A short story about lung cancer.
Once their was a little Boy who lived in a hilly forest.
He was very healthy and positive and full of light and energy.
The trees were all different some like vines some like giant seaweed leaves.
Some like The Baobab trees of Africa, some like the giant trees of the rain forests.
The boy spent endless days wandering in the golden light.
He became so happy exploring his world that he sang.
His songs were not so much made of words.
He would just sing out emotions and feelings.
Sometimes he would echo the sound that reverberated around his world.
For there was a consistant beating deep in his heart, full of life that rang through the air.
His forest throbbed with life.
Until one day the ash began to fall form the sky.
Al Viola was fifty. He was a tenor a soprano. He "had" a great voice.
People once flocked to seem him
He opened the Olympics and sang for movie stars at their birthday parties.
He sang to opera houses and football stadiums, His albums graced the music stores and the classical music shelves at HMV and TOWER Records.
Now his voice had begun to fail him, or rather he had begun to fail his voice.
Since his discovery at the age of 16 on Italian TV. He had lived the high life.
Smoking cigars and drinking rich wines and consuming vast amounts of game.
He woke up spitting blood and ash most mornings and now his lungs which had been like bellows were frail and he looked like a withered deflating balloon his face and eyes and withered and wrinkled.
He walked hunchbacked and needed a cane
And his once fine features disappeared into his face.
Hidden by broken veins, inflated jowls and flaming cheeks. Laughter lines ran like birds feet around his eyes and his lips for he had a good sense of humour.
It hurt though now for him to laugh and he
Realised that it was all over for him.
The grey blanket began to spread. It began as little white puffballs that floated like snowflakes and covered the earth.
Then more and more followed and soon the boy could not go anywhere without coming across the ash for ash was what it was.
He decided to climb the hills above the forest and to find the source of this ash and end it.
Finally he set out though the abundant vegetation and rolling hills.
The Sky seemed white now and as he passed higher and higher the ground beneath his seemed blacker and blacker.
Soon the ash reached his knees and he too was covered head to foot in white powder.
It began to sting his eyes and irritate
The trees all around him began to wither and bend under the weight of the ash.
Some broke, many disappeared.
He came across a black river seeping down though the hills, he found bare earth that seemed to bleed.
The hills themselves seemed to be dissolving.
He came to a steep incline like a tunnel mouth where the ash streamed in at intervals, he tried to climb these walls but they were so covered in blood and black bile that he could gain no purchase.
All he could do was to shout through that tunnel and shout and shout through the smoke and the haze.
Until he collapsed overcome by the fumes at the tunnel mouth.
Lying on his back he saw his hands and arms, the skin had been stripped away by the fumes and ash and he began to realise that he was at the end of his journey.
Al had a beautiful dream of his childhood
It was all golden rimmed in amber he was an explorer running though hills and valleys.
Inspired by natures beauty he screamed and shouted and began to sing.
He awoke and staggered out onto the street his lungs gasped and his heart beat throbbed in his ears.
He took an expresso at his favourite cafterrace and said good bye to Pietro.
Pietro a gallic looking waiter laid him out his customary glass of wine and a cigarette.
A little boy danced and kicked the air playing with his absent friends.
A bus passed advertising a mountain retreat
He got on a bus leaving the cigarette unsmoked and was taken to a high mountain valley and for a time his lungs hurt, the air was so pure.
He sat there in the valley for a whole day
Listening to the birds and breathing in the fresh air.
He stayed there for a long time.
The boy had faded almost completely like a white ghost draped in a sheet.
When pure air revived him, the air was clear and pure, purer than ever before.
The ash stopped to fall and slowly the forest came back to life again, little by little.
The boy smiled. hope returned.
Scott Kelly 2007