The Kaleidoscope | Katie Curran

Well, Margaret, yes, yes, howareyou? How’s the kids? all good I hope, come here to me, now, have you heard anything, yes, have you heard anything about that poor unfortunate boy, whatwashisname, something odd, maybe it was Ed? Or, was it Henry? Yes, I think it was Henry, yes, anyway, have you heard anything, what? No, no, I’m only asking out of curiosity, you understand, just wondering, people have been talking, now, come here to me, have you heard anything about that poor boy, Henry, an odd name to be sure, but now, you’ll never guess, his mother, yes, his mother, was one of those Roches from down the town, yes, I’m sure, she had a look of madness in her, to be certain, but, yes, have you heard about him? I heard the other day from Breda, heard it myself with my own two lugs, well, yes, I heard that boy had run away, yes, run away, with something dangerous, yes, dangerous, I said, he was last spotted round this corner, this very one, yes, he had an instrument under his arm, what Jimmy called:

a kaleidoscope.

Yes, well, I heard they’re a very odd thing for a young boy to go swinging around the town with, I heard with my own two lugs, yes, that they’re dangerous for the brain, yes, the brain, Margaret, why do you think? well, let me tell you, now are you listening, this is not to go beyond this corner now, Margaret, now, I heard from Jimmy, who read something in the paper, Sunday evening on the train home, the late one, you understand, the late train home, that our children, not our children, to be exact, but children these days, you understand, Margaret? yes, children these days are being corrupted, I mean, corrupted, by new instruments and gadgets, one of them being:

this kaleidoscope.

Well, let me tell you now, yes, I heard this from the boy, whatwashisname, did we say it was Henry? something odd, or maybe it was Ed? Yes, Ed, well his mother I heard it from, well, not her exactly, but she told someone who mentioned it to me, just in passing, you know, just as a bytheway, well, she mentioned that this thing, this kaledowhatever, let the boy:

see colours and shapes and a whole array of magical visions.

Now, let me tell you Margaret, if that doesn’t sound dangerous to you, it sounds dangerous to me, yes, I thought to myself, that afternoon, yes, I thought to myself, something must be done, but, had I not even thought it, I heard somewhere, yes, heard it around, oh, I don’t know Margaret from where, why does it matter? now listen, I heard that the boy was odd, causing havoc in the school, yes, and giving poor Ms. Flynn hardship in there, yes, hardship, well I heard he used to sit all day looking out the window, and when spoken to he replied in riddles, yes, riddles I tell you, he would say things like:

Miss, last night I lay out in the garden to see the colours in the dark and the colours out in the garden were so bright and how is the sky this blue blue blue as if the ocean waves up at it and what about the greens if the post box was green and the grass underneath had yellow flowers that smiled up up up at the trees who whisper in the nighttime maybe all the colours once belonged to the same man who makes patterns in the garden in the night and who stored them until they spilled out out out into the ocean and he couldn’t gather them up and then they leaked with the slow waves not the fast waves the slow ones that climb up on to the beach and the man then sucked them in to the world suck suck suck to make the colour like what’s out there in the garden, Miss

Well, now Margaret, God bless us and save us, if that’s not the mind of a lunatic I don’t know what is, yes, I really do not know what is, so I said to myself, yes, yes, I said:

something must be done about the kaleidoscope.

And I had only thought this when I heard, yes, I heard the news, I’m telling you right now, yes, the news, the boy ran away, and the whole town is looking for him, and he was last seen with the kaleidoscope under his arm, and he was last heard to say to Peader, yes, Peader the greengrocer who stopped him, the boy said to poor Peader with the bad eye, yes, the boy, the cheek of him, the boy said:

the colours are gone.

And with that he was gone running up the Barrack Hill, yes, up towards the train station, yes, if I were his mother now I’d count him gone, yes, gone entirely, gone and good riddance, who has use for madness like that, yes, colours and seas and men sucking sand, well, I wouldn’t really know myself the full story, but, yes, I wonder do you know, Margaret, I wonder could you tell me, just out of curiosity, yes, you see, just for my own understanding, you understand:

where would you find a kaleidoscope?

Katie Curran is a literature graduate from rural Ireland. This is her first story to be published by someone else.