Today I have an excerpt from Pink Ice Creams by Jo Woolaston.
Intent on fixing her broken marriage and the alcohol-fuelled catastrophe that is her life, Kay Harris arrives at her grim and grey holiday let, ready to lay to rest the tragedy that has governed her entire adulthood – the disappearance of her little brother, Adam.
But the road to recovery is pitted with the pot-holes of her own poor choices, and it isn’t long before Kay is forced to accept that maybe she doesn’t deserve the retribution she seeks. Will the intervention of strangers help her find the answers she needs to move on from her past, or will she always be stuck on the hard shoulder with no clear view ahead and a glove box full of empties?
Pink Ice Creams is a tale of loss, self-destruction, and clinging on to the scraps of the long-lost when everyone else has given up hope.
A social misfit, Kay has little interest in engaging in her immediate surroundings but somehow finds herself accepting an invitation to ‘Karaoke in the clubhouse’ – a depravity which she states would normally ‘strike fear into the hearts of normal folk.’ But perhaps accepting the guidance of others is just what she needs to start her transformation, it’s just a pity that those who have persuaded her are Pete – a local layabout – and Brian – her irritating and over-zealous neighbour. But beggars can’t be choosers…
“O’ho! You made it then?”
Brian. I didn’t see him creep up, he should wear a bell around his neck.
“We’ll ask a few folk near us to budge up, you’ll be in the thick of it then.”
“We’re fine here thanks.”
“Very kind of you Peter.”
“Just help yourself mate. Whatever takes your fancy.”
Brian bobs his head up and down like a nodding dog in the back of a Volvo, an uncertain grin on his face. He looks first at me and then at Pete who flicks his finger at the spread of booze on the table.
“Oh I see.”
He leans over the table, rubbing his hands together in mock excitement and picks up a tumbler of something clear and carbonated. A brave choice, it could be lemonade, white rum and soda or gin and fizz. I’m quite enjoying this drinks lottery and whatever it turns out to be I know it will be wasted, as he sips at it like a sparrow. I hope it is lemonade.
“Do you want a straw Brian?”
“Crikey, that packs a punch!”
Looking past his shoulder I can see Mrs Brian-What’s-her-name cricking her neck and almost toppling out of her chair in an attempt to locate Brian’s whereabouts, cowering from the speaker she has been parked next to. Think… Miriam.
“Please, take a drink for Miriam too.”
“I won’t, thanks all the same. She’s not a gambler and this wet roulette you have going on could play havoc with her tablets. Besides, I haven’t had what I came for yet.”
“Would you do me the honour?”
“Of course she would Brian. Come on Kay, don’t leave the man standing.”
“Really, it’s not for me, thanks all the same.”
“Come on Kay, enjoy yourself!”
Gin and Tonic.
“That’s my girl!”
Who said that? I couldn’t tell as the voice was muffled by Carol from Coventry whose waistline is marginally wider than the bra-less bust that threatens to escape from her over-washed vest top whenever she prepares to hit the high notes. Fuelled by the alcoholic cocktail gathering momentum in my bloodstream and relentless prodding from Pete, I eventually take Brian’s open hand, dragging his attention away from Carol’s bouncing bosom.
Once on the floor, Brian adopts a ‘left arm limp – right arm rigid’ ballroom stance that pulls me in uncomfortably close to his nether regions which strains my upper back and neck muscles trying to keep my torso a safe distance from his. But undeterred, his enthusiasm knows no bounds, and with foot loops and side scoops he manages to persuade my stiff and reluctant limbs around the dance floor.
“Quite the Fred Astaire aren’t you Brian?”
“You should have seen me and my Miriam back in our hey-day, when she had her health.”
“I can just imagine it.”
I can’t imagine it at all and have no intention of creating a mental picture to take up un-necessary brain-space. My safe zone looks a distant and alluring haven amidst the blur of lights and swirling Chiffon and I am surprised to see that Pete is studying the karaoke book with great intensity, to which I feel a sudden pang of disappointment. Did I hope he was watching me, studying my moves, willing me on?
Sensing my attention stray from the task at hand, Brian pulls a surprise move out of his bag and whirls me out into the centre of the floor and, caught unawares, my arms and legs leap out like a starfish, giving the false impression that I am enjoying myself to the point of wild abandon. When I am drawn back in, it is in closer proximity and Brian’s expression has changed to one of a slobbery dog.
“Quite the Ginger Rogers yourself when you put your mind to it.”
Small beads of sweat are beginning to form on his forehead and he shifts his stance subtly, suggestively, and watches my face closely for my response. I grimace, which he mistakes for a smile and his arm drops a couple of inches lower towards my bum. I try the grimace again, this time with raised eyebrows and my own subtle suggestion of a knee heading towards his balls. He relaxes his grip.
Jo Woolaston lives in Leicestershire, England with her extreme noise-making husband and two lovely sons. She tries to avoid housework and getting a ‘proper job’ by just writing stuff instead – silly verse, screenplays, shopping lists…
This sometimes works in her favour (she did well in her MA in TV Scriptwriting, gaining a Best Student award in Media and Journalism – and has had a few plays produced – that kind of thing) but mostly it just results in chronic insomnia and desperate tears of frustration. Pink Ice Creams is her first novel, she hopes you liked it.