Author’s notes: This novel is quite psychological and needed a lot of research into the effects of trauma, isolation and self-sufficiency. It was challenging to write and remains one of my favourites.
Desperate to escape a cruel urban existence, a close-knit family attempts to become self-sufficient on an isolated homestead on Canada’s West Coast. Challenges, tragedies and an unwelcome outsider threaten the family’s future. Can the strong bond between the sisters, Mary and Sara, survive the harsh realities of their wilderness life?
1. Karl nodded. “My first time in one of these. You fly these puppies much?”
Fred laughed. “No worries. I’ve been flying Beavers most of my life. You’re in good hands.”
With the door still open, the pilot manipulated the controls on the dash, starting the sequence for takeoff.
The pilot coaxed the reluctant engine. The machine began tick- tick- splutter-coughing into rhythm. Puffs of blue, shot from the exhaust, permeated the cabin with a sickening stench. He leaned out, closed the door and began cutting through the waves towards the pass.
Karl’s hand tightened reflexively on the edge of his seat as Fred eased the control column back towards his lap and pushed open the throttle.
The plane picked up speed. As spray rose from the edges of the floats, the skies opened up. Rain sheeted the windscreen. Fred peered myopically through the window.
Karl closed his eyes willing the shuddering machine up into the air. The floats skittered over the white caps. He felt the Beaver lift and lurch vibrating as it rose into the sky. Then the whole plane rattled as Fred banked to the right.
Karl grabbed at the edge of his seat again as his whole body slid towards the ocean. His eyes widening in terror, as he pictured himself skidding off his perch and tumbling into the sea. Held in by an impossibly narrow seat belt, he clenched his butt cheeks trying to find purchase on the slippery leather seat. Instinctively, he let out a yelp as vertigo took over forcing him to close his eyes against the vision of his impending doom.
2. In an instant, the decision was taken out of her hands. As the next wave crashed over their bow, both girls were thrown out into the churning sea.
Shock turned to panic as their bodies were dragged further and further into the frigid water. Sara, blinded by the stinging salt water, reached out instinctively towards her younger sister. Forcing her eyes open, she caught sight of Mary inches away.
Her mouth was open as if she were singing, her eyes stark with terror. Mary grabbed Sara and flailing with her sneaker burdened feet. She fought to bring them both to the surface.
Horror struck; they watched the runabout disappear beneath the waves.