Category Archives: Novel

Love’s Last Gift

As I mentioned previously, it will be the tenth anniversary of my Dad’s death this year and I wanted to do something. So, to honour him, I began something I should have started 10 years ago; the story of his life. Below is the prologue and first part of Chapter 1. Never will I forget how important an inspiration he is to me. The Hendrik before me was a Dutch man who lived through WWII in work camps, made a life in England and ran a successful advertising business. I could go on, but then what would be the point in his story. I hope you enjoy the beginning.

Prologue

Loss. It’s something every single one of us has to deal with at some point in our lives. It is utterly universal and in a way it connects us all. The moment we have loss in common with someone, we seem instantly develop the ability to understand them.

However, that shared emptiness is where the universality ends because what accompanies loss is predominantly grief. Now, grief is an unusual concept, as every person deals with loss in different ways.

There have been many people who have studied grief and tried to break it down; one of the most popular theories is the Kübler-Ross model, which states that grief is split into five stages.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

On a personal level, I do not believe that grief can be so easily analysed. I have experienced and seen others experience devastating losses throughout my life and not once have I ever seen a shared way of grieving. There are those who act outwards and those who retreat inwards, those who seem fine and those that are fine. Some people draw, do charitable deeds, write or wallow.

Grief has no set rules. I have seen people reach the stage of acceptance and others who never will.

And like all good segues, that brings me to the purpose of this story. As, I write this at the arguably still tender age of twenty-six, I enter the tenth year of being without my Dad. I have no remaining grandparents and a family that seems to dwindle with each passing year, but do I grieve?

No, for some fortunate reason I seem to be capable of dealing with death very easily. I often hazard guesses at why that is, but often draw unsubstantiated theories and conclusions. A reigning one for me is due to my father being a lot older than most, living healthily into his eighties. From a young age I always knew he wouldn’t be around for a great portion of my life, so maybe that early knowledge prepared me for the rest of my life. Who knows.

Now, do not mistake my lack of grief for a lack of caring. I feel the loss like everyone else, but I do not feel sad. The man I am today is a direct result of my upbringing, and I am proud to be that man. I may have lost my Dad before I turned eighteen, but his nurturing fatherhood continues to this day.

The reason I labour this point is so I can be clear. I do not write this book as a way to deal with my grief; I write it because all around me I see the disguised pain of the people I care about.

It would be impossible for me to write their loved ones’ stories, so I write mine, for them. It is a tribute to let everyone know that a person is never truly gone as long as you still tell stories of them, because that is all we are in the end.

This is the legacy of my father and although embellished, tweaked and fictionalised into novelisation form, there is truth to many of the events.

“Remember you are never really alone. Although it may feel like it for very long stretches of time.”

― Steven L. Peck, A Short Stay in Hell

One

Dordrecht, Holland 1935

It has always been a misconception that the country of the Netherlands is called Holland. Holland is actually a region in the west of the country and Dordrecht is the oldest city in that region.

This medieval city has always been known as a place with swathes of history and culture. Its beautiful architecture only rivalled by its stunning scenery, like the Merwepark.

In the centre of this park sits a large white building with the air of a mansion, but the feel of a secluded cabin. The reflection of this building is mirrored perfectly by the lake that is adjacent to it.

Suddenly, the water’s flawless recreation is disturbed by a single stone skipping across its glassy surface.

Mikael eagerly watched from the banks of the lake, as his stone bounced across the water as if by magic. Once it had sank, he bent over, frantically looking for another stone. He wiped sweat away from his glistening forehead as the summer sun, unrelentingly, beat down on him.

He checked his watch, knowing full well that his best friend Willem was late. With a sigh he walked up to the water’s edge and stared in. The ripples from his stone were still causing a skewed reality to be shown back to him and even though all his features seemed oddly distorted it was possible to make out his strong jaw line, straight brown hair and Roman nose. The caricature of himself staring back at him made a slight smile touch his lips.

From out of no where a hand appeared on Mikael’s back and his whole body tensed ready for the push; a gasp of surprised anticipation escaped his mouth. That’s when he heard the laugh, which caused him to spin around with his brow furrowed in annoyance.

“Willem!”

Mikael’s friend has obviously not been prepared for such a quick motion and held his hands up in faux surrender. Seeing this gesture and Willem’s smile, calmed Mikael’s temper.

“Hallo vriend”. Mikael greeted, before moving away from the lake’s edge to safer ground. “Je bent laat! Ik was bijna zonder je naar huist gegaan!”

Willem seemed to understand his friend’s frustration with his tardiness and tried to explain his side:

“Ik weet het, sorry. Mijn moe-<ther kept talking and talking. You know what she is like.>”

To Make Up For My Absence Here’s A Treat. The Prologue Of My First Novel!

Prologue
Dayna Hart had finished her third lap of the nightclub and could not find her friend anywhere. She pulled out her phone and tried to get a phone number up on her screen, but she couldn’t understand why all the digits kept moving. Then the answer came to her when she stumbled forward.
Yep, she thought, I ammm pretty drunk.
Hart propped herself up against a wall to take her black wedge heels off and pull down the little black dress she was wearing before she attempted to do anymore walking. She noticed a mirror across the way and caught a brief glimpse of her long wavy brown hair looking like it had been dragged through a hedge backwards and quickly turned away, refusing to see anymore. Now was not the time for vanity; now was the time for finding her friend.
Dayna looked at the time on her phone as best as she could and determined it was sometime just past midnight. She concluded that this was far too early for her friend to have gone home and so decided the best course of action was to go outside and try to call her to find out where she’d disappeared to.
However, this was a bit more of an effort than Hart had originally anticipated when she came face to face with a seemingly never-ending staircase that lead to the club’s exit, but eventually after much grumbling she made it to the bottom. Hart then caught a waft of a temptingly enticing takeaway and really had to fight the urge to stop for a brief snack and press on outside.
The next hurdle she had to overcome was convincing the bouncers manning the doors that she was still in a fit enough state to go outside and return afterwards.
Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime long quest, she was pushing the double doors open and letting a cool breeze surround her. Hart wandered over to a bench opposite the doors and perched on it. She pulled out her phone again to see how long that whole endeavour had taken her. She sighed exasperated when she saw it had only been three minutes.
Now there was less distraction around her she was able to find her friend’s number and hit dial. Hart waited, but the phone just rang out. She cancelled the call and tried again, but just received the same result. Annoyed, she tried one last time and this time let it ring out till the answer phone prompted her to leave a message.
“Assley… Ashley Summers.” She raged drunkenly down the phone. “Where the bloody hell are you? I’m outside the Union, so jus’ come out and fineee me when you get this. I’ll wait fiffeen minutes and not a second longer, then I’m goin’ home. I’ve gots a lecture first thing in the morning, so hurry up and come see meee. I swear if you’ve just gone back to your room with that… um… that Billy again, you’ll have me to answer to lady! You have fifteen minutes annnnnd GO!” Hart hung up the phone and put it back in her bag.
It was at that moment she noticed a young man had slowed his walk as he went past her and was giving her a judging look. Hart looked the man up and down and sneered at him:
“Don’e you judge me. I am shtill rocking this look.” She made a exaggerated gesture up and down herself, before pointing at him. “Whish is more than I can say for you.”
The man looked down at himself and opened his mouth to retort, but Hart held her hand up in a silencing motion to stop him.
“Do not bother.” She warned. The man walked off shaking his head in annoyance, whilst she slowly leaned back in the bench to wait for Ashley, inwardly congratulating herself on the scolding she’d just given.
She would wait there for fifteen minutes, but Ashley would not come and meet her. Hart would go home, bang on the door of Ashley’s empty room, which was adjacent to hers, hurling abuse and then she would collapse, exhausted and fully clothed, on her bed.
At no point in the night would she hear from her friend; neither would she the following morning, but there could be no blame attributed to Ashley for this because by now, Ashley Summers was already dead.