The Lost Sister: A gripping emotional page turner with a breathtaking twist
Tracy Buchanan

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They all nodded. It was as though they were seamlessly weaving a story together … and yet they’d only lived with each other for a few days. Maybe it was this ‘current’ they all talked of. The same current they refused to tell me about.

‘So how do you pay for all this if numbers aren’t your thing?’ I asked, gesturing to the wine and food.

‘Money,’ Donna said simply.

I laughed. ‘That’s numbers.’

‘But we don’t pay for it here, do we?’ Julien said. ‘We get money out when we’re in town and use it at the shops, giving any change which remains to the charity shops.’

‘Money clouds the creative juices,’ Oceane said. ‘All numbers do. It’s impossible to get into the current if we’re surrounded by them.’

‘What’s the bloody current?’ I shouted out, the loudness of my voice surprising me.

Julien frowned but Idris laughed. ‘I like your intensity.’

‘Then bloody tell me what it is,’ I said, leaning towards him and smiling to show him I wasn’t being too serious. But the fact was, I really did want to know.

He stood up, putting his hand out to me. ‘Come and see.’

I let him lead me to Maggie, very conscious of his warm hand around mine, intimate, soft. I felt drunk, not just from the gin and the wine but from his proximity too. It reminded me of being drunk as a teenager, night swimming with an old boyfriend, the heady freedom of it, like the night was infinite.

The dark cave unfolded before me like I was in a dream; slightly hazy, very warm. ‘The infamous cave,’ I whispered, suddenly feeling dizzy with the smell of salt and seaweed, ashes and barbecued chicken.

Idris came to a stop. Maggie was sitting before us, folding petals at an amazing speed, her fingers flexing and bending as she pressed the delicate flowers together. Her head was down, her brow knitted, her face in complete concentration. She seemed totally oblivious to our presence.

‘Maggie is a craftswoman,’ Idris explained in a quiet voice as we watched her. ‘She excels at a variety of crafts, from pottery to sewing to making masks. But it’s the paper flowering that she’s truly able to find the current with.’

‘So, being in the current is basically being in the zone?’ I asked.

He thought about it. ‘In a sense. But it goes deeper than that. Entering the current has a physical effect on the brain, deactivating the prefrontal cortex.’ He gently tapped the bottom of my forehead. ‘It controls elements like reason, logic, problem-solving …’

‘And numbers,’ I said, raising an eyebrow.

He smiled. ‘Yes. When we’re not dominated by those elements of our psyche, we can truly give into creativity.’

‘I get it. When I’m really into writing, everything around me disappears.’

‘It goes beyond that. It’s hard to explain until you’ve experienced it. But when you do, the work you produce will be the best you ever have.’

I thought about it. That was certainly a tempting prospect considering how utterly useless I’d been at writing lately. It amazed me sometimes, how I could get lost in my writing, hours passing without me realising. And yet Idris was saying it was possible to go even deeper than that. Maybe that was just what my writing needed?

We grew silent, watching as Maggie smoothed the petals of a pink flower, examining it for imperfections before placing it with the others.

‘So what’s this all about?’ I said after a while, gesturing to the group. ‘Why are all these people here? It can’t be just about getting into the current, as you call it,’ I said, making quotation marks with my fingers.

‘It is,’ he replied. ‘Everything we do here is about getting into the current. It’s our sole aim. Individually and as a group. Specifically to reach the point of being in the current together for as long as possible. Then great things will happen.’

‘Like what?’

He smiled, his face lighting up. ‘That’s all to discover. But for you? Maybe you’ll write your second novel.’

I had to admit it was appealing, even if it did sound a bit woo-woo. I peered at my wine. Clearly I’d drunk too much.

‘You’ve achieved a lot in less than two weeks,’ I said.

‘Anyone can, when they put their mind to it.’

‘Minus the prefrontal cortex.’

He laughed. ‘Want to see inside?’ he asked, gesturing towards the cave.

‘Why not?’

We walked towards the cave. It was long and narrow, stretching back for what I’d imagine was over a hundred metres. Paintings dotted the entrance: blue fish; white birds, wings spread wide; starfish and shells.

‘You did these?’ I asked Idris.

He nodded.

‘Is that what you did, before you came here?’

‘I’ve always painted,’ he replied, not really answering my question.

We stepped into the cave. At the front were two barbecues, three cooler boxes, plus two small white cupboards that appeared to have been ripped from a kitchen. Just beyond it was a long, narrow table made of thick driftwood with several mismatched chairs around it.

‘Julien made that table,’ Idris said.

‘Nice.’ And it really was nice, the kind of table I might have looked at with Mike, desperate to buy but way above our budget. The place was surprising me, making me feel strangely at home.

We stepped further into the cave and the atmosphere suddenly changed, my senses overwhelmed by the sound of the sea, as if I was holding a shell up to my ear. It felt intimate in there, like I was cut right off from it all, our own private little world apart from the rush of the sea outside.

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