Short stories

Albatrossthree stories

Carolyn McCurdie

Albatross: An elderly woman with spiked-up hair and a suicidal bent heads out to sea in her tiny boat; Evan Brody supposes he’d better go and save her.

Collision: Chrissie finds a noisy city apartment the unlikely venue for tender realisations about her partner and his contrary father.

Wings of Stone: Dell Donovan buys a house on the edge of town, trying to make peace with her past, her children, and the uneasy present in which a ghostly figure is nightly tearing up the garden.

Carolyn McCurdie writes with a poet’s lightness, a novelist’s grit and realism, and psychological astuteness that comes across as real life speaking, in tones fresh and subtle and true.

In three small human collisions that serve to challenge assumptions, Carolyn compassionately examines discomfort and how people grope their way through it, looking for what makes sense and finding (if they’re lucky) the something true about the other person, and so about themselves.

Three stories: three explorations of love.


The weather office had issued storm warnings, and if you didn’t hear them, the bush telegraph passed them on. All the talk in the hairdresser’s and at the grocery checkout was about the weather, and the butcher and the hardware shop owners closed their doors early. No customers. And that was a blessing, because at home there was a sheet of loose iron that needed a nail, and the sweet peas had to be tied to the trellis. Afternoon bustle trickled away, leaving streets empty. The air grew heavy with waiting.

Evan Brody was down on his boat, giving his mooring a last-minute check. His hands lingered on rope, on wood, as he enjoyed that sense of being ready, of readiness about to be tested. His cell phone interrupted.

‘Is that the constable? I think you should know that Miss Flockton’s about to commit suicide. She’s alone in a tiny boat and heading into the Pacific Ocean.’

Evan sighed. Why is it always me?

Then another call. ‘Evan? Evan, it’s that Flockton woman. She’s putting out to sea. I’ve got the binoculars on her now. Just out from you. Can you head her off? She’ll never come back alive.’

‘Right, mate,’ he said. ‘I’m onto it.’

Again, the phone. ‘Mate, I know it’s your week off, but Ina Flockton’s just lost her marbles.’

So his motor roared like a walrus with toothache. He enjoyed the bad temper of it. As he headed out of the bay, he thought of the Friday night crowd at the boat club and the stool at the bar that should be his. Everyone’d be there for the rugby on the big screen; there’d be so much noise, so much beer, jostling, jokes and argument. Where would he be? Somewhere cold and wet was a good bet. Sylvie and the kids were right: he should have retired years ago. Except then they’d have to shift, or the phone calls would just keep coming. She’d hate it. Either way. So you had to laugh, thought Evan.


The Happiest Music on Earththree stories

Sue Wootton

Earle wants ‘more than anything in the whole entire universe to ride a roller coaster’ at the A&P show. At the same time he wants not to do the compulsive thing that takes him close, though never quite close enough, to bliss. Casting shadows over Earle’s hopes and fears are his father, Lloyd, and the man in the car that pulls up alongside, offering tickets for the show.

Margaretha dreads the ‘sweet zephyrs’ of spring that lure maids from the house where her husband labours over his ‘vats of stinking hell’ — seeking gold in urine. The new maid Hilda — ‘hot Hilda!’ — besides being a boon in a wintry bed harbours alchemical secrets of her own.

Lily’s mother sees shapeliness waiting to emerge from raggedy rosebushes, and from a gangly half-grown daughter. But a Saturday morning death and its awkward, bruising aftermath threaten the lovely forms.

Three stories that demonstrate the author’s verve and versatility, her keen eye and attentive ear.

Sue talks about The Happiest Music on Earth.

Slightly Peculiar Love Stories

A superb cast of New Zealand and international authors

Whimsical, intense, pensive or amorous — we bring you a love story for every mood, each a little unorthodox, mysterious, or slightly peculiar.

Slightly Peculiar Love Stories paint a grand mandala of experience and circumstance: love appears and disappears; it aches and it dares; amuses and amazes; hurts, heals and begins again.

Love preoccupies writers from New Zealand, Israel, Hong Kong, Argentina and Athens, the UK and the US. Their 26 stories have been selected and edited by Penelope Todd.

Learn more about our slightly peculiar writers here and on the Rosa Mira Books blog.