‘Jutland’ by Lucie McKnight Hardy

Ana and Eric are moving to Jutland with their two young children. Eric intends to concentrate on his art, while Ana is struggling to revive her writing: “Baby brain, they’d called it.” The story is threaded with perfect, pointed details: the tiny village “with nothing but a narrow road and a low stone wall to keep the sea at bay”; the “cold, lucid light” which they have come for (or which, tripping in over the North Sea, is coming for them); the church Ana “knows that she will visit”. The story begins with the grace of birds, the hollow bones that allow them to fly. “It also makes their bones more fragile and susceptible to damage. You can’t have it all, she thinks.” The contrasting heaviness in the final image is truly nightmarish.

First published as a chapbook, Nightjar Press, spring 2019. Collected in Dead Relatives, Dead Ink, 2021

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