H.E. Francis - H(erbert) E(dward) Francis - born 1924
And with this story, we find another that I think will stay with me a lifetime.
I’m feeling particularly sensitive to stories about children now – for obvious reasons.
My mind is in that state where anything that has to do with a child, childhood, parenting or family that passes across my radar…is instantly tagged and my hyper-aware, laser-like focus zeros in on it and I need to know everything about what is being presented.
This particular story is the second in this collection dealing with the death of a child and it comes directly after the wonderful story by Starkey Flythe.
I read both of these stories back-to-back one morning last week, and it may not have been such a good idea.
Then again, with this quality of writing, I suppose that anytime I read it, the impact would have been the same.
Found a page about Francis and it contained the following quote by him that gives his statement of writing. It is wonderful
"I want each story to hold in its clarity its own profound sense of the mystery we live. In my work, the story has to fix on what I find to be real (everlasting) in human experience within the flexing language of madness and the forms of chaos in our time.
"I want to live in my stories the lives, the spontaneous momentary revelations, of all who really want to live before they die, or who are not aware that they are alive, or who want to live what they cannot."
“ flexing language of madness and the forms of chaos in our time.”
The madness and chaos of the early to mid eighties was certainly different than what we have today…but they surely had some shit going down back then.
I know that the thought of being vaporized at any moment weighed heavily on my 12 year old mind.
Now, the peace and security of dying instantly in a blinding flash of light has been replaced with the possibility of a long tortuous death brought on by a poison, virus, dirty bomb, a creative terrorist attack…or even worse, that you witness the death of your family due to any of the above.
In his writing, Francis uses his skill to place you directly into the body of the narrator, holding the sickly body of the young girl he is caring for.
You feel his emotions as she progresses through the stages of her sickness.
We should all be fortunate enough to give comfort to our loved ones as the pass away. We hold them at birth, and we should be able to hold them or be held at death.
What a wonderful story.