A few leaves dot around the old flagstones that form the path leading up to the small gate at the end. The overhanging trees, laden with leaves, their colours changing, and a harbinger for heavy leaf-falls to come, bend and sway with the gusty wind. I approach the gate and sense it’s seen better days, but the lichen on the gate’s weather-darkened wood, partly broken and split, and the rusty metal hinges bestow a sense of time passed when the world was less troubled. I fear the new, inevitable replacement will not offer that comfort.
Beyond the gate, I see a large empty field, at least an acre, its crop harvested, the soil waiting to be ploughed and seeded, and bordered by green hedges. Every one hundred metres or so tall oak trees reach up from within the hedges, pointing to the blustery, grey sky where clouds race across it.
I release Tom, my black Labrador puppy, and watch him bounder with glee across the stubble, chasing rabbits, sending birds into flight, and stopping often to scratch and dig the soil, no doubt having seen a rodent or some small animal burrow away to escape his jaws. I take this walk often, nearly always at the end of the day, to find peace and solace from this mad world.
I’m grateful I have this getaway. Many do not, living in a world of violence and oppression, drought, unbearable heat, dreadful cold, storms, floods, disease, hunger and no running water.
How lucky I am?
My recent publications
Otto and Frankie, my latest novel, about a dying man’s fight against injustice, his wife’s unusual affair, and the love from his long-lost daughter.
Otto and his daughter Frankie could not be more different. He’s rich, an acclaimed author, human rights activist, and lives in England. She lives in New York, just about survives from one pay cheque to the next and hasn’t seen or spoken to her father for twenty years. Dutifully reunited by his impending death, she’s amazed to find him a kind and noble man who, while grappling with his wife’s bizarre affair, champions for the world’s forgotten and dispossessed to his last. After Otto’s death, Frankie’s admiration for her father leads her into a dangerous and life changing pursuit.
Life in four stories
Four shorts: two about life, love, and death; one a poignant and disturbing memory that dangles a question unanswered; and one a wild fantasy – plus the first chapter of my latest book, Otto and Frankie.