Prose inspired by ''crayolas gliding silently...''
Prose inspired by "crayolas gliding silently..."
(a quote from "For my father" a poem by Alicia Cranford)
When I was 4 or 5 I was awoken very early in the morning by my mum.
She had a serious look in her face, a confused look full of dread.
At the time I just noted that it was a sad face. My granddad had died
in a house fire. She told me this that morning, sitting on my bed
and trying to be a strong, uncrying mother. She took me and my wee
sister down the stairs to the living room. She sat on the couch and
waited for my dad to come home [he had gone to the hospital with my
gran, I think, to identify the body, I think].
My granddad died in a house fire of his own doing. He was smoking in
bed and fell asleep. The neighbours in his block tried to get him out.
They kicked the door in, crawled along the floor and inhaled lung fools
of insane smoke in their eyes and my Papa lying melted to a bed. My
Granddad, who I called Papa, died in a house fire of his own doing. He
was smoking in bed and died of smoke inhalation. Smoking kills!
In our old house we had a huge stone fireplace. I used to scratch my
feet against the rough surface when I was little. It felt good. Even
as I think about it now it makes me smile. And here I was, leaning
against the horrible rough edges of our fireplace sitting on the carpet
with a colouring book and paints. I was trying to amuse myself with a
little plastic paintbrush and stopped...stared at the blue paint gliding
silently across the page...brought the brush towards my chest and studied
it, studied the wet paint bulging on the bristle tips, squeezed the
bristles between my thumb and index finger and pulled them along to the
tip of the brush. The paint ran down my finger. The blue paint ran down
my finger as I sat and remembered how my Papa read to me from the books
he'd bought me. In his big chair in the corner of his house...nicotine
stained fingers...alcohol breath [not threatening and drunk but warm and
festive, always]...bookshelf by the side of his chair with the brim-full
ashtray sitting on top, haloed by the standard lamp chucking light down
from the corner. I watched the blue paint trip up my arm and puddle at my
elbow crook and remembered how he'd taught me to write as well. He taught
me my numbers and I laughed, aged 4 or 5, paint up my arm, as I remembered
how I had trouble writing the number 2. I always used to write "L" for my
two. I guess I forgot about the hook. Then the paint in the crook of my arm
got diluted, salty. My small innocent laugh turned into tears and walked
across the living room carpet in bare feet and tears and got folded up in
my mum's arms. She cried too.
The hardest thing for a young boy who loved his Papa is the solid rock fact
that the last thing I said to him was: "I hate you and I'm not coming to
visit you again." I stuck to my word. I didn't visit him again. I didn't even
go to the funeral.
The block of flats he lived in doesn't stand anymore. They were knocked down
a few years ago and replaced with pretty little red brick homes.