City in Flames

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A son remembers his late Father's recollections of the 1916 Rising in Dublin

Submitted: April 08, 2012

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Submitted: April 08, 2012

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City in Flames

by Declan J Connaughton

 

Ó Catháin sat at the table, cup in hand, the jacket of his black suit draped across the chair like the tri-colour which had adorned his father’s coffin that morningIt was evening, the kitchen light watching over him silently; it’s luminescence different somehow, as if maintaining it’s own respectful reverie.

“Sean, are you coming up?” Mairéad’s voice intoned from upstairs, breaking his trance.

“In a few minutes,” he answered, standing, gulping half the tea, throwing the rest down the sink, blunting the stainless steel sheen as it went.

Emerging into the gloom, the bitter air set upon him, invading the thin fabric of his white shirt mercilessly.

He did not feel the cold.

Taking a further few steps into the garden, shoes pressing down, crunching the frost-laden stalks heavily, with flecks of white spattering the leather, he surveyed darkened outlines of hedges; and it struck him that his father must have walked every miniscule inch of ground here.  He could see his old man’s face now; taking a handful of soil from the flowerbed he was working on, and putting it in his son’s hand tightly, letting him feel the damp and ancient earth.

His eyes focused on the stars, fixing on what was left of the dying horizon; an angry and dramatic carpet that emanated outward from a lonely and distant point in the distance, through which ghostly clouds weaved their stern and forlorn aesthetics.

Then it changed, metamorphosed.

The night sky had assumed the radiance of purest day, with only the flicker of flames casting shadows through the stained glass windows spoiling the illusion.  The six year old child realised he was free--had broken away unnoticed from his mother who now slept in a pew of the great church, having been here all day. He slipped by the small group of men and women who cowered in the Cathedral; the graceful building hidden away in a back street as if there was something to be ashamed of. 

Creeping slowly into Sackville Street, the smell of smoke choked the air, even as the booming and thunderous roar of guns almost burst his eardrums.  A solider was down on bended knee, firing desperately at the General Post Office across the road when he noticed the boy behind him.

“Get the hell out of here, you blighter!” his shouts dissolved by the sounds of war.

The boy couldn’t move, as the fire from the Post Office windows seemed to reach out and beckon to him.  Something touched his shin.

“It’s an old tramp.  He’s dead.  Get away before you get the same,” the solider said, re-loading.

However, the tramp was not dead and looked up, blood dribbling from his mouth.

He smiled, pulling the boy down so he could whisper something.

 “Oro ‘se do bheatha bhaile, anois are theacht an tsamraidh.”

Then he died.

His late father had told Ó Catháin that story many times, and as he returned to the present, the tears had frozen to his cheeks.


© Copyright 2020 Declan J Connaughton. All rights reserved.

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