‘Sandra’ by Clare Azzopardi

Clare Azzopardi’s short stories are full of humour and irony, with a surprise touch of horror introduced at the coda that reminds me of the stories of Poe or Sheridan Le Fanu. ‘Sandra’ is the first in a collection of eight stories, each named after a different woman. On the outside, these are ordinary women living very ordinary lives. Azzopardi, however, lets us in on their interior consciousnesses, which turn out to be anything but ordinary. Sandra is a young woman with a penchant for keys and lies. From a young age, she understands the power she can gain over people by leaving keys lying around to pique their curiosity. This leads her to ensnare friends, parents, lovers. She gets a huge thrill from these acts of subversion, which always end in misadventure. Like, for instance, losing her job as a car salesperson after luring her male colleague into stealing off the with the keys to the showroom Mercedes that ends in them crashing the car. I’m drawn to this story for its quirkiness and irreverence – the way it tiptoes nimbly between light and dark, like an X-rated fairy tale for adults. 

from Kullħadd Ħalla Isem Warajh, Merlin, 2014