blackmail press 37
Kate Mahony
New Zealand

Mere & Child - Penny Howard
Kate Mahony has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, Wellington. Her fiction has appeared in Best New Zealand Fiction Volume 6 (Random House), Turbine, Takahe, the International Literary Quarterly (Issue 14), Tales for Canterbury (Random Static), Blackmail Press,  Blue Fifth Review, Blue Crow, Microw 8, Flash Frontier, 4th Floor Literary Journal (Whitireia New Zealand), Easy Bites (Whitireia New Zealand) and in the forthcoming anthology, Sweet As, Contemporary Short Stories by New Zealanders.

Her short story "A Good Person" was shortlisted for the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 2008,  "Jump, Jump, Jumping" (Blue Fifth Review, Winter Quarterly, 2013) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and  "Freedom" was awarded second place in the Takahe Literary Magazine short story competition, 2014. She lives in Wellington.

Specialist topic

The girl sits upright but it’s clear she’s thinking about something far removed from the reading room with its polished floors, timbered tables and high ceilings. I am researching my chosen topic, hoping to gain a place on the television programme, Mastermind. As part of my preparation, careful observation of others is the first discipline I require of myself.

She’s not even pretending to read, unlike the oldies who spread out a newspaper before sinking into unfitful snoozing. As someone who likes to keep abreast of his literary knowledge, I am reminded of the phrase, Waiting for Godot.

Eventually, I hear her chair move. I return my reading material and take the stairs down to the ground floor. Outside, I blink as my eyes adjust to the sunlight. She’s at a wooden table in the courtyard area. I choose a neighbouring spot and fossick in my lunchbox causing two sparrows to descend quickly onto my table. I shoo them away. ‘Annoying creatures,’ I say, directing my comment towards the girl.

In a place like this, we are all strangers. People often warm to the sound of another human voice. I toss out a gentle question or two and learn that she has no place to stay.

Yet again, I explain my mother’s unique situation, struck down in her middle years by a mystery illness and needing company while I am conducting my business. A room provided for the right person.

I wait for her to ask some questions, but she just nods and says okay. She hoists her small backpack onto her back.

I lead the way, not bothering to check she’s following. When you step into your specialist area, everything is easy.