AFTER by David Wardop is a story about mental anguish and suicide told in two parts. Keith Campbell is a quiet and shy boy who loves comic books and science fiction until he begins to contemplate suicide. The first part of the story, which is told in reverse order, describes the world of tragedy that is left after Keith dies with his family struggling to understand why he kills himself. The second half of the story, on the other hand, describes the world that Keith lives in because he did not commit suicide. This is a reflective and revealing account of one person’s mental struggle with suicide and the effect that it has on his health and those who care about him.
What sets this novel apart is the fact that Keith takes his own life right and the novel opens after his death attempting to illustrate Keith’s rationale for his suicide. The novel is, at first, depressing, sombre and dark, yet it progressively gets more blithe and hopeful. The novel’s conclusion is ironic and thought-provoking, and the reader has to remind himself/herself that although the novel ends on a positive note, because of the manner in which the narrative has been presented, this is not necessarily the case.
About the Author
David Keith Wardrop is 23 years old and lives in Bearsden in Glasgow. Currently, David is a full-time gardener at Ruchill Park in Glasgow and has written two other full-length novels entitled “Sexanto” and “The Gardens of Zarma”, along with various short stories for magazines. His main literary influence is Philip K. Dick and his futuristic stories such as “Minority Report” and “Counter-Clock World”. Other works that have inspired him include Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and Brain K. Vaughn and his comics “Ex Machina”. David aspires to be a prolific sci-fi writer, and the thought of being published helps him to cope with his depression and envision a brighter future for himself.
Mary woke up a few minutes before lunch. She lay in bed, staring at the white ceiling, listening to the bird song outside the window. She thought how peaceful the house must look from the outside, the walls and roof so still, giving no indication of the devastation that had happened. Those birds’ songs seemed so magical weeks ago; now they were another function of nature, noises in the trees indicating another morning. On her way to the kitchen she paused and looked down the hallway that led to Keith’s room. Was she strong enough to go in there? She had not been in this morning, though that was by accident. The last time she had entered Keith’s room was on his funeral two days ago. She nearly went crazy; it seemed so vast without Keith sitting in the middle of the room, playing his computer games.
Mary was halfway through cleaning the dishes when the urge to venture into her son’s room arose. She did not know why. She knew it would hurt her, but she went anyway, pulled down the hall by an overwhelming unseen tide. She flicked on the light switch; the curtains had still remained closed, as they had been on the day Keith had left the house for the last time. Mary tiptoed across the room as she had done many times. It wasn’t that the room was messy; on the contrary, Keith’s things were always carefully stacked. It was just that there was so much stuff that one wrong step could send all the books, magazines and comics into a domino that really would make the bedroom messy.