Excerpt from ‘Pit and Stones’ a chapter in the novel in which Ted, Assia and the children are returning from a house-hunting trip in Manchester. They would never see each other again.
Just then the train gave a great jolt. Frieda, who’d been leaning forward, was catapulted into Assia’s lap. Ted braced himself and held on to Nick’s shirt tail. A squeal of brakes followed, and the train groaned to a shuddering stop. From somewhere in another compartment they heard a woman’s scream. Shura began to cry, still clutching the half-eaten cake. Assia held her close with one arm while protecting Frieda with her other.
‘What’s happening?’ she asked the world in general, and Ted in particular.
‘You stay here with the children. I’ll try to find out. And for God’s sake, can’t you stop your daughter snivelling?’
Assia turned her face away, smoothing Shura’s hair tenderly. ‘It’s all right, liebchen. Soon we’ll all be home.’ To Ted she said coldly, ‘You seem to forget that our daughter has just turned four. Just like you ‘forgot’ to come to her birthday party. This trip’s a great deal harder for her than it is for Frieda and Nick.’
© Dina Davis