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Authors: Amanda Dick

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In the Shadow of Satellites

BOOK: In the Shadow of Satellites
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Table of Contents

In the Shadow of Satellites

Copyright

Also by Amanda Dick

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Epilogue

About The Author

Acknowledgements

Playlist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright

In the Shadow of Satellites
Copyright © 2016 Amanda Dick

www.amandadick.com

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorised reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Cover Art and Design by Sean Lowery at HighImpactCovers.com

Editing by Sarah Widdup at Irrefutable Proof

Formatting by CP Smith at Affordable Formatting

Also by Amanda Dick

 

Absolution

Between Before and After

The Trouble with Paper Planes

Sliding Down the Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication

 

 

 

For my blue-eyed babies, Georgia and Cameron.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not all those who wander are lost.

 

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

I died once. We all did, all three of us. The only difference is I came back.

I didn’t get a choice.

Standing on the damp grass, the sun has yet to send out rays of gold over to the far side of the lake. It’s not dark, but it’s not yet light either. It’s that magical time between night and day that makes even the impossible seem real. I walk that tightrope daily, one foot in the present, one in the past. The future is out of bounds, somewhere over the horizon, beyond the sunset. It’s the one place I can’t – won’t – go.

My first steps into the water are tentative. It’s cold, but not unpleasant. Wading out into the lake until the water is tickling the back of my knees, I set the small, white paper boat on the water, a tea-light candle sitting inside, and I strike a match. It catches first time, and my irrational heart soars. It’s a sign, I convince myself as I lean down to touch the orange flame to the white wick. It takes a moment, but the flame transfers from one to the other, and the candle is lit.

I watch it for a moment as the match drops into the water with a half-hearted hiss. Then I close my eyes, so I can see them more clearly. I imagine them laughing, happy, together. All the things I’m not. I see James throw Kieran up into the air in this very spot, catching him again. My heart sighs, a long, slow exhale that matches my breath.

They’re together. I’m not with them, but at least they’re together. It’s a small comfort, but it’s all I have.

I open my eyes and push the paper boat out onto the lake to greet the sun.

There are bad days, and there are good days. Today is a good day.

***

Sipping my morning coffee, I stare at the calendar. It’s Friday. Picking up the pen beneath it, I put a black cross through the box, acknowledging its existence. It helps to keep track of the time that passes in case it gets away from me. Days can lose their meaning here, time can be inconsistent. It doesn’t pass at the same speed. Sometimes it gallops; sometimes it meanders along like the ducks that waddle across the lawn each morning.

Friday means Ana’s coming later. She’s the high point of my week, my link with civilisation. She’s my best friend, the one person I don’t need to explain myself to. I love her, even when I hate her. But she won’t be here until later this afternoon and there are a whole lot of hours to kill before then.

Most days I feel like this, like I’m marking time. In my heart, I still cling to the belief that one day I’ll wake up and find that the two human-sized holes in my soul have healed. I’ll know joy again. I’ll know love again. Until that day comes, I go through the motions simply because I don’t know what else to do. I wake with the sun and go to sleep with the moon, but the in-between is what’s killing me. Slowly, steadily, I’m being suffocated, as if each day is one breath shorter. The tightness in my chest is constant, as physical as a pulled muscle or a scraped knee. No matter what I do, it’s always there; a wound that won’t heal, a reminder of what I’ve lost.

I take my coffee out onto the wooden deck that stretches across the front of my grandparents’ modest holiday cottage, and sit on one of the four weathered white wooden chairs that have been here since I was a child. They stand out starkly against the faded black weatherboard exterior of the cottage, reminding me of previous summers, of long hot days and holidays that seemed like they lasted forever. I was a child here, and I brought my child here. There’s a kind of symmetry to that that I find comforting. I belong here, with the memories.

I swam in the lake as a child, lying down on the lawn in the sun to dry out. Nanna called out to me to wear a hat, to put on sunscreen; Grandad watched over me from the deck with his cup of tea or glass of beer (always in a glass, never from the bottle). James and Kieran played together in the water here too, Kieran’s squeals of delight echoing across the surface.

It’s been ten years since Nanna and Grandad passed, within a mere six months of each other. I miss them, now more than ever. They brought me up when, as a four-year-old, I was dumped on them by a daughter they rarely saw. They never even knew I existed before that day.

For over a year the cottage of my childhood has become my sanctuary from the world. Accessible only by boat, there is no internet or mobile phone coverage, just a landline, used so that Ana can keep tabs on me during the week, or so I can call her to ask her to add something to the list of supplies she brings with her on Fridays. I visit the store on the opposite shore of the lake once a week, as a compromise. I only get a few items, but it was one of Ana’s conditions. She wants me to have contact with the outside world, if only for a few minutes, on a regular basis. I think she’s trying to condition me to move in with her but I have no intention of doing any such thing. This is my home now.

I can’t leave. James and Kieran are still here, somewhere. I hear them, sometimes I even see them. I hear Kieran crying, James calls out my name. It’s the lake, it doesn’t allow the dead to lie, it keeps their memories alive somehow, I don’t know how. I just know they’re here, and while they’re here, I’m staying. I have to. Echoes are all I have, and I’ll take them over silence any day.

I sip my coffee from my chair on the deck, looking out over the lake. The air is already warm, and the addition of the sun is beginning to warm the earth. Soon enough, the air will shimmer with heat. The water is so clear I can almost convince myself I can see the trout from here, and the ducks make their way across the lake in the distance. They usually stop by later, coming up onto the lawn and making their way across the grass to the property next door. They’re creatures of habit I’ve found, much like myself.

The hammering has already begun. It’s coming from next door, through the bush, the next cottage over, although it’s hardly a cottage anymore. It was empty for years, so I don’t expect the hammering to stop anytime soon. It started when my new neighbour moved in a couple of months ago, and it seems to continue, off and on, until late afternoon. At first it annoyed me, but now it seems to blend in, like the birdsong and the cicadas. I saw him the other day, the mysterious wielder of the hammer. He was obviously coming back from town, at cruising speed, his boat full to the gunnels with lengths of timber and boxes of God only knows what. Probably nails. He’s bound to be going through them like wildfire, judging by the noise. Like me, he keeps to himself. I like that. I like that he respects the invisible boundary lines between our two properties. We’ve never actually met, but that suits me. We don’t need to be friends to be neighbours.

Finishing my coffee, I head back inside in search of breakfast. I forgot to add cereal to the list on the fridge, so I didn’t get any on my supply run a couple of days ago. I add it to the list now, before I forget again. I forget a lot of things these days. Without lists, notes and routines I’m not sure where I’d be. I could phone Ana and get her to pick some up on her way, but it’s not urgent. I can do without cereal for a few more days. I make toast instead, slathering on blueberry jam and adding a few more things to the shopping list on the fridge, while I remember.

It’s still early, and there are a lot of hours in front of me. I’m grateful to have energy today, so I use it to go for a walk. Before I set off, I pull my long auburn hair into a high ponytail to keep the heat off the back of my neck, because I still find this walk challenging, even on a good day.

The walking track is sheltered from the heat of the sun, and not that well-used, even at this time of the year. I walk around the side of the cottage, along the grass between the cottage and the hillside that rises behind it, until I’m at the start of the track. Slowly but steadily the climb begins, as I make my way over tree roots, up inclines and down roughly-hewn steps made from old railway sleepers.

The heat is beginning to get oppressive by the time I reach the halfway point. I stop at the huge rock that sits half on the track and half-buried on the edge of it, overlooking the hillside below. Leaning back against it, sweat running down the back of my neck, I take a few minutes to catch my breath. I’m surrounded by native bush, tall trees that mostly block out the sun, leafy ferns and even some jagged brambles that occasionally tear at my legs and catch the bare skin on my arms. It’s surreal here, with the light filtering down through the canopy and tinging everything with shades of green and gold. Breathing heavily, I turn to take in the view beyond the moss-covered rock. The lake is sparkling like diamonds far below, a beautiful blue, several shades deeper than the blue of the sky with its fluffy white clouds.

I’m at quite a height at this point on the track, and it makes everything look so different. I can’t see any of the small dwellings or cottages dotted around the lake from this angle. I could almost be alone in the universe.

The whispered thought takes root, settling in my bones and making itself at home there.

Alone.

It’s tantalising, far too powerful to ignore. My heart races, thumping against the side of my ribcage.

I step forward, one hand on the rock to steady myself, as the whisper becomes a rush of air. The closer to the edge of the track I get, the louder the rush. It’s as if the universe is tilting, as if there are forces at play that I was completely unaware of until now.

BOOK: In the Shadow of Satellites
3.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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