Meet the Schemers: Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

Schemers is the latest genre-crossing anthology of new short fiction from Stone Skin Press. From the classic myths to the pages of the Bible, from Shakespeare’s stage to the yellowed pulps of yesteryear, literature runs red with tales of plotting and betrayal.

For our final sample from Schemers, we come to Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer’s “The Bridgehouse Game.” Here, the power of desire fuels an exercise in psychological domination and transformation. A cruel tale recalling Edogawa Rampo, its moral horror becomes all the more acute through the fugue-state lyricism of Kuitenbrouwer’s prose.

It was cherry-red painted steel and spanned the ancient Leie, in Ghent, België, acting as both house for me, and bridge for the people. The roof was well insulated though I could feel the reverberation of foot traffic sometimes, revelers during the Gentse Feesten, and the cyclists who used my house to get from one side of the canalized waterway to the other. Melissa lived here with me at the time. She was an opportunist, yes, but she was sad—bitchy and beautiful in her sorrow—and I fell for that.

The water of the Leie barely flowed and smelled horribly. It seeped into our waking dreams, but we became used to it.

I was studying one night, occasionally looking up from my book to tell Melissa about a series of barrows in England that were vaginal in configuration, and absolutely monstrous in size, and thought to have been tributes to some sort of earth goddess. They had got me thinking about the enclosed tunnel under the house—the tunnel my bridge house created!—and the water causeway as a sexual avenue. It was, I told her, “A sacred place where ancients sacrificed in the hope of cyclical fecundity.”

“And you the dryad,” she muttered. She was writing in her journal, something I found later and kept away from the authorities. It read, for example: My fingers along her trachea…

For the rest, get Schemers from Stone Skin Press.

Shortly after its debut, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer’s new novel All The Broken Things, from Random House of Canada, put her on The Globe and Mail’s bestselling Canadian fiction list. Previous works include the novels The Nettle Spinner and Perfecting and the short fiction collection Way Up. Her short stories have appeared in Granta magazine, The Walrus and Storyville, where they won the Sidney Prize.

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