I have started writing a novel and I will post the chapters of my first draft as I write them. They will not be perfect, but they will not be horribly sloppy either. If you have any comments or advice, PLEASE comment in the box below.

Chapter 3

Although this chapter does a decent job, I think, of introducing Ivan to us as a major character in the novel, but I feel I should do more. Note to self: this chapter needs more meat and a bit of foreshadowing.

For Detective Inspector Ivan Fisher there were few things as pleasant as being off work on a winter’s day when it was raining and the sky was slate-coloured and cloud heavy all day. As usual, he woke up early, well before sunrise, and shuffled into the kitchen on socked feet to put the kettle on. While the water was boiling, he did his stretch exercises and inhaled and exhaled deeply a few times. It was the early mornings that reminded him that he was nearer forty than thirty and that his years of school rugby were beginning to take their toll on his joints. Everything was starting to creak and every morning it seemed to take him a bit longer to get himself going.

The kettle clicked off and Ivan poured himself a cup of black coffee. He was trying to give up the sugar, but bitter black coffee was a step too far for him and he spooned in a generously heaped teaspoon of brown sugar. The toaster popped and he buttered the four slices of brown toast. As another concession to the diet he was on again, he spread Bovril on two of the slices and cut cheese on the other two. Normally he would have spread thick jam on all of them. He looked at his steadily expanding midriff and hoped the sacrifice would be worth it in the end.

Ivan took his breakfast into the lounge and sat at the small table that was pushed up against one of the two windows in the room. It gave a lovely view of the communal garden of his small block of flats and from the first floor, he could see a good ratio of garden and cloudy sky. Rain lashed in waves against the window and he braced himself for the first sip of coffee that he knew would send a tingle through his body. There were few things as happy in life as the first few sips of morning coffee.

The garden lights below formed a bubble of wispy light through the rain streaked window and Ivan reached over the table for his notebook and pen. He spent the next thirty minutes writing a few pages describing the garden and imagining a dramatic love scene down there in the pouring rain. It could be a teary parting when two lovers realise they can no longer be together or a teary reunion when the two lovers finally get together. Ivan wrote all of this down and wondered if he could use any of it in his next assignment. The Creative Writing module he was taking as part of his degree at the Open University was one of his secret pleasures and none of his colleagues knew about it. They didn’t need to know that the newest detective in their squad secretly wanted to be a romance novelist when he grew up. That was teasing he could do without in his life.

When he finally gets the degrees in three- or four-years’ time, it will be another item crossed off his bucket list and one of the more important items. Ivan has had a bucket list ever since he first saw the movie when he was in his early twenties and newly married. If he had worked as hard at his marriage as he had at his ever-changing bucket list then perhaps he would not now be living on his own in a one bed flat. It was nice enough, but not as nice as it would have been had his family been her with him. He bit into the next slice of now cold toast and tried to push thoughts of loss to the back of his mind, but his mind was being stubborn this morning and went wandering without him.

He’d thought he’d get used to it, but the single life was not for him. Drinking coffee early on a Saturday morning while it’s pouring with rain outside is not a one-person activity. Ivan wanted to share these moments with someone, but that someone is now married to the car salesman she met while Ivan was working too many long hours in pursuit of villains and promotions. In the end, he caught most of the villains and got the promotions, but his wife and young daughter was the price he’d had to pay for it.

Ivan tried not to think about the day Emma sat him down and told him quietly and without recrimination that she was leaving him. While he sat in shocked silence she told him about her loneliness and about the man she had met while walking the dog. They kept passing each other in the park and before long they began exchanging small pleasantries. It was nice for her to sit on a park bench and have a conversation with someone while the dogs played on the lawn. Before long they introduced their toddlers to each other and it was even nicer watching small children and dogs while chatting to someone on a brown park bench in the sun. Ivan had been angry that she had taken their daughter along to meet with her lover, but he wasn’t really angry at her. He was angry at the situation and at the realisation that it was all mostly his own fault.

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