Imagine a world where shadows of enchantment instantly render ordinary experiences eerie, terrifying or sublime, and where the unexpected becomes the norm. The twelve short-short stories in Laura McHale Holland’s Just in Case comprise a universe where a wife betrayed relishes a savage revenge; a much maligned character finally has his say; a cozy family scene chills the blood; a couple chugging toward retirement takes a bold U-turn; a curious relative cannot leave a half-human, half-Big Foot baby alone; and more.
The dark, often revealing themes in this collection marry exquisitely with the precise flash fiction form, offering a full reading experience in few words. If you enjoy engaging, short reads with deliciously poetic prose, plenty of imagery, and context left to the imagination, you’ll love the concise gems found in Just in Case.
I believe stories can spark our deepest, truest selves—sometimes momentarily, sometimes indelibly—and I strive to do this every day. I'm now at work on a novel inspired by magical realism and folklore. It introduces a quirky, sometimes contentious cast of characters in a fictional river town where forces beyond everyday reality both help and hinder, and secrets surface, testing the community's mettle. The book is with beta readers now. Previously, I've published two memoirs, a collection of flash fiction, and an anthology on sisterhood that contains the work of 76 writers from across the globe. I also enjoy writing short plays and have had several produced locally. In addition, I edit full time for a financial services trade publication, serve as a judge for short fiction contests run by a global arts organization and occasionally copyedit novels written by local authors. I feel it's worth pursuing our dreams through all of life's ups and downs, even when they seem lost to us, and if my persistence in pursuing a creative path can help you on your journey, that will fill my heart with gladness.
I stumbled upon this story, which I wrote a few years ago and sent in a newsletter to members of my readers group. I'd forgotten all about it. I am now considering it for inclusion in "Just in Case." Picking stories for a collection reminds me a little of choosing songs for a performance set. I wrote songs for a time in my youth and would perform occasionally (when I could get over my stage fright). I would spend quite a while considering which songs to include and what order they should be in. I'd envision as best I could the emotional journey the songs were likely to take the audience on. It involved a lot of guesswork. I think the same is true of organizing a collection of stories.
Just in Case
Of course it was a witch we outsmarted in the woods, not some feeble, senile neighbor. And yes, her home was built of candy and cake. Impossible? I have no time for people who don’t believe in magic. I am not a sociopath. She was about to eat my brother—me next, no doubt. You think the jewels make us look guilty, that it was all premeditated? You think we killed our stepmom, too? Outrageous! You have no proof. Hansel made a deal? He’ll never testify against me. Let’s just see what a jury has to say.