Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about family by Sandra Arnold.
Sandra Arnold lives in New Zealand. She is the author of seven books including Where the Wind Blows (Truth Serum Press, Australia), The Bones of the Story (Impspired Books, UK), The Ash, the Well and the Bluebell (Mākaro Press, NZ and Aviana Burgas, Bulgaria), Soul Etchings (Retreat West Books, UK), Sing no Sad Songs (Canterbury University Press, NZ). Her short fiction has been published and anthologised internationally and has received nominations for The Best Small Fictions, Best Microfictions and The Pushcart Prize. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Central Queensland University, Australia.
‘A Tale of a Tail’ follows a woman realising how strange her family actually is.
My father liked setting the clock an hour fast so he could enjoy the fact it was really only 6.00am and not 7.00am which meant he could have an extra hour’s sleep each morning before he got up for work. In addition, the clock gained five minutes every day, so when I needed to catch a bus from my house I had to subtract the extra minutes from the time showing on the clock as well as take into account that it was more than an hour ahead. I thought nothing of this until the first time my boyfriend saw me calculating the correct time so we would know when to catch the bus. I caught his incredulous expression, although he commented only that this was a bit weird.
After my first dinner at his parents’ house I glanced at the clock and asked his mother what the right time was so I could calculate when I needed to go and catch my bus.
She stared at me with her head on one side, then looked at the clock and said, ‘As you can see, it’s twenty-seven minutes and three seconds past seven.’
I understood then what my boyfriend meant by weird.