Flash Mob 2013: Kate Mahony

Specialist topic

By Kate Mahony

The girl sits upright but it’s clear she’s thinking about something far removed from the reading room with its polished floors, timbered tables and high ceilings. I am researching my chosen topic, hoping to gain a place on Mastermind. As part of my preparation, careful observation of others is the first discipline I require of myself.

She’s not even pretending to read, unlike the oldies who spread out a newspaper before sinking into unfitful snoozing. As someone who likes to keep abreast of his literary knowledge, I am reminded of the phrase, waiting for Godot.

Eventually, I hear her chair move. I return my reading material and take the stairs down to the ground floor.  Outside, I blink as my eyes adjust to the sunlight. She’s at a wooden table in the courtyard area. I choose a neighbouring spot and fossick in my lunchbox causing two sparrows to descend quickly onto my table. I shoo them away. ‘Annoying creatures,’ I say, directing my comment towards the girl.

In a place like this, we are all strangers. People often warm to the sound of another human voice. I toss out a gentle question or two and learn that she has no place to stay.

Yet again, I explain my mother’s unique situation, struck down in her middle years by a mystery illness and needing company while I am conducting my business. A room provided for the right person.

I wait for her to ask some questions, but she just nods and says okay. She hoists her small backpack onto her back.

I lead the way, not bothering to check she’s following. When you step into your specialist area, everything is easy.


This marks a guest appearance by Kate Mahony for FLASH MOB 2013, a hybrid blog fest/ competition (more here). Welcome, Kate, and welcome to the FLASH MOB!
Bryant Park Outdoor reading roomKate Mahony has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand (2006). Her short fiction has appeared in Best New Zealand Fiction Volume 6, (Random House), Turbine, Takahe (Vols 71, 74), the International Literary Quarterly (Issue 14), Flash Frontier (August 2012, September 2012, January 2013), the anthology Tales for Canterbury (Random Static, 2011), Blue Crow Magazine (Australia), Microw 8 at Full of Crow (USA), Blue Fifth Review (USA), and Blackmail Press.
One of her short stories, A Good Person, was a finalist in the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Award in 2008. She teaches short story writing at the Community Education Centre, Wellington.
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2 Responses to Flash Mob 2013: Kate Mahony

  1. This piece is disorienting, in a good way, from the start. As I begin to understand the situation and what these characters want, I come to care about them and to know how much emotion that last sentence stands in for.

  2. Kate Mahony says:

    Thanks, Elizabeth. I have just seen your comment on here. Much appreciated.

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