Can you believe we’re almost at the end of January already? I must either be getting old or having lots and lots of fun because I know I can’t. For me, these last few weeks have flown by. Then again, I have had my head in a book of late and we all know how time can pass when that happens. Not that I’m not talking literally here, of course, having a paperback strapped to my face would make life a bit too difficult.
What I am referring to though is my work in progress. Having taken a break from it in the run up to Christmas, I’ve been more or less back to it ever since and I have to say that so far, it seems to be going well. Naturally I’m not going to give the story away at this stage, but I thought I might whet your appetites with a sneak peak as to what’s coming up next.
So without further ado…
BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES
by Suzie Tullett
Annabel checked her watch and groaned. She’d always had a problem with punctuality. No matter how hard she tried, how early she left the house, or even how fast she drove, she always seemed to be running late; a reality that had only gotten worse over the last couple of years. But despite any good intentions it seemed even days like today weren’t enough to get her act together on the time keeping front. Then again, was it any wonder? Lost in her own thoughts most of the time, minutes often turned into hours without her even realising.
Not that all the horrendous traffic on the road seemed to be helping any. Bloody Sunday drivers.
Forced to come to yet another standstill, Annabel looked about at all the other cars. At least she wasn’t the only one fed up, everyone else appearing equally as pissed thanks to all this stopping and starting. Well not everyone, she realised, as her eyes settled on one set of travellers in particular and continuing to watch them, she couldn’t help but smile. Animatedly belting out a rendition of some song or other, the happy family of three were certainly making the most out of their journey. Although looking at the age of the tot strapped into the rear car seat Annabel guessed it could only have been a nursery rhyme. Probably Incy Wincy Spider, she thought, going off their accompanying actions and with the tune instantly popping into her head, she felt almost tempted to join in.
She wondered if it was a sign, a message letting her know that regardless of the obvious concerns she was definitely doing the right thing. Either way, she couldn’t help the warm glow settling in her tummy as she imagined the day in the not too distant future when she, too, was going to be a mother. She readily envisaged making a public show of herself in much the same way as the nearby trio; in fact, if anything, probably more so. She and her own little one were going to have as much fun as possible and at every available opportunity. Life was way too short for anything else.
The traffic began to move again bringing Annabel back to the task at hand. “Finally,” she said, shoving the car into gear and moving off. “Maybe now I’ll actually get there.”
As much as she loved these weekly visits, needed them even, reaching her destination was always a pain. Of course, Tom had to be used to her unfortunate time keeping by now, but she still couldn’t excuse it. Feeling guilty, she hated the thought of him simply hanging around on her account and anxiously tapping her fingers on the steering wheel, negotiating one road after another, she insisted that next week she really would do better.
At last she spotted the church spire, that all too familiar landmark and swinging her little car into the car park she just as quickly hit the brakes, forcing it to come to a screeching halt. Emergency stop complete, she took a second to compose herself. This was big news and her nerves were really starting to kick in. Throwing off her seat belt she checked her watch again. “Shit!” Jumping out of the vehicle, even she hadn’t realised she was that late. Unfortunately this meant that she was now going to have to blooming well run and sadly for any observers, her running had always been as bad as her time keeping.
She grabbed a shopper and deckchair from the boot and commenced hot footing it along the path, but struggling with her load almost fell. “Jesus Christ!” she said, just about managing to keep her balance. She had enough to talk about this morning without having to explain a sprained ankle on top of everything else. Ignoring her blushes, she glanced around, relieved to find no-one had bore witness. Tom had always said if anyone could trip over their own feet it was her. But it was alright for him, wasn’t it? He’d never run behind schedule either.
Collecting herself, she slowed her step a little so as not to stumble again and for the first time in a while took the opportunity to take in her surroundings, something she tended not to do these days. She’d followed this route so often she didn’t need to. In fact, she could’ve done it blindfolded given the opportunity. But more importantly it was such a uniform environment, man-made by its very nature and in Annabel’s experience, painful rather than peaceful.
She took in the most beautiful of flowers coming at her from all angles. But whereas some people could seek solace in a place like this, for her, it was still a cemetery, a place of death – no matter how well the grounds were tended and the graves lovingly cared for. Annabel knew paying it too much attention only put her in danger of feeling full of angst all over again. Tearful for the young and, dare she admit it, bitter for the old. She’d been there, done that and got the T-Shirt.
Picking up pace, she felt quite proud, finally able to recognise how far she’d come. Thinking about it, it didn’t seem all that long ago she’d have read more or less each and every one of these headstones, trying to gain comfort in the knowledge that compared to some her loved one had enjoyed a more reasonable stretch here on earth. All a stark contrast to these days, thank goodness. Now she knew reading dates on granite slabs made her just plain morbid and whilst the unfairness of it all still refused to leave her, at least that gut wrenching rawness had gone. Now her heart felt broken rather than ripped out and she could finally think about the future as well as the past.
“Sorry, Tom,” she said, at last approaching his resting place. “I know, I know, I’d be late for my own funeral given half the chance.” She paused. That was another thing she’d noticed recently, her sense of humour making a return.
Chuckling, she wondered if her dearly departed considered such words bad taste. Then again knowing him, she realised he’d probably be laughing too, pleased she’d gotten to the point where she could actually joke about these things. No matter the subject, out of the two of them he always had been the one to see the funny side of things. She began to picture his smiling face. Tom, her eternal optimist.
She snapped herself back into the present, telling herself that if she didn’t laugh, the only alternative was to cry and today of all days she certainly didn’t want to do that. Having reached a sort of milestone she felt determined that nothing and no-one was going to spoil things, not even herself. And besides, hadn’t she shed enough tears already?
Opening out the deckchair, she plonked herself down in it. “So how’s your week been?” she asked. Not that she expected a reply, but it was nice to know he was listening if nothing else. “Mine’s not been too bad. The shop’s still doing okay. Oh, and your mum called round the other day.” Remembering the visit all too well, Annabel tried not to scowl. “She said to say hello.”
She opened up her bag and pulled out a flask of coffee. “Caffeine, just what I need after the hassle I had getting here.”
Pouring herself a drink, she knew her ramblings were an attempt at stalling the inevitable; that she was worried about Tom’s reaction once she’d told him what she was up to. Whilst her plans for the future might be a positive move on her part, she certainly wasn’t daft enough to think everyone would understand. If anything most people wouldn’t, especially if his mother’s reaction had been anything to go by. She thought it strange how everyone and their dog insisted she move on, yet the second she did they created such a song and dance over it. Although if Tom did choose to join in with the dissenters, then just like them he’d only have to get used to the idea, particularly when this was entirely his fault to begin with. Annabel didn’t want to play the blame game, but just like she’d said to his mother, she wouldn’t be in this position if he hadn’t upped and died in the first place.
She pictured him sitting opposite, hands crossed as he patiently waited for her to tell him what was really on her mind. The man always could read her like a book.
“Okay, okay,” she said. “Just give me a second.”
She took a couple of deep breaths, determined to reveal all. But in spite of practicing her speech all week, now that it came to it, those well-chosen words seemed to fail her. Refusing to let her conviction wane, she realised she was just going to have to come out and say it.
After three, she told herself. Three, two, one…
She squeezed her eyes shut, ready for the lightening that was no doubt about to strike her down.
“I’m going to have another man’s baby!” she said.
So there you have it, Guys, the beginnings of the next Suzie Tullett novel. Of course, I’ll keep you updated with its progress and journey to publication.
In the meantime, if you haven’t already (and thank you so much if you have) feel free to check out my other books, Going Underground and Little White Lies and Butterflies – available in all good book stores, on Amazon and to download as standard.