The Fathers, The Sons and The Anxious Ghost – Book Extract

As I am currently having a little break in Scotland, I decided that today I would share a brief snippet from my first published book. This story of three families was written four years ago and came out in 2019. I am still proud of it because it covers so many different topics in just a hundred and two pages. Hopefully you will find the extract intriguing.

How could I keep everything as normal as possible? How could I hold my head up high? Nothing made any sense to me anymore. I was overwhelmed, bewildered and out of painkillers. My head pounded slowly as it had for the past ten hours. A night spent at my mum’s house was needed but I really ought to go back there, to the home I had shared with Michelle. My heart was sat throbbing gently in the soles of my shoes. My ears quietly rang. My nose ran tirelessly. I felt as though reality had subsided and everything was a mix between chaos and sublime fantasy. My children needed me. No doubt about that. But what could I say? What should I do? Who could I turn to? Why didn’t I see any of this coming? I was not one to cry but tears fell out of my eyes like rain from an overloaded storm cloud suddenly offloading. Like daggers, they seemed to cut across my cheeks and dig into my jaw, carving faint yet permanent etchings across my face and staining me forever like ageing creams dissolving the past and dripping poignantly onto the floor as if flooding and muddying the future and any chance of escape.

I had put a few clothes in a bag last night and got out of there as the police had urged me to. They wanted to examine the house and take finger prints and find out exactly what she did. I had accidentally taken her jumper with me. As I picked it out of the bag I thought about the last time I had seen her in it. Just the other evening. She had been cooking salmon and I recalled her taking it off because she said it stank of fish. I sniffed it now and it was clean and fragrant. It reminded me of spring and the strolls we took through the hills. My heart sank back down into those soles and I gathered myself together. My kids were stood either side of me as they saw me caress her jumper. They leant into my shoulders and we stood in silence, looking out of the window, reflecting quietly.

I gathered up their stuff and we got in the car quickly. My mum asked if I would be alright on the road driving in this state. I tried to make her believe that I was capable and I started to drive off, without looking over my shoulder. I needed to face up to this. As I drove quite slowly through the mainly car-less roads, the usual warmth associated with going home did not reassemble and I was left feeling confused, uncomfortable and out of place. I noticed a glazed look in Alfie’s eyes and the sparkle of partly evaporated tears chalked into his face. I could not determine the way Tess felt exactly as she looked quite serious yet I sometimes thought I could see the beginnings of a smile, especially as we passed some of our favourite haunts, like the park, the duck pond and the place where she went to dancing lessons.

I prayed to a god that I had never really believed in that she might get through this in one piece and have nothing but fond memories of her wonderful mother. Little did I know this day was going to resonate with her more strongly than anyone else. Alfie was the one with mixed emotions, so I largely anticipated him suffering greatly.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this small extract and hope that for some of you it grabbed your interest enough to maybe check out the book. For a recent book review that I did, have a look at my article about Exciting Times.

Short Dates – My Book Extract

Today I wanted to give some new life to my original short stories from 2018. My very first story was about a guy stuck in a snow drift who came across a potential romance. From there I went on to build a book of short stories of varying length. This is an extract from my shortest story, about parenting.

Revisiting

My head still ached from two nights ago but I was happy to get up and spend the day with her. Sizzling bacon greeted me when I got downstairs and mum seemed attentive as she poured me a coffee and suggested I take a few paracetamol.

‘How does it feel to be an adult?’ she asked.

‘Same really,’ I replied honestly.

‘Two day hangover, haha. Well today we can just relax and see some wild animals up close.’

‘Yeh, I haven’t been to the zoo since I was little.’

‘I remember taking you when you were six.’

 

On the road, mum played my favourite music and I was able to chill out and let the world pass me by. The sun was striking through the wispy clouds in shards and mum seemed happy driving but slightly quieter than usual. It took me back to all those occasions when, as a child, she had ferried me around to cubs, from football matches and between friends’ houses. She had always been there for me and never let me down. We always had a day close to my birthday when it was just me and her, mother and son time. She had kindly funded a private party for me and 30 friends on Thursday to celebrate my 18th and now was my turn to hang out with her. We had always been close and I knew that soon I would be off to uni and leaving her on her own. She would be alright but I reckoned it would be hard at first for both of us.

 

We queued for tickets and were soon inside, wondering past monkeys, watching a tiger stride around its glass framed grassland and trying to spot chameleons which were camouflaged magnificently in a tiny jungle. After a while mum wanted us to get our lunch and we opened our picnic not far from the giraffe compound. From where we sat, we could see a tall, majestic giraffe looming over the other animals, munching on leaves which it had grabbed from overhanging trees.

 

‘It is great being here again, mum.’

‘ I love this giraffe,’ she said.

‘Apparently he was an orphan when they got him,’ I told her.

‘Well he has been well looked after by the zoo.’

‘Yes, he has been here since I was born, according to the sign.’

‘Hehe, that is why I chose here. He is as old as you…well…maybe just a little older,’ she said.

 

A group of tourists filtered past and we fell silent for a moment or two, munching on egg sandwiches and sipping Ribena. The whole thing was beginning to feel like a school trip now.

 

Suddenly the bench seemed remote. A drop in the crowd led to a more stilted conversation. Mum got a sudden burst of confidence. She lifted her head and looked into my eyes. I had never seen this side of mum since grandad died. Her hand seemed shaky as it lay on her lunch box. She gathered her words into some very composed sentences which would eventually change my entire outlook on life.

 

I gulped as she began slowly.

‘You know you mean the world to me, Matthew.’

Her using my full name indicated the level of importance that this conversation must bring.

‘Of course, mum. What has happened. Is it Nan?’ I felt like I knew that it wasn’t but needed to at least check.

‘Nan is fine. It is about me… and you’ her words lingered and her face flushed.

‘What is it? Are you unwell?’

‘That giraffe was brought here because it had no family. It has grown up into a formidable beast. Everyone comes to see it. It is incredibly popular.’

At this point, my mind still did not join the dots.

‘Eighteen years ago you came to me. The best thing that had ever happened to me. A single woman wanting desperately to bring a child into the world. Then there came you.’

She was being all dramatic now.

‘But I could never have children of my own. My uterus didn’t grow properly. You came to me as a gift.’

My head was whirling round. Had I been a miracle?

‘I love you very much indeed. Your real mother was dying when she gave birth to you. I had the honour of bringing you up for her.’

My heart stopped.

I was adopted.

AD – Thank you for reading my extract and please check out my book on Amazon. It is available at no extra cost using Kindle Unlimited or for 77p.

 

 

 

 

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.