The Knowledge of the Difference


Judith Nolan




{ 1000 words }





“May I come in, Father? I don’t wish to disturb you. But I must speak with you.”

“Of course, Vincent. I’m not doing anything that can’t wait. Please, come in. Here, move those books off that chair, and sit down. Would you like a cup of tea?”

“No, thank you, Father.”

“You’re looking very pensive, my boy. Pascal saw you going Above, hours ago. He was worried, because you looked upset, and didn’t stop to speak, when he called after you. Tell me what troubles you, so?”

“I am sorry… I didn’t feel like talking, then. Now, I… have come to ask for your advice. On a number of matters. But, one in particular. It has been more than two years since Devin left us. Since then, I… have so many questions, to which there seem to be no answers. They go around and around in my mind, until I feel that I’ll go mad from thinking.”

“That will never happen, Vincent. Please, believe me. I’m here to help you, in any way I can. Are you able to tell me about the nature of these questions?”

“Father… it’s not easy. Devin tried to understand, but in the end, he had nothing of comfort to say. Before he left, he said that I should not worry so much. He told me that things are as they are, and there’s no changing them. No matter what I may wish, or how often I seek to know the truth. He said I am better to accept what I already have. That, if I ever did find out, I could very well be sorry that I went looking, in the first place.”

“Ah, I see. Devin was always full of the sagest advice that, unfortunately, usually solved nothing.”

“He was my best friend. But, he still left us, Father. I cannot help, but think, that he knew more than he was telling. Can you tell me now, that you have always spoken the truth?”

“There are many forms of truth, Vincent. Not all of them are palatable, or just. But I am sure I’ve been honest, where you are concerned.”

“You speak in riddles, just as Devin did. You always talk around the point, and go on treating me as if I’m still a child. I want to know. I must know.”

“Then tell me. What is your truth? How do you see yourself, Vincent?”

“As someone who is utterly different. Always… I have spent hours studying my reflection in the Mirror Pool, Father. The waters speak the truth. They cannot lie to me, as others seem wont to do. We both know I’m not made, or featured, as any other person. And these hands, I possess, they are…”

“You have made a rather unfair accusation. How have I lied to you, my son?”

“You have lied by omission. You’ve raised me to call you Father. But if we were side by side at the pool, we would find we look nothing alike. Devin looked more like you, than I do. And yet, you call me your son.”

“That’s because you are my son. In every sense of the word, except the tenuous link of blood. You must believe that, Vincent. No-one could have loved you more. Does love you more.”

“I don’t know what to believe. Sometimes I feel as if my head is splitting open. I wish I knew what to trust.”

“I have no more answers for you, beyond what you already know. You were found, abandoned, behind St Vincent’s hospital, and you were brought to me. You had been wrapped in rags and left to die.”

“Devin said if I went back to the spot where I was found, I might discover some answers. I may feel something. I went there again tonight, as soon as it was dark enough to be safe. But I felt nothing. There are no fresh truths there, Father. Now all I feel is lost again, and unable to know how best to go on. I wish Devin was still here.”

“You will endure, Vincent. We need you. You represent what is best in all of us. You must believe that. We don’t know what happened to Devin, but… if he’s still alive, perhaps he will return to us, one day. Who knows, perhaps he may even have the answers which you seek.”

“You sound so sure. How can you be?”

“It’s not our differences that could divide us, Vincent. It is the inability to accept, and celebrate those differences. There is the dangerous ground. It is why you must be so careful going Above. You know this.”

“I know, Father. You’ve told me often enough. There are those up there who would harm me, and try to imprison me. So, you are saying I’m to simply accept what I am. And not question why, or how, I came to be?”

“I’m aware that is the easiest thing for me to say, and the hardest for you to understand. But you must accept, Vincent, that there may never be any answers. It may be the only thing we do know is, that you were born, and you survived. It is as simple, and as complicated as that.”

“There is no comfort in your words, Father.”

“I agree, Vincent. But they’re all I have to offer. That, and my love and compassion. I know something else to be true, our chess board has been rather neglected of late. Pour me another cup of tea, and we’ll share a game or two before bed…”

“I would like that… It’s just that I wish…”

“I wish it could be more acceptable, my boy. I truly do. But perhaps we’re never meant to know the truth about why you are, the way you are.”

“Maybe it’s as you say, and there are no answers to my questions… but I will go on wondering, just the same… Perhaps, one day, someone will light a candle, and illuminate the truth…”










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