I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for Parallel Lines by Steven Savile with something slightly different today. In honour of Parallel Lines I have a character profile of Margot Moore who features in the book.
How far would you go to provide for your child?
Adam Shaw is dying, and knows he’ll leave his disabled son with nothing. His solution? Rob a bank. It’s no surprise that things go wrong. What is surprising is that when another customer is accidentally shot, no one in the bank is in a hurry to hand Adam over to the police. There’s the manager who’s desperate to avoid an audit, the security guard with a serious grudge, and the woman who knows exactly how bad the victim really was…
Eight people, twelve hours, one chance to cover up a murder. But it’s not just the police they have to fool. When many lives intersect, the results can be explosive.
A Guest Post by Steven Savile
Margot Moore lost her husband last year. She thought she knew him. She didn’t.
Margot Moore had a secret. She was in love with a man she had never met, and almost certainly never would. The fact that she was in love was only the half of it. Who the object of her affections was and how he’d come into her life, that was the really interesting part. That was the part that made it a secret worth keeping.
He was her guardian angel.
He was her reason for getting up in the morning.
For a while it had been dark, really dark; then he had come into her life like some kind of caped superhero. He called himself Nero, but that wasn’t his real name. She didn’t know what his real name was.
Margot would be sixty-three on her next birthday, making her the oldest of the bank’s staff by almost a decade, and old enough to know better when it came to matters of the heart. But sometimes it was just a case of the heart wanting what the heart wanted however ridiculous that desire was.
They all thought she was so together, so ordinary. They had no idea what was going on inside her, or how it felt to have lost everything that mattered during six hellish months that had started out with confidence that together they’d beat it, that had become niggling arguments where she kept saying to Johnny she wished he’d put up more of a fight, that he’d just act like he wanted to live even though they both knew the non-Hodgkin lymphoma was eating him alive. It was already too late at that point. It had started out as an aching shoulder months before, then a raspy cough that he just couldn’t shift, and even the week before they got the news that his liver and spleen were riddled with aggressive tumors, Johnny Joe Moore had been given the all clear from the oncologist as they searched for the root cause of his symptoms. The CT scan only covered the area around his throat down to his armpits and thyroid, ruling out lymphoma. She’d tortured herself for months wondering if those lost days might have been the death of her husband, cursing a health-care system that valued saving a few dollars on a scan over saving a man’s life. Thinking like that was a killer. It led down very dark paths in the lonely hours of the night. For a month she hadn’t washed the sheets because they smelled of him. For two more months she hadn’t moved his sweater off the balustrade at the top of the staircase because that was where he always kept his sweaters and every time she walked past it she ran her fingers over the wool. It was the closest she came to prayer.
Everyone around her said the right things, asked the right questions and worried about her, but that didn’t help because they weren’t her; they weren’t inside her head living with that new-found emptiness. And instead of getting easier with time it just got harder. That was a truth no one ever talked about. At the start she’d just been numb trying to deal with all of the paperwork and red tape involved in closing out a man’s life; then there had been those long days of firsts: the first time she’d been to the farmer’s market without him, the first time she’d watched his favorite show without him, the first day she’d not gone to the mailbox to collect his newspaper, the first time she’d gone to bed alone, all of those little things that had been so much a part of their life together that had suddenly become little landmarks to the man she’d lost. That was so much worse than the finality of the registrar and the death certificate with the word “pneumonia” going down as the official cause of death.
Coming out on the other side of the firsts didn’t make living any easier. She’d been clinging to the notion that it would. All she could do was put on her bravest face and there was a limit to how long that particular trick would last—which was how she’d wound up taking the call from Nero that saved her life.
It was a culmination of so many small and seemingly unimportant events that led her up to the roof that night, the cold winds that earned the city its name blowing hard. She wasn’t dressed for killing herself. It was a crazy thing to think, but she remembered that moment vividly, even now. The flat roof of the apartment building was six stories from the ground. Standing on the edge, looking down, the drop was dizzying. There wasn’t a star in the sky. They didn’t get many stars, even on clear nights, because of the constant glow of the city. She missed the stars. She’d grown up with them there every night, and just like with her Johnny, taken for granted that they’d always be there. She wrapped her arms around herself, not looking down. She could hear the low engine rumble of a plane coming in to land at O’Hare. She didn’t want that to be the last thing she heard in this life, so she waited. It wouldn’t be long before the dawn chorus broke out. Dying to a soundtrack of birdsong wasn’t such a bad thing, was it? She could wait for that.
About Steven Savile
Steven Savile has written for Doctor Who, Torchwood, Primeval, Stargate, Warhammer, Slaine, Fireborn, Pathfinder and other popular game and comic worlds. His novels have been published in a dozen languages to date, including the Italian bestseller L’eridita. He won the International Media Association of Tie-In Writers award for his Primeval novel, Shadow of the Jaguar, published by Titan, in 2010, and the inaugural Lifeboat to the Stars Award for the novel Tau Ceti co-written with Kevin J Anderson.
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