One random, violent act is enough to change Sarah Macintyre’s life forever. Left unsettled, and yearning for a new beginning, Sarah is unsure of what to do with her life. But one day she discovers an anonymous letter hidden amidst a pile of unopened mail. The note, however, contains nothing more than a confusing riddle. Intrigued and excited, Sarah’s hunger for a new life compels her to search for the author to understand the puzzle and solve the mystery. Embarking on a journey that will shape the rest of her life and that of her family, Sarah uncovers a past of which she had no knowledge, a present she must find a path through, and a future filled with intense grief and utmost joy.
‘Ever since I got back home from hospital, I’ve been having a strange sensation on my head. Not in it, but on it. Every night when I close my eyes it’s like I can feel a hand resting on my forehead. Its gentle and very comforting, but it never used to happen. Sometimes it happens during the day if I’m quiet and relaxed. I’ve also started to see colours around people… like a blanket or… or… a halo. Some people anyway. I’ve seen one around John, I’ve just seen an orange glow around you and I don’t know what it means. The odd thing is I’m not worried about any of it. Far from it. Sounds odd but it’s exciting, because it’s something new that I want to understand… well more like need to understand. Things are different. I’m not sure how much or why, but they’re… well… different.’
Rachel was troubled.
‘An orange glow? Are you telling me you’re seeing things? Sarah, you need to talk to the Doctors again, talk to Peter. You’re worrying me.’
‘There’s no need. I’m fine. I don’t have a headache. In fact, overall I’m pretty chilled despite the restlessness, if that’s possible. As I said, I’m not worried about it. You know last night was the first time John and I made love since I came home. We’ve been cautious around each other. But last night something was right, and we made love downstairs on the sofa and on the floor… after we started in the bath. You’ve heard the stories about how married couples get after years of being together? Their sex life becomes stale? Well we never seemed to have suffered with that. Less frequent of course but it’s always been exciting. Last night, though, John was like someone possessed. Talk about energetic, and I was the same. It was more than a rediscovery, it was like a different level… getting deeper into each other.’
Sarah paused again, gazing off into the distance, gazing without seeing.
Rachel waited in silence while the muted sounds of chatter and soft piped music washed over them. After several moments Sarah spoke once more.
‘I’m sure I’m not making any sense, but before and after seem to cover a lot of things.’ She leaned back in her chair again, lifting the coffee cup to her lips.
‘Well!’ replied Rachel, ‘and… wow! I’m not sure what to say, except have you talked to John?’
‘Not yet,’ replied Sarah sheepishly. ‘I don’t want to worry him unnecessarily. Don’t want to say anything until it makes more sense.’
‘You’ll worry him more if he finds out you’ve been hiding something from him. Oh, and one other thing.’
‘I don’t want to lose you.’
‘What? You’re not going to lose me. What a strange thing to say. Why would you think that?’
‘Sarah. You’re scaring me. I’m sorry… I know it’s selfish of me. It seems like you’re heading somewhere different, and I’m not sure I’m part of that with all this talk of change. What would I do without you? You’re my sister, if not in blood in spirit. I love you!’
‘I love you too Rachel. But you’re not to worry. I’m not sure anything is going to happen, but if it does, I’ll make sure you are a part of it. In fact, I think you are a part of it anyway though I’m not sure if that makes sense either. Something’s going on and I’m not sure what yet. How many times have I just said sure? Oh, here we go… food.’
For several minutes the two friends did not speak, as with gusto they tucked into their lunch. Eventually, through a mouthful of food, Sarah changed the subject and teased Rachel with a question.
‘Um… anyway what’s this I hear about you trying to seduce my Consultant?’
Rachel put on a smile that didn’t extend to her eyes.
‘I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.’
‘There’s no stopping you. There am I lying in a hospital bed, lost to the world and all you can do is flash your eyes and wiggle you bum at the Medics. But seriously have you seen Peter out of work?’
‘Yes I have, but I never wiggled my bum,’ she laughed and took another mouthful.
‘Well?’ asked Sarah.
‘Well what?’ replied Rachel with raised eyebrows and wide innocent eyes.
‘C’mon, you know what. How was he?’
‘Well before your dirty mind runs away with itself we haven’t done anything,’ said Rachel, though to Sarah it seemed as if her friend was being evasive.
‘Wow. Don’t you fancy him? He’s a bit of a catch y’know.’
‘Yes I’m sure he is,’ Rachel muttered, gazing into her coffee cup. ‘He took me to dinner, but we didn’t have time after. Well I don’t mean time… the right moment perhaps. Well… I don’t know.’
‘Rachel. Is there something you’re not telling me? This isn’t how things usually go with you. Did you kiss him?’
‘Yes we kissed. He kissed me goodnight at my front door. And, I might add, it was long, and very sensuous. But there was nothing else. He didn’t want to come in… just said he had to go. Not sure what to think.’
Sarah stared at the top of Rachel’s head since her friend kept her eyes averted. It was as if Rachel’s last comment was again aimed at herself. Sarah smiled and once more spotted a shimmer of orange colour that flickered around Rachel’s shoulders. But as the colour faded, Sarah thought it changed into a weaker shade of red, a feeble colour, and in a moment of clarity, she thought the glow was bereft of light and energy.
She spoke again.
‘How much do you like him? I always thought he was a lovely man after John introduced us a few years ago. He’d make a good partner for someone. Someone else anyway. How much do you know about him?’
Rachel raised her eyes.
‘Well for one, I do fancy him, but that may not mean much to you because you expect me to fancy anyone as long as they can move. Don’t look at me like that. You know it’s true. Might not be the whole truth, but anyway, what do you mean when you say make a good partner for someone else. Not me? Is that it? Is he too good for me?’
‘No. I don’t mean that at all,’ said Sarah with a frown. ‘You know I don’t. I only meant he’s already had one good partner. A wife in fact.’
‘Oh. A wife? Well that answers your other question anyway… I obviously don’t know much about him at all. When we went out last week, we talked about trivial stuff, didn’t get into anything too deep, but it was easy, relaxed, and I enjoyed myself. I hope he did too. Why do you ask how much I know?’
‘Rachel, I think the two of you would be good for each other, and I don’t want to spoil the discovery by speaking out of turn. But it’s no secret he has a daughter about the same age as Claire, and he’s a widower.’
‘A widower? God. How? What happened?’
‘Cancer. It was quick and very aggressive. It’s a few years ago now, but he’s a very special man.’
‘I’m sure he is,’ Rachel said again.
‘Yes he is. I know it and I think you do too… but I can see through you. You’re being cagey. What’s up?’
‘Look,’ said Rachel. ‘You’re not the only one who feels different. Your stay in hospital terrified me. I was scared to death I was going to lose you. So if it looks like I’m a bit off it’s probably because I’m a little unsettled too.’
Sarah wasn’t convinced that that was the real reason for Rachel’s guarded manner, but her friend seemed uneasy so Sarah let the subject drop. It was obvious Rachel was hiding something or at least was unwilling to carry on the discussion. Sarah would have to tease it out of her bit by bit.
‘Anyway, let’s talk about something else,’ Rachel said. ‘What’s your plan for the rest of today?’
‘Well, this afternoon I’m going to wander around town. There’s something I need to do.’
‘Yes? What’s that then?’
‘Probably sounds daft, but I want to walk the same route I did before the attack.’
‘Is that wise? Do you really want to rake it all up?’
‘Not raking it up. More like finishing it. What’s the phrase… closure?’
‘Well if it helps. I’ll come with you if you want.’
‘No, no there’s no reason to do that, and I’d rather do it on my own. You’ll probably think I’m mad but I want to walk it backwards… or rather in reverse.’
‘Probably think you’re mad? I already know you are! But whatever you think’s best. Will you promise to call me if you need me?’
‘Of course,’ Sarah replied.
Rachel checked her watch.
‘Damn, I suppose I’d better get back to it. You sure you’ll be ok?’
Sarah nodded, and a smile curled her lips.
‘Yes I’ll be fine,’ she answered. ‘And will you keep me posted about what happens with Peter?’ Sarah prompted cautiously.
‘Not sure anything will happen,’ replied Rachel.
The two young women stood and pulled on their coats and scarves, readying themselves for the shock of the winter chill. The sun was bright and cheery, but it had little effect in pulling the temperature much above freezing. Once outside, they walked back a short way until Sarah stopped at the corner of Darlington street and Queen Square and pulled Rachel into her arms. Her friend responded in kind and for a few moments, Rachel clung to Sarah with such urgency that Sarah was perplexed and a little concerned.
With what seemed like reluctance, Rachel finally let go, and spoke in a husky voice.
‘Sarah, take care and call me… soon… tonight even.’
Hastily she turned away but not before Sarah caught a shine in her friend’s eyes. Crossing the road, Rachel headed onto North street and just before disappearing around the corner, turned and waved.
Sarah stood looking after Rachel, looking without seeing. Instead, her thoughts wandered back into Costa’s coffee shop and to the weak red colour that had hovered like a shroud around Rachel. She recalled the violet halo she had seen several times around John since her return home, and puzzled once more about what the vision and strange colours may mean, and while she stood lost in thought, the light touch feathered her brow once more. For a few seconds the comforting hand stayed with her.
With a slow shake of her head, Sarah turned away and headed along Darlington street, past the department store, past Cafe Nero, and onwards to the place where a single, selfish and violent act had changed everything.
Thank you, R V Biggs and Random Things Tours.
About the author
R V Biggs lives in a small ex-mining village near Wolverhampton, England, with his wife Julie, and Mags the black lab. He has four grown up children and six grandchildren.
Walking with the dog is a favorite pastime and much of the story line for his first novel was developed during these lengthy outings.
Robert worked for 35 years in telecommunications but changed career paths to a managerial supporting role within a local Mental Health NHS trust. It was during the period between these roles that the concept for Song of the Robin was born.
Robert is a firm believer that destiny and co-incidence exist hand in hand and this conviction extends to his writing. He has a passion for holistic well-being and after first-hand experience of the potential healing powers of Reiki, a form of energy therapy, took a Reiki level 1 training course to heighten his spiritual awareness. Robert’s experiences in these areas helped conceive the ideas that led to Song of the Robin and its sequel Reunion, novels with central themes of fate, love and the strength of family. His writing however is not fantasy but is set in modern times involving real people living real lives.
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