When I Close My Eyes
156 pages
English

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156 pages
English

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Publié par
Date de parution 03 mai 2022
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781800310155
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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Legend Press Ltd, 51 Gower Street, London, WC1E 6HJ
info@legendpress.co.uk | www.legendpress.co.uk
Contents Jemma Wayne 2022
The right of the above author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data available.
Print ISBN 978-1-80031-0-148
Ebook ISBN 978-1-80031-0-155
Set in Times. Printing managed by Jellyfish Solutions Ltd
All characters, other than those clearly in the public domain, and place names, other than those well-established such as towns and cities, are fictitious and any resemblance is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
Jemma Wayne is the author of After Before , Chains of Sand and To Dare . She has been longlisted for the Women s Prize for Fiction and shortlisted for both The Guardian s Not the Booker Prize and the Waverton Good Read Award.
Jemma s journalism has appeared in The Spectator , The Telegraph , National Geographic , The Huffington Post , The Evening Standard , The Independent on Sunday , Red Magazine , The Jewish Chronicle and The Jewish News , among others.
Born to an American musician father and English mother, Jemma grew up in Hertfordshire and lives in North London.
For my baby brother Joab, who is no longer a baby.
And Zubey, who knows why.
Half of me is beautiful
but you were never sure which half.
R UTH F ELDMAN , L ILITH
PROLOGUE
And she is gone.
Into the waves, maybe.
Into the darkness, of course.
Into the recesses of the mind.
Yet. No sirens are blazing. No voices are being raised by willing volunteers, arms linked and flashlights waving, scouring ditches and alleys. And beaches. No friends, stricken-faced, clutching photographs to plaster onto lamp posts. No handing over of footage from security cameras that might have seen. No media analysis of glimpses and possibilities, or of loved ones left behind. No examination of conversations. No combing of notepads or receipts or scraps that might hint at something. Something. Anything.
Only. The sound of icy water lapping and crashing, pulling at the sand. Sent, as always, from the sky, from the wind, from the gods. Forced across the fortress depths. See the sea, they say. See the sea. But the sea sees nothing. It tells nothing. A dark, cold-hearted mass, spitting shadows onto the shore. Moving but silent - asleep. Oh yes, sparkling blue in the sunshine, pretending. Pretending pleasure, openness, freedom. But revealing nothing, really. Swallowing light beneath its surface. Hiding its demonic duplicity. Hiding her.
Because. She is gone.
As she was always going to be.
CHAPTER 1
There s a certain glow to the sand at this time of the morning. It s as though the ocean is waking it up, slowly teasing it into the day. Most of the time I stick to the cement path, but now and then a cyclist or roller skater appears in my way, and I weave onto the beach. My footprints tell me how fast I am going. If they are small, toe-tipped, then I am in good shape. If they sink into heavier folds, they are testament to a late night, or too large a dinner. The pier is my end point. From there it is still a 15-minute walk to my house, but I like the way that the lights, not yet flashing, and the signs, not yet singing, and the boards, not yet trodden, mark for me an ending. And a beginning too. Before they have begun. In a few hours, the pier will be packed with tourists. But for now, there is only me, here in my body, panting on empty, peeling wood, mind clear, looking out on paradise.
There is nowhere else like California. When I was a teen, there was a song that used the lyrics from a college commencement ceremony and one summer engulfed every radio station: it advised everybody to live in California once, but to leave before it made them soft. I loved that song, but I won t heed its advice. I don t plan on leaving LA ever. There are great benefits to a soft landing.
On the way up to my house, there is an alley I like to cut through, paved white and bordered by two expensive avenues. Often, lining the luxury, are the crumpled forms of men and women who find themselves outside it. Even more so than I once was. There are so many homeless people in LA that it is easy to grow desensitised, to stop noticing, or to perceive a problem instead of a person. But there is one person I always see. Madge sits in front of her shopping trolley. It is adorned with an array of bin bags tied with coloured ribbon. Despite the shabbiness of black plastic, there is an air of organisation to her colour-coding, an impression of beauty from the bows. The first time we spoke, she told me about the Libbers movement in the 70s, the great fight of it, the unstoppable spirit of action. Now, at this time in the morning she is usually still tucked inside a tattered sleeping bag, her hair folded beneath a wool beanie with the arching logo of the Hollywood Bowl. She wears bright pink lipstick. Over the years, Madge has refused my attempts to help her find a shelter, or to give her a wad of cash big enough to matter, but she will accept a few bills here and there. I try to remember to run with them. Either way, she is always awake when I pass, even this early. She informs me if I myself am early, or late, and what the weather will be. There is a sense as she makes this pronouncement that she is the purveyor of a crystal ball, but there is no real skill to it; the weather will be fabulous.
I have written Madge many times into my notepad. She has a daughter somewhere, but I have been unable to prise from her the details of their parting, the path that led her to this. Still, I have imagined. In my invented guise, she will appear on the small screen in next week s episode of Moles.
Moles is my show. It still tickles me to describe it this way. When I am accepting prizes on stage, or talking to Variety , then it is business, and I operate without deeper implication. But when I say it inside my own head, that is when the shivers reach my soul, as though a wave has begun on the Thames in Marlow, built towards the estuary, and then surged forth across the Atlantic, all the way to these shores. Just as I have.
As a child, my family didn t do summer holidays abroad, so Octobers must have been when I got a taste for foreign places. Like that October, when I was 11, legs shooting upwards, skin luminously pale since England had been overcast since July. Money wasn t exactly an issue for us back then, but we weren t rolling in it, as my father would say, so English summers would do. Sometimes they were glorious, driven in my father s cab down to Brighton or Land s End, as good as the most exotic of beaches, save for the crowds and the gulls. In rain, we would stay in Marlow - a then-quaint town 30-odd miles from London, famous for rowing, and the regatta, and, according to my father, being the home of T. S. Eliot during the war. We would hibernate there with board games and hot chocolate, or drag on wellies to pull tomatoes at the allotment - glorious too. But pennies were saved for our annual October trip, our out-of-season sun, one last blast before the six-month chill. My parents were ahead of their time that way. Already conscientious global citizens, they recycled, and composted, and ate veggie, and invested in experiences, not stuff. Although we flew to Cyprus.
By then it had already been three years since the first incident. This time, it was sand, not glass, between my toes, but the grains felt like shards, piercing my skin with fear, and blackness, and hard, cold wind.
Even now, I do not like to display my wealth. After Touching Heaven , I could have moved up to the Hills, or into Malibu. I could have been neighbours with some of the faces that grace the covers of magazines. But Santa Monica suits me. Besides, compared to Marlow, I have already upgraded. I mean, none of the bathrooms in this house are located in an unheated, semi-attached shed that can only be reached from outside.
This kind of observation is apparently called acerbic wit , so says The Hollywood Reporter . Supposedly, it makes my writing acutely English, in a translatable, relatable way ; but it is only the truth. Who knew that to write it was some kind of genre? The truth is, my place now is at least five times the size of my parents ex-council house, and I do not need more. In any case, in California, everything feels expansive. It is as though the soil knows that people here have come to dream life as far as possible, and the landscape is compelled to reflect that. There are vast valleys and immense hills and immeasurable stretches of ocean. Even my own front garden is bigger than our old patch of allotment. I do not, however, plant vegetables. Instead, there are fruit trees, and flowers in exotic flush, and most importantly, my ramp. To avoid annoying the neighbours, mostly I take my board to the skatepark, where there are tunnels, and proper halfpipes at the top of which I can trial my latest tricks, but I cherish this small offering on my lawn. It is a daily testament to who I am, now, to how brave I have become.
There is no point in wishing I had figured it out sooner. As a child, I could never have left home, even if it was to protect him. Or stopped myself doing what I did. So I couldn t have actually altered things, not then. But when I look back on that time, my stomach contracts with a darkness that is no longer with me. For so many years it haunted. And in the end, all it took was a decision. One decision.
Jade still visits me. Once a year, usually in th

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