The consensus was that 2016 had been a rotten year.
Nick’s compatriots has voted to leave the European Union, and all the signs were that whether it ended up being a “soft” Brexit or a “hard” Brexit it would certainly turn out to be a “rotten” Brexit.
The Americans had elected an idiot as president, an idiot who was right now surrounding himself with fellow billionaires ready to run the country (quite possibly into the ground) in 2017.
Tens of thousands had died in Aleppo while tens of thousands more had landed or washed up on Greek beaches to a worse than lacklustre welcome, and while no one seemed to have any fresh ideas how to make any of this stop, terrorists apparently had no trouble coming up with fresh ways to maim and kill people. Continue reading
Barbara stirs her tea and steels herself before returning to the dining room, mug in hand. She sits, thoughtfully, before the pale blue folder. It glares at her; it dares her.
She sips her tea. Another minute can’t hurt, can it? There’s no one here to witness how much time she takes to find the courage to plunge into the past. It is her past, after all.
She takes a deep breath and almost moves her hand towards the folder, but fails. She surprises herself with the thought, Why couldn’t she just wait until I was dead? And then, in a rush, before that other part of her can interfere, she flips the cover open.
Barbara is sitting on a cushion in the corner of the room. Cold air from the draughty sash windows is drifting down her back, but she won’t move just yet. She’s determined not to make a sound. Between her legs, her son is playing with a bright yellow submarine, driving it along the lines of the rug making spluttering, farty engine noises through pursed lips.
The purple sofa, a recent (second-hand) acquisition via a work colleague of Tony’s, is occupied by four tightly packed friends from his new photography class. They are, from left to right, dark-haired Dave – in a thick, off-white, Arran jumper – pretty hippy Alison, quiet-as-a-mouse Wendy, and sensible Malcolm.
The internet had worn Billy down. That and sheer loneliness.
So despite having spent years arguing with his friends, years insisting that sex was not a pastime like kite-flying or roller-blading, that sex was somehow “sacred”; years insisting that he still believed in love and relationships, he had finally caved in. Two years without so much as a single kiss had left him desperate for physical contact with another human being: he had agreed, for the first time in ten years, to meet someone for a “no-strings” sex date. Continue reading
She has been gone four weeks now. And this house on the beach – the house of their dreams – has become a house of loneliness, a house of insomnia. Continue reading
He felt it deeply and sometimes it was almost too much to bear; sometimes the deep gnawing emptiness in his soul felt so all consuming, so deep and vast and un-fillable that he thought about killing himself. Continue reading