The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste…
Summer, Year 5
Alexander is 55, Erica is 53 and Aaron is 21
Aaron balanced the ball on his feet and passed it from foot to foot. He was waiting impatiently for the postman to arrive, hopefully with an acceptance from Foxbury. He’d been waiting for what felt like weeks and he still hadn’t heard anything back.
Tired of waiting and hearing his parents tutting every time he lost the ball, he set off for the Sport Court in the city. He ended up in a fierce table tennis battle with another Foxbury hopeful, Blake.
Aaron cheered as he beat his opponent fair and square. The two guys ended up talking for a while about the frustration when waiting to hear back from Foxbury. The wait was almost impossible and Aaron was glad that somebody understood at last.
After leaving the sports centre, he set off for his favourite bar, The Rainbow Room. The atmosphere there was great and he enjoyed relaxing there.
After a couple of drinks, he felt confidant enough to burst into song on the karaoke machine.
He eventually drifted into the actual Rainbow Room of the club and starting dancing to the DJ when someone else in the room caught his eye.
The room wasn’t particularly crowded; it was still early in the afternoon and the club would get really busy until later that night. All the same, Aaron felt the other patrons melt into the background as he stared at the hottest back he’d ever seen. When the owner of the back turned around, Aaron’s jaw almost dropped.
He’d known he liked men and women for a few years now; ever since the messy end to his last relationship with his senior school girlfriend. He’d fancied celebrities before but he’d never actually met a man who made his heart stop beating.
He needed to know him.
Plucking up courage he didn’t know he had, Aaron approached the vision and introduced himself. It was as if the heavens had aligned in his favour for a change and he discovered that Breandan was a regular at the club.
They moved off the noisy dancefloor and moved into the slightly less noisy bar to talk. Aaron could feel his heart pounding in his chest as he wondered whether Breandan was feeling anything close to what he was experiencing right now.
He left the bar around one o’clock and caught the first train home. Before turning in for the night, he drifted dreamily into the bathroom and stared into the mirror. For the first time since he’d moved in with his parents, he felt happy and hopeful.
The following day brought Aaron crashing back to earth when Erica came home early from her teacher-training day at the school. She’d experimented with some new teaching methods during the previous year and a local magazine got hold of the story. In spite of the popularity of her new methods, the Board of Governors weren’t happy and she’d been politely asked not to return for the new term.
The main income for the family had just disappeared down the drain.
Ever hopeful, Aaron logged on to the computer to see if he’d heard anything back from the Foxbury application he’d submitted but he hadn’t.
Since his Mum had lost her job, he thought it might be time to try and get one of his own. Especially as his dreams of University were slipping further away from him with every rejection letter.
Having heard the news about Erica’s job, his sister Andrea and her husband invited them out to lunch to try and cheer everyone up.
As always happened when Andrea was around, Aaron felt a little lost. He didn’t have much in common with any of his family and even less with his new brother-in-law, as much as he liked him. Alexander and Jared were both into computers and were talking about game development, again. He did appreciate the sentiment though and Andrea always checked in with him to see how he was doing.
The following morning, Aaron was actually awake at a reasonable hour to have breakfast with Erica. He was desperately trying to cheer her up after her sudden job loss but his own lack of direction with his life quickly became the prevailing topic of conversation.
Not for the first time, Aaron felt more than a little inadequate.
Frustrated, he left his mother to finish her breakfast and tend her garden and grabbed his football. He was talented at football, he knew that. More than anything, he wanted to be able to play for a proper team. If he didn’t get accepted into University soon, he was probably going to have to try to long route; and that might never happen.
Maybe his parents had a point when they kept telling him to focus on his real future. Was his dream of being a footballer just that – a dream?
Sighing heavily, Erica got on with her knitting. Now that Andrea was married, she was hoping for a baby announcement soon and had started on some little gifts for her first grandchild. She was a little concerned that Andrea wouldn’t discuss children with her yet; she seemed very busy with her job and side projects and children didn’t seem to have been considered yet.
Her thoughts drifted to Aaron. She felt a little guilty that she’d deflected all his sympathy that morning and turned the conversation onto him but she felt she needed to be practical. With Alexander’s freelance work the only income for the household, they couldn’t really afford for Aaron to be sitting around, waiting for applications to come through. She needed him to be proactive.
Alexander was already thinking ahead. He’d wandered across the round to the Cove Community Centre because he’d read online that they were looking for improvements. He knew there were plans to make more use of the centre so he decided, on a whim, to sign the family up to help with the cleanup effort and to cast their votes on what the centre should be used for.
Surprised but grateful for something to do, Aaron and Erica joined in and between them, they set about cleaning up the main hall. It hadn’t really been used for years and there were some distinct water marks on the ground, cobwebs in every available corner and cracks in walls desperately in need of plaster.
Aaron set to work hoovering up the dust while Alexander assessed the cobweb situation. Erica got some paint ready to being redecorating the hall.
Erica called in some friends to help out with the cleanup; former Foundry Cove resident Hollie and her best friend, Emily. The three women enjoyed a short break from the work to chat and Hollie and Emily did their best to cheer Erica up in the wake of her sudden job loss.
The job was going to take several days but the first day was finished. Aaron treated himself to an early dinner from the canteen. He felt better than he had in days; a bit of activity and a purpose had really made a difference.
His thoughts were still full of Breandan from the club the other night. Maybe it was time to do something about it?
Erica, on the other hand, felt the despair and hopelessness seep in again as she prepared for bed. Losing her job had hit her harder than she’d ever expected and for the first time in her life, she had no plan for the future. That thought alone terrified her.
It was late but Aaron wanted to check one last time to see if he’d had a response from Foxbury about his application.
He had an email waiting for him. Holding his breath, he opened the email.
It was another rejection. Aaron closed his eyes in disbelief; another year where it felt that his dreams were slipping away before him and he still couldn’t reach them.