The Fall of a Rising

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Daniel O'Regan lives in a country tired of oppression. The Irish have suffered from centuries of British occupation, but now we come to the beginning of an end. Daniel finds beauty in a world bent on violence.

This piece was inspired by the events of the Irish 1916 rising. I hope to improve on my ability to progress the story and its events, so any criticisms would be greatly appreciated.

Submitted: June 17, 2016

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Submitted: June 17, 2016

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Back on Bawkin Street. Daniel Regan had almost missed the tenement terrace front that leaned precariously forward, as if bowing down to a twilight-cast shadow of its former self. Rows of honey-glazed clouds sat on the sky’s fringe as the sun reached for the horizon’s shelter. The rusted gates before cobble stairways screeched open, welcoming tired labourers home.

“Come on Danny.” Olly muttered solemnly before turning on the spot and continuing his march home.  Daniel ambled onwards, his tired legs shuffling forwards, struggling to match his older brother’s pace. Both clutched a burlap sack in their arms. In Daniel’s was a ball of worn clothes that Aunt Donnelly hurriedly gathered before she took them from their home. Those few days away had felt more like an eternity, surrounded by sombre family members yet felt he never more alone. Olly missed their mother’s funeral, instead searching the local houses for their father who neglected to attend. The last of the crimson banners that streaked the sky began to fade, but even they paled in comparison to the scarlet-red enmity that flushed Olly’s face.

“That ouwl bastard, no good he’s ever been to us an’ Mam.” Olly whispered to himself with closed eyes, concealing his angry tears.

“Oll? What’s got you in a knot?” Daniel questioned, probing Olly’s quiet frustration.

“Nothin. I’m just feeling bad after missing Mam’s…service. C’mon an’ we get home”.

“Yeah, Da will have been waiting ages for us now. “

Olly’s head jerked up suddenly at the mention of their father, he felt his stomach clench threateningly. He was yet to be found. No-one had seen Mr. Regan since their mother’s death, while Olly had been forced to lie, for his brother’s sake of course. After all, there was always hope he would return. Daniel missed the tell-tale response, instead running towards an empty home, oblivious to his brother’s turmoil.

Olly shut the door behind them, dropping his sack of clothes by a sad-looking locker before moving to get the fire started. Hovering by the apartment window Daniel stared out on the street below, taking his usual perch on the low sill. The Regan’s room overlooked the rear of Bawkin Street Chapel, which as of late served as a field office for the Royal Police of His Majesty the Crown.

Running his hand along the ornate window frame Dan studied the spirals and arches of its beautiful carvings. His fingers brushed upwards over his head and back down his rear to complete the arc, but feeling an obstacle, he turned over onto his knees to examine a white envelope that lay under a blanket of grey dust. Before stopping to wonder, he tore it open, revealing a crisp sheet of paper. It was a slightly faded letter, clearly written in quick haste and was scented strongly of whiskey. Or maybe their father.

 

Olly & Danny,

Great lads for a poor father. I’ve made many mistakes in my life but I can always rest knowing I’ve gift gifted this dark world with two lights of my own. I’m sorry- But I can’t apologize for who I am or what I’ve done.

You’ve never known me to love you, not how I loved your mother. Where we are, what we are, what me must do; it is was never the life she deserved. This place was a dungeon and we were were trapped. She always wanted to escape, and in a way she finally did. I wish to re-join my love. Let only St. Peter do us part.

You do not understand my choice, I know this, and I can only hope that someday you will.

I love you my boys, I love you….

The last of the words were illegible, obscured by spilled drops of whiskey, or perhaps tears. More splashes fell to join those on the page, flowing steadily from Dan’s eyes. Olly managed to momentarily ignite some kindling before it died out prematurely. The cold-hearted cast-iron hearth taunted his futile efforts. Dissatisfied by his failed attempt Olly reached to try again but was interrupted by a rapid knock on the door. He rose up and greeted the uniformed Irish Citizens Army soldier that stood before him.

Pulling his chair closer to the dining table Olly recapped on what the ICA soldiers had told him, “…the GPO, Boland’s Mill and a few others. I’m telling you Danny its suicide-“. Olly stopped himself and inhaled slowly before continuing. “…madness. They’ll all get themselves killed and we’ll be the worse for it.” Dan tried hard to swallow the lump that hung in his throat. “Olly…I found this earlier.” His voice creaked before he fell back into a fit of tears, pushing the letter further across the table, as if to escape its awful truth. Olly read the scrawls of his father’s final words. The ball of tangled emotions wrapped up inside of him, fraught with resentment, fear, sorrow, grief and anger unwound all at once, snapping at his mind and soul while he held his heartbroken brother.

***

This time Dan followed the crevices and nooks with his eyes, staring up at the strange divide in his ceiling. He couldn’t recall at what point over the past few weeks since their return home that he saw their ceiling had cracked, but he had felt when it released flakes of dried plaster and old paint onto his mattress below. What was its cause? A sudden shock of unwieldly force perhaps. Or had it been bearing a load far greater than Daniel could grasp, struggling to hold its own weight, for much too long a time.

“Let’s go Dan.” Commanded Olly, indicating towards the crate of supplies and rations they’d prepped, himself carrying an iron casket of loose ammunition and assorted tools. Daniel reclined forward, grabbing his woollen shirt and the supply crate before joining his brother on the stairs down to the foyer. Olly placed his crate three feet from the front door before creaking it slowly open and cautiously observing down the street to his left and up back towards Aunt Donnelly’s on the right. The silent peace that smothered Bawkin Street was unnatural, replacing the playful cries of free children, supplanting the familiar noise of working men and women. A dead city lay still before him. The quiet was broken by a sharp piercing whistle from Olly. The two waited before the sound returned back to them like an echo and the rear entrance of Bawkin Chapel swung open on cue.

The scene inside was closer to the Sunday market their mother would often times take them to than that a fortified outpost. Shaky wooden structures lined either side of the building, supporting platforms so to be level with the chapel’s windows where the early morning sun shone bright. The main floor had been divided into stalls and workstations, among them a number of men and women sat reading or polishing weapons, while most of the younger volunteers scurried in all direction carrying loads similar to Olly and Daniel’s. Uniforms held up tired boys who marched on the platforms above, eager for their night’s watch to end.

“Are they’s ever really going to come do you think?” asked Daniel as they navigated through stacks of supplies and resting soldiers.

“Of course they will, only a matter of time ‘fore they act.” Replied Olly, wiping sweat from his brow, straining slightly under his heavy load, “Put yours over there, I’ve to bring mine to the commandant’s office.”

Dan placed the crate where Olly had instructed and then sat to rest on top of it for a moment. He watched his brother enter the side room to left of what was once an altar at the opposite side of the chapel. There hadn’t been much of a struggle when the ICA first stormed the Police building. It mostly served for administration work and so was largely undefended, especially for an attack without warning. Though it wasn’t until a long while after the raid that Olly decided they should offer their assistance. Daniel’s thoughts were interrupted then when he spotted his brother wave at him from just outside the office door. Olly wore some dyed green shirt that served as his uniform, and across that was a leather strap that ran down around his waist, supporting a rifle at his hip. The commandant had made a soldier of him. Olly wore a smile that stretched across his face, but Dan felt sick to the core with sudden anxiety. Shouts from the platforms tore his gaze of horror from his brother.

“British!” The sudden cry reverberated down stone walls, echoing through the chapel. The last Dan could glimpse of his brother through the rushing crowd was him mouth the word ‘run’. Olly turned and ran. Soldiers stood to attention, sending an elbow or a well-placed kick into their sleeping comrades who jumped to their feet wildly. As he moved towards the exit, people everywhere hurried to find their weapons and take up defensive posts. Dan escaped the array.

He reached their apartment just minutes later, lurching forward onto the window sill, breathing heavily, his hot breath condensing on the panes of cold-morning glass. He pushed it open to listen to what was happening in the street below. Suddenly a portion of the window frame’s beautifully decorated exterior exploded into a fray of wooden splinters. Dan reeled backwards as more shots began whirling through the air. The quiet morning burst into chaos. In breaks between gunfire Dan could hear orders barked ferociously from across the street. He lay on the floor, his stomach pressed hard against the damp floorboards. It all ended as quickly as it began. Dan wondered if they’d won. He could even hear the sounds of someone whistling. The whistle turned into the scream of an artillery shell that buried itself into the deserted cobble road of Bawkin Street, erupting into a cloud of rock and gravel. Dan saw the sun’s rays penetrate through the floating debris. It was almost divine-like. More whistles, screams and explosions. They rained down endlessly, never relenting, not for a moment. Turning over Dan stared up at the crack in his ceiling, while the world shook violently around him. He noticed it had fractured across the entire length of their room. “Well, there’s no fixing that.” He jokingly whispered to himself.

 


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