Today I have the pleasure of sharing an extract of “The Space Between The Stars” by Anne Corlett as part of the ongoing blog tour which started only a few days ago. If you want to catch up, feel free to go back to the first extract post a on the stops below.
“It’s summer and a girl runs down a path towards a beach. The sun hangs low in a clear blue sky, like every memory of every summer evening there ever was.
Her stepmother comes to the gate and calls to her.
Jamie. Jamie. Take your sisters with you.
She hates the way her stepmother always says sisters, not half-sisters, as though she’s trying to rewrite history, so that there was only ever the way things are now. Jamie’s the one who feels like a half. She’s felt like that for years now.
Ever since the night her mother drank one glass too many and let an old secret come spilling out, about the scar on Jamie’s chest. She’d always thought it looked like a zip-fastener, running breastbone to navel, as though someone had opened her up and scooped something out.
It was a simple enough procedure. That’s what the doctors had said. Just some cartilage to snip away.
Jamie often wondered what her mother saw when she looked at her daughter. Her living child, or her two-for-the-price-of-one babies, who’d been wheeled away to come back as one alone? Her mother kept telling the story, probing at the choice they’d made, like it was a rotten tooth. And every time she told it she cried and clutched at her remaining child.
You know I love you. Don’t you? Don’t you? You’re all I’ve got left.
But all Jamie heard was that she’d taken too much. She’d come into the world with someone holding on to her, and that almost-self had been sliced away, leaving her with more than her fair share.
Her stepmother calls to her again. But Jamie keeps running, down to where the wet sand fades into the shallows. The water is almost still, the weight of the coming night already damping down the waves. She pulls off her shoes, steps barefoot into the sea. It’s cold, but she’s done this many times before. She knows the first chill will soon fall away. She walks out beyond the shallows, her light summer clothes clinging to her. When she’s deep enough, she tucks her knees underneath her and kicks out into the slow press of the tide.
When she grows tired, she leans back, sculling gently, counting stars. She’ll stay here until the cold has soaked right into her bones, forcing her back to shore. Then she’ll carry her shoes back up the beach and along the path to the house. Her stepmother will see her from the kitchen window, and she’ll come out, holding a towel she’s warmed on the Aga. And Jamie will sit at the kitchen table, listening as the older woman tries to find the right words, the ones that will break open the brittle shell of her stepdaughter’s silence.
But Jamie is fastened up tight, her zip pulled safely over her heart, and she’ll never let anything dangerous slip out again.”