End of prayer——A man destined to be unhappy

Xiaotong Dai

The sun crosses the meridian, and the wind blows from the depths of the Atlantic.

"Hurry loose the cable, Andy!" A shout came from the cabin.

"Ok!" Andy responded in excitement.

"Be careful." Before dad finished speaking, Andy stood up, gliding through the air like a seagull.

"Oh," Andy slammed into Dad's arms.

"You are such an imp." Dad said.

Andy didn't care so much; he rushed into the cab and set the rudder.

"Don't mess around, or our boat is going to hit the shore," Dad hugged Andy's hand quickly.

"What fish are we going to catch today?" Andy blinked at his father.

"Salmon. Your Mom is waiting for us to make grilled fish!"

Andy licked his lips and said, "Pray that we can catch the biggest fish today. Let's go."

Da Da Da Da, the boat slipped out of the harbor and sailed towards the Atlantic Ocean.

A seal that came out of the water fell heavily on the rock. While yawning, it watched the boat smoke and pouted boringly.

Freshly prepared fish-flavored mashed potatoes and brown bread slices were on the table. Tea wax was burning with the scent of lavender, and paper lanterns hung silently from the ceiling.The mandolin intermittently played the dance of the river. Resonance occurred in every corner of the room, and the red coals in the fireplace crackled.

"Wow," the hostess added another barrel of wood to the fire. "It's a bit cold today," she said.

“Wang Wang,” Odie, the England long-haired dog at the door, jumped over the fence and eagerly barked, expressing his ecstasy with the only syllable that can be issued.

"Mom! Dad and brother are back." A blond boy ran towards the door with a mandolin just a little shorter than him.

As soon as Dad opened the door, he hugged the boy. "Hanson, is it cold at home?"

"Not yet, what gift do you bring back?" Hanson sniffed.

"Look!" Andy was holding a two-foot-long salmon in his hand, still struggling, mouth by mouth. Puppy Odie kept sniffing this delicious.

"Are you cold?" Mom rushed to wipe the water off Andy's hair with a towel.

"It rained just now," his dad said, sitting beside the fireplace holding Hanson.

"Dad, where have you been today?" Hanson asked. 

"Oh, after you grow up, we can go there for adventures together, which will be very interesting." Andy said to his brother with a smile.

"Great, I'm going with my brother!" Hanson clapped his hands.

"Come to eat!" Mother took the grilled golden salmon and gave each one a knife. "How is Andy doing today?" Mom asked.

"Great!" Father said with relief. The mother looked at her husband and children happily and sat in her place.

Father drew a cross on his chest, folded his hands and closed his eyes. The two brothers did the same, praying prayerfully.

"Bless us, God. Thank you for your generous gift, and everything to us." Father said.

When Andy was about to open his eyes, the world suddenly turned over. The sound of violent wood breaking broke the door, and the door bolt fell on the lantern. The black robe that did not reflect any light shook fiercely. Faceless faces, black hole bottomless muzzles, fearful pale faces, sharply shrinking pupils, and a heart that was no longer beating appeared before his eyes.

"Bang!" What’s that? Then, the door crunched, the wind grunted, the rain crackled against the glass, and the water slammed on Odie's cold body.

The charcoal was red and hot again, crackling. After dark, humming before or after the chant, the immature voice desperately let the air flow out, and the sound became dumb. "Oh, God, God..." There was only one word in the mother's mouth, because her hands couldn't stop the rushing blood, and all of it was red. The candlelight was shaking like it was about to go out. Dad's face flickered, looking really painful; his eyes were still closed and he was still praying, and his lips couldn't move anymore. This is destined to be the most painful prayer in life and the last prayer that will never end.

Andy turned to look at Hanson next to him. He straightened his back; his forehead was sweating, his breathing was low and rapid, he seemed to be expecting something, and he seemed to be in deep fear.

Andy patted Hans' shoulder and took a breath.

"Hey, Santa, what are you doing? Do you want to give me a gift?" The guard saw Santa Claus in a red robe approaching and smiling.

He blinked with cold eyes, took off the cigarette on his lips with his index finger and middle finger, and milky smoke came out of his mouth, which was instantly blown away by the wind. The black jeep slipped behind the building through the smoke in sight.

"I just want to say, Merry Christmas," he flicked, but his cigarette butt fell from the air to the ground, and bounced.

"Sniper! Cover!" Andy exclaimed.

Republican soldiers scattered to find shelter. The sniper's hidden gun is the most frightening weapon, and the Republican Army miscalculated. Hans desperately fired. "Calm down, calm down," Andy snapped. Suddenly he glanced at a woman holding two children squatting under a lively crossing door, protecting the two cubs like a hen, even though the hen trembled in fear. Hans also saw it, throwing a look at Andy; Andy hesitated, but didn't respond. Suddenly he realized that when he reached out to grab, nothing was left.

"No, Hans! Come back!"

Hans wanted to divert the fire and save the mother and son. "Come back, Hans. You idiot! Come back—" Andy was heartbroken.

"Come on!" Hans waved at his mother and son, but he kept firing here.

Hans watched the mother and son go away and turned to give Andy another look. "Get down, Hans. Hurry--"

"Ah-" The light in his eyes disappeared instantly, and through the pupils he saw that there was no soul.

Andy growled at the sky.

A deep sorrow swept over Andy, overwhelming. He couldn't breathe and couldn't think. He just felt that his heart was knocked hard, and the cold blood was flowing back. Even though it was cold, he only felt a hot thought rushing up to his head, "Kill him, kill him, kill—" Andy yelled to the sky.

Andy dipped in Hans' blood and drew a cross on his chest. Then, he rose up and rushed to the top of the bell tower, the bullet-scarred wall, revealing blood. Andy rushed in. There was a spiral staircase, and Andy ran up frantically, but the staircase seemed endless. Andy felt dizzy and his head buzzed.

It seemed like a boat on the sea swaying with the sea breeze, naughty in the arms of my father.

"Pray that we can catch the biggest fish, let's go."

Where has the warm sunshine and sea breezes, those once simple happiness, gone?

"Oh, when you grow up, the two of us will go there for adventures. It will be very interesting."

"Great, I'll go with my brother!"

Tears can't help but gush from Andy's eyes, still cold, but the idea is getting hotter.

"Kill him!"

Andy slowly pulled off the black mask on his face, and saw a piece of paper protruding from the sniper's chest, covered with blood. Andy pulled out the paper with his left hand, revealing a slightly yellowed photo. A middle-aged man in the photo is holding a teenager with a happy smile. This smile... he was holding half a photo with his trembling right hand that was covered with blood. The photo showed a middle-aged woman holding a baby with a happy smile and golden hair. A pair of trembling hands put them together, the dark irony of seamlessness!!!!! The hood of the corpse with the dagger yanked off, and golden hair poured out.

"Why--why--why--" A long howl broke through the sky.

The blood on the ground blended together, because it was the same blood, but it was also the curse of the most horrible prayer at the ending moment.

A gunshot was uploaded from the clock tower of the bullet mark, and it followed, when, when, when, when--12 times.

Christmas Eve passed, Christmas came, and the city under the clock tower was quiet.

---
Winner of the Third Prize in the Postgraduate Category of the 15th English Short Story Writing Competition

Xiaotong Dai

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