Of Love and Death – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 29

book 1

The following day god sat on her bench and picked her teeth with the corner of a fingernail while the balcony creaked overhead under the weight of a capacity crowd of onlookers. I searched every face above me for Sila’s but to no avail. And so I stood on the small raised area that those accusing others and those defending themselves in said court stand on, while together we all waited for Ola to arrive. It wasn’t hot in that room, but I was. The tall cylindrical courtroom was empty at the bottom bar me and god and a hundred or so feet above us the balcony all but ringed the entire fifty foot circumference. The crowd was five deep and their whispers echoed down to us.

“… he’s bought and paid for… ”

“… this’ll be over in minutes… ”

“… this never used to happen… ”

Then Ola entered and the whisperers cut themselves short. She leered at me, glanced a smile to god, then leered back at the man she had once loved. The father of her child. I felt her anger and it swam in my heart for having caused it to smear her once absolute purity. That too was my fault. Apologies mean nothing to a heart so betrayed. Even after all the years that I had spent in my second life, Ola was still embittered to a point beyond even her capacity to love and reason. And besides, the sale of her and Sila’s souls had already been sworn upon. She was set.

“We are gathered here today to establish the guilt, or innocence, of one James Fay. This man broke the bond of holy matrimony made in my name by claiming another while his rightful wife awaited him.”

“He fucked that slut is what he did!!”

“Order! Proceedings will be conducted in the proper fashion… now, Mr. Fay… James… my child… Did you fall in love with one Mary Elizabeth Dean, also known as Sister Winnie of St. James Convent, also known as M, after Ola Fay died, in giving birth to your child!?”

The crowd gasped once they heard how Ola had died.  

“I did, god.”

“And did you swear your to love Ola Fay all the days of your life?”

“Fucking wanker!”

“Order!… And did you raise Mrs. Fay’s daughter with Ms. Dean?”

“I did.”

“Then how do you plead to the charges, James Fay?”

“No guilty. I married her. And I have and will always remain grateful to her for the sacrifice that she made to bring Sila into the world. But my vows were onto death alone. And I loved her for years after she had died.”

“That’s beside the point, James Fay.”

“YEAH! YOU FUCKING CUN… !!!”

“ORDER!!… You broke your vow, James.”

“I did not. And I have a witness to call.”

“What?”

“YOU FUC… what?!”

“In the name of all the heavens, I call Presti!”

God said nothing. Ola said nothing. I stared at god as she stared at nothing and Ola leered at me with a venom I could feel seeping through my skin. I had no idea what would happen. All I wanted was to ensure Sila didn’t spent eternity, or however long she would be there, thinking I had wronged her. She had been through enough already. She was a pure soul. Kinder than any I ever met. Fair. Just. I owed it to her to make things right. No matter what.

The silence pounded our ears in a constant jarring of the senses. Louder and louder, the absence of sound excruciated all present as the hundred souls above us on the balcony waited in shock and the three souls below them waited in fear, anger and blind hope respectively. Over and over the sound of my heartbeat thrashed my guts and choked my thoughts. I held fast though, unable to move for fear of Sila being kept by such an awful lie. God looked as terrified as I felt. Her hands shook as she squeezed them together trying to hide the tremors. And Ola shook with the force of the infinite rage broiling inside of her. Then crowd then began to whisper.

At first I didn’t notice it when he appeared. Everyone had been so quiet and motionless that the dread shared by us all had slung itself over my neck and shoulders and lowered my head. But when he spoke the form of time itself reverberated in a manner that shook my blood.

“You are a harlot, Catherine! That chair does not belong to you.”

God’s eyes darted toward the source of the sound but her body was like thick oil trying to catch up. I wasn’t restricted like god was and I looked too, but saw only a struggling charm of nothingness that hovered above us in the very centre of the room some four storeys overhead. I looked at Ola and she too was trapped in slowed time. The crowd above us were too. Their faces peeled back in stunned horror at seeing Presti with their own eyes.

“Speak, harlot!”

“This… this… Presti, you… this… this is not me… ,” god said through her teeth in a slow, droll tone, her eyes bursting with fear. “… this is not my seat.”

“You have falsified the passage of many souls from your empty perch.”

“Yes.”

“You do not belong on this throne.”

“No.”

“I… banish you!”

Just like that, god tried to scream but before any sound could cusp her lips she shattered and crumbled all at once in the slowed state Presti held her in. I watched as she fell to the ground in a cloud of pieces, each of which burst as it landed on her stolen throne and the floor around it. We all stood in awe. Even Ola. Even so, all that I could think of was Sila. She was there before me in my mind, angry with me and angry with eternity for allotting her a father so wretched and an existence so fraught with suffering that she had never known real joy.

“And you… ”

I heard Presti speak but I feared it too much to look directly at it.

“You summonsed me and I have come. But not for you. I granted you your wish before and made of you a four legged beast. And I replanted you posing as the Yoyenu. All this, and what I have done today are not for you. My deeds have been for your daughter. She is the purest soul of all. And that is why I am taking her with me.”

I looked straight at it then and it drew me to it. I didn’t even move a single muscle, it just dragged me up to the very centre of the room in a standing position until I was hung just beneath it. And then it held me there, bathed in the aura of its power. At once the breath in my lungs was sucked out and the image of Sila appeared above me. She looked so happy. So calm. Like she used as a child when we returned from days out in the park. I felt her happiness coming to me through Presti, who I felt speak to me inside myself.

“She will never know the pain of mortals again. I will keep her. Never seek me out.”

Then the vacuum was gone and I fell the twenty feet or so to the unforgiving floor. The crowd on the balcony erupted in moans and gasps of fear and their cries drowned out my thoughts. But I could still feel Sila’s joy coming from so far away. I could feel the impermeable expanse between us. But that same great void was overflowing with all the joy and contentment of having escaped a lifetime spent in far more pain and fear than even I had ever known she endured. It was so sad, her whole life have been mired in the shadow of suffering. And yet it was impeccable in its beauty for the solace and relief that she was gained through Presti.

In that moment of great pain and even greater thanks I was blissful, but when Ola spoke I was propelled back into myself and the loss of Sila scalded me. It shook the breath from me and pushed down my shoulders with a weight more like iron than emotion. She was happier then than I had ever made her and I felt my failure of her clamp around my neck.

“Look what you’ve done!”

“She’s better off… that is all that matters.”

“Why would Presti even care about her, or you?”

 “Can’t you feel her happiness?”

“Yes. But… ”

“Is there something more important than that?”

I watched tears well up in her eyes with a jarring sympathy. She was so hurt. Again her family had been taken from her. Again I had wounded the mother of my child. I felt that great wrong sprawl across my chest and by it I was humbled to shame. I have always thought myself a decent man. I care for others more than for myself. But with knowing what I did to Ola, now I am not sure anymore. What I did for Sila was for her own good and despite my not knowing that Presti would take her away, I had taken the last of Ola’s hope from her. She wept there in the courtroom and I took her in my arms and consoled her. It was like it had been before when we were first alive together. She had the same appearance then as she did when I first met her and in that moment she was again mine and I hers, for comfort. But I was M’s and not Ola’s and when the mother of my child regained herself I stepped back and spoke.

“Ola. Sweet Ola. I’m taking you home to your parents.”

“Ok.”

“You need to rest. Sila is safe now and happy. Everything is going to be ok.”

“Ok.”

“Come on.”

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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