The man with three hats


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 family by Sarah Hills.

Sarah Hills was brought up in the south of England but migrated north as an adult and found herself living in Leeds.

Sarah’s short stories have been published in several online literary magazines and print anthologies, including CafelitToasted Cheese and Lucent Dreaming. She has also been shortlisted in competitions including the Bridport short story and Lucent Dreaming’s flash and short story.

Sarah wrote poetry from an early age but only started taking her writing seriously a few years ago when a creative writing class opened doors in her head she had not known were there.

‘The man with three hats’ follows a man considering the purpose of his accessories.



The man loves his three hats. His wife, she doesn’t love them; to her they are just a chore. They lie wherever he leaves them, and she must pick them up, put them back where they belong. Again, and again. Over the decades, she must have picked up those hats hundreds of times. Thousands.

But the man, he loves the hats.

The first is a pork pie hat; short and sweet, he thinks. Small and neat. It sits on his head like punctuation – dark, meaningful on his now white hair. It makes him feel humorous: like every sentence will be a wisecrack; every paragraph will end sardonically. He wears it when going out with the boys (the boys!). When the other old men and he go out for a couple of drinks or just a ramble round the streets. It is a happy hat.

His wife regards it with coolness. She picks it up from the sofa, the chair, the table, with long fingers. It smells of the bars it frequents and the cigarette smoke of the friends. Therefore, it lives on a hook in a cupboard under the stairs.

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