Monday Rewrite: The Cosmos Turns a Corner

Unexpected recollections come back to us at unexpected moments. Sometimes it seems we have little control, life offers us its random memories.

As he waits there, unable to do anything else, so much passes through his mind. A torrent of memories. A maelstrom of recollections and encounters. As he steadies his breathing the rhythm brings the recollections into some kind of focus. Thought it takes every ounce of strength to hold them there, like a seriously injured man doing his best to hang onto the reigns of a chariot.

The games he played as a boy, wrestling, bantering, hiding, piggy back fights and three legged races. The debates, the stories, the learning. Then his parents looming over him, confusion and misunderstanding writ large in their posture. What’s he doing here? He should be with them, should be coming home…

Those figures fade and he sees the face of that young man, strewn with the creases of confusion. What to do? Which way to turn, which road is best? He sees the agony play out on the young man’s features. He wants so much to be free, to discard the luggage he’s accrued, but there is so much at stake.  He’d be vulnerable, naked, open to ridicule and a world of misunderstanding. So the creases slip away and the young man smiles and turns and walks off.  He still feels a stab of pain when he thinks of that young man. Perhaps it’s not over for him. Perhaps there will be a day when the creases return and this time the battle with go the other way. This time he will ditch the baggage and find that other road…

A road. Another road. And a father running. Running to embrace his boy, running to throw his arms and prevent any bitter missiles from the neighbours. Paternal wings of protection. He can feel the boy gasping as the father clutches him. He’s trying to say something, something about being sorry, about wanting a job, about being hungry and desperate and wayward. The father scoops him up and whisks him home, calling as he goes about food and drink and a party…

The happy tax collector breaks in, abruptly crowding the other thoughts out. The man leaping like a child, bouncing out of his seat as the truth dawns. Making snap decisions about money, then back tracking and making another, more generous snap decision. Free from the chains he’d made for himself.  Then the young man is back, walking, no trudging, sadly away… then the happy tax collector is leaping about again. A world of contrast. Leaping and trudging. Heavy feet, light feet. Chained and unchained.

Other faces creep into view. Some thunderous with anger, others aflame with hope. There is shock, wonder, frustration, fury. Faces, faces, faces, faces. From the past, from the present, even from the future. Faces, faces. Pain and torment. Realisation and release. The images go on and on. He wonders if he might drown under the onslaught. That and the torrent of pain. Both are taking him down now. The people and the pain. Merging. And the hours become minutes. And the minutes seconds. And there’s a soldier now, getting ready for the final duty, picking up the hammer for breaking legs, and ensuring the prisoners are dead. But he won’t need it, the soldier won’t need it. Not this time. The end is looming now. The man on the cross throws his head to the dark clouds, cries out. Submits his spirit. And the faces, and the memories, and the pain recede. Gone. The task completed. The cosmos begins to turn a corner…

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