Wednesday 13 December 2017

Another Lonely Night - A Flash Fiction Story

Another Lonely Night - A Flash Fiction Story
By Steven R. McEvoy

It was a cold and stormy night. And yes, even as he though it he knew it was a cliché but that was the thought that came to mind. He was standing with his back to a small copse of trees, staring off into the storm coming from the east. Storm usually came with the west wind, those few that did blow in from the east were harsher, colder, and meaner if weather could be said to have intent. Advent was well under way. And the mans thoughts were oscillating between the readings from that weeks Sunday liturgy, and reflecting on all the decisions that had brought him to this point. In a month he will turn 50. To be honest longer than he ever expected to last. As the saying goes it is not the age but the mileage, and he had felt past due for an oil change going on nearly 20 years now. He had been standing pondering in the storm so long that the snow had piled high on the cape of his oilskin coat. If someone were to come along and he were not to move they would wander right by.

But not many would be out on a night like this, and even fewer would be off the roads and paths, so the chance of him being disturbed were slight. Based on the layering of clothes and quality of his gear he was warm enough except for his face. And yet he continued to stare into the wind. His trifocals were in his breast pocket. And things in the distance were fuzzy, but no blurrier than the falling snow would make it if his eyes were still young. He no longer was certain what the future held. In fact, most weeks he just tried to make it through the week and to mass 2 or 3 times. It was the sacred that kept him going. Getting up each morning and walking to work. Doing the chores when he got home at night. Reading and writing until it was time to rest for a few hours and start it over again.

It is the ritual in the day, the ritual in the weeks, the ritual in the seasons that have become his focus. From prayer first thing in the morning giving thanks for a new day, to prayer before bed, the examination of conscience, to look back on the day before bed. What was the successes of that day, what could be improved upon and what were the failures. Each day striving to become 'the best version of himself'. Each day striving to learn to be and be good at being. He had seen much in his 50 years, and he had had more than his share of problems along the way. But God had always provided. There were so many miracles in his life. From being the oldest of three boys who all made it to adulthood, to fathering three. One was a priest and one was a nun, the other well she reminded him most of himself and had had her ups and downs.

He is not sure when he became a grumpy old man. Maybe he always had an inner geezer. Maybe it was all the damage done in his youth, both physically and emotionally. He had felt for years like he was fundamentally broken inside and no longer was able to keep it buried. His thoughts wandered to the next Sundays liturgy, Gaudete Sunday, or the third Sunday of Advent was just days away. The rose vestments will be worn in church this weekend. Father A does not like the pink. But it is the turning point. We are more than half way through Advent and this Sunday we light the pink candle and celebrate.

Finally, he turns and shakes the snow from is coat. He starts the trudge through the fields back to the main road to work his way home. He is giving thanks for the near silence, just the muted sounds of the wind that has settled won, and the light snow falling. He walks with his head high, almost challenging the storm to pick up again. He strides through the drifts. And he prays. For often that is all he has left. He just prays, for often that is all he can do, and at times all that matters. So he walks home with one glove off and the rosary beads moving through his fingers.  

(Top photo courtesy of Maggie Clark.)

Note: This story was written as a piece of Flash Fiction, written in one sitting and between 300-1500 words. Editing was minimal. It is in part a way to process, and in part a sign of hope. And to be honest the first fiction I have attempted in a long long time.


Theresa Linden said...

Lovely commentary on the spiritual life. I can relate to the "ritual" in the days and weeks. That is the beauty of the Catholic faith, the constant reminders of what it is all about: all the trials and challenges, failures and victories. And when all the wild days of youth are spent, we hopefully fall into that routine, that "ritual" that points us to the purpose of it all and prepares us for eternity.

Steven R. McEvoy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven R. McEvoy said...

I posted this last year on the colors of the church year.