The Start of Something | Miranda Dickinson

The Start of Something book cover

Miranda Dickinson is the author of twelve books, including six Sunday Times bestsellers, with book sales over one million. Her latest title has just been released, a quirky and warm-hearted romance, The Start of Something, and we’re delighted to share Chapter 1 now. Miranda has also contributed to our bumper fiction edition of My Weekly, with 11 short stories inside. Don’t miss Miranda’s story, Let It Grow – the issue is in shops now!

The Start of Something

Two lonely people. One note in the window. And what happens when they reach out…

Lachlan Wallace is stuck at home after a car accident stalled his army career. With months of physiotherapy still to endure and only his rescue dog and cat for company, he’s taken to gazing out of the window, watching the world spin on without him.

When he notices a vase of flowers on the windowsill of the apartment opposite, he’s drawn to their hope and colour and decides to reach out by sticking a message in his window…

Bethan Gwynne is a stranger in a new town. Bringing up her son Noah by herself, she is slowly rebuilding her life, but loneliness is one obstacle she has yet to overcome. She’s intrigued by a glimpse of her neighbour in the apartment across from hers – and then, one evening, she sees a message just for her: WHAT ARE THOSE FLOWERS CALLED? And so begins a love story of two people reaching out, daring to trust a stranger…

The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson (HQ, Paperback Original £8.99, eBook £8.99 and AudioBook) is available now from Amazon.

The Start of Something Exclusive Extract – Chapter One


‘Try to stay focused.’

‘I am focused.’

I’m not. But I won’t tell her that. What does she know about me, other than I’m the grumpy sod she has to wrestle into shape four times a week?

‘You’re forgetting I know you, Lachie. I can see you sneaking glances out of the window.’

‘I’m not.’

I am, but only because the world out there is far more appealing than being pummelled by a self-righteous physiotherapist. I drag my gaze away and let her see it.

‘That’s it. Good. Try and lift that leg a little higher.’

She says it like it’s easy. Like I haven’t been trying for the last eight weeks. Easy for you, Tanya, walking in with that hip swing I thought was cute the first time I met you. Now it’s just another kick to me: another thing your body can do that my body’s forgotten.

I know what she’s thinking: it’s what I’m thinking, too. There should be more progress by now. Back when we started, the plan was ten to twelve weeks to regain at least 80 per cent mobility in my left leg. Doctors and surgeons, the hospital physios, they were all so sure of it. It was their job to be pessimistic, my doctor told me; whatever they’d told me about how long it will take was supposed to be worst-case scenario. But I’m eight weeks in and nothing’s changed for a fortnight.

Tanya’s smile is as annoyingly bright as ever, but recently a crease between her eyebrows has joined it. No amount of grinning is shifting it. That worries me. I push harder and the pain forces a yelp from my lips. Damn it. Normally I can do this in silence, but now Tanya knows.

‘Don’t force it. Let’s take a break. I’ll get you some water.’

I can’t tell which of us is more relieved as she hurries into the kitchen.

Next time, I’ll have to bite my tongue.

I let my gaze drift to the window again, to the building opposite. There’s something going on in the flat directly over the hedge from mine. Its windows have been dark for a month now, ever since the old lady who lived there moved out. But last night, lights were blazing in it well past midnight. And today, all the windows facing my building have been opened. From time to time a carrier bag or a box will appear on the windowsill, only to be removed a few minutes later. Now the window is empty again, save for a pair of very worn gardening gloves resting against the glass.

Looking closer, I can see a single naked light bulb burning in the ceiling. Something that looks like it could be a stepladder edges into view at one side, but it’s draped in white – a dustsheet, maybe?

I look back just as Tanya returns with the glass of water. As she hands it to me, the chirpy dance tune of her mobile begins. She raises an apologetic hand, pointing towards the front door. She’ll take it on the landing outside the flat as she always does. Judging by her tone as she answers the call hurrying out of the room, I reckon I have a couple of minutes at least.

Taking my chance, I push myself off the dining-table chair I’ve been doing my exercises on and hop to the window. My favourite spot. Funny, when I bought this place an age ago it never occurred to me to look outside. Now it’s my lifeline. My safe place.

Standing by the glass, I can see the corner of the building next door and the wide sweep of communal garden that separates it from the main road. Two people are chatting on the pavement, their dogs making an enthusiastic appraisal of each other’s behinds. I wonder if they might be connected with the activity in the opposite flat, but then they wave and go their separate ways.

There’s no decorator’s van in the curving driveway, which is where I’ve seen tradespeople park their vehicles before. I glance at the car park at the rear of the building, but there’s no van there, either, as far as I can see.

Yes, I know it’s sad. I never expected to become an expert in my nearest neighbours’ lives, but here we are. I’m not proud of it – and I would be mortified if anyone spotted me. But – it helps. It helps to know the world is spinning on beyond these four walls. It’s a promise that I’ll see it again – that my own life waits there, just out of reach.

It’s done more for my head than eight weeks of physio, that’s for sure.

I look up from the road to the window of the flat opposite. My breath catches. Someone is standing there. They have their back to the window, but I can see a dark ponytail and a paint-splattered T-shirt that might once have been a souvenir from a rock gig.

Two hands appear at the small of their back, the shoulders rolling in a stretch. I imagine the satisfying crack of vertebrae coaxed back into line and I’m instantly jealous.

Turn around.

I want to see their face. I’m ashamed and fascinated at once: it is none of my business who owns the ponytail and tour T-shirt, and yet I want to know. I’m guessing it’s a woman, but from this angle it’s impossible to tell. Whoever they are, they look tired. I see it in the heavy lock of the shoulders, the slow progress of the stretch. I know how that feels…

‘I thought we said no looking out of the window.’

When I turn, Tanya is standing in the room, hands on hips, like my mother does when she’s about to deliver a bollocking.

Better knuckle down, then, until it’s done and she goes away.

When I look back an hour later, the flat is dark and the windows closed.

Now hear a video extract from the author herself, reading from one of Bethan’s chapters.

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Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team ten years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!