How tragic

Here is an extract from the first book I published as an e-reader, Farholm…

Deke walked on from the school, a few steps at a time, stopping to admire the natural abundance, her mind wandering to jellies and jams, cordials and liqueurs. Perhaps she should pretend to be writing a natural cookery book, that would give her an excuse to quiz people, get into conversation with the people who lived here.

She continued slowly up the road. There was another wall, running parallel to the other, and above it was more open woodland between the elder and blackthorn, weighted with berries and sloes. Sloe gin, elderberry wine, elderberry chutney. Recipes slotted through her mind, it was the first time she had thought of cooking for a month, food had become an indifference to her.

The road wound round and the trees gave way to yellow bracken and ling and she could see the church, squat and grey beyond a pair of pink cottages. After maybe half an hour she was above the harbour and could see the roofs of the houses and the pub and social club a couple of hundred foot below her. This must have been the road the girl in pink had taken, the girl Deke had thought might have been Rachel. She stopped and wondered where Rachel was, and shivered at the thought of the sort of things that might have happened to a pretty eighteen year old.

A Land Rover was coming down the road towards her and she stepped onto the grass to let it pass. It slowed and a bearded man looked out, he had been driving last night, he had taken her home.

“Any news?” she called.

“No,” he replied and his tone and face said it all. He lifted his hand and drove on.

The pink cottages were direct onto the road but as Deke approached she could see gardens at the back, curiously urban gardens with sheds and a gazebo in one, and children’s swings and climbing frames. A whirligig washing line spun, laden with clothes.

The church was a normal little parish church, bounded by aged stone walls with mosses and lichens and tiny geraniums growing. At the foot of the wall were clumps of what her aunt called ‘ginger’ although it was a dozen shades of red and pink and purple. The church yard ran down the hill, each grave with plenty of soft bright green grass around it, not huddled together or lined up in impersonal regimented rows.

There was a kissing gate for the litch, a little old roof crouched over it. As Deke manipulated herself through there was a squeak from above and looking up she could just make out a swallow’s nest with a very late brood peeping out. They didn’t have a very rosy future at this time of year. But on the other hand, who did?

There was a bench along the wall by the gate and Deke subsided onto it. She felt sick with anticipation now, she was trembling not just from exertion, sweating not just from the toil a quarter of mile from the harbour. Her teeth began to chatter and she clenched her jaw.

Look at the church, what do you know of ecclesiastical architecture, what can you say about this ancient place of worship, for she remembered that there had been a tiny chapel on this site from before Norman times. She had read the little guide-book now in her pocket with exclusive concentration and odd facts drifted back. The present church was rebuilt about a hundred years ago to replace the previous one which had lost its roof.

Deke got up and hopped up the path and then carefully moved among the graves. Some were very old, some had lost their faces completely. Many of them had flowers, even some anonymous ones had posies in pots against the head stones. The names floated before her, Abigail Burrows, beloved wife…  Daniel Spears…. Marie Togwith… John Togwith… Thomas Thorne… Josiah Hepworth…

Deke stopped before the small white stone in the shape of a heart. There was a cherub leaning on it, one hand beside the name, the other arm arching over the top of the stone, a stubby finger pointing heavenward. Deke blinked her eyes, trying to stop the stinging. She was never going to cry again, not for anything, not for anyone. Especially not here, not here in this graveyard.

Then David Elijah Crewe. The name registered with a shiver. Perhaps this was a relation of the woman on the boat, the woman who lived in the White House. Vera Crewe, née Smythe, wife of the above. There was another Crewe, Alfred, perhaps he was her brother. Then Jonathan Crewe, most beloved husband and dearest father. Deke resolutely turned her eyes to the stone next to it, an older stone, Jabez Crewe, wife Oriana, and another old one, Serena Crew wife of Augustus Crewe. And amidst all his forebears and relations was a newly dug grave, the earth still red and raw, the brightly polished black marble headstone gleaming in the sun, the latest, Mathias Alfred Crewe, born March 13th 1967, beloved son of Brenda and Jonathon, dear brother of Alice, most loving husband of Tamsin, father of Tabitha and Sion, taken from us August 22nd 2000

How tragic. 33 years old.

If you want to find out more about Deke… and why this grave of Mathias Crewe means so much to her,here is a link to my book, Farholm:

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