Friday, 24 August 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: Vanessa Gebbie's "Chameleon"


Ed’s wife changes colour depending on her emotions. He’s learned to vary his behaviour accordingly. In bed however, these changes are becoming problematic. All Ed has to go on is the sound of her breath. 

At parties - which she does not enjoy, being a private person – her neck becomes mottled, like the egg of a wild bird.  Then, Ed crosses the room,

“Suze? Get you something?”

She always says no.

She’s recently started shedding her skin, and Ed finds them draped over the bed, papery, delicate as aphid’s wings. He folds them, keeps them in a drawer. But they never quite fold neatly, and try to escape, like shadows. 

One, the thinnest, he has torn inadvertently. He hasn’t told her. The thought is ever-present: What if she needs it later?


Vanessa Gebbie is a novelist and award-winning short fiction author. Author of two collections, Words from a Glass Bubble and Storm Warning (Salt Modern Fiction), her novel The Coward’s Tale (Bloomsbury) was selected as a Financial Times Book of the Year and Guardian readers’ book of the year. A collection of illustrated short-short fictions, Ed's Wife and Other Creatures, is forthcoming from Speechbubble Books later in 2012, in collaboration with poet and artist Lynn Roberts. You can learn more about her work at her website.
'Chameleon' was first published by the Australian journal, Etchings, and a version was Editor's Choice in The Binnacle Ultra Short Competition. It will appear in the collection Ed's Wife and Other Creatures


Anonymous said...

"papery, delicate as aphid's wings." So good. Thanks, Vanessa. And thanks, Carrie, for advancing my education on this form called sudden prose.

Helen Pizzey said...

Love Gebbie's work: Raymond Carver meets Charles Simic - such well-observed and delicate detail often takes the reader from the almost humdrum into flights of the surreal within the same breath, wondering how we got there! Truly enjoyed this, thank you.