THE BOOK PAGES

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Postcards from the Past

The Sea GardenThose

The Christmas Angel

The Summerhouse

The Prodigal Wife

The Way We Were

Memories of the Storm

Echoes of the Dance

The Golden Cup

The Birdcage

The Children’s Hour

A Week in Winter

Forgotten Laughter

A Week in Winter

The Chadwick Trilogy

    Looking Forward

    Holding On

    Winning Through

Second Time Around

Starting Over

Hattie’s Mill

The Dipper

The Courtyard

Thea’s Parrot

Those Who Serve

Postcards from the Past
AN EXTRACT

There are two moons tonight. The round white shining disc, brittle and sharp-edged as glass,  stares down at its reflection lying on its back in the black water of the lake. Nothing stirs. No whisper of wind ruffles the surface. At the lake’s edge the wild cherry tree leans like an elegant ghost, its delicate bare branches silver with ice, yearning towards the past warmth of summer days. Tall stands of dogwood, their bright wands of colour blotted into monochrome by the cold brilliant light, guard the northern shore of the lake and cast spiked shadows across the frosty grass.

She stands in the warm room, staring down at the frozen, wintry scene and, all the while, her fingers fret around the edges of the postcard thrust deep into the pocket of her quilted gilet just as her mind frets around the meaning of the words scrawled on the back of a reproduction of Toulouse-Lautrecs’s La Chaine Simpson.

‘A blast from the past. How are you doing? Perhaps I should pay a visit and find out!

It is addressed to her and her brother – Edmund and Wilhelmina St Enedoc – and signed simply with one word: ‘Tris. She fingers the card, breaking its corner; from a room below drift a few notes of music, the  lyrical poignancy of the trumpet: Miles Davis playing ‘Never Entered my Mind’. It is one of Ed’s favourite CD’s.

Instinct made her hide the postcard earlier, shuffling it beneath yesterday’s newspaper as Ed came into the kitchen to see what the postman had brought. She made some light-hearted remark, passing him the handful of envelopes and catalogues, whilst the writing on the postcard burned on her inner eye.

‘. . . Perhaps I should pay a visit to find out. Tris.’

Later she slid it into her pocket to examine it in the privacy of her own room. The postmark is Paris, dated three days ago. By now he might be in the country, driving west. How could he know, after more than fifty years, that she and Ed would still be here together?

Fifty years.

‘Tris the tick.’ ‘Tris the toad.’ ‘Tell-tale Tris.’ Ed, at twelve, has a whole collection of private names for their new stepbrother. ‘We’ll have to watch out for him, Billa.’

‘Try to be nice to Tristan, darling.’ Her mother’s voice. ‘I know it’s hard for you and Ed but I do so want you all to get on together. For my sake. Will you try?’

Fifty years. She takes the card out of her pocket and stares at it.

‘Billa?’ Ed’s voice. ‘Are you coming down? Supper’s ready.’

‘Coming,’ she calls. ‘Shan’t be a sec.’

She glances round, picks up a book from the small revolving table – her mother’s little walnut table – and slips the postcard inside. Drawing the curtains together, closing out the two moons and the lake, Billa goes downstairs to Ed.


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