SUSAN

I know all reviewers on WordPress are very busy and have long lists of books to read and review but I wonder if any of you would have time to give this book a look? There are several excerpts here on WordPress which would give you an idea of the content. It is available on Amazon Kindle and I could gift it to you or attach the manuscript to an email. The book is an interlinked collection of stories; some are grim, some verge on the macabre, and others deal with abusive relationships. But there is a lot of black humour throughout and the characters are eccentric for the most part.

May 20th I.00 a.m.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. All day nothing – again. The worst is when I think I feel something and I go to check and there’s nothing. Sometimes I convince myself there’s a trace of blood but it’s no use. Niall is asleep already. Look at him – the huge bulk of him in the bed, feet pushing the sheet out at the bottom. I feel like whacking him with something – big, oul lump, sleeping there like that without a worry. You’d think he was dead, the way he sleeps.

            I thought I was going to scream at dinner today and I was afraid I was going to be sick. Chops and cabbage. What a strain meals are now, and me that always loved my dinner. I don’t know if it’s because I’m pregnant – God! Even to write that down – or because I’m so worried, because I think I might be. I sat there thinking that if it was real, if it was true – the cabbage would be good for me.

            I looked out the window at the bits of an old boat the men were working on and I looked at the cat sleeping on the window-sill, the sun shining in through the yellow curtains – everything so peaceful and normal, and all the time I was hot and sick and sweating.

            And to think that Matty doesn’t know, has no idea even. I wonder if he ever, ever thinks about it . . . about me. Oh, Matty . . . There he sat across from me, eating quickly, not looking up. I stared at his hands as they moved, gripping the knife and fork, lifting bread, drinking tea. Brown, wide, rough hands, not too clean. And I looked at the hairs on his arms, all lying in different directions like he’d been scratching them.

            “Susan! What’s wrong with you?”

            Niall was leaning across the table.

            “Susan!”

            “What?” I said.

            “You’re mooning there in the heat. We’re ready for the afters.”

            He gestured at their plates and I got up and poured custard over the stewed apple. The floor was slippy by the cooker and I steadied myself. If I fell, I wondered, would I have a miscarriage? Paul said, ah, when I put the plate in front of him. That’s what he says in bed too, just before and after. Ah, he says. The thing is – it just could be his, couldn’t it? It happens to other couples after years of trying. Suddenly – bang! There you were, pregnant.

            They were eating their desert when there was a noise outside and I knew Bella had arrived. You’d think she’d no house of her own. Matty’s as bad. Brother or no brother, it gets ridiculous sometimes. They just about sleep in their own house.

            “It’s only me.”

            She sang out the words as she pushed the door open. Jamie toddled in and she fluttered in behind him carrying the baby. She always says that when she arrives and I always want to say back – oh, it’s only you.

            “Well,” she said, kicking the door shut. “I swear I lost half a stone on the way up. This fellow wouldn’t walk for me. I had to carry the two of – Jamie – leave Auntie Susan alone. Matty, take him on your knee, will you?”

            Such a flurry she causes every time, especially when she’s pregnant. Everybody hopping, even Niall, and Matty putting cushions behind her back. And that lisp of hers – calling me Shoosan!

            “Shoosan,” she says. “I’ll just put this fellow upstairs for a snooze. OK? Any dinner left? I’d no time to cook today. Where would I get the time to cook – I ask you – where?”

            She looked at the men and laughed and they both stood up. Matty moved the table out a bit and Niall pulled a chair over. She smiled all around her and then went upstairs with the baby.

            Jamie was calling, Da, and pulling at Matty’s arm, waiting to be lifted. I put out a dinner for her, scraping my cabbage onto her plate. She’d eat anything she didn’t have to cook herself -even for the poor children, fed out of jars, they were.

            “Thanks a mill, Shoosan,” she said when she came down again, settling her skirt about her on the chair and shaking back her long hair.

            “Aren’t you great?” she said to me although she looked at the men.

            “What would we do without you? You’re a mother to the whole lot of us. Jamie, put that down like a good child. Matty, would you look what he’s doing? Would you pay a bit of attention to your son? Isn’t he a holy terror?” she said as she ate the dinner.

            I didn’t know was she talking about Matty or Jamie. I leaned over and took the salt from Jamie’ little fingers and I could feel the heat from Matty’s arm. I willed him to look at me.

            Please, Matty, I said in my head but I might as well have been invisible. It’s never any different, never a look, never a word. Even that night, my party night, he didn’t speak . . . Oh wait a minute, he did. Jesus, he said. One says, ah, the other, Jesus. Talkative, the pair of them!

amazon.com/author/elizabethmerry

#CoDownWriter

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