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My Father Who Art.

by  firethorne

Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Word Count: 1111
Summary: My father who art. Childrens story for grown up children. Confusion of religion, art and loss through the lens of a eleven year old boy's imagination. Or is it? Slight, but not yucky sentiment warning.

Note: I originally put this in Flash, but someone pointed out its density is more in keeping with a short story than a Flash, so I moved it over here for you guys to have a look at. I like most of the words and the images and I don't want to cut anything out really. If anything I've got an urge to put more words in.

A fine drizzle blew over the gravestones and muddy grass. Like a fading line of lanterns, posters glowed luminous green in the mist . Trees dripped, and ink ran down the bright sodden paper : "Minster Art Market Today", the dissolving words read.

A trundling noise came out of the mist. Boys a year or so older than Joe were riding skateboards down the flagstone path from New Cemetery Gate .

“Freak,”the biggest one shouted at Joe . He ‘d got Joe’s Airfix F16 : ” Give us that and you can play with us, “ the boy had said . The boy drew his arm back and launched Joe's model into the air ." Whaa, " he made the sound of it doing a nosedive and shouted "Bang," when it crashed into a gravestone.

The boy scooted off towards the bottom gate disappearing into the mist. The others dead- eyed Joe as they rolled past.
“Looser,” one called over his shoulder.

Joe's fists curled and his cheeks flushed. It didn’t matter how big they were, he was going after them.

Joe felt a huge hand on his shoulder. “Ah, There you are. I got the empty stall next to your mum . She’s set up now and worrying where you are.”

Joe turned his head. Scarred knuckles with L O V E across them ,the tattooed tip of a blue wing disappearing under the sleeve of a leather jacket was resting on his shoulder . Joe looked up at the bearded, hard face of the artist . He was enormous , like the bad Jesus Hell’s Angels he’d seen in motorway cafes as a young kid .

“Maybe those lad’s will play nicely if I’m here,” the artist said.

Joe shook his head .

“I didn’t think you would want to play with them after that, but I had to ask the question anyway. You, know I got wound up like you when I was your age. My advice is don't bite, unless you want to be some else's entertainment for the day.
Do you know why I came out here ?" The artist winked down at him. “It’s just not because your mum’s a pretty woman”.

Joe felt his throat tighten and he wanted to swing a fist at the artist’s stomach.

The artist shook Joe’s shoulder “Hey don’t get angry with me kiddo , you don’t help her out much do you?

Joe shrugged, it was the truth . Setting out the stall with his mum wound him up , and he always came outside.

‘Here’s the truth Joe, I came looking for you because I have a question for you. So close your eyes and picture all this in your mind. See the colours of the posters and the way they brighten in the mist?”

Joe did as he was told, closed his eyes and nodded as he recalled the posters in vivid detail.

“ First the light comes in through your eyes,“ the artist continued, “ but now they’re shut, you’re remembering , and it’s like you’re looking at a stained glass window inside The Minster. My question is : Where does the light come from so you can see such things in your head?”

A trickle of cold rain ran inside Joe’s collar . He opened his eyes and felt stupid he couldn’t answer the question.

The artist glanced around. The mist was closing in. “I can’t tell you . I have to show you”. He crouched down
” Hold on to my arms.”

Joe grabbed the sleeves of his fringed leather jacket .

“One , two , three: JUMP !”

Like thunderclap, Joe hurtled up through the mist as if ejected out of fighter pilot's cockpit into the clouds. His heels clipped the tip of the ridge of The Minster roof then he and the artist were running full pelt down the steep lead hill before leaping the gutters and falling through the pillow-soft pummelling air .

They crashed and tumbled through the branches of an overgrown privet tree and Joe found himself lying on top of the artist, who was shaking in a gale of laughter.

“OK, OK, Joe,” the artist said shoving Joe off him and up onto his feet, “but this time you need to jump as well.”

The artist got on his feet , puffed his cheeks and made his eyes bulge like balloons. He started turning in a circle , boots skidding , soles smoking blue with the smell of burning rubber. It like he was doing a doughnut burnout on a motorcycle back tyre . Joe couldn't help it, he laughed.

”See when you're angry you don't go nowhere. All right let’s jump again !”

This time it sounded like rising motorcycle gears and they were climbing the fiery arc faster than any boy or man had ever gone, they leaped over The Minster and fired themselves headlong , straight into the oncoming full headlight beams of heaven .

The artist put his arm around Joe like Superman “Don’t be afraid of it,” he yelled, “looks different to everyone, but all its the same light .”

When they landed Joe staggered about and rubbed his eyes.

“Come on let’s get you back inside.” The artist buffed the top of Joe’s head with his big hand, “and not a word of this to your mum, OK. Hey Joe , you might want to pick up those pieces of your toy.”

The Airfix F16 only looked like broken plastic now . Joe dropped it in the bin by The Minster door. When he looked up the artist had already gone inside.

There was the buzz of people buying and Joe’s mum was out the front busily selling her stuff. Joe decided he’d fetch his mum a cup of tea, in a bit, when he’d finished his painting. Joe was on the empty stall behind her. He’d already drawn the outline of the frame and wheels. It would need lots of brilliant , soaring light and colour.

When Joe finished his painting , he wrote “Love from Joe” above the motorcycle tank. When boys on skateboards had gone, he'd go back up to New Cemetery and lay the picture on his dad’s grave .