My Life at the End of the Tunnel by Christina Black
July 5, 2021
My Life At the End of the Tunnel by Christina Black
Today I am on the Blog Tour for The Special Relationship and I am here with an extract for you all.
Before I share that though, here’s some information on the book.
Title: My Life at the End of the Tunnel Author: Christina Black Publisher: Clink Street Publishing Published: 29th June 2021 Format: Paperback Source: N/A Summary: On her wedding night, it wasn’t the diamonds in her new ring that Christina remembers counting, but the bruises on her body. Some girls get swept off their feet, she got knocked off hers. What happened next, she’s always tried to block out! John was just the first, and the only one she was foolish enough to marry, but what choice did she have? She’d only gone to the party to please her sister, whose twice-divorced neighbour had invited her. Naïve to a fault, she didn’t even know you could spike a drink. Two years, two kids, and a thousand nightmares later, a sympathetic judge brought an end to all the traumas. It wasn’t like this in the knights’ tales she’d escaped to as a child. Or was it? Guinevere’s ardour for Lancelot seemed less romantic when you consider their affair led to the downfall of a kingdom. The Lady of Shallot knew love only through a mirror’s reflection and died in pursuit of it. Was Christina to suffer the same fate? Or would the spirits of those who existed between this life and the next keep her from making any more calamitous decisions?
“It’s nerves,” my dad said in the car, seeing my eyes brimming with tears. “Just nerves.” He repeated it a few times, as if trying to convince himself that that the more he uttered the words, the more likely they were to be true. But the fact was, if he said them a hundred times, a thousand even, it wouldn’t make it any truer than it was now – the reason I was shaking so much wasn’t anything to do with my sodding nerves.
The shadow of the registry office fell over us and I felt the car slowing down. “Please don’t stop, pleeease don’t stop” I said to myself, hoping the driver, or God, would hear me and get me out of the awful predicament I’d allowed myself to stumble into. Dad stretched his arms forward and cricked his fingers. It sounded like a cockroach being stepped on. “Here we are,” he said, feigning the enthusiasm a little too much.
The air hit our faces as we clambered out. I could taste dirt in the air, and the briny stench of the nearby river that Birkenhead could never fully escape. The car had dumped us on a narrow road outside a mud-coloured building that could’ve passed for a rich merchant’s house seventy years ago, the kind of man who’d have left a place like this stuffing into his coat pocket two First Class tickets for the Titanic. Overhead, a sky, the same shade of grey as my heart, roiled like a sick stomach. Both rain and tears were forecast, but which would fall first? Sensing my hesitation, Dad put his hand on my lower back and coaxed me forward, like a farmer bringing his most prized ewe to market. “Oh, don’t worry, fellas,” I could imagine him saying. “This one’s good for breedin’.”
John was inside already, waiting – the only time he ever would for me in all the time I knew him. He was wearing a creased navy suit more befitting a funeral than a wedding, which was apt, given the circumstances. He threw up the corners of his mouth, which might have passed for a smile in some quarters, but I knew the sparkle in his eyes wasn’t for any joy he felt at seeing me. It was because he’d been drinking, and was already nearing his threshold. Soon he’d be past it, and wouldn’t I know it! An official appeared and guided us into position like a theatre director shepherding actors around his stage. John and I – the lead roles in this tragedy – were brought forward, whilst the over-dressed extras were herded into a dog leg around us. They looked on, all Brute aftershave and Airfix smiles, as the blank-eyed official muttered something about commitment and fidelity. I felt the skin around my finger pinched slightly as a ring was shoved onto it, then all eyes were on me and it was my line. I swallowed hard. Was this really happening?
“I do,” I said, after a not-long-enough eternity.
“Awwww,” everyone cooed, their make-up cracking.
Lips, dry and coarse and browned by ale and fags, then smashed into mine. Lips I didn’t have any memory of ever kissing before, but presumably I must have when, two months earlier, I’d allowed myself to set in motion this whole cataclysmic chain of events. If I’d known then what I was about to enter into, how much my world was about to change, and with what violence, I’d have run towards the window and jumped out. I wouldn’t have cared if I’d landed in front of a bus, because there’s not much more damage a bus could’ve done to me than what awaited me in the two-and-a-half years that lay ahead.
Stepping away, John wiped a smudge of lipstick from his mouth, like it was cream and he was the cat who’d got it. And who’d have argued with him if he’d claimed he had? He was 36, and had been through all this before –twice; I was 18 and, until a few weeks ago, every inch the virgin from all the Arthurian myths and legends I grew up being obsessed about. The people who made up the dog leg offered their hands when we turned towards them. Stealing all the goodwill they had to offer, John stepped forward and shook them all, one quick jab each, already thinking about his next drink, probably, and which sucker would buy it for him.
And it was about this time too that I felt the first stirrings in my stomach. What was it, I wondered … the first sign of morning sickness or something far more sinister? An ill-omen perhaps, of what was to come, as full of menace as a raven perched on top of a baby’s pram, or an owl screeching at midnight?
In just a few hours, I would know.
About the Author
Christina was born in Bootle, on the outskirts of Liverpool, on the 27th June 1959. Unwanted, she soon found herself wrapped in blankets and dumped on the steps of Olive and Richard Guy, acquaintances of her natural mother. The Guys agreed to take her in, not out of charity, but for the handouts given to them by the government. Raised alongside a handful of ‘siblings’, she suffered terrible abuse in the household, and was sent out, upon turning 11, to work in a general store up the road. At 17, she left Bootle to live with her sister in Birkenhead, but was pushed into the arms of her twice-married neighbour, John. But if she thought things would improve as John’s third wife she was sorely mistaken. Under his roof the abuse intensified, and Christina soon found herself with two young children to feed. Three more would follow, each a miracle, given the dreadful conditions they were born in. All five have since grown into wonderful, caring adults, and have so far given Christina four beautiful grandchildren.
Currently, Christina lives in a picturesque village on the outskirts of Chester, with her partner Wayne, and their two dogs, Apollo (a Great Dane) and Che (a German Shepherd). She is now a qualified Reiki healer and spends much of her time, together with her three guardian angels, helping people with their own problems and pains. Alongside this, she also finds the time to run her own cleaning business.