I'm living in a strange space. I thought that I would kick up my heels when I handed in the thesis, but instead feel as though I've cut the rope to the mother ship and have cast myself adrift. Of course now that I have 'time on my hands' (whatever that means! Sounds like I haven't washed after cutting up herbs), the space has opened for me to start the third novel. And I have. But I was daunted, once again, by the expectation of the blank page. It demands that I write something beautiful. Now that I teach creative writing, that blank page expects bigger things! I'm up for the challenge. Am excited about honing the craft a little more each time around. Each sentence now comes under greater scrutiny. How can I say it more elegantly, more simply... In the meantime, of course, my second novel has been shipped off to two unknown (to me) Examiners. Just as I did when Rupert and Neti in the Whispers in the Wiring (the first and published novel) left my cupboard to be published, I'm now wondering where Dana and her sister Madeleine are. Who's reading their story? What will they think of the uptight Dana and the nature of her psychological descent?
The ceiling of the cabin sagged so low that I could measure its distance to my face with a wide-fingered handspan. A cold light from the bathroom cubicle ricocheted around the walls and reflected off the panels above my nose. Where the panels met, someone had picked at the seam like a child at a scab. With each pitch and toss, diesel fumes seeped through the ferry’s pores.
There was no sound from the bunk below. My sister, I assumed, was sleeping peacefully, but I needed the comfort of her enthusiasm. In the space left to me I contorted my body so that head and torso hung over the bunk’s edge.
“Madeleine. Are you awake?”
There was a low groan and the sound of the bunk springs creaking as she rolled over.
“What?” Her yawn was thick with sleep.
“What are we doing here Mads?”
No reply, just a soft snore at the back of her throat. I rolled back to stare again at the ceiling’s ragged seam. A dog barked in a cabin somewhere further along the deck. In the darkness, I doubted the wisdom of this journey.