8. This Sunday
Neither of Cassidy’s parents was particularly demonstrative. They didn’t deal in doting displays, tugs and hugs.
“The glories of God are sometimes best kept hidden” Harry would sigh mysteriously whenever a love scene came on the TV. There were posed family shots scattered within the beach house, but no individual candids. The only picture that featured Cassidy alone sat on his mother’s dresser. Two pictures actually. Cassidy aged five standing on some windy beach, profiled against a rough sea. A study in black and white, he is framed in the bottom left, holding what he knew to be a kite string, looking out across the scene, peering up into an empty white sky. To the right of this photo stood another, this one in colour. Here a startlingly slender version of his father looks skyward, the wind blowing his thick hair back off his face revealing Harry’s handsome, young man self. One hand shields his eyes; the other arm is extended, reaching up towards a small red kite with a blue tail. Annie would say “Oh my” and press her hand to her breastbone whenever she looked upon this picture. She always swore that she had taken the candids in the same instant, an invisible kite line connecting the two moments, but Cassidy wasn’t so sure. But he did remember loving that kite, his first real prized possession.
And he had named it.
What had he named it?
‘Red’ something. After someone in the family.
He rubbed his forehead and recalled the vivid moment when he’d let slip the string and watched helplessly as the kite rose up and out to sea and… just kept going.
Pretty symbolic, sighed Cassidy who was starting to see an undercurrent of meaning in everything and was beginning to tire of all of this self-regard. He just couldn’t help himself. A slow burning cadence, an almost exotic undertow kept shifting him outwards, upwards, “like Icarus ascending, on beautiful foolish arms”. A silent prompting voice kept urging him to decipher this secret code, and he persevered if only because… he needed his life to fit him better.
He wanted to feel free.
He wanted to shine like the sun.
“Dad! Are you listening to me Dad? Will Mayfair Mac still go to heaven?” repeated Archie impatiently from atop Cassidy’s shoulders.
“And in bits?”
Cassidy moved his attention from the carnival of kites above.
“That’s a good question Archie”, he removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “I think that God will make Mac whole again. He gives special attention to those who need Him the most. He can make them better. He can… love them better. I also believe that Mac will go to cat heaven because he was so loving to you guys and your mom.”
Amelia had always coached the boys with her own peculiar code of Catholic fervor; ‘Gucci Guilt’ he had unwisely called it during one of her final assaults. Although Cassidy was agnostic, he often found himself having to reinforce Amelia’s sermons with the boys, making his interpretations as wooly as possible.
“And in bits?” Archie was persistent.
“No Archie, as a regular cat, you know, a one piece kind of a Mac.”
“What, like fixed up?”
“No Archie, as he was before… before he wasn’t in bits.”
“God can do that?”
“Anything he puts his mind to”, said Cassidy lifting Archie off his shoulders. The little fella was getting big; soon too big to kiss goodnight.
He marveled at the resilience of his kids. They were regularly heaved between two haranguing households, they’d just lost their ‘Grumps’ and then came yesterday’s stunner from Mayfair Mac. Through it all they remained... what was the word his English beer buddy kept using? Chipper.
Through it all his boys remained chipper.
“Of course they have to do a pet funeral first” Daniel was all business “then a cat cremation.”
“Come on you two, more walk, less talk. You don’t want to be late for the game, do you?”
“What’s ‘cremation’ Danny?” asked Archie.
“They burn your body, make you into ashes. It gets you to heaven quicker.”
“They’re gonna set fire to Mac?”
Daniel rolled his eyes and snorted.
Cassidy recognized that grimacing grin as his own.
“First they put him into a cat coffin”
Mac in a box, thought Cassidy biting his lip.
“Mac in a what?” Daniel’s arched eyebrows, the tilt of his head, reminded Cassidy of his own Father’s.