If you’ve followed my Tweets for the last few days you’ll have seen 9 instalments which are the beginning of this story, a prelude to my 1st novel – Foreplay.
This story is set up to 12 years before the start of my novel – enjoy!
Cold winds whip over the sand and shingle. A lone, small figure stands on the beach buried in a brown cardigan. Her dress scurries around her knees. Huge waves roll inland and crash on the shingle with a roar. Spray patters lightly over her face. She winces at the slight sting and watches the waves break and slide. Subdued, the water races over the sand towards her bare feet.
The water stretches into dark shadows beneath the old mountains. She remembers Grandma’s tales of giants that lived here thousands of years ago. After years of battles, they laid down to rest and fell asleep. They turned into the mountains.
She wonders if the water could take her to the sea. She can swim but isn’t sure she can swim that far. It seems a very long way. But she doesn’t want to turn back. Naomi is almost seven years old and she is running away.
She wriggles her toes in the chilling water, she left too quickly – leaving without her shoes. Maybe she will go back and try to get things she’ll need. She left her toys and books too. Shivers make her pull the cardigan around her and she takes a small step backwards, moving off the damp shore. The water is clear and she sees spots of light dancing amongst the pebbles. When she was little, she used to believe they were water faeries. But she isn’t a baby now. She is grown up and he is the baby.
The sky is stone, pushing down and she feels so small beneath the mountains. A screech makes her jump. A pair of gulls swoop through the sky. She watches them dip and turn and for a moment, a second, she imagines being a bird, being able to soar and fly away. Then she turns and begins to walk back up the shore. Shingles change to rocks and mud then grass. Bits of grass stick to her feet and she is really cold now. She walks faster.
She can see the rise ahead, just over it are the trees and the distant wall and home. Inside will be warm, the fire will be roaring and there is food. She clambers up the slope using her hands to haul herself up. Her knees are damp and muddied.
A shadow appears by her side. Another bird. Something dark and big and noisy. She doesn’t know why but it makes her scared. She starts to run. She stumbles and falls down as the dark shadow grows larger and covers her. Tears come quickly but she gets up and runs. She runs back to the house, her heart pounding, her breathing becoming gasps.
The wall is easy to climb, it is only a few feet high, she scrapes her legs and hands but ignores the stinging pains. The shadow stays with her, it comes over the wall and is ahead by the door. Naomi stops and looks at the dark shape. She knows it is a bad sign. With trembling hands she steps forward across the shadow and pushes the door open.
Inside she pants and shivers. She never looked up. She didn’t see the bird. But she knows it is bad. She can feel darkness creeping around her feet, already with her inside the house. Slowly she steps across the stone floor, onto the rugs and follows them into the parlour where the fire is burning. Her parents are somewhere in the house, she can hear voices and soft singing. She huddles before the fire but doesn’t seem to get warm.
From upstairs, from the depths of the house – a cry. She knows it is him, the baby but it sounds like a bird’s cry: sinister and twisted. She shivers. Now, she makes a promise to the fire spirits: she will run away, when she is stronger, when she is older – and she won’t ever come back.
next instalment to follow tomorrow! – prelude to Foreplay – a story about the chase – out soon!