Zoe Gilbert（佐伊·吉尔伯特）曾获2014年科斯塔短篇小说奖（Costa Award）。她是英国奇切斯特大学的创意写作博士生，经常从民间传说和民间故事中汲取创作灵感。她遵循了民间故事的重要传统之一：赋予故事足够的开放性，避免描写人物的内心世界，而是通过“起初……后来……后来”的叙事方式，引导读者注入自身的感情。
It was bafflement that made her father give Turpin his nod, in the end. Six herrings, Turpin had brought on the first day of courting, then twelve, and lastly twenty-four. They’d been laid out on the table, where her father had stared at them like rows of useless silver tools. She’d been glad even then to leave the smell of them and walk out with Turpin, to be his wife. The only sadness on that day when the gift of fishes had done its trick and released her, was that her beloved hares could not follow her to Turpin’s house. Bad luck for fishermen. They had been a gift too, one her father came to rue. He’d come home from hunting one day with bulging pockets. Ervet, still a girl, had screamed to see them squirm, believing he’d brought snakes, but when he’d let out the three tiny leverets, she had laughed as they bounded around her feet, hind legs already as strong as trap-springs.
Ervet does not hurry through the maze of dunes as she often has, darting between the tuffets of slicing grass. Instead she clambers up the sand, better to look at the shore. Out over the grey sea the cloud is low, ruffled like a deep belly of fur. The bundle is squirming against her shoulder, that same twist and lurch she felt when it was swimming inside her, when she was certain of its silver gleam and strong tail. The grey eyes match the sea so well. Ervet slithers down the dune onto the wet shore sand. Her feet leave dints that well with water as she walks.
Her father loved nothing as much as his tools. He made the cunning trap that caught the leverets’ blue-grey mother and while Ervet coaxed the creatures from their corners that day it was the scent of dark meat roasting that filled their draughty house. But he had let her keep them, and Ervet ate her hare supper with the three small bodies nestled soft as skeins of wool in her lap. Mawkins, she called them. She was only a child, then, and her favourite was the yellow-speckled one. He followed her about the house, while his grey sisters stretched themselves near the hearth, happy as dogs. She learned to smooth a finger along his scalp between his ears so that he would shiver and then lie still, letting her look into the puddle of his eye. When he beat his feet on hers she would lead him along the plank walk and up into the fields, where he ran his own mazes but always returned, to stretch his long yellow body beside her own, heart flickering under sun-smelling fur.
All three mawkins, Ervet kept, and they grew with her. And on the blue bright morning after Turpin carried her away, she went back for them. She needed her dresses, her woollens and shoes, after all, but her yellow-coated friend and his sisters were more in her mind as she knocked and pushed the door. No father in his carved chair. No mawkins on the hearth rug. She followed the scrape and chuck of tools on wood through to the leanshed.
Two blue-grey pelts hung from the drying hook, blood black as tar dripping into a pail. On the workbench lay a yellow skin, piebald with purple stains, and beside it the skull, still flesh-streaked, still wet. Her father’s eyes blinked at her where she blocked the light in the doorway.
“You’ve Turpin now,” he said. “You’ll not be needing these old pusses.” Ervet gripped the uprights either side of her, felt the wood grain slide through her fingers. “Besides, they’re the worst of bad luck to a fisherman.”
She stared into the dark of the skull’s wide eye-hole until she and the leanshed and her father had all sunk inside it.