11.25.2013 Journal Prompt

Image from npr.org
Image from npr.org

November 25, 2013: It was Dad’s idea.

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2 thoughts on “11.25.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    It was dad’s idea. He’d seen this programme on the tv. Something about the end of the world, and dad said it caught his attention and it made him feel a little funny. In his bones, he said. Like Noah maybe, and the word of God spoken so as only one man could hear. And that’s when dad got the idea. It just came to him.

    Mam said he should hush up. He was scaring the children, she said. And he was, at first. His eyes were staring and wild, and all his words came pouring out in a rush, like a brown paper bag of broken cookies tipped out onto the table, and that made no sense; mam later said that she never understood why he didn’t buy regular cookies – we had money enough we could do that.

    And dad drew plans of we-knew-not-what on bits of scrap paper, and measurements that he paced out in our backyard again and again, and he talked to himself all the time, asking himself questions and giving himself answers.

    He had a hole dug as deep as the house was tall, and a whole set of rooms sunk into the yard, and shelves on all the walls, and beds so we could sleep there one day. And a cooker he bought, and it was better than the one in our kitchen; and a fridge as tall as a door; and a generator that coughed and growled like an upset dog, and the air smelled of oil and burning. And guns he bought, too, and tinned pears and tinned meat, and flour in brown plastic bins, and medical supplies, and water in blue bottles, so much water. Everything put into the shelter he’d built. And he said we’d be alright, and he kept looking up at the sky, his head leaning on one side as though he was listening. And when we asked him what it was he was listening for, he said he was listening for the trumpet blast of doomsday and he said it was near and he knew because he felt it in his bones.

    Days and weeks ran past us and we stopped paying attention to our dad. Once, we picnicked in the shelter, but it was cold inside and our Gelen said the smell of new paint stung his eyes and caught in the back of his throat. And Meredith got a headache, and mam said enough was enough and she put a padlock on the door and warned us against going back there.

    Then one day, out of nowhere and out of nothing, there was a turn in the weather and the wind hit the side of the house like a great slap and a heavy rain fell and tiles lifted off the roof and the horses kicked at the walls in their stalls. Dad said we should all go down in the shelter. it’d be safer, he said. But mam said we stood a better chance in the house. Dad said he had a feeling and we all knew it was in his bones again. Mam took us all into the back bedroom and she shut the door and the shutters on the window and Gelen crawled under the bed and Meredith stayed caught in the clutch of mam’s arms; I stood, the smaller copy of my dad, with my head on one side, listening.

    In the morning, everything was as still as a held breath, and we crept out from the back bedroom to discover the world and what had befallen the place we called home. The horses were fine and, aside from one of the fences being down and Wilbur’s oak toppled, there was nothing to get excited about. Mam rapped on the door of the shelter where dad was and she called him to come up out of the dark and she said that the all-clear had sounded if he hadn’t heard.

    Turned out our dad was right. In a way he was. About the end of the world. That feeling in his bones was more than a feeling. When we went down to see what was up with him not coming out, we found him cold as a hanging pig, and his eyes closed like he was sleeping, and not a breath left in him. The doctor said he hadn’t suffered. Not at the end. But that didn’t make anything easier for any of us.

    Some days our mam buys cookies in a brown paper bag and she breaks them into pieces and she tips them out on the table. It doesn’t make any sense, not to anyone else – but it makes sense to us.

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