Octember! Here we go, into the final segment of the year, hold on tight wahhooooo. Q4 for you business types. Spoopy season for the rest of us.
The perfect time to yeet your Birkenstocks, pull on your hand-knitted socks*, get yourself under a blanket and snuggle up with some melancholy, wistful, beautiful and just plain weird-ass short stories. Aww yeah, that’s what we love.
This collection of stories might not immediately scream Pumpkin Spice but they gave us strong walking-through-the-woods, want-to-be-in-a-blanket, shiver-in-the-new-chill vibes.
*Look, we’re ignoring the whole thing with it still being like 20 degrees most days in the UK and that whole climate changey terrifying thing that’s going on and putting the socks on anyway because Mum WHQ knits them and they. are. rad.
Anyhoo. Here’s our pick of amazing stories to get you through the tenth month of the year of our lord tootytootytree, with a bonus treat for gold star members at the end.
“I feel the old ache again—my friend, the hunger—and as I touch my belly, I remember I’m still wearing the blood red dress he had made for me. I stand up and take it off, strip down to nothing, to what I truly am. A body in a castle, ready for death at the hands of yet another man.”
“You made a choice decades ago, chose mint chip or cookie dough. You followed a small cat behind a garage in the gloaming or you didn’t. You said yes to love or you cowered. You—a weeping baby—entered the world sticky and fragile. Your first thoughts were immediate, as in set before the soul without mediation, known without words to transmute their meanings.”
“When the birds go quiet, the girls can hear their own breathing: quick and light like cat paws in the snow. The right kind of breathing, their mother used to say, Doesn’t attract flaring wolf-eyes on your frail figures.”
“I will make another world. It may seem wasteful to evolve ferns and bacteria into grasses and nymphs, and let them hurtle into black holes, but I have the time.
“We can start all over again. I have ambition, hope, and infinite — almost infinite — time. Are you game? Let’s meet.”
“Let’s get married,” he says to her, and she says “It’s all right with me,” and he starts crying. “What a reaction,” she says, and he says “I’m so happy, so happy,” and she hugs him and says “So am I.”
“On Sunday I asked: was there anything we could do to hasten the rapture? More sin? Less? I wanted: fewer cars on the highway, no more getting jumped by proselytizers on the trails, at the holy glowing supermarket. For fewer conversations to feel like bone”
Gold star members get an in-depth analysis of When The Birds Go Quiet
By Noémi Scheiring-Oláh
Explore what makes it so great and how we might apply these lessons to our own stories.