The Amulet


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 addiction by P G McCormack.

P G McCormack was born in England but grew up in Dublin in the 60s and 70s. His career was mainly in academic libraries. His MA is in Oriental and African religions. He is interested in myths and beliefs in general and this feeds through into his stories. His latest novel is The Demon of Snow, currently with an agent.

P G started writing a good many years ago, and over the years he has become a widely published poet and short story writer. His poems have appeared in Poets Aloud AnthologyPoetry IrelandVoicesIreland’s OwnFreelance Writing and Photography and the US magazine Visions. His short stories have appeared in a host of magazines and he won a best writer award from the Sunday Tribune (Irish newspaper). He won First Prize in the Lewis Wright Short Story Competition and was a runner-up in a biography competition judged by P D James

P G’s novel Under a Gothic Sun is available on Amazon.

‘The Amulet’ follows a bored and abandoned woman struggling with addiction and tedium.



She made her way slowly up the stairs. She had changed for the evening, though it was barely teatime. The dress in heavy luxurious blue silk flowed in opulent folds from her restricted waist. At the top of the stairs, she had to catch her breath. The action gave her some satisfaction. Her hair was piled up and she held her chin high. Turning on the landing, the sough of her skirts accompanied her to the first-floor drawing room.

She called it her drawing room. As she opened the door, the sunlight poured in on the carpet from the two long windows secured with French balconies. They were lucky to live on a square. Facing west meant they were always blessed by the setting sun. She sat at the long table and took a deck of cards, which she shuffled with prolonged easeful movements. She laid them out for Patience. She sat bolt upright and gazed at the cards with a light attention. Every ten minutes or so she rose and adjusted her chair slightly to avoid the encroaching sunlight. Sometimes she took a vial from her pocket and sprayed the air with bergamot and lemon. Soon the maid would bring in the afternoon tea.

The maid, Hazel, was a plain, small girl, perhaps in her late teens. Neither particularly chatty nor sullen. She bobbed and curtsied profusely. The Lady of the House thought her absurd. And Hazel, for her part, thought the entire run of rituals of this upper middle-class household were equally absurd: life acted out rather than lived. That was a sentiment she felt but could – and would – never articulate. The aroma of the Earl Grey scented with Orange Blossom pervaded the warm air.

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