The Birthday Girl 

Page 10 of 10

And this last thing: I went back, the night after you left. I don't know if I was looking for her exactly but I did check to see if she was still at the hotel. Of course she was long gone. But I went back down to the bar, just to have a drink anyway, and that night the mermaids were out. And this was the thing, I knew one of them — she was this girl I met when I was talking to a class at the Vo-Tech, talking about range management. Just a pretty girl, an ag major. But then I looked up through the glass and I saw her and I recognized her right away, even with her hair all floating around her face and her feet bound up into a rubber fin. And this is the thing that's amazing to me, I never realized this but I guess they can see back through the glass and into the bar, because she recognized me, too. She swam up to the glass and she smiled at me and waved, and I waved back, and then she breathed in, from her air-hose, and out again. A string of bubbles drifted out of her mouth and up through the lit blue water and out, into the unseen sky above the surface.

From the story collection Where the Money Went by Kevin Canty, which is being published this month by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. Copyright (c) 2009 by Kevin Canty.

Kevin Canty’s short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Story, Tin House and Glimmer Train. He is the author of three short story collections, Where the Money Went, which will be published in July 2009, Honeymoon (2001) and A Stranger in This World (1994), and three novels: Into the Great Wide Open (1996), Nine Below Zero (1999) and Winslow in Love (2005), all published by Doubleday and Vintage. He is a professor in the English Department at University of Montana in Missoula.


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