7.02 / February 2012

The Tragedy of Tragic Men

This is the time of the tragic man, not the drifting cloud. This is the time for all tragic men to come to our aid and for drifting clouds to just move on, move on. They stood in a line to shake his hand, the first and most successful tragic man. But when they came to him, when they stretched out, only air was left within their arms. What a tragic man he is! they said and were satisfied that he was the correct one. The line moved on and on and only one person left morose and ugly. I wish I was tragic too, thought this person, but she was not. Not enough. In a dim age of water she would have floated and that doesn’t make for tragedy.

We saw her pass and we got a suitcase and some smaller bags and followed her, the almost-tragic woman, and she noticed that we were there. What? she said and she was angry and we stood in line to shake her hand. What? she said and took our hands and held them and her hands were so soft as if she had no roots beneath the oil paint, she was just puff and cloud. What, she said again and this time she allowed for us to come. And inside we sat and thought about the tragedy of tragic men.

A former science journalist, Tania Hershman's first book, The White Road and Other Stories, was commended by the judges of the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers, and included in New Scientist's Best Books of 2008. Tania's second collection, My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions, will be published in May 2012 by Tangent Books. She is currently writer-in-residence in Bristol University's Science Faculty, working on a collection of biology-inspired short fiction. http://www.taniahershman.com
7.02 / February 2012