tear at her riding jacket so the buttons flew open.

“I want a white horse!”

That’s how it was with Charlotte. There was always something she wanted. At one point it was a baby, so they got hold of pregnant Barbie, but that wasn’t good enough. Charlotte started taking Baby from Barbie’s stomach and was happy for a little while, but then she grew bored with Baby. Now pregnant Barbie and Baby were in the garment bag.

Britta hugged Charlotte and they could hear the horsies whinny. That helped. Charlotte was a little bit cross because the other Charlotte’s birthday was today, and Britta had baked a cake for her and everything. Even if cake wasn’t so good for Charlotte, she only liked it on her own birthday.

Now they could hear Mother shouting. They hid and giggled. It wasn’t so bad. At home Charlotte had the most beautiful golden stones which fit perfectly into the holes in her head. They could hear Mother getting closer. Mother was beautiful. Mother was slim and had no wrinkles. She never wore an apron, although she made dinner everyday. Mother called Britta honey and sweetheart. But Mother called Mother Mother, even when she spoke about herself and what Mother did.

“Now you’ve been out long enough today. Dinner is almost ready, honey.”

She had seen them. Otherwise she wouldn’t look directly at them. She wouldn’t be calm. Mother always got nervous and shouted “Yoo hoo!” to be heard if she didn’t know where you were. Mother reached out, and they walked home hand-in-hand, the three of them.

Mother’s quick-fry vegetables would soon be done, and Charlotte and Britta played hide and seek. Mother’s eyes were watching the food and Britta on the floor, but she was calm. She was glad that Britta rarely wanted to hold a birthday for her dolls and bake pear-soy-oatmeal cake. It was also long since Britta had played her spider web game. That involved all of the furniture being spread around the house and then wound up in yarn, from the chairs in the kitchen to the headboard of Mother’s bed. The princess game hadn’t been played either where Britta wore the gold-plated candelabra on her head. Then she walked around balancing it like an African water jug. She was also fat because she had dressed in all the clothes she could find. Even Father’s clothes from the basement. Mother had been surprised the first time that happened. She didn’t have any kind of Mother face that quite fit that situation. Father died in the courtyard alongside the washroom at ten minutes after three. The ambulance came too late, and he didn’t have any more breath. Then they bought a washing machine so Mother and Britta never had to go down there. All of Father’s things were placed in the cellar. Britta was allowed to go down there and play, but Mother was quite disturbed and sad when Britta came up with Father’s pants tied around her waist, even if she had them on over ten skirts and her Cinderella costume. Mother was glad that Britta didn’t understand that.

Britta had become a big girl, and Mother had her one hand free again so she didn’t have to chase Britta through the whole house dragging the frying pan, the laptop or the toilet paper with her. Britta and Charlotte could eat a lot. They also wanted to have banana sandwiches in their room. They remembered that the children’s shows soon started on TV, but first they had to go to the Ball with He-Man who luckily also loved banana sandwiches in the late afternoon.

Charlotte was ready to be picked up in the wagon that was pulled by the helpful ponies. First she had taken a swim in the pool, and her hair was still wet. A drop was still in her one eye and rolled down her face. She was moved. He-Man received her with his sword drawn as a gesture, and his body-painted clothes were tight on his muscular body. Charlotte was wearing a long, pink satin dress with a tulle skirt and cute matching high heels. The glittering ear rings looked beautiful dangling on her shoulders. Her eyes were wide open in anticipation. The badminton pony received her, and from its rump rose small clouds of racquets. He-Man embraced her before they sat at the table. The banana sandwiches were served on one of the shining doors which had long ago fallen off. They ate their fill and then they danced. The ponies flew and sprang around them, and He-Man wrapped his arm around Charlotte and led her. Then Charlotte had to change into a naughty pink silk nightgown with a single clasp at the throat. He-Man wore a cloak he could remove and Charlotte lay right under him. Her breasts were of precisely equal size and the skin was smooth over her whole body. She smiled at him when he began to lift himself up and down over her. It was too bad that the cover from the pregnant Barbie’s stomach had been lost.


—Previously published in The Literary Review (Fall 2010)


SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

Line-Maria Lång

Photos of Line-Maria Lång; montage by Clare MacQueen
LML #2: montage by Clare MacQueen (2013)

was born in 1982, is half Swedish and half Danish, and lives in Copenhagen. Her debut book appeared in 2009, from the prestigious Copenhagen publisher, Rosinante; Rat King (Rottekong) is a collection of short-short stories about a variety of psychologically surreal encounters.

“Doll” has appeared in The Literary Review, and “Kiss the Joint” is published for the first time here. Other translations of her stories have been published in The Southern Review, Serving House Journal, and Absinthe: New European Writing.

A photograph of her lying in the grass on the bank of the lake at Versailles moved Walter Cummins and Thomas E. Kennedy to invite a score of prose writers and poets to write something inspired by the photo, which resulted in the book The Girl with Red Hair: Musings on a Theme (Serving House Books, 2011).

Ms. Lång has just completed a novel.


SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

Thomas E. Kennedy

has published thirty books (novels, story and essay collections, and literary criticism) and translated many Danish writers into American, including Dan Turèll, Henrik Nordbrandt, Pia Tafdrup, Susanne Jorn, Kristian Bang Foss, Martin Glaz Serup, Line-Maria Lång, and others.

More about Kennedy on SHJ’s About page...

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury