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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Father Davey is the last man alive, and he is very, very grateful to his Lord for everything.

Submitted: January 11, 2010

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Submitted: January 11, 2010




Brown-robed Brother Davey knew that he was the last man on Earth. There had been the war, of course, that fiery conflict that had burned nations and flesh and left the air toxic, but there had still been little groups of survivors who had all, one by one, died - probably because of the radiation - until there was only him left, and he was sicker than sick.

“Thank you, Lord,” he whispered to God who may or may not have been listening. “I have seen green grass and blue skies and I thank you for them. For the eyes you gave me in order to see their beauty. And the flowers, dear Lord, I thank you for them. I prostrate myself before you - or I would if the sickness didn’t stop me - and I weep my gratitude to you.”

He winced. The sickness, brought on by the war, was becoming painful. His skin was peeling, and he rather suspected that his flesh was, too. There was a mirror over there in the corner, but he wasn’t inclined to look in it, so he could only guess what he looked like.

“Thank you, dear God,” he whispered, “for my life. Thank you for the powers you gave me, of thought, of hope, of prayer, of love … for you. You are so mighty … so powerful … you created all of this…” He might have indicated the little cell he was in with the sweep of one arm, but his muscles rebelled and he couldn’t.

“Thank you for my friends,” he whispered, trying to recall them, but failing. He supposed he must have had friends, everyone had friends, didn’t they? Had Father Abbott been a friend? He might have been, the intimate way he’d been some nights long before the war had blighted things. Father Abbott had said he loved him, but what was love? He loved God, they’d always told him that he must do that and he always had, loved that deity with a passive delight that had sometimes swamped the all of him. But had Father Abbott been a true friend? Would a true friend have done some of those things to him and demanded, in the darkness of nights lost to time, that he reciprocated in the name of God?

“Thank you for my friends, dear Lord….” he repeated, still troubled by the vacuum in his mind where he assumed his friends ought to be. There had been Brother Pokey - they’d called him that because of his messy habit involving a long digit and his nostrils. But had Brother Pokey been a friend? Had he been a true friend or just an acquaintance, someone he had to spend his time with because that’s what the Brothers did, spend time with each other - in the gardens, in the kitchens, in the library, in the sombre church.

He shook his head, dislodging the prayer about friends. He had never had any true friends and didn’t want to acknowledge the fact.

“Thank you, Lord, for the world…” he groaned.

He supposed it had been a lovely world once upon a time, but the war had come along as wars, he supposed, must, and now it was little more than a cinder spinning on, he had once been told, its axis. A cinder: that’s what it was, spinning and spinning and spinning and creating day and night. But once upon a time, in the green and blue days, it had been splendid and God had created it like he created everything. He had moulded it with his precious hands, created stone and grain and twig and hill, and it had been the most beautiful of all creations. It had taken a mighty God to make such a place! It had taken such skilled hands, such gentle hands…

Gentle hands, like Sister Marion had in the infirmary when she had nursed him back to health after his chastisement. Someone had told Father Abbott (not the old Father Abbott who had done things at night with him, he had died and some had said not before time, but a different brand new Father Abbott who had believed in beating sin out of people, and he had sinned and been beaten for it.) Sister Marion had tended his wounds with such gentle hands. That Father Abbott hadn’t lasted long. He had been found dead in his bed one morning, they said, the whispers, that he’d been found with a knife in his back, but whatever the truth he’d been buried the very next day and replaced with a gentler soul.

“Thank you, Lord, for kindly, gentle people,” groaned Brother Davey. “Thank you for all the goodness in men’s hearts, all the wonderful things they do to glorify your mighty name… And men did some remarkable things. Once they’d built the Abbey out of old, cold stone, carved each slab until it was perfect, and built it high, with ornate gargoyles and wonderful images of ancient saints, marvellous, each stone, each carving, a tribute to the Almighty. Why, he himself had spent ages poring over the Book of the Dead, a tome that contained in illuminated text the names of those who had died in its building. And there had been quite a few, martyrs with no longer beating hearts, their contribution to hope and faith a matter of stone.

“Thank you, Lord, for their toil,” he muttered, but the pain was getting too intense for him to whisper much more. The Book of the Dead told how the men had died. The masons who had fallen from rickety old wooden scaffolding, called before their time by the Good Lord because of their mastery over stone; the labourers who were taken by disease because they had no time for their Lord, working as they did seven days each week in order to earn their crusts; the boys who had dropped fragile images and been beaten for the damage they had done, and passed into Satan’s hands as a consequence of those beatings. Those careless scum had been buried in unsanctified ground, and that was only right, wasn’t it?

He closed his eyes and didn’t know it, but it was for the last ever time. His senses were receding, his ears could hear little sound though truth to tell there wasn’t very much left to listen to. But his mind still worked after a fashion.

“Thank you, Lord, for everything,” it laboured to think. “Thank you for my life and thank you for my death. Everything you have made with your mighty hands has been so perfect I might weep when I think about it, if I had tears left, that is. Thank you for the moon and stars that once looked down, before the clouds filled the skies. Thank you for the trees that grew, tall and proud, and thank you for the men who tended them. Thank you for being there for me, Lord, Thank you for this life…”

And Father Davey died, thankful in his head for the life he was living. He didn’t know when he died, he just did, and if his last thoughts had included, somewhere in their mystery, an expectation of a reawakening in another place of light and harps and fluffy white clouds it was a good thing he was dead so as not to feel the disappointment inherent in decay.

© Peter Rogerson.08.01.10

© Copyright 2018 Peter Rogerson. All rights reserved.

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