‘Mathematics’ by Wendy Erskine

I liked this story from the opening line: “The drawer beside Roberta’s bed contained remnants of other people’s fun: a small mother-of-pearl box, inlaid with gold, a lipstick that was a stripe of fuchsia, a lucky charm in the shape of a dollar sign.” Roberta is a cleaner for the properties owned by Mr Dalzell. “She got used to the sick and even the shit.” In one of them, as well as the remnants of a fairly scary-looking party, she finds a little girl of eight or nine, and takes the child home with her. Shimmering with unease, the story also has the irresistible allure of an unexpected gift.

First published in Dance Move, Picador 2022

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