God sits at the end of the bar, nursing the strongest whisky he can muster. Boozed breath evaporates sobriety the moment I walk into the place. God isn’t a man, though he prefers the male pronouns. He isn’t a woman, either. He isn’t much of anything. Just an idea that we all have regardless if we believe in him. He is a state of gender confusion. The gray tinge between what’s binary and what lays beyond my comprehension.
I’ve spoken to him several times in the past, but speaking to god is like speaking to the void. It offers nothing in return to your confessions. Offers not consolation to your misery. Creates more questions than it does answers.
He pulls a bar stool out with his free hand while nursing the drink with his other. “It’s been a while, kid,” he says. “Thought you almost forgot about me.”
“It’s been a while,” I agree. “I haven’t had a crisis of disbelief in a while.”
“It rarely goes the other way,” he sniggers. “Take a seat, kid. You’re making me nervous.”
“I don’t plan on staying.”
He peers at me through his peripherals. He scans me, reading the creases of my face like a hand on Braille. He pulls the last of his whisky and sets the glass down on the hard wood. He wipes his mouth with the back of his coat’s sleeve. “If we’re doing this,” he continues, “then I guess we should be doing this correctly.”
“If everything is part of your plan, I need to know why. I need to know how any of this plays out. I need to make sense of it all, because it’s been months and I can’t for the life of me understand how something like this happens.”
Getting up, he shakes his head. There’s that smirk again. That infuriating smirk. “That’s not how it works.”
“Then explain it to me. I need to know.”
“You, of all people, understand that no one steers the ship. That it’s rudderless.”
“They were my family. They were my friends. He was just a child. You didn’t even give him a fucking chance. Explain to me how that’s benevolent.”
It’s crushing. The whimpers that escape my lips as I speak. He places a hand on my shoulder, forces me backward. “You act like you’re the only person who’s lost anyone. Think about the others who lost more than you. Ever think about them for a second? Ever wonder what hell they’re going through? He lost his son. He lost his wife. Just like that—” he snaps—”and she lost her mother, her sister, her nephew. Do you ever see past your own grief to understand the hell they must be going through?”
And he’s gone.
The lights decorate the houses of the neighborhood. It’s Christmas, but it doesn’t feel like it. I’m partly bitter because of all the shit going on at work. Mostly, it’s the adjustment of life after the accident. It’s adapting to the new normal. It’s the marking down court hearings on my calendar of events. It’s worrying about who’s going to take of Shaun next summer while both Jeanna and I work.
A beat up, 1960 Cadillac convertible speeds by. Its occupants frozen in a permanent state of youth. It swerves, colliding with the light post farther down the road. The world goes dark. A low rumble vibrates beneath my feet. Cracks in the asphalt, the pavement, and earth stretch out. I try to run, but it’s useless. The world devours me. And I fall. Deeper and deeper. And before the world pinholes, I see his face looking down at me. His words echoing as I’m engulfed. It’s rudderless.
I come to. The world is a shade of gray. My fall was broken by the mountains of bodies of those I loved and those I’ve lost. Those I hated and those I’ve fucked the pain away with. Those who took up chapters in the book of my life, and those who will remain footnotes.
I move to get up, but their hands take hold. They pull me down. Wrapped themselves around me. As I cling to whatever leverage I can, a hand reaches down for me. Grips my wrist tight, and pulls me out.
“Shit,” he says. That voice. That smile. Those eyes. “You’re lucky that we found when we did.”
He turns back, shouting towards the figure in the distance. “Hey, Anderson, I found him.”
“Anderson?” My eyes go wide. They haven’t aged a bit. Cassie and Chrysanthemum dig themselves out of the mass graveyard. And the four surround me, looking down upon me. Each of them smiling.
“Missed us?” one of them says.
“Oh boy,” Mackie smirks. “We’re not done with you yet.”
I speak to ghosts like one would a higher power. But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s the demons that come out to hold communion. And I’m powerless against their whims. I look up at them and shake my head, “It’s about fucking time.”