Prologue 11

Aaron scratched his head. What on earth did theories of general relativity have to do with the real world? He had enjoyed Newtonian mechanics at school, what with it's ability to accurately describe motion and such things, but this? It all felt a bit too abstract and irrelevant to the problems of engineering.

He sighed, pushed away his books and sat upright, stretching his arms out. The library was quiet as libraries should be, disturbed only by the whispered exchanges of two dusty spinsters who watched vigilantly over the rows and rows of books, ever wary of any student intrusions. The winter sun glinted through latticed windows, creating a light mosaic on the floor where gatherings of dust wandered aimlessly about.

The main door opened, sending in a chill draft that sent the dust scuttling for safety. Aaron turned to look. A young woman carrying a load of books under her arm walked in and headed towards the desk where one of the librarians looked up expectantly.

Aaron watched as she returned her books, her pale hands tipped with scarlet graceful in every respect. She had short, raven-black hair that curled around her ears in a bob and framed a delicate, white complexion that drew forth in him memories of childhood fairy tales. Aware that he was gawping he forced himself to look away, but not before their eyes had brushed, just for an instant, sending an intense, exhilarating frisson down his spine.

Prologue 10

Aaron was woken by a loud banging on the front door and the blaring of sirens. "Fire! Everybody out!" Soon he and Joe were gathered outside, shivering in the icy wind along with the rest of the building's motley inhabitants. He smiled at the the sight of Joe wrapped in nothing but a blanket, his scrawny bare legs poking out the bottom. Nearby the old man from upstairs stood to attention, fully clothed in formal naval attire. Aaron nudged Joe and nodded in the direction of the old man. "I bet the old nutter started the fire!" Joe chuckled.

Prologue 9

First exam results today. A's all around - the folks will be pleased. Joe however barely scraped a pass. I don't know what's up with him. Seems to have his mind other things lately, but doesn't seem inclined to talk about it.

Got another letter from Mary, the second this week. I really must write, but life seems so very full at the moment.

Prologue 8

Dearest Mother

We have arrived and are now finally settled, full of excitement and anticipation at the adventure that awaits. The apartment is just half a mile away from the university, on a lively road. It is very cheap but needed a desperate clean; Joe and I slaved away for 2 hours before it began to look remotely habitable. How you must be laughing at the thought of Joe and me on our knees like a pair of common scrub women. We then went shopping for some food and had scrambled eggs and baked beans for tea. Unfortunately Joe cannot cook either so we will have to learn quickly. We'll be fine, so don't go fretting now!

It has been a long day so I think I'll retire. Tomorrow we enrol and classes start on Monday.

Give my fondest love to Father, and Mary if you happen to see her - tell her I'll write soon.

Yours, truly.

Prologue 7

Aaron looked around the room in disgust. "Is this it, then?"

Joe nodded, his usual confident demeanour dented by the appalling state of the place. The flat, a dingy two room affair with combined lounge kitchenette, had not been cleaned in years apparently, and the dust, like the rank smell, hung heavily, tangibly in the air.

"For God's sake, Joe," said Aaron. "What have you got us into this time?"

Joe smiled sheepishly, then brightened, his undaunted optimism shining through the temporary setback. "We just need to open a few windows and tidy up a bit. It'll be as good as new. You'll see." He headed over to the lounge window, thick with grime, and tried to open it but it would not budge.

Aaron sighed and walked over to his friend. He gave him a gentle slap on the head before joining him in straining against the reluctant window. Eventually it began to move slowly and opened gradually, filling the room with the strong scent of the salty Bristol sea air.

Prologue 6

"You're not seriously going to read the whole way?" Joe asked.

Aaron looked up from his book. "And why not?"

"Because, old man, I am so terribly bored and we need some female company."

"Joe, you go on ahead. I'm not in the mood."

Joe looked at his friend scornfully and said, "You never are, but that's why I'm here." He snatched the book from Aaron's hands and darted out of the compartment.

Aaron leapt up shouting, "Hey!", and ran after his whooping friend.

Prologue 5

I know she wanted me to propose but I couldn't. I'm not ready, at least not for that. I stand at the brink of an ocean of thrilling possibilities, my life ahead of me, and I long to taste and to drink deep, but not whilst fettered to premature promises.

I hope she understands and that she will wait for me. I promised to write, and we will see each other again soon, but I need to do this first. It is right that I follow my dreams, isn't it?

So why do I feel so bad? Her eyes, so big and brown, showed a strange, almost prescient sadness as we parted.

I hope I am doing the right thing.

Prologue 4

Aaron never tired of holding her hand. He still remembered the first time: the tentative reaching out, the awkward intertwining of fingers looking for that perfect match, the sweating of palms that would not be let go.

The breeze played gently with Molly's long auburn hair, causing it to rise and fall like waves of autumn gold. He could just catch her scent, like musky roses, still so wildly exciting.

George bounded towards them happily, almost knocking Mary over in the process.

"Down boy!" shouted Aaron angrily, but Mary just laughed.
"Let him be. I'm alright."

He looked at her sparkling eyes and freckled dimples. How beatiful she was. He leaned forward and kissed her gently on the lips. She looked up at him with surprise.
"What was that for?"

"Because you Molly, are beautiful to me," he replied, "and I love you."

Prologue 3

“Here, boy!”

The black Labrador looked at them briefly before returning to the smell that had caught his attention. He wasn't sure yet if it was rabbit or wild fowl but either way this was more interesting than his master.


This time there was a command in the voice of Aaron's father and the dog obeyed, bounding along the path towards his master, pink, wet tongue lolling a great big happy smile.

“Good boy!”

Aaron's father, like his father before him were great believers in affirmation and through it had the devotion of children and pets alike. He was a strong, quiet upright man with a wicked sense of humour which he was glad to see his son had inherited. Aaron ran on ahead with George looking for unsuspecting rabbits. They hardly ever found any and those they did easily escaped from the hapless hunters.

He loved these Sunday morning walks with these two and afterwards the homecoming to his wife's cooking. Family meant the world to him and it saddened him that his work on the boats didn't allow him to be home more. Life however, is never perfect, and perhaps its meant to be that way, he thought, the dark making the light all the more bright.

Soon his son would off to university, then no doubt marrying young Mary and leaving home. It had all passed much too quickly.

Prologue 2

Dear Diary. No that's just silly.

Dear Maxwell. Who's Maxwell? An imaginary friend, of course. But why Maxwell, and why a man and not a woman? Could I be as open with a woman? Even a fictious woman?

I think it is rather typical that I begin something as simple as a diary with more questions than anything else.

Ok, so here goes.

It has been a good day. Last day of school. Forever! Wooohooo! How I began to hate that place, with its dull, grey walls and uninspiring teachers. Still I got a decent education so they couldn't have been that bad, even Mr Fargot with his vile breath and collection of canes.

Now hopefully a nice hot summer to do some sailing, then off to Bristol with Joe. He says he's got somewhere for us to stay, really cheap, which is good, but something tells me it is going to be a real dive. Joe and his dodgy connections.

I think I'll pop over and suprise Mary tomorrow. I know I said I'd see her on Saturday, but tomorrow seems like a much better idea.

I must be coming down with something. Spontaneity, romantic or otherwise is not normal for me.

Well good-night Diary, Maxwell, or Tallulah, or whatever your name is. Tomorrow and the rest of my days await!

Prologue 1

Aaron watched the flames shoot high up into the sky, singeing the trees above.
“I told you we had enough petrol,” he said.
Joe smirked at him. “You are too cautious, my friend. The books need to be sent up to the heavens in glory, ne'er to return.”
Aaron smiled reluctantly. Joe was right. Of the two of them Aaron was the more conservative, but that's what made their friendship so solid – the fact that they were so similar yet so different. Their past together was littered with shared adventures, almost all of which were initiated by Joe, and most of which earned Aaron trouble with his father's belt.

It was the very last day of school ever for the two, and the ceremonial torching of school books was almost a rite of passage for the young people of Stokesby in Norfolk. Next term paths would separate, but the pair were off to Bristol university to study Engineering together.

Aaron stared into the flames. “You going to miss Stokesby, Joe?”
Joe threw another book into the bonfire. “Not really. Not that I'm not grateful for all that the Forrester's have done for me since my parents died, but I felt a bit trapped by them.”
“They meant well,” Aaron replied.
“As I said, I am grateful.” Joe replied in a tone that warned off Aaron from continuing this line of conversation.
“I will miss Mary.” Aaron continued.
Joe laughed. “You lovestruck old dog. There are many more fish in the sea.”
Aaron punched his friend playfully. “Oi, I love that girl!”
Joe feigned injury and raised his hands in mock appeasement. “Of course you do. Sorry!”

John Leibowitz watched the scene from the kitchen window. “They're going to burn down those trees if they're not careful.”
Martha looked up from her sewing. “You have always fretted too much about that boy, John.”
He turned to her. “Have I now? And do you remember the shed?”
She sighed. “That was a long time ago. He's a young man now.”
He returned to the window. “He may well be, but I still worry about him.”
Martha rose, put her sewing on the table and walked over to her husband, putting her arm around him. “He will be just fine.”


Well folks, my tale is done. Yes, I know I've said that before. :)

A grand old total of over 35000 words! Would you believe it?

I would like to say a very, very special thanks to you Jinksy and LegalMist who have offered me so much support and encouragement through these Last Days of Aaron.

Last Days is what I would like to call the book which I am going to have a go at getting published.

Leave a comment here if you're interested in updates.