As with Excerpt 1, this is not a complete Tiny Tale, but an extract from a larger piece of work:
“In practicing my writing, I began to develop the premise for a novel which centred around a man who is struggling with an unidentifiable illness. In this excerpt from the novel (which still remains in the earliest stages of production and will more than probably remain that way!), Cara and Ben – the siblings from a previous Tiny Tale – reprise their earlier roles, but this time it is Ben’s story that drives the narrative forward. As always, your feedback and advice is greatly appreciated – particularly if you’re mid-novel and can give me some handy tips in getting off the ground!!”
He isn’t sat on the sofa anymore. He isn’t lying in bed or standing on the doorstep. Ben is walking away, quickly, as if at any moment his legs might defy his reasoning and take him back. He can hear his breath, short, shallow, amplified by the early morning quiet, and as he races down the empty street – his palms sweaty despite the cold – he counts the lampposts as if they are milestones, every one leading him further away from his wife.
Suddenly there is a voice, cutting deftly through the silence. ‘Where are you off then?’
Ben stops. He swivels.
The voice laughs. ‘Sorry, did I frighten you?’
Under the feeble glow of the nearest lamppost, a familiar face beams back at him. Ben exhales, shaking his head as he moves closer towards the figure. ‘Don’t do that to me, Cara.’
She laughs again, wickedly, joyously. He misses that laugh. ‘Sorry.’ She pushes a handful of hair from her face. ‘Seriously though, where are you going?’
He swallows, his eyes quickly shifting to the floor. ‘London.’
‘You know why.’
‘What about Esther?’
He shakes his head.
‘She’s your wife, Ben. You can’t just leave her.’
‘I’m not leaving her.’
Her eyes are on the rucksack. ‘Looks like you are to me.’
‘Well, I’m not, Cara, okay?’ His voice is loud now. Abruptly he turns and walks away, his eyes resolutely fixed on the lights in front of him.
Halfway up the street, she catches up. ‘I’d go back if I were you.’
Ben sighs loudly, his question sharply directed at the empty air in front of him, ‘But you’re not me, are you?’
She doesn’t answer.
After ten minutes, Ben’s pace begins to slacken, his breath growing slower, more beleaguered. Cara races ahead, her blue eyes turning back to survey the sweat that now trickles down his distressed face.
‘Are you all right?’
Ben nods, ‘Fine.’
‘You don’t look fine.’
The sun is starting to rise. Weak rays of light fall across Ben’s back as his hands fall to his knees. A familiar pain is intensifying. He screws up his eyes and lets out a small whimpering groan.
‘I’m okay, Cara.’ His words are curt, strangled, as he moves towards the nearest bench.
They sit in near-silence; Ben’s rasping breath and recurrent grunts mingling with the rising swell of commuter traffic. When he appears to have regained a hold over the pain, Cara speaks, her voice unusually small and uneasy:
‘You really think this woman can help you, Ben?’
‘And you’re sure she’s in London?’
‘Well, then I guess you have to go for it. You can’t carry on like this, can you?’
It isn’t really a question.
Behind them, the sound of early morning routines spew from the thin walls of a row of red brick houses and as Ben and Cara resume their journey, Ben wrestles with the uncomfortable image of his own home and the woman who will wake up in it this morning, alone.