Irma Gold (1975– )

Irma Gold


Irma Gold is an award-winning writer and editor of works for adults and children. She has published three picture books, and her critically acclaimed debut collection of short fiction, Two Steps Forward, won or was shortlisted for a number of awards. Her short stories have also been widely published in Australian anthologies and journals like Meanjin, Island and Going Down Swinging.  Irma is Convenor of Editing at the University of Canberra. She has edited a range of books, magazines and anthologies, including The Invisible Thread, a century of literature by Canberra writers which was an official publication of the National Year of Reading 2012 and the Centenary of Canberra 2013. She also coordinated and oversaw the development of the ACT Writers Showcase website. Irma recently received a special one-off award for Outstanding Service to Writing and Publishing in the ACT and Region. Visit her at



The Invisible Thread: One Hundred Years of Words, (ed.), Halstead Press, 2012

Two Steps Forward, Affirm Press, 2011

Undertow, (ed.), University of Canberra Publishing, 2009

A Meeting of Muses, (edited with Craig Cormick), Ginninderra Press, 2003


The Sound of Silence: Journeys Through Miscarriage, (ed.), Mostly for Mothers imprint, Wombat Books, 2011


Megumi and the Bear, Walker Books, 2013

Bugs and Beasts 123, National Library of Australia, 2003

Bugs and Beasts ABC, National Library of Australia, 2003

Two Steps Forward cover image


He’s sitting at the train station with her. The sky is a tangle of stars and fluorescent stains. She is straight-backed, prissy almost. There’s a chunky bow in her hair. Tangerine. Her mother gave her this word and the girl says it like a caress. But not to him. Not yet.

Her mouth is like a piece of wire. It’s the mouth of a stern older woman, not a child. Her face is mealy in the flat light, the pale colour of lettuce.

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‘Want a lolly?’ he asks.

‘No, thank you,’ she replies, her syllables crisp between her lips.

He frowns, looks at the gob of lemon sherbets in his fist and stuffs them into a corner of the bench, wiping his palm on his jeans.

‘I bought them especially for you,’ he explains, not accusing.

Her body communicates nothing. She doesn’t tell him that she stopped eating those lemony sweets when she was six. Two whole years ago.

He watches neon flickering in the puddles. Cold colours. Slippery green and blue and lavender. It makes him shiver.

The train clatters up, swaying shabbily, and he chooses a row of seats near the back that haven’t been slashed. They are orange-checked, covered with black-texta graffiti.

‘Would you like to lie down?’ he asks.

She shakes her stiff head.

‘You could have my coat,’ he says. ‘You know, to keep warm.’

‘No, thank you,’ she repeats.

He wishes she wasn’t so damn polite.

She takes a small travel pillow out of her backpack and slowly blows it up. I could do it in three breaths, he thinks. She neatly places the wedge of pillow against the greasy window and slots her neck into its groove.

‘Goodnight,’ he says. Her eyes are already closed.

He squints out at the oily black through the window, but the lights in the train are so strong he sees only himself. He appears grey, his face saggy, pocketed with dark pools. His eyes look as if they have shrunk back into his head – he could pass for someone terminally ill. He sighs, scrunches his coat into a ball, and tries to sleep.

From Two Steps Forward, Irma Gold, Affirm Press, 2011.

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