A life fractured into parallel worlds. A quiet magic to accept or ignore. A decision to make.
Escape from difficult family dynamics is teenager Rainbow’s desire. When she discovers a strange gift for communicating with trees, she thinks she’s found her salvation. Even better, a mysterious but gentle man living in her Dorset village helps develop her powers.
But when tragedy strikes, Rainbow’s life is torn apart, creating parallel worlds in the process. In one life, the vulnerable Rainbow strives to salvage her family. In the other, her alter-ego, Mary, flees her past. Over the next few years the two versions of Rainbow follow very different lives. The source of their grief, however, is the same – a confession buried deep within their memories.
Could France offer more than a mere escape? As the two worlds draw closer and memories resurface, Rainbow and Mary’s futures must be determined. Can they receive the healing they need? Or will the renewed pain be too much to bear? Only by risking their lives will they know.
Excerpt from Tree Magic – Harriet Springbett
Rainbow thought she’d died in the accident. She had to be dead because she could see Amrita Devi, and Amrita came from a Bishnoi legend.
Amrita was hugging a silver maple tree on the edge of a wood. A heaven full of trees seemed fitting to Rainbow, though lightning had split this particular maple and one of its two branches was almost dead. It needed some good hugging.
The Bishnoi girl was exactly as Rainbow had imagined: small and sprite-like with long black hair, and wearing a colourful sari in pinks and reds. Rainbow’s mum had told her the legend nine years ago, when Rainbow was four. According to the fable, Amrita had tried to save an ancient tree from woodcutters.
Amrita lifted her head from the trunk and beckoned to her. Rainbow crept through the silence to the silver maple and mirrored Amrita, lacing her arms around its trunk and hugging it. Then she closed her eyes and let herself be drawn into the tree’s reassuring comfort. It was as if she, Amrita and the maple were one, holding and healing each other. This was definitely heaven.
She opened her eyes to tell Amrita how great it all felt. But Amrita raised a finger to her lips and pointed towards a figure that had just arrived. It was another Rainbow.
This Rainbow looked angry. She kicked through decaying leaves, her hands shoved deep into her jean pockets. When she heard Amrita’s low call, she stopped and stared at them both. Her face was shock-white and her lips frozen blue.
Amrita stretched a hand towards her, inviting her to join them at the silver maple. But this strange Rainbow refused to come closer. Amrita pleaded, her voice an ethereal shimmer. “Xylem and phloem, xylem and phloem,” she said. “You’re not cambium. You shouldn’t have divided. Come! Be healed!”
The strange Rainbow ignored Amrita’s peculiar entreaty. She turned her back and stamped away.
Rainbow realised she’d been holding her breath. She let it out in a sigh of relief. She didn’t want to share Amrita and heaven with this imposter. She tried to catch Amrita’s eye and smile at her, but Amrita was no longer as solid as before. The whole of heaven rippled, like a bubble in a breeze. The colours weakened. Each separate entity blurred into a red-gold fuzz of whirling leaves. Then the bubble burst.Excerpt from Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett
Harriet Springbett’s childhood on a small farm in West Dorset gave her an early exposure to nature, which continues to inspire her writing.
She qualified as an engineer but, during a Raleigh International expedition in Chile, she realised she preferred words to numbers. She abandoned her profession, moved to France, studied French and then worked as a project manager, feature writer, translator and TEFL teacher. She now lives in Poitou-Charentes with her French partner and their teenage children.
Since her first literary success, aged 10, her short stories and poetry have been published in literary journals and placed in writing competitions, including a shortlisting in the 2017 Bath Short Story Award.
Harriet leads writing workshops, has judged the Segora international short story competition and blogs at https://harrietspringbett.wordpress.com