While Runty and Strumpet would be a brilliant odd-couple detective series, this is in fact a double-header review of two pieces of flash fiction from Carly Holmes' Figurehead. Rather belatedly I've noticed that some of these shorter tales, which are adjacent in the book, fit naturally together. (Smart lad wanted.) So...
'Strumpet' is an ultra-short updating of 'Wich', in a way. (See earlier posts etc). A girl is a little too free and easy about her body from the start, and what begins as an amusing tendency to run around naked is later met with disapproval. Fortunately, she ignores the narrow-minded and raised her own daughter to see freedom her way.
'Runty' is about the male gaze, in this case directed at a woman who feeds the eponymous jackdaw in her garden. A man sits in his window overlooking the woman's garden, watching her. Nothing she says or does seems to shame or intimidate him. He becomes a baffling and menacing presence, but the narrator persists in feeding the bird, despite feeling his gaze upon her all the time. Eventually there there is violence, a moment of horror.
Compact accounts of a world that is all too recognisable. More soon.