The Little Washer of Sorrows

SHORT FICTION
ISBN-13: 978-1-77187-049-8
ISBN-10: 1-77187-049-4
EBook
ISBN: 978-1-77187-066-5
Web PDF ISBN: 978-1-77187-067-2

The Little Washer of Sorrows

In A Nutshell

The Little Washer of Sorrows is a collection of short fiction that explores what happens when the expected and usual are replaced with elements of the rare and strange. The book’s emotional impact is created with strong, richly drawn characters facing universal issues in unusual settings. The collection is both dark and comical with engaging plot twists and elements of the macabre as characters attempt to cope with high-stakes melodramas that drift further out of their control.

The threat of something sinister lingers beneath the surface in many of Fawcett’s stories, as she explores the messy “what ifs?” of life and the ever-present paradox of free will.

What Other Writers Are Saying

The Little Washer of Sorrows is smart, ferociously funny and astonishingly inventive. The best debut story collection I’ve read in recent memory. Katherine Fawcett is a major new voice in Canadian fiction.

Susan Juby, author of The Truth Commission, The Woefield Poulty Collective, Alice I Think, and more.

Excerpts

Helen hoisted herself up on her elbows, misted her face with the saline spray she kept on the night table, then squinted at him. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Lenny, but something is wrong with me. My vagina is drying up. And shrinking. My period stopped two months ago. My legs and feet hurt all the time. Sometimes I feel like my throat is closing. My skin is all weird. I’m losing weight and I’m scared.”

Lenny felt terrible. He hated seeing her suffer, but he knew exactly what was going on. He raised his hand to touch her cheek and couldn’t help wondering if her eyes had always been that far apart or if it was just his imagination. It wasn’t as if he didn’t care that his wife was becoming aquatic.

But what could he do? What could he say?
“Maybe you should see a gynecologist.”
She burst into tears and a bubble came out of her mouth.

Unless there’s a boat to seduce and smash, things don’t change much from day to day around here. We wake up with the sun (except when the night-vision alarm on the Ship-Trip Insta-Cam goes off, in which case we rush to cliff’s edge in our PJs, eyes still full of sleep crud and burst into Night Song, the last notes the sailors will ever hear). Just coffee for me for breakfast, then vocal warm-ups at cliff’s edge, so we can keep watch at the same time. We massage the sides of our jaws, recite “Loose Lips Sink Ships” ten times quickly, do the ma may me mo mu with slow exhales, then do-re-mi forward and back and so on. I lead, because I always have. After lunch (which for me is usually a spinach salad with dressing on the side, or a bit of brown quinoa, while Thexie and Phone pretty much eat whatever’s in the fridge – recall No. 29: I am proud of who I am and I resist the temptation to compare myself to those around me), the three of us just hang out in the meadow on the upper cliff stringing flower chains, working on our tans and scanning the horizon, while Dad sits inside and smokes and watches satellite TV.

Mother Earth gazed into the mirror and wiped wet mascara from under each eye with a piece of toilet paper. There was something about watching herself cry that usually cheered her up. Not this time.

“Who are you, old hag?” she whispered. “What the hell happened?”

“I do have something special for you. I just have to wrap it,” Father Time yelled. “And I can make us reservations somewhere nice.”

“You are a bad liar and a bad husband.”

She hurled the Skin-So-Slick towards his voice. It made a satisfying smash and cream dribbled down the bathroom door like moon-milk on a cave wall.