Madness. She shouldn't use words like that, she knows. But what else would be more appropriate? Their life seems ordinary. An onlooker wouldn't suspect a thing, they'd think it was normal.
Excerpt, The Pursuit of Ordinary
‘Joe says he feels like a deadheaded plant,’ Dan said to Natalie last week, a light smile on his face. ‘Like his head has been chopped off and mine has grown back in its place.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ Natalie replied, turning her back on him and unpacking the shopping, emptying it onto the side in the kitchen rather than putting it in the cupboards and fridge, taking one item out after another after another.
‘But is it ridiculous?’ Dan said, coming up behind her and putting his hands on her waist. Strong hands, bigger than Joe’s had been. ‘Isn’t that exactly what’s happened?’
‘I hate it when you talk like this, Dan,’ Natalie said, stepping out of his embrace and carrying a bag of carrots over to the fridge.
‘We can’t pretend it’s not happening, Nat.’
‘Please,’ she said, closing her eyes and letting the cool air from the refrigerator waft over her face, eyelids and cheeks. ‘Joe calls me Nat. Can’t you call me Natalie?’
Natalie isn’t sure what to do for the best, a feeling she’s had since the day she met Dan. She should have kept on running; she should have slammed the door in his face, but something about him drew her in and made her listen, made her fall in love, like she had no choice. Fate, crooking its bony finger and chuckling his dry chuckle.
Love. She’s never known it before. Not like this. Maybe this is how Joe always felt about her, before the accident. Before… this.
‘Go in the garden and relax,’ Dan says. ‘I’ll put the shopping away and cook. I’ll shout to you when it’s ready. Green curry. Okay?’
‘Yeah, my favourite,’ she says, walking out of the back kitchen doors into the fading sunshine as her heart pummels her chest.
‘I know it is,’ Dan shouts gleefully. ‘Joe told me.’
It’s not her favourite. She only said that to make him feel better. But it’s nice that he’s cooking for her because Joe never did when he was alive.
What about Joe? She knows Dan would never accept it if she told him she wanted Joe gone, that it was only him she wanted. And even if he could accept it, what could he do about it? It’s not like he could ask Joe to go and he’d disappear quietly into the night.
She’s not sure when her life started unravelling to the degree it has. She knows it was long before the accident. Even before she met Joe, really. The seed was sown when she was a little girl, sitting on the bus, blinking back tears. All her decisions since then have somehow been built on top of that experience. Funny how Joe’s accident has allowed her to see everything so clearly. But how did things get so insane? Nothing in her life is as she planned it. Plans are now something other people get to enjoy, they’re nothing to do with the terrifying, breath-stealing madness of her life with Dan.
Madness. She shouldn’t use words like that, she knows. But what else would be more appropriate? Their life seems ordinary. An onlooker wouldn’t suspect a thing, they’d think it was normal.
Normal. She shouldn’t even think things like that, she knows she shouldn’t. Dan is normal, in his way. Normality carries baggage, a judgment she doesn’t mean and doesn’t care for. She closes her eyes in the fading sunlight and wonders at the complexity of her feelings. He relies on her, he can’t cope on his own, not yet. Then again, he survived on the streets alone all that time without her, so he’s resilient, resourceful. Perhaps it’s arrogance on her part that makes her think he’s dependent on her. Maybe it’s her own fear of entering into a co-dependent relationship that’s causing her such angst. She can never have a partnership based on need. She’s done that before, she’ll never do it again. Because that’s how things start: with need. It never leads to anything positive. Need and love aren’t synonymous with each other, but so many people, including her, make the mistake of thinking that needing someone is the same as loving them, or vice versa. Perhaps in reality, need and love are each other’s opposites.
Reality. It’s such a strange word, one that used to be concrete. She doesn’t even know what it means anymore. She downs her wine, staring at the ivy that’s creeping over her back fence, even though Joe cut it back what seems like days ago. But the accident was months ago, so it must be at least that long since it was trimmed, probably longer. And how long has it been since Dan moved in? It’s hard to tell. Time rolls into one long stream of questions without answers nowadays.
Madness. Normality. Reality. Concepts that used to feel real but which no longer make sense.
Bestselling JHP Fiction title, Goodreads Choice Awards nominee, Best Debut Author
Can Louise move on from the loss of her lover Tom? Can she and Tom's twin brother Adam really find a way to love one another? Or are they trapped on a path of self-destruction, moving towards a tragedy neither can avoid?
April 2018, available now to pre-order
After witnessing a fatal car accident, a homeless man wanders the streets of Brighton, trying to ignore the new, incessant voice inside his head. Is Dan ill or has he really been possessed? A twisting modern tale of life and love.