The children stared at him from the photo frame on the shelf, from a time when he was a hero who knew everything, when he was the funniest man in the world who loved more than he thought possible.
The half smoked cigarette burned the astray having just added a few more cancerous cells to his lungs, but he didn’t care- the future was the least of his worries. It was a future filled with the same day over and over again and all he could see was conference calls, emails, meetings and TV. No time spent drinking with friends down the pub talking about football and music, and instead the prospect of very rare outings with work colleagues which bored him to oblivion and only served to make him feel more lonely. Having a couple of drinks in between games of ten pin bowling was really not his cup of tea.
After an hour the screen started to blur and his head lightly smacked the desk as sleep overcame him and took him to a place where he could not hurt anymore.
“Marc, please be careful. This weather’s awful.” The rain splashed against the windscreen and fragmented into small magnifying splodges of water which made the task of seeing the road ahead and other vehicles even more difficult. Marc still felt safe at his customary eighty miles per hour in the outside lane.
“I’m fine Ruth, stop worrying. I have done this trip a hundred times before and never had a problem.” The ’tut’ at the end of his sentence highlighting his annoyance. Billy and Meg were asleep in the back of the car and had no idea weather like this was dangerous and that their father felt invincible at the wheel of a car.
“I’m just saying that’s all. How would you feel if something bad happened?”
“Nothing’s going to happen- you want to get home before midnight, don’t you?” Ruth rolled her eyes.
“I just want to get home in one piece thanks.” Silence took over for a few miles.
Marc was awoken by the sound of his phone beeping. It was 7am and he was still at the desk, but could feel a hard object pressing against his right ear, the mouse. The thirty seconds following sleep were his favourite part of the day. As his mind started to put together his memories for a brief moment he was not the person with so much anger and bitterness inside. He was just an ordinary guy with ordinary worries.
He decided to take a look at his emails, but lost interest fairly quickly and headed up to the bathroom. The November chill was especially apparent as he stepped into the shower and waited for the warm steamy water to bring his aching body back to life. He felt as though he had slept on a rock and could not dislodge the ache at the bottom of his spine. Despite the number of times he had decided never to fall asleep sitting at the desk again it still happened far too often.
The end of the shower brought back the November chill so he quickly walked to the bedroom where the radiators had started to dissipate condensation onto the windows and the morning sun peaked through the gap in the curtains. As usual his work suit, tie, socks, shoes and pants were all laid out in perfect order and ironed as perfectly as could be. His obsession with having every little thing ‘done’ had become more intense since it happened and sub-consciously he knew it was just a way to fill his time and to give him a sense of achievement no matter how minor.
The ten minute journey to work followed the same pattern as every other day. The queue at the traffic lights, the children walking across the zebra crossing guided by the chubby lollipop lady and the inevitable scramble to get into the single lane as it narrowed from two. These days he didn’t care who went past him and how close they got to taking his bumper off. The fact he could drive at all was a miracle.
After he had made his morning coffee and exchanged pleasantries with people he barely knew he was sat at his desk taking his laptop out of his briefcase and logging on for the boredom ahead. A couple of people looked up and meekly said ‘Good Morning’, but to this day they still seemed ill at ease with Marc’s presence.
He had always been the jovial life and soul of the party and his team was well known for working hard and having fun at the same time. He had tried desperately not to change since it happened, but he knew that it would never be the same again. The people around him had changed as much as he had and the gap between them was more than apparent. There was no pressure anymore from his manager and people under him did not question his ideas, they simply followed his instructions. No matter what he did or where he went the actions of those around him were a constant reminder of what he was now.
Every conference call and meeting followed the same pattern. People knew of his situation and stayed well away. Looks of pity greeted him wherever he went and some days it all became too much. He would leave early causing colleagues to presume he was still grieving, but in actual fact he just needed to get away from them, as far away as he could.
The times he had thought of leaving and moving away were too many to count. He knew that it was the only way to start his life again, but the thought of interviews, moving and dealing with so many people now scared him- the confidence was gone, replaced with an empty shell consumed with guilt every minute of every day.
I am expecting the full book to be available in 6-8 weeks. I started writing it 10 years ago and only came back to it recently, but I am hoping the wait has been worth it.