Contest judge Stan Rubin, a master teacher, poet and friend of writing, wrote that Emma Hunter’s essay: Gracefully lives up to its rather daunting title, with wit and philosophical sweep. Concisely renders a dual vision — adult and child, the mundane and the cosmic — with natural dialogue and internal reflection, in a realistic scene. The relationships are delicately and convincingly established, including a flashback that adds depth to the character. Good physical immediacy, vivid similes, and wry, loving irony let us share a sympathetic adult perspective on the unanswerable.
God’s Breath and Bolognese
by Emma Hunter
“So, some TV programmes are just drawings, some programmes are made out of plasticine, some programmes have real people but they are pretending and some have real people but they are not pretending?” He looks at me quizzically.
I peel garlic and simultaneously look for the other clove which is somewhere amongst this morning’s cornflake-congealed bowls, an empty milk carton, today’s unopened post, last week’s school newsletter, a box of ‘treasure’, and a tractor, piano, and talking dog all awaiting new batteries.
“Yeah…” I begin, but he is already pencil in hand storyboarding his forthcoming TV programme on the kitchen table. It’s about his little brother Corin, he’s not sure what’s going to happen yet. He sets the scene, proud to have had the idea of telling the story from Corin’s point of view instead of his own.
“Daddy is in the big chair typing on the ipad. Mummy is in the kitchen cooking as usual. Brynley” (that’s him) “is drawing an amazing drawing at the kitchen table whilst I,” (he pauses for dramatic effect) “Corin, am playing with my blocks on the floor.”
Brynley chews his pencil thoughtfully. His dishevelled brush of brown hair with a hint of my red is refusing to be tamed today and his school jumper is mottled with various food and craft substances.
“Mummy, if the universe is always expanding, what happens after that?” He asks as if this has been the topic of discussion all evening. His forehead is crinkled and he blinks his long dark eyelashes with intense seriousness.
I throw tomatoes into the pan and try to focus my thinking on the finer points of entropy. I glance around for the iPad. We’ll ask Google. Ah, Daddy is in the other room typing on it. I bristle but remind myself that he is allowed to catch up on work emails.
I prod the sauce briefly wondering what else to put in it then turn to him.
“Well, ah, what do you think happens?” He grins in the spotlight of my attention then with a deep inhale he’s off and running with his ideas.
“Well, it gets bigger and bigger and BIGGER like this.” He kneels up in his chair and opens his little arms wide and strains and stretches across his chest, grimacing under the tension. “Until POP!” he slaps his hands together in front of him then makes that little-boy-explosion-noise, “Kerchoooooo, ” as his body twists and contorts and crumples and curls. “Then it all explodes but inwards…”
“Implodes?” I offer.
“Yes, implodes inwards until it gets smaller and smaller and smaller until it is the tiniest dot, like the tiniest speck of dust or a tummy bug that you can’t actually see.”
“And then what?” I lean
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