‘Neath Extract


Dear readers,

I’m still working on Smarmbeard, so until then, here’s a short extract from a novel I’ve been struggling with.


*    *    *

It was a common enough problem: Sarah had no motivation to get out of bed. Warm and cozy in her eiderdown cocoon, in her world of lemon-scented fabric detergent and flannel sheeting, her body felt weightless; her arms, legs and head were bits of heavy-packing foam, like the stuff she’d once seen at that decrepit self-storage unit years previously.

She and Zoe had been moving house at the time. Having hired a cheap van, they’d driven from her parents’ place in Windsor—and her parents had made sure not to be home when she and Zoe had come, the petty bastards—to Kennard’s Storage in Preston, half a city away.

Sarah would finally be escaping the clutches of her evil parents; Zoe was exhaling a long sigh of relief at the prospect of less time spent around her uncle, whom Sarah had discovered was well-meaning but more than slightly over-bearing.

‘Most days, I barely see him because he works late into the night up at that Heinz can factory in Dromana,’ Zoe had said, rolling her eyes. ‘On the weekends, I’d be lucky to go one hour without wanting to push him down a flight of stairs. Do you know how giddy I’ll feel when I can finally put a can of my food on the top shelf of our fridge?’

Zoe had lapsed into a surprisingly lifelike impression of Uncle Bob, hoiking and pretended to spit, before hiking up her jeans and scratching at imaginary stubble.

‘My fridge, my rules—roight, Zoe girl?’ she growled, eyes narrowing dangerously, that typical Aussie twang sliding recklessly out of her mouth like it had no right to be there. And it didn’t, really: Uncle Bob had done his best to bring Zoe up as a single parent, sending her to MLC, one of the most prestigious private schools in Melbourne. As a result, Zoe’s voice held a slight upper-class cadence—classy and definitely not country.

They’d had the radio tuned to Triple J, Zoe nearly jumping out of her seat when she’d found they were playing Tool. Currently Undertow was blaring out of the van’s tinny speakers. Sarah didn’t love Tool as much as Z, but had soon found she was bobbing her head along and swaying her long hair, anyway.

Two times now.

‘Do you know how little alternative the J’s play these days? Discovering this fricken’ song playing is like finding twenty bucks and buying a lottery ticket, only to be told you’ve just won the damned jackpot.’

Zoe had smiled dreamily at her in that that way made Sarah go weak at the knees, had settled her lithe legs up on the dash and rested her hands behind her head. If Sarah had been a dapper gent from the 1920s she’d have bitten right through the brim of her hat.

‘Too perfect, babe,’ she’d said, sighing.

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