9 - Jenifer Hetherington

The Art

“Articles of Faith” 
by Jenifer Hetherington

Lucy was swinging on the gate, waiting. At Sunday School the teacher said Jesus would come again, and she was hoping he might walk down their street. Just when she was sure it couldn’t be much longer she was called inside to put on her party dress, patent leather shoes and white sox for afternoon tea with Miss Finsbury. Her mother said she must watch her manners and wait until asked before taking anything to eat. 

The plate at the centre of the table looked as if it were made from lace. The little cut outs were rimmed with silver and had rose buds dotted between them. The cakes arranged on it were from fairyland, she was sure. Tiny tarts with strawberries shining like rubies, chocolate éclairs so small they could fit in a dolls’ house, and best of all, a perfect little cube covered in bright green icing and topped with a sugary violet. She wanted that one so very much. Miss Finsbury lent close, Lucy could smell the apple blossom powder making the space at the top of her dress white. ‘Now, I know little girls especially like éclairs, this is for you.’ 

That night when her mother came to tuck her in Lucy asked if the girl who would be the next Mary had to be called Mary, because if not it wouldn’t be fair to all the other girls with names like, just say, Lucy. 

The family was driving though snow peaked mountains the day they got the news grandfather had died. Mother held the black edged letter in her hand, holding her head so the tears could not spill down her cheeks. Lucy saw an angel appear in the snow, great and gold and red and radiant. But deep down she knew it was just the dying rays of the sun reflecting on the white dazzle of snow, and gave up forever on angels and all the rest. Later, back at home near the coast where there were no mountains, she ate cheese on toast with her best friend Julie. They sobbed as they listened to A Hard Day’s Night over and over and over again, because they loved John and Paul so very much. Actually, Lucy loved John most, but Julie claimed she’d bagsed him first. 

Lucy and Julie walked across the top of the world, backpacks filled with longing. Lucy found a copy of Siddhartha at a backpackers’ in Bangkok. They read Ram Baba Dass in Mahabalipuram, sitting beside ancient lingams. They drank lassi as stonemasons chipped away filling the air with the sound of singing rock. Nirvana! They would find it. They smoked hashish, they tripped, they sat at the feet of Swamis until exhausted by all the searching they gave up on Gods and went back to mortal men. Which was more fun if more painful. 

The Next 40 Years. 
A lot happened, and nothing happened. Christ did not come again; in fact there were no revelations of a spiritual nature. Unless of course you count births and deaths, or perhaps fields of everlastings, pink and crisp against a dazzle blue sky. Or include a sighting of whales, leviathan tails slapping a boiling sea as they breach, pelicans soaring on thermals, dolphins riding glass green surf. Unless you count, say, the miracle of honey, or wine. And laughter. And love; lost love, and found again love. And the great certainty that one day we will no longer be here to have any of it anymore.

About Jenifer Hetherington…

I have spent as much of my life as I can searching, with great success, for perfect places to read. As you will see from ‘Articles of Faith’ this venture has spanned many decades. I have also found beautiful windows to sit beside to write, windows filled with ocean, tree tops, city roof tops and myriad other delights. My stories and poems have appeared over the decades in assorted Australian Literary Magazines and Journals, notably Westerly and Indigo.

The Music