On his face, the years are telling. His eyes, once alive with colour, were now shadows, long bled of there vibrant qualities. His skin, once taught with youth, draped as the last shroud of a man who has forgotten himself. The ushers of the great hall were accustomed to his coming and going. It had been years since he attended a service accompanied by wife and son, now he creeps under the silent vigil of the crucifix to say his prayers. His lips had counted away the years on the varnished pine of that old cathedral.
Every man has in him a story without an audience. To the crucifix with its burden still pinned to it, he offered the secret journal of a man burdened by bitterness. Some of his hidden stories he is liberated from, jaded by the decay that meets thoughts long since unused. Others still hang to him heavily. The icy countenance of the grey walls gained a kinship with his story. He spoke of family, he spoke of life, he spoke of the dark folds hidden in his memory, he cried. He spoke of Mary.
Mary was the persistent thread, a vibrant yarn of red woven into his life patiently. Now a frayed parchment of a man, turning to the abundant flame of faith to help seal his loose edges. He was riddled with questions. The cold bottles he swallowed whole, hadn’t simmered the fire in his belly. Maybe a prayer rushing through the hollow house of holy communion could extinguish his inquisition.
For a man that the world had forgotten, Mary and the church offered sanctuary, she gave him a family again. He hadn’t swooned to the holy books as she had done, but the unrelenting love she claimed came from her faith was soothing to his spirit. As a boy he was hard to love, they said, no mother to teach tenderness, so her loving him was as water on wanting earth. As a boy his spirits were hoisted higher than most, and he had a nose for finding trouble enough to test his fathers heavy hand. In learning his father trade, the firm hand of an infirm mind, he watched his palm weep the faces around him to a cold distance. Only Mary’s warming smile and vibrant eyes, speckled with blue, were true and brave enough to warm him to the notion of worth.
He always blamed himself for the return of his father in him. He regretted that on that evening he was his fathers son again, riled into agitation by his sons action. That evening had lived in every evening since then. Any evening quiet enough, any evening potent enough with liquor to ease him into sleep would conjure the incident to life. He always woke up as he hears the last note of life, the last tumble at the last stair as she laid to rest. She was only hoping the calm him. There was ruckus, then there was silence. There have been 7 years of silence since.
On leaving the church he followed the empty roads to where there is a mounted stone and his Mary’s name etched on it. On that day it had been 7 years since he let her rest, the earth was never a fitting place for her. He’d always thought she would lay her wreath for him, never him for her, so he watched in ceremony and laid his apologies where her memory lay. The sun was running away from the day, the last light sinking into the ground waiting for the night to greet him.
He was startled by a sound. Greeted by two nimble arms pulling him close, little Hope wrapped her arms around her grandfather and help him tight. His only son had arrived to remember his mother, the two exchanged nods and separately made peace. Hope was alive by his feet looking up at his weary face with hers still full of life. She greeted him with her eyes, bluer than life and swollen with undying youth, speckled with blue. Playing with the ends of her red sweater, tugging at the loose thread at the sleeves. He stopped her short, stilled her hands and held her close. She saw him as Mary had always done, a man worth loving. A promise of life had found him, in Hope.