About the Book
Title: A Single Breath
Author: Amanda Apthorpe
Genre: Literary fiction
“Life’s beginning and its end hinged on a single breath as though the rest was conducted in its pause.”
When the first hate letter arrives in the days after her patient, Bonnie's death, obstetrician Doctor Dana Cavanagh reads it with shaking hands before placing it next to the small news article of the court's verdict: not guilty.
Hate letters continue to trickle in, but one stands out from the others—a cryptic message with a tiny marble stone, its origin—Kos, Greece, the birthplace of Hippocrates. She had once proudly sworn his oath, "I will give not deadly medicine."
Accompanied by her sister Madeleine, Dana follows the mystery of the letter to Kos. The arrival of two more letters, and the strange appearances of a woman, beckon her to Italy and England. Despairing for her sanity, Dana persists in her crusade to come to terms with being implicated in the death of another.
The ceiling of the cabin sagged so low that I could measure its distance to my face with a wide-fingered handspan. A cold light from the bathroom cubicle ricocheted around the walls and reflected off the panels above my nose. Where they met, someone had picked at the seam like a child at a scab. With each pitch and toss of the ferry, diesel fumes seeped through its pores.
There was no sound from the bunk below. My sister, I assumed, was sleeping peacefully, but I needed the comfort of her enthusiasm. In the space left to me I contorted my body so that my head and torso hung over the bunk’s edge.
“Madeleine. Are you awake?”
There was a low groan and the sound of the bunk springs creaking as she rolled over.
“What?” Her yawn was thick with sleep.
“What are we doing here Mads?”
No reply, just a soft snore at the back of her throat. I rolled back to stare again at the ceiling’s ragged seam. A dog barked in a cabin somewhere further along the deck.
In the darkness of what I feared would be our watery crypt, I doubted the wisdom of this journey.
Amanda Apthorpe is a Melbourne-based, Australian author of fiction and non-fiction. She studied at the University of Melbourne and holds a PhD and a Masters degree in creative writing, is a Master of science and a teacher with over twenty-five years experience. Amanda currently teaches in the Professional Writing and Editing program at the Centre for Adult Education, and is active in the international academic community of writing. She is published by Atlas Productions.
Twitter: @ AmandaApthorpe