‘Extra Few Feet in My Bed’ by Marie McQuade

I’m not sure that Marie McQuade qualifies as an Irish writer, but this is very much an Irish story – lyrical, funny and sad. The narrator is a single English woman with a young son who grieves for the loss of her Irish father and feels a “mad longing” for another Irish man to take his place. She finds one only too quickly:

“I did not know there were men who attended wakes for the free egg sandwiches, excess of daytime drinking and the lust that death evoked in women.”

He charms her, they marry, and then he flits, leaving his own old father for her to care for. There’s a quiet desperation in some of the things that follow, but she shows resilience and humour too. She ends up bonding with the old man over hash cakes and Cowboy Junkies songs and the story ends in laughter. It’s a slight tale, only six pages long, but it’s one that will leave you smiling. It’s also a lovely example of the good work coming from local writing groups and small publishers like thi wurd and all the more precious for it.

Collected in Alternating Current: an anthology of fiction, poetry and experimental writing, thi wurd, 2022

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