First Lesson

In the distance Oscar could hear a dog wincing in pain, and the echo of laughter. The laughter was clear but the sounds of the dog were muffled, yet he feared for the creature. Oscar had learned that when his mind was cold, naked and shivering with doubt, was the time he should completely trust it. He suddenly felt a great sweep of anonymity over him and Bran, from whatever was out there. They found themselves clinging to the train with wings on their backs, with the grey monk among them.

The dead and empty souls had come, the ones that saw and heard the same things over and over. They stood directly in front of the train. Oscar knew they could see him. There was a constant stream of black liquid coming from their mouths that resembled sewerage. They were invisible apart from the constant stream and a long tongue held alack that reached down to the ground. Oscar could feel a kind of electricity at the tips of his thin butterfly legs and could feel the vibrations from the feet of Bran and the grey monk. The train lit up into an incredible force field of light for what must have been a couple of seconds.

Whatever was out there disappeared. Oscar, Bran and Hyun Su were gathered in a circle around the train and had returned to their bodies. “First lesson” Hyun Su said. “You think I leave but always here. Never be afraid”. Oscar looked at Bran and he looked completely undisturbed. The grey monk landed on his shoulder and Hyun Su was nowhere to be seen. Oscar had to rely on himself in this place he knew nothing of, yet knew he would choose.  His mind was filled with questions but then answers had many forms. He looked at the train in the dark, cold night and sought its shelter. As they approached, the door opened. When they stepped on, the train began to move once again.

It had been a while since Oscar looked in his book and he was curious to see what he would witness.

“Obsessions cling to your unhappy chest. None of them are important as they suggest. Now let them go. It’s for the best”.

A whole day had passed since the morning. Oscar and Bran felt exhausted from the onslaughts they had faced and were limp versions of themselves. An orange table lamp glowed by one of the windows. Oscar and Bran sank into the warmth of the train and gave themselves up to sleep. The grey monk did not leave Oscar’s shoulder.

He woke with the morning to find the train still moving. The steam from a large wooden bowl of porridge wafted through the air. Hyun Su was sitting by the window waiting for him. “Breakfast ready”, he said. Oscar cast his eyes upon him as he turned over in his lying position. He could see he was sitting up straight and very still. He felt a deep sense of connection inside him. The sorrow of his strange old world had been the loss of it. The grey monk flew above his head and he blinked with its wings. Another day had arrived.

Lena O’ Connell

Lena O’ Connell graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009. She
specialised in fine art, sculpture. Lena currently lives and works in Tipperary, Ireland.
She teaches art to children and is aspiring to undertake a higher diploma in
art teaching

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