Title: The Journey
Author: Susan Downham
Genre: Women's Fiction
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level:
Everyone has secrets, including Katie. These secrets gnaw at her insides and leave her raw and exposed. Katie makes the physical and emotional journey home to Mt. Isa, Australia to attend the funeral of Alistair whom she shared her childhood with, and who she once believed was her first true love. It is this journey when the secrets are revealed that forces Katie to remember Alistair and the secrets they shared. But as she admits her past to herself she risks losing everyone. Is she strong enough to deal with the truth of her own life and hold on to everyone she truly loves?
When I decided to write about Alistair and Katie I first thought I would write a beautiful short story retelling their amazing love story, how deeply in love they were, and how they were truly meant for each other, and send it off to a woman's magazine. As I started to put my pen to paper, I realized there was more to tell, much more. Alistair and Katie really did love each other. I'm sure few who actually knew them would argue otherwise, but just to tell you about a one-dimensional relationship between a man and woman would be only telling a small part of their story. Katie deserves more than that.
Katie and I met quite by chance a good few years ago and our unique friendship just developed. There are a few years between us and we have completely different lifestyles, yet in all our differences we found common ground and since that first meeting have become firm friends.
I'm not too sure when I decided to write about Katie and Alistair. It was probably about the time Katie began counselling. She'd call me after her sessions almost as if she was asking my permission to tell a sixty-two-year-old lady about her past life.
Katie needed to justify herself to someone for dragging the past up again, and I was the person she turned to for reassurance. When I told Katie I started to write about her life with Alistair, I expected her reaction to be horror but, instead she was quiet, voiceless on the other end of the phone.
"Katie, if you don't think I should, just say so."
"What are you going to write about?"
"You and Alistair," I replied.
"What about us?" She was fast and to the point.
"About the incredible love you had for each other."
"Oh." Then the silence again.
"If you don't want me to I won't."
"It's not that, Sue. I'd like to write about Alistair. I've tried. I thought it might put things into perspective for me, but it just sounds as if I'm rambling and I can't show Alistair as anything more than a God-fearing angel. Even after all these years he can do no wrong. Write it, write about Alistair and me, but do it as if I'm writing it. You be me and tell it like it was."
"Even the ugly bits, the really shitty bits?"
"Yes. I'm not ashamed. I've got regrets, you know that, but don't we all? If I could turn the clock back I'd make some changes, but I can't, so it's better to just get on with living and not waste time and energy wishing to change things that happened a long time ago."
"Do you want updates?"
"No. I trust you. Somehow I think you will do the right thing."
"I hope I can."
"Sue, do me two small favors?"
"Sure, whatever you would like."
"Change the details that will have people pointing fingers."
"Dates, names and places do you mean."
"Yes, tell them about who we were back then but not who we are now. I can't go through the humiliation again."
"I understand, Katie, what's the second thing?"
"Make me beautiful."