Here be an extract from my novel in progress, Outrigger.
I haven’t seen my dad since he died, even though I held the wake in his house. My friends came, some of my father’s friends too, some were invited and others came from the crematorium with us. They’d read the notice in the newspaper. I didn’t know them but some of them knew me. They said I’d grown, which always seems both unnecessary and vital to tell other people’s children.
I listened for my father’s voice. A panic in my chest told me I would forget it. Alone in the room which had been his bedroom, while the party carried on downstairs, I bent my thoughts to hear him again. As much as I strained my thoughts carried only the sound of water moving slowly downstream. My father’s flat vowels were not carried on that flow, those curling eddies and soft washes. The ghost in the corner of the room moved its feathers.
The ghost in the corner was my mother. She came as a bird, usually. Different types of bird. Sometimes she was a pigeon perched up on a traffic light, or often as a crow resting on the metal fence of a municipal park. That night of the wake she appeared as shadows and feathers.
Outrigger is a novel about two women coping with the absence and loss of important men in their lives. Patience, a young mixed race Londoner has dark secrets from her past unlocked by the death of her father. Bridget is a superstitious Hull fishwife plagued by misfortune. The women’s shared story is one of love and loss, betrayal and the family ties that can both sever and bind.
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