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Dictionary of Peril: The Peril of the Gab, a short story

August 2, 2012



  1. idle or trivial talk

See gift of the gab


We have been at sea for weeks, following the flocks of herring North. It is bitterly cold, and we all look like walking mounds of yellow oilskin. From the outside you could not tell that I was a women, the rest of the small crew men. However, I feel it always. They aren’t sexist. Oh no, once I proved myself as being able to work as hard as any of them, with no whining or special treatment asked for, they treated me with a friendly cheerfulness. I like most of them, although Graham is a grumpy bastard. Even he is alright if you don’t let him get to you.


No, the lads are fine. It’s me. After so long at sea, with the cold cold spray, the continuous rocking that becomes part of you after a while, the wet, slippery stinking fish, the musky scent of unwashed men, I just want a gossip, a bit of a gab. Maybe a glass of wine, a chat about something utterly girly and frivolous. I want to wear a nice skirt and pretty earrings. I am not a girly girl, no, but I do enjoy a chat, and being clean and warm is a dream in the middle of the Atlantic.


I have heard of the Siren, naturally, all seamen had. The story I heard was that she is a beautiful women who lures sailors to their death with her song. It was always about the sex. Fishermen would sometimes tell crude stories about her. The ache under the filth was for a moment of softness and warmth. I had heard that the Sirens were actually manatees, but even sex crazed men aren’t that stupid.


Turns out she isn’t like that at all. Sure, she’s pretty, in a natural, girl next door way, but she isn’t threatening. She is offering me a glass of wine, and her song is a stream of promises – Did you see Eastenders last night? My boyfriend is being such a pain, should I dump him? You look lovely in that skirt, have you lost weight? What do you think of my new handbag? It was in the sale, we should go – the alluring song is too much for me. I strip off my yellow skin, and ignoring the cries and grasping arms of the men I leap into the water, reaching for the chardonnay…


Next entry’s noun:


Ha-ha or Haw haw


  1. a wall or other boundary marker that is set in a ditch so as not to interrupt the landscape


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