Saturday 16 December 2017

Storm in a Teacup by Deborah Rickard

Deborah Rickard trained as a journalist in the 1970s and some years later, after raising her children in Bristol, she took up writing again while studying for a degree in literature. She has since had short stories published in print magazines and anthologies, and two short monologues performed by the Bristol Show of Strength Theatre Company. She now lives in South Devon where she writes and paints.


Joe genuflects in front of the altar, fingers flicking a cross over his chest. An act of habit? Or is his dedication as sincere as the day we married in St Cuthbert’s?
And how about our dedication to each other?

I saunter up the aisle, gazing at the myriad frescoes crammed into the spaces between overhead vaults. Now that really was dedication. Some 13th century artist had lain on his back, pushing up close and personal to the ceiling for aeons painting those. Lovingly nurturing each finely wrought detail and fighting any temptation to give up. I find the effect, though, somewhat oppressive and wonder whether he'd been obsessed with inconsequential detail. I pull deep on sanctified air, chill with the rot of age, and join Joe at the altar.

It wasn't intentional; what happened last month at the Medico-Surgical Spring Convention. I'd hardly thought about David since we left medical school some twenty years ago and went our separate ways – he to the north to pursue his career and I to the south to pursue mine. He was listed as one of the speakers but when you see "Dr D. Jones" on the programme you hardly notice. As a consultant radiologist it's my job to look beneath the surface but one of my failings in life is only seeing things at surface value.

Or not even bothering to look.

Joe and I stroll in single file back down the aisle to the narthex and a shelf laden with leaflets detailing the history of yet another ancient parish church, another manorial stronghold, just like the one we'd visited the weekend before. And the weekend before that too. Probably.

Not that we're regular worshippers. Visiting country houses or churches has simply come to form part of the routine we've fallen into, like Joe locking the door at night and me taking the tray up to bed ready for early morning cups of tea. Often, like today, our excitement is twofold, with a grand house and a church tucked discretely into a corner of its grounds. We've seen so many surely there's nothing more to learn?

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