Whale Song by Nicola Bourne

Creative Writing, Short Story
Originally published on The Stockholm Review of Literature, Issue 21

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Something’s different. Approaching the beach I feel it immediately. There’s something unknown, like a song caught on a breeze that you can’t quite hear. The wind whips my hair, slapping me across my cheeks. Salt is thick in the air, it tastes as bitter as the cold, but even so, a large crowd has already turned out.

I came as soon as I heard, running from my stall in the harbour, not even considering that I was leaving it wide open. The man in front of me rushes, accidentally kicking a child’s crab bucket over, causing crying from the boy and crabs to slip all over the walkway, unable to tell the direction of the sea. We scurried away from the harbour, to the point where industry gives way to wide beaches flanked by lawns, promenades and the suntrap making windbreakers. And then ¾ she was there. A demonstrative humpback whale beached on tiny pebbles.

There’s no blood. That’s the first thing I think. I don’t know why I had assumed there would be. Actually, I lie. There’s no blood was my second thought, my first was a half-formed thing ¾ a shock, a sharp intake of air, the size!

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