Once upon a time, there was a little boy. He was a very little little boy and he didn’t like that very much. He wished he was a bigger little boy, taller and stronger so that he could run faster and fight better. His mother called him her Tiny Tim and he didn’t like that very much either. His name was Felix.
On Saturdays, Felix crossed the stream that ran behind his house and went into the woods. Felix didn’t have any friends, and he didn’t like that very much, but he knew the woods very well, which was okay. He could play in the woods for hours, chasing birds, building things, sometimes digging holes for no reason at all. His mother had a bell she would ring when it was time for him to come home and when that happened, Felix would always look up at the sky and say “See ya later, sky!”
He was really talking to his dad, of course, who lived up in the sky along with every other nice person who died in wars. His mother didn’t like wars, neither did his grandfather. They never spoke about them. But Felix thought that, except for the fact it would have been nice to have his father around sometimes, wars must be wonderful things. You learned how to fight, so no one could ever be mean to you or drop your things in the mud and you also got to protect people who couldn’t fight. You got medals if you were especially brave and a uniform and you made friends. Felix knew that when he finally grew up, he was going to be a soldier.
His mother never spoke about his father either. Felix was not even allowed to say his father’s name in the house or else his mother would cry. Sometimes he whispered it under his breath, but only when he was far away on his Saturdays in the wood. He would say “Colonel Andrew Matheson” over and over again as he fought mock sword battles with hanging branches. But he never said it properly, never out loud, just in case.
One Saturday, Felix got home to find his grandfather had come over for supper. Felix liked his grandfather very much; he told stories and grumbled a lot and never called Felix Tiny Tim. His mother had made sausages and mashed potatoes, so it was a nice supper. Afterwards, Felix’s mother went outside to ‘check the mailbox’ which is what she said whenever she wanted to have a cigarrette. She checked the mailbox three times a day and sometimes more, like when his grandfather came to visit. Felix could see from pictures that his grandfather looked a lot like his dad.
Felix decided to ask the question he had been wanting to ask for at least two weeks now.
His grandfather went quiet and closed his eyes, the way he did whenever Felix asked him anything that reminded him of his father. His eyes were closed for a long time. Just when Felix thought he had fallen asleep- he did that sometimes- he opened them again, although he seemed to looking at something over Felix’s shoulder, not at his face like normal. Felix turned around to see what his grandfather was looking at, but there was nothing there.
“The reason why wars are fought, son, is because people always want more. It’s a stupid thing, but it’s as much a part of being human as breathing and speaking a language. We will always have wars because people will always want more. It wouldn’t be so bad if we cared a bit more, about how many people went away to fight and how few of them came back. But as the world gets older, we seem to care about that a little less. I’m going to tell you something son, something my grandfather told me. He didn’t make it up, it came out of a book. Someone famous said it. But he didn’t remember who and I’ve never checked. Here it is- are you listening? Good.”
Now, Felix’s grandfather was looking at him.
“If wars must be fought, let them be fought on foot, with swords and sabres. Let each man be forced to look into the eyes of the man he would kill and perhaps, seeing himself reflected, remember mercy.”
Felix’s mother came back in just then and they had ice cream. Later that night, Felix repeated those words to himself, over and over again, using his father’s name as the chorus to what would later became a part of the song of his life.
I hope to come back to Felix and the rest of his story later on.
Love you all, booskis. xx