First page of a novel…
Jack Davidson died at exactly three minutes after six on the evening of the 23rd June, 2002. His last day was also his birthday, he was 28 years old. How he died is very clear. Jack took his own life when he stepped from the platform in front of a train as it passed though the station in what had been his home town. Why he died is less understood. It is known that Jack wasn’t completely alone in the moments before his death, there were six others on the platform that evening with him. The answer to the question of why Jack chose that day to die lies with one of them. The burden of carrying that secret will lay heavy and it will be many years before it is shared. On the day it finally is there will be another death from among this group. That, though, is for later.
23rd June 2002
Jack was up early on the day he died. This wasn’t particularly unusual, It had been his habit since childhood. The fact that it was his birthday barely registered. He may have overlooked it completely if it weren’t for the carefully wrapped gift and unopened card left on his small kitchen table the previous evening by his girlfriend Emily. As he went through his morning ritual of preparing fresh coffee and generously buttered toast the new additions to this daily scene seemed to adopt an almost lifelike presence. It felt, to Jack, like they were demanding his attention. That they were somehow surprised that he hadn’t immediately stripped them of their outer layers and were now becoming more and more frustrated by his apparent apathy. It wasn’t that he wasn’t grateful to Emily for her efforts. He already knew that the gift would be thoughtful and that the card would be humorous on the outside and contain an understated message of affection on the inside. They would represent the kind of gesture that part of him craved. He would see that he mattered to someone. Other feelings would undoubtedly arise however. Jack knew that being confronted with the evidence of his value to another would be in direct contradiction to how much he valued himself. This kind of thing was a daily struggle for Jack. He didn’t want today to be like that, he knew who he was even if those closest to him did not.
Coffee drunk and toast attempted Jack made his way through to his bedroom and readied himself to leave the flat. Tall, dark haired, medium build and with deep brown eyes, Jack was a good looking man. Obviously somewhat aware of this, but never entirely comfortable with it, Jack consciously never dressed to impress. The faded jeans he slipped on were at least five years old and the plain green T-shirt he selected was one of a ‘three for two’ bundle from one of the charity shops that had appeared on the high street in recent years. Completing his outfit with a pair of brown training shoes Jack stood up, gave himself a cursory once over in the bedroom mirror, walked through to the small entrance hall, picked up his wallet, opened the front door and left the flat for the last time. He didn’t lock the door behind him. The present from Emily remained unopened.