Sarah’s story ‘Echolocation’ was shortlisted from 6000 entries for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2017. It was published by adda stories and is available to read online.

You can also read an extract of ‘Conversion Disorder’, published in full in the Oxford Literary Review, below.

‘A Conversion Disorder’

She leaves in the dark, her husband and daughter still sleeping. Easing the front door closed behind her, she listens for the soft click. It is frosty out; her feet make dark smudges on the grass and by the time she reaches the railway station her ears are singing with the cold.

The Parkway squats beneath the power station at Ratcliffe, its forecourt anonymous and glossy. Gloria stands beneath the cooling towers and listens to the roar. She thinks of all the people across the country, all over the world, all the cats, all the trees, every blade of grass, all of them roaring. The towers contain it all as they open their huge mouths at the sky.

Gloria is not one for roaring. She is no trouble, except for the recent problem with her right hand. Standing on the platform, she finds that it has gone numb in the cold so she wriggles her fingers inside her woollen gloves until she can feel again: the tingling starts just as the train emerges from the darkness, as if she is receiving electric impulses along the track.

She heads for the quiet coach, but already there are rows of bodies in dark suits. She finds an empty seat opposite a Japanese girl talking softly into her phone and a man in a long dark coat reading a newspaper in French. When she catches her eye, the girl smiles, as if they are sharing a secret, and Gloria has that feeling she sometimes gets.

The dark slowly lifts. The black gives way to violet and there is a splash of yellow to the east. She watches the passing farms and fields: the horses with frost on their beards and ears full of longing. She wraps herself up in her navy coat and smiles at that jolt in her bones when the train changes track. 

Visit the Oxford Literary Review for the full story.