One Small Step
It was years ago, now. 377 pages in typescript, bound in blue, with gold lettering. I have not looked at it for a long time. I made a few attempts to have it published, without success, of course.
There follows the final section. Without going into the complex plot, late in the story, the unfaithful clergyman’s (Thomas’s) daughter has discovered that the boyfriend who never loved her, and who ended up in jail, had committed suicide. It is the day when her disgraced father is due to leave his home, with his estranged wife, Elizabeth. Their daughter has not returned and was last seen contemplating suicide. The intention is to leave the reader wondering over the daughter’s fate, although that is implied.
“Heavily laden, the furniture removal van moved with an almost painful slowness down the drive. Once clear of the gateway, however, it roared triumphantly along the main street, rattling the window fr
It was the middle of the afternoon and Thomas was alone. For a long time, he stood in the room which had once been his study, staring out of the window. Then, he methodically inspected all the rooms, ate some of the little food remaining and settled himself in the only remaining chair to await the return of his wife and daughter. A taxi was due at six o’clock, to take the family to the station.
Elizabeth, red-eyed after a round of tearful farewells, joined her husband half an hour before the car was expected. Unable to tolerate his company for long, she retreated out of doors, there to admire the roses which she had planted and tended to their sweet scented maturity.
At a few minutes before six, the diesel-engined car arrived. The driver loaded several suitcases into the trunk. Mr and Mrs Pannell stood outside the front door, anxiously speculating about the cause for their daughter’s absence. The driver became increasingly irritated, furiously chain-smoking cheap cigars and spitting with a frequency which Elizabeth found so ob
Enquiries were made by telephone at all conceivable addresses, but without success. An hour after the departure of the empty taxi, Geoffrey stalked inside, rubbing his sleek body across his master’s legs, several times, before mewing pitiably and running from the house. Thomas hardly noticed him.
The church clock struck eight. Nobody came. Thomas and Elizabeth, increasingly concerned, paced the croquet lawn together. As the sun disappeared behind the trees, it became cooler, almost chilly.
All at once, the pale blue of the western sky changed to a golden orange. Gradually, it became tinged with red, the color of blood. The heavens seemed to be ablaze. Thomas and Elizabeth gazed up with wonder. Never had there been such a sunset!
As the stars began to shine, a solitary thrush, perched upon a garden seat, so close as almost to be within reach of the couple, began to sing, quietly at first and then with increasing confidence and power until it seemed that the sweet sounds it made must surely be heard throughout the village. Never had there been such a song!”