I’m blaming this cold snap we’re currently experiencing in the North West at the moment. It has a lot to answer for – such as what may look to be a lazy blog post… Wherein the writer takes to the blank page and uses it to share an excerpt from his latest book. Yes, I know how it looks…
Okay, okay….you might be slightly right but it is Sunday after all – and it is a pretty decent excerpt (if you ask me… and please casually by-pass the bias).
Please brew your favourite hot beverage, slap your heels up on your coffee table and enjoy this segment from ‘Malevolent Flesh’ where Tyler visits his sister who is not is sister… but is she?
Her hair was grey and it cascaded past her shoulders in long flowing wisps and curls. A pair of antique-style reading glasses hung loosely around her neck and an amethyst-coloured dress that covered her arms and ankles clung to her slender frame. Deep permanent creases lined her face like an intricate map of meandering rivers and estuaries. She looked at Tyler with emerald green eyes which widened in surprise after a few moments of opening up the front door.
“I’m sorry, I’m looking for Tara Hamilton, does she live-”
Before Tyler could finish his sentence, the woman had grabbed hold of him and wrapped both of her bone-like arms around him tightly, he caught a scent of her earthy perfume. Nothing about this woman seemed familiar.
“Tye! Is that really you? My God!” She pulled him in closer.
Tyler struggled to speak with her slightly damp hair clinging to his lips, “sorry, do I know you?” he asked blowing the strands out of his mouth.
The woman pulled back, the light behind her eyes appeared to fade and she let her hands drop by her side.
“I guess not,” she answered solemnly.
“I got a letter from my sister, she mentioned that she was living here. I presumed she was living alone. Is she home?” Tyler couldn’t understand why Tara would be living with an older lady and a number of different scenarios began to play out in his mind.
“No, I’m sorry, I-I don’t know of an erm.. a Tara? She might’ve lived here maybe… at some point… but not anymore,” the old lady replied, she was suddenly unable to make eye contact with him.
“How did you know my name?” Tyler asked.
The old lady didn’t reply.
“When I was introducing myself, you said my name. Tye. How did you know that?”
He watched as she seemed to squirm under the weight of the question, she stepped from one foot to the other. It was a tic that Tara used to display if she was lying of nervous about something.
“You must’ve said it – y’know before you asked me, you said, ‘my name’s Tyler’ that’s what you did-”
“No, I definitely didn’t mention my name, and you called me ‘Tye’. There’s only a few people that call me that,” Tyler replied, he was growing considerably anxious. He looked past the woman and into the hallway. Hung on the far wall was a photograph and he immediately recognised it, it was a picture of Tara and himself in their local pub on the day of his graduation. Tara had always loved that photograph and would put it on full display in every home she had ever lived in, she claimed it was one of the proudest moments of her life – seeing her baby brother graduate. Something she, herself had failed to do.
“Where is my sister?” Tyler didn’t recognise the change of tone in his voice at that moment but his stern delivery seemed to have an impact and the old lady finally made eye contact with him.
“You heard me. Where is she? Tara!” He shouted past the woman and into the house, wondering if Tara was inside. Was she being kept prisoner by this woman? Was that the real reason she had sent the letter?
“There’s no Tara living here, you have the wrong address. I’m sorry, you’ll have to leave here now,” her voice began to shake as she backed up inside the hallway, she started to close the door and Tyler quickly used his foot to prevent it from closing.
“Look lady, I’ll be calling the police if you don’t tell me where she is,” Tyler moved his face closer to hers and tried to push the door open. He glanced back at the graduation photograph to confirm that it was indeed, a picture of himself and Tara.
“No, don’t call the police, please don’t do that,” she begged.
“Just tell me where she is, that’s all I ask,” Tyler softened his tone slightly as he noticed genuine fear the woman’s face.
“I’m telling you the truth, there’s no Tara living here. Maybe she lived here before I did-”
“No.” Tyler interrupted her.
“I said, you have the wrong address,” she repeated.
“Well then explain to me why you knew my name?”
“I told you, it was the first thing you said.”
“Even if that was true, I never introduce myself as Tye, only my close friends call me that.”
The lady went quiet again.
“And also, can you explain that picture you have in your hallway, that one of me and my sister?”
Tyler watched the old lady slowly rotate her head to look down the hallway at the picture, she lowered her head as she turned back to him.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket.
“That’s it, no more of this bullshit, I’m getting the police involved right now,” he unlocked his phone and began to dial nine-nine-nine.
“No! Please! Don’t do that!”
Tyler held his finger over the button to connect the call.
“Tye, it’s me. It’s Tara. I’m Tara. Don’t call the police, I will explain. everything, just don’t make that call.”
Tyler looked up at the face that was claiming to be his sister. For the first time since her initial reaction when she saw him, she looked to be projecting a genuinely sincere response. She held her wrinkled hand over the phone, it was a hand he did not recognise.
“You should come inside,” she said as she pulled the door open wider to allow him in.
‘Malevolent Flesh’ – out now on Amazon!
Thank you, as ever, for reading!
– D. R. Forest