Fiction Friday: The Miracle at the Fair

Posted on 22/07/2011 by

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This is the start of a monthly series, where I’ll be putting up some non-Bibliotek work. Not the whole of any other book, but some tasters.

This is from my novel The Miracle. I’ll tell you more about it another time, and let this speak for itself.

Hope you like it, and, as per usual, if you like it, please comment!

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The Miracle at the Fair

I watched the Miracle float home into the city. Crowds were calling his name, ‘Miracle!’ ‘Miracle!’ They shouted to him, showering him in streamers, and a confetti of rose petals and crushed, golden Chrysanthemum, dried down to a bronze powder—to best match his red cape and its star clasps. Strange to see a parade in these streets at the rim of the city, normally left quiet at this time of the working day. It had started earlier this morning, like a charge building before thunder, these people gelling here like a headache in the street. They all held something—an anticipation like a trinket—just to see the man! First superhero in our city Metropia in such a long time—actually, since he’d left us and retired.

Just to see him float down the street on his way toward the fashionable centre from the rim.

When I heard he’d been seen, spiraling lazily through the sky toward us—I felt somehow, almost passionate for him. A need in me to see him, rising from where it dwelt deep within, a feeling that begged me follow it. Blind to its own climax though it might be. To take a kind of witness to his return.

The guys on the force laughed at my coming by myself, but I know that many of them envied me this. To walk away and to see the show. But was it a part of the job, they asked? Maybe to gauge him? They know how I feel wary about these heroes. Or was it to watch the crowd, perhaps? It makes me laugh, all of them trying to find some proper excuse for it. Why come to see him? Why not? He could barely have come without my cops knowing, so when I heard, I guess I only wanted to see it—if there was going to be nothing else. I wonder how long he’ll stay? I took the day off so I couldn’t miss him, and now here I am, standing on a rooftop above the street and watching the still rampant desires of the public—of their excitements, and their waiting. Each person below me had their celebration—with which to express their joy—a streamer or a clapper.

He came floating briefly amongst them all, past my men in their ceremonial guard—you could see the faces of the onlookers, grinning amongst themselves; who needed a police guard less, than a superhero?

Now he’s gone past. Such a brief moment to see a man. But I’ll give him, if nothing else, he is a consummate performer. Even I, from up here above where he skimmed the reaching crowd, met with his gaze for a moment, while he’d looked up at the street buildings that curved over him, as if at an archaic hollow Earth wrapping round its Sun. And it was good. It felt like being acknowledged. You know, I’ve met many other dignitaries, shook their hands, and never felt that. That’s some feat. Our statesman superhero.

In the time that’s past since he was here—half an hour now—the streets remain full. Every one of them tying to tell another about their brush with history! I’ll wait with them, standing by a wall of the cracked and stained porcelain tiling that should make the city white. But I can’t hear any of the commotion, up above their fairground.

Now it’s been a bit more than an hour, people are finally beginning to drift away. It’s a long time to stand around when the attraction has gone. But still, there’s an ebb of excitement, going up and going down, cycling along the street. There are still those  looking after his path. I’ll turn and watch with them, after wherever he went.

Now they’ve broken, something having changed within them, and the skeleton of the crowd dissolves—slowly—not standing, not watching anymore. Their tangling, party ribbons having let go of their prey… God yes, the audience lets us go. There’s nothing holding on. It’s a snapshot that’s past. That’s all.

I’ve come away from the parade, walking away and leaving my cops to their sweeping up. Hours and hours away from there with no real objective. The streets here, they say, are the easiest in which to become lost. The lines of our futuristic city poke through into buildings and amongst malls—then from their street level, stretch from the walls of a chasm—bridging through the air to another cliff-like building. They’re threads that don’t make a pattern or dress.

Imagine me ending up here. A man dressed in his thick coat, clean-shaven and dark-haired, finding his way out from a street and into this open space. Where in the emptiness, dark in the mid-afternoon cast by the spindle—the spire which holds us, the Miracle’s patron city, in the sky—things hang suspended, where machine pendulums have finally died of their weight. All strung with lightbulbs on dead wire, each dark globe—and there are many of them—in those rough shades of grey meant for the colour on film, if only there’d been greater light. Now depending on this little light, it is now a deeper the darkness. The man floats. Suspended in space, always equal of, and distant from the machines. That’s a man. He is I. Why am I here? It was years ago I’d last come alone. I come to the fairground quite often, but didn’t expect to come today.

I remember that first, special time I came… then I’d just been a boy, clambering through the quiet fair, where the arms had no longer flailed, and the wheels wouldn’t twirl, and the sounds weren’t drowned by the song of stretched-tape. I can remember it, what it was like coming to the fairground alone, when I sang against the darkness.

I am singing, a boy in the dark fairground. The smells are all stale, and these paths that people led, where I take a step or two now, are marked in crushed popcorn and gum.

It wasn’t long ago that dad brought us here last. I remember the tastes last year, when he bought Kevin and I candy floss. I don’t know why I’m here, if these lights and wheels would make me glad, or just fell dizzy and sick. Every hollow waits to snatch the sound, and I sit.

So they’ve shut the place down, just the end of the week that’s past. Why did I come, was this really just a place for him to bring his son? Did he love it beyond what was in it for me? Well whatever, it seemed right. In anniversary of his death, just once, come along to see the carnival—like dad brought you to the show. He liked that ferris wheel though. Riding it with me, then it was a joy to see him look out across the gulf, at the promise of music, slowed down below, but as we ascended…

I’d love a life where that came round once again.

Walking toward it… and us scuffing a dance… then we’d come and see the fair loom against the sky. Now I climb slowly, leg over leg over fence, and approach it.

Dangling from an axle, I sit on the bench—stuck at an angle from the ferris wheel—and I watch. Seeing the wisps of the high altitude clouds, startling in their clarity, normally so faint—but not out here across dry Metropia—they’ll glide right through you. Then when I lower my face, I know it, he’s there.

Like I know it now after seeing him in the parade today. Or how I’d dream it much later. I slip further into this memory, bigger than the day around me. Twenty-nine years ago, and one year after my father had gone.

“I was out walking. I do that sometimes, just trying not to think, and wandering. I ended-up here.” For the first, he looks at me, then carries on. “I have a wife, Mary—I want you to know that—and a daughter, she’s four months old today.” The Miracle smiles. “Oh yes, the parent’s delight. You might ask then, what am I doing here?” I do wonder. “Well sometime ago, my wife and I were here, and I’d just finished asking her, ‘why were we here?’ Myself.” Heh. He smiles at that too. “‘We’re much too old for anything!’ I expected her to swat at me, calling, as she’s never much too old for anything. Then she told me that I was going to be a father. Right here on this wheel.” He clicks his tongue. “I don’t suppose that that’s why you’re here?”

I tell him, “No.”

“No.” He nods his head. “I love my wife and my daughter, but that’s not why I’m here either. I’m here for myself. Before everything comes and breaks down around me… I… try to touch it. If I can touch it, it will be all right. Is that why you’re here?”

“Yes! Yes. It was here. I get it. Here was the last. Last place we were together.”

Now today this is just the memory of a sob, just my raw throat cracking as I mouth it.

Then back again. “He really loved it! I did too. When he died, I couldn’t remember where we’d last been out together, but I could think of when we’d been here. How awesome it’d been.” I take a breath. “It’s not enough. I hadn’t seen him in too long, ‘cause he was always so busy. He was a cop, you know!” It’s at the very end of what’s left. “But my dad was still the best,” The Miracle smiles, and then I continue and say, “he was a hero like you.” I push away from the chair—suddenly angry—I have to be on my feet. I don’t know why, it seems wrong to sit.

He turns away from me. “I didn’t know your father.” He says it straight out. Dismissing my statement. Then looks back at me, as if in concession, placing his hand upon the back rest of the bench. “But I’m sure he was a good man. Like you will be.” He nods to me. Deliberately.

I swallow again, like I did that night, and I had to turn or to choke on it. I wanted to hear more like that, but didn’t know how to ask. I sat back, close to his hand, and around us something magical had happened that changed the scene. People walked out here to see us, and they brought with them their lights. Soon music played, and something amazing happened, all around us, everywhere, life had happened to the fair.

Then, years ago now, with The Miracle on the wheel, which now turned, he talked with me. I’ll take one deep breath, and hold it. He asked me about school, my home, my friends, like a father might do. Let go of the trail of the breath. I talked a lot, like I had to. It was there to.

But we never talked about him. He was a great listener—tell you just what you were feeling, and ask you more about it, but there was no ‘well, I once…’ anecdote crap. Nothing told you about him. Why, out of all the things of that night that I remember, have I forgotten all about him, all except the way that he made me feel wanted?

Then when it was over, he walked away through the crowd. He didn’t fly. Why not? I didn’t see him again after that. I didn’t think I ever would, not after he left too. I rode the wheel till all the lights were out, and no one else was there. That night, I went home, and I go to the fair every night on the anniversary. Then on that one night of the year, it is open and full of light.

Now, it is dark in the afternoon.

End

Posted in: Paul, The Miracle