The Magpie


Our short story of the week is a story about theft from the writer Fiona Murphy McCormack.

Fiona Murphy McCormack is a writer from Northern Ireland. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Queen’s University Belfast and a BA in Creative Writing and English from Glyndwr University, Wrexham, Wales. She won a scholarship for the John Hewitt International Poetry School in 2017, and a Young Writer Delegate placement at the International Literature Festival in Dublin. She has given readings at Wrexham Carnival of Words, Waterstones events and The Session. She has had the following pieces published: ‘Sea Sonnet’ (Young Poets Future Voices, 2011), ‘Mona Lisa’ (Electric Reads Anthology of 2015), ‘Pigeon City’ (Germ Magazine, 2016), ‘Heavenly Bodies’ (Fearless Femme, 2018), ‘Ghosting’ (The Elephant Ladder Zine, 2018), ‘Silver’ (The Crossways Literary Review, 2019), ‘The North Is Next’ (Santa Fe Quarterly, 2019), and ‘The Armchair Traveller’ (Viva Voce Anthology, forthcoming 2019).

The Magpie follows a troubled young girl’s attempts to cope with life in the foster care system.


The first act of thievery took place when I was still small enough to fit all of myself inside the toddler seat of the trolley, and when I turn this memory over in my mind, I can still feel the metal bars pressed against my back, keeping me intact. It was my mother’s thin fingers feeding me unwashed green grapes plucked from among the fruit. They tasted slightly sour but I opened my mouth for more. She pushed the trolley through the fruit and vegetable aisle. Looking up at her, I must have seen the gaunt shadows of hollowed cheekbones, her always-chapped lips and crooked chipped teeth, but the light in her eyes reflected my own to encourage me on. It was a petty theft, yes. But I’m still willing to suspect even the saintliest among us have dabbled in the sin of sampling.’ Read more…