Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"A girl can't read that sort of thing without her lipstick"


I watched one of the greatest classic movies this week: Breakfast at Tiffany's. I've watched it once before, but this time it was extra magical, like most brilliant movies you watch for a second time, because you take the time to notice all of the gorgeous quotes and the old-fashioned humour.

I LOVE Audrey Hepburn, and Holly Golightly is just so gorgeous you just want to step through the television screen and be her friend. I could write a novel on this movie - oh wait, there is one (which I have to read now!) - but I thought I would instead sum up my favourite moments with some golden quotes:


Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Paul Varjak: Sure.
Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!

Holly Golightly: Thursday! It can't be! It's too gruesome!
Paul Varjak: What's so gruesome about Thursday?
Holly Golightly: Nothing, except I can never remember when it's coming up.

Holly Golightly: I'm not hotfooting it after Jose, if that's what you think. Ohhh no. As far as I'm concerned he's the future president of nowhere.

Paul Varjak: You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken, you've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, "Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness." You call yourself a free spirit, a "wild thing," and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.

Holly Golightly: I'm like cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don't even belong to each other.


Also desperately want to get Moon River on vinyl... how amazing would that be?!

Happiness is...

Today I'm celebrating happiness and all the different sneaky little ways it has of finding us, because suddenly I find myself truly happy, despite the fact my life has not changed drastically. I've finally realised that true happiness comes from inside yourself, not from the siuation you're in. It's how you react to the situation that makes the difference. Nothing is ever as bad as you think it is, and man are we lucky to be alive!

So here are a few things making me smile lately...

♥ making bacon and egg pie for the first time ♥ sitting infront of the fire on chilly nights with a cup of hot chocolate ♥ snow on the mountains ♥ wiping the snow off my car on monday ♥ making a snowman on the bonnet of my car ♥ driving out into the country to take photos of the snow, watching it get thicker as I go further out ♥ putting an electric blanket on my bed and wondering why I never bought one before ♥ roast dinners at the parents house ♥ seeing everyone in my family succeeding and being happy ♥ baking muffins ♥ singing along to the glee soundtrack in the car with the boyfriend ♥ hearing about my sister and friend's adventures overseas ♥ dreaming of owning a house and planning what colours to paint it and how to decorate ♥ getting to the part in pride and prejudice where elizabeth falls in love with mr darcy ♥ looking in the mirror and smiling at my gorgeous clear skin for the first time in eight years ♥ snuggling my warm boyfriend on cold winter weekends

"Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will allude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder." - Thoreau

Monday, July 25, 2011

IT'S SNNNOOOWWWING!!!

Although I live in a country notorious for its snowy mountains, I can count on my fingers how many times I've acutally seen snow. Where I grew up, near the city and the sea in a little valley, we got a sprinkling of snow maybe once every five years. But last night, very few towns in New Zealand escaped the snow, as we experienced our worst snowfall in 15 years. So us Wellingtonians get very excited about the prospect of snow, especially me!
Where I live now, in a rural area over the hill from where I grew up, there is a mountain range and endless country roads.

This was my morning - driving around the Wairarapa with a massive grin on my face, squealing with delight at the magic of snow!





Friday, July 22, 2011

A thought for your weekend...

"The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read." - Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Twenty-six writers, one story

Saw No Rest for the Dead in the book store the other day, and it looks great! Not really the genre I would read, but just the fact that twenty-six authors wrote it is enough to entice me to read it, so I think it will be a birthday present for the other half so if I don't read it, he will. He loves thrillers/mysteries - he barely reads, but when he does get stuck into a book, he gets a little obsessed.
The story of the story is here on Stuff. Pretty awesome idea I think - a publishing first by the sounds of it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anzac Day... Missing Since Tuesday

This is an excerpt from the last third of Missing Since Tuesday, and I know that compared to the other excerpts, it makes absolutely no sense, but that's the way it's supposed to be - I like to keep my readers on their toes. Enjoy!

***

She started to wonder why she even went to the city that dark, early morning on April 25 to stand among a crowd of twenty-first century New Zealanders, mourning men they had never met.
The retired Army Colonel got up to speak of such things as "sacrifice" and "freedom", and a few tears welled up in the eyes around her and she looked at every one of them through her own blurred eyes.
Most surprising was the twenty-something girl standing a few feet away from her, seemingly alone with a single tear running down her cheek.
How can someone so young still be affected by this? She wondered. The Last Post has that affect on people, I guess, no matter how young you are or how detached from the war you are.
The words of the colonel and the words of the minister went by in a blur of tears, which she had long since stopped trying to quell.
The Last Post rang in her ears and she was glad to be standing at the edge of the crowd, leaning against a tree when her vision blurred and her knees gave way.
"You alright love?" Said a tall middle-aged man, who leaned down, supporting her with a hand on her elbow.
Her vision cleared enough so she could see his genuine concerned face and managed a small smile.
Heaving herself up with his hand on her elbow and other faceless mourners supporting her, she slowly regained her balance and thanked them, her voice thick with grief.
"Here, come and sit down," said the man, leading her to a concrete wall near the cenotaph where she could hear the bugle horn even louder.
"Always brings tears to my eyes too," he said, sitting down next to her.
She nodded, unable to speak and ran her hands over her belly protecting the little being inside her as she had been unable to do for him. She looked at the faces in the crowd, seeing only him.
She wondered if he had made a sound when he fell, if he cried out for her - or for his mother. Maybe it was instant, and he felt no pain and made no sound except for a gasp of shock as the bullet passed through him.
The service concluded and the marching band started. People lined up to pay their respects by placing their poppies inside the memorial, and she stayed, watching them disappear inside one by one.
She felt humbled that people this far into the future still held feelings for those men she once knew, and wondered how long it would take before they were forgotten and Anzac Day ceased to exist.
She felt an unexpected pang of jealousy. These people shed a couple of tears one day a year for the heroes who gave them freedom, and then went on with their lives. They had never touched those men, held them in their arms, kissed them fiercely as they left Wellington harbour to defend their country. They had never loved them.
Now she had a constant reminder of all she had lost, growing in her belly, getting bigger every day, and every day closer to knowing the pain and sorrow and love the world holds.
The people left and she stayed and stared at the cenotaph as the sun rose above the hills. The city came to life around her as the workers came off the trains to start their days and slowly she got up and walked to her car.
Tiny feet pummelled her ribs as she broke down in racking sobs in the solace of her car, crying out for Arthur.


*Copyright Sarah Hardie 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A thought for your weekend...

"A room without books is like a body without a soul" - Cicero

Something a little more happy from Missing Since Tuesday

Starved of love during the war, Arthur certainly made up for it when he returned. Drinking at the officer's club became a nightly occurrence and woman after woman after woman, who were also starved during wartime, strolled through the club and were plucked like duck feathers and fed.
He never forgot the first one. Her name was Martha and she waltzed into the bar mere days after they had returned from war, her hair curled into a tight bun, wearing a light yellow dress far too short which stopped at the knee, and she smiled at him.
She had asked him for a light and he gave it to her. He offered her a drink and she accepted. He asked her back to the barracks and she said yes and he lasted barely seconds.
She understood, and she smiled and laughed and he never saw her again.
The next night there was Ruth, single but looking for someone to settle down with. He took her to the barracks and she settled down with someone else.
Then there was Elizabeth, a red-haired, brazen girl who he saw again and again and again until she realised he was not the one she was supposed to marry, and then he had Margaret. Married, but bored and childless with a silent husband who had not made love to her since before the war. He took her in the alleyway behind the club and returned for a drink and a go with Ellen in the park.
Then there was Barbara, then Sandra, then Nancy, then Dorothy, then Joan, then Anne.
Then he stopped remembering their names, and then he stopped stubbing out his cigarette.
Soon he and some of his fellow officers ran out of women, and he and Stanley and Alf ventured to new pastures. Already feeling lightheaded from a few beginners at the officer's club, they stumbled down Cortenay Place together and into one they had never been to before. They had barely made it through the door when he glanced toward the angelic singing voice and saw the magnificent woman attached to it. He looked her up and down from her black mane made of silk, down her silver sequined dress to her impossibly high red heels.
"Jesus, would you look at that," said Stan as they sat down close to the stage.
The more drinks they had, the louder Stan and Alf got, whooping and cheering for her while Arthur sat somewhat quieter, watching those hands move with her words and those hips move with the rhythm of the music.
He was up at the bar buying another round of drinks when he heard the click of heels approaching directly behind him and a voice said in a beautiful Irish lilt, "So are you goin' to buy to buy me a drink or are you goin' to stare at me all night?"
He turned around, smiling and she ordered herself a white wine, batting her eyelashes at the bartender.
They did not talk until she got her drink and he paid and instead of going back to his table, he stayed and was about to open his mouth when she looked down at the three beers infront of him and said, "Those all for you?"
He laughed and said, "No not for me, for those buffoons over there," and cocked his head in said buffoon's direction.
"So I haven't seen you in here before, what brings you here?" She asked.
"Change of scenery I guess," he said. "The buffoons insisted."
She cast her eye over him, trying to determine who he was and where he came from.
"You a soldier?"
"Good guess, how did you know?"
"The haircut kind of gives it away," she said with an approving look at his head.
He ran his hand over his shorn locks and smiled. He had become so used to being around soldiers with an identical haircut, he had forgotten others existed.
"Molly!" came a voice from near the stage, pitched loud to be heard over Stan and Alf, who now each had a girl on their lap and were not being coy about it.
"So will you be back again you think?" she asked, picking up her drink off the bar.
Looking into those bright green eyes, he said, "I think I will be, yes." And she left him at the bar, brushing past his arm as she went.
He went back to the barracks alone that night for the first time in he didn't know how long, curled up into an empty bed, fell straight to sleep and dreamed of red high heels.


*Copyright Sarah Hardie 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

This is where I live!

So today I went on a little adventure on some country roads around where I live and ended up stopping the car every five seconds along this one stretch of road on my way back to take photos of the beautiful mountains sprinkled with snow, which I can also see when I drive out of my street on a frosty, blue-sky morning - what a way to start the morning :)

I drove over the hill and could see the mountains in the distance...


And then I was greeted with beautiful snowy mountains, which I snapped through some lucious green trees


 And there they were, right infront of me.


Even though I don't plan on living here for much longer, I do love driving on country roads, appreciating the very best this beautiful country has to offer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A new page for your reading pleasure

For those of you just dying to know what my novel is about after reading excerpts one, two and three, I have added a new page and FINALLY revealed what Missing Since Tuesday is all about. You will see my new page above, which is called... wait for it... Missing Since Tuesday. As well as a synopsis of the book, I will also post all the excerpts I post on my blog so you can refer to them whenever you like without trawling through my blog.

So here is my little synopsis. Tell me what you think. Are you excited? Intrigued? Would you buy Missing Since Tuesday?

In New Zealand's captial city of Wellington in 2010, Duncan Grant lives a normal life. At 21, he lives with his widowed mother in the quiet suburban town of Lower Hutt where nothing interesting ever happens, and studies history at Victoria University, where he meets a chatty, popular girl named Maria who is drawn to him just as he is drawn to her, despite their polar opposite personalities. Their unconventional love story faces some challenging hurdles, and is shattered one day at the mythical Red Rocks on Wellington's South Coast where Maria slips and falls into the violent sea - or so they think.

On his death bed, Duncan's grandfather tells him the secret of the rocks - they have the power to send certain people back in time - and, determined to save the love of his life, Duncan finds himself in the midst of World War Two and the lives of his sister Sophia, a drop-dead gorgeous soldier and part-time pianist named Arthur and his war-time sweetheart Molly are changed forever by the events that follow in the race against time to bring everyone back to where they belong.

Arthur's sweetheart... Missing Since Tuesday

She was so beautiful. Her body swayed and flowed to the music and his heart felt full. This was the girl he would marry and he nearly had to pinch himself to believe she had really said yes, and woke this morning wondering whether it was in fact a dream. That was, in part, why he had come in to see her tonight; to be sure she had actually said yes.
From the stage, she looked him in the eye for half a second before swirling around in a mass of skirts. There was a glint in her eye he had not seen before, and Arthur was instantly reassured. She was his fiancĂ©, no doubt.
He went to the bar and chatted to Lewis for while, still watching her from the corner of his eye. Lew went to serve another customer and that was when Arthur noticed him.
He had become used to the way they looked at her, the men who came to this club, the men she walked past on the street, men in general, but this one was looking at her with something more than lust.
A long nose peaked out from beneath a mop of mousy brown hair which covered most of his face, but he saw the eyes. They burned holes in her, taking her in from head to toe as if he wanted to swallow her whole.
It was not until the shaggy head swivelled to the side of stage and the music changed that Arthur noticed Molly was finished. She would come out from side stage in a minute and he would take her straight home, away from him, whoever he was.
As expected, she emerged from the small changing room on the side of the stage and walked quickly towards him, a spring in her step.
She was beaming from ear to ear, and his heart was full of her. His hand reached out and grasped her tiny waist, pulling her to him. He could not resist bringing his lips down to hers and burying his fingers in her hair. She just looked so beautiful when she smiled like that, how could any man resist?
Evidently, there was one man who could not stand the sight of their fevered embrace.
They were startled out of their passion with the crash of a beer mug being thrown against the wall, and both turned around in time to receive an angry glare from mousy man as he stalked out the door.
He looked at Molly in puzzlement. "What in the hell was that about?" He asked anyone who would listen.
The noise had picked up again and a bar tender was cleaning up the broken glass, so he got no answer. Molly looked back at him, face gone pale and fear swirling in the blue depths of her eyes. When she did not say anything, it dawned on him. "Was that him?" He asked her.
"I don't know. He usually hides in the corner in a cloud of smoke, but maybe not tonight," she replied, trying her best to hold back the tears. "That look was for us, wasn't it?"
"Yes, it sure was," he said, and led her out the door, scanning the street for the brown head and the cheap suit.
Locking his arm tight around her, they walked silently up the terrace to Arthur's apartment.

What do you think???

*Copyright Sarah Hardie 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mothers and daughters

Following the passing of my nana over the weekend, today I am celebrating the beautiful bond between mothers and daughters.


I shot down to Wellington on Friday night after receiving the news that my nana was in hospital and it wasn't looking good, and sat with my mum, who was sitting with her mum, holding her hand, all day Friday.
As soon as I got in my car to drive to the hospital, I knew I would have to take on the role of mum for the weekend. When someone else is going through a crisis, mum always jumps in to help in practical ways by doing the things that need to be done like grocery shopping, looking after pets and driving kids around, so on the weekend, I became my mother and did her grocery shopping, drove my sister and her American exchange student to the places they needed to go, looked after the animals, kept the house tidy, and brought mum coffee.
Even though my brother and dad were around supporting us, the whole weekend was a very surreal mother-daughter experience, and it reinforced the fact that even though mothers and daughters drive each other crazy and clash a lot, they're always there when you need each other and no questions have to be asked, we just do what needs to be done and comfort each other with hugs when it's all over.
Thinking about this post made me remember a book I heard about called Mothers and Daughters by my favourite author, Diana Gabaldon, and other best-selling authors Faye Kellerman, Eileen Goudge and Joy Fielding. I haven't read it yet, but I intend to (I know I say that a lot, but I promise I'll get there!)
It also made me think of the teaser I wrote last week for my novel Missing Since Tuesday, and it's quite eerie that I managed to write that without having properly gone through the death of a loved one before, and even more eerie that I got it pretty much right - a lot of the feelings expressed in that small excerpt were true to how I felt being there with my nana from when she was admitted to hospital to when she took her last breath. This next week will be a hard one, but it will also be an opportunity to experience grief, which will help me with the next stage of my novel, since the best way to write about something is to experience it first-hand.
So I am unofficially declaring today as mother-daughter day, and I encourage you, my faithful readers, to appreciate your mother/daughter/grandmother/grandaughter. Give her a hug and tell her you love her or, if you're to far away to hug, give her a call or write her a letter, because you never know when it could be over and you don't fully appreciate what you have until they're gone.

Let's get to know each other better

I found this list of questions on Suzy Turner's Blog and thought it would be fun to answer them myself so we can get to know each other better.

So feel free to copy and paste and answer them yourself and leave the link in the comments below:) Look forward to seeing your answers, here are mine:

Have you ever read a book that made you think 'wow'? If so, what book was it and why did it have such an effect on you?
A lot of books have made me go ‘wow’, especially Diana Gabaldon’s books. But I will go for something more recent here… The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Everything about this story was just so damn intense. It’s set in the midst of World War Two in Russia and it gave me a raw, stark view of what it was like to live during that time. It also showed the incredible power of love and how it can survive the very worst the world has to offer.

Who is your favorite author and why?
Diana Gabaldon has always been my favourite author. I started reading her books when I was 14 years old and have pretty much grown up with them as she adds more books to her Outlander series. I love her writing, her characters are so complex, and I’m a bit of a history nut so the way the story weaves with history is magic.

Who, or what, inspires you?
So many things inspire me. A lot of the time it’s music – I can hear a line from a song and suddenly a whole novel is created in my head in about ten minutes, although I always sleep on my ideas and if it’s still a good idea in the morning, I run with it. Other times it’s the city. People watching in a big city is a great way to form characters in your head.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Go Dog Go by P.D Eastman. I loved this one simply because my dad used to read it to me most nights and I loved the build up. I would get so excited because I knew what the last page was and when we turned to it, we would both yell, “A DOG PARTY!”

Where is your favorite place to write?
In my room, in the dark, with just my dim desk lamp on, and no noise.

What is your favorite film that was based on a book?
I have to be a hopeless romantic girly girl and say The Notebook. I’m a sucker for love stories and Nicholas Sparks sure knows how to make you cry. I love Rachel McAdams, and she played Allie amazingly. The thing I love about the story is how passionate they both are – it’s not all roses and butterflies. They fight, they yell, and they hurt each other, but in the end they’re made for each other.
My favourite quote would have to be this:
Noah: “That's what we do, we fight... You tell me when I am being an arrogant son of a bitch and I tell you when you are a pain in the ass. Which you are, ninety-nine per cent of the time. I'm not afraid to hurt your feelings. You have like a two-second rebound rate, then you're back doing the next pain-in-the-ass thing."

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I am obsessed with the 1960s. I love everything about the era from the hippies to the mods, the fashion, the war, Woodstock, the music, the art, just everything. Especially John Lennon – I’m a huge fan of him and The Beatles.

Tell us something interesting about the area where you live.
There’s a flashy Copthorne Hotel down the street and endless farmland over my back fence… it’s a land of contrasts, is Masterton.

Pursuing new hobbies

For those of you who have read my about page, you will know that I am constantly pursuing new ideas and I hunt down inspiration every day. I am a creative, and I have always felt the need to use my hands to create beautiful things. I paint, I draw, I scrapbook, and I take photographs. Lately, I've stumbled upon the largely unappreciated art of woodworking. I used to love woodworking as a kid and teenager, but forgot all about it once I finished school.

So I Googled - as I do whenever I hatch an idea - and got so excited that I bought a book about woodworking called The Complete Manual of Woodworking by Albert Jackson from Amazon, despite having no space in my house (since it's not my house - I just board there), no workshop, and no tools whatsoever. But I thought, why not learn about woodworking now so in the summer, when I move back home to Wellington into my own place with my partner, I can start doing some practical stuff with knowledge about tools and wood.

I have always loved the smell of sawdust, the sound of a saw going through wood, and the pure satisfaction of finishing something you have put your sweat and blood into. I also love how woodworking is not just about creating something pretty, it's about creating what I like to call "practical art" - something beautiful that you can use. My short term goal is to make myself and my partner a French shabby-chic bedside table each, and my ultimate goal a few years down the track is to make my future daughter(s) a stunning victorian dollhouse like this.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Do you read books for inspiration for your own novel?

I often wonder about this. I've heard that some authors strictly do not read other people's books while they're working on their own for fear of their work being influenced.

But I for one cannot bear the thought of not reading, and I find that my writing sucks when I'm not reading and if I'm reading something I'm really enjoying, my writing gets awesome - but I've still got my own style, I'm not copying theirs (which is possibly a reason why some authors don't do it?)

But what to do when you find a book that carries the same themes as your own novel? Once you get over the initial panicked feeling that someone else has beaten you to it and published your novel (which should disappear after you've read past the first two sentences on the back cover), do you read it?

I picked up Love in the Years of Lunacy by Mandy Sayer the other day because I liked the cover and, when I flipped it over, found that it is set in the midst of World War Two in Australia, it's a love story that gets tested by the war and involves jazz music in smoky bars.

My story is set in Wellington, New Zealand during World War Two (Which had a lot of similarities to Australia during the war), my main character plays the piano in smoky jazz bars and is shipped off to fight in the war, which tests the love story. The edge mine has over hers is that mine involves time travel and five main characters.

It sounds like a great book, but should I read it?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dreaming of solitude

You know when life just gets so damn busy that all you want to do is jump in the car, drive to a cottage in the middle of nowhere and stay there for a few days to simply sit in the sun on the porch with a glass of wine and a good book? This is exactly what I need right now... life is just too much. So even though I have no chance of leaving anytime soon, I went Google-dreaming anyway.

First I found some beautiful cottages nearby, like a 1924 fully restored cottage, Shearers Cottage, which borders an olive grove and is furnished in a french style, and Cobwebs Cottage by the sea at Riversdale Beach, with views of the ocean. But they weren't quite far enough away...

So I went further south to a beautiful sunny place called Nelson, and found Thackwood Cottage, which overlooks farmland to the warm blue waters of Tasman Bay, Nelson towards the Abel Tasman National Park.

But, as New Zealand is such a tiny country, it is hard to find a place way out in the middle of nowhere with no TV, no wireless internet, and especially no Sky TV. I just want a place with hot water and an oven. I don't even need lights - candlelight will be magical. But these days, people tend to have withdrawals without their precious 21st-century technology and forget the fact that there is so much more to life, like walking through national parks listening to the birds, playing card games by the fire, reading a good book by candlelight, sleeping under the stars, and swimming in the sea.

Inspired by last night's dinner of mince stew, mashed potatoes, "neeps" (turnips) and Haggis, cooked for us by my brother's Scottish partner to welcome us to their new home, I looked even further afield to - yep, you guessed it, the rocky moors and isolated isles of Scotland.

And there, searching for the most secluded cottages possible, I found Shepherds Cottage on the Isle of Skye and Braigh-na-Leitre in Dingwall, Ross-shire.

All I want to do is read my books in peace, far, far away from everything and everyone.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Another teaser...

Would really appreciate some feedback on this one!!

Excerpt from Missing Since Tuesday by Sarah Hardie

Duncan sat at his desk attempting to study and preparing for an all-nighter, when his mother appeared at the door looking a little worse for wear. “Honey, your granddad, he’s had a fall,” she said, eyes brimming with tears. “I’m going to the hospital now, do you want to come?”


He didn’t need asking twice, and grabbed a sweatshirt, pulling it over his head as he followed her downstairs and out the door.

“Call Sophia will you?” she said to him, passing her cell phone over as she sped off down the street. He called her and she said she would meet them at the hospital. The rest of the drive was spent in tense silence with Duncan staring at nothing out the window and his mother trying to see the road through her tears.

They arrived at accident and emergency and were taken to a tiny hole in the wall with a curtain pulled across the front by a frumpy nurse, who explained they were doing some tests and would move him to a ward soon.

While Lynn asked the necessary questions, Duncan edged closer to the bed, staring in disbelief at his skeleton of a grandfather. Once such a tall, strong, man with muscles envied by so many, Henry Grant lay limp in a white hospital gown, attached to an oxygen machine, helping him take shallow, struggling breaths. An extraordinary feeling of guilt overwhelmed Duncan as the old man reached for him, and he felt terrible for his neglect since Maria died. He took the frail hand and only felt bone, and suddenly wished his sister was here – she would know what to do.

As if he had summoned her with his thoughts, a light hand appeared on his arm, just as it had six months ago, and Sophia stood by his side solid as one of those godforsaken rocks.

Hours later, after sitting by Henry’s side comforting each other and dozing sporadically, the nurses moved him to a ward and Duncan, Sophia and Lynn were told to say their goodbyes. The doctor said his organs were shutting down and would be surprised if he lasted the night, and Lynn broke down and sobbed, leaving Duncan on his own as Sophia comforted their mother.

Duncan left them in the corridor and went into the room to say his goodbyes. He was greeted with a smile and he sat down, unsure what to say.

Henry saved him the trouble by taking a deep, broken breath and said, “You’re a good boy, Duncan.”

He nodded, unable to speak. His grandfather reached out to him with a bony hand and he took it. Henry looked straight into his eyes and squeezed Duncan’s hand with surprising strength.

“Son, there’s something you need to know.”

Shifting in his seat, apprehensive of what was to come, Duncan steeled himself for what could either be “I love you” or a secret he had been planning to take to his grave.

Looking at the emotions struggling for dominance on his face, Duncan thought it was the latter. He nodded, urging him to continue.

“The Red Rocks.”

Mention of those thieving, destructive freaks of nature tensed every muscle in his body and he was only drawn back to reality by a small gasp coming from the bed, telling Duncan was squeezing the old man’s hand too hard. He lessened his grip and let him continue.

“They’re magic, son,” he smiled, and Duncan breathed a sigh of relief at the fact that his dear old grandfather was becoming delirious as he neared the end.

“Your lovely Maria; she’s not dead, just gone.” And with that last statement, he closed his eyes and took his last breath.

As the withered old hand relaxed in his, Henry Grant’s last words echoed in his grandson’s head. “Not dead, just gone.”