Stunned By Fireworks


Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about discovery by Holly Sykes.

Holly Sykes lives in Hong Kong, having relocated with her family from the northwest of England in 2021. After teaching English in secondary schools around the UK for fifteen years, she is now able to devote most of her time to writing, although the glittering cityline and mountainous landscapes often draw her away from the page.

Over the past few years, Holly has had fifteen short stories published in various literary magazines including Dream Catcher, The Stand and Firewords. She is currently working on a novel, with the support of a distance learning MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University.

‘Stunned by Fireworks’ follows a man trying to connect with nature after his wife’s death.



We had walked down to see the frozen canal. It was the day after Bonfire Night and the sky was bright blue. Not a cloud about. Cold though. Coldest it had been all year. We sat on a bench and ate slices of Alison’s homemade lemon drizzle. Drank tea from a flask. There was a scattering of icing-sugar snow on the water’s frozen surface.

Under the metal bridge, near that place where the lads put a hole in the fence to crawl through for fishing, Alison saw it first. A spray-painted marriage proposal on the red metalwork: MARIA WILL YOU MARRY ME. It ran from one side of the bridge to the other. Either someone’s done that hanging upside down, I said,or they’ve stood on the roof of a barge to do it. She laughed and said, That’s an offer you can’t refuse. As we walked out the other side, I wondered whether she was remembering my proposal, all those years ago. It wasn’t half as romantic.

That’s when we saw them. A dozen pigeons frozen into the ice, head-first. Like a strange piece of modern art.

Read more…