Litkicks Message Board Archive

Prose inspired by ''crayolas gliding silently...''

Posted to Poetry

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.