portion of the artwork for Trevor J. Houser's fiction

Svalbard, 1869
Trevor J. Houser

Before my great grandfather moved to America and became my American great grandfather he grew up with Mexican nuns on Svalbard, which is north of Bjornoya, which is in the Greenland Sea, which is adjacent the Barents Sea, which is somewhat adjacent the Kara Sea. My great grandfather and the nuns lived in a convent at the foot of Vulture Mountain. Vultures were a major problem on Svalbard.

“Fuck all these vultures,” said my grandfather. “I’m going to start a democracy, or invent waterbeds or whatever.”

“You can’t,” said the head nun in Spanish. “You don’t have enough good ideas.”

“I thought you were going to say because it’s a sin,” said my great grandfather.

“Sins are boring,” said the head nun.

“What about the Bible?” said my great grandfather.

“The Bible seems made up,” said the head nun. “Why do you think we moved from Mexico to Svalbard?”

In the summers, locals on Svalbard repaired dolphins and skinned sperm whales to use their skeletons as house frames for newlyweds. My great grandfather made money polishing the bones and saved it so he could one day go to America to three-way Mary Pickford, or play third base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 35 | Winter 2012