My protagonist in my new novel (not finished) is Sarah Masters.
This is the opening draft.
IN THE DARK
‘Sarah . . .’
His voice is weak, like his barely has any breath – I want to go to him, but it’s pitch black. I’m finding it difficult adjusting to the darkness. There is a heaviness around my eyes, which feels like I have gone blind. I blink. The shadowy shape of bare oak trees slowly coming into focus.
The road, his motorbike, the person who called me at midnight gone from my mind. A littering of broken branches are scattered on the dirt. I hear something, or rather someone. Leaves crunch, closer, and closer until everything goes dark.
When I finally wake up, my unresponsive, my limbs are like lead. My whole body feels like it is on fire. Breathing hurts my chest. ‘Graham!’ I call out. ‘Graham!’
This time he doesn’t answer.
It is as though the last few hours have been murdered in their sleep. Graham. Why isn’t Graham answering? Are the only thoughts I can even muster.
My head aches, thumping to the tune to the vibration of the road.
I’m not sure how any of this has happened. One minute we are setting off, the next I am lying in this ditch, an icy cold patch of earth on my back. My throat constricts. ‘Graham, goddammit answer me!’
Graham doesn’t reply, but I hear something – another car – I think.
I shout out. ‘Help us! Help us!’
When I next open my eyes, I want to close them again. A flash of colour swirls, pulling towards me, then returning to black, swathing my surroundings in a bright blue light.
The sound of sirens so loud, I cannot think straight.
Paramedics putting a something on my neck. They are continuing to talk to me, even though I don’t respond. I struggle, trying to get across I wasn’t alone on the motorbike. I don’t think they’re listening. ‘My husband . . . Graham . . . I’m fine.’ I brush them away, but they won’t leave.
They stare at each other, gently loading me on to a trolley.
‘Graham . . . he can’t be far . . .’
When I wake up next, my eyes are aching, like I have a killer of a migraine. Doctors, nurses, a blur of action. My gaze darts from the heart monitor by my bed to the door. My heart is racing so fast, I can’t distinguish it beating any more.
‘My husband . . . Graham . . . ?’
The nurse touches my shoulder. ‘Concentrate on you for now.’
I want to argue, to get them to talk to me properly, but I can’t think straight. It takes all my energy to breathe. Even then I am aware of how hollow it sounds. Like I have forgotten how to be alive.
My eyes won’t stay open long enough to get any sense of time. Minutes or hours, day, or night. I’m not sure what is happening. It is like I am on fast forward, then rewinding, only to get stuck on the same weird playlist.
My eyes hurt, a weird shooting pain every and now and again.
Time drops to a halt. There is something I need to ask, but I don’t know what. This room is all I can focus on. I’m not alone. The accident and emergency unit full of people, either crying, or arguing with the nurses. There is a fizziness in my brain – bubbles popping and bursting, taking away my ability to speak.
One minute all I am aware of is the doctors and nurses, the next Mum is fussing over me. Dad is talking, but I can’t be sure what he’s saying.
I force open my eyes, the room is blurred around the lines. I want to twist my neck, but the brace forces it back. My throat is filling with bile. The smell of disinfectant making me want to retch, but my stomach is empty.
Mum is whispering to a God I don’t believe in. Over and over again, promises are made to keep me safe.
‘Mum . . .’ I say, my tongue dry against the roof of my mouth.
‘Sarah,’ Mum says. ‘Thank you God.’
There is a high pitched beep. Doctors, nurses all concerned with my health. They swarm around me, asking me all sorts of questions. I don’t bloody care who the prime minister is, but I answer them anyway.
I am getting a better understanding of where I am now. Some of the confusion of the crash, being brought here, is beginning to clear. The room once covered in a fine mist is finally lifting.
‘Mum, where is Graham?’
Mum, unusually quiet lowers her gaze. She glances at Dad, who takes my hand in his. A pain surges through my throat like I am being punched. Graham, their reaction must be my imagination. He’s in the next room, doctors working on him, but Mum looks so distraught.
Looking back, I think I knew even before they told me.
‘We’ll talk later,’ Dad says.
‘No Dad, I want to know!’ My heartbeat is racing, and there is a pain in my chest making it difficult to breath. The monitors are going crazy, and I will too, if they don’t answer my simple question.
Dad gives one of his special looks to Mum, then takes my hand in his. ‘Love . . . They tried their best . . . but his injuries were too great. He died before he got to the hospital.’