Ledicia Costas is the author of two children’s books, Scarlet Fever the Late Departed Cook (2015) and its prequel Emeraldine the Late Departed Kid (2016), in which the narrative is interspersed with cooking recipes. For the first of these, she was awarded the Spanish National Prize for Literature in 2015. She has also written several young adult novels: A Star in the Wind (2000); Heart of Jupiter (2012), available in English, about the dangers of online relationships; Grey Enclosure (2014) about an army of wolf soldiers who invade City Vii to carry off those with disabilities; Jules Verne and the Secret Life of Plant Women (2016) about the French author’s adventures in the city of Vigo. Her book of adult short stories, An Animal Called Mist (2015), focuses on extreme situations relating to the Second World War.
Photograph © Eugenio Álvarez Rodríguez
AN ANIMAL CALLED MIST synopsis
Ledicia Costas is primarily a writer of children’s and young adult fiction, and in this category was awarded the Spanish National Prize for Literature in 2015. She is an accomplished narrator. An Animal Called Mist (200 pages), a collection of six short stories showing extreme human situations in the context of the Second World War, is her only work of adult fiction to date.
AN ANIMAL CALLED MIST
THE LAST MISSION OF THE USS INDIANAPOLIS
In childhood, something magical happens with books and films. Because children possess that special thing that is then lost with the passing of the years: the ability to be surprised. Surprise is a helium balloon in the shape of a star. The seller, who has been standing for four hours at the entrance to the fairground, knows this well. She has an enormous clutch of moored balloons in her right hand. She is quite sure, were she not so large and corpulent, any moment now she would go flying after them to some wonderful place, driven by the inertia of the wind and expectation.
The woman blew them up and tied them one by one, with all the carefulness of her fifteen years of experience. Her mother was a balloon seller, and her grandmother before her. She has lots of forms: a whale, a bird, E.T., a dragon… It’s strange that, with this vast bouquet of showy colours she is holding in the air, she should be invisible to the grown-ups. They pass alongside, brush against her, even bump into her. They know she’s there, standing next to the stall where a Gypsy woman prepares candy floss while breastfeeding a child. They know this, but don’t see her, don’t take her into consideration. She is part of the furniture. With the children, it’s not the same. They see her. Each and every one of them. And as soon as they set eyes on that cluster of balloons, they start tugging at their father or mother’s arm with all their might, begging them to buy one. They put all their heart and soul into this. They wish for it with such intensity that, at that moment in time, nothing else exists on the earth.
At the age of eleven, Hunter Scott thinks he’s too old to hold hands with an adult, but not to wish for one of those helium balloons with all his heart. He’s taken a fancy to one in the shape of a hammerhead, its enormous mouth in the shape of a ‘T’. But with that natural tendency some adults have for saying ‘no’, Hunter’s father explains that eleven is very old to be holding hands, but also to be wanting a helium balloon. So, no hammerhead sharks. The boy, perceiving that his years of childhood are being left behind, adopts a wintry expression and makes for the shooting galleries.