Mrs McGarritty is preparing for the village fete. I can hear her from my study, whistling as she pins up the same blue bunting we use every year. Soon she will pay me a visit to request that I cut the grass outside the hall in plenty of time.
I don’t begrudge anyone the little things that fill their lives with meaning, but I’m not fond of being dragged into celebrating them either. “Smile dear,” I’ll get, “this is our chance to show the world how our community shines!” By ‘the world’ she means a handful of guests from the neighbouring villages and, if we’re lucky, the mayor with a photographer from The Gazette.
What she doesn’t understand is that what shines also creates shadow. I first saw it when I was 7 years old. I had advance knowledge that the Larson’s border collie would not live until the end of summer, and I tried with best intentions to warn them of this fact. No one believed me, and when the poor thing drowned in the lake, I was the one who got the blame. How could I know it was going to happen if I wasn’t the one who planned it?
“God doesn’t reward liars.” Mum said.
“God is dead,” I had replied, “physics is all that we are.”
That got me a clip round the ear and a night in the coal shed. Then, when I successfully predicted the collapse of the Duckworth’s farming business due to an arson attack, I was labelled both a criminal and a devil. I never saw Mum again; I think she left due to the stress of it all, and Dad barely spoke to me until the day he died. No one else liked me either. I was on the wrong side of the knowable. I would never be trusted and never be given a chance. But I was only trying to help them to see.
The shadow became my only friend, so I let it in more completely and stopped bothering to warn anyone of their forthcoming misfortunes. It was their loss.
I have come to know that what I do is called ‘dowsing the shade’. The shade being a sort of intuitive realm of possibilities, made up of all the things that are not happening right now; things that may happen in the future, or unprovable things may have happened in the past (distant or near). If you listen very carefully, and in the right way, you can come to see the science behind it; the probabilities.
We’re not supposed to be able to detect these things I don’t think, at least most people are unable to. But I can. I’ve been meticulous in learning the subtleties of its ways, and over the years have drawn up a map of probabilities which covers every wall in my house except the bedroom, because that’s where I rest.
Unfortunately my map shows very clearly that this year’s village fete being a success, and Mrs McGarritty even surviving the occasion, is highly improbable. But since I can’t tell her that, I suppose I’ll just have to go and cut that damn grass. Oh well, at least it’ll be the last time.
Fragments of Void is an illusrated, hand-bound zine compiling short bursts of creative writing about nihilism and dark spirituality.