of angels and antlers

When you’re convinced you’re from the fiftieth century, stuck in 2010, it becomes hard to distinguish what’s ordinary and what’s extra-ordinary and so it was for Starmon, as he looked out over the row of beds in the room. He checked his watch and realised that today would not be a time of reconciliation and instead, decided to stock up on some essential groceries in case of unexpected guests. A strong urge that began somewhere above the groin and below the belly button passed through him as he drew near to the Supermarket and by the time he had placed 1 carton of milk and 1 packet of English muffins into his basket, four thoughts had gathered and settled without discussion.

The first was that no matter what brand of eggs he chose, at least one of them in a box would be an outside link and could probably send out the data he so desperately wanted to keep quiet. But which one? He would have to open all of them to examine them and by then it could be too late. Eggs were therefore off the list.

The second was that all milk was poisonous. He would serve water if necessary but he decided to buy the milk as a decoy so they didn’t know that he knew.

The third was that he was the only person who could introduce the concepts and premises. He needed to be ready. He knew what was real. He really did. If only they listened…

The fourth thought led him to his skin which had recently started to grow little hairs, over the surface, like soft down, just where the electrodes had been and he looked for a razor.

When he returned, he remembered there was no fridge and no cupboard and so the groceries which had been bought were now not only inedible but useless to him and they sat in a plastic bag in the corner of the room, glaring.

Minutes, hours and daylight passed, just Starmon and plastic bag staring at each other; impasse.

What you need is antlers came like a newspaper title and from a recess deep inside him an encyclopedia of the properties of antler velvet started on playback inside his head.

He walked over to one of the beds and looked beneath its iron frame for clues. None had been left for him to find. He stood one side of the window looking out to snowflakes and grey skies and wondered where his fur coat had got to. The last time he had seen it, Gabriel had worn it to announce the changes but that was some months ago now.

In absence of any coat at all, he pulled his woollen cap over his ears and he left the comfort of brick and began to walk down the the pavement looking for antlers in bins, behind bushes, even beneath the bridge in case, just in case there was a left over pair he could consume. But in his focus and efforts, he had failed to notice the smallest shadow doggedly tracing his steps… Each step gave the shadow a token to bite into his legs and feet. Each step gave the impetus to hang icicles inside Starmon’s nose and scratch at his fingers. Each step gave the freedom to tear at his face and eyes. By the time Starmon reached the edge of the town, he had completely lost his bearings and in the beginnings of a blizzard, tears freezing as they left his eyes, he realised he was lost.

It happens with most of us at some point in our lives that a single moment of clarity washes away years and years of hatred or pain and as Starmon lost the feeling in his toes and hands, he decided to lay down on the ground and make a snow angel. As his body was enveloped in the snow, arms creating arcs, leaving winged patterns testament to his existence in this century, he noticed how his body temperature had changed. He was no longer cold and sat up, not noticing snowflakes in his eyelashes and saw the movement of a creature walking slowly towards him in the blizzard.

The more he stared at the figure, the slower it seemed to move and he closed his eyes just for a second to rest them.

It’s not that coincidences and poignant moments don’t happen during the rest of the year but rather that Christmas is a time of expectation and with nothing tangible to fill the gap except the whisper of childhood myths and community of adult faith, anything extraordinary fills a hole and in the midst of that snowstorm, Starmon met his antlers. They came out of the cloud shroud and into his hands they placed themselves. So soft that a thousand caresses poured into him and he began to weep, hot salt melting the ice on his cheeks, the compassion of others burning into his face. These antlers were more than beautiful, their magnificence resonated with a celestial vibration he had forgotten but recognised and he lost all breath in gazing. Blizzard turned to breeze and a gentle perfume of musk reached into his stomach. With permission granted through the nod of a head, he took what was offered, felt roots pierce deep beneath his own skin and as he began to receive messages from home, fell into the deepest of sleeps.

Text: © J. L. Nash, 2010
Image: © Reed Young

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