100 Days of Creativity – Day 5


24-June-12 First Lines

He wanted one of his children to become alive.
The window blinds leaked light over the kitchen table, the table was striped with the light, and the dust in those lines glowed. Old Pat sat with his head in his hands. His wife, Leila, lay in the bedroom beyond, spent from the night. She lay in clean, tired, threadbare sheets, flannelette for the season. Her arms outside the blankets, she lay on her back, and eyes shut firmly, her eyelashes almost making an impression on her cheeks.

Death changes everything.
On the centre of the table was a large ball of fabric, a blanket wrapped. Opposite Old Pat was Molly Green, she placed a cup of tea, weak, murky with milk, on the table in front of Pat. He didn’t move. The clock above the door ticked idly, the electric heater pumped hot air into the room with rhythmic consistency.
“The funeral…” began Molly. The sound choked in her throat. She fell silent.

He wanted one of his children to become alive.
Old Pat shifted in his seat. A noise escaped his mouth, a squeak-like whimper, a gasp, a groan, a compounded misery forced into a sound only a second long. He let nothing else escape. He barely breathed. As if the hurt he felt, he never wanted to let go of. It was all he had of them, there were no other memories, if he let this go, there would be nothing.

Death changes everything.
“I’ll ask the Pastor to see you.” Said Molly finally. This house would grieve a long time, she thought, for they didn’t know how, and she didn’t know how to show them. That was the problem with these English types, not that they were English now. Both Pat and Leila’s family had been here generations. But the old ways hold on tight. There would be a funeral of course, that was evident, but it would last only an hour. Not long enough to grieve properly and leave it at the cemetery.

He wanted one of his children to become alive.
He wanted, oh he felt it was a need. When he heard there would be twins he was elated. Leila had miscarried twice already, they were nervous about the twins. But the pregnancy was stable, Leila was healthy, happy. Their future had felt certain. It had been certain. There was less certainty now, more a low irrational hope which unsettles certainty.

Death changes everything.
When the pastor came, it was night. The electric heater continued on filling the house with a thick air, heavy, claustrophobic and hard to breathe. The house was bleak and impenetrable. Pat let him in the door. They stood together in the hall. Pat, a great hulk of a man with hunched shoulders, barred the way into the house.
“You weren’t to come.” said Pat.
“You will need your family, your community with you.” He said, slowly, carefully, deliberately. “You will need your faith. This will be a hard time for you and for your wife.”

He wanted one of his children to become alive.
The consistency of his thought patterns gave him a strange strength.

But death changes everything.

Pat turned into the kitchen, he returned again before the pastor could follow. He had in his arms the bundle of blankets. His great mass shook. He passed the bundle to the pastor.

The pastor took it. The words were unspoken. He went back to his car and lay the blanket on the passenger seat beside him. It had been raining, drizzling, the droplets were big and round on the windscreen. He stared at the bundle, he felt strange in its presence, he felt composed, sure, but an uneasiness filled him. He unravelled the blanket, opening the folds like unfurling a new rose. The folds went on and on.

He expected to see a tiny white fist, or a little foot poking out from the fuzz of the blanket. But it never came. He unfolded the blanket completely. There was nothing. The emptiness startled him, gave him pause, and then dredged up from his stomach a chill, a flutter of fear.

He got out of the car and went back to the house. He knocked on the door, one two three, knock, knock, knock. Again. He knocked again. Again and again. But the house was dark. He had the sudden fear it was empty too. He knocked and knocked, to placate his dread but it grew, ugly and pulsing in his chest.


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