The Anglic Gene

An orphan girl unsure of who she is or why a man wants her dead carries a secret. She will experience humanity.

Are you ready?

Join Sophia in a heart thumping adventure across England set in the 1870’s, exploring faith, doubt, love and fear. A story, quoted by the editor as “really something special”, you’ll continue to contemplate long after the journey unfolds

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19. Rememberance

Jack knelt on weeds and decaying flowers in front of a weathered stone tombstone in the small graveyard at the back of St Anne’s Church in Whitechapel. Once a year he came to this place and allowed his mind to wander off to thoughts of his only brother. Today, however, he had broken his routine and come earlier, months earlier, than he normally did. The reason for breaching his regular schedule started when Mephis assigned him a new task—the task of fixing a failed job that had haunted him daily. Unfinished business. Here, he hoped to be able to find some peace, some reasoning, some justification to comfort him for what lay ahead. He pulled a cloth from his doctor's bag and wiped the dirt and grit from the letters chiseled in the stone that spelled his brother’s name—Elidin—as his mind was awash in scenes from his past.

* * *

“I’m so blessed to have such a brother, Jack, a surgeon like you who is able to help me,” Elidin said, lying shirtless on the examination table in Jack’s office. “The money I make from carpentry, while enough to feed me, is hardly enough to pay for medical treatment.”

“Where does it hurt?” Jack asked.

“Slightly above my stomach, there to the right. There appears to be hard patch.”

Jack pressed on his brother’s abdomen with both his hands exploring the area of discomfort. Elidin winced as Jack’s hand pressed down on a section just above his navel. “What do you think?” Elidin asked. “Am I going to die?”

“Surely not,” Jack replied. “We should be able to fix this.”

The next day, Jack had opened his brother up to investigate the extent of the internal growth. What he found knotted his gut—a large tumorous growth, a contorted mass of hardened cells, extending from his stomach up into the thoracic cavity, in some places leaching onto his right lung, contaminating the healthy tissue. Amputating the mass would require removing a large part of his brother’s stomach and liver and—killing him. He closed the incision, powerless to do anything.

Elidin, sitting on the chair next to his brother’s desk, gazed at the blank emotionless expression on Jack’s face. The appearance told Elidin all he needed to know, but he awaited the words, in earnest, to be sure.

“I’m sorry, Elidin,” Jack said. “There is nothing I can do.”

“How long do I have?” he asked.

“A month,” Jack replied. “Perhaps two … at best.”

Elidin’s eyes welled with sadness. He blinked, sending the last tear he would ever shed cascading down his cheek. “I’ll be okay,” he said. “Just means I’ll be heading to heaven sooner than I thought I would be.”

“Right,” Jack said, his eyes narrow, tongue touching his lip.

Over the next few weeks, Elidin, a devout Catholic who had given his life to Christ in his teenage years, spent many hours at St Anne’s Church, donating his time, using his carpentry skills to help with jobs that required undertaking. He negotiated with the priest to be buried in the cemetery out back. His last will and testament left all his earthly belongings to the church. Not that he had much to give, but it made sense, for he had no family of his own and his brother was in no need of money.

Late one afternoon, Jack asked, “How can you believe in a God who allows you to die from such a terrible affliction?”

“I discovered a long time ago,” Elidin said, clearing his throat, “that a life with God is better than a life without.” With a glitter of joy in his eye, he added, “Regardless of circumstance.”

An hour later, he passed away.

* * *

 “All a life with God got you was an early funeral,” Jack whispered, before moistening the cloth with his spittle and then wiping the grooves of the letter n, the final letter.

Jack had never understood why his brother listened to the street preachers who inevitably led him into the church. He had no use for their prattles. Life was unkind. He knew enough about Charles Darwin’s evolutionary concepts, which had spread so quickly through the medical and scientific community, to know the world did not need a God. As a surgeon, he had witnessed his fair share of people dying from all sorts of ailments—those who believed in God and those who did not. Mother Nature seemed quite fickle when it came to who lived and who died. Though he had to admit that people of faith appeared to suffer less in their dying, finding some strange kind of peace he did not understand. That alone, however, was hardly enough to substantiate their claims of an Almighty Creator. Where is God when those who place their faith in him are suffering and dying of illness? Jack had never seen him. Some surgeons believed in God, and a few even believed in miracles. Jack wrote them off as isolated events or early misdiagnosis.

His brother had told him that the church priests and parishioners would pray for him. What good did it do him? He died. What bothered Jack the most was that his brother did not seem to care he was dying and in fact showed no fear of death.

Finished cleaning the grooves, Jack put his cloth away. He whispered, “Maybe if I wasn’t cursed with the fear of death, I wouldn’t have to kill.”

He gathered up the dead flowers and left.

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