‘That one will be the death of her father … Mark my words, the death of him.’
So says the prophecy that accompanies Fern’s birth. Her mother, fearing the wrath of the baby’s father, is forced to give Fern up for adoption.
Twenty years later Fern is haunted by the feeling that something is very wrong. Her family and friends think she is losing her mind, but Fern is convinced that someone is after her.
Seeking to unlock the mystery, Fern takes flight onto the streets of Sydney, where she meets two unlikely allies: Cassie, a woman cursed with the gift of clairvoyance, and Adam, an ex-soldier tormented by his past. As danger looms, Fern and Adam embark on an adventure which takes them far into the labyrinthine depths of the Tasmanian wilderness, where Fern must finally confront her demons.
Interwoven with myth and metaphor, Flight is a compelling and original story; sometimes eerie, sometimes earthy, always spellbinding.
‘An adventure story that encapsulates both a physical and spiritual journey … interesting and original … with some startling contrasts between the ordinary and extraordinary’
Bookseller + Publisher
I came early, slithering into the outside world and into safety, or so I hoped. But this was to be the first of many hopes, all dashed against the brutally sharp edges of reality.
As in all great myths, my birth was accompanied by a prophecy. I, it seemed, would be the death of my father. How this was to come about no one could say. But the prophecy was there, it escaped from the mouth of Simple Simon, the old gardener at the Botanic Gardens in Adelaide where my mother often went to sit in her lunch hour.
On this particular day she was waiting to meet my father. He was late and the pregnant girl felt a persistent nagging worry. There was something big hovering around the edges of things, a sense that life had woken up that morning slightly askew. Nothing she could put her finger on, but it was enough to make her nervous. And then there were the contradictions: worry that he would come, worry that he wouldn’t. Fear and love tugging her between them until all she could feel was a tearing anxiety. You see, my father was a strong willed man, older than her, but still too young he said, to be tied down like this. He would have walked away but he was snared by his desire for my mother. She was beautiful and fragile and needy, easy to bully but also detached in a way that he could never put a finger on. This detachment was what kept him there, waiting, wanting her to surrender completely.
It was summer but there was an unexpected chill in the air. The wind was a fresh south easterly, not the usual hot northerly that stirred up dust and discomforts, and the sky was clear enough to make everyone’s heart lift. Even my mother’s, the seventeen-year-old girl with the rounded belly who sat on a bench chewing a deviled-egg sandwich and watching Simon methodically plant a row of violets, a flurry of chattering birds surrounding him.
When a magpie greedily pecked Simon’s finger, perhaps thinking it a fat juicy worm, my mother forgot her troubles for a moment and laughed. Simon looked up, directly at her, and her laughter quickly turned into a shudder. Where one eye should have been there was a socket, dark and deep. One eye looking out, the other inwards perhaps this was the secret of his second sight. Or then again, it might have been the snakebite all those years ago which left him hovering between life and death for weeks on end. When he finally woke he knew things other people didn’t, but he had forgotten how to live in this world. No one knew how old Simple Simon was or how long he’d been working in the Botanic Gardens. He was a fixture, like the giant oak under which my mother sat.
Simon stood up straight, wincing as he stretched, one hand massaging the small of his back, the other leaning on his spade. ‘Ah,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘That one will be the death of her father.’ Wincing again at the creaking in his swollen joints, he walked over to my mother and poked his finger into her tight belly. ‘Mark my words, the death of him.’ While she sat staring at him, open-mouthed, he went back to his planting, still shaking his head, but with a gleam in his eye. . (more…)