Posted on April 19, 2015April 19, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair4.19.2015 Journal Prompt Photo by Robert Adams April 19, 2015: See? Like this:Like Loading... Related
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They was looking up at the sky. This woman and this girl. Maybe they was seeing shapes in the clouds or there was a special bird drifting on the air. They was like bookends of the one life, bits of the young ‘un seen in the older and bits of the old ‘un seen in the younger. Cut from the same cloth, I’d say, the one faded from being in the sun too long, the other all bright and new. And they was just standing there, like they was waiting to be photographed, and the look on their faces was something.
I turned my head to see what they was seeing, but there wasn’t nothing there. Nothing to say why they was so lit up and their faces so full of bliss. And still they went on looking. The older woman had her head cocked a little, like she was also hearing something, or straining to hear above the noise of the fair at their backs: pop music of the seventies, all guitar tears and drumbeats that made you want to move your feet; and girls screaming to catch the eyes of boys when the ferris wheel took ‘em high as angels.
I kept looking from the girl and the woman to where they was attending. Looking to see what it was that so held ‘em. I stepped a little nearer. Closer to being in their shoes in case it was something that could only be seen from where they was. But still the air was empty and the day closing down slow as syrup falling. And being so close, I heard something.
I can’t be sure, not when there was so much going on: the lights of the fair coming on red and yellow and blue; and the music thumping everything; and the shunting of the dodgem cars and the wailing of the ghost train. But I thought I heard ’em and they was singing church songs. Under their breath, like praying almost, like they was in a private moment with God.
Then the girl caught me watching ‘em. And she smiled at me and she asked if I could see it, too.
I shrugged. ‘I dunno,’ I said. ‘Maybe.’
Then the girl reached out and touched me, just with the tips of her fingers, barely brushing my arm. And she blessed me and she said it would be alright now. The older woman had lost something from her face, but if I try to put in words what it was she’d lost, I can’t rightly say what, ‘cept the light had somehow gone from her. And she nodded at me and at what the little girl was saying, and she smiled.
Then they turned and walked away.
I wanted to ask ‘em what it was that would be alright now, what ii was that had not been alright before. But they was gone, like I blinked and they wasn’t there. I stepped into the exact place they was standing before and I looked up, but there wasn’t even stars or sun or moon; there was just empty darkening sky.
For the next few days I walked through my life like I was a stranger and I looked for the something that was now alright. And the thing is there was just so many somethings that was better than before. So many that I couldn’t pick one. And so, on the fourth day I got down on my knees and I prayed, to God or something holy, cos I reckoned as how thanks ought to be given to someone.
Dolly said she could see angels caught in the sunlight, caught like flies in a spider’s silver spun web, or like blown dandelion clocks and floating like seeds carried on the almost breathless moving air. And from the look on her face I almost believed she could see ‘em, ‘cept when I looked there was nothing.
‘Don’t you be so soft in the head, girl,’ I scolded Dolly. ‘Don’t you be looking so, or the world will think you simple and fool.’
She kept on looking, though I tried to pull her away. And soon enough and sure enough people was noticing and they was shading their eyes to see what was so captivating of Dolly’s attention. Like maybe it was a summer balloon high up, or a strange visiting bird, or a daylight firework glittering the clouds.
‘What is it?’ said this boy and he came and stood close to Dolly. Close enough his hand touched hers and he put his head next to Dolly’s and he might have kissed her then, ‘cept he turned to look where Dolly was looking.
‘Is angels,’ Dolly said, her voice small as whispers.
And I thought the boy would laugh and call her stupid or mad and he’d point his finger so all the world could see who was this person that was mad and stupid. And I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had. But he didn’t. He just kept on looking, and his face was all lit up like Dolly’s and maybe it was the sun and maybe it was something else.
I looked again in case I’d missed something, but there was nothing but empty sky and sunlight breaking through the clouds.
Then not just the boy but an old man, silver in his beard and his back bent and all his buckled weight leaning on a wooden stick that he held in one hand, held so tight his knuckles was white. And he stopped and craned his neck to see what was what. And lo, he was just like the boy – transfixed he was, like he was witness to something. And his lips was moving, all his mumbled words, like he was praying in church; and the light was on him or in him – I could not tell which.
‘Angels,’ said Dolly again.
‘What is they like, girl?’ I asked and my own voice was shrunk to breath and small sound.
‘They is pretty as film stars and theys wings is made of golden feathers and theys dresses is all floaty, like they is under water. And theys eyes is as blue as the sky – as blue as ever the sky can be. And they is all of ‘em smiling so theys faces is all kindness and blessing.’
There was a number of people gathered now and some of ‘em making a fuss. There was ’em as could see and ’em as could not. I quietly pulled Dolly away and when we was a way off, I told her she was not to tell no one what she saw. On no account, I said. Not if she didn’t want to be taken for daft or dull-witted.
‘Did you see ‘em, mama?’ she said.
I did not look at the girl but kept my head high and facing forward. ‘Do you think angels would make themselves known to you and to only you, girl?’ I said, but the truth is I saw nothing, even though I made my eyes sharp as pins.