Excerpt of The World Beneath by Cate Kennedy
(Page 3 of 4)
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No, Sophies tattoo was pushing heavy metal, like an AC/DC
Theyd been sitting at a barbecue, and Sandys eyes had
wandered over to her daughters shoulders just as Sophie had
leaned forward to pick up her drink. It was a hot day and shed
uncharacteristically taken off her black hoodie, leaving her bare
pale neck and shoulders exposed. Sandys heart jumped into her
throat and hammered there a few times. Oh Jesus, it couldnt be
permanent, could it? It was illegal to tattoo a minor, she was sure
of it. Wasnt it?
Oh my God, whats that? Sophie?
Whats what? Sophie turned around, her jet-black hair
scraping against her singlet. What did she put in it, glue?
You know perfectly well. That thing on your back.
Her daughter took a swallow of Diet Coke before answering,
and Sandy watched her eyes flutter closed, as she gulped, through
the thick sweep of black eyeliner.
Its only a temporary tat, shed said wearily.
Thank God for that. I thought for a minute ... Sweetheart,
what induced you to stick that on there? And what on earth is it?
Sophie pulled the singlet down with her black-painted
fingernails. Im trying out what Im going to get when I turn
eighteen, OK? So calm down. Its just a bird.
Spread wingtip to wingtip between her shoulder blades. That
pale delicate flesh that she remembered pressing her face to
countless times when Sophie was a baby, inhaling that scent of
innocence and ayurvedic soap, that skin shed kept so carefully
from sunburn and injury. Now her daughter was planning to scar
it indelibly with a ... black carrion bird.
Youve got to be kidding. A crow? Right across your back like
that, as if youre some kind of ... bikies moll?
That slow-motion, long-suffering blink again. Where did she
get that sneering contempt?
Take a chill pill, will you? I told you I wouldnt do it
permanently till I was eighteen.
As if those studs through your eyebrow arent enough.
A snort of laughter. Jesus, Mum, you sound like Grandma.
That shut her up. Made her stand, suddenly, and go over to
refill her wineglass at the trestle table, then wander shakily to
another seat under a tree where friends were having a long and
circuitous conversation about the local council. She did sound
like her mother, awful to admit. More and more, when she forgot
herself, that voice came rising out of her own throat, Janet even
down to the querulous inflections. Please God, not that noble
self-martyrdom next. Anything but that.
My Crap Life. Honestly, when had Sophie ever wanted for
a single thing in her whole life? You did your best, you were
everything to your kids your own parents werent, you put them
first in everything, and they still thought their lives were crap.
Their lives were paradise, she thought bitterly, picking at the red
Her mothers voice burbled faintly but persistently out of the
ether telling her to warm up the iron and find some absorbent
paper and do the job properly, and Sandy tuned her out before
she could go on to add that there was still a load of wet clothes in
that machine that would soon be starting to mildew and a vinegar
rinse would get that smell out but why let it happen in the first
When are you going to shut up, Sandy whispered savagely to
the hovering apparition of her mother standing in the doorway
delivering this litany, and just leave me alone? The apparition turned
stiffly on its orthopedic heel with the outraged offence that would
take months to repair, if this was real life.
Excerpted from The World Beneath
by Cate Kennedy. Copyright © 2011 by Cate Kennedy.
Excerpted by permission of Grove Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.