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A Good Friday image

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20.MAR.08

A short story by R.E. Browne

Joan stared into the glass, the midday sun beating down unto her head like a flame torch. The water on its surface and the shiny silver fork in her hand caused fairies to form in her eyes from their reflection; they seemed to dance in the sunlight.{{more}}

She held the egg carefully above the rim of the glass, the fork poised in its state of readiness as that of an executioner’s axe. Any time now the clock would alarm, exactly midday, twelve noon. She had set it with the Greenwich Time signal from the radio that morning to ensure its accuracy.

Joan’s mind flashed back to almost the same moment one year ago, not the same date, but the same occasion, Good Friday. Her pulse competing with the second hand of the clock but at twice its rate as a moment of dread spread through her body. What if it happened again? “Snap out of it girl” she shouted at herself loudly that her thoughts almost seemed to find a voice outwards through every pore in her body. “It won’t. It can’t happen again. This time I’ve made absolutely sure that that mistake won’t be repeated.

She had learnt the tradition from her mother and her mother from her mother before her. They swore by its infallibility with the depth of religious fervour bordering on fanaticism. She could remember her mother and grandmother’s recount of the many messages given by the images seen when an egg was placed in a glass of water at noon on Good Friday. Last year the silly clock had failed to alarm. She had forgotten in all her anxiety to put the alarm switch in the ON position.

“Calm yourself, girl” she whispered. “You don’t want to spill this egg now, do you?” This had to be her year. Leap years were always associated with marriage, but she wanted to make sure. Time for her was running out. In January she’d be thirty, and her mother had said no one in her family ever got married after that age.

Her palms were wet now and streams of sweat poured out from under her arms and down her back. A tinge of fear ran through her body as the sun was temporally masked by a cloud; she willed it away.

She rehearsed the different images that could form and their meanings; a house, a new home, maybe a change of her present address. A hearse or a coffin, not too good there, that’s the death of somebody close in the family, the steeple of a church or a bridal train, a wedding, most definitely hers.

Ringgggnnn, ringgggnnn…ringgnn…… the alarm thundered off in her ear, the fork instantaneously came crashing down cracking the egg open. Plumes of sulphur dioxide filled the nostrils reminiscent of the volcanic eruptions. “God no, noooooo…..” it couldn’t be true, this couldn’t be happening to her. She was sure it was fresh. She had removed it from the fowl’s nest this morning. It couldn’t be. No, it couldn’t be. It really couldn’t be ROTTEN….NOOOOOO.

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