Letters to Grandfather: Prologue

So, everyone's been reading my movella 'Letters to Grandfather'. I realise it doesn't say much about before her grandfather died, so I thought I'd write a prologue. Hope you enjoy it!

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1. Prologue

Sarah Phillips was worried.

Having completed her undergraduate degree, with second class honours, Sarah had a lot more time on her hands to worry about things.  Like her applications Masters in Creative Writing with Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Cambridge and Portsmouth or what jobs she could apply for with her meagre experiences in the workplace to pay towards her tuition.  But right now what was foremost on her mind was her Grandad.

He had been diagnosed with cancer.

The doctors sent him to the hospital for radiotherapy, but he had lost the strength in his legs so he couldn’t get around as easily as he used to.

Despite his handicap, he remained cheerful.

‘I’ve been given another challenge, that’s all’, he would say.

But that didn’t stop everyone from worrying about him; Sarah especially.

Her Grandad was her paternal grandfather whom she had always been close to.

Sarah could talk to her grandfather about most things.  When she was little she would chatter away at him and he would listen to me as if what she was saying was the most important thing in the world.

Ever since she could remember she always wrote ‘Grandad’ rather than ‘Granddad’.  No-one ever corrected her on it, so she carried on using it.

These days they mostly wrote e-mails and texted each other.  Despite his age and generation, Grandad was very tech-savvy, something she always found amusing when she told her friends.

Deciding that she’d had enough of depressing thoughts, Sarah made up her mind to go for a walk to clear her head.  Her feet took her down the beaten paths by the little river that ran by the housing estate where she lived.

The late summer sunshine did little to cheer her up.  The walk had only led to more thoughts of her grandfather.

The last time she’d gone on a walk with her grandfather, she must have been twenty.  Sarah, her parents and grandparents had gone with her Aunt Joan and Uncle Victor to Stowe Landscape Gardens.  Sarah had got blisters from the long and ‘brisk’ walk that her aunt had taken them on.

She stopped on a wooden bridge that crossed the river.  She leaned against the thick wooden rail and stared at the running water.  Everything just melted away as she watched the water flow through the reeds.

The sudden trill of her phone in her pocket jerked her from her thoughts.  Sliding it out, the caller ID told her that it was her friend Regina Kent, who had already been accepted to Oxford University on their Psychology PhD course.

‘Hey, Regina’ Sarah greeted, dully.

Regina noticed but chose not to say anything.  Instead she chirped, ‘Hi, Sarah!’

Though they hadn’t known each other for very long, Regina was able to tell what made Sarah tick.  And how to get her to talk about things but knew when to leave her alone.

‘How’s your grandfather doing?’ Regina knew about her worries about her grandfather and usually asked after him when she and Sarah spoke.

Sarah was grateful that Regina cared enough to ask.  It did sometimes helped to talk to someone outside of her family.

‘I spoke to him on the phone yesterday,’ Sarah replied.  ‘He’s still in pain, and the nurses are doing everything they can to make him comfortable.’

They made idle chatter about their day to day activities, and about their immediate family members.  Their light conversation made it easier for Sarah to take her mind off of her ailing grandfather.

At about quarter to three they both hung up.

Sarah stood there on the bridge for a bit longer and continued her walk.

A robin twittered from somewhere in the brambles to one side of the beaten path.

Sarah smiled.

Robins were such cheeky little things.  They never failed to make her smile, even on her most depressing days.
Then came the sound of a squirrel gnawing on a nut just above her head to left semi hidden by the bushes and foliage.  She turned and tilted her head, her eyes easily finding it. It was a little grey creature with big black eyes and a long bushy tail that was currently wrapped around the stump of a branch that jutted out just behind it.

Sarah stood as still as she could, until it decided it didn’t like being watched and scampered further up into the branches.

Continuing her walk, she passed by several dogs with their owners.  There were also one or two couples with their children running and playing in the field.

She managed to capture some nice photographs of the woods using the camera in her iPod.  The sun shining through the trees gave an interesting effect on the colours of the leaves and the stream that ran through it.

After a while she decided she’d had enough and allowed her mind to wander while her feet lead her home.
Before she knew it, she was unlocking the front door.

‘I’m home!’ she called out despite the fact that no-one would be at home at that time of day.

Toeing off her shoes, she trudged upstairs to her room.

It was a simple room with lilac walls, a forest green carpet and a white ceiling with birch wood cupboards and desk, and a black metal frame bed. 

The desk had been recently cleared of the random pieces of paper, old course books and writing utensils that had been scattered around.  Deciding to try to finish a short story she had been writing, Sarah opened and turned on her laptop before retrieving her writer’s journal.

She was so engrossed in her writing that she almost missed the sound of the door being unlocked at about five o’clock.  Dad arrived home first with Mum following about a half-hour later.

Evenings at home were quiet these days.  During dinner they engaged in inane chatter about work, what was in the news, the antics of their colleagues.  After the meal was eaten and the plates and cutlery were cleared away, Sarah retreated to her room wanting to get some more work done before she went to bed.  Mum was usually on the computer in the study, and Dad was in the living room watching a film or television.

Sometime later Sarah was startled out of a train of thought by the phone ringing, but before she could get up from her behind her desk one of her parents picked it up.  Vaguely she wondered who would be calling at close to ten o’clock in the evening before settling herself back down in her seat.

About half an hour had passed, and just as Sarah was finishing dressing for bed, there was a soft knock on her bedroom door.

After doing up the last couple of buttons on her pyjama shirt, she went to answer it.  It was her Mum.  With a worried frown on her forehead.

‘Your Dad and I need to talk to you,’ she said.

Curious, but at the same time apprehensive, Sarah followed her mother to her parents’ bedroom where they found her father slouched over at the edge of the bed in his sleeping trousers, with his head in his hands.

Sarah had never seen him like this.  Something was definitely wrong.

It seemed like ages before he looked up and when he did, the expression on his face was grim and cheerless.

‘The hospice called,’ he said.

It couldn’t be that could it?

And then came the four words that she never wished to hear.

‘Grandad has passed away.’

But I just spoke to him yesterday, was Sarah’s last thought before she burst into tears.

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