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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
Recommendations: 6

Daniel Morgan [15]


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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

      June 22nd, 2014


       It was a bright, beautiful sunny day as the family hung out in various poses on the beach of Mooney’s Bay. Nick and his family were there too, and well as Leonard and his two children, Myles and Daisy.


       It had been a very fun day; earlier, everyone had had lunch at the Lonestar Café, a Texas-style restaurant located in the Fisher Heights Plaza, where they sat outside near the big clock tower that denoted the name of the plaza. It was the beginning of summer. Daniel was happy with everything in his life – his home life, his career, and his relationships. Even getting older was proving to be fun, if not for his grandson.


       The boy had come along in late 2010, via his son Edwin. It wasn’t a planned birth – it was just as Daniel had once compared his son to his longest, best friend Nick. He’d once imagined Edwin would be girl-crazy. Well, he hadn’t quite lived up to Nick’s diverse track record, but he’d had several girlfriends in high school, and then he got together with Melanie when he started at Carleton in 2009. They were virtually in love, and after awhile, both Daniel and Lauren – and Beatrice, and Leonard, and Evan and Marie – found they could easily see it.


       Edwin and Melanie spent all their time together. They worked together. They studied together. Virtually all of Edwin’s posts on Facebook included Melanie, or that he loved her. Some of his friends were completely turned off by his in-your-face pronouncements, but eventually they got used to it and learned to share in his happiness. They were as close and perfect as Daniel and Lauren had seen each other back when they were courting. In mid-2010, knowing that Melanie’s pregnancy would start to really show to people (he’d gotten her pregnant in February and neither had told anyone), they both decided to rejoice in their shared love and impending child by getting engaged, and then married in September. Their baby boy, whom they named Nicholas Leonard, was born on October 2nd.


       This came at a time when Evan was giving $4000 to each of his grandchildren, just as the senior Edwin had given each of his grandchildren money upon their entrance into post-secondary education, and Daniel was willing to help money-wise as well. Edwin and Melanie moved into the garden homes on Meadowlands Drive after Nick was born, where they were in close proximity to Evan and Marie across the street. Brooke, who was now also studying at University, often helped out and babysat.


       Edwin and Melanie had just had their graduation, where Edwin received his degree in architecture. He wasn’t finished; he was going to start his master’s later that year. But everyone still wanted to celebrate, so after the ceremony the entire family had gone to lunch at the Lonestar before heading to the beach. Colin had taken the day off from work at a local NGO to be with everyone, and he spent the time writing about the day in a journal. He didn’t have a girlfriend, but he had asked a few girls out over the past few years, and even had a sort-lived long-distance relationship with someone. All in all he was happy, for himself and for Edwin, and keeping a journal was something he’d been doing since the mid-2000s.


       Sam, Nick’s now grown son, worked at a private business downtown, in a junior position. He was going out with someone, though she wasn’t at the beach with all of them. He often looked after the now-teenaged Isobel, who was teaching him Ukrainian; Nick, who could fluently speak both that and Russian, had a booming business that included not just start-ups and radio commentating but local bands that actually had some mainstream success. He still jammed now and then with a few people he knew, but he was most happy with Ana, who always reminded him that his family was the most important thing in the world, that and being happy.


       Daniel looked around him. The beach was full of people, and the younger adults, some of which included what used to be his young children, frolicked about in the water, built sandcastles in the sand, and otherwise had fun and participated in lively conversation and debate. Little Nick was going to be four in October, and Edwin kept him close most of the time. Eventually, though, he turned to him and asked if he could look after his son while he and Melanie went for a little swim, and Daniel happily said he would. His parents, Evan and Marie, lounged on chairs nearby, taking in the sun and enjoying the day. Already they were getting a tan. His wife, Lauren, sat with them, wearing sunglasses. Looking at his parents, both of whom were almost into their 80s, he felt a rush of satisfaction and happiness. They were still here, able to be the great-grandparents his grandpa Edwin hadn’t lived long enough to be, and that seemed fair and right and good. The only thing missing was their taste for a variety of different cars and their appetite for wanting a new one every year or two.


       “Hey,” a voice said to Daniel’s right, and he looked up to see Nick’s sister Andrea walking onto the beach, with her daughter Marietta, who was twenty-two. She waved at everyone, then immediately went in to the water, joining Colin who had stopped writing to go swimming. They seemed to get on very well, Daniel noticed.


       After a few minutes, an idea struck him, and he took little Nick’s hand. “Want to go on a walk with me?” he asked the young boy.


       “Okay,” he said.


       They went down the beach along the waterline, with Daniel holding the boy’s hand most of the way, though he never wandered far when he let him walk on his own. The boy was learning to speak pretty quickly at his age, which was a delight whenever he visited Edwin and Melanie in their garden home as he always had new things to say. Eventually they turned around and walked back up the beach, which was teeming with children and young adults, some of who played volleyball. It was a warm, beautiful summer day, and walking with his grandson, Daniel felt completely at peace.


       They didn’t stop. They left the beach and started walking up the hill, the big one that looked over the entire bay and the Terry Fox Athletic Facility nearby. There were some people up there, lounging and sitting in couples, but not too many. On the farther side, someone attempted to hang-glide. Reaching the summit, they both sat down, grandfather and grandson, and looked out over the water.


       Up there, it was quieter and warmer, and now and then voices would float on the air toward them. They could see the rest of the family on the beach and in the water, between the trees. Daniel scanned the opposite shore; dense lush green trees marked most of it, with the random house. Over the treetops he could make out the low-rise apartments on Meadowlands Drive, and the larger ones further down, up the hill. The entire horizon over the trees was marked with the odd cluster of apartment buildings, and even the odd office tower. The hill had drastically changed since he was four; there were much fewer trees surrounding it. But it was still beautiful.


       “Grandpa?” Nick suddenly asked him.


       “Yes, Nick?” Daniel responded.


       “I’m wondering, what does life mean?”


       Daniel stared at him. “What does life mean?”


       “Yeah.”


       “The word or life itself?”


       “Uh…I dunno. Life. Life itself. Is there meaning to it?”


       Daniel couldn’t believe his ears. For one thing, the boy couldn’t sit there and ask such a deep question at such a young age. The way he even phrased it almost scared him. But he quickly got over it. What did life mean? That was easy.


       “Well, my little Nick, the meaning of life, as we say, is to play and have fun. Lots and lots of fun.” He thought for a second, and then added, “and one day soon, before you know it, you’ll be on top of the world.”


       “Really?”


       “Really.”


       “Okay.”


       “Do you know what I mean?” Daniel wondered if little Nick had understood despite how intelligent he’d sounded a second ago.


       “Yeah. I think so. Have fun. Fun!” He smiled as he looked up at him.


       Yes, Daniel thought as his heart melted at the boy’s smile. He had the answer right there. Fun. That was all there was to it. Little Nick was on his way already; no doubt he’d be sky-high very soon, on top of the world for all to see.


       Fun.


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Justin Campbell's website: http://justincottawa.blogspot.ca/

Next: Daniel Morgan [14]