Richard Pierce

Life, Writing

Day 178

My phone is running out of charge more and more rapidly. Having once been IT literate, I don’t know if this is because of the heat or because it keeps looking for WiFi networks, or what. I will have to put it on charge again later while we have dinner. It’s irritating, because I like to write these posts in my Notes application on here and then just copy and paste them into my blog.

As if I didn’t have enough ideas, an idea for a short story about this place (Agios Nikolaos on Crete – there, I’ve said it, although M already posted our whereabouts a few days ago; I didn’t say I wanted to keep it a secret, and don’t really know why I haven’t mentioned it before) came into my mind over lunch (I’m indulging myself while here, although S was very disappointed when I turned down the beer she offered me to accompany my cheese and coleslaw roll), and I wrote the first 300 words or so earlier. Part of me regrets not bringing my laptop as I could just have written it in one go – ditto the passages of The Mortality Code I’m doing longhand. But maybe it’s a good thing. I have to think harder – when I’m not being distracted by some frankly very interesting and revealing conversations around me.

It would have been my mother’s 98th birthday today. She died ten years ago, a few days ago (I can’t remember the date) just after I came back from my US book tour for Dead Men. I must release the sequel to that soon.

Other than that – part of me gets bored with day after day of shadowbathing for me and sunbathing for M, but another part of me isn’t restless or impatient and likes the total lack of pace. I just don’t know which part is winning.


‘How can you be scared of yourself?’ Lilibet says. ‘You’re a good person. I know that already.’

‘I don’t know who I am or what I am. Nearly killing Martin – that was frightening. That’s not who I want to be.’ Her hands are still clamped round the wheel. ‘That’s not who I am supposed to be.’

‘And you’re not.’

‘Sleep, sleep,’ Aggie says. ‘It’s a long way still.’

‘You’re going to need to take a break.’

Aggie shakes her head. ‘I don’t sleep. Never have.’

‘That’s an impossibility,’ Lilibet says. ‘You should be delusional by now. And dead.’

‘Perhaps I am at least one of those. Or just a biological anomaly.’

‘Those sorts of biological anomalies don’t exist. Can’t exist.’

‘And yet here I am. The lump that doesn’t sleep.’

‘Stop it. Or I’ll make you stop.’ Lilibet stops short of pointing the gun at Aggie.

‘Don’t play with those things. … Ok. The mysterious albino beauty who doesn’t sleep.’

‘That’s better.’

‘I dyed my hair,’ Aggie says. ‘Disguise.’

‘Doesn’t matter to me what colour your hair is.’

‘Good. Now close your eyes and sleep. We need you to be alert when we get there.’

‘Fine, fine.’ Lilibet curls up in the seat and closes her eyes.

The night throws patterns at Aggie’s eyes, and she sees the past even as she negotiates the roads at high speed, eyes and all senses alert to police or other threats. She sees his face, the boy who betrayed her, the boy she thought she loved, except now he us no longer a boy; he’s a man atvleast ten years older than her, a man who took advantage of a girl hopelessly devoted to him, ruthlessly coerced by him, and she sees herself lying in his bed and wondering what all the fine words about love even mean, how they must have been made up, how they must be lies, because this love has been nothing but phyical and mental pain. She sees herself in the mirror, her entire naked body, her torso covered in bruises and cuts and scabs. He just never touched her face and her neck. It’s because of him she had to wear trousers all the time, because even her shins and her feet wore the bruises he gave her in the name of his love. And into this dark pattern of memory (but is it a true memory?), a sliver of light and warmth creeps, and it’s not the rescue of her my the mentor before she bled out, not the recovery, not the insubordinate chess victories, but the soft touch of Anna’s hands, soothing her pains, soothing her sobs, holding her hands secretly under table, or on the window seat in the great room under the great window. And she sees now what she has always loved, even if those loves have never been reciprocated or consummated.

She’s back in the present now, another hundred miles in, and looks at the woman asleep in the chair next to her, and feels a tenderness the intensity of which she has never known before.

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