Aaron to Logan Penta!

LifeAfterJoe

Hello, Logan. I know you had a hard time choosing which out of all of us you’d like to meet, so I’m honoured that you decided you’d like a catch-up with me. Harper’s pleased about it too, because whereas she gets to visit a lot of her previous creations in the form of sequels and series, Life After Joe is never going to have a follow-up. Matthew and I reached our happy ending so perfectly, you see, and after everything he’d been through, all we wanted was a home of our own and a chance to start our lives together in peace.

Great losses make for complicated new beginnings, though. Matt won’t ever be the trusting lad he was before Joe screwed him over, and as for me, I’d never even begun to imagine how it would feel to lose somebody like Andrew Rose. The possibility had never even occurred to me, which was stupid in a high-risk job like ours. So both of us had lost a kind of innocence by the time we met. Matt’s faith in men had been shattered, and mine in some benign force of life that would protect young, vibrant guys like Rosie. In straight society, you’d say we were a widower and a divorcé trying to make a go of it, a second chance.

But the thing is, his broken pieces met mine with such perfection. We bought our house, not in Hexham as originally planned but in a place called Brampton, slightly further towards my workplace in Seascale than his in Newcastle upon Tyne. The way we went about it was typical, symbolic of our breakages and wholeness. We both still have a long daily commute, but it’s pretty much in the middle, if you take into account that I have to slog to the west coast and he has a straight shoot down the A69 to the east. We sat and worked it out together, our first real piece of shared business, and although we kept our decision-making factors strictly practical, I knew Matt wasn’t a guy who could cope with a home-at-weekends partner, just as he knew I couldn’t go a whole week without seeing him. It wasn’t a matter of trust on Matt’s part, or the lack of it – after he cracked and went through my emails that long-ago night, you never saw anyone work harder to mend the fracture-lines Joe had put through him. And it worked, too: his shadows cleared in record time. But I was never gonna make his scars ache if I could help it. So I turned down the offer of week-night accommodation at Seascale, and I made sure – still do – that he got a text or a phone call if I was delayed on my way home. He does the same for me, for different reasons. I guess if you were to haul out both our sets of fears into daylight, they’d look like this…

Matt: He’s late, and I haven’t heard from him. Once more life has proved to me that nothing I thought was safe and secure is real. I’ve done my best – cleaned up my act, become one of the smartest and best young doctors in the city, but I know deep down I’ll never be good enough to hang on to someone I love.

Aaron: He’s late, and I haven’t heard from him. Clearly he’s been involved in a horrific freak accident and I’ll never see him again.

So we take good care of each other, in unspoken, speaking silence. With those things known and understood between us, you wouldn’t believe how much joy there is to be had in hardworking daily life! Our house is set back on a hillside outside the town. My starting wage at Seascale was astronomical (especially by poor Matt’s standards, and I too will never understand why I’m getting six figures to mess around with radioactive sludge while he barely breaks £30K for helping people beat cancer), so we didn’t mess around: bought a red-sandstone Edwardian farmhouse with a walled garden, the kind of dream home you don’t realise you’ve been dreaming about until someone comes along to share the dream. It’s tumbledown and shabby, but we both need something real and strong to do (other than each other) in our downtime, and I’m not sure there’s any finer sight than my Matty with his shirt off in the sunshine, covered in brick dust, striding fearlessly along the top of a half-built wall because he knows I’m there to catch him – just as he catches me, a dozen times every day, and so we will continue, one fear faced, one catch made at a time, for as long as life gives us.

 
Thank you, Aaron, and to Logan too. Next Sunday we’re off to Salisbury, where Susana will be meeting up with Rayne from The Salisbury Key. Susana said…

What a difficult question! There are so many of your characters I would like to meet… But as I can choose only one, it would be Rayne ( The Salisbury Key was the first book I read written by you, and it is very special), and I would like to ask him what he thought about Daniel the first time he saw him, when he was still with Jason…

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