Saturday, 12 January 2013

#12Masque entry 26: And a Cape to Match by @Lastwordy


The mattress nearly came apart under my hands as I dug around its seams and springs. I said a silent prayer that whatever might be crawling around in there would stay far the fuck away from my searching fingers; the damn thing was probably paradise for all manner of fleas, roaches, vermin, and whatever assorted biohazards had accumulated from years of the homeless and the junkies using it as a place to crash.

I had to tear holes in five different places before my fingers brushed something that wasn’t springs or foam. The cloth was still silky; it flowed like water as I pulled it from its hiding place. No moth holes. No smell of piss or mold or decay to add insult to old injury. That was some small justice, I supposed. The mask was pinned inside, the safety pin that held it a rusting, crumbling tetanus waiting to happen.

The cape was just as I remembered it, the payoff for years of searching, following vague leads on the trail of a madwoman long dead — at least, as far as we knew. I wondered how she’d finally kicked it, if it was drugs or the booze or just age that got her. It’s funny how memory works, isn’t it? I’d managed to block out most of the screaming and the overdoses, the times she was off her meds and disappeared for days and weeks until the day she left for good. OK, so years of therapy probably helped that. And now the strongest image was here, in my hand – a red cape that once wrapped around a fever-wracked five year old who was shivering on dinosaur sheets. 

We all want to believe our parents are superheroes. Trouble is, sometimes they believe it too.


Lisa Shambrook said...

Yes, there's an almost soul destroying moment in your life when you realise your parents aren't perfect. I'm bringing up my kids with the sure knowledge that I'm not perfect!
Stunning story...gave me the shivers!

Meg McNulty said...

Agreed! Absolutely stunning story isn't it? Grips you by the guts and doesn't let you go.

Unknown said...

You create such a sense of realism in your writing with the way you use your words and description. And yes, totally agree with the last two comments. xx

Amalia Dillin said...

Whoa. This inspires so many other stories in my head -- what *would* it be like to be the child of a superhero? A real one, I mean!

Love this!

Diane J. Reed said...

This story knocked the wind out of me!! Brilliant and of the literary minute--a truly wonderful piece. Like Meg's fantastic entry, you could send this off to a literary journal right now, as is. What I especially love is that the red cape resonates of Citizen Kane's "rosebud" sled--the one thing in a jarring life that the main character can cling to (also reminding me of "The Things They Carried", the superb story by Tim O'Brien). Love-love-love it : )

Kern Windwraith said...

This is such a powerful story--tight, beautifully written, each word perfectly placed, and then that slap of emotional resonance that lingers long after the story's over.