Sunday, November 28, 2010
Prologue - Catch a Falling Star
The following is the prologue to my novel Catch a Falling Star.
The lady eased through the prickly leaves of two holly bushes to the chain link fence and waited, heart racing, perspiration streaking down her face. A breeze through the humidity whirled and twisted the smell of the freshly mowed grass into grace notes of a melancholy song. Dark clouds gathered together in the early afternoon sky to provide the melody.
The sign above the doors of the large red brick building barely thirty yards from her read St. Andrew’s College Preparatory.
She looked around, and saw a few cars domed by a flock of birds searching for refuge from the approaching weather. Fortunately, no people. Not yet. She shouldn’t be there. Would be in trouble if anyone knew. But no one did for now, and this would be the last time. Like a final cigarette before throwing away the pack.
She glanced at her watch. Three, two, one ...
The bell rang.
The lady reached into her shoulder bag and pulled out a brand new 1955 Bell and Howell sixteen millimeter moving picture camera. Left hand under the square unit, right hand steadying, she peered through the viewfinder and watched. Thirty seconds later the double doors opened with the sound of a shotgun blast and two ribbons of uniformed boys spewed out shouting, attention focused on seeking fun and indulging completely.
The flow trickled to a stop and the door closed.
Did I miss him? Did he come to school today?
She wouldn’t have another chance. It had to be now. Her heart pounding intensified, as did her breathing. She looked over the group, taking in the fullness of each face before moving to the next.
He wasn’t there.
The lady lowered the camera, nearly allowing it to slip through her fingers to the pine-covered dirt. She secured it, and glanced to the mounting power in the sky. Closed her eyes and silently pleaded with the coming storm to make the boy appear. Two minutes elapsed. Nothing. Her legs trembled. The gym coaches would be out soon to supervise. She opened her bag to store the now useless box. Eased back through the waxy, sticking leaves, and headed toward her car.
The sound of the opening door stopped her. She returned to the cover of the holly bushes pressing against the fence. The boy she sought walked onto the concrete landing followed by an elderly priest. The two shook hands steps, priest disappearing back into the building, the boy exploding down the stairs to join his mates.
She quickly returned the viewfinder to her eye and turned on the camera. Followed him among the throng, vaguely listening to the rhythmic whirring of the film capturing twenty-four frames per second, each frame a memory, each memory part of a living whole.
Though all the boys wore navy shorts, white shirt and navy tie, the one she filmed stood out. He took charge of a group of six tossing a football from one to the other, most wanting to toss it back to him, wanting his notice, his approval. Though young and physically developing, he was well-coordinated, strong and fast.
An intense rush of pride rolled through her stopping at her heart and touching it. She momentarily lost track of him when moisture appeared between her eye and the glass.
“Why didn’t I fight to stay?” she muttered, choking back the tears, then picking him up again, and continuing to film. “I’m sorry, my son. You deserved better from me.”
“I beg your pardon, ma’am.”
Startled, she turned and saw another priest, this one much younger than the one in the doorway.
“May I ask why you’re here?”
The thought of lying occurred, but, nestled as she was between the holly bushes, settling for part of the truth seemed the better option. “Ah, it’s such a lovely place, I though I would take some pictures.”
“This is private property, and photography is prohibited without prior permission from the headmaster.”
She stowed the camera in her bag hoping he wouldn't confiscate it. “I apologize, Father. I wasn’t aware of that.”
“Well, no harm done, then. But I will have to ask you to leave ... and not return.”
“Of course.” She smiled, but imagined it to be a mere half of one.
She would never see her son again. Impossible to accept, but necessary.
She walked back toward the street, bringing her left hand to her eyes to staunch the pain. Inside the car, she risked one final glance and a deluge of love took her heart and squeezed until the tears fell, mimicking the new falling rain.
The boys hurried back inside.
“Please forgive me.”
A loud burst of thunder answered.
She started the engine and drove off.
Posted by Rocky at 7:30 PM