Reginald had been given the book as a birthday present. He had wanted a motorbike. Father declared it the greatest gift one could receive on becoming a Man. Reginald smiled politely.
He listened as Father recounted how he too had been given a book by his Father. And likewise his Father by his. And so on, as far back as anyone could remember. Judging from the number of books, that was a long time indeed.
That evening Reginald had sat at Father’s bureau and dipped the nib into the pot.
The First question. His favourite colour. Blue, he committed to history in black ink, the colour of his football team. Father had taken him since he was a child.
Second question. Favourite football team. Simple. He wondered if it had been planned that way.
On he continued, through page after page of questions.
Questions about politics, questions about music, questions about love, even questions about questions. If there were any topics left uncovered, Reginald certainly didn’t know about them.
In the forty years since he first held the soft leather cover in his hands, embossed, like his Father’s, with his monogram, he had lugged it everywhere he went.
It was now cracked, dry and faded, but it still served him well, as Father had promised it would.
Forty years without a single wasted thought. Forty years of surety.
No, Reginald had committed thoughts to paper four decades earlier. Quite whose thoughts they were had been forgotten generations ago.
As his son slept his final night as a child, Reginald lay awake.
He wanted to answer this question himself but years of relying on the book had left him unequipped.
He climbed out of bed, unclasped the cover and turned to the final page.
There, in his youthful handwriting, he read what he had written so many years before.
As he tied the bow around the soft leather cover, Reginald wished with all his being he had written No.