“You’re here early,” I said
“Well you know why, don’t you?”
“Why?” I replied, trying to look innocent.
“Can’t sleep, can I?” she said grumpily.
“Desperate to hear the end of the story I asked?”
She looked at me sardonically. “Just get on with it will ya?”
Summer’s Over – The Final Part
But as the years rolled by, your attention moved more to structure and form and your work took on a somewhat more integrated character. At last I could begin to relate to some of what you saw, some of what moved you.
It seemed to me that you reached your heights of expression in sculpture. There was so much of you in that final piece you created. I was desperate for you to give it to me. Do you understand why? You see, you had completed it at the beginning of the summer. And though you did not say, indeed, you even denied that you were leaving, I knew that the completion of that piece in some sense marked the end of your apprenticeship. And I knew from that moment you would be leaving. It simply took you a little longer to realise that you were actually going to go.
Now summer really is over and you’ve gone. The leaves are falling copiously outside. We used to shuffle through them hand in hand just for the pleasure of the sensation around our ankles and the crisp crackling that brought joy to our ears. I shall not do that with you any more.
Autumn’s nearly over too. So many summers; so many autumns.
I could have tried to stop your leaving. But what good would that have done? We had reached a congruent ending. And I, of all people, know how important it is for endings to be congruent. So how about we celebrate your departure by an exchange of gifts? Let me have the sculpture, Sweetheart. It marks our parting. This story is my gift in return.
Here I sit, alone, opposite your empty chair watching those ruby fairies playing up above me. They are swirling and spinning in unbridled exuberance. They are dancing hand in hand, as if to mark your having come of age.
It isn’t often a daughter leaves for University.
It isn’t often that a father has to say goodbye.
Come back and see me when you can, Sweetheart.
I looked at down at Aurora. She didn’t say anything for a moment. Then she burst into tears. And without warning, as best she could for one her size, she threw her arms round my neck. “That was sooo beautiful,” she whispered. “I knew you were a nice man, despite your attitude.”
With great effort I bit my tongue.
“Brief Candles, Walking Shadows will be out in late 2016” I said.