Autumn arrived as it was destined to do. Rain poured and continued to pour. Each day brought the endless oppression of the previous night’s rain quickly followed by more rain. Progress made on the new school wing had come to a halt. Cloudburst after cloudburst was washing the new foundations away. Their edges no longer followed the guidelines so carefully set out by stooped ground workers in the Spring and Fr Ryan no longer paced the site in the hope of stepping out new developments.
Relentless weather was eroding the whole area, transforming it into a muddy mess. A damp smell of open clay hung around the school.The foundations barely contained the water that filled them, water that would take months to dissipate. St. Jude’s was once again living up to its reputation as a lost cause. Clouds gathered. Ryan could barely withstand an upward look. He was irritated. The avenue’s dead Elms were even more foreboding now as their leafless arms stretched up into tumults of weather. September had returned and his plan to open the new school wing was now further from fruition than ever. His time, it seemed, would never arrive.
Ryan’s moment had been deferred. ‘Move the goal posts’ the architect quipped. But he could not fully understand the implications of irretrievably lost time. Ryan passed through each day with a pithy bitterness, answered his student’s questions more curtly than ever and felt a bristling in his mind that could hardly remain contained for much longer. His evening Powers had increased to two and now three. Darker evenings were being calibrated by the snap of bottle tops twice a week. Nothing soothed his impatience. What had begun as a small whisper of ginger after dinner, was now three large whiskys. It left Ryan with a burning mouth to match his burning mind and by the end of each evening his brain was crawling with regret.
Lives often turn on disregarded detail and unnoticed incidents. Ryan however, could no longer ignore either. His thinking was alert to every single word and movement as though his life had consisted of some sort of reviewable design. No longer able to withstand the memory of his uneventful years, doubts poured in and left him questioning every decision he had ever made. The new school wing was to be his legacy. It would qualify a life spent in a dead end. Unlike a number of his peers remembered for their crimes, he would be remembered for the transformation of a dilapidated school for the disadvantaged as he heard Department officials refer to his students.
At any other time a new school wing would go under the radar but the Church was desperate for positive news and Ryan knew it. This was his last chance to piece together a memory for those who would come to Jude’s after him. It was his last opportunity before old age truly set in to become someone. With each flood however, time and funding disappeared. He was drowning in a crumbling dream. Loss breaks on the back of irrepressible change and for Ryan the more things remained the same, the more he lost.
Turning a cracked tumbler in his palm, he considered all of the small life knocks that had left deep impressions on him. Unknown bruises were surfacing and the details of their occurrences were becoming unbearable. The new school wing had become an impetus for change that was now being stifled by weather. What would at any other time be hardly worth his regard was now ruining Ryan’s resolve. Ryan would die a no one, a thought he simply could not stand.