This week’s Friday story has a reason behind it, which you’ll already know if you’ve been following me on Twitter this week.
But for anyone who doesn’t (or just doesn’t pay attention): as an exercise for my creative writing MA this week, we all wrote pieces outside our usual styles, left our names off them, they were shuffled and handed out, then we each read one out and everyone had to guess who wrote it.
So what do I write when trying not to sound like me? Well, here it is. And I’m proud to say no-one guessed it was mine at all.
(Although a couple of people tried to imitate me by including bodily fluids or plot twists to throw others off their scent. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn’t it?)
By Nick Bryan (obviously this wasn’t on it at the time)
Since Jackson last came to church, the statues had shrunk. The pulpit seemed closer, even though it had never been so far away. He took off his hat, crossed himself by reflex and then wondered if he’d done it the right way round.
The statues gave him no clue, though. They’d seen a million people do this by now, they must know, but they weren’t telling. Theoretically, he should also dip his hand in the little stone bowl of water before doing it, but he wasn’t sure he still had that privilege. He might have mislaid it in the last ten years.
Back then, it had seemed like a cavern, a magnificent display of space. Now he realised it wasn’t even half the size of his old school hall. And the cold breeze wasn’t the rush of the Holy Spirit, it was the chill of a stone building with inadequate heating.
The pews creaked when Jackson sat down, he was amazed they stood up to that breeze. He almost brought the whole lot down like dominoes when he sat back, and he was not a big man.
As he entered his late twenties, he’d found himself viewing his old church as quaint and simplistic. Jackson had trouble reconciling this stone shed, and the old man who stood up front, with all the un-PC views you saw accredited to the Catholic church nowadays.
Fortunately, the old priest was dead, so would never talk with him as an adult about all that. Jackson could keep viewing him as a kindly grandfather figure, who maybe didn’t hold with the gay-bashing and whatnot. He certainly didn’t recall it creeping into the sermons.
Jackson couldn’t remember anything he’d said in those sermons, to tell the truth. But he did like the way the church had never managed to replace him, just left the place standing empty. That was nice. It made his childhood memories seem a bit more special.
A fresh gust drifted through from the vestry, where Jackson had sometimes gone to help the priest tidy up. Nothing there now except a few cobwebs, of course. The body of Christ had surely dissolved into mould, making it impossible to tell whether it was flesh or wafer.
‘You done in here, mate?’
Jackson leapt up, like a kid caught out of bounds. ‘Oh, yes, so sorry, sir.’
‘Nah, no worries. I remember when they knocked down my old school, almost cried right there when I saw it in the local rag.’
‘Thanks for letting me look around,’ Jackson gave a nod, ‘I’ll get out of your hair.’
‘You sure you don’t want a bit longer?’ The workman glanced at his watch. ‘You can probably stay another ten minutes while the boys set up.’
‘I’m fine, thank you,’ Jackson gave a quick smile as he slipped out, ‘I think I remember as much as I want to.’
Copyright me 2012, please don’t steal, email and ask, etc. Oh, and it’s my birthday on Sunday, but I haven’t written a birthday themed story. I did write one last year, though, if you want to check that out. As my birthday actually fell on a Friday that time.