A teaser extract from Holly Müller’s short story ‘Blackcurrant Pie’

In the lead up to xx minifest we shall be posting teaser extracts of writing from our artists so that you can see how great they are and remember to buy tickets. Today we have an extract from Holly Müller’s deliciously dark short story ‘Blackcurrant Pie’:

I killed my boyfriend. It was an accident but I feel pretty bad about it. It was all because – well, it was because of a combination of things I suppose – like most things in life – and some bad luck. Plus I had a very bad headache.

I was sitting in the garden reading a book when my boyfriend came out of the shed. He was carrying a long piece of wood over his shoulder and was, as usual, so lost in cloud cuckoo land that he didn’t even notice me sitting under the porch. He’s one of those dozy, dreamy people – you know the type I mean. Never quite with it. I watched him as he wiped his suntanned face with a filthy hand and walked down the gravel path – the plank bowed and swayed along its length. He rounded the corner at the top of the chicken run and, as I watched, the back end of the plank swung in a supple arc and smacked loudly against one of the fence posts. The sound of the knock fell harshly on the drowsy air and my perpetual headache responded with a potent throb. I put down my book and peered over. On the fencepost I could see a pale wound where a sliver of wood had chipped off. It shone brightly, the only blemish on the dark green fence.

I tutted and sighed, pain flaring in my skull as my headache rekindled. It really only took the slightest provocation.

I had painted the fence just yesterday with a lovely weather-proof wood stain. Three hours it had taken me. I’d developed a stinking headache (which had remained with me ever since) from the noxious fumes and nearly put my back out with all the bending and stooping.

And since then I’d been feeling very odd – moody, irritable and, as I’ve already said, my head was killing me. Ordinary little things set me off, like stubbing my toe or slopping tea into my saucer. Anything really. And then I’d be lost for at least half an hour in a stubborn cloud of darkness. And I had been seeing things; shadowy shapes and things vibrating when they shouldn’t be. It was definitely more than an every day headache. I think from now on I’ll call it a migraine.

Holly Müller is a novelist and short story writer living in Cardiff and working towards her MPhil in Writing at the University of Glamorgan. Her stories are influenced by her remote upbringing in the Brecon Beacons and her varied and unpredictable travels across Europe as a child, meeting strangers, glimpsing other lives, sleeping on benches, building rafts and sun shelters, washing in fountains, waking up covered in snails, walking, walking, walking. Holly is working on her first novel, a historical fiction set in post war Austria, exploring the impact of occupying Russian forces on a small farming community.

7.30pm | CARDIFF LITERARY SALON XX SPECIAL

A special all-female edition of Cardiff Literary Salontakes to the stage for xx. The short story form will be our hot topic with readings and discussion from EFG Short Story Prize shortlisted Roshi Fernandoand Dylan Thomas Prize winner Rachel Trezise. We shall also be showcasing some hot new local talents with readings from Swansea poet Sarah Coles, Cardiff author Alexandra Claire and a story from Hail! The Planes front woman Holly Muller. Hosted by writer, poet and Parthian Books’ editor Susie Wild.

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