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Wherever You Will Go Chapters 1-3

by bexy89


Here are the first three chapters of my new book (first draft so any comments, good or bad, are welcomed!)

Prologue

It’s funny how we never really live our lives until tragedy strikes and reminds us that we’re all living on borrowed time. I am guilty of it. We all are. Not living to our full potential, always assuming there will be tomorrow. It’s not until you or someone you love comes close to death that we stand up, re-evaluate and appreciate how fragile life is. People diagnosed with terminal illness battle to live each day as if it is their last because there is every chance it might be. A car crash injures a loved one and once they’ve been patched up and sent home, they vow never to take their life for granted again having cheated death and by a miracle, survived. It is a bittersweet moment, when good comes from sadness. Someone may have left this world behind but often, from their death, blooms one, two, maybe a dozen people who begin to take in everything around them; the sounds; the smells. Who never forget to tell their family and friends how much they are loved. Who wake up every morning ready to face the world head on and appreciate that they are alive, breathing and are able to seize the day and take everything they can from it.

I was not one of those people.

Chapter One

The end of the beginning.

It is beginning to sound like a cliché but it started like any other day. I woke up around seven with my son, Bobby, who was five, curled up in my bed. He always got into our bed once his dad had gone to work. I sat up in bed, rubbing my expanding stomach and getting small kicks in return. At eight months pregnant, it was getting more and more difficult to move about. Bobby lay beside me, his head resting on my tummy.

“I can hear her moving, mommy!” he cried, his cheeky little smile spreading across his face. He looked so much like his daddy I often wondered if he was even mine at all. I was hoping my daughter would come out looking a bit more like me.

“He’s definitely mine!” Lee, my husband, had said when Bobby was born. There was no denying it; he was a Bolton boy for sure.

We finally got out of bed and made our way into the kitchen. Turning on some cartoons to keep Bobby entertained while I made some breakfast. He had had a virus for a couple of days and had been off school. It was torture having to listen to cartoons all day but I told myself he was back to school the next day and then I’d be able to put my feet up in front of some Oprah. As I was pouring cereal, the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hey sweetie, it’s me. I just got to work and realised that I left my keys on the dining table. If you get time, could you come over and drop them off to me? If not, it’ll be me knocking on the door tonight.” It was Lee.

Our little house on Staten Island had been broken into last year and I had been afraid to answer the door once it had gone dark if I didn’t know who it was going to be.

“I’ll try. I can barely walk down the stairs today but if I get a chance I’ll come over with them.”

“Ok, well I’ll maybe see you later then. If not, rest up. I’ll cook tonight. Love you. Bye.”

Lee prided himself on his cooking skills. As a broker, he didn’t really come across as the culinary type. But he made a mean lasagne and had even baked the cupcakes for Bobby’s 4th birthday.

Pulling open the curtains, I looked up at the blue sky. It was such a beautiful day, I remember clearly seeing birds zooming across the sky in all directions, not a cloud in sight. In the distance, I could just make out the New York skyline. Maybe I would try and get over there; it would be a shame to waste such a lovely day sitting inside.

“Eat up your cereal, Bobby. We’re going to go and see daddy soon.” I called into the living room, almost drowned out by Tom and Jerry.

I looked at the clock. It was almost 8.30am and I had barely done anything. I piled clothes into the dryer and pulled out others to iron. Bobby trudged into the kitchen.

“Mommy, my cartoons have gone off.” He said, rubbing his eyes. I stood up, assuming he had knocked the remote. I walked past the grandfather clock in the hallway. It was 8:50am. For some reason, I stared at the clock for a good few seconds before I carried on into the living room. I saw that the cartoons had been interrupted by a news broadcast. I saw the two World Trade Center towers. And one of them was billowing black smoke. I gasped and held my hand to my mouth. Then I realised Bobby was staring at the TV.

“Bobby, go to your room and play.” I ordered him. He looked at me with those big brown, puppy dog eyes.

“Why? I want to watch Tom and Je...”

“Just go, Bobby. Mommy needs to see this. Go and play with your trains. I’ll be up in a minute.”

I felt bad for speaking to him so abruptly; he didn’t understand what was happening on the television. Nevertheless, he went to his room.

After watching the images for a few minutes, my instinct was to call Lee. He was on 95th floor of the South Tower that day, in a meeting. I wondered if he knew what had happened. It rang off. I called back; no answer.

I told myself he would probably be busy evacuating. Then he called back.

“Lee, are you ok?”

“Yeah, I’m ok. What’s going on out there?” Lee seemed fairly calm which comforted me a little.

“The news is saying an airplane hit the North Tower. Are you coming out or what?”

“We’ve been told to stay here and wait for further instructions. I’ll be ok. God, Brian and Steve were in Tower one. I hope they’re alright. What’s it looking like on TV? Is it bad?”

Part of me wanted to tell him it didn’t look as bad as it seemed. But I couldn’t lie to him.

“It looks pretty bad, Lee. You should get out of there.”

“I know but... oh wait... Ok Zoe, I have to go. I think we’re going to leave. I’ll give you a call when...” Silence.

As the line went dead, I was watching the television. A second plane, a huge plane, sliced into the South Tower which exploded into a furnace of flickering flames, smoke rising from it, mirroring its twin. I felt physically sick. I tried frantically to call Lee back but all I got was the dialling tone. I refused to believe the worst. I turned to see Bobby standing on the stairs.

“Was that daddy? Can I speak to him?” His innocence brought tears to my eyes.

“No sweetie, daddy is busy right now. Go back to your room; I’ll call you down in a while.” He must have sensed something was wrong. He was normally a bundle of energy and wouldn’t sit still for two seconds but here he was, playing in his room, good as gold.

I sat by the phone, waiting. And waiting. It got to 9.30 and I couldn’t think straight. Do I keep trying to call? Do I wait some more? Do I try and get over to the City? I jumped as the phone rang.

“Lee?!” I called out.

“No Zoe, it’s me, Adam. Are you ok? We’re watching on TV...” My brother’s voice trailed off. I couldn’t hold it in any more. I broke down.

“He’s on the 95th floor of the South Tower. I just saw the plane hit it. I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do.” I fought back tears as hard as I could.

“Has Lee called?”

“Before the plane hit. Then the line went dead. I’m waiting for him to call back but he hasn’t.”

“Ok, well I’ll leave the line free in case he’s trying to get through. Call me back straight away if you need me.”

No sooner had I put the phone back down, it rang again.

“Zoe, it’s Lee.” My heart melted and I collapsed into the chair.

“Are you ok? What’s going on? Are you getting out?”

“Look, don’t panic. We’re trying to see what we can do. I’m the only one with a cell phone reception so everyone in the office is using it to call home so I can’t stay too long.”

“But you’re going to get out, right?” I asked again.

“There’s so much smoke. We can’t see, we can barely breathe. One of the guys managed to crack a window but it’s no use. We saw the plane; we know what’s going on now.” He paused for a second. I could hear sobbing in the background, shouting.

“I don’t know if there’s a lot we can do. We’re trying to find a way out but there are fires everywhere. We might try and make a run for the elevator if we can get out of the door. But... Oh my God!” I stood up out of my seat.

“What? What is it, what’s happening?” I was beginning to really panic. He was painting a pretty hopeless picture.

“Someone, someone above us jumped. We just saw him fall past the window. Oh my God. Is it that bad that the better option is to jump? Shit. This is bad, this is really bad.” He began coughing, obviously having a difficult time breathing. I was scared for him. And I was scared for myself. I put my arm over my stomach. She wasn’t kicking. She had no idea I had needed her to reassure me.

“Lee, you’re going to be ok. There are firemen everywhere, they’ll come up and get you.” I knew I was kidding myself but there was nothing else left to do.

“I love you, Zoe. Tell Bobby that his daddy loves him very much and that he has to be a brave boy for his mommy. And tell our little Abigail about me and let her know that I loved her even before she was born.” His voice was choked with tears.

“Don’t say things like that, you’re going to get out. You’re going to come home and cook for me tonight and...”

“I’m not Zoe. Nothing we’re trying is working. We’re trapped. Guys are already dead in here. Mike and Allan, they’re gone. I’m sitting with Claire in a far corner. She’s in a bad way, I’m trying to comfort her but there’s no point. I have to let the others use the phone now. I love you. I always have and I always will.”

“I love you too. Please, don’t leave.”

“I have to; Claire wants to speak to her dad. She can barely breathe so we have to hurry. Goodbye Zoe.” And for the last time, the phone cut off.

I sat in shock. I couldn’t move. I could just imagine the love of my life, trapped, about to die. And I was helpless. I stared blankly at the TV screen. Ten minutes later, I saw Lee’s Tower fall to the ground, reduced to dust. In a similar way, my legs buckled beneath me and I fell to the floor, reduced to a heap of nothing.

Chapter Two

Daddy’s Princess

When I was six, all I wanted to be was a princess. I spent hours playing on my own in my room with my wooden castle and pretend princesses I’d made out of wooden spoons, glitter and fabric. They would spend all day dancing in dresses with princes and they would ride white horses into the night. I believed so whole-heartedly that I could be one too. I was already a princess to someone after all; my dad; my prince.

My dad was my best friend. We stayed up until late playing with my castle or I would dress up and sit on his back and he would parade around the house on his hands and knees, pretending to be a horse. I swayed my long blonde hair from side to side as he did so. I would giggle uncontrollably as he made horse noises as we went through the kitchen and my mom would look at us while washing the dishes, eyebrows raised but her eyes smiling. Then she would call to my dad that it was time for me to go to bed and he would look at me and roll his eyes, as if she were his mother and I would giggle even more. Then he would buck me off his back, scoop me up and tuck me up to sleep. And every night he kissed my forehead six times, one for every year of my life, and tell me how much he loved me.

He was a fire-fighter with the LAFD and I would listen in awe to the stories he told my mom, my brother Adam and I over the dinner table. Blazing fires, rescues, scaling buildings. He was like a real life superhero to me. Sometimes he would take Adam and I down to the firehouse to see all of his work colleagues who all made a fuss of us and made extra food for dinner, dressing us in helmets and coats that were way too big for us. We were allowed to sit in the fire-trucks when they were in the station and pretend we were fire-fighters too. We had a ball. It was like our second home; a second family. I remember finding it amazing that these guys all went into burning buildings to save people. I didn’t know what being proud was when I was six or what it meant, but I know I was proud of all the things my dad did.

One November evening when I was eight, I sat at the bottom of the stairs waiting for him to come home from his shift. I could smell dinner cooking in the kitchen. I watched the door intently until finally, I saw a shadow behind it and it opened.

“Daddy!” I cried and ran to hug him.

He put an arm around me loosely then dropped his bag to the floor with a thud. He walked past me into the lounge and sat in his armchair. I knew something was wrong. He was never usually so passive. Normally he would grab me as I ran to him and would lift me up into his arms.

“What’s wrong, daddy?” I asked him sheepishly as I walked towards his armchair. He still smelt faintly of smoke and his hair was slightly crusted with grey flecks of ash.

“Nothing sweetie. Daddy just had a tough day.”

At that moment my mom walked in. She took one look at him and gestured towards the kitchen. He got up and followed her. They closed the door but I stood behind it, ear pressed to the glass.

“It’s Georgie.” My dad said, his voice quivering.

“Oh...?” My mom started.

“We went to a fire in one of the warehouses on the estate. Pretty big one. Full of fireworks and gas canisters left over from the bonfire festival. We had gas exploding all over the place. Georgie went in first, insisted, to make sure it was safe. Then there was this huge bang, the windows shot out so I ran in to get him. There wasn’t much left, the other guys had to drag me out before there were any more explosions. We got the fire out eventually once all the gas had gone up. I went back in to get him but...”

I had never heard my daddy cry. I never expected to hear him cry. He was my hero, my prince. They never cry. But he did right then. Through the distorted glass I could make him out as he sat on a dining chair with his head in his hands as my mother held him. And he cried.

I knew what death was about from then on. I didn’t fully understand what it meant. I just knew that when someone died, they never came back. For an eight year old, I suppose that was kind of heavy stuff. But it was just part of what my dad did. Sometimes he wasn’t able to save people and they died. It was nobody’s fault, it just happened. Georgie, who was my dad’s best friend for ten years, had died trying to be brave. I knew that. I sometimes thought to myself that I’m glad that he did it because it could have been my dad that went in there and never came out. Then I feel terrible for thinking it because Georgie had a daughter the same age as me who had lost her father when I still got to kiss mine goodnight and hold his hand on the way to the playground.

Adam is a year older than me. We were very close but neither of us ever mentioned our fears that maybe one day, our dad might not make it home.

“He’s invincible. That means he can do anything and nothing will hurt him.” Adam had told me once and that is all we had ever spoken about on the subject. Until one Christmas when we were out in the back garden making snow angels.

“Daddy, what would happen to us if you died?” I asked him.

He looked at me in a very serious way, like I had just said something terrible. He crouched down and put his hands on my shoulders.

“Zoe, I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with your old dad for a long time yet.” He smiled, stood up and hugged me into his padded jacket.

My dad never lied. I believed every word he said. Maybe Adam was right after all. Maybe he was invincible. After all those fires he had been in, all those people he had saved and he was still here, playing with us in the garden. I watched him over the table while we ate our Christmas dinner. I watched him laughing at the cracker jokes with my mom, his party hat on, cutting his turkey. His moustache was turning a little grey now, as was his hair. His blue eyes always had a sparkle in them. The only time I had seen it go out was the night he came home and cried about losing Georgie. He touched my mom’s arm tenderly and kissed her on the nose. Adam caught my eye and made a vomiting gesture and I giggled and tucked into my mashed potato. Yes, he was invincible. My dad; the superhero.

It was nearing June and it was almost my twelfth birthday. I had asked every year for a horse since I was six. At the time it was because of my infatuation with becoming a princess. Now, it was simply because I had developed a love for horses. With two weeks to go, I was starting to doubt that I was getting one that year. Until my dad took me for a drive.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“It’s a surprise.” He said. “You’ll see.”

We arrived at a paddock where three horses stood. One was a huge brown one with a black mane. Another was a smaller horse which was white with large brown spots. And another white horse with a beautiful silvery tail.

“I know it’s not your birthday yet but I wanted to give you her early.” He led me towards the white horse.

“She’s mine?”

“Absolutely. White, just like you always wanted. Now you really are my princess.” He smiled.

I was almost speechless.

“Wow... she’s really mine? I love her! Thank you! Can I ride her?”

He nodded and lifted me up into the saddle. He took hold of a rope attached to a collar around her neck and led us around the paddock. All the way around, I closed my eyes and felt the wind hitting my face.

In the car on the way home I told my dad that I wanted to call her Skye. He nodded in agreement.

“We could both learn to ride her.” I suggested. He laughed and told me he was a little past his horse riding days.

A week until my birthday, I sat eating my Fruit Loops before school. My dad walked through the kitchen with his bag and kissed my mom on the cheek. He ruffled Adam’s hair and then kissed the top of my head.

“Be good.” He told us. “Love you all. See you later.”

He trudged in his heavy boots out of the front door and down the street to the firehouse. We were going to see Skye again that evening and I was so excited. So excited that I was ready to go hours before he was even due to get home. I had gone past the stage of sitting on the stairs waiting for him to come back so I sat upstairs doing my homework. It came to six-thirty and he still wasn’t home.

“Mom!” I called downstairs.

“What, Zoe?”

“When is dad going to be back?”

“I don’t know, soon. Make sure you’re ready to go out.”

Seven came. Then half past. I walked down to the kitchen where my mother was cleaning down the counter tops. She looked a little anxious but sometimes dad was late home, it was part of his job, although it didn’t stop her worrying.

Adam was sat watching TV in the lounge. I sat with him. We were both silent until the doorbell rang. My mom answered it. I heard a muffled man’s voice then two sets of footsteps going towards the kitchen. Then I heard it, a sound I will never forget as long as I live; my mother’s scream.

Adam and I jumped from our seats and ran to the kitchen. My mom was on her hands and knees on the floor, head bowed, hysterical. The man we had heard was one of dad’s colleagues, Doug. He had his fire hat in his hands and I could see a tear snaking its way down his red face. I looked down to see Adam had taken hold of my hand without me even realising. Doug leant beside my mom and rubbed her back. Then he looked at us as we stood there wide-eyed, watching our mother breaking down in front of us.

Adam turned to me and without saying a word, led me out of the kitchen and upstairs. We sat on my bed, knowing exactly what was going on and not having a clue at the same time. Then suddenly, I cried out and threw myself into Adam’s chest. He stroked my hair and I could feel his shoulders jerk and knew he was crying too.

I knew what death was about. But I didn’t fully understand what it really meant. Not until then. It was then that I knew I would never see my father again.

On my birthday, it was then that I fully realised he wasn’t ever coming home. I had clung onto the faint hope for a week. I knew he wouldn’t miss my birthday if he was alive. But the day came and went and he didn’t come. I cried all night.

Three days later was his funeral. Dad’s family came, my grandma, grandpa and Auntie Caroline. My mom, Adam and me. Dad’s friends from the fire department. His coffin was draped in a United States flag. His workmates saluted him as a few of them carried him down the gravel towards the church. I clasped my mother’s hand as my feet crunched against the floor. I didn’t think it was possible to cry any more.

People stood up one after the other to say how great my dad was, how happy he was. How much he loved his family. Then I stood up. My mom looked at me and tried to sit me down but I walked to the front of the church which was now silent. I stood in front of the coffin for a few seconds. It broke my heart to know my daddy was in there but that I couldn’t see him, touch him, kiss him. Then I stood at the altar and faced the crowded room.

“My daddy was the best daddy in the whole world. He taught me how to ride a bike, he taught me how to read and he taught me that no matter what, I would always be his princess. I’m sad he’s gone. And I was angry. But I know that he died doing something he loved and that he saved an entire family without worrying about his own life. To me, he will always be my hero. I love you, daddy.” And then I walked slowly to the coffin, placed both hands on the flag and sobbed. As I lifted my head I saw my mom standing beside me. She gently lifted my hands off the coffin, held them in hers and led me back to the pews. Adam hugged me. The room kind of fell in around me. Yes, I was only twelve but I felt like I had been through so much already. I had bottled everything up since the day he died, only crying when I was alone in my room. But I couldn’t do it anymore.

As I watched him being lowered into the ground I felt numb. My beautiful daddy. The most wonderful man I ever knew, the bravest man I ever knew, was now confined to a box in a deep, dark hole. He was meant to be around forever, like he’d said he would be. I threw a white rose on top of his coffin and stared blankly into the distance as if I expected him to walk by and take everyone by surprise.

It was then that I realised, as a naive child, that nobody is invincible no matter who they are.

Chapter Three

Innocent Eyes

I knelt on the floor, curled into myself. I cradled my bump in my arms as warm, silent tears streamed down my face. This was a dream, a horrible dream. No, it was worse than a dream, it was a nightmare. But it was, in reality, even worse than a nightmare; it was real.

I could barely breathe. He was gone. My lovely, kind, funny husband who I had spoken to about house keys only that morning like it was any normal day. I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t believe it. The love of my life extinguished in a second.

“Mommy?” a small voice came from the stairs. I couldn’t move. In fact, I didn’t even try. There was a silence for a few seconds and I closed my eyes to relish in it. It almost seemed like I was becoming a pro in the business of grieving.

Bobby called my name again and I woke up. I had a son. My husband may be gone but I have a beautiful, beautiful son, so innocent and naive. I struggled to get to my feet and I turned to face him. He ran to me and clutched me tight round the waist. I didn’t want to cry in front of him but I couldn’t be that scared little girl I was when my dad died. I couldn’t confine myself to my room to grieve. I was the adult now and Bobby was the scared child. As he watched me cry, he rubbed my belly and then held me tighter. How could I tell him he would never see his beloved daddy again?

The phone rang and made us both jump. I rushed to grab it, half hoping to hear Lee’s voice in some sort of miracle turn-around. It was my mother.

“Sweetheart, tell me what’s going on? Is everything ok? Is everyone ok? Speak to me because I’m tearing my hair out over here. It’s been a nightmare trying to get through, the lines must be busy.”

“I’m ok, mom. Bobby and me, we’re in the house. But...” I choked on the words before I could get them out. My throat was seizing up as tears stung my eyes.

“Lee, what about Lee? Was he at the house? Please God; tell me he’s alright and that he got out of there?” her voice shook as if she already knew the answer but was hoping she was wrong.

“No.” Was all I could say.

There was a terrible silence. My mother had been where I was right then. Knowing her husband was never coming home. She knew the pain I was feeling. But there was nothing she could do to help. There was nothing anybody could do.

“Mom? What do I tell Bobby?” I whispered hoping he wouldn’t hear me for some reason.

She started to cry. Then I started to cry. I had thought that dad’s death had hardened us both to the agony of losing someone you love. Apparently, I was wrong.

“It hurts. I hurt.” I sobbed, tears wetting the phone against my cheek. I heard my mom cough as if she was composing herself. She was always trying to be the strong one and often looked almost embarrassed if she showed her grief in front of the children she was supposed to protect.

“Oh honey, I know. I don’t even know what to say. I’m so, so sorry that you have to go through this again. It’s just cruel. I’m going to come to you as soon as I can. Be brave. I love you.”

And I was alone again.

For two hours, I sat on the couch by the window. In the distance I could see the dust clouds swirling around the city’s skyline. There were no towers anymore, even after the dust started to settle. The sky was empty.

Bobby played at my feet with his fire trucks my mom had bought him for his birthday. He made siren noises and crashed them into the legs of the couch, overturning them as he did so and saying “Oh no, the trucks are broken!” He didn’t know how right he was.

It was two o clock when my mom finally called back. She spoke with Bobby and he told her about his trucks. I overheard him telling her that I had been crying. It tore me up, knowing that he knew I was so sad. I took a deep breath. I was ready to tell him now.

Sitting at the dining room table, drinking a glass of milk, I leant over and put my hand on his.

“Sweetie, you know mommy has been crying today?” He nodded.

“Well, it’s because I’m sad. I’m sad because daddy isn’t going to be coming home.” My voice started to choke up but

I carried on, forcing the words out, forcing myself to believe them even though I was meant to be talking to my five year old son.

“Some bad men hurt him and so the angels came and took him away so that the bad men couldn’t hurt him anymore. So I’m also crying because I’m happy. Daddy is in a beautiful place and he’s being looked after. And he’s watching to make sure you’re being good. He told me to tell you that he loves you very much and that you have to be a brave boy. It’s ok to be sad...” I paused, wiping tears from my face with the sleeve of my sweater.

Bobby looked at me with those big eyes. I could tell he understood a little bit but that it was going to be something I had to explain to him every day for a long time until he really understood properly.

“Are you ok?” I asked him. He looked down at his glass of milk.

“Daddy isn’t coming home? Who will read ‘Where the wild things are’ when I go to bed? Daddy promised he would.”

“I know he promised, Bobby. But sometimes people can’t keep their promises.”

“Will he like it where he’s going? Can I go and visit?” He looked at me, hopeful for a few seconds.

“No honey, you can’t go and visit. It’s a special place that you’re only allowed to go to if the angels take you there themselves.”

He lowered his head further.

“I wish the angels would come and get me and you so we could see him.”

I stood up and took him in my arms and I held him tighter than I had ever held anything in my life.

“I know, sweetie. So do I.”

I managed to make us a pizza for dinner but I ate nothing. I had a thousand things racing through my head, things I couldn’t control. Did he suffer or was it quick? Was he scared? Were we the last things he thought of? Did he cry? All questions to answers I would never know. It hadn’t even hit me yet that there would be none of him left to recover. A horror I couldn’t bear myself to even justify thinking about.

“Come on you. Time for bed.” I half-heartedly ushered Bobby upstairs and tucked him in.

“Will you read my story?” he asked me, pulling his rocket ship duvet up by his chin.

“Of course I will.” I read the story without a glitch. I knew all the words without even needing the book. I’d never read it myself, it was always Lee’s duty to do that, on Bobby’s orders. I overheard it so many times. I used to laugh at the way they would both get so immersed in it. How Lee would do the voices of the monsters until Bobby squealed. How the first few times he read it to him, Bobby ended up in our bed in the middle of the night because he was convinced the monsters were in his closet and that only his daddy could keep him safe.

He was never a mummy’s boy but I had never once resented his closeness with his dad. Boys will be boys; I used to think to myself. Those nights he came into our bed, I would watch the two of them cuddled up together and think I was the luckiest girl in the world to have two such beautiful boys in my life. In hindsight, I wish I had taken a Kodak of those moments. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and I never dreamed that I would need to because I always thought we had so much time left to take pictures of every single one of our memories together.

“Ok, sleep time now.” I whispered and stroked his hair.

“Wait.” He said, climbing out of bed.

He raced down the hallway and into my bedroom opposite. He disappeared for a minute then emerged holding something in his hand. As he climbed back into bed I saw it was a small framed picture from Lee’s bedside table of him and Bobby in our garden.

It was taken in the summer and Lee had been trying to teach Bobby a bit of baseball.

“He’s only five, Lee. I don’t think he’s going to be all that good at it.” I had called from the kitchen window.

“There’s no harm in him having a swing-about.” Lee had replied and as if right on cue, Bobby swung the bat and hit Lee straight in the crotch and he fell to the ground. I ran out to see if he was ok but I couldn’t help but laugh. Just one of the many other moments I wish I had caught on tape.

“Can I have this in my bed?” Bobby asked and held up the picture. I nodded. He kissed Lee’s face from behind the glass and then cradled the frame in his arms.

“Night, mommy. I love you. Night, daddy. I love you too.” And he closed his eyes and buried his head in his pillow. I watched him for a few minutes then went downstairs. And I cried for three whole hours.

My eyes were so raw I could barely keep them open. I knew I wouldn’t get any sleep that night. I even contemplated sitting on the bottom step of the stairs, like I used to do as a child when I waited for my dad, just to make sure Lee definitely wasn’t coming home. Instead, I took myself off to bed.

I sat staring at all of the photographs in our room one by one. It had never really occurred to me that each one had its own story behind it. There was one of me and Lee on the beach, smiling, lying on separate towels. It was taken when we went to visit friends in Florida. I noticed that on the photograph I wasn’t wearing any rings and I remembered that that picture had been taken the same day that Lee proposed to me.

Another was of me and Bobby sitting on the deck chairs on the porch. He was on my knee with his left arm in a cast. He was only two. He had fallen while climbing on the couch and fractured his arm. He screamed blue murder in that X-Ray room and I resorted to singing to try and calm him down. Lee had raced to the hospital after work to check on him and Bobby had brightened up straight away. They sat and watched cartoons on the small monitor in the corner of the ward while I sat next to him holding the un-cast hand. But of course, as soon as we were allowed home, all Bobby wanted to do was play outside so we compromised and let him sit out on the porch.

I found myself almost smiling, thinking back. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t override the sadness. In every memory of every photograph, Lee was always there. Now it was just me, Bobby and our baby-to-be, Abigail. All of our future memories wouldn’t include Lee and Abigail would never even meet the father that loved her so very much. Those were the things that hurt the most.

I crept into Bobby’s room around midnight and got into his bed. He was fast asleep yet he turned over and snuggled up to me. His little button nose touching mine. If I couldn’t sleep I wanted to be able to look at the one thing I could openly touch that still connected me to Lee.

I put one hand on my bump and sure enough, she kicked. She may have seemed to have slept through everything else that day but that night, when I felt most alone, she was there to reassure me that I wasn’t alone after all.


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Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:04 am
bexy89 says...



Thank you for your comments :) definitely taken them on board and will adjust accordingly! I'm not 100% sure that I'll be keeping the prologue yet, I'm going to try and sort it out but if not it's going.

Becki




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Sat Oct 29, 2011 2:14 am
sarebear wrote a review...



Hiya Bexy,

I am here for my promised review. So I'm going to review as I read, and then give you my overall stuff at the end.

The Prologue: I do like the first sentence. However, after that I want something more...poetic maybe? I get that you're trying to emotionally detach your MC from this prologue, but it reads a bit like an essay. I'm tempted to suggest that you rephrase it as a poem. Just an idea, no pressure if poems aren't your style.

Chapter 1:

“Eat up your cereal, Bobby. We’re going to go and see daddy soon.” I called into the living room, almost drowned out by Tom and Jerry.
I looked at the clock. It was almost 8.30am and I had barely done anything. I piled clothes into the dryer and pulled out others to iron. Bobby trudged into the kitchen.


"Tom and Jerry" should be either in quotes or capitalized. And when you say the time, it should be: 8:30 AM.

I gasped and held my hand to my mouth.
Is this really what you would have done in that situation? Seems a bit mild.

I felt bad for speaking to him so abruptly; he didn’t understand what was happening on the television. Nevertheless, he went to his room.
After watching the images for a few minutes, my instinct was to call Lee. He was on 95th floor of the South Tower that day, in a meeting. I wondered if he knew what had happened. It rang off. I called back; no answer.
I told myself he would probably be busy evacuating. Then he called back.

Firstly, the word abruptly isn't quite right here. Maybe sharply instead?

I felt physically sick.
You don't need the word "physically".

I sat by the phone, waiting. And waiting. It got to 9.30 and I couldn’t think straight. Do I keep trying to call? Do I wait some more? Do I try and get over to the City? I jumped as the phone rang.
Again with the way you write the time. And also, you are suddenly switching to present tense. If you want to do this, make sure you italicize this to show that it is Zoe's train of thought.

At this point I'm on the verge of tears. Seriously. Like, sitting here in front of my computer with stinging eyes. Beautiful first chapter.

Chapter 2:

Sometimes he would take Adam and I down to the firehouse to see all of his work colleagues who all made a fuss of us and made extra food for dinner, dressing us in helmets and coats that were way too big for us.
This should be Adam and me.

We arrived at a paddock where three horses stood. One was a huge brown one with a black mane. Another was a smaller horse which was white with large brown spots. And another white horse with a beautiful silvery tail.
A paddock on Staten Island???

In this Chapter, I would warn you to be careful of repetition. You use words like "my hero" a lot. While some repetition is good, remember to keep things short and sweet.

Chapter 3:

It was two o clock when my mom finally called back. She spoke with Bobby and he told her about his trucks. I overheard him telling her that I had been crying. It tore me up, knowing that he knew I was so sad. I took a deep breath. I was ready to tell him now.


This should be two o'clock.

“Daddy isn’t coming home? Who will read ‘Where the wild things are’ when I go to bed? Daddy promised he would.”


The title of the book should be in all caps: "'Where the Wild Things Are'".


So...overall. First of all, this is absolutely beautiful. Lovely writing, lots of little details of the type that really tie the thing together. I will be reading and commenting on the rest when I have a chance and it isn't past my bedtime. I have one overall suggestion for you. Your main character is American and lives in Staten Island. So although you are British, your story must be in American syntax. Yes, realise should be spelled "realize". And things like "tummy" and "dialing tone", and some other instances of decidedly British terminology, seem out of place.

I hope that you find this review constructive. I absolutely love the start you have here and look forward to reading more!

Sare




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Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:35 pm
bexy89 says...



Thank you very much Coco, that's really kind :) I have more of the story up here on the site, should be in my portfolio if you wanted to take a look. Thank you again for the comment!

Becki




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Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:28 pm
davantageous says...



there will be more today but not now..........




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Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:23 pm
*coco wrote a review...



Hey Bexy, coco here, thanks so much for the review request :D

This was....heart-breaking. I honesly can't think of a better word. I haven't read anything here so thought-provoking and so sad. You wanted a review but I honestly have nothing to ask you to improve on. You emotionally connected the readers to the story and the characters beautifully from the very first paragraph. I was hooked, and at the end I found myself hoping that there would be a happy ever after.

My advice would be to stick with this story. You are an incredibly talented writer and I think the more you work on this story, the stronger you'll get.

I hope this review put a smile on your face :)

*coco




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Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:18 pm
bexy89 says...



I'm British so we spell realised with an s rather than a z :)

Thank you very much for your comment!

Becki




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Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:15 pm
davantageous wrote a review...



It was then that I#0040FF "> realised, as a naive child, that nobody is invincible no matter who they are.

#FF0000 ">realized


Here is another example of the fascinating talent it takes to write as eloquently as shown in the story. love the story.





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