"The mind is a fascinating thing, and that also plays to the supernatural. Is it real or isn’t it? Does anyone really know?" S.J.I. Holliday
Short stories
“Don’t kill me, I beg you. This is my tree.”

“Don’t kill me, I beg you. This is my tree.”

He woke up and , before the last vestiges of the nightmare faded, made up his mind. He’d take him out to the forest and finish the matter off. Fifteen years ago, before he’d shot him, he’d heard him say, “Don’t kill me, I beg you. This is my tree.” Those words had stayed with...
What to do when you can't do anything

What to do when you can’t do anything

The consultant is still talking, fingertips poised on his desk as if he is about to play a concerto. Unsettling minor-key melodies fill the room, yet I feel nothing while I weep. Palliative is a pretty word. It masks a horror that should not wrap its spindly legs around my three-year-old. A greying moustache hangs...
The chosen vessel

The chosen vessel

She laid the stick and her baby on the grass while she untied the rope that tethered the calf. The length of the rope separated them. The cow was near the calf, and both were lying down. Feed along the creek was plentiful, and every day she found a fresh place to tether it, since...
Description

Description

Joseph and his friend Kevin were driving to New Paltz for a hike. Kevin was driving with one hand, elbow out; Joseph had his whole arm out, hand on roof. They had finished their MFAs in creative writing weeks earlier and they felt great. Kevin had just published an essay in a big-deal magazine that...
Cretan love song

Cretan love song

Imagine you’re part of the Minoan civilization, just hanging out with your effete painted face down by the water’s edge on the north shore of Crete, circa 1600 BC. Biting flies knit the breeze around your head. Wavelets slap discreetly ashore. When the volcanic island of Thera detonates seventy miles to the north, the concussion,...
Premontions

Premontions

When I was young, a remarkable woman lived in the village where I grew up. Her name was Frida Andersson. Frida lived alone in a cottage by herself but she had a daughter and a grandchild in the city. Sometimes in summer they would come to visit, but as Frida grew more and more peculiar,...
A fresh start

A fresh start

She had decided to make a fresh start. She had to make a fresh start. And as soon as she arrived at the small apartment-hotel, chosen at random and booked in Barcelona through a travel agent, she thought it was the ideal place to allow her to stop wondering “How do I go about it?”,...
A selective objective

A selective objective

This year’s shortlist for the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award – open to any novelist or short-story writer published in the UK, and at £30,000 the richest prize in the world for short fiction – includes three women and three men, four American writers, one British and one Irish author. The US writers...
Fearless flourish

Fearless flourish

Irenosen Okojie is a remarkable writer. I discovered this late last year, when her second book Speak Gigantular, a collection of extraordinary short stories – was submitted by Jacaranda Books for the Jhalak Prize, a literary award for writers from ethnic minority backgrounds. As one of the judges, I would carry two or three books...
Internet dating for immortals

Internet dating for immortals

George sat on the park bench, holding his head in his hands. He’d already turned away a couple of concerned passers-by, assuring them, between sobs, that he would be all right. And he would, he knew. Experience told him that. But it didn’t make it any easier. It was always tough saying goodbye. It hadn’t...