Lina: Written By Stephen Fahey – Part 30

One morning, while McIntosh lay in his usual haze of guilt and mild insanity the door swung open and Joseph Fay grabbed his guest under the armpits then lifted him out of Lina’s bed. Without a word he lay him on the kitchen table on top of a fur then wrapped him in it, bundles him with rope and slung him over his back. Still without speaking to his guest Fay walked out of the front door and locked it behind him. McIntosh hardly knew where he was ,but the cold air snapped at his skin and woke him fully before Fay had made it a hundred paces from Park Castle. It was the first time that McIntosh had been outside in years and the sight of clouds and the outside of the house as Fay walked away from it were overwhelming. His jaw hung open, his eye peeled wide and his heart pounding in his chest.

“Where we going, Joe?”

“Wait and see!”

“Ah Joe, where?”

“Wait.”

“Ah, come on! Don’t be like that!”

“Eli.”

“Okay, Joe. But I bet it’s gonna be great.”

“Just wait.”

And on they went. Hours of hiking into the forests. Deep into the dark shades of green that only the animals know fully. Noon came and went. Evening came and went. Then night fell and hid them both in its embrace. Fay lay McIntosh down on the forest floor with his head resting against a rock. From there McIntosh could see the stars. They were pure out there in the woods, miles from anywhere. Combined with his having been confined to one room for years they seemed to shine just for him. Fay watched him marvel at the night sky and said nothing. There, in silence, he remembered his daughter as she was, he thought of her laugh and how she would trick him and run off and giggle from under the bed while he pretended that he couldn’t find her.

“You never had kids, did you, Eli?”

“Okay, Joe.”

“Eli?”

“Yes, Joe?”

“Eli, do you have any children of your own?”

“No, Joe?”

“So you’ve never heard you young laugh as they play with you?”


“No. why are you aski… ”

“It’s a magical thing, Eli. I honestly wish you had known what it feels like. It would have changed you. maybe even saved my Lina.”

“Aw, Joe… I… ”

“No… no… no, Eli. Don’t speak. Just relax. You see, like any child, Lina was curious about everything. She could get herself in trouble, but no matter what she did Ola and I always forgave her. She was a good person even though she was just a little kid. When she got in trouble she would tell us before we even knew what she had done and she would stand there and look up at you with big eyes that begged forgiveness. She never once lied to us. Even when she did something wrong. She was pure, Eli. She never hurt anyone. Never stole anything. Never even needed to be told off. Not once. Do you understand what pure means, Eli?”

“I… ”

“Of course you don’t. You were probably prying through people’s windows and lighting fires when you were a kid. Well, what you didn’t get to experience, one would assume, is the absolute love share between a parent and their child. I knew that she loved, as did Ola. I knew that I was the whole world to her and she knew that she was the whole world to me. When she died I died. I am not Joseph Fay. I am his body performing his duty to Lina. I have been dead for decades now and while I torture you I am only waiting to be with her again and to see my Wife.”

“Joe, I… ”

“But you. You will never get to feel love. Not real love. When you die… and I swear on Lina’s grave, Eli, it will be a fucking horrifying death… you will go wherever degenerate mistakes like you go and when you get there, there will be no loving wife. No adoring child. You will be alone. You will continue in death as you lived in life. Alone. Whereas I will be reunited with my family, forever. Do you understand, Eli?”

“Joe, I’m sorry.”

“Eli, I’m going to leave you here.”

“Okay, Joe.”

“I’m not coming back for you.”

“Eh… Okay, I… ”

“You’re going to die here, Eli. If the bears don’t get you you’ll starve to death. I’m leaving it to chance to decide how you go.”

“Really, Joe? You’ve had enough?”

“Yes.”

“Joe, I’m sorry for everything. You’re a good man, Joe. I respect your commitment.”

“You don’t understand commitment. If you did you would never have done what you did in the first place.”

“Joe, I do understand. All these years… Joe?… Joe?”

Footsteps petered out behind him as McIntosh stared at the sky and let the thought that at last it was going to end sink in. He knew that Fay wasn’t going to return. He had heard in his voice. So as the fear of life slipped from McIntosh’s heart, no matter the manner of death, a calm love fell upon him. His skin warmed though the evening air began to cool. All the years at Park Castle seemed a dream, some cloud of pain that sprawled itself across his life. A payment of such debt that he could scarce believe he had survived as long as he had. Even inch of skin and ounce bone he had given up to Joseph Fay was meagre as a payment but in his heart McIntosh knew that he had committed to sacrificing himself.

Now that death was imminent, with a heart that still felt guilt but was proud of never having shied from its duty, a silent wish that the end would come soon and quickly was the lot that McIntosh allowed himself. When that year alone in Park Castle had ended McIntosh had sworn off any thoughts of having something for himself. And now, with Fay having passed him into the hands of chance, there was nothing for McIntosh to do but wait his end.

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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