One Story Issue #260: Maria Lioutaia’s “Sand People”

I was on a sabbatical when ONE STORY co-founder (and all-around brilliant person) Hannah Tinti stepped in to guest-edit our new issue, so I’m turning the introduction mic over to her. Heeeeeere’s Hannah! –PR

Living by the sea is one thing in spring and summer and something else entirely after winter sets in. The beaches are deserted, the sky turns gray and the cold wind seeps deep inside your bones. But there is a magic to winter beaches–the open emptiness, the twisted driftwood and monstrous carcasses of boats and creatures that wash onto the shore. It casts a spell, just like the kind Maria Lioutaia does in her wildly creative short story, “Sand People.”

Set on an isolated peninsula for lost souls, “Sand People” begins with the depositing of an orphan boy into the home of his aunts, a set of conjoined twins. These witchy aunts make him skirts of seagull feathers and teach him how to weave nightmare catchers but also warn him to stay away from the Sand People–the human-shaped holes that glide up and down their shoreline. These sand shadows are captivating and ultimately heartbreaking, just as the affections and jealousies that rise in this three-legged, broken family. “Sand People” is about aloneness and togetherness. About the sucking pulls of despair and the saving ties of connection.

I hope you’ll read our author Q&A, where we discuss the inspiration behind “Sand People,” and how to find balance with the strange and the surreal. It’s exciting to see the leaps of fierce imagination on the page, and a thrill to wade into these winter waters with Maria Lioutaia. You never know what will be conjured next.

3 thoughts on “One Story Issue #260: Maria Lioutaia’s “Sand People”

  1. I loved this story. It’s a great reminder of what the written word can do that a visual medium cannot: leave the important parts to the reader’s imagination. I was touched and horrified and didn’t want it to end (though it did so perfectly). Beautiful work!

  2. A wonderful story, evocative and otherworldly. I would like to know more about this weird world, about the Sand People–you know, their ontology, as we call it–and also about what’s going on in the physical landscape. What are these “gravity storms,” for example? And what has happened to make the Sand People’s existence possible? Finally, I’d like to have more about the conjoined twin point of view. I never read a story told from this perspective, and I’d like to learn more about this narrator or these narrators. It seems to me, in short, that this work should be made into a novel, maybe not a long one, say 50,000 words. I would love to read it, and I think a lot of others would too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *