Thursday 6 June 2024

Abi Hynes, "Monstrous Longing"

Abi Hynes is an award-winning drama and fiction writer based in Manchester, UK. She wrote the first four episodes of historical audio drama Dark Harbour for Audible, and is currently developing many original dramas for TV. Her script Long Lost was on the Brit List in 2022, and she has recently adapted Anne of Green Gables for audio drama for Audible, starring Catherine O'Hara and Victor Garber and narrated by Sandra Oh.

As a playwright, her work has been staged in theatres across the UK, and she works regularly with LGBT History Month, bringing forgotten queer stories to life on stage. Her short stories have appeared in a wide variety of journals, magazines and anthologies; she won the Cambridge Short Story Prize in 2020, and her debut short story collection, Monstrous Longing, was published by Dahlia Books in October 2023.

About Monstrous Longing

A desperate mother buys a love potion to win back her daughter’s affection. An actress has a forbidden encounter with her animal body double. An idyllic new home comes with an unexpected lodger – a poltergeist.

Exploring themes of desire, womanhood, and obsession, Abi Hynes’s collection of short stories is sometimes funny, sometimes uncanny, but never too far from the truth.

You can read more about Monstrous Longing on the publisher's website herehere. Below, you can read an excerpt from one of the stories in the collection. 

From Monstrous Longing, by Abi Hynes

From "The Something"

It was hard for Andrea to pinpoint the exact moment she became aware of the Something in her house. It had always had a sort of personality, squat little new-build that it was. Its roots spread deeper than was immediately obvious from outside. Its kitchen delved into the ground in a bizarrely old-fashioned design that left its little windows peeping just above the front lawn, offering an ankle-only view of passers-by to whoever did the washing up.

Other aspects of its layout seemed to defy logic and good sense. The two first floor bedrooms connected with each other, corridor-style. You had to pass through the ensuite to reach either of them, rending the guest room ... Well. Bloody inappopriate for guests.

The house asserted its own character with a pleasing confidence. It was one of the reasons Andrea had bought it. (An impulsive purchase, a Fuck it, why shouldn’t I? Giving off that dizzy rush of power. I am master of my own destiny!) Quickly, the house felt like a companion. It was co-conspirator in her emancipation from sharing unsatisfying flats with unsatisfying friends. She liked the Something, especially coming home on quiet, dark nights. The house’s confidence was catching.

The Something started small. It was the towel she noticed first (though there might have been other things before. Andrea could be dreamy. Unobservant). Clean and dry and folded neatly on a now-closed toilet lid. It was an unambiguous gesture, as there was no question of Andrea having put it there herself. Her towels were never folded, never carried in preparation to the bathroom. Her journey, dripping and shivering, to the airing cupboard in the guest bedroom, and then back, was part of her morning routine.

As a gesture, it didn’t frighten her. Her house wasn’t like old houses. It didn’t groan and whistle and scrape when the wind got up. It only sat there, resolutely silent, its burglar alarm and double-glazing primed against intruders, all its corners clean and cheerful. The Something was not a grisly intruder, Andrea was sure. It was just … the house itself.

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