What if the thing you most longed for was resting on a two week wait?
The Two Week Wait, Sarah Rayner's follow up to the best-selling One Moment, One Morning, is a memorable and moving page-turner - read an extract here:
After a morning of fresh air, concentration and exercise, Cath is so hungry she devours her lunch in minutes. The menu is nothing to write home about – baguettes filled with rubbery cheese or ham, too-dry toasted sandwiches, slippery omelettes and chips: only the hot chocolate is exceptional. Doubtless the owners know they have a captive audience; the cafe is at the hub of the resort. Rich has had to dash off to his lesson for advanced skiers, but Cath is in no hurry to leave. The terrace is perfectly situated to take in the Alpine views and people-watch.
Climbing up the mountain to the left of her is a red run, ‘a cinch’ according to Rich; Cath finds it intimidating merely to look at. She watches a group of young snowboarders with a mixture of envy and awe. Such agility and assurance, such recklessness – she can’t imagine ever being that bold. They are laughing and joking, poking fun at each other and the world. With their array of headgear – a court jester, a black bowler with devil’s horns, a Mad Hatter, a furry pig’s head – they remind Cath of a band of travelling players.
To her right is the top of the lift that returns skiers from the blue run she conquered for the first time last week. Round and round it spews endless brightly coloured holidaymakers back onto the snow, as if they were sweets on a factory line. Most head straight back down the slopes again, dogged and purposeful, but one couple fail to cope with the speed at which they are ejected, and tumble giggling and inept, skis zigzagging madly.
Sweeping close by her is the gentle gradient of the nursery slope. It’s here that dozens of children follow in the wake of instructors, diminutive trains of helmeted focus. Some are so small Cath is amazed they can walk, let alone ski. Yet ski they do, limbs constrained by padding, with a fearlessness and enthusiasm that exceeds that of their adult counterparts. Cath wishes she’d learnt when she was as young and open; the dread of falling seems to mean nothing to them. There’s something about the way they form a succession of triangles, legs angled outwards one way, skis to slow their speed another, that she finds touching. She’s just thinking of her nephews, eight-year-old twins Alfie and Dom, and how much they would love this – they are such physical boys, and they’ve not yet hit that age when cynicism sets in, when it’s important to be cool, not to be caught trying –
when, WHOOPS! a little girl, right at the back of one of the trains, loses her balance and falls over.
Ouch! Cath says to herself, then sees the child struggle to get back up whilst keeping her skis on her feet. But she slips and falls again.
It takes a moment for the instructor to notice what has happened. ‘Ici, Angeline, lève-toi!’ he shouts up at her from the bottom of the slope.
Angeline tries again, to no avail. Cath feels her distress and fear; she’s fallen herself many times. Oh, the confusion over what limbs to move, how to push up on the skis with gravity pulling you downhill.
‘Comme ça!’ The instructor tries to show Angeline how to raise herself to standing, but he is a long way from her, powerless to really help, and his encouragement only makes her more flustered. Cath can tell she feels the pressure of a dozen impatient classmates, waiting. She is much nearer to Angeline than he is. As hurriedly as she can, she clumps across the snow – darn her ski boots, they’re so stiff and difficult to walk in, she’s like a slow-motion storm trooper. Presently she is standing over the little girl.
‘Here,’ she says, and holds out a hand.
The child looks up, worried.
‘It’s OK,’ says Cath, softly. She wishes she spoke better French.
Grateful, the little girl reaches out, and Cath braces her legs so that Angeline can yank herself up.
Cath steps back and watches her shoot off down the hill, wobbly and precarious on her skis, but upright.
She returns to the cafe, sits down again.
Then, suddenly, like a gale-force wind whooshing over the mountains onto the terrace, it hits her, right in her lower abdomen.
A longing, primal and powerful, so overwhelming she nearly falls from her chair.
She’s put her desires and hopes on hold for such a long while – she had no choice but to do so – but now it seems a familiar yearning is making itself felt once more.