The Hagiography

[Fiction] Friday Challenge #149 for April 2nd, 2010

An April Fools prank gone too far.

In Mr Gorman’s Year 9 History I learnt a new word: hagiography.  I forget the two Greek words that it comes from, but I remembered that it was the writing of saints’ lives.  They made wonderful reading for a pubescent lad, like a Boys’ Own Adventure.  In the name of piety they lived high up off the ground on poles or in remote caves like bats, or ate random bugs and insects.

My school had its own hagiography: the holy scriptures of the boys’ toilet block.  History is written by those with a permanent marker.  The disciples and zealots wrote in indelible ink the actions and statements of their saviours.  I remember sitting in a cubicle in my first year of high school, amazed at the profundity of adolescent thought: “Here I sit all broken-hearted, tried to crap but only farted.”  From time to time a persecution would take place and the toilet block would be repainted.  In time, new scriptures would replace the old.

The ghosts of boys from ages past were immortalised in gold letters on tablets of darkened oak.  They hung above, in the shadows of the hall, ranged along side pennants of long won tournaments of the paddock.  For some, this was the path to righteousness, the whispered legends of past old boys who had become bigger than their exploits.  These were the heroes and legend of old, stored in the apocryphal gospels of yearbooks and school photos.

For others, status was born out of unbuttoned collars and half-slung ties.  Years of indeterminate rebellion characterised by subversive acts or a single moment so inspired it was without peer.  I wanted it.  That moment.  That glory.  I wanted to walk the footpath to the front gate of the school with a swagger and nonchalance.

After Mr Gorman’s history lesson I started to look for Greek and Latin phrases.  Fortes fortuna adiuvat – “Fortune favours the bold” became my motto as I chalked my way around the school, boldly proclaiming my intentions.  My other favourite was “luceat lux vestra,” let your light shine.  I was going to be the brightest candle that burned, even if my time should be cut short; there was to be no pastoral retirement.

My final year.  I planned for April 1, Holy Thursday, to engage in an act that would make me immortal.  Six hundred boys filed into the assembly hall for the term’s final liturgy.  I was poised, waiting for the moment.  After the priest’s homily, in that moment of quiet reflection, I set off my mobile phone.  It rang once and all eyes darted to find the culprit.  Twice.  Eyes focused in.  Thrice.  I had their attention.

“Hello.”  Pause.  “Yes, I shall pass a message on.”  I stood to my feet.  “That was God.  He says that we should have girls at our school next year.”

The laughter teetered, but I knew I had them.  I had my moment.

The priest leaned forward.  “It seems that there is no need as we already have one in our midst.”

The jeers and hollers rang as loud as church bells.  I had been trumped.  The nearest teacher stormed down the aisle and I obediently followed.  The aftertaste was acrid, bitter.  I couldn’t spit enough.  Status, legend; all illusory onanism.

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4 responses to “The Hagiography

  1. This piece comes out of an idea I have had floating around for a while. It is a tangential idea from the original one I had sitting on my computer with bits and pieces of paragraphs written. I adapted it to fit with the prompt. It has gaping flaws in it and is rather inconsistent. At its core, there is an idea that I want to pursue as a short story, or even a novella.

  2. I enjoyed reading this piece. At about the mid point, when you spoke of Greek and Latin phrases, I was a bit concerned that the writing would become to heavy. Before it ever got to that point, the story climaxed and I found it both shocking and funny that the priest would take a jab at a student.

    Thanks for the story.

  3. I really enjoyed this, it was a great idea and you captured the nonsensical search for status brilliantly; I loved the Latin phrases (Noli me tangere was always mine). And who would have thought that the priest would be worldly and clever enough to answer back in schoolboy language.

  4. I like reading the character’s perspective. It brings me back the memories of being young, bold, having the intense urge to rebel and conquer the world. Something I somehow have missed these days. Thanks to remind me 🙂

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