Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Blog Tour: The Day I Lost you by Fionnuala Kearney

The Day I Lost You

When Jess’s daughter, Anna, is reported lost in an avalanche, everything changes.
Jess’s first instinct is to protect Rose, Anna’s five-year-old daughter. But then she starts to uncover Anna’s other life - unearthing a secret that alters their whole world irrevocably . . .
The perfect emotional and absorbing story for fans of Jojo Moyes and David Nicholls.



Ten Weeks Later – Friday, 13 February 2015

I wake to the taste of salt on my lips. My eyes take a moment to adjust to the early morning light; my mind takes a little longer to realize that I’ve been crying in my sleep. With a glance at the neon clock by my bedside, my damp lashes blink. It’s useless – I won’t fall asleep again.

My limbs stiff, I climb slowly out of bed before crossing the landing to check the room opposite. She’s there, fast asleep. I resist the urge to touch her, to rest the back of my fingers on her forehead. It’s a habit; a throwback, I think, to when she had pleurisy as a baby and we failed to spot the temperature early.

Her breathing is soft, regular and rhythmic as a slow beat on a metronome, her chest rising and falling under the duvet. She turns onto her stomach, faces away from me, one hand stretched in a curve above her head, the other falling over the side of the bed. I take her arm and tuck it in beside her.

Next along the landing is Anna’s room. I grab a pillow from her bed and, clutching it tight to me, take the stairs down slowly. Soon, the coffee machine clucks, promising my morning nectar.

I fill Rose’s lunch box. It’s the last day of school before the half-term break and something tells me she’ll wake early, excited at the fact that today means no lessons, lots of playtime fun, not to mention the holiday . . . School closes early, so it’s just a snack; just one slice of bread, lightly buttered and sliced in two, a piece of ham inside. Crusts removed. She hates crusts. A satsuma – the easy- peeling sort – and a bottle of water.

I stop my hands moving; wonder, if I turn the television on, will it halt the onset of what I just feel in my bones is a bad day. Before I know it, my hand is on a nearby photo frame. I don’t even look at it, instead raise my arm and hurl it across the room. It takes on a Frisbee-like flight, landing, where I must have hoped it would, on a sofa three metres away. I walk from the kitchen to the other side of the room that stretches across the back of my narrow house. There should be a dining table here. Instead, there’s a leather armchair and a frayed, unloved, tatty two-seater that Anna and I rescued from a skip with great intentions of reupholstering it. Slumping down into it, I run the palm of my hand over its ancient fabric, feel its bobbly surface. I reach for the tossed frame, clutch it to my chest, before releasing it to my lap – image facing down.

I pick up the phone and dial a familiar number. ‘Tell me not to smash the photos. Remind me I would really regret it.’

‘Jess, it’s six a.m.’

‘I’m sorry. Tell me. Please.’

‘Ok-ay.’ Leah clears her throat and I imagine her sitting up in bed, Gus grunting an objection beside her. ‘Leave the photos alone, do not break anything; you will regret it.’

‘Right.’ I clutch the silver frame tighter. I don’t need to look. It was taken on a camping holiday in France the summer Anna was fourteen, the summer she discovered boys.

Leah tries hard to stifle a yawn. ‘I would’ve called you in another hour.’

‘I know.’

‘Happy Birthday, big sis. You going to be okay?’

I giggle, a small ironic sound. ‘Sure I will. I’m sorry for waking you. Apologize to Gus. See you later.’

I hang up the phone, stroke the back of the picture frame. Today is my forty-eighth birthday. It is also her twenty-fifth birthday. Twenty-five years ago, she shot into this world with the speed of a firing gun. But for a midwife with advanced catching skills, she would have flown off the bed, hanging by the cord that still joined us.

‘Happy Birthday, baby.’ I talk aloud, but there’s no one there.

‘Nanny?’ I turn quickly. Rose is walking towards me, her arms outstretched. She seems to move in slow motion and I remember to take it in; to commit this image of her sloping towards me to memory, her curls all awry and bouncing as she moves. I bend down to her as she reaches me and pull her up to my chest. She puts her arms around my neck, her fingers lacing through my own twisting locks. And I’m cast back to when she was a toddler and she had barely any hair yet. What she did have was downy-fine and corkscrew. She would find mine and pull it, gently unravelling the coil, fascinated by the spiral twists. I was captivated. She was not my child, but through the twists and turns of shared DNA, we had the same twisting, turning hair.

And now, here I am, my fingers laced through her mane, massaging her head in a way I know she loves.

‘I had a bad dream,’ she says, gripping me tighter.

Me too. I dreamt that your mummy had left us. Every night I dream your mummy has left us. Then I wake up and smell her pillow and tell myself it was just a dream. ‘Don’t worry, love.’ I kiss her hair. ‘It was just a dream.’

‘Who were you talking to?’

‘Nobody, I was just talking to myself.’

‘Daddy says people talk to themselves when they get old.’ She pulls away and peers directly into my eyes. ‘Are you old today, Nanny?’ Her mouth smiles, yet it’s her eyes, lined by long curving lashes, that seem to laugh. The wonder of that almost makes me gasp.

I tickle her under her arms. ‘Cheeky,’ I say. ‘Not that old. C’mon, let’s get you showered before breakfast.’ She squeals and runs up the stairs ahead of me, shouting that she has a card for me. At just five years old, she has no memory that today is her mother’s birthday too and, all in all, perhaps that’s a good thing.

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