TICK to the TOCK
by Matthew Turner
Publication date: January 8th, 2014
Buy Links: Amazon | B&N
Dante King is a young twenty something who discovers he’s dying. He won’t live to see his next birthday and time is ticking away to live life before it’s taken from him. With the help of his eccentric and wild-free friend, Wilbur Day, and stubbornly rational cousin, Ethan Knight, the three friends embark on a trip that takes them across Europe, Asia, Australia and beyond.
Dante clings to his past though and the many regrets he has, yearning for acceptance and finally understanding faith. He’s only loved once, and when Daniella Adams comes back in to his life, the pair realise how in love they are – but must battle what they previously did to one another.
This is a heart pulling journey of amazing scenery and adventurous ways, but built on a life that is soon to end. It follows the love of Danii and Dante, finally realising how much they mean to each other but having it ripped away before their eyes. It’s about love and hardship between friends, family, and a dying son’s regret of not being better.
It’s a roller coaster ride of laughs and tears and making the most of life before it’s too late.
I've always found airports mysterious. They are, quite frankly, no different from any other busy aspect of modern life, with shops and rules and frantic bodies pushing past one another. However, there's something strangely unique about these micro metropolises.
Sitting in a coffee shop at an airport is different to sitting in one anywhere else, as is walking into a shop or settling down with a book. Families that pass are not families, they're nomads awaiting adventure; couples aren't couples but two lovers on the verge of their first romantic trip; men in suits aren't mere workers, but important folk off to close million-dollar deals. Airports are part of the everyday, but somehow overshadow it.
I'm part of this strange microcosm right now, living in the everyday but not. Behind is a wall of glass separating me from a fleet of planes and a rather long runway. The little boy to my right doesn't lean on the room-sized window and peer outside, he inhales what's beyond it. There's a buzz of adrenaline in the air and a constant hum of ambient noise. But again, it's not simply wayward sound, it's unbridled adventure and hope.
Hope... an overused word of late, but one I finally understand.
It's been two weeks since I finally decided to live. Time since has been a blur, full of exciting and terrifying tasks. Booking flights and spending money without rational thought was fun, but confessing my decision to my parents wasn't. In some ways, this occasion was harder, for it was my own choice, not one delivered by fate. It's hard to make them understand, but recently I can't stop thinking about one of my early morning appointments in Manchester.
I'm unsure who the specialist was, or where on this journey it took place, but I do remember the near empty waiting room, and I most certainly remember the encounter: his shaking fingers; his desperation; a peek into my future.
It was early, so early the nurses and doctors were still arriving, whipping off their jackets and unveiling their white uniforms. My sleepy eyes ached, not only from the lack of sleep, but the process of tests and relaying my story and how I felt and what I knew, and did I understand this, and am I aware of the risks?
Keeping my gaze on the floor, I was aware of a nearby man, striding back and forth and picking up magazines before dropping them on an empty chair. My fidgety fingers scratched my thighs, and the tension in my neck clung tight to each fibre of muscle. I didn't look up. I couldn't look up. I knew if I did, this strange man would talk to me. He had an aura about him, a desperation of needing to unburden his troubles.
"I hate appointments at this time," he said, ending the silence. "Waiting rooms, at this time, freak me out." He said this time like it had another meaning.
I didn't look up. "Yeah, a little chilling."
"It's my wife, you see," he blurted. "She prefers to do this stuff early in the day. So she doesn't have to worry all afternoon, you know? At least, she used to, anyway."
I raised my head for the first time, following his black trousers up to where his white shirt tucked beneath the waistline. The plastic cup in his fingers shook. "The worrying is tough. I imagine it's just as bad for you," I said, honing in on his face: stubble surrounding his mouth and jawline, messy hair flopping over his forehead.
"Yeah, it's tough. Still, worse for her, right?"
"Yeah." His erratic blinking unnerved me. He looked on the verge of breaking, literally falling apart on the waiting room floor. I'd read articles online and blog posts and forums, but this was the first—and only—occasion I've spoken to someone going through the same torture as me.
"You want to sit down?" I asked.
"No, no, thank you. I prefer to stand."
"How long..." I didn't know how to finish my sentence. "I mean, has she been going through this long?"
He laughed, although it was more like a cough. "You could say that. It's been years. We caught it early, so everyone was confident it'd be fine. I suppose it was, in the beginning. I mean, it was horrible, but the treatments worked, you know? But every time we thought we'd beaten it..." he sighed. "I can't decide whether these last few years have spun by or crawled along."
"I'm sorry. Is she..."
"Oh no. She's getting worse. These last few months have been horrible. Worse than ever. I mean, I've imagined some bad shit over the years, but nothing as bad as this." His shaking fingers proved too much for the cup, it slipping from his grasp and spilling some of its water. "Christ, I'm sorry. You don't need to hear my problems. You're... you've got your own worries right now."
"No, it's fine." Although he was right, I did. And I didn't want to hear any of it, but at the same time, I felt like I needed to.
"How far along are you?" he asked.
"Oh, my case is pretty rare. So... There's not much time." I didn't want to elaborate. I was sick and tired of relaying my story over and over.
"I'm sorry. It's a cruel process."
"Do you mind me asking..." I hesitated a few seconds, choosing my words carefully. "What makes it worse now?" He seemed to deflate right then, literally shrink before my eyes.
Pushing his hand through his hair, he leant on the wall. "She's changed. The truth is, she isn't my wife anymore, and I know that sounds awful, but she isn't. I still love her, but..." He moved off the wall and paced a few steps to my left. "It wouldn't be so bad, but we have two kids. She thinks I'm trying to steal them away from her, so she takes them from school and creates these lies about me. She actually called the police last week and said I tried to kill her."
I stood up. "That's awful, I'm—"
"It's the tumour, you see. She's not the same person. Her mother makes it worse, too. She can't believe her daughter would change like that, so she believes her." He shook his head. "No, that's not right, I don't think she actually believes her, but she feels like she has to. Does that make sense?"
"Her mother's in there with her now. I have to come in a separate car these days. She refuses to be around me, but I can't not be here, can I? She's my wife. The mother of my children. I love her, but..."
"It's fine, I understand," I said. "Like you say, it's a cruel process. I can't imagine going through it for so long."
It was his turn to nod. "God, I'm sorry. I don't even know you, and here I am—"
"It's fine, honestly. I understand." And I did. I did understand. Part of me wanted to unload all my issues on him, too. "I hope she pulls through it. Becomes your wife again. Like you say, it's the tumour. Not her."
Another nod, but as he moved to speak, a figure behind him spoke. "Mr King. We're ready for you."
We exchanged a desperate and hopeless look, and I never saw him again. At the time, I tried to push the encounter into the back of my mind, but as I made my decision to leave and travel, the memory came forward and refused to let go.
What would you do if you had three months to live? That’s what Dante King faces, the indecisive twenty-two-year-old who must finally learn to embrace life and love.
Tick to the Tock is a Contemporary New Adult Novel about Dante coming-of-age during turbulent times. A story inspired by love, but with the gritty realities of regret, missed opportunity, and understanding life’s meaning under dire circumstance. But a single mind isn’t affected on this journey, as an eclectic group comes to terms with the past, present, and what lies ahead.
Dante must confront and accept his fate, but can he let go of Danni: his lost love and kindred dreamer? With his rationally stubborn cousin, and eccentric best friend, Dante witnesses a life of dream and wonder: embarking across Europe, tackling Tibet, travelling Australia, and defeating each lifelong wish one-by-one.
Follow this coming-of-age roller coaster as four lives change forever. We’re only given one, but it’s never too late to understand faith, discover acceptance, and uncover the true meaning of love and happiness. Dante will die, but not before Danii, Ethan, Wilbur and he undertake an intense and heartfelt journey.
Smile… Cry… Ask yourself what you would do with three months left… Because Love & Living Begins Now.
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