This is a restrained story – we follow a woman biting her tongue as she copes with uprooting her life (along with her new baby and mute child) in order to support her husband’s artistry. But in the gothic tradition, what is repressed finds a way out, and we are invited into the woman’s internal thoughts – “the port is nothing like she’d expected”, “it starts to bawl again, a screech that causes her skin to prickle,” and the glorious brutal honesty of “He paints shit. He paints like shit. He is shit.”
Tension continually builds throughout the story, both through the strained relationships and through a supernatural (or perhaps not) element. It has been said that short stories should leave us with more questions than answers, and in ‘Jutland’, McKnight Hardy leaves us in no doubt of this. The final piece of dialogue is a brutal, haunting, question repeated with a clarity and simplicity that belies the horror behind the words.
first published by NightJar Press, March 2019