Short story: The cockerel


Every morning for a month Nanette and I trudged behind our father down to the boat. We each carried an oar, and he carried the cockerel. Everyone stared as he tied the flapping bird to the transom, and rowed out to sea. He didn’t care.

‘What’s he doing?’ someone asked.

‘Looking for our mother,’ Nanette said. I turned away, too wretched to hear her explanation: that Norwegians believe the cockerel will crow when the boat moves over the drowned.

The following day the cockerel got loose and my father sat on the sand and cried, and I turned away once more.


A Friday Fictioneers 100-word (or so) story inspired by the picture supplied by Georgia Koch. Friday Fictioneers is organised and run by the wonderful Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Click here to join in, and here to read other pieces.


If any Canadian readers are interested in winning a copy of my novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, Goodreads is hosting a giveaway for people who live in Canada. (Apologies again to all the Friday Fictioneers from the States!)

43 thoughts on “Short story: The cockerel

  1. Blisteringly sad. I’ve gone all goose-pimply. One tiny quibble. Should the narrator say ‘our father’ in the first sentence? The ‘my’ distances him/ her from Nanette, who uses ‘our mother’. But maybe distance and separation from sibling/ everyone is what you were trying to achieve.


  2. Dear Claire,

    The spell you cast with your word choice and arrangement is what I most enjoyed about this story. The forlorn father lamenting lost wife and vanished cockerel, the daughter twice turing away. Absolutely beautiful. You take us into the hearts of your characters, Claire. It is part of your magic.




  3. This was exquisitely done. That sense of grief and loss captured so movingly and the lovely touch of the Norwegian belief to convey how desperation makes us do strange things.


  4. I love your use of language. I had never heard of this strange custom and yet you made it seem the most natural thing in the world to go in search of the dead with a cockerel..


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