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IN MY FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS

By Chris Rose

This is the day. Today’s the day.
Andy knew it the moment he woke up that morning. This was the day he had to make a decision. The sun came in slowly through the red curtains in his bedroom and made him wake up earlier than he wanted to. It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because today was the day. Andy stayed in his bed for some time, thinking about what he should do.
It didn’t matter – he had lots of time – he had woken up very early this morning. He lay in his bed thinking about the day that was to come. He lay there thinking about what he should do. The sun shining in through his red curtains became stronger and stronger and eventually he got up, stretched, yawned and went into the bathroom to get washed.

When he was in the bathroom washing his face he looked at himself in the mirror. “What shall I do today?” he asked his reflection in the mirror. “Should I stay at home, like every Saturday, or should I go?” His reflection didn’t reply to him. He looked at his face, his hair, his eyes. He thought about how much he looked like his father. He was now 32 years old. This was the same age that his father was when Andy was born. 32 years old. Was today the right time to make the journey? When Andy’s father was 32 years old he had already made that journey hundreds of times. For Andy, it was going to be the first time.

Andy went back into his bedroom and carefully took his clothes out of his wardrobe. He had made the decision. Yes – his lucky shirt. And then, his favourite trousers. He hoped his trousers were going to be lucky trousers too. Then he went into the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea and some toast for breakfast. As he was eating he thought about other people in other parts of the world who went on journeys like the journey he was going to do today.

He was still thinking about it when he went out of his house and walked down the road to the train station. Such an ordinary beginning for such a special day! he thought. This day, he thought, was more than any ordinary journey. Today was a pilgrimage. Today – for Andy – was a day like going to Rome, or sick people to Lourdes, or the people walking to Santiago de Compostela, or even Mecca.

Perhaps this was a wicked thought, but that’s how he felt. He thought about his father and he felt how extremely important this day was to him.

The train arrived and he saw a lot of other people getting on the train who were also making the same pilgrimage as he was. Even though he didn’t know them, they smiled at each other and nodded their heads at each other in a greeting. They recognised each other even though they didn’t know each other. The train started to move out through the town where he grew up – he saw the school where he went when he was little, the park where he played football with his father, and eventually the cemetery where his father was now buried.

His father had made this pilgrimage many times, but Andy had never gone with him. Andy hadn’t had a good relationship with his father when he was alive, but since he had died a year ago Andy found himself thinking more and more about his father. Now he was going to make the same pilgrimage that his father made so many times because he wanted to understand and remember his father. His father had made this pilgrimage, and his father’s father before that. And now he was doing it. It was a tradition which he felt happy – no, more than happy – he felt proud to be a part of.



Andy smiled again at the other people on the train. One man smiled back at him. “I haven’t seen you here before”, he said, “Is this your first time?”

“Yes, yes it is” replied Andy.

“I’ve been coming here for years” said the man. The train arrived at the station and they all got off. Now there were hundreds – no, more than hundreds – there were thousands of people there. They were all dressed in the same colours. They were all walking in the same direction.

“Makes you feel proud, doesn’t it?” said the man to Andy. He was right – Andy did feel proud. They walked together out of the station and onto the main road. The place of pilgrimage was there in front of them, only a few hundred metres away now. The thousands of other people became tens of thousands of people, everybody walking in the same direction, everybody together, lots of people singing old songs. Andy remembered his father singing some of those songs. He was happy now that he had come. He knew he had made the right decision.

As the tens of thousands of people walked slowly together along the road, Andy finally understood why his father and his grandfather had made this journey so often. It wasn’t the object of the journey that was important – it was the journey itself that was important. It was important to do the same things with lots of other people sometimes, to feel a sense of a shared faith, and shared ideals. Andy turned round and smiled at the man beside him. The man smiled back at Andy. Even though these two men didn’t know each other, they could see that they had something in common. They were walking in Andy’s father’s footsteps.

They walked in and up the concrete stairs. The noise of the tens of thousands of people was so loud that it was deafening. Andy started to laugh. He had made the right choice this morning. He was happy that he had come. He could almost feel his father standing there beside him. The teams ran out onto the pitch. There was a huge cheer.

The match was about to begin.

THE END

 

THE COMEBACK

By Chris Rose

Fausto Ruiz got off the boat at the port of the city where he had been born fifty years ago, and to which he had not returned for twenty years. He walked along the seafront, surprised by how much his hometown had changed, and also by how much of it he could still recognise. There were lots of new buildings up on the hills around the city now, buildings which he didn’t recognise. Yet many of the old buildings along the sea were exactly the same as he recognised them, although many of the old shops he remembered were there no more.

He walked away from the port and into the centre of the city. He walked up the main road and saw how all the shops had changed, but that there was still one small cafè there which was the same as it had been when he was young, and famous. He walked into the cafè and sat down at one of the tables. He recognised the owner of the cafè behind the bar as well as the waiter who was working there. They both looked much, much older. Fausto felt certain that he didn’t look as old as they did, even though they were all twenty years older now.

Fausto sat at his table and waited for the waiter to come to him. He sat there for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. Half an hour passed and the waiter continued to ignore him. Fausto raised his arm and shouted to the waiter, then to the owner of the cafè behind the bar, but it was useless. They didn’t come and ask him what he wanted. They were ignoring him.

Angry, Fausto got up and walked out of the cafè, slamming the door behind him. Such ignorant people, he thought. Now I remember why I left this town twenty years ago, and why I never came back.

He walked along the main street as far as the main square in the town, and when he arrived at the main square he remembered the other reason why he had never come back. In the main square of the town there was the theatre. As he looked at the theatre, Fausto Ruiz had a terrible memory of what had happened there twenty years ago.

Twenty years ago, Fausto Ruiz had been the most famous singer in the world. He had sung in all of the most famous opera houses in the world. He had sung in London, New York, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Sydney. Everywhere he went, people paid large sums of money for tickets, then when they saw him sing they clapped and applauded and cheered for hours. When he was at the height of his fame, Fausto Ruiz decided to come back to his home town, and to sing in a triumphant concert in the theatre on the main square of the town.

The concert was announced, and all the tickets sold out within a few hours. The evening of the concert, thousands of people crowded into the theatre to see the legendary Fausto Ruiz sing in the theatre of his hometown.

There was silence as Fausto walked onto the stage. Then he began to sing, one of his best known songs. And at the end of the song, there was just silence. Nobody clapped, nobody applauded, nobody cheered. Fausto waited, very surprised for a moment, then started to sing another song. At the end of this song, there was silence for a moment, then they people begain to boo, and to hiss. Fausto tried to cover the noise of the booing and hissing by singing another song, very loudly this time. But it got worse. The louder he sang, the louder the boos and hisses became. Then someone threw a tomato at him. Then someone else threw a rotten orange at him. Then someone else threw an old shoe at him. Soon, there was a rain of rotten fruit and vegetables and smelly old shoes falling down on the great Fausto Ruiz. Fausto was angry, Fausto was furious. He stormed off the stage and out of the theatre. He left his hometown that night, and he said that he would never, ever go back there ever again.

But twenty years later, Fausto Ruiz changed his mind. He was getting old now, he thought, and he wanted to go back home again, to see the town where he had grown up. But in the cafè, he realised that perhaps not much had really changed. He decided to walk into the theatre. As he walked in he saw the man selling tickets in the box office. It was the same man from twenty years ago. Fausto said hello to him but the man said nothing and ignored him. “Still the same” thought Fausto. He walked into the theatre, and got up onto the empty stage. He thought he could hear the terrible booing and hissing of that night, twenty years ago.

He felt sad, and left the theatre and decided to go and visit the house where he had been born fifty years ago. He walked all the way across the town, expecring to be recognised by people. When he got close to his old house he walked through the park where he had played as a small child. He saw some men there, the same age as he was, and thought that he remembered them. They were people who had been his friends when he was at school. He walked over to them to say hello, but they, too, ignored him. He walked past the old shops near his house. They hadn’t changed. There were still the same people there, all of whom ignored him.

He was so angry and so disappointed now that he began to shout as he walked along the streets. “I am the great Fausto Ruiz!!! The greatest singer the world has ever heard!!!” Nobody took any notice of him. He continued. “Don’t you know me??? Don’t you recognise me????” Nobody took any notice.

When he finally reached his old house he at least had a pleasant surprise. Outside the house, there was a statue, and it was a statue of himself. “Finally!” thought Fausto “Somebody has recognised my genius! They put up a statue of me...and they never even told me!”

Fausto went to have a closer look at the statue. There was some writing at the bottom of the statue. “Fausto Ruiz” it said, “Singer”. Fausto was disappointed that it said only “singer” and not “the greatest singer in the world”, but at least it was a statue. There was some more writing. He looked carefully at it. There was his date of birth, fifty years ago. And then there was something else. It was the deate of his death. And the date was yesterday.

THE END


Date: 2016-01-14; view: 1703


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