Welcome to Fairlight Shorts – the home of seriously good storytelling. All of the Short Stories on our website have been hand-picked for their originality, contemporary themes and superb writing. We aim to post a new story each week, so do subscribe to our newsletter or join us on twitter if you would like to be kept up to date.

All 20 Minutes+

  • Scablands

    1.   ‘I’ll cane you, boy.’ The voice – baritone, resonant, strangely sorrowful – comes from the school library. The word ‘boy’ is elongated, with a slight flourish upwards, like a verbal serif, ‘I’ll cane you, booooooyyy.’ The new first-year boy hurries past the library door, trembling, near tears: what kind of place is this, where even libraries threaten you with the cane? ‘I’ll cane you, boy’ follows him down the corridor. At the end Read more [...]

  • Sensory Details

    It’s my fourteenth day as a bagger, the first day I can’t keep my eyes off the rooster-shaped clock above the candy aisle. I’m still in the probationary period at Swifts, so I do what I can to focus, make a game of it. Each new bag can be optimally filled in less time than the last. Four cardboard boxes containing crackers, pretzels, pasta, and rice fit safely in a single medium bag. The store’s Read more [...]

  • Red Shoes

    Once there was a woman who sat in the street and watched her house burn down. Dancing against a starless sky, the flames made her think of candles in church, for this woman was a Christian sort of woman. The dark smoke rising from those candles seemed to carry her prayers up to Heaven. For what did she pray? She might have prayed for her parents, trapped by the blaze in an upstairs room. She Read more [...]

  • Dobson’s Ministry of Deliverance

    Just as April was bidding its farewells, apologising for being a bit miserable, damp and sodden, a brazen sun arrived. Like all wandering friends it was champion to have the sun come home; the old chap was full of conviviality and warmth, hinting at tales of the deserts and tours over the tropics and the like. By June it had outstayed its welcome. Thermometers had never been so antic. Mercury rocketed to heights long obscured Read more [...]

  • Prairie Child

    one On the day I was born, all the apples from the tree out back fell to the ground. It was a parched season, arriving thirsty. From the blood of my mother’s labor, I emerged with sod dangling from my brow. My roots were pulled and cut. My face enclosed, caked in dirt; but my eyes were open, dewy and light brown. At the ends of my leafy fingers were wrinkled thistles, prickling my mother’s Read more [...]

  • After Hope & Fear

    Fame had never felt as seductive or as life-affirming as it had been when Luella was still dreaming of it, her eyes tight shut and her heart murmuring with the possibilities it held. Now that she had it, all she wanted was to set it aside like a childhood relic that had lost its sentimental value. What had been the appeal in the first place? She took a drag on her cigarette as she struggled Read more [...]

  • The Locust Theorem

    ‘It is probably best if we start with your body. I’d like you to touch yourself – on the arm, the face – somewhere where your hand can make contact with your skin. Feel it. Soft. Malleable. Our bodies are fantastically adaptable – fantastically adaptable – to external conditions. Well now, let’s think about that for a minute. Let’s think about external conditions. Where do external conditions start?’ A drop of sweat runs down my Read more [...]

  • The New York Cuckoos

    The mournful wail of the cop sirens is drawing ever closer, but I feel an explanation is necessary. From the first time I read the book, I was not satisfied with their account of the accident. I was inclined to believe a collusion had been perpetrated on the reader. A collusion in which Fitzgerald had taken part. Nick’s portrayal of himself as an innocent recipient of unwanted confidences; his position as an unwitting observer of Read more [...]