Dear God

Tony Swope

Creative Non-Fiction

Dear God,
    I think you made me sick just to prove a point. I’ve always wanted to travel and see the world. Because of you, my affliction barely allows me to leave my holier than thou prison. I bath in divine water daily. Eat your body and drink your blood like it’s my own. Many on the outside would look in and say, “how devoted” I am for staying at your altar day and night. But when I look in, all I see is a captor, and a hostage, hidden in plain sight.
    We started off rocky, I have to say. Your name on my tongue felt like a lie I would have to tell myself just to wake up. Your name in my ears, felt like earwax that I couldn’t clear out. No Q-Tip could quite reach you. Your name is a numbness now, a tingly, buzzing feeling, on my fingertips every time I turn your pages. If I were to turn back time, and eradicate you from my memory, my mind would scream absolute, and yet, my heart would still falter. I don’t think I could ever truly let go, for fear of the fire and brimstone waiting for me.
     Most days It’s easy to accept. To acknowledge my demise, and future hellfire beach house resort, with a front row nosebleed ticket to torture. I know I sin, for I was told so constantly, and without wane. Can thoughts be sin also? I wonder. You, who is all powerful, and benevolent. Who has all the answers, and yet answers none. What false images have people painted of you, only for you to not correct them. Perhaps, you are not my tyrannical overseer, yet the sinful thoughts of others have clouded you in my own minds eye. Your image picturesque and backlit with rage. Upon the wicked, snares do yet rain.
    I am faithful and so I stay. Though your name brings boils to my back, and hives to my neck, I shall remain. I’ve always wanted to travel. I want to see the Cherry Blossoms in Japan with my own eyes. I want to scale the Great Wall of China with my own hands. I want to smell the rancid air of the Funen Islands in Denmark. I want to witness the splendor of Stockholm Sweden. Stockholm has such a pretty ring to it, doesn’t it?
    And yet, I remain. I don’t really remember what all the fuss was before. Why was I so ambivalent to you before, I wonder. Perhaps it was my own afflictions that misguided my judgement. For I see how through the ash, rebirth is possible. I see my tribulations and miniscule qualms are merely gifts from you to be better. I see how the price of your love and grace, Is my suffering.
    I think you made me sick to prove a point, and I will be forever in your debt, my savior. My son Levi asks fondly why he was named so. I tell him simply, “It is from the Bible, Leviticus. You know not how special you are.”
    I remember the night I found you, God. Or perhaps, maybe it is you who found me. I was 18 years old. My best friend had come back home from University to see me get my diploma, just as he had when he graduated. He was 4 years my senior, now 22. He took me under his wing when I was a freshman, and from day one, the two of us were inseparable.
    It was one of the best days of my life. My old friend, come home to see me. My High School career finally coming to a close after four years of hard work. The future, bright and bristling with potential. I would start University soon, and my old friend offered to help me move into my dorm. I wonder if he knew what was going to happen.
    The sun was overhead, the hood of the car down, and the two of us were laughing and smiling the whole way there. He helped me carry boxes, and clothes, and other miscellaneous items up to my room. We set up my bed, and organized my single-bed room. There was a look in his eyes, a twinkle. His laughs quieted, his smile, slipping from his face as he closed the distance between us. Red hot firecrackers went off in the back of my head. It was only seconds, but it felt like hours. My arms extended and created the distance between us once again. He reached out, questioning, asking if I was okay. His words falling on Deaf ears, his concerned image on dimming eyes.
    I fell into darkness, and felt nothing. Minutes had gone by before I awoke on my bed, my best friend beside me on the phone with the police. Our eyes would not meet, and the shame hung in the air like a gravity blanket. The last twenty minutes playing a loop in both our minds. A silent dialogue spoken through breathing, and tapping fingers, on tapping legs.
    The police and ambulance arrived. A sight for all, being that it was move in day, and already someone needed an ambulance. Many would witness the paramedics dote over me, with all of their tests, and wonder If I had already started my partying early. Others might think the stress of college was just too much. But only two would know the truth. Only two, would know that the blackout was caused by faith. Only two, would know the sin that was just committed, and, only two, would know that they are doomed to an eternity of hellfire, and brimstone.
    I would not tell the police what happened, and I would not tell the paramedics the truth behind my increased heartrate and stress. Instead, I would tell them it was “hard being so far away from home” and that “FAFSA is just so stressful”. Then, my life would move on.
    I would still think fondly of you, whenever I felt happy. I would still get tingles on my fingers, when I turned the page of a book, and my blood would still boil in the face of your worship. The only difference from then, is I thank you for my illness. I thank you, for my affliction, brimstone and all. Your name is now venom I use on my tongue, in words it’s laced with double meanings, and shrouded in verses. Yet, fondly, I think of you when I go about my day. I feel the sun on my cheeks, and I hear the laughter around me. It’s not all brimstone and fire, I guess.