Chapter 8

Written by: Donna McTavish

“There are things in the world that we do not yet understand, Jacques, but your uncle understood more than most. It’s late now. Why don’t we get some sleep and continue our conversation tomorrow?” Jacques’ mother nodded to Bernard in agreement. She moved around the apartment efficiently, returning with a blanket and pillows for Jacques’ bed on the chocolate brown sofa.


“We will explain tomorrow,” she whispered as she kissed the top of his head,  “keep an open mind until then”. She dimmed the light and disappeared. Jacques was too exhausted to wonder where she would sleep. 


In the night, he woke. Neon glowed from the tops of buildings and lines of orange lights marked the passage of the highways criss-crossing the city. He could see the blue lights of a police car speeding northwards across the river bridge that dissected the city. The flashing lights joined others making a cluster of red and blue and yellow. He realised that he was watching the aftermath of an accident. His head was clearer after a few hours’ sleep but he had so many questions. 


“Think carefully Jacques. Work it out.”  The voice felt close but the room was empty and suddenly Jacques was afraid. Was he going mad?


“No, you are not mad” the voice said.  “Keep an open mind.”


He stared at the red light on the television. Think like a physicist he told himself. He concentrated on remembering the meeting with his uncle the day before he died. They had gone to his favourite burger bar on Main Street. Frank was going to be travelling and would miss his birthday the following week. They had sat in the booth at the back and eaten cheeseburgers. Frank had insisted on facing the door. He had been different that day, looking over his shoulder as they walked from the building where he worked to the restaurant and talking faster than usual. He had not mentioned the Rochester Cloak by name but it was all he had talked about. Something had filled Frank with exhilaration but he had skirted around the details and refused to answer questions. Jacques’ 13 year old self had been more interested in the present that Frank had for him. It was a book titled “The Complete World of Greek Mythology” and was bound in soft green leather. It wasn’t even new and definitely not the solar robot kit that he had hoped for but Frank hadn’t noticed his disappointment. He had lifted the book as if it was a most precious possession and pushed it into Jacques’ hands. “Happy Birthday,” he had said. “Take care of this.” The book had sat unopened on the bookshelf in Jacques’ bedroom since that day.


Jacques shivered and pulled the blanket around his ears. The Rochester Cloak was the Holy Grail for a physicist and would have made his uncle famous and probably rich too.  As rich as Bernard, Jacques thought.


Fantastic Donna...picking up on the Rochester cloak and carrying this theme forward. The scene is homely and the characters still hiding something. It is subtle yet tells a story. I also liked the solar book reference which, of course, is a reference to the Rochester Cloak and physics. Quite metaphoric. Now to start winding the story up which is my and chapter 10 writer's job. Thanks for making that so easy. Nice tie with Gabrielle and the times past, present future.