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by Bernard O’Rourke


Sometimes when me and Carol’s son Dylan are alone together in public (like, for example, when I’m allowed to take him to the toy shop), I pretend that he’s my son and I’m his father — and I can’t help feeling that sometimes when I think this, even if I’m careful not to act visibly different, Dylan picks up on it and our uncle-nephew bond alters itself into something deeper and realer than names.


Sometimes when me and Carol’s son Dylan are together things get a little blurry — like, for example, the last time we went to the toy shop we saw a new display stand of Star Wars stuff and there were marshalling rows of Stormtroopers and Darth Vaders and Kylo Rens all stacked together like a North Korean propaganda video and for a second (just one second) I was standing on the surface of a warzone planet and I was the only thing between Dylan and the harm of lightsabres and blasters, and I felt with almighty clarity that this was all the protection he needed in the world.


Sometimes when me and Carol’s son Dylan argue it feels like our bond is real beyond deep — like the time he wanted to buy a shirtless action figure with muscles that bulged out him like bubbles from a milkshake when you blow into it and I told him no, no war toys, and he yelled at me that no, it’s not a war toy, it’s a Sergeant Arms Armistice, he’s a hero fighting for peace and all the shop looked at me like I was the best most responsible father of all time, stoutly unflinching to the point where it I actually began to feel a little bit like I was the war toy and things became blurry again with everything painted in violent absolutes that made me sick at the thought of myself, so I changed my mind and bought Dylan the Sergeant Arms Armistice which of course made him smile but I could tell that our deeper than real bond had retreated to an even less accessible place.

Bernard O’Rourke is a writer and filmmaker. His writing has appeared in Flash: The International Short-Short Story MagazineThe Tangerine, The Penny DreadfulThe IncubatorQueen Mob’s Teahouse, The Bogman’s CanonThe Honest UlstermanTheEEELThe Bohemyth, and Wordlegs. In 2018, his short film City Swans was shortlisted for the Ó Bhéal Poetry Film Prize at the IndieCork Film Festival. He lives in Dublin.