Fiction for Easter Saturday

My contributions (a word some may disagree with) to a thread in Hell drew heavy criticism of me and some criticism of my fiction writing. I'm fine with the former, but to answer comments like So, to answer statements that I write about "pathetic unbelieving Christians" and "your approach will never allow you to write a Christian (or anyone of faith) convincingly" I offer my take on the Easter Vigil from my novel-in-progress. I hope it entertains more than it annoys :smile:

Holy Saturday, 20th April
The Red Lon, Avebury

My first proper pint in six weeks and steak and kidney pie with chips on order. God may be absent from the world this day but that does mean we should dwell on spiritual despair. Not when there are such things as Cropwell’s Peculiar and puff pastry to enjoy.
Woke early this morning but rather than allowing me to roll over and enjoy a quiet start to the day, the chattering birds, including what sounded like a battalion of jackdaws, drove me into the bathroom and then to the kitchen. Glad to say the faeries left my garden alone last night, though there was a dead mouse spread-eagled on the lawn. The cats were sound asleep on the sofa, conscience free and indifferent to suffering. I let them be and made a pot of tea and scrambled egg on toast. Weather is indifferent but I am more interested in what it will be doing at dawn tomorrow when I breakfast with bonfire bacon beside the long barrow at West Kennet.
Admittedly the tomb at West Kennet is some three thousand years older than that occupied by Jesus but it has been village custom for longer than anyone can remember to witness dawn on Easter Sunday beside its ancient stones. Tonight’s vigil, however, is the Reverend Peter Chadwick’s idea. Can’t help thinking he is a little hopeful, given the average age of the congregation.
I am interrupted by Rowan Tree bearing a dinner plate.

Avebury Trusloe

One Holy Saturday, I must have been twelve or thirteen, Daddy found me praying at the foot of my bed. I can’t possibly remember what I was praying for. It might have been for Edwin, my imaginary friend who I’d lost the year before, or for a poorly auntie, but I remember I was praying fervently.
“Nevil,” Daddy said. “You do know God is dead.”
“He’s dead!” I said, awestruck. And I mean in the old sense of awe.
“Of course. He died on the Cross yesterday and now he lies in his tomb awaiting Resurrection,” Father said. “Today we are alone as we are never alone. God cannot protect you. Instead you must pray He is reborn. He depends on you.”
My father left. I got up from my knees and fell on my bed crying.
God is dead. On this one day of the year, from sunset on Long Friday until dawn tomorrow, God is out of this world.
Shouldn’t have spent so long in The Red Lion. One pint turned to four and after a Lent of abstinence I can feel the influence. Trying to get myself some sandwiches for later at church but am at sixes and sevens. Due at St James’s at eight for the Lighting of the Fire, but will arrive slightly earlier. If I wasn’t on the P.C.C I might take the night off, but we must make a good impression.
I’ll take my journal with me as Lord knows the hours will drag.
Postscriptum: 4 pints Cropwell’s Peculiar.

11 p.m.
St James’s, Avebury

Delegated to make tea so am waiting in the kitchen for the kettle to boil. Allows me a few minutes to compose my thoughts.
Arrived early, as intended. Meadow was deserted so whoever owned the horse has reclaimed it. Damp and chilly, especially by the bridge over the Kennet. Arrived at church to find Sid Morris building the fire in the churchyard. Gave him a hand fetching logs which warmed me up a bit.
“Not too many,” he said. “It will be a long night. Didn’t see you park.”
“I walked down,” I said.
“Ah. Wondered if you’d thought on what Bert and I said about your driving. Should get yourself checked out.”
“I have not and it’s a damned impertinence,” I said. “But there’s no point driving to church this evening as we will be at the barrow tomorrow morning.”
Sid did not reply so left him to it and went into church. Molly was there but said she couldn’t stay late as her guests would be wanting their breakfasts on time.
I was determined to see the night through.
“Are you sure that’s wise?” she asked.
“Why ever not?”
I must admit I am getting a little indignant at all this concern over my health.
“There was your accident at Glastonbury,” she said. “And you have been looking a little tired lately. And you remember your father, of course.”
“I do not need reminding that my father died young, thank you very much. If I am tired it may possibly be that I am working hard or that I am tired of people asking about my health. Yes, I was poorly at Glastonbury but I passed my week in Malvern with flying colours.”
“I only meant you should take care of yourself. There’s no need to be upset.”
Of course, I felt awful after that. I know Molly means well. As does Sid, in his way. And yes, even this journal came about because of poor daddy dying so young.
Kettle’s boiled. They will be wondering what has happened to me. Make tea.
Church is chilly this evening. Pauline Lamb suggested to Peter that he turn the heating up, but our reverend muttered something about no comfort for Jesus in the tomb so I presume we must make the best of it.

© Colin Smith



  • 3 a.m.
    St James’s, Avebury

    Just witnessed a delightful performance of Moses crossing the Red Sea from Redwood Tree and his daughters, Apple and May. Redwood played the Pharaoh—it was taken from The Dramatised Pentateuch by Falkirk and Watson—while Apple and May played Moses and the fleeing Israelites. It ended with Apple and May pouring a bucket of water on their father’s head, evidently with great delight. Exodus 14 is always part of the Easter Vigil and it was nice to see something novel done with it, though I don’t think Peter Chadwick was happy about the impromptu flooding.
    Whole thing perked me up no end as I was feeling rather fragile, which is to be expected at this godforsaken hour, and while Prudence is mopping up the nave I’ve popped into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. This is morning after all.
    Something odd happened earlier. I’d gone outside for a bit of fresh air. It’s not that the church was stuffy, far from it, but it can get a little damp. Must have been about two; one rather loses track of time even though we are kept busy by all the readings. Fred Thirsk was minding the fire and I chatted with him for a moment and warmed myself on the flames. He assured me there was enough firewood to last till dawn and then for some reason he wouldn’t stop talking about rabbits. Eventually I wandered up the road to stretch my legs. Anyway, I’d passed the pub and must have been somewhere in the middle of the circle of stones when I heard something: something that wasn’t the wind I mean. It was a low rumble, like timpani, or the bass note on a piano. Then, up from the great ditch beyond the stones gallops this magnificent white horse. It shone in the starlight—the moon had set by then—and as soon as I saw it the noise redoubled. It was the same beast I saw near Winterbourne Bassett on Wednesday night, the same that Bert and Sid denied. Well, here it was again, large as life, and I remember being utterly consumed with rage at their denying it. Oddly, I wasn’t at all frightened, which I usually am around horses and especially large galloping horses intent on running me down, which this one was.
    Next thing I knew Fred Thirsk, our Captain of the Tower, or chief bell-ringer, was shaking me awake and saying that my snores were disturbing people. I was, somehow, still in the church and the drumming sound was Sid on the piano accompanying Paul Durdle reading from Genesis chapter 1.
    I’m not the only one feeling frayed around the edges. No, that’s not what I mean. I mean people become more themselves when they are weary: less guarded. Lucy Chadwick surprised me earlier. I was sitting behind her during Peter Chadwick’s reading from Genesis 22—Abraham sacrificing Isaac—when I noticed the tears streaming down her face. Of course, I leant forward with a handkerchief but she waved it away.
    “Think of Jesus,” she said, “alone in the darkness, waiting in the tomb.”
    I didn’t know what to say, except to apologise for my presumptuousness in offering the handkerchief. Later, just before Redwood’s performance, she collared me and apologised.
    “What ever for?” I asked.
    “I wasn’t honest,” she said. “One should be honest, shouldn’t one?”
    “A white lie never does any harm,” I said.
    She smiled.
    “I wasn’t crying for Jesus. Peter and I, we had a son. He died before entering the world. I could hear Peter remembering that as he read.”
    “Gosh. How awful for you,” I said.
    Words are so ineffectual at times.

    © Colin Smith
  • Easter Day, 21st April
    Avebury Trusloe

    I am glad to be home. Have made myself a pot of tea and am pondering whether to carry on with the rest of the day as though normal, or crawl into bed for a few hours. Seems altogether wrong to go to bed in broad daylight—it is now eight a.m.—but I shall spend the rest of the day feeling wretched if I don’t. Holy Communion is at eleven and then the rest of the day is mine to do with as I please.
    We emerged from St James’s at five in the morning. The sky towards the east had faded to a pale grey and the fainter stars had disappeared. By this time exhaustion had forced a kind of solemnity on everyone. Sid dislodged an ember from the fire and dropped it into the thurible ready to carry to West Kennet. Pauline Lamb took a stick from the fire and lit the Paschal Candle.
    Peter Chadwick asked us to pray over the candle.
    “Sanctify this new flame and grant that our minds made pure we may be inflamed with heavenly desires as we welcome You, Our Lord, again into our lives so we may attain festivities of unending splendour. Through Christ our Lord, amen.”
    Peter took his place with the cross at the head of the procession. Pauline followed with the candle. Then came Paul with the thurible and as he swung it to and fro it released incense and the ember glowed in its iron cage. Fred then handed out tarred staves to a dozen of us, including me, and we thrust them into the fire to get them burning. Most of the rest had battery torches which rather took away some of the atmosphere and ceremony. Then, with Peter leading, we set off for West Kennet in near silence.
    A flaming torch is something of a handicap in a crowd. Lowering it so one can see where one’s feet are always risks scorching whoever is in front of you. Fortunately, there were enough torches that I could see reasonably well as we took the path round the back of the cricket ground and once we had crossed the Devizes Road it was a simple matter to follow the path besides the River Kennet. Dawn approached but between the hedges night lingered and the river only revealed itself through gentle mutterings. Above us in the willow and alders bird whistles and chirrups broke the stillness.
    It was rather beautiful, if chilly. I suppose the night’s vigil had rather lowered my reserves and I was looking forward to lighting the bonfire at the tomb. Meanwhile the eastern sky had silvered and the slopes of Silbury Hill rose darkly from the marsh. At one time our procession had planted its fire on the summit but a few years ago the Antiquities Trust forbade the practise and so we proceed to West Kennet. I have to say I’m not sorry as the climb up Silbury Hill is a beast.
    “Would you Adam and Eve it,” Sid muttered.
    “I beg your pardon,” I said.
    “Them. Devizes Road.”
    I had been aware of a distant noise but now glanced across the field to see a cluster of lights at speed.
    “Motorcycles?” I asked.
    “Ravens, by sound of ‘em. And on Holy Day.”
    I was vaguely aware that Raven is a marque of motorcycle but apart from the headlights I couldn’t make out anything. The noise was intrusive.
    “Hell’s Angels,” Fred Thirsk muttered behind me. “Well named. Hell rides while God sleeps.”
    “Soon to wake again,” Sid said and grabbing hold of my torch thrust it urgently in the air where it collided with a willow branch. Flaming debris descended on Fred and he urgently brushed them off hair and clothing. The motorcycles continued north and the sound faded. Silbury Hill grew larger and then we skirted it and crossed the Marlborough Road.
    Now we had only a steady climb to the tomb. The sky in the east had taken on a golden hue and only the brightest stars remained. Behind me a trumpet sounded, bright and clear and banishing. I couldn’t see who played it. Then Peter at the head of the procession began reciting.
    “This is the night when once You led our forebears from slavery in Egypt dry-shod through the Red Sea.
    This is the night when a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin.
    This is the night that sets aside our worldly vices and the gloom of sin, and leads us to grace for by Your death is Adam’s sin redeemed!”
    We had arrived outside the tomb. The ancient sarsen stones shone pale grey.
    “O truly blessed night, at this time and hour when Christ rose from death.”
    Peter touched the cross against the wicker gate covering the entrance to the tomb and it fell aside. Elder Tree stepped from the gloom, her white gown shimmering in the reflection of our torches, and spread her arms.
    “Praise the Lord!”
    “Praise the Lord!”
    “Halleluiah the king is returned.”
    Paul opened the thurible and spilled the ember onto the Celebration Fire. Those of us with torches assisted and soon we had it burning.
    Some had brought chairs up the night before and now sat to await dawn. Elder Tree, as our risen Jesus, went among us and gave blessings. Others of a more practical disposition prepared bacon and bread for toasting.
    Then the sun rose on Easter Day.

    © Colin Smith
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited April 20

    Some of us, I'm sure, have have better things to do on Holy Saturday - Easter Saturday is next week i.e. the Saturday after Easter Sunday.

    Is this a homework thread?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Isn't the Red Lion a Greene King house. Shouldn't that be what he's drinking - or shouldn't be. If he's given up alcohol for Lent, he shouldn't be breaking his fast until after he's received on Easter Day.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Colin Smith, you might check out the thread I'm starting in the Styx.
  • O - I've started one too! Hosts are aware......
  • Oh boo.

    I thought this would be a thread for Recommended Reading.

    But I'll just say that Ray Bradbury's short story The Man is one I would recommend.

  • Your recommendation of Ray Bradbury shows that you have Impeccable Taste.

    A truly inspired (and inspiring) author.

  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    Oh boo.

    I thought this would be a thread for Recommended Reading.


    That's what I was hoping for as well.

  • Yep, me three

    And I concur with the TL:DR
  • jedijudyjedijudy Heaven Host

    I thought this would be a thread for Recommended Reading.

    Fortunately, we do have just such a thread!!!:blush:
  • jedijudyjedijudy Heaven Host
    [Lifting Hostly Lightsaber]
    @Colin Smith, Heaven is a discussion board, not a blog for you to display your writing.

    Speaking of writing, you have already been notified that the Ship of Fools owns the copyright on everything posted here.

    Please re-read the Ten Commandments and the board descriptions at the top of each board. In that way, we hope you will continue as a contributing member of the Ship!

    Heaven Host
    [/Lightsaber off]
This discussion has been closed.