‘After’ by Kevin Murphy


For the trigger ‘after’:
An extract from my work in progress: After I left the monastery.
40 years later, fellow novice Brother Fidelis – Liam Murachu – wonders about the departure of Brother Bernard – Sean ‘Tack’ McIntire.

Tack didn’t wait for an answer, turned and headed into his room.

Cell, thought Liam, glancing at his closed door. He looked down at his heavy plaid shirt and brown cords, noticed the matching cardigan in the floor, dreamily draped it over his arm, stretched and yawned.

Tack’s Treasure card peeped out of a pocket. His back cracked as he bent to pick it out. Why bother? The flop onto the bed, was more of a pour. He seeped into the mattress.

A magpie’s nest. On the floor of the copse, after the bushfire. A glass bead, oily skinned, rolled across his palm, left a trail of ash. Fine dust. Black. Good soil, black soil, son. A stick – a gold stick – brass screw, cleaned by the fire. An ear ring. His mother’s. The pang of it. The ring bent. The pearl dulled. Silver paper. He picked it up, smoothed it on his palm, purple on the other side. Quality Street – Mam’s favourite. Dad – leave it fo’ y’mam. Treasure.

Woken by pins and needles in his hand, he continued to think of the treasured dream. Tack thinks I am one of his precious gems – yet he made me feel like an unwanted toffee wrapper. Shame he could not remember anything – so why was that? Pain, bury it. He rested the tingle on top of his chest. He felt it make a fist as he decided to grab the ember, take the pain, and then what? Alone with the Novice Master. Father Cuthbert had got the best from Brother Bernard, but he had left too. Three months to go after Bernard left, so we … he tried to picture the steel Geordie weighing the word we. Father Cuthbert brought no image to Liam’s mind – only his lifelong friend Jim Durkin. That was it – Fidelis and Cuthbert, two people thrown together and finding themselves as Liam and Jim. Finding each other. They had best make a go of it. Cellmates became … Liam hated the word mates. Of course they became their title, they were Brothers.

After Brother Bernard reverted to Sean McIntire. He didn’t tell me why.

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