This is my first fiction novel, ‘Chase Hope’. I will post it in small segments, and would appreciate any commentary of feedback.
Chase Hope – Prologue
A man picks up the phone on the other side of the world. The crackle of silence emanates. A shaky hesitant voice, pregnant with importance, begins to speak.
‘Is … is this Jack Wright?’
A loaded pause shivers through the distance between them.
‘Jack?’ It is a quivering, desperate questioning of his identity. He says nothing, but the hairs on the back of his neck raise themselves in violent recognition.
‘Jack … it’s Audrey.’
‘I’m not sure if you even remember me, but’-
‘Audrey?’ It comes out as a quiet, longing whisper of disbelief.
Her voice is louder now, and more confident, but still unmistakably shaky. ‘Jack, I’m sorry to just call you out of the blue like this after all these years – I can assure you I have a very good reason … I’m just not really … well, not really quite sure how to …’ An aching sigh escapes her.
Then the frank admission stammers out with unintended force. ‘Jack … I’m calling to tell you … well … to tell you that you have a daughter.’
She waits the duration of an eternal, heated pause. A powerfully pungent, electric silence echoes through the line. There is haunting stillness, as his reality is shattered in an instant.
His confusion and shock quickly begin to morph into disbelief. ‘Audrey? What? I have … what??? I have … we … we have a daughter?’
There is no hesitancy in her voice now, just a maddening need to justify it all. It is a babbling tirade of justification barrelling toward him. ‘I know this must be a huge shock and I’m sorry, I really am, but it was time … time for you to know the truth. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, I know it wasn’t fair … But it’s complicated. I’m happily married Jack – I am – and my husband has raised Hope since she was born, and we have a younger son together, Tanner’-
He takes a sharp intake of breath before he cuts her off, as his disbelief gives way to a wave of unexpected emotions. His voice is rocky, as he softly creaks, ‘Hope? Her … her name is Hope?’
There is another endless wait as the stark truth is born. Audrey is driven by the need to go on, to get him to understand. It is a vain and unreasonable expectation, and a part of her knows this. Still she must try. ‘Yes Hope … She’s twenty-five now – well obviously, given when you and I … She’s beautiful Jack. I should explain more, oh god … there’s so much to explain … I wish I could do it in person, it seems so callous and cold this way. But with you over there and me here, you know, I just couldn’t think of another way. Anyway, the main thing is, well … the thing you need to understand is that my husband and I only recently told Hope about you. She was obviously very shocked and angry, as no doubt you are, and rightly so. We told her that you didn’t know about her and that when, if ever, she was ready, I would get in contact with you. It would seem that time has come.’
Again she waits. Her heart clenches in on itself as she wonders if she is doing the right thing.
Finally he is able to form words. He responds to her, but he is still not able to manifest anything other than brutal shock. ‘I … I have a daughter? Oh Audrey … oh my god … I can’t’-
He feels the sudden welling up of seething, frightening, roaring, intricate emotions. They are unbearably intense. They are insufferable.
Audrey senses his internal crumbling and begins to panic. An overwhelming need for it to end – to get off the phone – quickly grips her. ‘Look Jack, I understand this is a huge shock … understatement of the century. I do, I understand that and I know you need time to process all this. Take as much time as you need and when you’re ready you can call me, if you want to, my number is … ’
Jack sits in an armchair, still in his black work pants and white undershirt, staring blankly at the rain crashing upon the window. Time has suddenly ceased to exist for him. The transparent experiences of his life meld into infinite space. He is icy and numb, vacant and hollow. The shock, oh the shock of it all! Audrey? Hope? There is too much shock; shock and displacement. Intangibly slowly the truth of it creeps into his consciousness as he sits there, paralysed with disbelief.
After an indefinable amount of time, new feelings surface within him … Pain is at the forefront now, no, not pain … Agony. Agony, and deep, deep hurt. They grate upon his heart with eager lust. So much hurt. So many questions. How is this possible? The truth, now fully present in his conscious mind, suddenly opens the floodgates of his soul. All those repressed feelings, and all the fresh ones – all the pain, all the suffering, all the … love … it all simultaneously builds into a staggeringly painful crescendo within him. How could this be? How can this be?
His being, on the brink of madness, makes an abrupt shift into self-preservation mode. It does so by presenting another emotion to overwhelm the others. This more familiar emotion leaps up to the fore with blazing intensity; Anger. So … much … anger. The tarnished man, the jaded man, the man who had been broken so many years ago – that man allows the anger of his life to violently swell and take new fire. It pumps cruelly through his body and makes it rigid. He trembles uncontrollably. It needs release. It forces him to lash out. The yelps of primal pain and rage that escape him, as he destroys every single thing in his apartment, are powerful enough to echo through the ages.