Snowcase #24 • 24 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
Poppy writes: "In 2000 I stuck a sign above my laptop saying "Life's too short - eat pudding first" and plunged into writing. Occasionally I stop for pudding."
Broken Bonds is a 7000 word short story in which a child survives a train crash and forms a close bond with one of his rescuers. ---------------------------------------------------------------------
'The train crash, what happened?' He didn't seem particularly bothered by the question.
She had been warned he would call, and told him as simply as she could so that he would understand. 'You were badly injured. People came to help:passersby, other passengers. They tore up their shirts to bandage you.
Then the rescue services arrived.'
'So where am I now?'
'What do you see?'
'Nothing really. Its very bright, very white.' he paused. 'Is this heaven? Are you an angel?'
'No, Im just someone who tried to help'
'I remember. You held me very tight. It hurt'.
'Sorry they didn't want you to fall asleep.'
There was a slurred, 's'alright'.
She waited for the next question, the obvious question. Maybe not so obvious as it was a long time coming.
'So, what now?' he asked
'I don't know,' she said, 'this is a first for me'
'Me too,' he said, drifting off to sleep.
The phone rang.
'Sister Agnes,' she answered, then checked herself. 'I mean, Polly Robinson'
'Who's Sister Agnes?' It was the boy. It had been a while since his initial call, she had wondered if he would phone again.
'Just someone from my past,' she said, avoiding the question.
'I had a 'past' too' he said, quietly, 'and a 'now'.'
'So, what's going on in your 'now'?'
'Just waiting for my jelly' he sounded sleepy. 'Don't you believe in God?'
The question surprised her, 'Why do you ask?'
'Because you're not a Sister anymore, and Sisters only become ordinary people when they don't believe in God any more and want to get married. I saw that on TV.'
She paused to collect her thoughts, wondering if she should lie. Instead she chose the truth - a difficult habit to break.
'I used to, but after the crash it became very difficult to keep believing'.
'Oh. I still believe in him,' the boy said with an easy air. 'He's got to exist or my parents wouldn't be in Heaven, would they?'
Polly had to admit he was right, and said 'yup' in agreement, but quickly, in case it stuck.
'Uncle Otto told me that God took my parents up to Heaven because he has something big on, which he needs a lot of angels for - like stopping a war, or a plague that could kill thousands. "For every one he takes, it saves a hundred still on earth"' - he was obviously quoting his uncle.
'I dont think there have been any reports of plague recently.' Polly sounded a little more dismissive than she meant to be.
'There's bird flu' said the boy, 'and if God was preventing a war, then it wouldn't have got started and been reported on TV would it?' - she couldn't fault his logic on that - 'and Santa Claus is really Jesus'.
She hurriedly changed the subject. 'Has your jelly arrived yet?'
'No, Nurse Jenny was supposed to be getting it, but she's busy with Jane right now'.
'The girl in the bed next to mine. They pulled the curtains round a few minutes ago, and lots of doctors and nurses have been going in and out'.
'So, jelly,' said Polly, realizing this was a 'distraction call'- and trying to distract herself from the calls of Clear! that were audible in the background, 'that must mean youre getting better - if you're eating jelly now'.
'I suppose,' said the boy. 'Nurse Jenny mushes it up so I can suck it through a straw'.
Pseudonym: Poppy Fields
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org