– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Lies I Tell’ blogtour, organized by Zooloo’s Book Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
A Londoner in exile, Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire with his wife and two daughters.
His works of fiction include the bestselling Sam Williams trilogy Dead North, No One Will Hear and The Cold Years, and the standalone psychological thriller The Lies I Tell.
When not writing or spending time with his family, Joel likes to eat, cook, play the piano, and make up excuses to avoid walking the dog. There’s the MMA thing, too, but he doesn’t like to show off.
You can find out more about Joel and sign up to his mailing list through social media or his very own website.
SHE’S WATCHING YOU, BUT WHO’S WATCHING HER?
They’re all me.
My name is Lisa and I’m an identity thief. If I’m not inside your system stealing your money, I’ve probably already stolen it. I’m your friend. I’m your enemy. I’m in control.
Only now, the tables have been turned. I’m in danger. My son is in danger. And I don’t know where that danger’s coming from.
NOBODY CAN BE TRUSTED.
I FEEL HER warmth against my back. We are in the cupboard, the two of us, my face turned to one side so that my nose isn’t squashed against the inside of the door. She stands behind me, leaning into me. We are on the inside. They are on the outside.
The cupboard stands at the turn in the stairs. Four steps below it, eleven above, and Dad always grunts when he squeezes past, aims a kick too, when he thinks no one’s watching or he’s had a drink. There isn’t really room for a cupboard this big on the stairs, but there isn’t really room for it anywhere else, either.
It’s been here as long as I can remember, this cupboard, probably longer than me, and I celebrated my tenth birthday last week, as far as we celebrate anything round here. There was no cake, no new bike or games console. There was a card, though, and fish and chips for tea, and I had Coke, real Coke, not the cheap stuff they keep in the kitchen which is too sticky and on whose fading label the numbers “1987” can be made out, if you stare at it hard enough. It was all shaping up to be the best evening in ages, and then Donna got ketchup on her dress and Dad said it didn’t matter but Mum got that look in her face, the cider-look, not the whisky-look, and I knew we were for it.
That was last week. We’ve been for it five times since then. Six, if they figure out where we are before they get bored or forget what it is we’ve done wrong. What it is I’ve done wrong. It’ll be my fault, and I won’t know why, but that won’t stop it being me who screwed things up again. And then there will be the slammed doors and the eerie silences between the shouts and the shoves and the slaps. At least there won’t be any closed fists or broken bones. At least they won’t hit Donna. I’m grateful for that.
Donna snakes an arm between my legs, pulls at my knee and giggles. “Shhh!” I whisper, but I find it hard not to laugh myself. They can’t hear us. My ear is pressed against the door and I can hear them stomping about the place, pulling doors open and slamming them shut, shouting into the darkness. I think Dad might have gone outside, and the cold day has turned into a brutal icy night.
I hope he fucking freezes.
Footsteps approach. It’s Mum, I can tell from the tread and the little bounce she gives against the wall before she starts up the stairs. I want to say something, to warn Donna to be quiet, now isn’t the time for giggling, but there’s no need: I can feel her body tense behind me, and the hand that was tickling at my knee a moment ago now grips it tightly. I hold my breath as Mum passes and don’t let it go until I hear her open a door upstairs and fall heavily onto the bed.
Dad comes back a few minutes later, shouts for us, for Mum, forces himself up the stairs – grunting as he passes – and follows Mum into the bedroom. I really don’t know what we were in trouble for tonight, but by tomorrow they won’t remember either.
His snores begin a few minutes later. I count to six hundred, softly, under my breath, feeling Donna relax as the numbers lull her into sleep. I envy her that. I spend the first three hundred wondering whether they’ve left the gas running with the fire out, and the next three hundred fearing the cupboard door has jammed shut, which has never happened before, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. I breathe deeply as I push, and it opens, responding to my touch. And then I turn and step outside, quietly – not for fear of waking them, because I could hardly wake them now if I tried, but because my sister needs her sleep. A normal, undisturbed, happy night of sleep. She is two years old.
She is my responsibility.
I pick her up – she weighs nothing, thin as a flagpole and as light as she looks – and carry her up the stairs. I place her in her bed, right next to mine. She moans softly, longing for the warmth of my body, but settles into her pillow after a moment. Her right hand – the one that held my knee like a drowning man clinging to driftwood – hangs out of the bed and down.
In her left hand is the thing she picked up this morning and hasn’t let go of since then. Just like yesterday, and the day before that, and almost every day since Dad gave it to her.
A small blue plastic fish.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds