The Man with the Red Gloves

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story I wrote for an English Literature assignment last year (when I was still in year 11). The idea of the assignment was to attempt to challenge conventions and write something 'out of the ordinary'.

It is a story about a family who, after crashing on an island in the middle of no-where, go to drastic measures to escape. While this does sound like a generic set up, it does have some significant religious overtones that I believe sets it apart from other deserted island survival stories. I hope it can still appeal to non-religious readers also. :)

Submitted: January 02, 2012

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Submitted: January 02, 2012

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By David Kavanagh

The man with the red gloves loved her. He held her. He kissed her. And then he let her sink into the ocean. And her lifeless, cold hand drifted into the depths. And her gold hair became damp, as she was taken away, below, but above. Into His embrace. Then the man with the red gloves, sat in the boat, and he lifted the body of his son. And he saw in his son, her cool, but warm eyes. Dead mirrors, full of life, his future life. Then he lifted his son over the side and he too, drifted below. He had made it, he deserved it. They both did. And now, the man with the red gloves sat alone. The water was vast, the gulls were hungry. The sun was unbearable. But they were dead. Sigh of relief. Finally, they were dead and could smile again.

They lay on the beach together that first night, huddled close, wrapped in a grey woolly blanket. The embers sprang up into the night, as if reaching for the stars. As if wanting, as if yearning and struggling to be part of their infinite ranks. It was almost beautiful. No, he had thought, it was beautiful. It was supposed to be. But it was out of reach, especially here, on the dunes of one forgotten and God forsaken volcano of shrubbery and jungle. Shoots shot up. Shoots shot out. They were there together, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by an army of brutal, blood thirsty, glistening eyes. The moonlight that shimmered on the surface of those waves hated them, mocked them. “We’re not boats, we’re not hints of civilisation, and we’re not rescue” they whispered. “No, we’re just here to watch you die” they roared as they crashed on the jagged rocks that jutted out by the shoreline.

Morning came, and then another night. And then, another morning. Each new sun, each new day, was a looking glass of the old. Eventually they blended, the looking glass shattered, the pieces were identical. Day and night, night and day. The repetitive cycle washed on, and the man, and the gold haired woman and the boy with her eyes, trudged on without progress. Without movement, they marched, head on into each blue sky and each black night.

It was that one, long night, he would think about, in his raft. Two weeks after the beginning, or was it two months? The man had been grovelling inland, his burnt beige backpack fastened to his shoulders. Wood, for fire and shelter. Fruit and nuts, for food. The dew on the leaves and moss, for water. Fresh water. “Not that brown crap that gave my boy his tummy ache. We were up for days and all for blood and shit and crying” he had yelled. He shouldn’t have yelled. It wasn’t her fault, it wasn’t his fault. Was it His fault? No, remember the stars. He had been pushing upwards, for the land sloped, and the trees caved over him as he went. He had pulled himself up roots, cut his knees, his bruised, bloodied knees, as he slunk through the undergrowth, then the overgrowth, then the valley of Satan’s rock. A clearing, where nothing grew, and dry magma, that sharp rock, prevailed. It was the King of the place, this rock. It was here, in the middle of the jungle. It was here and the trees could not grow where it was. It was the law of the world. And there wasn’t anything he could do, but keep going. Ahead of the man, far off in the distance, the mountain reached its peak. From there, he was sure, he was positive, that they would be saved. That mountain pike would show him ships on the horizon. And those ships would bring them home. It was the dream of his bed and all its intimacies, it was the dream of a roof and dry nights, it was the memories of a warm shower, that kept the man going. But most of all, it was them. They had shown nothing but sad, tired creases on their sweaty brows. They hadn’t smiled or laughed since The Day the World Exploded. And they needed that. So he kept clawing onwards. And then, as sudden and out of the blue as the loud and silent halt of the jet engines, the man screamed. He stumbled backwards as soon as the snake released its jaw from his ankle. He collapsed into the thorns, and the lights blinked off. The no smoking sign flickered, and the world exploded for a second time.

The gold haired woman and the boy with her eyes were frightened. Night was falling, but a new night. This night was lonely, this night was truly cold. “Where is he?” she had asked Him, “I can’t do this”. She led the boy to his crib of tussocks by the edge of the tree line and bid him goodnight. “Just sleep, it will all be okay” she lied. Then, when alone by the cliffs that overlooked the bright reefs to the North, said that compass, she cried. She hadn’t wanted him to go, she had insisted he stay. He didn’t listen. He had gone mad; he was determined and convinced that he would save them. And she knew, that when he was decided, he would not give in, and his “It’s a once in a lifetime deal!” black Porsche in their driveway, the one that the whole family apparently benefited from, was proof of that. She knew, she would need too. The grey briefcase, the Sky Marshal’s briefcase. The one who had sat in 33A. The revolver. She would need too, if he didn’t come back. Tonight? While he’s asleep? She waited.

The world was a blur and it was dark. The crickets, ear piercing drums, that played their savage melody of indifference without mercy, danced unseen in the shrub around him. His lower body throbbed, his swollen legs had burst in a display of bone and marrow and flesh, or so it seemed. His eyes stung, the ants had begun to devour them, crawling through them into his very soul. Fiery minions of Satan’s rock valley. They were hungry. The blood that trickled from this ragged, but still living corpse had soaked the dirt. And through it all, there was a voice. “They’re waiting for you” it said. It was the voice of an angel, coupled with a flash of His glow. Sharp moonlight through the trees. The thorns in which he was now tangled, twisted around the crown of his head. The jungle, the ants, the world was against him. But that voice, that flash, that sudden ringing of the boy’s laughter, of the woman’s singing, fluttered into his mind and stayed. He pulled himself onto his elbows, the stones cutting through his skin. And, with that beige backpack still clinging to his spine, that beige backpack full of dry wood and wrapped fruit and nuts and plastic bottles filled with water, he began his descent. Down towards the beach.

She watched the boy sleep. His eyes were closed and he was peaceful for now. A little moment of paradise, a moment away from here, a moment, perhaps, among the stars. What was he dreaming? What was he seeing? The woman with the gold hair lay next to the boy and held him close. The moon, glorious in its very existence, hung above them. It was full and it shown as bright as the sun before it.

As he descended, through the heavy foliage above, the man saw the great white orb, hanging in the heavens. It stood there, as he tore his way home. He loved them, he did. They, his personal moon, he, theirs. Cuts and blood and bruising, craters and crevices and dust. His heart pumping the blood into those crevices, those valleys of ash, and overflowing them.

She slept now too, beside the boy, her gold hair resting almost peacefully on her shoulders. And she dreamt her past reality, for she was in a nightmare in her wake. The boy, in his infant years, tottered across the cream carpet, laughter softening his landings when he fell. His hands grasped air as he cried out for his bottle, his feet thumping his high chair in tantrum. Beautiful tantrum. The man was younger. He held her in his arms, on the football field, and they sheepishly sunk into one another’s eyes, before their lips touched. And then, they caved upon each other, and as the butterflies that had silently resided in her stomach flew into the crisp air, they made love underneath the stars. Those same stars. Infinite ranks of dazzling moons. And then there was a wedding, and there was family, and there was happiness. But as the man finished his toast, standing beside the gold haired woman in her elaborate white dress, the lights flickered. The oxygen masks sprang from the roof and the entire wedding procession, women in gold and red and blue, men in suits of fine stitching, was thrown sideways, back and forth. And fire engulfed them, and the gold haired woman relived The Day the World Exploded. There was no escape from nightmare. But the stars and moons were still there when she was jolted awake.

“Mummy” the boy with her eyes had said. “Mummy, look!” The woman followed his arm, his skinny, pointing finger. And there, from the shrubbery, emerged the man. On his knees, blood coating his body in its entirety, thorns caught in his hair, his right leg swollen to the size of dark tree stumps. She saw him, and for a moment she thought she herself would collapse. The stars above, the moon that was gradually falling to the ocean in the distance, watched in silence. If they were people, they would be standing in states of awe and amazement themselves. She ran forwards, embraced him, and he winced, but embraced back. For just a second, she smiled, and that to the man, was the inspiration to another maddening decision. They would be going home.

“I’m cold, my hands, they’re cold” he told her in the morning. He had convulsed continuously through the night, vomiting up blood and mucky liquids of rank browns and oranges. There was nothing to be done about the venom that spread through him, time would tell survival. And it was tragic and saddening, but it was the Law of Life and the Law of the Stars. So, the gold haired woman made him a pair of gloves out of the beige backpack which had been torn apart during his painful descent. And the man became the man with the gloves.

His eyes had been opened. No rescue would come; he had to live in reality. Hope was up above in the distance of space, but it was that distance, that factored in his maddening idea. He was to become the engineer of their final push. They had to get there; the woman and the boy, for the stars would make them smile.

Timber, wood, the roots of the thickest trees that stood terrible guardian in the depth of the jungle. All of these he sought, and in spite of his sickness, the pain in his thigh as he trudged through the unforgiving terrain of the jungle floors, he continued. The boy with her eyes watched as the man with the gloves entered and emerged from the trees, carrying these supplies. He watched as, in the light of another fire, that very night, the man with the gloves set to work, craft fully attaching bits from here to bits from there, sweat and tears streaming down his face. He watched as the gold haired woman and the man with the gloves finished what they had begun, he listened as one morning they sat him down and spoke to him. They were going home, they told him, and they all gathered up the remnants of this island, Satan’s island, as the man with the gloves now proclaimed it, and took to the seas. Over the waves that roared onto the shores with thunderous threats and cries of anger they sailed. Roars that said “No, get back there and die like Satan tells you too. You cannot leave”. And as they paddled off into the distant horizon, as the sun stood high above them and the mountain fell behind them, the man with the gloves laughed and held the gold haired woman and the boy with her eyes close to him. Their laughter boomed louder than the terror gauged screams of The Day the World Exploded. It rang with satisfaction and madness. But most importantly, it rang with a brief sense of happiness and understanding.

Days pass. Weeks maybe? Rations expire. Water is warm. Sun is hot. Ocean is endless. No ships, no civilisation, no islands. But the stars, they are there. Every cold night, the stars are there. Beacons in the dark blanket up above them. They are beautiful; they make the water beautiful, for it mirrors them perfectly. And the man with the gloves finally realises that their home is in the stars. Their happiness is in the stars. The many suns and moons that have always been there, from the football field in their senior school years to that first night on the beach sometime after The Day the World Exploded are always beautiful. They are His. And there is beauty in all that His stars shine upon.

It didn’t take a lot for the man with the gloves to click open the grey briefcase that he took from the dead hands of the Sky Marshal. It didn’t take a lot for the man with the gloves to decide that the two bullets with in the brief case were the two bullets that would end it, for them. It would send them home. And as he pulls the trigger, nailing himself through his palms, and as the deafening roar sends nearby gulls into the sky, and as the blood of the gold haired woman and the boy with her eyes rains onto his gloves and his gloves become red, the man feels well in sickness. For the venom took his heart moments after their ascent into the depths and into the stars. A well-earned act of mercy for the man with the red gloves.


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