pretend to read this book to avoid talking to strangers - short story collection by Cassie Bailey, illustrated by Becca Wilk

Quotes from my short story collection – e-book sneak preview

With my short story collection e-book being released on Amazon on 1st October (originally released on my website on 10th July), a few of my close female friends were provided with an advance copy of the book to thank them for their support. In turn, they have provided me with their favourite quotes.

The e-book, a collection of short stories entitled ‘Pretend to read this book to avoid talking to strangers,’ is a personal project written intermittently throughout my twenties, and – while purely fiction – explores my shifting perspectives towards love and connection as a neurodivergent human.

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The six short stories are as follows:

1. Dizzy and Wires
2. Until I Find Somebody New
3. Oceansong
4. Kelly and Adam
5. The Night Diver
6. Upside-down

Becca’s Favourite Quote 1.

Dizzy tried not to watch her but she made the room buzz differently. Their wires crossed somehow in a way they weren’t supposed to; it got stuck inside her head and made her thoughts turn static.

Walls and floors in between them came to define space for her. When the distance between them increased, her hum became stretched and less tangible until finally, she’d be out of sight.

and then

The static stopped rattling in Dizzy’s skull and was replaced with thoughts, fleshed out and intimate.

Becca’s Favourite Quote 2.

i want to be loved like i love
feeling grains of sand getting stuck between my toes
and saltwater encrusted hair
that feels as good when it’s dirty as right after it’s washed.

Becca’s Favourite Quote 3.

Oh gosh, the glorious first glimpse at the view from the top
that view -when the world leans back
and lets you admire it

and everything is still for a moment

AJ’s Favourite Quote 1.

You have to stop obsessing over giving meaning to yourself. Choose to give meaning to somebody else instead. Choose to show someone else what they mean to you. And if you are lucky, they will see a meaning in you as well.

AJ’s Favourite Quote 2.

We can only view ourselves clearly when we are right up against any particular moment. Present. (Or up against a particular someone perhaps.) Yet we have a tendency to cling onto preferred timelines that never came to be while lamenting over the mess we make of the one we are stuck in.

AJ’s Favourite Quote 3.

The deepest depths of the sea and furthest stretches of space, in their obvious undiscovered-ness, are still easier to discuss than ourselves Our personal pronouns are inherently designed to give us a ‘me’ness (an ‘us’ness?) which sets us apart from the usual comings and goings of the universe. People started backing away from the idea of a God and other minds proposed “free will’ instead.”

Claire’s Favourite Quote

Some people describe their ‘mother’s smell’ but Dizzy doesn’t know what they’re on about. She supposes she doesn’t remember. Or, perhaps, she simply never got close enough.

The bed. The bed which belongs to her mother inside her head has got to be safe. The touch of crisp bed sheets wrinkle under Dizzy’s hands. And it’s not that the bed doesn’t like her, it just doesn’t respond. It can’t feel her touch as her hands smooth the pillows. Perhaps it’s tired; it makes sense for a bed to be tired.

There are no monsters under this bed. There’s no one there at all.

Claire says: My brain has revisited that part so many times since I read it because it’s so sad and lonely.

Sarah’s Favourite Quote

Today alone, two people have failed to be together or loved and died together or made love and broken apart in a thousand different ways. But all versions start and end with the two of them entwined – either imagined or physical. For as many times humans have been loved, they have also been broken by love. For the equal amount of times that a pair make it, another has been yearning after their unrequited love.

Georgie’s Favourite Quote

The beautiful patience of Earth never failed to surprise Ocean. He sobbed at his forsaken future but, true to his word, he kept his children safe. Though his voice was pained and his ears clogged up, his sea-salt song would never seize. And so, forevermore, Ocean kept each tortured wail and melancholy crescendo in time with the pitying moon.

illustrations by About Earth Studio

Words from ‘pretend to read this book to avoid talking to strangers’ by Cassie Bailey


Currently available to buy on pre-sale on Amazon. Book goes live on Amazon on 1st October.

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