Friday, May 13, 2016

Impatient? This is how the book starts...

Chapter 1

January 1986 

Once upon a time, a little girl grew up in a tall, narrow house by the sea, with a father who painted pictures and a mother who wrote books, and a big dog who jumped up and down all day. The girl had fat yellow curls that tangled into a thicket every night in bed, and pink cheeks, and big solemn eyes that looked out at the world. Her name was Lilac.
From her bedroom window, Lilac would look down towards the small grey waves bumping up against the pebbles, or the giant white breakers crashing down on the pebbles, and decide what sort of day it was going to be. Then she would choose her stripy tights and her polka-dot dress, or her worn-soft jeans and the orange woolly jumper Granny had knitted her, and go down for breakfast. Today was a jeans morning, though not too wild.
‘Let the dog in, would you, darling?’ asked her mother.
‘Put the kettle on there, Lilac,’ said her father.
Lilac stood on tiptoe to reach the bread-bin, and put two slices in the toaster. She flicked the switch on the kettle and opened the door where Guzzler was whining and scratching in the blustery autumn morning. The sun considered coming out, but thought better of it and set up camp behind a solid bank of cloud. Guzzler the hound bounded inside, leapt his muddy front paws onto everyone’s laps, and then buried his nose decidedly in his breakfast.
‘Damn dog,’ said Lilac’s father through a mouthful of muesli. ‘Should be trained.’
‘And I just washed this’, said her mother calmly, brushing off her knees with one hand and readjusting the newspaper with the other.
Lilac buttered and jammed her toast, and made the two slices into a sandwich. With her free hand, she pulled on a fuzzy pink-and-red hat askance, and then shrugged herself into her warm jacket with the duffel buttons. Guzzler made a beeline for his lead, Lilac snapped it onto his collar, and, munching a goodbye in the general direction of the kitchen behind her, she left the house, in tow of dog.
The wind was brisk but not icy, as an Irish late-January wind should be, and left-over autumn leaves were muddy underfoot as she tromped towards the sea path and off up the hill that curved an encircling arm around one side of the long stony beach. There were dangerous cliffs farther up, but so long as you stayed well back from the fence, you couldn’t be blown over.

Lilac was small for her nine years, but she knew where she was going, and looked it. You wouldn’t have called her defenceless, even without the large dog loping at her side. (One of Guzzler’s grandparents had been a Great Dane, and though the others had clearly been smaller and maybe cleverer – dogs, he had what Lilac’s father described as an overly generous paw-size to brain-size ratio.)

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