Sunday, 4 December 2016

Short Story: Absence

by Holly Lawrence


“Let’s welcome now, please: Mr John Lennon and Miss Yoko Ono.”

A joke was made before he was even on stage: he was crouched and poking his head around a corner before he sprang up and walked out, causing the audience to intertwine laughter with the applause which always seemed to shadow his entrance. The clapping was everywhere he went, despite often being silent or communicated through looks instead of noise. It was as if his name was a cue which spurred different reactions from everybody but a reaction all the same. Legs crossed and buried under a blanket, I was cocooned on the floor of the lounge with my focus on the television. My eyes followed the greyscale figures as the camera jumped between them, trying to keep up with whatever they were talking about. People laughed at him as he made a joke about a pin or a badge he threw to someone, then paused for a seemingly long silence as she tried to explain. Her voice was quieter, not hesitant but possibly more fragile, as she went on; I wondered if they were really listening.

“Art is just a tag, like a journalist’s tag-”
Finally, he was speaking again. There was more character to his words although he still discussed badges. I guess it was his job to make words sound different if you thought of it that way, but the audience still seemed to be listening. Not clean cut like the presenter’s nor uttering like hers, the syllables managed to cut off the presenter’s feeble attempts at interruption.
-If you gave that to a child he wouldn’t have any preconceived ideas-
Everyone listened to him.
“-You stick it together-

And then she was talking again. I’m sure someone cared about what she was saying, but it was only natural for all eyes to be on him. He was an emblem for peace, an ambassador for change and he was a hero; no wonder they all seemed entranced. It wasn’t like back in the day when there were only Beatles questions because now he was John Lennon as opposed to a Beatle, however he was never quite the person I had expected him to be. As I tried to understand these conversations bigger than myself, my mother walked in. She was idly singing to herself a tune which I knew all too well- 'Hey Jude'- when she saw the television. Suddenly they were gone- now replaced with a facial expression I was all too familiar with but still confused by.
It’s time for bed, Julian.” It lacked the personality I had just heard in someone else. I sighed and looked back at the blank television, hugging the blanket tighter around me.
“He’s my father.” How had I never noticed the high pitched weakness of my own voice? Why now, after listening to the umpteenth interview, was I picking up on it? With a sigh, my mother sat down next to me on the cold wooden floor. I offered her some of my blanket but she shook her head and I noticed how tired she looked. How sad.
He’s also a hero,” She mumbled. “He’s an icon.” But how could that be?
“He’s my father-”
“Julian.” She interrupted. “It’s time for bed.”

Once the lights were off and the door pulled ajar, I was left with the echoes of the interview in my head. I tried not to watch them when he was on the television- but he was always on the television. There was always a new story of his love and compassion which seemed to reach all around the world but skip over the house where I lived with my mother and no father. 

John Lennon was a musical hero and ambassador of peace, but he was also a man with a forgotten son. A hero for some and an absence for one.

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