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Small Pictures

 

Small Pictures

Shakespir Edition

Tim C Taylor copyright 2016

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It was Jeff’s first visit to Pilgrim Church; its gothic architecture lifted his spirit with a promise of peacefulness, or something else. Intellectually, he was comfortable with his decision to vote along party lines next week. He tapped away on his laptop, placing the finishing touches to a letter of explanation to his constituents. The third wave of anti-terrorism laws would only affect those with something to hide. ‘Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear’ was emblazoned on posters, billboards and, for the Party Faithful, on their signatures for text messages. A shiver trickled down his spine; there was a draft coming from somewhere.

‘Hi, Jeff.’

It took a moment to realise that Antony, too, had come to see his own daughter perform. Jeff’s erstwhile colleague lowered himself slowly between the panelled pews. Antony had been very ill, away from the House for over a year. His hair had only just started to grow back but although he had aged, Antony’s eyes were bright and there was a tightness in the corner of his mouth that Jeff had not noticed before.

Their girls entered the nave and both men were absorbed, each in his own daughter’s performance. Nothing else mattered in the world at that moment, just Maddy, himself and the beautiful music they were sharing. He hadn’t heard the song Dance on My Heart before. A man would someday dance on Maddy’s heart too.

[But alas, my heart is not pounding
and your songs are not sounding.
Therefore, I cannot marry you.”]

Where does that leave a father when his only daughter looked to another man? Maddy’s eyes crinkled a smile towards him just as she left the stage.

for you dance on my heart, and you sing to my soul.

I’ll take your hand, wear your wedding band.

Antony was beaming. His hands were loose in his lap and he gazed at the stained glass window. Perhaps he could see beyond the glass and the modern office block behind it.

It was a small while before Jeff restarted their conversation.

‘It’s good to see you on the mend. Have you thought about your future?’ He searched Antony’s face expecting a frown.

‘Definitely!’ Antony’s eyes were dark and steady. ‘I’m going to spend more time with my children, more time building my family.’

Jeff felt the tingle down his back again as Antony continued to speak about his brush with death—the cancer, the chemo, the weakness and rebuilding. There was no self-consciousness; Antony spoke about the different treatments as if they had been visiting relatives, painfully endured in the hope and faith in their inevitable departure. Jeff found himself really listening, beyond just the words. It something quite physical as if his body was tuning in too.

This place unsettled him. It was not an unpleasant or worrying feeling, just a discomfort. An edginess. The sudden tightening of his lower leg muscles and cold bones. Drawing into himself, the surrounding space felt immense.

For over a century and a half, this Church had heard the prayers and conversations of myriad wanderers—all just memories now. What was as permanent as the nine-metre tall pillars and the higher vaulted ceilings above him? Certainly nothing he did in the House. Turned fully towards Antony, he spied his daughter ‘s choir entering the rear of the church, taking up position to watch the other performers. Maddy beamed at him and the cold, throbbing contractions in his leg eased.

‘I suppose,’ Antony finished, ‘that I have realised that big picture politics is made up of many little pictures. For too long, I have thought that it was somehow nobler, or more intellectual or something, to focus on the big picture but now I see’ … he trailed off, perhaps thinking Jeff wouldn’t understand, perhaps unable to put it to words, … ‘I see it differently—more small pictures.’

***

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Small Pictures

It's a moment of truth for Jeff, a South Australian parliamentarian about to spearhead a new anti-terrorism law that will mean the end of civil liberties. 'Nothing to hide, nothing to fear' is the catch cry. This short story is a brief moment in Jeff's life that brings about a significant change in emphasis. He meets Anton while awaiting the choral competition in which both their daughters will perform. It's Anton, who has recently undergone chemotherapy, that helps Jeff see that it's small pictures that really matter.

  • Author: Tim C Taylor
  • Published: 2016-03-05 11:20:06
  • Words: 1232
Small Pictures Small Pictures