It hadn’t been easy growing up a Giantess. Mercifully, Marika had stopped growing around the age of twelve but by then, at six foot five in her stockinged feet, she had towered over her classmates. She blamed it on her Scandinavian heritage. Her father Gejr, was Danish; her mother was a Scot – but both of her parents were above average height. She had inherited her father’s thick, fair hair, her mother’s athletic physique and a disastrous combination of both their heights.
It was bad enough being a tall schoolchild. At junior school teachers asked her to reach things down from the top of the art cupboard. On the assumption that a child that tall would be able to run fast, they’d entered her for the sprint on Sports Day every year: she had always come last. At senior school they made her Shooter in the netball team. Humiliatingly, she was forced to make a show of ‘jumping’ when everyone knew she could just have walked over to the net, reached down and put the ball in.
But the worst thing was boys. Groups of them followed her, sniggering, down the road. She knew none of them would ever ask her out. It wasn’t so much that they didn’t find her attractive; it was that they didn’t want to look conspicuous. What would a boy look like, trying to walk with his arm round a girl like Marika. If you made her wear flat shoes and walk in the gutter? No. She would still be towering over you. In the end, her father gave her the best advice.
“You are not ugly, Marika, just tall. I understand that this is difficult for you, and probably always will be. But remember that you are clever. Also, you can walk, you can see, you can hear – you are fit and healthy. Many girls are not so lucky. Walk tall, datter.”
Marika had taken his advice. She had bought several pairs of high heels. When she passed the boys she had stuck out her chin, and her not-inconsiderable bosom, and sashayed past them. They should at least see what they were missing.
Back at the bed-and-breakfast she stripped off her outer clothes and made herself a cup of coffee, using the mini-kettle and sachets provided. She wrote a page of shorthand notes and got out her laptop. She really had to get cracking on this article. The magazine’s deadline was at the end of the week and copy needed to be emailed at least twenty-four hours in advance of that.
It should be possible to get at least the first draft done today. She had amassed quite a few notes already, although there was still something missing – she wasn’t sure what, but it would come to her. She knew from past experience that inspiration tended to strike when it was most needed.
“Oh why can nothing ever just work?”
Her laptop would not co-operate. She was furious at herself. She should have brought a back-up device to such a remote place. At the very least she should have allowed herself time to write the thing out in longhand, take the ferry back to civilisation and fax it. She doubted whether Tullaclough would have such a thing as a computer repair shop; in fact she couldn’t actually remember seeing a shop of any kind. Was it possible that everything was mail order here, and came in by boat? She made another note. Something else she needed to find out.
In the meantime, what was she going to do? She had to get this article typed, then emailed.
Suddenly, inspiration struck. The library. Didn’t that Alex say he worked in the library? There could only be one library on Tullaclough, and surely nowadays most libraries had computers.
(Ilustration: Sean Kearney, 2005 – Deviant Art)