Friday, April 3, 2020

As We Know It - Chapter 36


"He could be in trouble." Said Jesus, warily; he didn't have any desire to panic Sarah or the Gilmores, but he had an uneasy feeling that they ought to move quickly. Something wasn't right. "Where would he be likely to go?”

Sarah didn't know. She couldn't think at all. Her whole brain had melted down to a badly pixelated image of the word Doom.

"Sarah," Jesus tried again, more firmly, "Where would he be likely to go?"

"I don't know." She dithered, "He's never run off like this before."

"Makes him sound like a puppy," said Katherine, fairly unhelpfully, "Maybe he's not run off? Maybe he's just popped out for a bit?"

"No." she insisted, "I can feel it - I know something's wrong. He'd have said where he was going."

"OK." Frank stood up, he felt like he could be useful here. "So, we need to look for him. Sarah, you ought to go and look in the place you think he’d be most likely to go. Where would that be?”

“Maybe up the field?” Sarah tried nervously, “To get some thinking space?”

“OK,” said Frank, in his element now there was a crisis to deal with. “Your mum can go with you?" Katherine nodded. "Jesus and I will pop round to some of the neighbours and see if he's there; if not, they can join the search party. Yes?"

"And, this isn't over reacting?" asked Katherine, nervously.

"No." Jesus said, gravely. "Not at all. Thank you Frank - I think that's a very practical plan. Let's get going, we've not got a moment to lose."

Sarah and Katherine pulled on coats and headed out the front door, Katherine took Sarah's hand and they strode purposefully down the small lane that contained just Sarah's and Mrs Shoe's houses. They hadn’t gone more than 4 steps when Sarah saw Mrs Shoe step out of her front door and look at them coming down the road. She had her coat and wellies on.

"What’s wrong?" called Mrs Shoe.

"How does she know something's wrong?" Sarah muttered to her mother.

"Perceptive old bat." Said Katherine and squeezed Sarah's hand. They reached Mrs Shoe 30 seconds later and she eyed them beadily.

"What's happened?" She asked.

"It's Hamish." Said Sarah, trying to channel the purposeful demeanour her father had used earlier. 

"He seems to have disappeared off. Jesus is worried. We're going to organise a search party to look for him - have you seen him?"

"No, I've not seen him, dear. But I did feel like something was up. There was a funny shift in the air - I felt it go right through my bones. Not to worry dear, we'll find him."

Sarah looked between the faces of the two women and felt comforted to know that they were both by her side.

Hamish woke himself from his thoughts with a laugh. He shook his head and enjoyed the scratchy sound his trainers made on the ground as he worked his toes.

“What’s so funny?” Asked the angel.

“Oh, nothing.” Said Hamish. He squinted at the buildings around them and shook the last of the laugh from the back of his throat.

“Go on, share…” the angel dug her elbow playfully into his side. God she was nice, thought Hamish.

“Aye it’s nothing.” He grinned, “I just caught myself feeling guilty…”

“Only natural.” Butted in the angel.

“Oh aye, but not for any of the proper stuff. I was feeling guilty cos I was sat here thinking Staplegrove isn’t actually that bad.” He laughed again. Feeling giddy.

The angel looked around at her surroundings. It was a fairly pleasant village, as human villages went. Full of bricks and plants. Her favourite parts were those enormous sticks with the lights on - they were great, especially the tri-coloured ones.

“It’d be an offence worse that murder to say that in Norton Fitzwarren,” said Hamish, rubbing the fuzzy hair at the nape of his neck, distracted. “We’re supposed to have this great rivalry you see. I have no idea if Staplegrove know they’re in the feud, but we certainly do. It’s so stupid. They’re practically the same village. Especially since the new houses went up. Although, I suppose that was a big part of the problem. God, everything is so petty isn’t it? I’m sick of it. Sick of all of it.” He scraped his foot loudly across the floor again. The noise sounded so sharp in the stopped village.

The angel sat patiently, not interrupting or nudging, just waiting.

“Why,” he continued, in a low voice. The word came out raspy and sad, stretched out across his frustration on the rack. “Why does there have to be an issue? Why does she have to make it complicated? Why can’t she just… just. I don’t know.” His giggling energy had evaporated and he was surprised to find his throat aching. He cleared it and it didn’t help. 

The angel was still silent, finally she cocked her head slightly to one side and squinted at his scrapings on the ground.

“You’ve met Jesus.”

Hamish nodded, “I know.”

“Did that not bring you up to speed?” the angel asked.

“In what way?”

“You’re now one of a handful of humans who have ever existed who know definitively that God exists. You must be able to see now that Sarah’s parents had no choice but to be religious - they didn’t do it to spite you or to make it harder for you. They were just right all along…” The angel spoke slowly, Hamish felt she was trying to make it sound like she was working it out as she went along too, so as not to make him feel bad. It didn’t work. He felt awful.

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