Most authors find themselves writing false starts to novel. Ideas that seemed to be good at the time become bogged down when they realise that either they don’t really know where the plot is going or that it has fallen off the rails. Perversely this author wrote an ending with absolutely no idea of where the plot was to begin. It has however been filed away, just in case. Strangely so far I have been unable to give Ian Vaughan a happy ending to his exploits, justice yes, but not happiness. Maybe there will come a time for him to find peace and joy.
TO LIVE AGAIN
Richard V. Frankland
One by one the stars faded and died in the gathering light of the eastern sky as slowly silhouette images of palm trees emerged from their night-time hiding places. The ocean, a few minutes before a steel grey, had developed a silver sheen planished by a gentle breeze. Away on the horizon dark shapes appeared as the dawn back lit the Deserta Islands.
Stepping out of the bedroom onto the balcony he turned and closed the curtains behind him. Did he not want to disturb her sleep or was he selfishly wanting the magic of this unfolding beauty to be his alone? The flicker of guilt passed in an instant wiped from his consciousness as the eastern sky turned a pastel yellow, which, deepened with every passing moment to a brilliant orange that now formed a fiery crown over the distant islands. The breeze, woken by the dawn, idly stirred the palm fronds and inspired the first notes of the dawn chorus. He glanced to the west at the last remaining stars fleeing from the light of this planet’s life giving mother, the sun, that now had pushed her head up to peek over the islands and bring back vibrant colour to the exotic landscapes of Madeira.
The greys and blacks of the night were now lush greens, rich reds, joyful yellows and dazzling oranges. The ocean minutes ago dappled silver was now a deepening blue. He looked down at the manicured garden and a bed of bright bird of paradise plants, their heads pointing imperiously at a slight upward angle, as if showing distain towards the lower plants in the nearby borders. He lent forward resting his elbows onto the balcony balustrade transfixed by the scene unfolding before his eyes. It felt as if this was the first dawn he had witnessed, but it was not, and as he thought back through his life he recalled many more that he had seen, cold dark and dangerous, none that filled his heart with the joy that he now felt rising within him.
A gull lazily hanging on the breeze glided past towards the sun, and his gaze following it at first wandered away, distracted by the sight of Funchal’s neat terraced rows of white-walled houses with terracotta roofs, picked out in sharp contrast by the sunshine against the greens of the surrounding gardens. Letting his gaze stray seaward again he noticed in the far distance the approach of a cruise liner, no doubt laden with tourists who in a few hours will, in their thousands descend upon the town, filling the gift shops, cable car and wicker sleds. Where should they go today he wondered; his thoughts ranging over the map conjured up in his mind? Ponta Moniz was a good place to enjoy lunch, and set on northwest corner of the island, a spot where the vast Atlantic shows its strength, even on the calmest of days.
He had not heard the curtain being pulled open and jumped slightly as her lips touch his shoulder. “So here you are, my love,” she said, kissing him again and wrapping her arms around his waist. He felt the coolness of her silk dressing gown against his skin. “You better put some clothes on before the early risers start to go outside; I don’t want you arrested and put in prison now that I have found you again.”
“I was so taken up with the beauty of it all I totally forgot about clothes,” he replied, carefully turning so as not to break her hold. “Shower?” she nodded, and giving him a gentle squeeze let her arms fall to her sides and led the way into the bedroom discarding the dressing gown as she went.
He was home, back from the nightmare that was Helmand Province, home for good, no fear today of a snipers bullet or roadside bombs, he was home to live again.
Having read this again a plot has just come to mind, but not one set in Afghanistan. Bizarre, totally bizarre. The question is, will it truly end happily? Probably not.