This one was always going to hit home closer than any other YA fiction. I am a guest in the UK and although I have been blessed to have great people coming into my life, the prospect of this changing political relationship with Europe is unsettling. I can’t lie, Tracey’s novel is taking it to an extreme that is way too close for comfort. The sad truth is it is not outside of the realm of possibilities. For now, I will keep believe in the good of the people though…
Below is an extract from Tracey’s novel and if you want to read more, you will have the chance to win a copy by following the tweet once you’re done reading.
“The dark is absolute. It reminds her of starless and moonless nights when she was still a little girl, living on the farm, when she would walk along the track towards the woods and switch off her torch, and let the night wrap itself round her, so thick she could feel it on her skin, breathe it in. She could do with a torch now, but her phone’s at home; it’s safer not to take it out of the house. She walks blind, guiding herself with one hand on the garden walls, brushing damp stems that release scents of lavender and rosemary, snagging her skin on rose thorns. She crosses one road, turns the corner and climbs the shallow hill. There’s a weak thread of candlelight in the living-room window where the curtains aren’t quite closed. That’ll be Mum, peering out into the darkness, wondering where she is. By the time she’s let herself into the hall, Mum’s waiting for her at the living-room door, a candle in her hand, her eyes wide in the dim light.
“Zara! Where have you been?”
“Săr’mâna, Mamă.” Zara steps past her into the living room. Candles on the mantelpiece and the table make pools of warm light on the scuffed wooden floor and the red rug. She flops onto the sofa, leaning her head back. The light casts fugitive shadows on the ceiling.
“Where have you been?” Mum asks again. “It’s half past six.”
“So what happened? We said, straight there and straight home. Did you get it?”
Zara nods, unzips her pocket, fishes out the small rectangle of flat white plastic, and drops it onto the table. Mum picks it up and studies it: the lettering, the photo, the red-and-blue logo, the serial number, the fingerprint panel on the back.
“It’s OK,” Zara tells her. “It works. I had to use it to get out of the tube.”
“What tube? You were supposed to take a taxi!”
“I know. . . He charged more for the card than you said. I had to use the taxi money to pay for it. It was fine.” But her voice isn’t steady, and she shivers, remembering the stark tower block in Camberwell, with its burned-out and boarded-up flats smelling of greasy damp and smoke, and the little man behind the steel door in the top-floor flat, surrounded with his computers and scanners and printers, the light flashing off the metal rims and thin lenses of his glasses. I can’t do it for a hundred and fifty. Sorry. Price has gone up. I take risks for this, you know.
Mum sits next to her and takes her hands in hers.
“I’m sorry. I should have come with you.”
“Mum. I’m safer without you. You don’t sound English enough. You know that. Anyway, it was fine,” and she pulls her hands out of Mum’s and goes to the window, looking out through the crack in the curtains at the weak lights in the houses opposite, thinking of all the ways it wasn’t fine: the glint in the little man’s eyes as he stepped towards her and said, if you can’t pay. . . I mean, you need this, don’t you? and herself, stammering, I can. I can pay, and fumbling the taxi fare out of her bag, thrusting it at him, grabbing the flimsy slip of plastic still warm from the printer, and running. Running: following signs for the river along grey streets blowing with rubbish and dead leaves, past posters on the bus shelters shouting the same message she read later, on the scrolling screens on the tube, in the spaces above the windows, where once, sometimes, there used to be poetry.
DO YOU KNOW AN ILLEGAL?
IT IS YOUR DUTY TO REPORT THEM.”
And now for the giveaway, Follow the tweet!