Part 1.12


“Aaroooon!”
It was Mother calling. I sensed urgency in her voice and dropped the wooden figurine I’d been whittling at for the past hour.  I ran back to the house.
She stood distraught in the kitchen, tears flowing.
“What's the matter, Mother?”
“It’s your father. There's been an accident on one of the boats. A freak wave washed him overboard.”
“Is he okay?”
She broke down sobbing, and thus my little world collapsed for the first time.  I put my arms around my mother and we stood weeping together. George looked on with big, sad, soulful eyes, sensing in his animal psyche our great loss.


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Part 1.11



I don’t leave the flat for a few days, and have only an occasional Harry for company, as much as a cat can ever be called company.  Joe phones a few times to check on me and to suggest a drink, but I am not in the mood.  I spend the slow-passing days in reflection, pondering the younger me, so full of hopes and dreams, and wonder what that younger man would say now.
“Look at you, old man,” he might say.  “A sorry wreck you are.”
I wouldn’t know how to respond, or even whether he’d listen to anything this old man had to say.


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Part 1.10



The mist lay thick and cold over the fields. George had run ahead in his endless search for the perfect, most interesting scent. I stood still. There was absolutely no sound and I imagined being in a cloud on top of a distant mountain, surveying a world covered with ice.  What mark would I leave on this world? What difference did I want to make? Did it matter what I wanted or what I did? Was there a point to it all? My parents never went to church or talked about God, and neither did most of my friends. All that remained of a once vast Christian empire was an old, parish church bell that called the faithful few every Sunday morning, amidst much cursing from my father who was trying to sleep in.
I once asked my father if there was a God. He scoffed and said that God was like the Easter Bunny, a story for children. I had then thought to ask why so many grown-ups believed in God and not the Easter Bunny. But he was in an odd mood that morning.
“Aaron, you're a fine young man, and you know I'm proud of you, don't you?”
“Yes, Father, of course I do.”
“Yes, you’re a man now, off to university next year.  I can scarcely believe it.  You will keep an eye on your mother when I’m gone?”
  I first thought he was speaking about his next stint away at sea, starting tomorrow, but something in his eyes was amiss.  I felt uneasy. “Father, what do you mean?”
He didn't answer at once, his eyes focused dreamily on the setting sun over the waters.  Then he said, “Ah, don't mind me, Son; I think I'm just tired.  Will you look at that sunset?  What a fine thing it is.”
He put his arm around me, and drew me close.  There we stood, two men, my father and I, together, for what turned out to be the last time.


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