Prelude 75

Elsbeth had never needed to work, preferring to look after the children. Tom had not minded and they were comfortable enough on his salary, but now that he was gone she felt the need to do something. The opportunity came soon enough in the form of an advert on the church notice board - a shop supervisor at the local Christian Aid charity shop. She applied and was frankly surprised to get called in for an interview. Elsbeth was bemused at how years as a housewife and mother had dented her confidence. The interviewer was a terrifying woman called Mrs Annamarie Jones who's severe demeanour was only surpassed by that of her grey suit. She was the area manager but looked more suited to running a Dickensian poor home than Christian charity shops. It took all of Elsbeth's courage to keep her from running from the room, but stay she did, and the job was hers.

Prelude 74

She turned the page of her book, scarcely remembering what she had read. Overhead the huge oak trees swayed in the breeze, showing off their new summer hair-dos. In the nearby playground children frolicked without a care in the world, ignorant of the great sorrow in her heart. Elsbeth sighed. She could not go on like this. She missed Tom immensely but life had to go on, she had to go on. She closed the book, gathered her things, and marched off resolutely, unaware that she was being observed by an old man on a nearby park bench.

The man's gaze followed her for a while as she walked along the canal, then returned to his reflections. A sudden gust of wind tugged at his beard, causing him to stir and draw his overcoat close, before getting up and heading off in the opposite direction.

Prelude 73

She sat at the dining room table, head in her hands, sobbing deep heart rending cries. He was gone, her Tom, her husband of over thirty years, faithful companion and friend.
The funeral had been appropriate, with all the right things being said: that he had been a fine man, like none other, that he had gone on to a better place. Elsbeth knew all these things were true, but hated the insincerity of the occasion and was glad to have put it behind her.

But now she was alone, and the ticking clock that echoed through the house was a solemn reminder of time's haste and the brevity of life. Her son Andrew had stood by her dutifully, helping to sort out the arrangements and comfort her, but he had his own life, and so departed, leaving her to her sorrow and thoughts of happier times.

Day 20 (Revised)

I heard someone on the radio saying that it was completely illogical to believe in God. I didn't understand that. Why is it illogical? Sure there are some odd things about God like predestination and freewill that seem contradictory, but if there is a God and he is all the things they say about him (or her or them), then surely we're not going to understand everything? Does my world disappear into a puff of illogic because I can't explain where we come from, or why I have morals, or why I even think I exist?  

 Where is Joe when you need him? I wonder if he is in heaven or if he believed in the wrong God?  I would have thought that is a more serious logical objection to the existence of a Supreme Being. If it matters to him or her what we do on earth then it is only just that we have an equal (or fair) chance of reaching him or her. That means equal opportunity, and it's clear to me that someone born in the heart of the Bible belt has more opportunity than someone born in Iran - assuming of course that Christianity is right, or vice versa if it isn't. They can't both be right, and all roads lead to God theories are just a load of hopeful, illogical tosh.

Maybe I should start a religion? Church of The Irredeemably Sensible. Nah, wouldn't work – I'm too ugly. Nobody follows an ugly person. I need charisma, or even better charismata.

 Harry has just looked at me with those condescending cat's eyes of his so I guess its time to turn out the light.  He doesn't mind how I look as long as I feed him. We have an uncomplicated relationship.

Day 5 (Revised)

Liesel and Jojo dropped by today, bless them. I love it that despite my numerous failings my gorgeous girls still love me. They brought some presents, mostly of the edible kind, helped me clean up my place, and played cards. I taught them poker at an early age so they robbed me of every match stick in the flat. They stayed a good few hours and we chatted at length, mostly about current things because of our painful past, but sometimes laughing together over happier times; like the time little Jojo, only 5 at the time, scratched drawings in the pavement with a stone and then decided that Daddy's new car could do with a nice smiley face on the side panel. Hmmm ... not sure that is such a happy memory.

I was sad to see them go, and cling to the memories of their laughter, touch and smell. They mean the world to me, those two, and to this day cannot fathom how I could ever walk out on them. But I did, and that regret will go with me to my deathbed, along with all the others I bear in the depths of my tired old heart.

 The apartment is very empty tonight but I decided to lay off the wine for a change.

Prelude 1 (Revised)

“Daddy, Daddy look!”

Jojo was up the tree again, higher than ever before. Aaron smiled at the little fearless, defiant, joyful bundle.

Fiona fretted. “She'll hurt herself.”
“She'll be fine.”
“You always say that.”
“Yes, dear.”

It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon and they were sitting in the garden, about to start grilling. Aaron liked to start the fire early and watch it while sipping a beer or two, sometimes for hours on end, staring into the flickering flames, pondering life or just thinking nothing. The neighbours with their multi-tier, twin cylinder gas deluxe BBQ did not understand that grilling was as much about the process as the result. Life was so hurried, and any time to just stop and reflect was worth its weight in gold. Maggy, their Yorkshire Terrier lay at his feet, glancing upward now and then, waiting hopefully for a titbit.

Fiona lay on the sun lounger reading a novel. Aaron looked at her, his desire stirring – she was a stunning woman, even after two children, and he still wondered why she had picked him when she could have had anyone. She looked back at him and fluttered her eyelids coyly. He smiled.

Day 1 (Revised)

Woke up with a splitting headache this morning - too much red wine again - plus the neighbours were at it again so I didn't sleep a wink! I mean, if they're not killing each other then they are destroying the bed springs and my beauty sleep. Last night it was a bit of both. I think he came home drunk and by the sounds of it slapped her around a bit. I heard some thuds. things crashing and quite a bit of screaming. Then at last it settled down, except that just as I started to drift off the squeaking and moaning started! For goodness sake!  I'm just jealous really - I hate being single and on the dole, living in a crummy one bedroom flat with an obscured view of the canal. I've got nobody, nothing.

 There I go again, dark thoughts. I should be grateful to even have a place at all. Those poor bastards under the bridge are lucky if they even wake up in the morning. If it's not the cold, its the guy who fancied your shoes. I was lucky to find this place. I heard from someone at the soup kitchen that there was a squatting opportunity, a room with a view as it were. Funny guy. 

 I should do something useful today. The dishes need doing, but then they did last week too so that could wait I suppose. Maybe I'll visit Joe – I haven't seen him in ages. We could play cards if he's well enough. That cough has been getting worse but he won't go to the hospital, old fool. "Death trap", says he.  Can't say I blame him. Why, just the other day there was an item in the news about some poor bod who caught some nasty bug in hospital and died. I think he was in there to have an ingrown toenail seen to! Just thinking about it makes me shiver. He should go though. I'll have to talk to him again.

 Really miss the girls today. I know its my own stupid fault since I walked out on them and Fiona, but it was all too much: working long hours, Fiona nagging me about everything and seemingly never satisfied. Then of course there was the drink - I never could handle it, but I have no self-discipline and it was an easy escape from the nightmare. I wonder how they are. Does Jojo have a boy friend yet? She's such a tom-boy, always was, and I can't imagine her being interested in that sort of thing unless the bloke is into forest ranging or something; and there's not a lot of that around here! Liesel on the other hand never had any problems in that department - what a beauty she is. Reminds me a lot of Fiona when we were younger; dark and fiery.  Its not that Jojo is not beautiful, because she is, but she hides it very well under a cloak of, well, pseudo masculinity I suppose.

 There's that cat again, mewing at the window. I wonder how it gets up this high? It must have fled from the neighbours. It isn't much to look at, and I'm not sure what breed it is; I would describe it as Shabby Tabby and it is certainly the scrawniest beast I ever saw. I think I'll give it some milk, poor thing.

God, my head hurts. 


Just to let you know that this diary has been bundled as a book of a rather surprising 25000 words, and submitted for consideration to publishers. Initial feedback is that it needs to be longer, so you will have to endure some more posts from me... :)

I thought about introducing new characters etc, but wasn't sure that would work, so for now I intend to merely expand existing entries instead and post the revisions here.

Thanks for reading and commenting. Means a lot to me.