Content Warning: childhood grief for a parent
It were a clear blue day, what with the factory shut for the funeral and wake.
Colin was slumped in the pub garden's swing, his straw hair sticking out every which way despite his mam's best efforts with the Brylcreem. Me and Trev were stood by quiet, our hands lost in the oversized pockets of our borrowed suits. Trev's cheeks had gone red and purple in the heat, his top button still done up and straining against his neck.
Mark came back out the pub with a plate of sausage rolls that he offered round.
"What's it like in there?" I asked.
"Grim," said Mark. "Your Uncle Gareth's lost his jacket, and then he says it doesn't matter compared to losing Colin's dad, and then he starts crying again. Seen it happen three times while I were at the buffet."
"Yeah, well," I said. "Best mates, weren't they?"
Read the rest at PodCastle #667 →
(exclusive until 26th June 2021)
On the surface, this is about clouds--and I'm still disappointed power stations aren't really built to make clouds from their stacks, 30 years after my parents first broke my heart--and it's about grief, as so many of my recent stories have been. It's one more attempt at processing the death of my father-in-law in 2017, whom I still miss every day.
But underneath that, really, it's about toxic masculinity. Somehow, for some stupid reason, contemporary Anglo-American culture has spent recent decades telling men they are islands after all, and that everything must be borne alone as a sign of Great Strength and Stoic Manliness. With the greatest of disrespect: bullshit bullshit bullshit. Emotions are what make us strong, the fire that temper us, and no great work was ever done alone. You, yourself, are a great work: ergo, you can't do it alone. There is a better way, and this story is one try at mapping the route, and it's dedicated to those friends of mine who've been with me half a lifetime and more.
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