‘Treats’ by Lara Williams

“Treats could save a person,” the protagonist in this story, Elaine, thinks. But her life is filled with empty pizza boxes, birthdays unacknowledged by those around her, a job making coffee and filing papers for others. Elaine tries to look on the bright side though: her pleasure when the man at the sandwich shop throws a French tart in her bag, the joy she gets from anonymously buying a cinema ticket for the young woman in the queue behind her. Still, you realise Elaine’s just scrunching up her eyes, not wanting to see how bad the big picture is. And because she is so deserving of something more, you find yourself wanting to scrunch your eyes up too. I came across ‘Treats’ in Best British Short Stories 2017 (it is also in Williams’ debut collection). This is the story that has stayed with me the most from this year’s anthology, hovering around like a vulture.

From Treats (Freight Books). Also available in Best British Short Stories 2017 (Salt). You can find Lara Williams’ website here