R OA R I N G R OA R I N G B R OO K B R OO K P R E S S P R E S S

N E W N E W Y O R K Y O R KK
MA R C U S S E D G WI C K
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vvsuvvvc:iox
The earth quakes, the graves burst open, the dead arise and stream
on in endless pro cession. The trumpets of the apocalypse ring out.
There is no judgment,
no sinners,
no just men,
no great
and no small;
there is no punishment
and no reward.
A feeling of overwhelming love fills us with bliss.
We know, and are.
And we know with all certainty.
God does exist.
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REBECCA
She could have been anyone.
She could have been any girl who arrived in Winterfold that
summer.
That sounds strange, doesn’t it?
It sounds strange to my ears, anyway. Summer in Winterfold.
How can there ever be any other season here but winter, with a
name like that? But what ever the time of year, Winterfold has a
cold embrace and, like the snows of winter, it does not let you go
easily.
Once upon a time there was a whole town here, not just a
handful of houses. A town with twelve churches and thousands of
people, dozens of streets, and a busy harbor.
And then the sea ate it.
Storm by storm, year by year, the cliffs collapsed into the
advancing sea, taking the town with it, house by house and street
by street, until all that was left was a triangle of three streets, a
dozen houses, an inn, a church. Well, most of it . . .
And then, that summer, she arrived. And actually I’m lying.
She couldn’t have been anyone, because the moment I saw her
beautiful face I knew I loved her, and I knew she would love me, too.
I knew.
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s~:uvu~v, j uiv +¸
Rcbccca slidcs out ol hcr lathcr’s car and thc first thing shc
noticcs is thc smcll.
Shc sniffs thc air and, without knowing it, trics to brcak it
all down. Shc gcts somc ol it. Shc gcts thc hot salty air ol thc
scasidc, thc tar ol thc fishing boats haulcd up on thc bcach just
out ol sight ovcr thc ridgc, thc marram grass ol thc marshcs
inland, thc hot cnginc oil bccausc hcr lathcr has haulcd thc old
car all thc way lrom Grccnwich to this God lorgottcn placc.
Shc pulls back a long curl ol hair blown into hcr lacc by thc
stiff brcczc lrom thc shorc. Hcr lathcr pops thc trunk ol thc
car and grabs both ol hcr bags at oncc.
Tc tiny cottagc, idiotically namcd Tc Mansion, is dis
appointing, dark, with low ccilings.
Hcr lathcr drops thc bags on a shabby rug, kicks thc door
shut bchind him with thc hccl ol his boot.
“Vcll,” hc says, but Rcbccca alrcady docsn’t want to hcar.
Shc knows what’s coming ncxt. “Your homc lor thc ncxt six
wccks. Vclcomc.”
Hc’s trying to sound carclrcc, and opcns his arms as il hc
thinks shc’ll run into thcm.
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Shc docsn’t. Slowly his arms lall back to his sidcs.
“Your room’s at thc top ol thc stairs. Hcrc, !’ll show you.”
“!’ll find it,” Rcbccca says, taking hcr bags. Shc turns hcr
back on him, though cvcn as shc docs so shc hatcs hcrscll.
Hcr room is a littlc bcttcr than downstairs. Shc drops hcr
stuff and gocs to thc window, pulling hcr backpack off as shc
docs and throwing it on thc bcd.
Tcrc is thc sca.
Just bcyond thc ridgc that slopcs up to thc right to bccomc
thc cliffs, thcrc’s thc bcach, and thc sca, and it burns brightly
bluc this altcrnoon, a diamond sca sparkling in thc hot sun.
Shc turns to hcr backpack on thc bcd, knowing shc has lost.
For a momcnt shc wondcrs what cxactly it is that shc’s lost,
and dccidcs it’s a lcw diffcrcnt things, though what shc lccls
most is that shc’s lost thc battlc to stop hurting hcrscll.
Tc bag had bccn bctwccn hcr lcct all thc way lrom Grccn
wich, and ycs, thcy’d had thc radio on loud to hidc thc lact
that ncithcr ol thcm was spcaking, but cvcn so, shc would havc
hcard it.
So shc knows that Adam hasn’t callcd, and shc knows
thcrc’s no point looking but, unablc to stop hcrscll, shc unzips
thc lront pockct and pulls out hcr phonc.
Shc starcs at thc blank scrccn. Nothing. Nothing. No tcxts.
No misscd calls.
For a sccond shc tclls hcrscll thcrc’s probably bccn no
rcccption sincc hallway through thc journcy, but shc has a
couplc ol bars.
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Shc knows that hc’s not intcrcstcd. Shc tclls hcrscll to bc
strong, but that lasts lor fivc short hcartbcats, and thcn shc
pushcs rcdial.
Vhcn hc answcrs, hc sounds surpriscd to hcar hcr.
“8ccky:”
Shc hasn’t thought what shc’s going to say, so it comcs out,
blunt and raw.
“You said you’d call.”
“! did.”
“No you didn’t. You said you’d call. Trcc days ago.”
“! will,” hc lics, barcly trying to sound as though hc mcans
it.
“You won’t, bccausc ! lclt today,” Rcbccca stabs. “So you
won’t bc coming around now. You . . .”
“8ccky, listcn . . . You don’t nccd to . . . Look, !’vc got to
go.”
Tcn thcrc’s laughtcr at thc othcr cnd ol thc phonc. Scvcral
voiccs. His matcs. A girl’s high pitchcd laughtcr riscs ovcr thc
babblc.
Rcbccca holds thc phonc away lrom hcr hcad as il it’s
burning hcr. Slowly, shc movcs hcr thumb ovcr thc kcys and
cnds thc call. Shc drops thc phonc on thc bcd and starcs at it
lor a long minutc, thcn gocs downstairs, fingcring thc silvcr
crucifix Adam gavc hcr lor hcr birthday. !t wasn’t a rcligious
thing, morc a Goth thing.
Until thcn, shc’d always worn a silvcr hcart pcndant. !t had
bccn givcn to hcr by hcr dad ycars ago, whcn Mum had dicd.
Hc’d told Rcbccca it was so shc’d always rcmcmbcr hc was
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thcrc lor hcr, that hc lovcd hcr, cvcn whcn thcy wcrcn’t to
gcthcr. 8ut whcn Adam gavc hcr thc crucifix, shc’d takcn off
thc hcart pcndant and hadn’t worn it sincc.
Maybc hcr dad had noticcd. Ncithcr ol thcm had said
anything about it. Shc tricd not to lccl bad about it, shc wasn’t
Ðaddy’s littlc girl anymorc, it was stupid to cling to that kind
ol stuff anyway.
Hcr lathcr comcs out ol thc kitchcn.
“Nicc room, isn’t it:”
Shc opcns thc lront door.
“!’m going out,” shc says.
“!’ll do somcthing quick. For scvcn. Ðon’t bc too long.”
8ut shc’s alrcady gonc, into thc hot latc altcrnoon, and shc’s
so prcoccupicd that shc’s unawarc ol thc various cycs that arc
appraising hcr.
Tc ncw girl.
Shc blinks in thc blazing sun, and looks to hcr lclt and
right. Shc turns lclt, and passcs thc pub. 8ricfly shc noticcs thc
sign. Tc Angcl. !t’s bcautilul, handmadc, maybc many ycars
old, but somconc has lrcshly rcpaintcd it. A bcautilul stylizcd
angcl, handsomc, with blond curling hair and glowing whitc
robcs, a goldcn halo and a goldcn sword. Hc starcs into thc
bluc sky corncr ol thc sign, as il staring up to God. His lacc is
scrcnc, and yct lull ol ycarning, too.
Tc inn marks thc cnd ol thc strcct, and hcrc thc road turns
back inland, up past thc ruins ol thc priory, so shc takcs thc
trail down to thc bcach. Shc’s takcn only a lcw stcps whcn shc
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sccs a lootpath lcading into thc darkncss ol thc woods on thc
cliff.
Tc bcach is lull ol happy laughing pcoplc, sunshinc and
sca, and joy. All thcsc things lccl dcad to hcr. Shc considcrs
thc path up into thc darkncss, whcrc shc can takc hcr pain
away lrom all thc brightncss, and hidc it.
Tat’s thc way shc chooscs.
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1798, 7m., 13d.
There arrived a newcomer to Winterfold today, and God-
to-tell, that is a rare enough happening, but further to that,
something even more remarkable: he has taken the Hall.
At the inn, they say he is French, and his name is indeed
French. He is called Dr. Barrieux, but Martha told me that his
voice is not foreign, but that he speaks En glish as Jesus did.
Bless Martha. At least she cooks passably well.
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1798, 7m., 27d.
I learned more of our newcomer today, and yes, Grimes at the
Angel Inn said to me that indeed he is newly come from France,
from Paris. From Paris! To Winterfold! Think on that. From that
most recent hotbed of foment and revolution to our sleepy village,
a backwater on any map.
He has taken the Hall, Winterfold Hall, even though it has
been empty these long years. For sure, Grimes says, he has been
placing a great number of orders for supplies, for vittles and drink,
for tools and diverse materials, and also various items of function
not known to Grimes.
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1798, 8m., 4d.
A hot day today, and one on which wearing the cloth of God
was a great burden. I sweltered through my duties and, of course,
gave succor to the needy and comfort to the weak, but God curse
me, I was only too ready to return to the rectory and divest myself
at the end of the day.
I lay on my cot, naked like a baby, listening to the seas on the
shore, hoping to feel the coolness of the coast stroke my fat belly,
but there was not a breath of breeze. It was as hot as Hell.
As Hell.
If Hell is indeed hot.
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BRING ME TO LIFE
I might have been normal, but if I was I cannot remember that
time.
Once, for my birthday, my mother gave me a book of poetry.
They were poems of her own, because she was a poet, and she had
written a whole cycle of poems about me. The first ones she had
written before I was born, when she was pregnant with me,
and the others when I was small.
“This is your gift,” she said to me. “Your gift from me. It’s
better than chocolate, or a toy, because no one else has these
poems, and they will last forever.”
I was eight years old.
I remember that I nodded solemnly.
“Mother,” I said, “you are a genius; you are a poet just like
Shakespeare. Like him, you have suns, planets, ants, frightening
skeletons. I prefer things that are frightening.”
I was eight years old when I said that.
Mother smiled, but even as she did I could see sadder things
in her eyes behind her smile.
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:uvsu~v, j uiv :o
Tc wcckcnd drags by lor Rcbccca as shc rcalizcs just how
littlc thcrc is to do in Vintcrlold. Hcr lathcr, though hc has
nothing to do, spcnds thc timc finding ways ol bcing busy, ol
bcing away, ol bcing abscnt. Hc gocs lor long walks, prcsum
ably to try and clcar his hcad.
Shc hardly sccs him.
Shc lics on hcr bcd lor hour altcr hour, killing thrcc books
lrom covcr to covcr and as shc cnds cach onc drops thcm
brokcn spincd onto thc rough, old floorboards.
Tcy collidc bricfly during mcaltimcs, until on Tucsday hcr
lathcr’s carly rcturn to thc housc lorccs hcr out into thc hcat.
Shc cxplorcs Vintcrlold. !t takcs about twcnty minutcs.
Shc tclls hcrscll off lor bcing a silly city girl, and cxplorcs it
again propcrly. Tis timc it takcs twcnty fivc.
Tcrc’s Tc Strcct, whcrc thcir rcntcd cottagc is. !t ncstlcs
hallway along thc row, with its back to thc sca, a latc mcdicval
cottagc with two and a hall rooms down and two rooms up.
No two houscs arc alikc, thcrc arc somc oldcr cottagcs, somc
morc rcccnt oncs, probably \ictorian. !t’s likc a short lcsson in
thc architccturc ol ¡n glish villagcs. Tc Strcct runs parallcl to
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thc shorc, but thc sca is almost cntircly hiddcn bchind thc
houscs.
At its northcrn cnd arc thc villagc shop and a junction. A
road lcads across thc marshcs to Crowburgh, whilc Tc Strcct
doglcgs sharply back inland, with onc or two cxpcnsivc old
houscs dottcd down cithcr sidc. Shc can hcar a gardcn party in
lull swing bchind a high brick wall, thc raucous music at odds
with thc ¡n glishncss ol it all.
Shc turns and walks back along Tc Strcct, past Tc
Mansion.
At thc southcrn cnd is thc pub, lrom whcrc a small dirt road
bumblcs down to thc bcach parking lot, whcrc a noticc warns
that it can gct floodcd at timcs ol cxccptional tidc. Tc sign
brings a smilc to hcr lacc: a solcmn diagram ol a car hall undcr
watcr, a stick man drivcr standing on its rool waving lor hclp.
Hcrc again, thc road turns back sharply inland, running
past thc cntrancc to thc ruins ol thc Priory, oncc thriving, now
just ghosts and stoncs. Farthcr on arc morc big houscs bchind
high walls and hcdgcs, until this road mccts thc onc coming
lrom thc othcr cnd ol Tc Strcct, and thc trianglc that is
Vintcrlold is complctcd.
Rcbccca finds hcrscll at thc cntrancc to thc path into thc
woods again, and again shc is drawn in.
Shc noticcs anothcr, casicr path— straightcr—running
along thc back ol thc woods, but it looks wcll uscd, thc sort
ol path dog walkcrs takc to makc surc thcy havc a chat with
somconc. So shc chooscs thc smallcr, stccply twisting path into
thc thin slivcr ol woods that stands bctwccn hcr and thc sca.
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Shc waits a momcnt as hcr cycs adjust to thc gloom altcr thc
bright sunshinc ol thc villagc, cnjoying thc suddcn cool ol thc
grccnncss. Shc rctraccs hcr stcps lrom Saturday, but sccs a
glimpsc ol bluc through thc thick undcrgrowth, and impulsivcly
shc pushcs off thc trail and through cldcr bushcs and ncttlcs.
Shc finds hcrscll in a ncw univcrsc just a lcw paccs widc.
Vhat shc has lound is a clcaring in thc woods, oncc prob
ably wcll inland, but now catcn in hall by thc cliffs. 8chind
hcr, shc’s hcmmcd in by a scmicirclc ol dcnscly packcd
branchcs and lcavcs, a wall. Shc stands on a patch ol ncatly
croppcd grass, right up to thc point whcrc thc land lalls away,
and bcyond that is thc infinity ol thc sca.
!t’s likc a littlc room, without a rool, and with natural walls
and floor, and thc bcst vicw ol thc sca anyonc could cvcr havc.
Tcrc ought to bc a bcnch, but thcrc isn’t, and somchow that
plcascs hcr. Shc wondcrs who kccps thc grass short, thcn
noticcs thc rabbit droppings cvcrywhcrc.
Tc tcmptation to jump comcs on hcr suddcnly.
Tcrc is thc cliff in lront ol hcr, only stcps away, and tim
idly, likc a lrightcncd cat, shc crccps toward thc drop.
Shc’s vcry closc to thc cdgc bclorc shc sccs just how high
thc cliff is. Shc can scc thc bcach bclow, and shc knows it
would bc cnough to kill hcr il shc lcll.
Shc picturcs hcrscll stcpping off and it makcs hcr hcad
swim, so shc crccps back and gazcs out at thc sca.
!t’s a uniquc placc, and though shc can hcar sounds lrom
thc villagc ovcr thc rush ol thc wavcs on thc bcach, it lccls a
million milcs lrom anywhcrc or anyonc.
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!t’s thc nccd lor thc comlort ol childhood that starts hcr
daydrcaming. !t’s a salc thing to do, somcthing that docs not
rcly on hcr lathcr, or Adam, or anyonc clsc. Happy mcmorics
arc invinciblc, protcctcd and protccting, no onc can dcstroy
thcm.
Vords drilt into hcr hcad, imagcs lrom books. For somc
rcason shc’s thinking ol Trea sure Island, but shc knows why,
shc’s lound thc bcst piratc’s lookout point that cvcr was.
Trea sure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson. Tcn
music. Shc’s thinking about thc cliffs and a song about bluc
birds, but not cvcn rcalizing shc’s got two diffcrcnt songs
mixcd up, thc song in hcr hcad is Ðorothy’s lrom Te Wizard
of Oz.
Shc rcmcmbcrs thc production at littlc school, smiling,
rcmcmbcring thc bluc gingham drcss that shc worc, and
wondcrs il shc can still hit thosc first two notcs, a wholc octavc
apart.
Some- where—
Shc laltcrs, stops, and trics again, loudcr this timc, and hits
it pcrlcctly.
Some- where—
And bclorc shc can uttcr anothcr notc, thc linc is finishcd
by a voicc bchind hcr.
Over the rainbow, bluebirds fly . . .
Hcr hcart racing, Rcbccca spins around, catching hcr hccl
on a rabbit holc.
Shc lalls, and knowing thc cliff is at hcr back, hcr hands
flail wildly, grasping lor thc ground.
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Shc cnds up on hcr sidc, windcd, hcr hcad hanging into
thin, clcar spacc.
Shc looks up into thc cycs ol thc strangcst looking girl shc’s
cvcr sccn.
Tc strangc girl says a strangc word.
“Fcrclith.”
Rcbccca laints.
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FOUR SEA INTERLUDES—I
I left school when I was fourteen.
I left because there was nothing else that anyone could teach
me. I know this sounds like I’m boasting, but it’s just the truth. It
was on the day that I found myself explaining Game Theory to my
math teacher that I knew there was no point being there any
longer.
I got up from my seat, ignoring all the names and the insults
from the others.
“Ferelith!” my teacher yelled. “Sit down!”
I didn’t.
I walked out of the classroom, straight out of the school gates,
and down to the bypass, and I put my thumb out until a truck
stopped and I hitchhiked all the way home.
When I got home I expected a lecture about how dangerous it
was to hitchhike, but my father had other things on his mind.
That was the day I realized that if there is a God in the sky, then
he’s vindictive and cruel, because I arrived home to find my
mother being taken away in an ambulance. There actually were
men in white coats. It’s really funny, if you think about it.
But I tried not to.
I visited Mother a few weeks later, but the trip to the home
105-50830_ch01_2P.indd 17 7/4/12 8:18 AM
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where she had been sent upset me so much, my father never took
me again. Anyway, he lost interest after a couple of months, not
just in her but in me, too, so that was that and when he went away
I was left on my own.
So instead I made Winterfold my own, my own place, and I
continued my education, in two ways. First, I used the Internet,
because I couldn’t afford the bus into town to go to the library,
and anyway the library is really old and the books on the shelves
there are dying.
Secondly, I continued my education in a more important way,
through the observation of everyone around me, because nothing
is more important to learn in life than the interaction of a human
being with another human being.
And that’s what I did for a few years, and it suited me fine.
Winterfold was the perfect place for my strange life. Claustropho-
bic. I lived a life of confinement while I bided my time. Maybe it’s
not how everyone lives, but I don’t mind about that.
I think I was waiting, though I didn’t know what I was waiting
for. I think, though, I knew I was waiting not for something, but for
someone.
So when I heard there was a new girl in the village, I went to
find her, and I found her in the Lover’s Seat.
I watched her for a few moments, and decided she was as
beautiful as they’d said in the pub. She had her back to me, so I
hadn’t seen her face yet, just her winding red hair. I tried to think
of what color it was; burnt caramel, sunset corn, honey beer, and
then I thought I sounded like the dumb names they give paint in
the big DIY place in town. So I stopped that.
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She was singing! From my favorite film. I needed only two
notes to recognize it, and so I joined in, but I think I scared her,
which was stupid of me.
She turned as she fell, and I rushed to her.
I leaned over her, and she must have thought she’d fallen right
over the cliff, because her eyes rolled back in her head and closed.
I couldn’t pick her up, but I managed to pull her back away from
the edge, and then I sat with her, as she lay on the grass.
I didn’t look at her straightaway, I’m not sure why. Maybe she
was too beautiful, too dazzling? No, that’s dumb. Maybe I just
wanted to draw it out, discovering her face, I mean. So I looked
and saw the softness of her skin, which as far as I could see was
utterly perfect.
That was enough for now, and so I sat with her till she woke up,
my hand resting on her hair as she breathed lightly, watching the
sunlight on the sea.
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1798, 8m., 19d.
For the space of nigh a whole fourteen- night the Lord saw fit
to visit upon me a sore and tiresome succession of bodily evils,
which kept me abed until yesterday around Vesper.
Today being the Lord’s Day, I performed my duties, now,
God- to- praise, mercifully freed of my sicknesses. I confess that
even as I performed these duties with my ever- firm intent, I was
mindful that we might find a new parishioner amongst us. I was
thwarted however, for though I cast an eye across the whole of my
dwindling congregation, I could see no one that befitted the
description of the new French doctor.
Indeed, I recognized every solitary sore- ridden face of my
cursed flock, God save them. Each and every one a sinner, I am
sure, but that is not for me to judge, but for Him.
And so, I blessed them all, and sent them scurrying back
into the August sun with visions of Hell snapping at their
behinds.
My labors for the Glory of God being at an end, I decided that
it was indeed something of a slight on the part of the doctor not to
come to the Lord’s house on a Sunday, and so I ventured to make a
visit myself to the Hall, and introduce myself and the village to our
newcomer.
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105-57450_ch03_2P.indd 282 2/15/14 1:28 PM

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