Extract from TOM O’KELL & THE PAPANUK

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But it was the thought of Tom without his Dad that broke Lucy’s heart. Lucy tried to blot out the memory of the moment she had to tell Tom that his Dad had died, but the memory was too stubborn and cruel. She could still feel his little body shaking, the colour draining from his face and the wide eyed stare of disbelief before he fell into a heap on the floor kicking and screaming. Lucy’s thoughts whisked her to Harminster General Hospital. She could still hear her screams howling through the corridors as Mark took his last breath and closed his eyes forever. She remembered looking at the strange lifeless body in the hospital bed. It wasn’t Mark anymore. It was a stranger slowly going cold, warm lips cooling to a shade of dirty blue. Mark wasn’t going to open his sparkling blue eyes anymore. Mark wasn’t going to make her laugh anymore. Mark wasn’t going to hold her anymore. Mark was dead and he wasn’t coming back, ever, and she didn’t know when this pain was going to stop. The funeral had been a surreal day that she had stumbled through, nodding at the well intentioned cliches from uncomfortable friends – “Time’s a great healer” “It will get easier with time” “He’s at peace now” – It wasn’t getting easier and she felt ashamed when she wished that time would speed up so that death could claim her.

Tom stood at the entrance to the living room. He saw his Mum’s shoulders shaking, her long red hair bobbing. Tom sighed and quietly walked over to his Mum. His blue eyes reddened as he curled his arm around his Mum. Lucy hugged Tom tightly into her tummy, while she sniffled and quickly composed herself, wiping away the tears from her eyes with the sleeve of her light brown cardigan. Tom wanted to tell her that he knew where Dad was but he didn’t know how to. She would have believed him a couple of weeks ago when his Dad spoke to them from the television set, but not now. His Mum had put it down to exhaustion and strained emotions causing a shared hallucination, each other suggesting what they saw and heard. Tom wasn’t going to tell his Mum. Tom decided he was going to bring his Dad back home. He didn’t quite know how yet but he knew he was prepared to die trying.