‘All The People Were Mean and Bad’ by Lucy Caldwell

Everytime I read anything that Lucy Caldwell has written, I just sigh from the beauty of it. Impossible to choose from the whole collection but this one, about a woman flying home after her cousin’s funeral with her toddler, sitting next to a man, a complete stranger, who shows her kindness, and whom she briefly, irrationally considers going home with, just knocked the breath out of me. I find it devastatingly sad, and beautiful and believable. It captures for me exactly what a short story is about; a moment in time, a choice you must make; the haunting wonder of what if, what else might have happened if you chose differently. 

First published in Intimacies, Faber, 2021; winner of the BBC National Short Story Award, listen to it being read here

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