4 August 2010

And each of us had a place in that old yellow streetlamp light, and the days of aimless rain

At dinner recently a man started talking about how he had lost his faith in God. He’d been quiet for the whole meal and started telling people about it right in the middle of desert.

We put our spoons down and listened to him. He had a strange way of talking like he was explaining the whole thing to himself. He looked down at his desert the whole time he spoke.

When he had done we picked up our spoons and finished desert in silence. No one said anything to the man about him losing his faith in God. It was a sad story and not one I really wanted to talk about more.

I wondered why the desert had made him decide to talk about it.

After dinner we said our goodbyes and I shook the man’s hand for a good while. Looking back it seems a pointless thing to have done but I couldn’t think of anything better at the time.

Outside the house it was dark and a fine rain was blowing aimlessly about the front yard. There was that old yellow streetlamp light.

As we walked away I looked at the cars parked on the driveway. The man had arrived last and his small car was squeezed in right at the end. I noticed on the back of his car the place where a chromed fish emblem had recently been. It’s the sort of thing you see everywhere.

The man had pried the fish away but the glue was stubborn and had set hard. I scratched at it with my fingernail to check; it was as much apart of the car as the paintwork.

We both stood there in the near rain and old yellow light looking down at the shadow of that fish on the man’s car. I imagined him uselessly scraping away at it and it seemed the saddest thing in the world right then. My wife squeezed my hand and said that maybe God wasn’t ready to let the man go quite yet.

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