Always is the third Aud novel. It was the book in which I was determined to get to the bottom of what makes Aud who she is. As part of that process, I wrote a series of monologues directed at Aud from various bit players in her past.

These pieces were never meant for publication. They’re purely exploratory. But I thought you might like to see a couple of them. Regard them as part of the naked writing I promised six weeks ago.

The first is from Aud’s childhood (aged eight or nine) when she’s living in the UK with her mother:

–precautions never cost nowt. Pass me that crescent wrench,
there’s a good lass. Third time this winter I’ve been in here to
fix these bloody pipes. Why doesn’t your mum get the buggers
wrapped when it turns cold? Not like the Embassy can’t afford
it. Glue gun. You can’t be too careful, that’s my motto. Look
before you cross the road, test a rope you’re going to put your
weight on, tell the wife if you’re going to come home early on
leave. It’s the ignorant bastards who get the surprises. ‘Scuse
my french. When I were in t’desert, I checked my boots every
bloody morning for creepy crawlies. Terrible, some of the things
what scuttle about in them foreign countries. Anyroad, we had
this corporal who was a right arsehole, and he got on my case
about it, day after day, calling me a girl, asking me if I wanted
ribbons for my hair and that. And then one day we’re woken at
the crack of bleeding dawn by a right racket, enemy tanks and
whatnot, and we have get dressed fast and quiet, like. Only this
corporal, he pulls on his boots and there’s a scorpion in them,
waving its tail about, and the corporal squeaks like a hamster,
runs out of the tent, and an Arab shoots his fucking head off.
There, try it now…

The second is a week or so after she kills the man who broke into her apartment with a gun. She’s eighteen.

–as the court-ordered psychiatrist, Ms. Torvingen, I don’t
officially have an opinion on that. Sign here please. For the
record, you are, if necessary, competent to stand trial. You’re
of sound mind, you understand the language, and are cognisant of
American attitudes to right and wrong. Date here. Not that
there’ll be a trial. No doubt many would see you as a hero. But
off the record I am deeply troubled. I see not the slightest
indication of remorse on your part, no understanding of the
seriousness of what you have done. You took a life, Ms.
Torvingen, and though the law might stipulate that an eighteen
year-old woman in her own apartment has the right to kill an
armed intruder, in your heart you should know differently. Yet
you sit and eat and smile as though it was a beer bottle you
broke, not a man’s neck. Your attitude disturbs me greatly.
Life is not a trivial matter, Ms. Torvingen. I pray to God that
one day you will understand. Thank you. Everything seems to be in order. Yes, well, as I am clearly making no impression, I’ll be on my way. Here’s my card, should your conscience ever bother you and should you feel the need to talk. Good day to you.