The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost – Story Extract

Here is another extract from my dramatic little book that explores relationships, teen angst and mental health. I hope that you find this part somewhat intriguing.

The weather seemed a lot more bleak the next day. I took the dog for a walk after dropping Max off at school. I had called work and taken a day off because I wanted to clear my head and they owed me a few days so it really made no difference anyway. I could not stop thinking about the mysterious death of Alex’s wife or the horrid reality of my own sinking marriage. It was a train wreck. It had been for quite some time. After these recent events it seemed to have come to the point where I had to really think carefully about my future, and how that future could impact on Max. In these situations, the only person I could turn to was my brother, Jamie. He would listen to me rant and not judge me but he would also make me see sense. As I found myself edging towards his street, I suddenly had the urge to direct message the teacher again. I could not help myself. ‘Hi, please keep an eye on Max for me. Thanks. Matt.’ I left it at that but hoped he would at least give me an update on how the boy was doing at school. It was only yesterday that Max was in a fight on stage, and they still had another performance of their play this afternoon. His mum swore on her mother’s life that she would go to this show, but I knew he was not bothered either way as he was used to no shows when it came to her.

 

The wind was howling now and really blowing me about, causing the dog to get excited and my hair to break through the crust of fixing gel and start flailing around wildly. I knew I should have bought a ‘Super-hold’ version of gel rather than the light touch one. Aesthetics went out of the window for a minute as I tried to reclaim my balance. I had lost concentration for a second and walked over a hole in the footpath, stumbling slightly and letting go of the dog lead, momentarily. The stupid dog legged it at his first chance. He was always a runner. I cannot believe I had let go so quickly. Fego was gone in an instance and now I would spend the afternoon trying to hunt him down once more. Could this day get any better? I started to turn back for the car, when a friendly face appeared in a vehicle which had pulled up beside me. It was Nicole, my cousin, and she was eager to tell me that she had just seen what she thought was my dog racing down the high street. I hopped into her Mercedes and we did a three sixty. The dog was my mission but my head was telling me to offload a bit to Nicole while I had the opportunity. The only problem is, she would judge me. She had always seen the good in everyone. She would not make it easy for such a conversation. I decided to rein it in and chat about the suicide. A safer topic, ironically.

 

Nicole had to have the window open as we drove, which to me seemed crazy, as not only did it make it very cold inside that car, but it made it even harder to hold a meaningful conversation over the howling noise of the encroaching wind. Her hair swept back freely as we negotiated several bends in the street and she had always got her radio on in the background. This meant I had to literally yell whatever I was going to say to her out loud.

She looked carefree as she drove.

‘So how did Fego get away from you this time?’ She shouted.

‘I fell over a broken bit of kerb.’

‘I swear he was just round here about five minutes ago.’

‘He will come home eventually. He usually manages to.’

‘You seem like something else is puzzling you,’ she screamed happily.

‘Well yeah, this whole suicide thing. It doesn’t make any sense. It just all of a sudden…’

‘I know what you mean,’ she interrupted mid-sentence, ‘but you know she was never really happy. Their marriage was probably a sham.’

‘What makes you think this?’ Now my curiosity was growing exponentially.

Nicole took a moment to clear her thoughts and compose herself before she replied.

‘Are you kidding? She was a nervous wreck.’

‘How do you know? I mean I never really noticed anything unusual,’ I shouted back doubtfully.

Nicole slammed on the breaks and pulled into a little lay-by. She turned off the engine and wound up the window. I could tell she was more concerned about people hearing this part but I could see no sign of anyone around us. She moved her head closer to me and took a deep breath.

‘You are not exactly the observant type, cous!’ she snapped.

‘What do you mean?’ I replied with a defensive whine.

‘You spend your whole life wrapped up in a bubble. Wrapped up in yourself and your world.’

‘How dare you! I have never done anything to cheese you off. I notice stuff!’

‘But you don’t! You go from place to place. You have earphones in most of the time. You unplug yourself from what is really going on on your own doorstep. I mean I am not trying to upset you but wake up and smell the coffee.’

AD – Thank you for checking it out. There is a link to the book below if you feel like reading more. For an extract of another shorter story, click here.

Dismal Fumes – A Poem

Frosty mornings, misty roads,

Lorries carry heavy loads.

Traffic everywhere, nose to nose,

Engines roaring, pavements closed.

Gases and fumes fill the air,

Sometimes feels like we just don’t care.

Planes fly over, pollution swirls –

From their jets, in poisonous twirls.

Watch the endless trail of smoke,

From power stations, making choke –

An atmosphere less full of wildlife,

Cut that pollution with a knife.

Energy wasted, all for nowt,

Nobody walking around and about.

Everyone sat inside cars and vans,

Time we made more Ecofriendly plans.

I wrote this poem after noticing how clogged up my city has been lately. As those working from home have been asked to get back on the road, I worry that pollution will soon be back to its normal levels. London last week had an air quality warning where people were encouraged to stay inside due to the clinging fog holding onto those traffic fumes and creating extra risks for people with asthma.

I also notice that our weather locally is steadily becoming warmer every winter. Daily temperatures of around ten degrees replace bitterly cold previous winters. Essentially in the East of England we do not see any snow any more.

As a snow lover this makes me sad and right now I can see nothing but pollution so the parallels have become increasingly visible.

Fingers crossed we will find solutions to these problems soon. Roads filled with electric cars and electricity grids powered by natural sources may well be the answer. For another of my poems please click here.