‘Just Like Nicole’ in The Stinging Fly

Summer 2018 is the Stinging Fly’s first issue with Sally Rooney at the helm, so I’m delighted that it includes my story ‘Just Like Nicole’. Established in 1997, the magazine has published authors such as Kevin Barry and Claire Keegan. Copies of the summer issue are available from their website.

Isla spends her summer in the polytunnels, breathing dank composty air. At the end of every day she goes home with soil under her nails, her fingers tingling with leaf hair, and every night she thinks about the husband.

The husband has favourite places for smoking. Isla records these in her diary. He’ll linger by the farmhouse, tapping his ash in an ancient milk bottle, or he’ll wander between the sheds and rolls of netting. She makes a collage from torn bits of Cosmo, glues R– E– A– L next to a felt-tip heart.

Isla imagines driving round with him in his BMW. They park outside the shops and he gives her money for cherry cola. She runs her fingers through her fringe: in the car he strokes her hair while the ones from school look in and see. She takes a hand from the duvet, places her tongue on the wrist, and feels hot breath on her skin […]