It had been a long day at school, but it always was. All Aiden wanted to do now was check his dad was okay and go back out till the early morning. Walking through the gate at school, he spotted his Dad’s white Ford Focus waiting for him in the corner. Andrew Malcolm was a tall man in his forties, sporting a patch of rough ginger hair and uneven shaven patches all over his face. Despite his look, his warm inviting smile and big brown eyes begged to differ.
Aiden got in the car, and he immediately felt his dad staring at him, eyeing up some scrapes and bruises all over his arms. “So…how was school?”
Aiden turned to him. “It was okay, pretty boring to be fair,”
“Anything interesting happen?”
“Not really, it’s school after all.”
“Just stick in, remember?”
“Yeah Dad, I know.”
“Did you run to school again?”
“Yeah, I had to, I missed my bus.”
“Please be more careful. That’s the second tracksuit I’ve got you this month.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t be breaking anymore arms.”
“Aiden, I’m all for you having a passion and everything, but you need to be more careful when you’re running around out there.”
“I’m always careful Dad, don’t worry, I won’t go round the junkyard for a while.”
“Actually, I got you something today, it’s in the glove compartment over there.”
“Well it’s not my birthday Dad, what’s the occasion?”
“No occasion, just thought you could use it, go on, check it out.”
Aiden went and opened the glove compartment, bringing out a yellow wristband that had been customized with a sports logo. He was about to put it on when he noticed the word “Passion” had been printed on it, in the shape of a key no less. A beaming smile formed in his face, he knew exactly what it meant.
“Thanks Dad, I really appreciate this.”
“Yeah well, your mum always had talked about getting you something like that.”
Aiden’s smile soon turned to a look of sorrow. “I miss her everyday, Dad.”
Andrew took a deep breath. “So do I, but me and you do alright for ourselves”
“We get by”
Andrew sighed and stopped at a traffic light. “It’s been four years since the accident, four years it’s just been me and you, I like to believe that she’s still with us somehow.”
Aiden’s stomach tightened at the words and his voice turned to a faint whisper. “So do I.”
He kept his eye on the windows, looking at the world outside. Trees, posts and various other potential obstacles raced past his vision. Andrew interrupted his train of thought.
“How’s Alison doing by the way? You guys seeing each other after school?”
Aiden shrugged. “Yeah, there’s a parkour contest sign up that she wants me to go to”.
Andrew raised his eyebrows. “I thought you weren’t into competitions.”
“I’m not, but I’ll go anyway, she promised me a drink out of it”
Andrew chuckled quietly. “Oh, so it’s a deal-breaker then?”
“Yep, I feel bad for Alison though.”
“Why, because of her ankle? You know that wasn’t your fault.”
“Yeah, but I can see it in her face every day when I’m practicing. She misses it. She misses the feeling.”
“Well, she didn’t have to stop, but she’s always with you, supporting you through it, you know?”
Aiden’s stomach sank. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Alison has always been a great friend to you, since you were both only six. She’s a keeper. Her ankle instability might make her a bit slow, but she can keep up with you.”
They pulled up to their block of flats, and walked into home. Flat AC1. It wasn’t much, a pull up sofa, one bedroom for Aiden, a bathroom, a TV that worked, and a working home kitchen. Aiden never asked for much in life, mostly because he never had needed it. People his age nowadays couldn’t live without updating their Facebook status every five minutes. It was as if they’d forgotten that there was a world of exploration out in the open, not just on a search engine.
“I’m just dropping my stuff, then I’m heading back out, will you be alright Dad?”
“Yeah son, I’ll be fine...
Andrew’s speech was cut off from a scream of pain and a fall to the floor, clenching his lungs, trying to hold back agonizing coughs.
Aiden rushed over to his side, patting him on the back. “Dad, are you alright?”
“I’m fine son, just hand me that water over there?”
Aiden ran over to the kitchen, grabbing a glass of water quickly handing it over to his dad. He helped him up with a look of worry taking over his emotions.
“You worry about me too much, but you’re the one I should be worrying about, Dad.”
“Calm down about that, the doctor said it’s not terminal remember? I’m not going to die.”
Aiden clenched his fists. “You know I don’t like it when you use that word. I don’t want to see you laid up in a hospital bed for weeks, we barely get by as it is”
Andrew looked up at his son with barely a look of comfort. “We get by Aiden, and don’t you concern yourself with these kind of things. Let me worry about that”.
“But that’s just the thing Dad, I do worry, I always worry about your health. It’s not looking better.”
“It’s my job to worry about you.”
“And right now it’s my job to worry about you.”
Aiden helped his dad to his feet.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine, just go and meet up with Alison, it’s the weekend you shouldn’t be worrying about this kind of stuff”.
Realizing he wouldn’t let up, Aiden just decided to take his advice. He went into his room and dropped his stuff, picking up his charger and an extra set of headphones for later. He walked to the door slowly, looking back at his dad before putting his hand to the handle.
“Don’t do any heavy lifting when I’m gone, okay Dad?”
Andrew grinned at him. “Shame, I was just getting ready to help the neighbours move that piano into their flat”
They both looked at each other and shared a brief smile, before bursting into a fit of laughter.
“Oh shut up, Dad.”