I’ve done it. I suppose this means I should sit back with a celebratory cup of tea, pat myself on the back and say “well done”. Instead, I’ve been walking about in a fugue, feeling strangely hollow inside. Eight books published, a series completed, and I am so NOT ready to say goodbye.
“Oh come on,” Alex says, giving me a virtual pat on the back. “It’s not as if we’re leaving you.”
Difficult to do when you’re a character trapped in my head, but I don’t say that. Instead I give her a teary smile. For I don’t know how many years, Alex and Matthew have lived in my head, and now we are done? Over?
“Don’t be such a daftie.” Matthew hands me a handkerchief. “And what’s to stop you from writing more about us?”
The fact that they’re approaching the end of their life spans and I just can’t bear the thought of writing their deaths?
Matthew gives me a gentle smile. “That’s how it is. Human life is short, a little burst of light, no more.” He gazes up at the heavens, spread out in darkest velvet above us. It is night, and Orion hangs low in the sky, while way up high the North Star winks and beckons. “But afterwards, there is all that,” he says, pointing at the sky. “Eternity at God’s feet.”
Whoopee. I share a quick look with Alex. None of us are all too thrilled by the notion of spending eternity in some sort of spiritual state. Heaven should be a place that flows with tea and cake, where a constant soft breeze whispers lullabies through groves of rustling poplars, while the meadows stretch endless before us, dotted with poppies and cornflowers. A place in which to walk hand in hand with your beloved, with the words of Solomon’s Song ringing through the air: “Let my beloved come into his garden, and taste its choice fruits.”
Matthew chuckles and wags an admonishing finger at us – well, mostly at Alex. “Our eternal souls need other sustenance, they need the Word rather than the joys of flesh.”
“Tough.” Alex dances towards him, and for all that she’s well over fifty, she moves gracefully, the light in his eyes making her carry herself like a young girl. “I guess the pleasures of heaven will just have to wait, Matthew Graham, for I have definitely not had my fill of you – not yet.”
“Or me of you, lass.” He kisses her, and just like that they fade away, no doubt wanting some privacy from my prying eyes.
It makes me smile – and it also comforts me. Maybe, maybe, there will be another Alex and Matthew book. A collection of novellas, I muse, and the knot of ice in my stomach begins to melt, as all of a sudden one scene after the other tumbles through my brain. In the background, I hear Alex laugh.
“See? We will never leave you, Anna.” I swear I feel her warm breath tickling my cheek. “We live in your blood and your soul, honey. We always will. And once you’re dead, I guess we’ll be coming with you to the place in the sky.”
“If there is a place in the sky,” I say.
“Of course there is.” Alex laughs. “Matthew says so, doesn’t he?”
True. And when it comes to matters of God, none of us can hold a candle to him!
And now a little excerpt…(somewhat amended, to ensure no spoilers)
Well after midnight, and Matthew was asleep on his side. Alex slipped out of bed and went over to the window, struggling to get it open without making too much noise. It was a clear night, with star-studded skies that invited wolves to raise their snouts and howl at the glory of it all. A full winter moon hung just above the treeline, and the yard below lay bathed in its silver sheen. A night of magic, of elves and little folk – except, of course, that Mrs Parson firmly insisted they hadn’t crossed the sea nor ever planned to, and so this brave new world might have Indians and spirits of its own, but elves and fairies, goblins and trolls, they had been forever left behind.
Alex rested her chin in her hand, and inhaled the cold, crisp air. A star shot from the firmament, left a wake of glittering fire, and was gone. Like a flash in the pan, like all human life – here today, gone tomorrow. Another falling star, and Alex splayed her hand and pretended she could catch it, hold it safe against her heart, and cup all that fragile, ephemeral life. A single tear trickled down her cheek, others followed, and she gripped the sill and wept quietly, the brilliance of the night sky blurry with her tears.
A sudden gust of wind cooled her face and, after a couple of steadying breaths, she wiped her eyes with her sleeve. The moon slid behind a screen of clouds, but she found the North Star, blew a kiss to her father and one more for XXX. The image of her angry, hurting son rose before her, and he was screaming that it wasn’t fair – he didn’t want to die, not here, not now.
“Life isn’t fair,” she whispered to the night. Another star blazed a trail through the dark, and Alex closed her eyes and made a wish. For her son, that he be at peace, safe in heaven.
Something skittered over the ground, paused for a frozen instant, and turned goggled eyes to stare in her direction before leaping onto the smoking shed roof.
“Horrible pests,” Alex muttered, but with no real heat. “You get at my ham and I’ll blast you to pieces.” The raccoon sat outlined against the moon, and for a moment Alex was convinced it was indeed an elf, a wood sprite from a distant, long-lost shore. A series of jumps, and the racoon melted into the silent forest. Alex closed the window. Matthew rolled towards her when she got back into bed, opening his arms to gather her to him. “Mmhmm?”
“Nothing.” She patted him. “Let’s sleep, okay?”
And if you’ve made it this far, there’s a giveaway to enter 🙂 I’m giving away a Kindle copy of To Catch a Falling Star – just leave a comment and tell me if you’ve ever wished upon a falling star. Or not. But remember; you mustn’t tell me what you wished for – such wishes must remain a secret between you and the stars so way up above!
Giveaway is open until Monday.
…and now the giveaway is closed! Lucky winner is Joan!