Missing: Part three

by | Mar 11, 2024 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

There were five candle bulbs with bases that resembled the real thing.

João took the phone from his coat pocket and put his bag down. He held up the handset and took a photograph of the stone. Checking to make sure it was clear, he then opened WhatsApp. He had a weird feeling, seeing the evidence of an almost century old tragedy, ready to close the gap in the blink of an eye. The image was tragically perfect, just as he’d first witnessed it minutes earlier.

He selected ‘Papa João’. The avatar smiled back at him. It was like looking in the mirror of the future. 

Send.

Two grey ticks. Gone. 

Two blue ticks. Received.

Four crying emojis. Replied.

His father had just managed to master the social media app when his son set off on the journey. Nothing else would have tempted him to do so. Now he was sending emojis! He smiled and typed.

“I found him Papa. He’s here. They both are.”

Four more emojis.

“Thank you, my son. Now continue your journey.”

João stared at the screen momentarily. He knew an answer wasn’t necessary so he placed the phone in his pocket. His hand touched the cold, damp marble and the chill spread through him. He felt the freezing waves pulling him down, the numbness paralysing his muscles. He tasted the salt as the water inundated his mouth and lungs. Death was swift, merciful. The sea, so often blamed for its cruelty, was kind in the end.

“Can I help you?” João gasped at the sound of a voice. So alien in the world he’d just inhabited. He took a long, deep breath of the sweet, moist air.

“I’m fine. I just feel a bit sick,” he responded, turning to the source of the sound.

“Yes. You look a bit unsteady. Have you come far? Have you eaten?” The young woman came into focus. Was he still at sea? Was she a mermaid? The image before him was straight from a fairy tale. He had drowned and heaven was beckoning in her eyes. He lost the feeling in his legs and staggered forwards, collapsing onto the verge in front of the plaque.

***

João opened his eyes. A brass chandelier hung from the centre of a ceiling rose. He stared at it, studying the detail on the pendant. There were five candle bulbs with bases that resembled the real thing.

“You gave us a shock there,” the voice again. He was in Heaven. “Here, sit up. Maman has made some soup,” the angel said. He took in the rest of the room. It was overwhelming. Paradise was several decades of French decor all in one room.

“What happened? Where am I?” João stammered. He tried to get up but every bone and joint screamed for him to remain still.

“It’s OK, you’re safe. I don’t know what you’re saying but if you can understand me, everything will be fine.” The female voice spoke in French but he understood. Why couldn’t she? Then it hit him. He’d been speaking in his native tongue!

“Please forgive me mademoiselle, I think I banged my head when I fell.” He reverted to French.

“Oh you did. You have quite an egg there,” the voice replied. He turned towards her, his neck protesting, and was again enchanted by its owner’s natural allure. “I’m Marie by the way ,” she continued. Her hair was the colour of a foxes pelt and her skin like fresh milk. Freckles spread from the bridge of her small nose like copper coins spilled from a bride’s dowry. Her emerald eyes and pale pink lips combined in a stunning smile.

“João but please call me Jean,” he answered.

“Tell me. Why that plaque Jean? Is it significant?” Marie enquired.

“No,” João replied curtly.

“I see,” the woman said. She didn’t seem convinced. “Like all of the memorials, it carries a tragic story. May I?” She lifted his head and placed a yellow satin cushion under it. Picking up the bowl, his angel proceeded to feed him the most delicious fish soup. If this was heaven, he was happy with it.

“Would you tell me the story?” João asked between helpings.

“I can do better than that. When you’re well enough, I’ll introduce you to someone who knows it personally,” Marie countered. Joãos mouth fell open and his face froze.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Intriguing

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Receive an email notification for new posts

Loading