Saint no. 17

Recent polls suggested that one in every thousand people in this town had witnessed, or knew someone who claimed to have seen the young woman’s levitations. „It must have been difficult”, they would invariably say, „yes, it must have been very frustrating to work in such a small shop selling booze and fags and the sort of bizarrely shrink-wrapped pornographic magazines you would only see in shops like it…”

„It must have been frustrating”, they would say, „to do that, when the divine was speaking right through you, lifting you above the counter against your best efforts…” This was all said long afterwards, though.

„It was brutal, how they treated her”, they would say. „If any of it was true, that is.”

Her dark eyes lit up, and the till rang like a tiny set of vesper bells. Behind her, the door swung shut, and a million incenses blew inwards from the street outside – a hundred thousand passing lives, each with their own unique frangrances, billowing over linoleum and chocolate bars and the leftover news. They used to have a word for this sensation, she thought, as her arms prickled and the residue of the passing, walking heartbeats swelled through her.
’Ecstasies,’ – the meaning had changed, since then.

She was plucked from behind the desk by unseen hands, and lifted a metre into the air, between the spirits and the condoms and the keys to the safe, hidden behind a collection of packaged meats. It lasted almost forty seconds. The flowers sitting in the plastic buckets by the greetings cards bloomed simultaneously, a burn victim buying liver across the road was momentarily taken back three years, to a time when he could feel his right shoulder, or move his fingers.
„They’re getting longer…” she thought to herself, as she lowered back in time to give change to a teenager.

Almost nobody saw.
One in a thousand, if you’d believe it.

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About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

3 responses to “Saint no. 17

  • Matt

    Really like these. Initially, I thought there was a lovely mix of the banal and the mystical, semen-stained crisp wrappers and 3am rubies.

    But that’s not it, is it? Here, the mundane is the mystical, to a degree that both terms lose their meaning. The mystical has always been this, the mundane remains exceptional.

    Nevertheless, there remains a certain element of confusion, and perhaps one that is best stated as a question: are these people, these saints, ordinary people? That is – could everyone, everywhere, have such a “life” written for them? I suspect your answer will be “no”.

    These people are still special, are still unique, are still in possession of the word. Of a spirit which, in different circumstances, may be called “saintly”? Yet, they remain unrecognised, except by you. So, 2 more questions:

    1. Do they need greater recognition? And is this a pre-requisite to sainthood?

    2. Have they not been recognised because society has changed since 1500? Or are there countless throngs, unknown millions, that were never recognised, and will never be?

    Love

  • benchic

    I wish I could anwer your questions concisely, but in doing so I would fear that the dull truth of these pieces (that I didn’t think too much about them or expect people to really read into them) would be revealed. Now that is out of the way, I’d say the idea came from my recurring studies of English saints of the middle ages – we had a glut of very interesting, and very ‘English’ canonised figures between the 11th and 15th centuries, and one of the most deligtful things about them are the mundanity of their miracles, and the ‘everyday’ way which they were recorded. Dirty bathwater becomes beer at the hands of St. Bridget. A goose is resurrected by St. Werbergh. Saint Cuthbert did little more than freeze his arse of standing waist deep in the north sea for 4 years chanting, and annoying some vikings. I like the practice of putting these people into everyday, contemporary settings, because nobody writes phenomena with any reverence or simplicity anymore. Also, because if godliness (in any sense of the word) does actually manifest itself in humans, I would like to think it would do so in bored girls in shops, and weird men who think they are seagulls.
    Sorry I can’t answer your questions. Cheers for reading!

  • benchic

    Ah, think I understand your questions better now I read them again…
    Does sainthood require recognition? No, ‘sainthood’ doesn’t. But ‘Sainthood’ certainly does, and for obvious reasons. I read a lovely story a few years back, about an Italian medieval saint whose name escapes me. Apparantly he was an imbecile, illiterate, an embarrassment to his tutors and ignorant of latin to the extent to be almost blasphemous. The church would have had nothing to do with him, except for one embarrassing circumstance; he regularly levitated, scared out of his wits and without the ecstasies and babble of godhead spilling from his tongue. So, the Vatican canonised his and beatified him, just to be on the safe side. Recognition of saintliness comes at a cost, and that cost is possession. Isn’t that sad?

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