I’m delighted to be taking part in The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye blog tour today and I’m excited to be able to share an excerpt with you. There is also a giveaway in which you can win a signed copy!
Firstly, what is The Second Cup about?
Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye’s heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.
With the fragility of life staring them in the face, Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and Faye her friendship with Ethan. And poor Olivia is questioning everything – including why Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest. Is she about to take her own life too?
As promised here is the excerpt. We’re introducing Abbie – one of the four main characters – and we catch up with her while she’s sitting in A&E waiting to find out how her friend Beth is after a suspected overdose.
So how does this praying thing work? I’m starting to wish I’d paid more attention when Beth went on one of her rants about her Catholic upbringing, as it would have put me in good stead for knowing what to do right now.
My closest friend has downed a bottle of Paracetamol and is lying the other side of a locked door that requires a keypad access code. I’ve been the other side of the keypad and it is no easier – although at least you have NHS staff on your side when you’re that side.
I have positioned myself on the row of plastic seats along the far wall so I can watch the comings and goings through said door without having to strain my neck muscles. But so far every raised chin has been greeted with nothing – no glance in my direction, no calling out “Beth Adam’s friend” or “Abbie? Abbie Tomlinson?” repeating your first name as part of some sort of ritual. I listen to the strange names being called out, finding myself adding a second surname to the announcements to make them even.
“Emily? Emily Paterson?”
“Robert? Robert Samuels?”
“Gobinda? Gobinda Mudri?”
I only catch myself doing it when I realise I’m saying them out loud and the person two seats away shifts further along the row, giving me a worried glance as they go. I want to scream “I’m not mental” at them, but that would make me seem the opposite. And I would also feel very guilty at the inference that there was something wrong with being mental when I’m sitting here waiting for the doctors to save my friend from an overdose.
And I’m sure my little habits and rituals are perfectly normal for someone who’s under as much stress as I am at work.
I just like things to be even. To be balanced.
I look up at the clock. I’ve not been here a full half-hour yet and yet I feel as if a day’s worth of energy has been drained out of me. I’m wondering if the clock is playing tricks on me, so I decide to stare at it and count along with the second hand – this time in my head so the lady a few seats down doesn’t feel she needs to move even further away. The full 60 seconds pass, as they should.
“Okay God,” I think, “If I can hold my breath and sit completely still for a full 60 seconds, you have to make Beth live.”
I wait until the second hand is at 12 and take a deep breath in – probably loud enough to scare the timid lady on my row, but I can’t look to check because sitting still is part of the pact. Time feels like it’s slowing down as the hand gets to 11. I watch – 56, 57, 58, 59, 60 – and then breathe out.
I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything worthy of saving a life. Maybe that was just a test pact and now I have to do another one. This might be how prayers work; why you have to say so many of them while you count rosary beads. You start off with a simple one and then build up to more complicated and challenging ones.
I shift on my plastic seat, massaging the ridges the edge has left mid-thigh on both legs. I take a few sips from the now-cold cup of coffee on the table ledge next to me. The temperature makes it no more or less drinkable as it was disgusting from the first mouthful, my brain immediately forgetting just how undrinkable it is, so each sip is a brand new shock to my taste buds. My brain is too busy willing Beth to stay alive to process information like “stop drinking because it tastes terrible”.
I’ve stretched and taken on more fluids, so I’m ready for my next challenge. Four is my lucky number. So maybe I need to hunt out for things in fours? Four is like your engine number, you breath in and out; your heart beats up and down. A four-stroke engine. It’s this four that powers you, so maybe if I find lots of fours it will be a sign that Beth is going to make it.
Scanning the room I notice four people with touchscreen phones out, ignoring the faded posters rather forlornly telling people to turn their phones off. I’m wondering if they’re all iPhones or Samsung, but I might be pushing my luck, so I check for other fours. There are four girls with ponytails. There are four noticeboards. There are four internal doors of the waiting room – if you don’t count the toilets.
There are four people with rucksack style bags. No, there are five, but one is close to the door and he’s put his bag on the floor – while the others are still wearing theirs. And he’s by the door, organising the content of his bag. I have to resist reaching out and kicking him with my leg to get him to go. C’mon. C’mon. And he’s gone. I can breathe again, even though I didn’t realise I was holding my breath. I hope it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t for 60 seconds. Maybe fours don’t matter after all, I tell myself.
We’re now a four – me, Beth, Olivia and Faye – but I preferred us more as a three.
If that has whet your appetite for more you can purchase a copy of The Second Cup HERE.
There are three signed copies up for grabs and it is open internationally:
About the Author
Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1975, to English Catholic parents. One of five daughters, to the outside world Sarah Marie’s childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing… until aged 9, when she was diagnosed with depression.
It’s a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision.
Now in her early 40s, and with an MA Creative Writing from London South Bank University (where she was the vice-chancellor’s scholarship holder), Sarah Marie has published her debut novel – about family, friendships and mental health.
Catch the rest of the tour