As she walked away, the young man yelled after Clare: ‘I love you!’ And although they were in a public place, and she knew it was unkind, she shouted back: ‘Must dash, late for a hot fuck!
She shouldn’t have stopped to talk to him in the first place. The pamphlets in his hand should have warned her. It was cold, and she was in a hurry; she was on her way not to a sexual assignation but to see Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which this youth would certainly consider blasphemous. It wasn’t even that she pitied him; on a busy Saturday afternoon in the city centre, there were plenty of other people for him to pick on. But she just couldn’t resist his opening line: ‘What do YOU think is the biggest problem facing the world today?’
She was twenty years old, halfway through a theology degree, and thought she was the dog’s bollocks. As rookie psychologists like to imagine themselves mindreaders, Clare thought a string of courses in Ramayana Buddhism, Islamic mysticism and the Dead Sea Scrolls had equipped her to X-ray the human spirit. At the young evangelist’s question, she put her head on one side and said: ‘The biggest problem? Ignorance’. And they were off, he steering the talk back to Jesus at every turn, Clare swerving in the other direction with pompous references to Kant and Marx.
Frustrated now, the young man said: ‘But if you’d just open your eyes, there’s so much love waiting for you, so much joy!’ No doubt this had worked for him before, the promise made and bam! Another recruit for the army of heaven.
By Patience Mackarness
Patience Mackarness lives and writes in France, and spends about half the year travelling in an elderly VW camper van. Her short fiction has been published in Every Day Fiction and The Pygmy Giant.
Image by Ben Coode-Adams Two Felt-tip on paper 2010 framed W43.5xH34.5cm
Katy Darby, Cent literary editor & runs Liar’s League The next event is on Tuesday 1-th of April and is a Small & Beautiful flash fiction theme. Twitter Facebook