Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Sea Babies. I’ll be sharing an extract from the novel below, and then a little about the author. Enjoy!
Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job as a social worker. When somebody sits opposite her at the cafeteria table, she refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed. But a hand is pushing a mug of tea towards her, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories.
Some people believe in the existence of a parallel universe. Does Lauren have a retrospective choice about the outcome of a terrible recent accident, or is it the bearer of that much older scar who has the power to decide what happens to her now?
I could walk indefinitely. No part of me hurts anymore, not a muscle or a joint, not even my bad knee. My head’s as clear as a bell. My skin tingles where the air seems to blow through it. This day has gone on forever.
Tatty and I walked all the way around the loch. The otter appeared, sleekly popping its head out of the water, twitching its whiskers. Tatty sat by my heels as we watched him swim over to the far bank. Then, stepping off the marshy path onto the stony track opposite where my walk began, I looked up at the mountains and guess what? I spotted the red deer, stalking along the ridge above the road – a hunter in his attitude, not prey.
We’re climbing the hill to the cemetery now. I want to say goodnight to my girls. Tatty whines as I loop her lead around the bar of the gatepost, knowing I’m about to leave her. But she flops onto her stomach resignedly. She’s panting, tired from the long walk but I still feel fine. I climb to the top of the sloping field and visit Anna/Sheena first. I lay a fresh stone from the edge of the loch – sleek and black like a wet otter’s head – on top of the pile I made for her yesterday. I shall try and bring a new stone every time I come.
And now for my baby. The need to see her is as strong as ever. But when I stand to search out Mhairi/Barbara’s grave I see the dark-coated figure of a man. Standing exactly where I’m headed. What? Through the still bright evening – it must be evening by now, surely? I think I recognise him as Murdo, but he looks different. Why would Murdo visit the grave of his ancestral relative? A baby.
Perhaps he wanted to further our conversation about Catriona and decided to stop off at the cemetery on the way. Perhaps it’s a thing here, that you pay your respects to your ancestors. It’s not the anniversary of the baby’s death, I know that much. Anyway, surely he would more fittingly lay tribute at the graves of his parents and sister, lower down the field in the newer area of the cemetery? I move carefully between the mounds towards baby Mhairi’s grave in the centre of the field, but pause when I get closer. Murdo’s presence feels ominous. I can feel my pulse jangling in my throat. Murdo’s face is pinched, shadowed with dark stubble, his eyes glazed. Everything about his demeanour is different to when I last saw him. He wears an unusual coat, long and thick. And close against his coat, wrapped in a dirty blanket, he’s clutching a baby.
Tracey is the author of The Last Time We Saw Marion, Of His Bones, The Eliza Doll and Another Rebecca. Her fifth novel, Sea Babies will be released on 1stllection, So Fast was published in January 2018.
Tracey is also a visual artist. All her work is inspired by the emotions of her own experiences and perceptions.
Tracey is the mother of four grown-up children and now spends a lot of time travelling in a small camper van with husband Phil and their rescue dogs, Pixie and Luna, gathering her thoughts and writing them down.