Four Stubbies


How to see a taniwha

This one time I seen a taniwha. And I reckon he seen me too, without even looking.

        He was in the river, looking like a rock. Then he went up the river to this other place and looked like a rock again. I never seen him move, but he was the same rock for sure. One time there and then one time there.

        Bet you never seen a taniwha, looking like a rock. Bet you never even seen a rock.



Her father threw the first litter of kittens on the fire. He hadn’t thought that the smell of burnt fur and flesh would be worse than the persistent cries coming from inside the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt behind the couch, or that, with the pathetic flame the kittens would be noisier than pinecones burning.

        They kept the second litter a little longer. Then her father hollowed them out and made glove puppets, small, so that only a child’s hand could fit inside.



As children, we metamorphosize at the thought of standing up in front of the class to give a speech. Our mums, at the end of their morning tethers, whip back the blankets to find their child is just a dry parcel. As teenagers we squeak and cling to our boyfriends but in the end, we just have to chrysalis during the really scary bits in movies. As young adults, the imminence of swimwear shopping does it too; we wrap ourselves up so tightly we rarely make it to the changing rooms. But when we emerge in our second lives, transformed, with an art house silk scarf sprouted at each side, we’re consoled because we’re so awesome.


There would have been a big bang

Six thousand houses and one magpie lost power that day, all from the joining of two things never meant to be joined. The only ones to hear it were a mob of cattle, which took off at a run, she said. She’d watched them, washing like a wave down the paddock, churning up the snow, surf on a beach, and she wondered at the cause of their dreamlike wading. It wasn’t feeding time.

        There would have been a big bang, she said, as the bird stepped a twiggy foot across from one high-voltage power line to the next. A big bang and then a big nothing. Darkness with no sound and no warmth. Just a sudden smothering blank, the ultimate insulation, for six thousand houses and one magpie.

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*There would have been a big bang contains two direct quotes (“There would have been a big bang”, and “The only ones to hear it were a mob of cattle, which took off at a run, she said”), from (Fried) bird on a wire causes mass outage, by Katherine King for the Wanganui Chronicle, published online at the New Zealand Herald on 19/4/2012, accessed 19/4/2012, from:


Zoë Meager

Originally from Christchurch, Zoë Meager recently completed a Master of Creative Writing at the University of Auckland. She agrees wholeheartedly that ‘animals are good to think with’, and enjoys using short stories and flash fiction to explore the human-animal conundrum. Other work appears in The Island Review.

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