Thursday, February 10, 2011

Falls The Shadow

For this weeks "Forbidden Knowledge" theme, Garce invited us to "Write about a time you discovered something you weren't supposed to know."

I decided to take myself out of the equa
tion and retreated into fiction.

I hope what follows is neither too dark nor too obscure for this blog.

If it needs to be explained then I didn't do it right.

Normal service will be resumed next week

"Falls The Shadow"
(c) Mike Kimera 2011

Knowledge has a name.

Speaking the name makes the knowledge real and grants it power over your life.

The name cannot be unsaid. The knowledge cannot be un-known.

Knowledge is irrevocable.

Knowledge is dangerous.

My family understood that.

Knowledge makes you culpable.

Knowledge makes you choose.

Knowledge is the source of all guilt.

In my family, we chose not to know; we refused to name the things that were most important to us.

We were masters of inference, innuendo and unnoticed silences. If those failed us we fell back upon evasion, deflection and denial.

By this means we remained a happy family.

We did not know that my father's fits of impotent anger would be followed by long silent drinking sessions that must never be interuppted.

We did not know that the bruises on my mother's thighs were made by my father's belt.

We did not know that my older sister was afraid not of the dark but of the deeds that darkness cloaked and which could not be named in the daylight.

We were a happy family. Happy families are all the same. Aren't they?

I knew my father taught English at the Grammar School.

I knew he was a kind and gentle man, much loved by his students. You could ask anybody. They would all tell you that.

I knew that his favorite poet was Eliot. I even knew his favorite verses from "The Hollow Men".

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow


This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

I knew that my mother was beautiful and that my sister was brave.

I knew that one day soon I would be as tall as my father

I knew where my father kept his gun.

My father's suicide opened a sluice-gate that brought knowledge flooding into our family with such force that it was all we could do to avoid drowning in it

The police knew that my father and I were alone in the house because my sister had broken her arm in a clumsy fall and my mother had taken her to the hospital.

Our family Doctor knew that I had been so distraught at finding my father dead in his study, his gun still in his hand, a half-empty bottle of whiskey on his desk and a blood-spattered copy of "The Hollow Men" open in front of him, that I had had to be sedated.

The Coroner knew that my father was being treated for depression and should not have mixed whisky, Temazepam and a loaded gun.

My mother, my sister and I knew that things would never be the same.

I knew that sometimes knowledge falls like a shadow and fills the world with darkness.

I knew that a world can end with a bang that starts with a young girl's whimper.


  1. I always conceive of those sort of secrets revealed as a sort of burning, blinding light. For a long time, perhaps years, it paralyzes you, it breaks apart the fabric of the world. Then, slowly, almost imperceptibly, the puzzle pieces of life sort of settle into a new pattern that eventually makes sense.

    Thank you for writing this piece, Mike. Must have cost you much

  2. Mike,

    For a retreat into fiction this is desperately, devastatingly believable.

    I would love to know what was the beginning for this piece, the spark. But then perhaps that is knowledge better left unknown.

    Thank you.

  3. That's one powerful piece of writing.

  4. Excellent. Especially the last line that ties it all together.


  5. Once again Mike, you manage to write about the most horrible things in a way that keeps the reader from looking away.

  6. Hi rg, Lisabet, Fulani, Garce, Kathleen.

    Thank you. I know this was a grim piece to read.

    I wanted to write something in a voice that was consistent with someone growing up in an environment where the repression of truth is normal. So the story is told completely indirectly. There is no action. None of the knowledge referred to is what it seems to be on the surface.

    Perhaps I should have been more focused on the morbid content but once I start to write something like this, getting the voice to reflect the thinking seems to take over.

    Thanks for commenting on the piece.

    It is, of course, fiction but I hope that it is also true at some level.

  7. I think the indirect voice of the story is perfect.

    The way I see it, the teller of the story has detached himself from the event in a way, and given his actions, this works.

    I don't think focusing on the morbid content would have strengthened the piece. The detachment makes it more direct, in a certain way.

    Excellent. Very intense.

  8. Hi Craig,

    detached is an excellent way to describe it. To survive this sort of situation, people have to learn to detach themselves, so much so that they may have difficulty in learning to engage directly in life even years later.


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