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157 pages

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As a sleepy town in rural Ireland starts to wake, a road subsides, trapping an early-morning bus and five passengers inside. Rescue teams struggle and as two are eventually saved, the bus falls deeper into the hole.

Under the watchful eyes of the media, the lives of three people are teetering on the edge. And for those on the outside, from Nina, the reporter covering the story, to rescue liaison, Tim, and Richie, the driver pulled from the wreckage, each are made to look at themselves under the glare of the spotlight.

When their world crumbles beneath their feet, they are forced to choose between what they cling to and what they must let go of.

The debut novel from Gráinne Murphy, whose short fiction has been longlisted for 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award.

‘A suspenseful, beautifully crafted debut’ Irish Examiner
‘Truly brilliant’ Emily Mazzara, Books Ireland
‘With sentences that you will want to cut out and keep, this is an intelligent, exquisitely crafted debut’ Fiona Mitchell
‘Original and shattering’ Marianne Lee
‘Poignant, thought-provoking and accomplished’ Carol Mason
‘A powerful novel about survival’ Dan Mooney



Publié par
Date de parution 15 septembre 2020
Nombre de lectures 4
EAN13 9781789559408
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0550€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


where the edge is
Gr inne Murphy
Legend Press Ltd, 51 Gower Street, London, WC1E 6HJ
info@legendpress.co.uk | www.legendpress.co.uk
Contents Gr inne Murphy 2020
The right of the above author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data available.
Print ISBN 978-1-78955-9-415
Ebook ISBN 978-1-78955-9-408
Set in Times. Printing managed by Jellyfish Solutions Ltd
Cover design by Steve Marking | www.stevemarking.com
All characters, other than those clearly in the public domain, and place names, other than those well-established such as towns and cities, are fictitious and any resemblance is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
Gr inne Murphy grew up in rural West Cork, Ireland. At university she studied Applied Psychology and Forensic Research. In 2011 she moved with her family to Brussels for 5 years. She has now returned to West Cork, working as a self-employed language editor specialising in human rights and environmental issues.
Follow Gr inne @GraMurphy
Ois n, Ali, Cara
(You re all my favourites)
Si la vie tait plus logique, elle serait encore moins vivable . Were life more logical, it would be still less livable.
Christian Dotremont (1922-1979)
Sleepy-eyed half smile Cartoon hair, morning breath. Sweet With kept promises.
Part One - Down
Idle Speculation
Part Two - In
From the Right Angle
Part Three - Out
In the Beginning Was the Word
Part Four - Up
Incontinence of the Soul
Like You Were My Own
Afterwards, those at a comfortable distance will wonder if something small might have made all the difference. If they hadn t all been sitting at the back of the bus, say, the weight distribution or the force of the impact might have changed just enough. A fool and his theory are hard parted.
It is human nature, maybe, to shiver in the unknown interplay of physics and fate and the delicious horror of being thisclose yet thisfar. There will be much talk of meaningful everyday choices, about destiny and free will, but those comments are twenty-four hours away yet. The talk-radio shows that will draw them out are only in the early stages of their planning. Their schedules contain nothing more urgent than weather, reality programming, the endless cycle of politics.
Nothing can change the fact of the handful of early-morning passengers climbing on and moving towards the back of the bus. Pushed there - shamefully, inadmissibly - by the presence of the muttering woman pacing the aisle.
The driver knows her, it seems, but that is not in itself remarkable: everyone in the small town of Kilbrone knows Crazy May. She haunts the bus yard in the mornings. Keeping the bins company , the drivers say among themselves, although they know it is simply because fewer people bother her there. Some of them put the run on her, it s true, but most turn a blind eye, let her ride for free.
Today s driver nods May on as she waves someone else s out-of-date bus pass, dug from a bin or a bag or who knows where. They swing down the hill, just the two of them, and onto the ring road towards the start of the route without bothering one another. She never stays on for more than two or three stops. Just long enough to warm her bones after the night s cold. Never further than the boundaries of her own small world.
At the first stop, several others get on and sidle past her without making eye contact. Afraid of her low growl. Her dirty plait of hair. Haircuts are only a memory for May, part of a normality fallen by the wayside long since. The others know - as rational humans, of course they know - that homelessness, dirt, madness, are not catching. Yet they will not risk her presence, lest her life leak into theirs. One by one they file on and put enough distance between them and her to feel safe. It is biology, this choice they make, not physics at all. That is what the armchair engineers will never be able to account for.
The bus is quieter after May gets off. People catch each other s eye and smile and settle into the stop-start rhythm of the bus as it takes the bends towards the centre of town. The traffic is light, they are a good hour ahead of the morning scramble. The driver keeps the pace steady, reaching each stop right on schedule.
Is there a slight popping sound as the bus leans into the curve of the bend? Or is that simply put there later, imagined into being by well-meaning bystanders?
When the floor of the world disappears, the noise it makes is surprisingly small. Like nothing so much as the metallic splash of a handful of cutlery, fresh from the dishwasher, into the drawer.
The bus hovers for a blink before it falls. Fast and clumsy, the road melting away to let it pass through to the nothingness below.
Help will be here shortly, they probably think, as they cough dust out or pull it in. Or perhaps it is some other clich that comes to mind. At such a moment, even clich s are forgivable.
Wait for the dust to settle.
Keep your feet on the ground.
Weigh it up. Suck it up. Sit tight.
A thousand and one ways to say: do nothing; say nothing; pretend. This too shall pass.
Chance knows no such limits.
Nina woke when the clock radio clicked on. She kept it tuned to a pop-music station, the uniform nasal drone of the DJs a small price to pay for the certainty she won t be caught off guard by anything real.
Dress. Bathroom. Make-up. A morning in five-minute slots. To dress last would be to risk climbing back into bed, a lesson learned once, sharply. Her suit hung on the outside of the wardrobe door and her jewellery was laid out on the dressing table, the last task before going to bed. It helped her to sleep, seeing the shadowy outline of her tomorrow self. A skin all ready to step into, to show her who she was. One less thing to struggle with when the weight of the morning curled her into herself, the shiver of remembering like a comb running along sunburn.
The early news had a breaking item about a bus crash in Kilbrone, some half an hour outside the city. She held her breath, then released it. She didn t know anyone living there. It wouldn t affect her commute too much, either. The studio was on the opposite side of the city.
A final couple of minutes to double-check everything before she left: plugs, doors, windows. The last stop on the tour was Aisling s empty room, the best and worst part of every day.
Put your coat on in her room and close it up tight against you to keep in the last of her air, her spirit. Taking her with you when you leave the house. Imagining you can smell her on your skin, the sweet and sour of baby shampoo and spit-up milk .
Once she was safely out of the house and in the car, the morning news brought Nina back to life, as it did every morning.
The road has been closed and emergency services are at the scene. Locals describe seeing the bus crumpled on its side They cut to a woman s excited voice, like a dog knocked sideways by a car , she said, her voice almost gleeful.
The expression was wonderfully visceral. Everyone listening would be picturing roadkill, Nina thought.
Settled at her desk, she turned her attention to her computer screen. One of the segments for next week s show was due to go to the editing room and the process would go much more smoothly if she was clear about the direction she wanted for the piece.
She had spent a full day interviewing the staff and residents of a geriatric hospital that was universally lauded for its innovative holistic approach to the well-being of its residents. Budget cuts had seen it slated for closure under cost-cutting measures, but with a general election looming early the following year, the hope was that some publicity would prompt a local politician to make it part of his campaign platform.
Such were the pieces Noel assigned to her since she came back from her leave of absence. The kind of human-interest angles that she used to consider fluff pieces, only good for filling time after the main news. But Noel had felt it would suit her, this place of individual stories, and he was right. People told her things now, she had become a magnet for the personal sorrow of others. She understood their preoccupation with the little things, how the boundaries of their damaged worlds were suddenly too narrow to admit scale.
She paused the footage on an elderly couple beaming into the camera, holding hands like newly-weds, then pressed play to hear her own voice.
So, tell me, Mary, what are you doing today? You look like you are all dressed up for something special.
Today is date night, Nina, Mary said. Jim and myself are going to the pictures, like we used to when we were first stepping out.
But you re not going out to the movies, Mary, are you? Her on-screen face settled into its interested pose. It was one of several she had to practise now. Interest, shock, empathy. Reminding her face of what was acceptable.
No, pet, I wouldn t be able to go out like that any more, not these days, but, sure, I don t need to.
Her husband, Jim, finished her sentence for her, frowning with the effort of not looking at the camera. The movies are coming to us tonight, Nina.
Here, Ben panned the camera around the room behind the couple. It was all set up like a tiny cinema, with rows of chairs in front of a pull-down projector screen. Beside

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