Too beautiful for words

While all around her bustles, Evelyn McHale lies serene. Still clutching the pearls, a recent gift from her fiancé, she is as elegant in death as in life.

A crowd gathers but she’s too beautiful for words. They wait… not for her to move, they know she won’t, can’t, after a fall like that.

A man, unknown to the others, takes a photograph, the click the only noise, sets someone talking, then voices become a low buzz.

The man rushes off to his darkroom, eager to catch the evening news, then tomorrow’s first edition.

A siren laments in the distance as if to know its prey.


A woman returns to her car in the busy urban street but struggles to get through the crowd. As she pushes people aside she sees the black sleek metal crumpled, moulded itself around the body of a woman, just a few years younger than herself. She wants to scream but knows it’s the wrong thing to do. No-one around her is reacting, just talking in whispers, pointing to her car and the woman it’s cradling.

She looks up to the Empire State Building imagining the woman’s flight. It would have been silent, the scream as missing then as now.

She wonders what had made her so desperate, what had been taken away from her to leave her no choice. Would she have felt free as she fell? A band of quiet between streams of strangers, those she left behind becoming smaller as those approaching grew.

As she fell into the clutches of aluminium, would she have felt safe? Would she have felt at all?

Blue lights flash behind the woman and a policeman starts talking to her. She just wants to get in her car and drive home, return to her husband, tell him she’s fine, that she wasn’t the woman who threw herself from their local tourist attraction.

And that’s what she’s become. Her, the woman, and their car. Both as attached to it as each other. She knows both will be separated and never see it again, none of them recovering from the impact of such an event.


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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.