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  • Philippa Bowe

A Catalogue of Rare and Curious Items Found on the Remote Island of Congoja | By Philippa Bowe

1. One large spyglass. Brass and high-quality leather. Staining and identically formed indentations along the barrel suggest long use at sea or in a marine environment by a single owner.

2. Footprints in the sand. Overlapping layers of tracks produced by bare feet belonging to a human subject. Flattened sand infers a regular and undeviating circuit between trees and water’s edge.

3. Clumps of hair. Long strands, coarsened by, almost certainly, strong sunlight. Close examination of the roots reveals the hairs have been torn from the owner’s skull.

4. One dove, white, holding a bouquet of seaweed in its beak. Wings damp with ocean spray and feet speckled with sand.

5. Large fishing net. Fashioned by hand from tropical forest lianas. Most notable feature: a sizeable hole cut in one side. The filaments feature a sprinkling of minute glittering flecks from an unidentified source.

6. Three scales. While the shape and composition of these items are consistent with conventional fish scales, the hues say otherwise: sparkling turquoise, purple and silver, impossible to associate with any known sea organism. The scales could thus be conjectured to have fallen from the tail of a mermaid, that creature of myth and legend.

7. Engravings on wood. Rudimentary etchings on the trunk of a Kapok tree depicting entwined flowers crowned with initials. Additionally, two figures, possibly but not demonstrably human, in passionate embrace.

8. One funeral cross. Unadorned, formed from two struts of green bamboo. At its base, a smattering of shiny specks (see item number 5, above).

9. One human heart. Relatively good condition, an absence of deeply engrained marks. The microscope, however, exposes a large tear with jagged edges. Still functioning, albeit at less than optional rhythm.

10. One coconut vessel holding teardrops. Overflowing.


Philippa is a writer and translator who switches between the instant gratification and thrill of flash and the marathon of novel-writing. Her stories are featured in recent Reflex Fiction and Bath Flash Fiction anthologies and have been placed in a host of competitions.

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