Prelude 8

"Uncle Joe! Over here!"

The girls were wild with excitement again. Joe was visiting for the weekend and they were playing Piggie-In-The-Middle. Jojo was not very tall and struggled to catch anything when she was in the middle until Joe took pity on her and threw just a tad too low.

"Oi!" said Liesel, "that's not fair."

Joe feigned innocence and winked at Jojo who beamed with delight.

Fiona had fled indoors to some peace and quiet. Aaron sat drinking a beer, watching the antics.

Later he and Joe stood by the fire, talking.

"You have a great family", said Joe.
"I know, the best", Aaron replied.
"Then make sure you take good care of them."
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean."
"I don't. Spit it out!" said Aaron with some irritation.
"How many drinks have you had so far today?" asked Joe, "five? six?"

Aaron didn't reply.

Prelude 7

Aaron sat in the board meeting, hating every second of it. Daniel had made some crude joke and everyone laughed just a bit too loudly. False brown-nosers, the lot of them, and he despised them. His down to earth honesty did not serve him well in this corporate stratosphere. He was a simple man, not made for politics. He was a brilliant engineer and had worked hard to get this far, but he felt he'd been promoted to his level of incompetence.

He wasn't coping and knew it.

Prelude 6

He was late again. He worked late most days and Fiona wondered if it was really necessary. She was glad for the money but he'd changed since his recent promotion and she missed the fun they used to have. It seemed he was never in, and when he was he was tired, irritable and snapped at everyone. The kids had learned to avoid him for the first half hour after he got home.

She missed not having her husband to talk to like they used to. She missed his attentiveness, the fooling around with the kids, the excursions, the occasional dates, their love making. Life was so humdrum and she was too young to be a dull wife.

The only excitement she had was her part-time Marketing course - it appealed to her creative, expansive personality and she found to her delight that she was pretty good at it; top of her class in fact.

The front door opened and Aaron walked in. He smiled weakly at her and headed straight to the fridge to get a beer, the first of a few.