The Things I Should Have Told You
I'm so happy to be a part of the blog tour for this book by Carmel Harrington. I have an extract for you below and I have to hold my hands up and say I haven't read it, I now have to give in to pleading from my book pal and guest reviewer Julie Williams and read this book!
I’ve never been a vain man, but I’ve always taken care of my appearance. I shave every morning as soon as I get up and while I don’t have the energy for a shower every day, I’ll always wash my hair. But even so, I know I look a bit . . . unkempt. My skin sags wearily on pointy bones and there’s a greyness to my complexion that wasn’t there a few weeks ago. Last time I saw Beth I was young, vibrant, full of vigour. Would she even recognise me now?
‘How can you be so sure that you’ll see her when you die?’
‘I’ve faith, lad.’
Scepticism lls Olly’s face. That, right there, is part of his problem. ‘What makes you not believe?’ I’m curious. Olly shrugs, but he has no answer for me. I’ve had time to think about my own faith. Goodness knows, it’s been tested many times, not least of all when Beth died. But it was faith that I’d see her again one day that has got me through the past thirty-odd years. Had I not believed that, I don’t think I would have managed to smile and laugh and enjoy my family and life as much as I have. And that would have been a crying shame, because I’ve had a good life with Olly, Mae and the children.
I look at him and wish that I could nd words that might explain to him how I feel. I scan my bedroom and my eyes rest on the battered brown briefcase propped against my dresser. I carried that to work every day for nigh-on thirty-eight years, right up until I retired. Now it contains a shiny silver laptop that Olly and Mae bought me a few years back. I thought I’d never get the hang of it. Googling seemed like a ridiculous word, that made me giggle like a silly teenager whenever I thought of it. But now, well, I love it. I think it’s the fact that I can travel anywhere in the world courtesy of that silver box. It’s amazing what you can nd on the internet.
Then I have one of those light-bulb moments.
‘Think of Wi-Fi, lad. You can’t see that, right? Faith is just like Wi-Fi, with the power to connect you to so much, to places all over the world.’
Olly seems amused at the direction my train of thought has gone. I dive in with my analogy.
‘Think about it. I have faith that your mother is waiting for me. I can feel that more and more every day. I’m sure of it, lad, in the same way I know that I’ll be waiting for you, when it’s your turn to go too.’
‘Not for a few more decades though, please, Pops!’ and we both laugh together at that. ‘You’ve a great way of looking at things. It’s a nice thought, either ways.’
‘Well, you remember what I said about the Wi-Fi when I’m gone. I’ll connect with you again one day, lad. Somehow or other, we’ll nd each other. You mark my words.’
Olly squeezes my hand, pain etched all over his face. I feel his love for me and know that he is already mourning my inevitable absence in his life. I hate that I’m adding to his worry right now.
‘Are you honest to God worried about how you look?’
When I nod in response, he looks at me with a critical eye, ‘I suppose you could do with a hair-cut. You’re looking a bit Spandau Ballet-like there, Pops.’
Ha! He’s funny, my son. How many times did I nag him when he was a teenager and into all that New Romantic nonsense? He grew his hair long and started to wear white oppy shirts. Eejit. ‘I’ll book the hairdresser,’ Olly assures me. He bends in towards me, so close we’re almost nose to nose. ‘Mam loved you. She won’t care what you look like. She wasn’t like that, worried about stupid supercial stuff.’
I daresay he’s right.
‘Sure, maybe you’ll become young again when you die,’ he adds.
‘Aye, maybe I will that.’ I like that thought. This body of mine is gone all worn out, like a set of brake pads past their sell-by date. I’d happily swap it for a younger version. ‘Would you get my good suit dry-cleaned for me, the one I got last year in Neon’s?’ I’ve gotten my suits in that shop in Talbot Street for over thirty years now. Mind you, when I bought it, I had no idea that it would be the last time I’d ever buy a suit. Had I known, I might have splurged and bought two!
I watch Olly’s face go through several emotions. From shock, to anger, to sadness and then nally it settles on acceptance of a kind. While I know that it’s time that I start working through all the ner details of what I want, I hate seeing the effect that it has on him.
‘That’s what you want to wear . . . when . . . you know?’ He stammers out and his face has gone a funny grey colour.
‘I do,’ I reply. ‘But make sure you put me in my shiny shoes. The ones I usually wear for a black-tie do. And I want my white dress shirt too with the cufinks that I wore for your wedding. I always feel dapper when I wear those. Oh, and I want the blue tie that Evie bought me last Christmas to nish the look off. She’ll like that.’
Olly blinks, then nods, leaning in to grasp my hand and squeeze it tight.
‘I want to look smart,’ I tell him, but damn it, my voice catches. I blink fast. I need him to understand that this is important for me.
‘I won’t forget, Pops. I’ll make sure you look perfect,’ Olly promises, and I know I’m in safe hands. When Olly promises to do something, he never lets you down.
To read Julie William's guest review click here