Each month the works the Group think are the best, will be published here

NIGHT OF THE DEAD by Ann Joyce

 

Halloween, All Hollows, All Saints, All Souls, Day of the Dead have their origins in the great Celtic festival of Samhain, the festival celebrating the dead. In Celtic Ireland, Samhain was the most important of the four Celtic festivals. It was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). This divide between the two halves of the year gave it a unique status in time – it did not belong to the old or the new, a time when the division of the world was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through, a time when the family’s ancestors were honoured and invited back home. Windows were opened to allow the spirits enter the house. The natural order of life was disturbed and the earthly world of the living became entangled with that of the dead.

Food was prepared and places were set at table to welcome home the spirits. This form of welcome ensured that only spirits with good intentions entered the house. In England special cakes known as ‘soul cakes’ were made for the wandering spirits. If the spirits were not offered food then another side of their character came to the fore and bad luck befell the house for the coming year. To avoid this, people dressed in costume so they wouldn’t be recognized. This may be why children dress up on Hallowe’en and where the origins of ‘trick or treat’ originated.

Since Samhain was the boundary between summer and winter, all boundaries were dangerous places to be on the night. Ghosts were to be found at gate-ways, gaps in hedges, bridges and crossroads but especially burial grounds were to be avoided as the dead roamed the countryside mingling with the living.

The Celts were fascinated with tracing their ancestry back as far as possible and often identified their earliest ancestors with the gods. So when they died they went to the house of the ancestor or the god of the underworld. In Irish Celtic mythology, Oweynagath or the Cave of the Cats in Co. Roscommon is believed to be the entrance to the underworld. In recent times, the local heritage group have organized tours of the cave at this time of year. The cave is underground and has attracted a new interest in the rituals of a bygone era.

Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people and Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with today. The Celts practiced an elaborate religion through their priestly caste, the Druids, who were priests, poets, scientists and scholars all at once. You might say they resembled the monks and missionaries that replaced them. The Druids and their gods were then deemed to be devil worshippers and evil forces.

The Christians made great efforts to wipe out the ‘pagan’ holidays and practices and they started with the ‘pagan’ festivals which has a huge influence on the people. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory 1 issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the beliefs and customs of the people they wished to convert. Rather than trying to obliterate these customs and beliefs, the missionaries were instructed to ‘rebrand’ them. So, if a tree was worshipped, then the tree should be consecrated to Christ and the people could then continue to worship it.

This proved rewarding for the missionaries. In Ireland we have many places that Christians now worship which were once sacred places for the Celts and those that came before them. Our holy wells are a good example. Wells and natural springs were sacred places where people gathered. Each well had its own significance and the cleansing, purifying water cured many ailments. Nowadays, religious ceremonies take place at these wells. They have become shrines where people come with their petitions and prayers.

The Christian feast of All Saints was assigned to November 1st, a substitute for Samhain in the hope of replacing it in the minds and devotion of the Celtic peoples. This has not happened, but the traditional Celtic deities diminished in status. They went underground becoming fairies or leprechauns or ‘bean sidhe’. The old beliefs associated with Samhain have never died out entirely. The powerful symbolism of the traveling dead, the ancestors, was too strong, and perhaps too basic to the human psyche. In 9th century, the church again made another attempt to subsume the original energy of Samhain under its own control. It established November 2nd as All Souls Day -a day when the living prayed for the souls of all the dead. This practice of once again honouring the dead ensured that the traditional belief system of Samhain lived on in the hearts and minds of the people.

To-day, Halloween still retains some features that harken back to the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as the customs of bobbing for apples, carving vegetables, feasting with fruits, nuts and the special barmbracks containing rings and coins. Farmers mark the time of year by bringing cattle down from the high ground. The harvest is complete, fruits gathered from the orchards and a general easing of the workload takes place.

Houses are decorated with witches, ghosts and strange beings. Candlelit jack o'lanterns find their place on windowsills and both adults and children dress in costume complete with masks that challenge, mock, tease and appease the dread forces of the night, of the soul, and of the otherworld. Death, as part of life is being reaffirmed and both are celebrated with a certain touch of both magic and religion.

101 word challenge  I Haven't Got it With Me. by Michael White

The golfer was telling his friends about his unlosable golf ball. For a start it was day-glow yellow, so that you could see it plainly. If it lay in long grass it bleeped until found, in water it would release a flotation collar and bob merrily on the surface until retrieved. Additional to that there was a GPS device built in and with an app on your mobile phone its location could be pinpointed. His friends were very interested and impressed they asked to see it “I haven’t got it with me” “Why not?” they asked. “Because I can’t find it!”

Ergo, I Am.                                                by Evey Morgan

Stop! I’m talking here. I refuse to share myself with your incessant internal diatribe. Every time I read I pour my heart out for you I wonder how much of me is left? I try to wrestle these forceful words to create something meaningful. The least you can do is pay attention. I want some recognition, some one to listen, to notice or is this my insistent ego trying to gain control?  

 

Give me fame, adoration, one hundred facey likes, retweet my life so I know I’m really real. Just one minute of undivided attention so I can show you the ‘who’ I am - or is that my persistent ego?  As soon as I think of my, or me or I, there he is again! He muscles in, a verbal loose cannon in my mind fabricating gaslight stories that I struggle and suffocate beneath. His constant harassment wears my defences down and out. Get me a formal restraining order.

 

Like a narcissist husband, unrelenting ego can drive me so crazy, murder crosses my mind but is ‘he’, me? He tells me I need him in order to survive, that I’m useless without his view. He incites a case of severe self-doubting judgement. Master of manipulation and hypnotic as a snake. He tries to convince me that for my insecurity to dissipate I need to be bigger, better or faster but insecurity is my ego. No one else is bothered by how good I am or what I do, apart from me - oh no! Here’s Mr Ego again - with a capital E! Please persist off!

 

I can only know real when I’ve accepted the whole - my insecurity, ego and everything else in the messy mix of me and it’s only in acceptance that I surrender and let go.  I know I’m free when I no longer have the need or desire to monopolise. When I listen to others instead of being so desperate for my mouth to open I hardly wait for theirs to close; before jumping in.  When I don’t need to work out if you belong in my tribe like my ancestors did, because different tribes don’t actually exist - we are The Human Tribe - a cohesion of matching minuscule particles of an expanding universe. All different yet all the same. All equally ok. Let’s make our peace with that. Ego’s the deep root of confusion, a ridiculous destroyer that hates tranquility - I hope I didn’t bring one of those.

 

I’m only interested in the unguarded egoless you. Allow yourself to be free. Anything else is a silly smoke screen and I’ll just blow you away.

The old ways by Eddie Kent

 

Where have all the old ways gone
When good manners was to the fore
People said please and thank you
Gentlemen still opened the door

Boyfriends asked a fathers permission
When they wanted a lady’s hand
They wined and dined their girlfriends
Not looked for a one-night stand

Picking your nose was disgusting
Passing wind was even worse
When girls went to the toilet
Boys looked after their purse

Is chivalry still out there?
Do boy scouts still roam the streets?
If so why is it on a bus
Youngsters don’t give up their seats

Is what I’m asking so alien?
I just want people to have respect
Show their elders some courtesy
Is it too much to expect

When someone you see drops something
Be refined, and have some class
Don’t wait till they bend over
Then kick them in the ass

Remember good manners cost nothing
Politeness doesn’t have a price
Don’t be a sap and be ungracious
It’s always nice to be nice

So if someone you see is in trouble
Give them a hand, don't be rude
And if you do so just look at their face
What you'll see is gratitude

In the old days people they did this
For they realised politeness was free
So let's all just take a step backwards
Here endith the lesson from me

Christmas Special

Just Another Day

By Eddy Kent

Winters here the snows have come
Joy and happiness to everyone
Peace on earth, is what they say
So whys the world, like it is today

Children living on a lonely street
Turning tricks, for something to eat
Christmas comes then goes away
But to them, its just another day

Young boys fighting in a foreign land
for a cause, they don’t understand
Families at home, waiting for word
Dreading the post, now aint that absurd

Watching T.V. with radio on
Waiting for word, when they’ll be home
Christmas comes then goes away
But to them, its just another day

Nations starving in temperatures hot
Dying of thirst, in a land we forgot
Disease ridden people, dropping like flies
Shedding dry tears, from dried up eyes

Living their lives one day at a time
Beneath the sun, amidst the grime
Christmas comes then goes away
But to them, its just another day

So reading this poem, please take care
To bow your heads and say a prayer
For the unfortunate people of this world
Mothers and fathers, little boys and girls

For Christmas comes then goes away
But for to them, you see, its just another day.

Black Friday

by John Goodwin.

Four weeks before Christmas and throughout the house

Nothing is moving except for a mouse

 

It clicked on E-bay and Amazon Store

’cos this is black Friday with bargains galore.

All so much cheaper than they were before.

That’s oh so easy let’s look for some more.

 

It clicked on an X-Box and children’s toys

Hours of fun for young girls and boys

It clicked on some headphones to cut out the noise

Faster and faster the cursor deploys.

 

Whipped to a frenzy, departments are scrolled.

Replace the hoover, well it is getting old.

And that fridge freezer, no-longer so cold

It seems like the shopping is now uncontrolled.

 

A brand-new telly, a much bigger size.

Hung on the wall, easy on the eyes.

We’ll keep it a secret, a Christmas surprise.

A family treat to strengthen our ties.

 

Such massive savings, now wasn’t that fun.

Reluctant to stop now, but it must be done.

The night has flown, now here comes the sun.

 Proceed to check out, the shopping is done.

 

Donation to charity, if you’re inclined.

Children in need, guide dogs for the blind.

A fiver, a tenner, now that would be kind.

I’m sorry to tell you your card is declined.

What I want for Christmas
by Caroline Harman Smith.

No more dogma, creed or race

No sign of hate on any face

No dropping bombs on any place

That’s what I want for Christmas.

 

No homeless people sleeping cold

No human beings bought and sold

No cruel treatment to the old

That’s what I want for Chritmas

 

No creatures tortured every day

No children beaten every way

No one without a place to stay

That’s what I want for Christmas

  

Preserve the riches of our Earth

Value the magic of its worth

And live each day with love and mirth

That’s what I want for Christmas.

Oh Carol. By Maurice Holloway

Apparently it took fifteen minutes in 1934 for James Gillespie to write the lyrics for Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (No, it wasn’t Bruce Springsteen). In it we learnt “He knows if you’ve been bad or good / So be good for goodness sake.” Unfortunately for children and parents all over the world he didn’t spell out what happened if “you’ve been bad.” Perhaps a couple of new verses would help . . .

 

                                                                           He knows when you are sleeping

                                                                           He’ll get inside your head

                                                                           And whisper lots of nasty things

                                                                           You’ll be sure to wet your bed

 

                                                                           He’ll make sure your gonna cry

                                                                           Cos he’ll steal all your toys

                                                                           He’ll take them back and give ’em away

                                                                           To nicer girls and boys

 

Christmas lyrics have been changed over the years. “Oh! how soft my fair one's bosom / Fa la la la la la la la la” were the original words to a popular Christmas song. For the sake of propriety these were transformed into the yuletide wishes “Deck the halls with boughs of holly.”

In our enlightened twenty-first century various safety-conscious pressure groups flushed with their success at closing school playgrounds are now campaigning against the use of the life-threateningly dangerous prickly holly leaf. They have joined forces with a healthy-eating organisation who objected to the poisonous red berries to get the lyrics of two seasonal songs changed to:

                                                                             Deck The Halls With Sprigs Of Spinach,

and

                                                                                        The Parsley And The Ivy

Another line preceding the previously mentioned fa la la, etc. was amended. With great foresight, the words “Fill the mead cup, drain the barrel” were removed a hundred years before binge-drinking was named as a scourge of society. Politicians believe they may have to reconsider the sexual connotations of its replacement which is currently “Don we now our gay apparel.” Likewise Hymn For Christmas Day will have to be made gender-suitable. A committee with no ear for rhyme has suggested, Him For Christmas Day, Her For Boxing Day and Anyone After The Lights Go Out.

Other old Christmas favourites which may offend are already under deliberation. The previously content but obviously prejudiced gentlemen will have their tune changed to God Rest Ye Merry Persons Of All Sexual Orientations, Races And Creeds. Similarly, Gloria who was quite happy singing on her own is now to be accompanied in the altered line, Gloria And Gerald In Excelsis Deo.

There are concerns about the commercialisation of the season. Recently it was discovered a lobby group working on behalf of condom manufacturers has been hoping to promote more sex during the Christmas period with carols such as:

            O Come All Ye Faithful

            Come All Ye Shepherds

            Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending

            O Come, O Come Emmanuel

MPs, who are used to such coming and going, recommended changes to the House that such lewd lyrics should not be heard on television until after nine and that the pleasure of sexual climax should not be restricted to the religious or shepherds. Agnostics and atheists, shepherdesses and Welshmen with big wellies should also be encouraged to embrace the season. And each other. And the sheep.

Further lobbying by retailers is understood to have caused the change in title of another favourite to Jingle Tills.

There has also been much discussion in Westminster on the increasing use of drugs by bell-ringers all over the country at Christmas and the carol Ding Dong Merrily On High is to be banned.

It was decreed in the last round of budget cuts that the Twelve Days Of Christmas will be reduced to six. Further cutbacks announced were that the partridge and turtle doves will be replaced by a pigeon in the pear tree. French hens (or anything else of that nationality) are definitely out. Political correctness affects the four calling birds. There will in future be two calling birds and two calling blokes. Only three gold rings are required: one for each gender. And as geese are so expensive their place will be taken by one free-range chicken-a-laying.

Finally new information has come to light about Santa’s supposedly most popular reindeer. Far from being a helpful, friendly little fellow it turns out that Rudolph is a sycophantic, ingratiating, toadying little creep. For this reason he will in future be known as Rudolph the Brown-Nosed Reindeer.

 

Merry Christmas.

© Maurice Holloway December 2017

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The Dancing Marionettes

by

Eddy Kent

My story starts in a village

In a time called long ago

Where a man and wife stood hand in hand

for they were in love you know

The mans name well it was John

The woman’s name was Kate

And hand in hand they’d walk along

Till they reached their garden gate

 

There you would see them stand for hours

Just watching the children play

Kate saying, I wish that they were ours

But the Good Lord had his way

For John and Kate, it was not to be

To have children, not their fate

The hurt in their eyes was for all to see

As they stood there at their gate

 

Come on John, Kate she said

Its time to say goodnight

Its time for us to go inside 

And sit by the fireside bright

So stoke up that fire John

and maybe well get a chance

To see our children wake 

And watch the marionettes dance

 

So they cuddled up together 

As they sat down by the fire

And Kate said its now or never

As the flames, they did grow higher

Suddenly the shadows came 

dancing across the wall

Look said Kate here they come

And aren’t they beautiful

 

First the shadows would dance to the left

And then they’d dance to the right

Then holding hands they’d turn around

As John held Kate real tight

Look said Kate I’ve just seen Jack

He’s dancing with his Jill

And there goes little Mary

And I think I’ve just seen Bill

 

And there the happy couple would be

Until they fell asleep

To dream of dancing marionettes

And children they couldn’t keep

So if you see their cottage

Why don’t you take a chance

And look through their window at night

And watch the marionettes dance 

The Hockey Match
By
Caroline Harman Smith

At the end of every summer term the senior girls at st Mary’s  played the senior boys at St Stephen’s’ in a no holds barred hockey match.

   Now hockey is a brutal game at the best of times but given the rivalry between testosterone fuelled lads and budding lassies it was a battle, if not to the death, definitely to the destruction of the girls’ chances of ever winning the trophy. 

   The trophy itself, a replica of Winged Victory, had stood proudly in the hall at St Stephen’s for the past eight years.

   This particular year both teams had new sports coaches.  Tall muscular Adam Marsden issued a challenge to willowy vibrant  Lisa Atkins.

   ‘Loser takes the winner out to dinner at the best restaurant in town.’ Adam said this with confidence after seeing his team thrash  the local state comprehensive 10-3.

Lisa invited her team for a pow wow and told them of the challenge.  As she had expected the girls fired up at once.

   ‘We can win’ said the team captain confidently. ‘If not by fair .means then by foul’.

   ‘Indeed’ said Lisa, ‘we need a counter measure against their strength, We have to weaken them, Anyone got any ideas?’

In the days prior to the match it had rained heavily but the day itself was dry and warm.  Parents from both schools filled the stand to watch the tussle.The smart money was on St. Stephens.. The groundsman had set up the scoreboard. As was traditional Lisa and the team had prepared platters of orange quarters for half time refreshment.

   The two teams lined up facing each other while the Heads of both schools made their short speech of welcome . The boys hardly heard a word as their eyes were riveted on the girls.  Their short hockey skirts had been shortened to just below the scanty panty line. Each girl wore a white shirt with the top three buttons undone to reveal the edges of lacy bras.

    The referee blew the whistle.  The teams assumed their game positions. As they stood together close to their opposing player the boys were assailed by the aroma of tantalising perfume. Lisa had sacrificed nearly an entire bottle of Guerlain’s Shalimar, billed as the sexiest perfume in the world. Each girl moved closer to her opponent to make sure he breathed in the arousing scent.

   The whistle blew and they were off.   The girls took the ball and ran with it, passing it across the field with deadly accuracy while the boys, suffering from teenage tumescence, could only manage a slow trot. The one boy not affected by the feminine assault on the team’s senses was the goal keeper. He managed to deflect the best the girls’ team could drive at him until almost the end of the first half when a penalty was given in the girls’ favour. Centre forward Bella White positioned herself directly in front of the goal, 

Her left hand casually raised her skimpy skirt revealing a seductive tattoo of a nude woman whose finger was pointing directly upwards.  Graham Jones in goal was mesmerised and while his attention was distracted Bella drove the ball into the net.

   At half time both teams retired to the changing rooms to refresh.. The girls  put on smoky eye shadow and glistening lipstick, brushing out their hair from its restraining head bands. The boys ate their orange slices unaware they had been laced with a good helping of vodka.

The second half was a walkover. The final score 4-nil. Winged Victory flew back in triumph to St.Mary’s.

The following weekend Adam and Lisa dined at Antoine’s.  Adam watched Lisa cracking open her last lobster claw. while he twirled sluggishly at his seafood pasta.

   ‘Is there anything else you would like’ he asked  warily.

   ‘Another glass of champagne would be lovely, thank you. And then perhaps back to my place for a nightcap’.

Adam waved the waiter over. Even defeat can sometimes turn into victory.

The Snowman
by
Eddy Kent

When all’s asleep tucked up in bed
a lonely snowman cries
He’s praying for some snow girl’s love
As tears drips from his eyes

Every night it is the same
He searches high and low
he’s looking for the girl of his dreams
the one that’s made of snow

Then back into his garden he does walk
a snowman without a care 
not knowing that someone up high 
has heard his lonely prayer 

For on this cold and frosty morn
A young girl does awake
wondering what to do with her day
as the dawn begins to break

She spies the snowman in the garden
His cheeks all wet with tears.
And suddenly she understands!
 Feels all his hopes and fears

You look so lonely Mr. Snowman
I think you need a friend.
So she dresses up and goes outside,
Her plan, his tears to end.

The snow was good for packing
Had fallen through the night.
She rolled and molded her creation
Making sure it was just right.

I’ll make this one a snow girl

As beautiful as can be

I’ll make the snowman laugh again

She worked so tirelessly

And then she runs inside the house
To gather the things she’d need.
A hat from Mum, a scarf from Gran,
An old wand made of reed.

 

And as the winter light does fade
She makes the snow girl fine.
Isinglass beads for her eyes
Laced lips that look divine

One last look before she turns 
To go inside, then go to bed
This tired young girl is soon asleep
With thoughts amassing in her head

She dreams the snowman’s dancing
He’s waltzing with his girl
She can hear the sound of music
As the snow begins to swirl

His face now is full of wonder
No more sorrow only bliss
He’s found the girl he dreamt of
As on her lips he plants a kiss

The next day the girl awakes 
And gets up to greet the morn
She looks out of her frosty pane
But sees that they have gone 

Tears roll down this young girls face
But they’re happy tears not blue
For written in the frosted glass
Are two words that say, thank you.

Thumbprint
by
Ann Joyce
My Dolly
by
Eddy Kent

This is where we will meet

in the mother-of-pearl evening,

walking in Rosses Point,

at the sheet of rock between

the first and second beach,

wave music entering like a cupbearer;

your jacket soaked with travel,

thumbprint of cities, dust roads,

ivory black bird feathers

encrusted with light,

as though you had broken through

the rings of Saturn, carried away

it’s light-maker and you gift

this incandescent hue to this twilight place

between shore and sea

where I let you go into the spindrift, 

into the used currency of memory.

I have this little dolly 

I love her like no other.

She lives in my big house

With my parents and my brother

 

I love to wash and bathe her

To comb her long blonde hair

My brother thinks I'm silly

When I pick out clothes to wear

 

For I like to look as beautiful 

As my dolly looks, you see

We're like two peas in a pod

Yes, we are, my dolly and me.

 

My favourite time is shopping

Buying groceries with my mam

For I walk along beside her

Pushing my dolly in her pram

 

When I go to bed at night

After putting my toys away

I clasp my hands to my chest

And I have these words to say

 

Lord, please keep my family safe

My father and my mother,

My goldfish and my cat

Oh and even my silly brother

 

For I will love them always

But before this prayer does end

Please keep my dolly safe oh Lord,

Because she is my bestest friend.

Remembrance Sunday November 2016 

Graveyard of Flowers
by
Eddy Kent

White roses standing in a row

As far as the eye can see

The names on them we do not know

But they died to set us free.

 

Lonely stones against a background sky

An ocean of deathly white

Brave soldiers who were prepared to die

For a cause they thought was right. 

 

Whispers can be heard upon the breeze

As laughter fills the air

People, I think, should fall to their knees

To show these souls they care.

 

 Let them know they are not alone

That in our hearts they'll stay

Loved ones who did not come home

From those battles far away.

 

Yes, just like roses standing in a row

As far as the eye can see

Gravestones, we should get to know

As they died to set us free.

Remembrance
by
Eddy Kent

Close your eyes and listen
Hear what I do hear.
Soldiers marching proudly
Through the mists of yesteryear

The sound of bugles playing
As the drums keep up the beat.
Sergeants shouting loudly
To the thunder of marching feet.

Nations watching, waving
As tears begin to flow
Loved ones fighting for freedom
In a time so long ago.

Some they lived, some they died
Some they never came home.
But to forget them, we will never
For in our hearts they'll roam.

So close your eyes and listen
Remember their forgotten song.
Fathers, sons and mothers
Proudly marching along.

Where Were You by Eddy Kent

Where were you when the world stood still

And all those people died

When the towers of death came tumbling down

And the whole world cried

Where were you when the towers were hit

And the whole world stood still

When suicide pilots crashed their planes

Not knowing how many they'd kill

Can you remember where you were 

When all of this occurred

When the towers of death came tumbling down

And a deafening sound was heard

 

Where were you on that fateful day

When the innocents boarded the plane

Not knowing death flew with them 

In disguise of men insane

Where were you when the screaming started

High above your head

When the innocent called their loved ones

To tell them they'd soon be dead

Can you remember where you were

On that sad September day

When high up in the gathering clouds

Passengers could only pray

 

Where were you when emergency services

Rushed up to the scene

Then bravely ran into the building 

Never again to be seen

Where were you on September the 11th

In the year 2001

When thousands of people lost their lives

In the towers and the pentagon

Do you remember where you were

On the day those terrorists flew

I'll never forget where I was

And I hope I never do

 
Father Thomas' Dilema   by John Goodwin

 

The weather was sympathetic to the occasion. The heavy overnight rain, that had raised the river to within an inch of its banks, had given way to a light drizzle but, as Father Thomas led the funeral cortege down the slope from the church, he could see the threat was far from over. Storm clouds boiled across the sky, black enough to obliterate the weak November sun. Any darker, he thought, and he would need a miners lamp to read the last part of the service.

Matilda Pennycorn had been a stalwart of the congregation far longer than he had served here, in fact ever since his predecessor was installed more than sixty years before. For all that time she had been in charge of the floral arrangements in the church, resisting all attempted coups from members of the “Ladies Committee” and even the all powerful W.I. with ferocious and often Machiavellian opposition. Despite her striking good looks she had remained a spinster, to some the village shrew. Only Thomas, as her confessor, knew the truth of it all.

That brought his thoughts back to Father Michael. Since his retirement the old priest had lived next door to Matilda merging the gardens of their terraced alms houses into a gloriously complimentary profusion of English country flora that was admired by locals and visitors alike. Thomas had expected to see the nonagenarian ensconced in his favourite place at the back of the church but as he took to the pulpit the box pew remained empty. Unwilling to delay the service Thomas sent the verger to see if the old priest was alright and pressed on. He had not returned.

Now standing on the treacherously slippery Astroturf that surrounded the grave Father Thomas waited for the coffin to be swung over the grave. The first coin sized raindrops began to bounce of his balding head as he carefully stepped forward gesturing to the dozen or so mourners to keep back from the edge he looked down into the blackness of Matilda’s last resting place.

A blaze of lightening momentarily illuminated the slurry that had formed in the bottom of the pit. The sight brought both sadness and relief to the young priests mind. The portentous crack and echoing rumble of thunder punctuated his decision.

A kindly parishioner reached out to extend an umbrella to keep the worst of the deluge off his bible and order of service, succeeding also to redirect the flow in a cascade down the back of his neck. Unheeding he went on with the internment resisting the urge to substitute, “mud to mud, splashes to splashes”, for the traditional lines.

Shaking the hand of the last of the mourners, that hastened away to see to the sandbags that buttressed their front doors, he found himself saying ‘They are at peace now.’ He smiled at the faux pas as he trudged back up to the rectory to change his clothes. He could feel the starch flushed out from his vestments giving him a stiff neck. Stiffening his resolve, he wondered how he was going to handle this event in his own confession. He had to decide if what he had done, or rather not done, was in fact a sin.

Father Michael had stuck to his vows, despite falling in love with Matilda the moment they met, and she had respected that, despite her feelings for him. They had lived so tantalisingly close. Unrequited as it may have been, theirs was a love of a purity that could only be transcended by one other. Now they lay together for the first time and forever. Where’s the sin in that?

© 2016 by Paphos Writers' Group. Proudly created with Wix.com

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