Home > Liars

Liars
Author: Anita Waller

Prologue

 

 

Present Day

 

 

I’ve been sitting here for over an hour now, staring at a blank sheet of writing paper and counting the petals on each of the daisies that adorn the border. They provided a welcome distraction, as did the two depressing news bulletins on Radio Sheffield, and that annoying yappy dog from next door. They were accompanied by my nagging conscience, an unforgiving voice that I could have done without, telling me to get on with it, have it over and done with.

The thing is, despite my burning desire to write this one last letter to you, I cannot find the right words, any words for that matter. How strange that after the thousands and thousands that have passed between us, when it matters most, I don’t even know where to start.

Our last letter. That sounds so harsh, doesn’t it, so final. Maybe that’s why I’m dithering, avoiding the inevitable. I still can’t believe this has happened, to us. It wasn’t meant to be this way, was it? You and I were best friends forever, we made promises, swore oaths.

I wish we could start over, go back to the playground where meaningless squabbles were resolved over a shared Wagon Wheel. Or the steamy canteen, one of us in the free-dinner queue, the other in the line of sniggerers who should have known better. We didn’t care about our differences, did we, not then. Like a second-hand uniform versus the overpriced school outfitters, working on the shop floor while the other typed notes and never got their manicured nails dirty. At the end of the day, when the school bell rang or the shift finished, you were always there, waiting at the gate, the special face in the crowd.

Secrets, we had so many. Daft things like who was our favourite Bay City Roller or that we shoplifted make-up and spot cream from Boots. The bigger things, which at the time seemed huge, we guarded like treasure because they were private and sacred. They were our bond. Crushes, first kisses and sex. Fears and failures. Hopes and dreams. And yet in the end, one huge secret, carried for years, unshared, a burden I suppose, that became our downfall.

My conscience is back, reminding me there’s another person at fault, at whose feet so much blame can be laid and even now I cannot bear to think his name let alone say it, but I will. Mike. That’s where it began, when the rot set in. One man drove a wedge between us, poisoned so many lives, and by his very existence altered the course of what should have been.

I can’t avoid it any longer, the inevitable. Otherwise I’ll be here all day, twiddling this pen and staring at daisies. I know what I have to do now, before I write my last letter to you. I need to revisit the past, accept our mistakes and lay them to rest. This means facing up to the bad memories and cleansing my soul of the festering hate that burns inside for him, that despicable man. He’s the one who really destroyed everything, who tainted our world and turned two women, lifelong friends, soulmates, into liars.

 

 

Book One 1978 – 1986

 

 

1

 

 

Ferme, La Chauvinais

Saint-Mar- la-Jaille

44540

France

 

 

20th September 1978

 

Dear Wendy, or bonjour, as we say on this side of the Channel.

I am here in France, safe and well and bloody knackered. I bet you never ever thought I’d be writing to you from an apple farm in the middle of nowhere but I am and I love it. Look at me with a Frenchie address!! This is where you send letters so copy it out exactly the same. I hope you are pleased to see that I’m using the fancy paper and envelopes you bought me – I bet you got them to make sure I write, but a promise is a promise and here I am. We are penfriends as well as best friends – fancy that.

I’ve got so much to tell you that I don’t know where to start.

The journey was vile. I thought I’d never get here cos the coach stopped at every sodding town between Sheffield and Dover then I honked up all the way across the Channel. I had to sleep in the station at Calais because I missed my connecting train but there were a few other backpackers in the same fix so it wasn’t too lonely.

The train ride down here was okay but took almost a day because I had to change a few times and I was scared to death of getting on the wrong one. I kept pointing to the tickets the agency sent and prayed that I was going in the right direction. I eventually hooked up with two other girls who were going to the same place (thank God) and one of them can speak a bit of French so I relaxed after that.

I was so relieved when we were picked up at the station but then the trauma continued when we had a scary but hilarious ride in the back of a smelly truck that bumped along the road. We thought the driver, Yves (the farmer’s son who’s a bit of a flirt) was trying to flip us off the back so we lay down flat and hung on tight. Apparently, he does that to everyone for a laugh, the weirdo.

We live in caravans at the back of the farm. They are okay, a bit basic but clean. Four people share, same sex only so there’s no hanky-panky, not officially. I’ll get to that in a bit.

All our meals are provided and at lunch and teatime we have bucketloads of wine – seriously, they drink it like water here but I’m not complaining. The work is hard though. We start at 8am and finish at 6pm but we do get nearly two hours for lunch which is like a feast. I’ve never eaten so much bread and cheese. Thank God I like veg because there’s tons of it, and pig. We eat lots of pig in various forms because the farmer rears them. I refuse to eat brains and feet though. Just vile!

We get taken in trucks to the orchards which are so huge you could easily get lost. At first, the smell of apples was lovely but I’ve got used to it and I probably won’t eat one ever again, I even dream about them and Harvey! Ha, I know your ears have just pricked up. He’s from Wales but talks really posh and is here with a group of friends from university. They’ve been in France all summer, going from farm to farm, picking. They spent August in the lavender fields of Provence which sounds like heaven and I bet it smells the same. I’m going to go there next year, and pick grapes too. From what I’ve heard, you can earn a decent wage if you keep moving and work hard. It’s like the best of both worlds; you get paid, eat for nowt, are surrounded by lovely scenery, sun, sun, sun, wine, wine, wine and LOTS of men. Perfect. Not like dreary Sheffield. Sorry, I know there are nice bits, like where you live, but whenever I think of where I’m from I see grey and concrete and rain.

That’s why I’m determined to keep on travelling like I planned. I’ve made a few friends and I’m hoping to move on with them once the picking season is over. Anyway, back to Harvey. He’s really handsome, he’s got long curly hair like Roger Daltrey, and a goatee beard – so cool. He’s going to be an architect in his dad’s firm once he qualifies. I can hear alarm bells ringing from here because you think I’m going to get my heart broken but I’m not.

My new friends have a different outlook on life than we have back home. It’s like they are less worried about the things that tie us down and make us miserable so instead, they travel about looking for new experiences and adventures. Harvey believes in free love and I’m starting to believe in it too. I know he’s going to go back to uni in a few weeks and I’ll probably never see him again, so I’m making lots of hay while the sun shines. I will feel a bit sad when he goes but believe me, there’s no shortage of replacements on the farm and those dotted around the area. Oh, and I’m trying really hard to parlez Français with the locals who seem friendly enough, especially the men, can’t think why!!!!

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