This is the second chapter of my current novel. If you want to go to Chapter One click here.
I plan to post the whole novel bit by bit, but it may take some time. The thought that you may actually be reading it shows me exactly where the writing is weak so I may be redrafting quite a lot.
Do please feel free to comment. I'd love to know what you think.
And please respect my copyright. I've put a lot of work into this.
Expansion due to success
New post in small but prestigious
family-owned book publisher
in glorious Devon countryside
Jane swallowed the last of her double espresso and smoothed her hand over the newspaper folded on the table in front of her.
She’d never visited this coffee bar before but as she passed it this morning on her way to visit Sharon for their regular Saturday get-together – on foot for a change and early - it had attracted her. It wasn’t part of a chain, it didn’t appear to be full of trendy twenty-somethings and the fittings – mahogany and mirrors – looked warm and comfortable.
Nor had it disappointed. She’d been greeted politely and with reserve from behind a tall counter by a middle-aged man who could well have been Italian. She’d found a table in a corner, just as she liked, and the coffee when it came was perfect. She couldn’t have made it better herself.
Normally she would have entertained herself observing the people around her. She loved to try and unpick the lives of strangers – What was their job? What sort of a sex life did they have? How did they get on with their family? Did they have some terrible secret? But as only two of the other tables were occupied she couldn’t have done so today without drawing attention to herself. Instead she’d pulled down one of the newspapers hanging off wooden poles next to her and pretended to read it. How delightfully old-fashioned. How relaxing.
Somehow, she’d found herself at the jobs pages. Well, it never did any harm to check the market and make sure she was being paid enough. And then somehow the paper had turned out to have a Media and Arts section. And then somehow this little ad right at the bottom of a page had jumped out at her.
What a series of coincidences.
‘Not coincidences,’ Sharon would say. ‘Intuition and destiny.’
It was two months since she’d first met Sharon and she felt scoured, spring-cleaned from top to bottom. Sharon had upset every one of her certainties and, while she wouldn’t say that she went along with everything Sharon said, the woman had certainly got her thinking.
‘Ring me any time,’ Sharon had said, handing her a card when they parted after Jane’s ‘taster’ session. ‘If there’s anything you’re worried about or want to discuss, just get in touch.’
That was kind, and professional, Jane thought. But of course she wouldn’t. Her encounter with Sharon was an aberration, and not something she had to take seriously, or repeat.
Then she’d spent the whole night awake. Not thinking specifically about what Sharon had said – trying not to, in fact – but stirred up, in turmoil. She wanted to change, but did she dare? Could she? Should she? And Sharon had seemed to demand so much of her.
She’d rung her the next morning, even though it was Sunday, and they’d made a date for Monday evening. Sharon hadn’t seemed in the least put out, or surprised, to hear from her and that in itself made Jane feel better. She wasn’t an idiot, she wasn’t mad.
She’d then counted the hours until their second meeting.
One of the first things Sharon tried to get her to do was trust her intuition. Jane had to write down all the times her intuition gave her a prompt – better fill up the fridge in case she had an unexpected visitor, somebody needed a telephone call from her, that person was not to be trusted, the bus would be better than the tube today – and then later write down the results: had her intuition proved right? And the answer was almost always yes. It was astonishing.
‘I don’t believe it,’ said Jane. ‘How does it work?’
‘Your intuition is the gateway to your higher self,’ said Sharon.
‘My higher self?’
She’d heard these terms before, of course, but she’d never taken much notice of them or stopped to think about whether they had any relevance to her life. Hearing about them now, from Sharon with her certainty, made them real.
‘Yes,’ said Sharon. ‘Your connection with the universe.’
‘The universe? Isn’t that just a random collection of events?’
Sharon gave one of her rare laughs. ‘Far from it. Everything that happens is the result of everything that has happened and everything that happens now affects the future.’
It was obvious when you thought about it. ‘So the universe is a machine then?’
'A machine with meaning,' said Sharon.
And that was just the start.
Her Saturday mornings with Sharon were the bright spots of Jane’s life. Sharon’s teachings gave her hope. They offered her a way out. They promised that there was more to the world than jobs and mortgages and responsibilities. More than our single short pointless lives.
She paid her of course which was one reason why she didn’t tell anyone about her meetings with Sharon. They’d think that Sharon was exploiting her when if anything it was the other way round since Sharon, Jane suspected, gave her far more than her allotted time.
‘Why are you hesitating?’ asked Sharon.
On the rest of her walk to Sharon’s flat Jane hadn’t been able to get the job advertisement out of her mind and eventually she’d stopped at a newsagent and bought a copy of the paper so that she could show it to Sharon.
As usual, they were sitting in semi-darkness. Unlike Jane who could never have enough light, Sharon seemed to live with her curtains half drawn. Consequently Jane never noticed much about the flat other than the approach which was through a maze of covered walkways in which she always got lost.
Today, as always and as they had at the taster session, they sat at opposite sides of a small table, and as usual Sharon had placed an incense burner nearby, the fumes of which added to the mystery.
‘One, it’s not a promotion; it’s a sideways step,' said Jane, counting the reasons on her fingers. 'Two, I’d have to sell my flat and move. Three, what do I know about the wilds of Devon or about this publisher? Four, I’d have to leave all my friends and family behind. Five, I’ve only just got time to apply before the deadline runs out so it would be a rush. Six, I’m not even sure that I want to continue working in publishing. Seven –’
‘Stop, stop, stop,’ said Sharon.
Jane paused with her hands in the air. ‘What?’
‘What’s the most important thing I’ve been teaching you for weeks and weeks and weeks?’
Jane’s mind filled with all the colourful concepts and practices that had burst into her life – karma, reincarnation, synchronicity, visualisation, affirmation, meditation.
‘Well, lots of things,’ she answered.
‘In-tu-ition,’ said Sharon, tapping the table with a forefinger.
Jane nodded. ‘Right.’ Now she remembered.
‘And what have I told you about intuition?’
‘Um, that it’s the gateway to our higher selves?’
‘I –I don’t know,’ said Jane.
‘It’s a short cut. It’s a clue. It’s a gift from the universe. We ignore it at our peril.’
‘A clue to what?’ Getting Sharon to repeat herself was Jane’s way of checking her out. And she had to be absolutely sure of this. It was a big step.
‘To our life-plan. The one based on our karmic needs. The one the universe helps us with if we follow it but which brings us nothing but misery if we don’t.’
‘OK,’ said Jane. ‘So what you’re saying is that the universe led me to the advertisement, so I should apply for the job.’
‘Why this job?’
‘Isn’t that the wrong question?’
‘How d’you mean?’
‘Shouldn’t you be asking, why this place?’
How come the story Jane told Sharon about her life was never the one that Sharon heard and why did that always make Jane so angry?