Miranda Kate’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: The Jester
They walked along the beach soaking up the colourful rays, watching the tinted waves throwing up pink and purple spray in the late afternoon hue. Michael could not remember a time when the sky looked any different, but his mother could.
“You don’t think he will return, do you?” Michael asked his mother.
Her stride didn’t falter and she kept her eyes on the water as she replied, “Not now, no.”
“And you don’t think you’re being a little unfair? There’s still a chance.”
She gave Michael a glance. “That might be so, but I can’t keep living like this; I can’t keep waiting and hoping.”
“But I returned.”
Michael frowned. “What do you mean?”
“You came back. Many have come back, but he hasn’t. I have to accept that he won’t.”
“But if anything, it should give you renewed hope. If I can play the game and return, then so can he.”
His mother smiled at him. Her eyes full of pride and sadness. “I love that you still think he can Michael, but we don’t set the time limits for nothing. You came back within them, as did the others. No one has ever come back outside of them.”
“That’s not true, what about John?”
She gave a light laugh. “But you found him Michael, that’s the only reason why he came back. You found him and brought him back with you. Do you really think he would have managed it alone?”
Michael gave her a side glance. “No, maybe not. He was weak, both physically and mentally. He would have stayed where he was and probably died there.”
“So what makes you think your father would be any different?”
Michael sighed. He wanted to provide all sorts of reasons, but he couldn’t be sure of any of them.
“For all we know he’s already dead, Michael. We have to consider that, however hard it might be.”
“I know mum. I just don’t want to believe it.”
“I know. But I’m just grateful that you made it back.” Her eyes sparkled with love as she put her hand on his arm.
He looked ahead at the beach and swallowed hard before he said, “I thought about trying to go again.”
She stopped walking, her hand on his arm now holding him back. “No Michael, you mustn’t! And how could you? You don’t get to choose to go, he chooses you.”
The warmth in her eyes had gone, fear replaced it, and Michael saw how much she had aged in the short time he’d been away. But he persisted. “I think he would take me again. I think I could get him to play with me again. He told me how impressed he was last time. And this time maybe I could search for dad.”
“But you could be gone forever, Michael. What if you never find your father? Or worse - what if he changes the rules? You know he’s capable of it.”
That had occurred to Michael, but he missed his father, he wanted him back. “Well then maybe I can do something about that.” Michael inclined his head to the sky.
His mother smiled at him again, her softness returning. She put her hand to his cheek. “Oh Michael, you can’t do anything about that, that’s for our safety; for our protection. He had to create that after destroying everything else with his ‘fun and games’.”
She could see Michael didn’t understand. “He destroyed the worlds with his games, Michael, don’t you understand? He messed up the time parallels, pushing too many people through again and again. He destroyed the very fabric of our existence. And as he wanted to keep his toys - his ‘pool of players’ - he had to find a place that was safe for us, so he created this.” She waved her arm in the air as though introducing the sky. “Our own little bubble of time.”
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