Friday Fiction: The Miracle: Chapter One.One

Posted on 19/08/2011 by

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And here’s some more of the Miracle. While I gave you a piece from later in the novel last time (as a better stand alone scene), this is from the very beginning. The chapter is a little longer than the last, so I thought I’d serialise it, as per Bibliotek.

If you have thoughts, comments, or just like it, please share!

The Miracle: Chapter One

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When Michael’s face flashed up on the television, that was when I knew that not everything was lost. His face had its familiar glow. Literally lighter than the television he appeared upon. The superhero who had died, and now returned to us.

It was unexpected. Triumphant.

As they spoke of his return, I thought of you. When all our friends were with me, remembering how you had been, I thought of us.

I remember. How, when I was writing inside for a rainy day, a day of writing that was of no consequence; writing by hand, in pencil and resting on a dark plaid chair, that I was still alone then. The room tried to be accommodating to me, a young man writer staying for the week. It was 1955 and I was at a small holidaying hostel in California. It was homely in its plaster and clapboard extensions, though I admit to not knowing its name any more, the relevant details being counter-sung by the many small occurrences I’d never thought to have remembered.

I think of the older couple now, the owners who gave those rooms—once their children’s—to us walk-in, and walk-out guests. I can imagine them talking to me, asking me their questions and answering my answers, grateful to have spoken. Not lonely, no I don’t think so, but impressed that they’d been invoked, that conversation of their lives had been found worthy by another. They asked if they were to be characters in a book, perhaps? I said, “maybe.” They had opened the hostel to meet people, and they often shared the common room with us guests. Funny, I spent so much time with them—and we talked on many occasions—yet I cannot picture either of them. Though their conversations stay with me, neither can I say which of them it was I spoke to at any one time. That is lost to me, and I need not wonder why.

It was a rainy day, drops trickling down like fine ore and not actually falling, and over the air was the music that was to come to ruin my writing. It played on a Sunday afternoon, starting at some time I cannot quite say—after one and before three, certainly—played by the girls pent in by the weather. The rooms were filled with these young women, so like my age to look upon, away out here on their school break. They were broken from their chaperone for the afternoon, she’d given them over to their rooms, and to the rain to keep them there. Their music played on an old turntable, unboxed by the husband for the convenience of these guests. They were dancing while I sat writing—more often watching—then finally throwing the writing from my lap. They jived badly to our host’s records as I took a girl into the dance that she’d barely remembered, and I shared the steps with her.

Dancing with the girls: Annette, Betty, Jane, and looking for her eyes. I think of them now… one by one, passing through their number, not this one, not that one… looking for her eyes. Their laughter when the man in the chair became their partner. All laughing sparking between the dancers, sharing the beat between the steps, between the partners. This is not her. I think of her now, but do not wish to say it—

Not with a word. We danced with the dull afternoon, and as the sun dropped beneath the cloud cover. She is not a word—none that I can say—instead, we’ve always danced as communion. We always danced together, and we danced with our children. I’d not seen her then.

But you’d seen me, and said that you’d watched every step I made, and said you thought me “such a 1940s style of man! Without any hesitation, bringing the girls to their feet.”

The music ran out. I was standing there and they were finished—they’d somewhere else they must escape to be—said breathless, “did I want to come along?”

“No.” There was a breathlessness to my reply also. I had writing to do and, I grinned, they’d so rudely interrupted it! They laughed as if I was funny.

“Are you sure?” As they walked from the door, the last turned and asked me, “sure?”

I nodded. “Yes.” She smiled curiously and left. I know it, I’d been standing there for the time it takes one heart to beat—that long a time it was! And I had to run and follow her, because her smile had not been there in answer, but was my own expression, held curiously by her face. It had merely taken me the time to think, that I had not danced with her.

Outside, and as she was walking away, I reached out and caught her hand. She turned around to retrieve that hand and met eyes with me. She looked me up, to down at my hand from my face, and smiled to lift those two hands we held together into line with our gaze; so catch me, she must have almost reached my height!

“We did not dance…” My throat caught. Then she began us together, by saying nothing at all, and giving to me the lead—when you’d practiced amongst those girls, you’d always led. Out there in the settling light, which then broke through briefly from the horizon under the clouds, but still floating over the sea. Out there under the rain, with the wet courtyard as our ballroom floor, while the others laughed. I danced with you.

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By Paul McLaughlan

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Posted in: Paul, The Miracle