From Lamb by Bernard MacLavery :
It was this caring for the boy that Michael looked forward to. Dressing him well, not prissily, buying him
things he had never had before, taking him places. Teaching him. He knew there was more than enough time
to salvage him, this piece of jetsam. Sacrifice was what was required.
He had never really felt this way before. The feeling he had had for his parents was something born of
respect and gratefulness. He was used to them being there and was never conscious of his feelings for them.
Years ago he had experienced something approaching this feeling for a girl who served in a sweet shop
beside his school. Her pony tail, her brown eyes, her smile which he thought she reserved especially
But the time had been one of religious fervour, of self-denial, and all his love was channelled towards
Jesus and Mary. His store of it was so meagre that it allowed for no tributaries. All the intensity of
his early life was saved for that time he would spend on bended knees either in front of the tabernacle or
before the pictures in his bedroom.
One was entitled 'Save me Lord!' It was a black and white print of Jesus walking on the water. His hand
raised in benediction, His lightly bearded face full of love and pity. He was half turned towards Peter
who was in the act of sinking, his chin arched upwards to avoid the water, his arms thrown wide in appeal.
The whites of Peter's eyes blazed with fear. The sea was grey and jagged with waves, Christ's garment
moulded to His body by the wind of the storm, his black hair flying. Once Michael had climbed on a chair to
look with microscopic closeness at the picture. It was made up of tiny dots, shades of black and grey, close
in some parts, widely spaced in others. The only place where there were no dots was in the white of Peter's
eyes. It was nothing which produced that look of terror. That close to the picture, Michael had noticed
that a film of dust had gathered on the inside of the glass.
The other picture was of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Very dark, it had the wooden pose of an icon and
her head was wreathed in gold. She held the Christ Child in hands that were long and thin and seemed the
wrong way round, right for left and left for right. They did not hold the Child but were placed against
him as He floated. Her face was turned to heaven and exuded a love that Michael had tried to imitate.
© Jonathan Cape Ltd. 1980