Here’s an extra post for Remembrance Day today. It’s a story I wrote this morning about my father. It’s not entirely accurate because although my Dad was in the RAF he survived the war and died in 1997: it’s a work of the imagination.
My father was a cross in a field. There was a red flower in the centre, as if his heart was pinned there. We visited him once a year in his field: it was cold and damp and I wanted to cover him up. So I took my jumper off and wrapped him in it so he wouldn’t feel the cold; but my mother told me off for spoiling my clothes – and so I put it on again and left my father standing there, just one cross among hundreds of others; a tree in a forest that had been cut down leaving a host of stumps.
His arms and legs looked so thin as he stood in the rain and the mist. He looked so cold, a poor bare creature standing there stuck in the earth.
My father had fallen, they said. I looked up in the air and wondered how far he had fallen and how he had managed to land so upright and what had happened to his body to turn it into this tiny wooden fork in front of me, like a garden fork with a heart pinned to it.
My father was a cross in a field.
My father was a photo in a frame. He was a young man in a blue-grey uniform the colour of a November sky, and he looked straight at the camera and stood tall with his cap on with a badge on the front which was a pair of wings. The wings meant that my father could fly.
But now he can’t fly. Now he’s stuck in the ground and he can’t go anywhere and he can’t come to see us at home.
My father was a piece of paper. His hand once held a pen over a piece of yellow-white paper and wrote all over the paper in blue-grey ink. He wrote letters to my mother, letters about the front. I wondered where the back was and why he didn’t write about that too.
My father was three things in one: a piece of paper, a photograph and a thin white cross in the ground. And that was all I knew of him.