Friday Fiction: The Miracle: One.Three

Posted on 23/10/2011 by


Later when I touch you to the wind, the sky picks up and I let you go softly from my hand. The early autumn surrounds me, trees still holding their leaves and trembling, pausing in the wind before they too, let their dead go. I never wanted you to go, and now I send your ashes flying from my lived in hand… I never wanted this. I still want to go home with you. I came here to the park because this is where we’d brought the children when they were young, and then also came alone in the warm darkness whilst they slept. Still when the kids got older we’d retreat here, laughing with one another and keeping their parents from reproachful teenage eyes. I scatter your ashes here, and I might say my final, physical goodbyes. But I don’t want that, I don’t want to say goodbye to you anymore.

This day after your wake, when I can’t stay in the park any longer, I walk away, through it and out onto a cobbled street into the Old Town, the strafed rock corners of the buildings pitted where the soft impurities of the stone have been niggled away over many years. I know this part of Heidleburg, the facing of the street’s buildings holding high, just over the sight lines of my brow, as a miniature theatre to the valley stage set beyond. I walk and I branch from it, till I’m not so familiar. Till it is a street I’ve not visited so often.

People walk around me as I take my steps. I walk a curve of road, with shops closed or closing in the evening lining both sides of the street. And outside, in the glowing hearth of an electronics’ store window, a crowd of men and women stand watching a faint television. Then as I come upon it, the door is opened, and these words come forth.

“… to any of you still there. I’m waiting for you.”

It is Michael’s face on the screens, eyes an uninterrupted blue, framed by gold-blond eyelashes and smooth skin—it is a hyperreal complexion. His face, that like a slow-burn, an after-image between the television and your eye, stays ghost on the screen when the channel cuts to their news room. The news-reader, with an uncued smile:

“And for anyone who’s come in late, that was the superhero Icon, returned from the dead today, having shocked world authorities with his daring submarine rescue of UN base station Neptune. While his whereabouts these past twenty years remain undisclosed, it was with this calm control of questions that—in this earlier statement—he placed a call to his old teammates to return. To perhaps—and let me stress that this is only speculation—to form a new Pantheon. It’s exciting news.” And turning, “What else is there in news today, Rachel?”

“Well certainly in related news, New York City, the site of Icon’s public return, has ground to a complete halt, and in the central business district, where trading has been suspended, it remains oddly hushed. Whilst in other financial markets…”

I have my own images of Michael, him dressed as Icon in his white and gold jumpsuit—though I know that the many of these shots I remember most vividly are actually taken from the news media, and are not from my own experience. There are plenty of such images, hence I like to think, the name ‘Icon’. But I see them all at once, together the images of a super man at war and at rest.

I think of him flying, held aloft by unsupported cloud. Of him fighting in the Second World War—and I know that this isn’t true, it isn’t mine to remember. I never knew him till after the War, when he had looked down from a podium, out across the great room to me. I remember then, seeing him at the end of the stadium and walking toward the stage. They cheered, they loved him so. And walking through that crowd toward him, every part of me felt lighter for the people there. Then at the end of the walk stood the man himself, glowing gently.

I walked to him, and as we held our hands together, shaking against each other, we stood and they took our photos. Strobing black and white flashing against my eyes. It was a greeting that he was to mirror over thirty years later, motion for motion exactly—the special way that he can—when we parted ways and I had to go, not to sustain my heroism through till death like he had done.

To see him again… a smile brought me her concern. She must have seen an old man shaking, perhaps he was happy, but also overcome.

“Are you ok, Sir?” Touching me like a calmness. Thank you Miss.

“Oh, yes… just seeing this. It’s all just…”

“Yeah, I know. I was only three when he died. But I do know what he meant to us.” She is drawn back to the shifting images, to their cuts of Icon. Her hands are held carefully somewhere almost in prayer. I see a woman who hopes.

Your voice can be a smile. “I believe you might at that.”

She goes back to watching while other men and women join the crowd. I stand back and watch them as wonder touches their faces. I can see them ache when one of them feels its stroke and they think—when they’d loved, or had been carried by a hero. That one of us can inspire such love and sadness is incredible.

I scuff my two feet across the ground. I hadn’t even noticed that I’m flying. As I hang in the air just above the pavement, I revel for a moment in the pleasure of flight, and when I smile and fly away, perhaps no one notices me.


End of Chapter One


By Paul McLaughlan


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Posted in: Paul, The Miracle