#129 Clean

by Barry Charman

The boy and the man sat looking at each other, at the germs crawling over their faces.

“When will God make them go away?” asked the boy.

His father didn’t know, he turned away in disgust, less able to look at his child with each passing day.

The world had slowed, almost fallen still in places. “There’s food, papa,” the boy said, there was always food on the table now. “Isn’t that good?”

His father laughed from his bed, where he lay with his face to the wall.

“We’ve replanted all the crops, we’ve made more room. We’ve stopped eating so much, we’ve stopped making a mess,” the boy wanted his father to see, to understand.

But his father thought only of everything they’d lost. Kisses. Intimacy. The closeness of another.

“The germs are there to make the world clean, papa.”

His father couldn’t look at him.

Everyday was the same. A million germs, now visible, crawling over everyone’s face. A whole world full of people who shunned each other.

No population problem. No crowding each other out of their own planet. Nothing anymore but the hideous recoil of what had once been unthinking love.

“Papa, God is wise.”

His father sobbed. He could feel the germs travelling, twitching, across his flesh.

“This was the way to do it, papa. There is food, they say there is food now for everyone . . .”

True, his father thought, but he wished God could save them without punishing them at the same time.

1 comment:

Heidi Willis said...

Creepy but very cool. The pacing here is excellent, and the balance of dialogue to narration is perfect.