SCROLL DOWN TO READ an excerpt from Chapter five (5) of The Neighbour

A Psychological Drama -you will never think of your neighbour in the same way again.

(Winner of the Seizure Viva Novella prize)

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Australian Bookstore Readings  $14.95

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Australian bBookstore New South Books $14.95

E-BOOK:

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Amazon Australia $4.99

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Xoum Kindle, Google Books Ibookstore Kobo

He dips the syringe in the bottle and draws it back to suck the ink within it. Bubbles rush and crackle. He dismantles his pen and pokes the syringe into it. The slow, detailed movements smooth his frayed mind. The ink, like black blood, fills the pen shaft quickly. He takes the syringe to the kitchen sink and pulls the plunger out. It sucks against itself with the pressure that has nowhere else to go.

The floorboards creek in the bedroom; he lifts his chin to listen. Laney is up now. He turns the water on fast.

Laney had laughed about his pen and ink when he first used it in front of her. ‘Who are you? Professor Plum?’ He wanted to explain that it isn’t the pen that he’s interested in. It’s something about how easy it is to fill it up again once it’s drained; it satisfies. But her laugh was a taunt, so he let it go.

He holds the clean syringe up to the light of the window to check for any spots that remain. One little dry speck in the ink will cause uneven lines, bumpy lines that annoy like rocks on a road.

Sam’s feet patter on the floorboards down the hallway towards the lounge, where he’ll switch the television on. And in a daze, he’ll snuggle under his blanket. He’d given up the need for his blanket last year, but now needs it near him always. Luke will sit with him later, and they’ll comfort each other.

In his office, Luke sits before his diary, and places a cross over today. He obliterates it, done, no more today. Now all he has to do is live it. He flicks the diary pages and counts the days that lead up to the anniversary of Lily’s death: seven months and twelve days. This is how much time he has given himself to repay his debt to Angie.

The time feels different depending on whether he looks forward to it or braces for it. Maybe he’s wrong to control things this way, but he has to do something; the idea of life, or no life, after that day fills him with relief, like a bloodletting. Some say suicide is selfish. He doesn’t want it to be that way. He tries to get his head around this idea, that it would be selfish. He can’t think of anyone who won’t carry on in life as though nothing had happened, who won’t think life was better with him gone, who won’t think justice had been done.

He sees Laney on the deck outside the window above the desk. She’s taken up smoking again, and she’s taken it on with gusto. She draws on it hard as if to fuel her life.

She pulls the cigarette from her mouth and calls out across the yard, and in a sudden movement waves her arm about wildly at something in the garden. Cigarette ashes float away like snowflakes. He wishes it would snow; it’s the most innocent thing he can think of. Laney calls out again and jumps off the deck. Luke leans forward to see who she calls to. A large brown dog skulks around the scrub of the far garden with its head low and its ears back. Laney moves closer, but shoos it with her cigarette. ‘Shoo, shoo.’

Frightened by her calls and arm flinging, the dog bounds away. It bends its long neck to turn and look back at her. When it sees that Laney doesn’t give chase, it returns to the same spot in the garden. It takes careful steps among the weeds.

Laney shoos and stomps and calls out at it. ‘Get outta here, go home.’ Eventually, it runs, the poor dog, down the side of the house, and this time is gone.

Laney is in her pyjamas. Her hair hangs lank around her pale face. She stands metres from the garden bed that had drawn the dog’s attention. Luke taps on the window with his bony knuckle. She doesn’t hear. She steps closer to the garden bed. She picks her path in bare feet across the sparse brown grass while two fingers cling in the air to the cigarette that has burned down to the yellow butt.

Luke taps again on the window, harder, quicker. She looks up, but doesn’t see him wave at her. He stands up suddenly and knocks his chair backwards. It glides and crashes against the wall. He crooks his finger in the old metal hook of the timber window, and yanks at it once, then again, and forces it open. It halts at an inch wide and won’t budge. He puts his mouth to the gap and calls to Laney.

‘Breakfast!’

She lowers herself to the ground, crouches, and parts the small bushes to look into the garden bed. Blood pumps into his forehead. He imagines a bloodletting that sets him free, and he calls to her again. This time, it is more urgent.

‘We should have breakfast now!’

Laney finds the dead animal.

When his brother drowned, their mother approached them as they floated in the water. She smiled and said something. She thought they were playing, swimming in the water tank that was sawn in half just for them. But what she saw was his brother, as he floated, face down. He wafted in the swells that still billowed and sank from the movements of their play. And Luke, with his back pressed hard to the wriggly tin wall, tried to get distance from the situation that was Bob. And his mother’s hand clasped to her mouth so hard that he can still recall the sound, like a bird hitting a window: Fwomp.

Laney claps her hand to her mouth as she rises and steps away from the unkempt tumble of weeds and forgotten plants that provide the hurried cover for the dead cat

 

Where is The Neighbour Available?

PAPERBACK:

U.S. Amazon

Australian bookstore Booktopia $13.25

Australian Bookstore Readings  $14.95

Australian Bookstore Seizure $14,99

Australian bBookstore New South Books $14.95

E-BOOK:

U.S. Amazon 

Amazon Australia $4.99

Kobo 

Xoum Kindle, Google Books Ibookstore Kobo

 

 

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