The Red Coat by Miriam Sagan

Despite my poor experience writing in my dreams, described in yesterday’s post, this story, RED COAT, did come to me in a dream. It is about a lesbian couple raising a child in Iceland right after the Second World War. The situation and characters were there when I awoke. The first draft was fairly easy to write, but the final draft took rather more tweaking than I’d expected. The point of view is the child’s as she grows up.
I’ve been to Iceland twice, but obviously had to invent some of the context. Enjoy!


“Tell me a story,” I said.
      “About fairies or trolls?”
      “Both,” I said.
      “Alright. You know my father had a bakery, a plain place, bread, rolls. That was before the bridge was built. To get across the river you had to pay a little to an old man with a boat.”
      Unna was not the best storyteller. My mother Christina could tell a tale out of a saga, it would end with wrong righted, treasure found. Unna tended to ramble, but then again, her stories were true.
      “Well, the bakery never prospered. The old women in the neighborhood said it had been built on a place of the fairy folk, who were angry and offended.”
      “What kind of place?”
      “A fairy church.” She laughed. “Can you imagine? No wonder there were angry. A hot bakery with noisy customers built right over your church!”
      “The fairy folk go to church?”
      “Of course. Just like you and me.”
      “But Mother Unna, we never go to church.”
      That of course was true. My mothers were non-believes, like many of their contemporaries. Jesus meant no more to them than Thor, perhaps less, since no one named a child Jesus.
      “Well, anyway, the folk were angry. The bakery never prospered.”
      “You should have left them some sweet rolls,” I said. I was Christina’s child and I wanted to tie up the story.
      But Unna rambled on. “I did see trolls once, though, you know.”
      “Tell me.”
      “It was a sunless night,” she said, “just at the time they were building the bridge. My brother, the one right after me, heard there was a troll under the pilings. So we took a lantern and went to look.”
      “Did you see him?”
      “Yes! Huge as a boulder with a face like a crag, big and slow and so so ugly…”
      “What happened?”
      “Oh, he ran off. The lantern scared him, he thought it was daylight come to turn him to stone…”
      “He ran?”
      “Right off.”
      “Weren’t you scared?” Even I wasn’t scared. Unna made the troll sound as dull as the bakery.

You can read the rest of the story in WORLD UNKNOWN REVIEW. (

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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well ( The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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