• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 01


Her plain life - in which everything remained confined to the colours of a restricted palette, clean, pure, simple - had just been splashed with vibrancy.

Like a beetroot stain on a white tablecloth, the moment would stay with her, the kind of mark that can’t be entirely washed out, even though the visitor was long gone.

Why had her sister come, after all this time? Their eyes had met, but they hadn’t spoken. She could only guess about the conversation with the elders. And then her sister was gone, driving away as quickly as she had arrived, just the dust lingering as it settled in her tracks.

It made her think about what could have been, if she hadn’t confirmed so dutifully in her early years.

Her sister had fought it, and fought hard, while she had accepted the word of her elders. Like an alley cat, Rachel had wriggled free and run for her life, breathing the cold sharp air of a world they had been taught was full of the devil’s work.

“She looked a bit like you, Mamma - but not really,” said Mary, beside her. Then the question that cut through to her dilemma, her pain: “Will she come back for the funeral?”

Not if she knows what’s best, she thought. Just stay away.

Unprepared for the child’s question she deflected, bringing Mary back to their task. “Finish up and take that through to the kitchen. We have a lot more to do before the sun sets.”