Thursday 7 December 2023

Katy Wimhurst, "Let Them Float"

Katy Wimhurst’s first collection of short stories was Snapshots of the Apocalypse (Fly on the Wall Press, 2022) and her new collection is Let Them Float (Alien Buddha Press, 2023). Her fiction has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The Guardian, Writers’ Forum, Cafe Irreal, Kaleidotrope, and ShooterLit. Her first book of visual poems, Fifty-One Trillion Bits, was published by Trickhouse Press (2023). She interviews writers for 3AM Magazine. She blogs here. She is housebound with the illness M.E. @Sylphsea on Twitter

About Let Them Float
In the short stories in Let Them Float, Katy Wimhurst creates off-kilter worlds that illuminate our own. Apocalyptic rabbits invade a town. People overwhelmed by their lives float above an urban park. A woman turns transparent after a virus. The playful lenses of magical realism and surrealism are used to explore physical and mental illness and our fragile environment. Thought-provoking fiction with a good dose of whimsy. More can be found out about the book here. You can read an excerpt from the book below. 

From Let Them Float, by Katy Wimhurst

Let Them Float

It was like any walk to work through Castle Park until something tugged at Isla’s attention. She halted, cupping her hand to her mouth. Jeez.

A woman was floating upright above a leafy oak tree. Her slender arms were opened a little on each side, like a half-baked ballet pose. She wore blue jeans and a matching jacket, and she stared skyward blankly, her chin tilted up. Suspended in the air, she resembled a figure from a Chagall painting or a lost angel in denim. What was she doing up there?

Would this be like the epidemic of Fainters in town, from a couple of years back? Or a few years before that, the Hornies, the group of teenagers who sprouted goat’s horns on their heads – Isla’s nephew, Hamish, aged five at the time, loved those. 

From where Isla stood, the floating woman looked twenty-something. Does she have any children? A question Isla asked herself about many strangers. She reached for her neck scarf and absent-mindedly rubbed its silky material between her thumb and forefinger. Three men ahead of her had stopped, one filming the woman on his phone. Isla would have loved to linger and watch, but another busy day at work awaited. She tore herself away.

In the sunlight, the wrought-iron park gates threw shadows like pretty lattices onto St Peter’s Street. Isla’s office was in a glass-fronted building halfway down this road. In the foyer, the sign above Reception read: Orizone: Compliments for Condiments. She wrote copy for a marketing company specialising in foods such as chutneys and pickles; hardly a dream job. Her boyfriend, Gaitlin, jokingly called her the ‘chutney champion.’ 

Kylie, the smiley receptionist with a ginger bob, greeted her. 

‘Heard about the floating woman?’ asked Isla.

‘Pardon?’ Kylie’s brow creased as Isla explained. ‘I’m definitely going to have a nosey at lunchtime. What’s that all about?’

‘Wish I knew.’ Isla glanced at Kylie’s telephone. ‘Any calls for me?’

Kylie’s brows rose. ‘That Mr Lancaster again. I told him to try in half an hour.’

A difficult client, Isla’s heart plummeted.

Sunlight sluiced through the floor-to-ceiling windows in the open-plan office. As ever, Isla was the earliest to arrive. She put her velvet jacket on the back of her chair while looking at a silver-framed photo on her desk. It showed her nephew in a school uniform, smiling in his sweet, bashful way. All the other women her age here had photos of their own kids on display. Isla switched on her desktop and turned her attention to her emails. Four already from Mr Lancaster. Oh, spare me. She clicked on his first one and tried to concentrate, but her mind harked back to the floating woman.

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