Bliss and all it's friends

"Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee."

Blister Packs

I feel certain moments in every cell.

Every particle of my being radiates with life.

I see cats in my windows.

That is not an attempt at poetry.

When the day turns from blue to black I pull the velvet curtains aside looking for stars, and that’s when the cats come. Creeping onto my roof from the terrace beside, they stick their heads in my room and take a look around.

A pale moon always seems to hang behind the trees. It gives a distinctly dreamy glow that settles over the neighborhood like moondust fog.

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These are the hours in which I attempt creativity, by turning my phone off and aggressively listening to music. I look out the window unblinking and intently feel the sound waves spilling throughout my body. This is when I talk to God.

Some things cannot be felt in the waking hours.

There are thoughts that require stillness on earth in order to unfurl.

At a microscopic level, each cellular pocket inside me swells. I breathe in and out, my systems feed every corner of my vessel. I believe that they do this in order to facilitate my consciousness.

They do their jobs so I can think.

Mostly I think about you.

I remember the way the skin felt on the nape of your neck. Laughing until we cried when you’d fall inside of me. Transparency reveals the truth of it. I will never forget those moments, regardless of how many times you’ve failed. It doesn’t matter that you absconded.

I am still here.

People try to categorize everything that exists in some futile attempt to understand the nature of things. They gather similar things and wrap them in plastic, like tidy little pods of knowledge that will help our race make sense of it all. Blister pill packs of data from the natural world. They call this “research”, but I bitterly call it “rubbish”. Their scientific pursuits do not help me at all.

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Life on earth has never made any sense to me. It’s so unlikely to occur and so overwhelmingly likely to end in catastrophe that I can’t conceive of a more pointless goal than to give names to earth’s flora and fauna.

Maybe when man finally names every single thing the world will end. Perhaps that is when our fates will reach fruition.

Where is the pod of knowledge that I fit into? What is my name, and who was I created to love? Even birds and beasts have mates. There ought to be a science that tries to make sense of nonsensical things like human love. That’s where the real mysteries are.

In fact that is my question.

How could quantitative things ever hold a candle to qualitative things?

Experience reigns supreme.

Media

You can’t catalogue the world because you can’t categorize love. And love is all that matters to people at the end of the day anyway. The animals don’t give a shit what we call them. They just want to be left alone.

The lack of love makes all knowledge useless to those tragic souls suffering in it’s absence.

To love is the only worthwhile reason to exist.

That is what I feel in these quiet moments. I tell it to the cats in my windows. They tell me to find people to talk to. They tell me to forgive him.

by Alicia Krawchuk

featuring artwork from Aubrey Llamas

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Unsent Letters

Dear Stranger,

1. I’m going to tell you now I’m a bit harder to love than most. It’s because I grew up with

ghosts at my home and fallen debris. I turned myself into an armor of steel so I would be

protected from slashes and whips and people like you who might break me.

2. Sometimes I would need you to cut through my barriers and reach me. Sometimes I

would need you to knock on my door when it’s closed. Sometimes I would need you to

love me a little bit louder.

What If

  1. Dear Stranger, I’m going to tell you now that if you are here to stay, I would ask too

much.

  1. I have a mixed up relationship with my depression, dearest. It comes and it goes and

sometimes it takes over and I can’t control it. I would need you to hold my hair and keep

my head up when I vomit my life all over the sink.

  1. I won’t ask you to tell me that things are going to be okay, because I have enough

wisdom to know that they won’t always be. I won’t ask you to hold my hand and tell me

to turn over to self love, because I don’t have any.

  1. Self love is a blanket I cover myself in when I go to sleep at night, occasionally with

punctured holes and flaws whenever my thoughts have taken over or when someone

throws hurtful words at me. Self love is a luxury I couldn’t afford, not when I spent this

long drowning in too much loathing.

7.Dear Stranger, I am not alright. I’ll be okay on some days and I would laugh at your

jokes and hug you tight and kiss your lips. I’ll believe in a parallel world where my life

isn’t taken over by a lonely sky. I’ll fumble my way through crossroads and horizons, just

so I could meet you halfway. I won’t leave you alone and I’ll try harder to get to you, it’ll

only take time for me to get there day by day. I would ask for you to be extra patient with

me and careful, as I don’t know what I’m doing.

8. I kept all the butterflies in my stomach in a jar hidden somewhere in my closet. I

would need them at nights when I’m tangled up in your sheets and need to feel

something.

9.This would be a burden, but I ask you to keep me away from my family.

10. Dear Stranger, for all of this, I am sorry. I just need you to love me.photo-1421809313281-48f03fa45e9f

by Cariza Opana

featuring artwork from Aubrey Llamas

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Wanting

Our eyes promised to make love the moment we first met. It was the night of Jay’s birthday dinner under the dim lights of the Tapas restaurant in Soho. But we were too shy to speak that evening.

I walked in late. We made eye contact after I greeted Jason and hugged Janine. Meaning she’d been looking at me for a while and before the surrender, the look away, Maria blushed, but we held our gaze a little too long and sealed our fate.

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Since then we’ve argued quite a bit. She has a boyfriend. I am “not looking for anyone” and love is never what you see in the movies.

We drink around each other to make the mistake of saying too much, but we’re careful to never tell the whole story.

The fragile glasses clink, and it’s cheers to the love that will never be.

I often bring her up in conversations with my friends. With a touch of both nonchalance and bitterness, only made worse when I realize I am in more ways admitting defeat.

We wait, and avoid, and it deepens, and I only have so much strength. I’m worried she’ll never break.
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We are “just friends”, and it feels further away than acquaintances. She punishes herself every time she entertains the idea of marrying this guy she’s with. He’s perfect, really. But that’s just the problem, he makes sense. She has him.

There is something haunting about getting what you want. Then you realize it, and that place right there, is the essence of tragedy. She wears this discomfort whenever I come around. I see it when she’s not distracted. And since that night in Soho, we’ve made many more silent promises.

I’ve run my hands over marks on her skin from wild moments. The ones on the inside are always out of reach. I keep reaching deeper.

We agreed that we were different. I sometimes think that’s the only place we can ever see alike. The only time we rest is when we’re wrestling. She makes me feel royal. A crown of sorrow be it, but a proud king.

Mom’s worried. My friends check in more often. I  really don’t mind. I’m working on me. She is a catalyst. The flame I need to speed the process up.

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Maybe this is love. She pushes me away, but she pushes me, and I go further. Maybe love is to add onto someone else. Maybe it’s not to fill in some hole…

I guess this is thank you, Maria. You bitch. I’m finding myself because you’re missing, because you’re always missing.

by @sledain

Featuring artwork from Wellington Sanipe

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Belated Eulog

I didn’t go to your funeral. I was twelve and hated being around people who cried. Everyone there probably sobbed into each other’s winter coats and forgot about their sadness when spring came. I couldn’t cry, but I haven’t forgotten.

You sit on the rocks by the water with the wind blowing your white shirt in soft ripples across your back. Your perfect smile lights up your blue eyes like a child first seeing the ocean. I’m wearing my Little Mermaid bathing suit and carrying a purple bucket full of hot sand. Seagulls screech as I run to you laughing. It smells like summer.

The five of us sleep in the lighthouse that night. It’s the most magical place I’ve ever seen. It has a big winding staircase that twists and turns higher than I can climb on my little legs. You let me sleep on the easy chair by the fire while the grown-ups play cards. I fall asleep to your winning laugh as you rake in the poker chips.

The picture of the two of you the next day is hard for him to look at. Your blonde hair is damp from the salt water and your towel is wrapped around your tanned shoulders. You have your arm around him and he looks happier than I ever remember him being. He was with his daughter and his best friend. You made everything more fun for all of us. I wonder why you couldn’t do the same for yourself. A bucket full of water, a striped umbrella and a cooler of beer are in the background.

You’re in our little Toronto backyard, where vines cling to the old stone of our garage. Daddy holds my hand as he walks me home from a tiring day of senior kindergarten. I come running in the back gate to see my favourite friend of ours. But you’re not sitting at the table. You’re not standing by the barbecue. Finally I see you. Lying in the garden on your back. All the flowers are crushed. But I don’t care. I run to you laughing like always. Daddy picks up the bottle next to you and walks away.

“Hey kid,” you say. “Come here. I have something very important to tell you.”

I giggle shyly and step towards you. You have dirt in your hair.

“Don’t drink.” you tell me. Then we both laugh as I try to pull you up without success.

Daddy comes back, pulls you up, and starts to take me inside to see Mommy. I turn back to you and give you a big hug first, getting mud all over my dress.

“I love you!” I shout back to you as I skip inside.

“Not if I love you first!”

Seeing you was the highlight of my day.

I made you a picture every time I saw you. I had to show you all my toys, all my clothes, all my special things. When I ran out, I’d make you something. You loved my drawings. Your favourite thing to say to my dad was, “You’re an idiot,” and later, “How did you get a daughter like this, you idiot?” My dad would just shrug and insult you right back.

You told me I could be something, something bigger than what you, or my dad, had become. You told me your old man said you’d be nothing, and so you didn’t try to be anything at all. So you helped me. You showed me how to hold a pencil, how to tell a story, how to take a picture. You made me work harder to be better. I believed I could be. Graphicc 1

You’re standing on the back of the houseboat wearing a straw cowboy hat. My dad slings your guitar over my shoulder, puts your Ray Bans on my nose, and grabs the hat off your head for the finishing touch.

“Look cool,” you instruct me. “We’ll frame this one and put it on my mantle.”

I frown like you show me, and let my long curly hair blow across the guitar. You take out your big black camera. Ready?

Click.

Satisfied with the picture, you grab a loaf of bread, and we run to the stern to feed the swans. They show up everyday at this time, a whole family of them. I shriek as they snap at the pieces I give them. They make a lot of noise then swim away to the next boat.

Suddenly the wind picks up. My hair is lifted straight up. Your hat blows off my head in a an instant and flies off the back of the boat.

“Man overboard!” You shout, grabbing the wheel to turn us around.

We search everywhere but the hat is lost. I can still see it today just as clearly; floating on the warm breeze, suspended in the sky, before sinking beyond rescue into the blue.

When they cleared out your apartment they found the framed picture of me with your guitar and cowboy hat, looking cool. It was next to a drawing I made you that day. It’s a drawing of you, me, and your little yellow cowboy hat blowing off the boat, with the caption Gone Forever. You thought that was the funniest drawing you’d ever seen.

A couple years later, you’re sitting on the passenger side up front while Daddy runs into the gas station to get me some Advil. Your long legs are stretched out in faded blue jeans, the seat pulled back all the way. I rub my eyes.

“Don’t worry. She’ll be nice to you,” you say, turning to look at me.

We’re going to the annual pool party, and my former best friend is going to be there. I’m so nervous to see her again, I have developed a crushing headache.

“And if she’s not nice you can hang out with me,” you reassure me. “I’m not getting in the water, but I’d be happy to throw you in!”

I smile despite the pain. I do love swimming.

It’s sunny out as Daddy pulls out of the gas station. I choke down two pills and look out the dusty window. Your tan elbow sticks out of the car as you both sing along to The Doors on the tape deck. You reach behind the seat and tickle my knee. I laugh and kick the back of your seat. It’s always summer in my memories of you.

I did go to your wake. Daddy said it would be more lighthearted than the funeral, a day to celebrate you. I still wore black. It was the first time I wore high heels. They were black boots I bought in a strip mall with the thirty dollars Daddy gave me. He stood outside the store and smoked two cigarettes. He always wore black.

I was the youngest one there. There must have been hundreds of people there. You were always so popular. Everyone hugged me and said how much you loved me. I ate thirteen mini quiches and drank four bottles of water. My feet hurt.

I finally found a chair over by a window. The wake was held at your friend’s bar in the private room upstairs. I sat alone next to a framed picture of you holding a pint and grinning like you always did. A man approached. We looked at each other and exchanged a brief, sad smile. Then he took his glass and pushed it against the picture of you. I didn’t get it at first, as I watched him walk away. Then I realized; he’d been clinking his glass to the glass you held in the picture. It was a last toast between friends. That was what did it. I finally cried. You were such a great friend to so many people. I had never even met that man before. But then again, there was a lot about you I didn’t know.

Graphic 6   I hadn’t seen you in a while. Daddy told me you were in a bad place and that he and I should keep our distance from you. I didn’t understand. I thought you were always so happy and full of life. When they found you, you were surrounded by empty pill bottles and hastily written notes. I never found out what all the notes said. But I thought I’d write one to you.

I remember the days in the backyard, the summers on the beach, the way you always supported me, and the crazy things you’d say. There was no one like you, and I doubt there will be again. You played in a band, were the life of the party, and had an endless supply of mocking jokes for my dad and compliments for me. You were charming, handsome, witty, wild, and free. You had it all, you just didn’t see it. I wish you’d stuck around. There is still so much for you here.

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There’s so much more to write too, so much more to remember, but you weren’t one for too much sentiment. So for now, Cheers. To one perfectly imperfect life.

To my friend

We miss you. Always.

Come hang out at our place with everyone else. 

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Probably just the cheap whisky

Couldn’t fall asleep. There’s no one to talk to at this hour so I thought I would let my fingers and my Macbook keyboard have a go. Graphic 2 2

5:37 the radio on my bedside table reads. This is one of our earlier nights.

I sit propped up on the right side of my bed that touches the wall with the window on it. I’ll never fall asleep in the position, but I close my eyes from time to time.

Just before falling into the bed I undid the second and third on my Calvin Klein button down. Plugged in my dead phone  and dimmed the light on my bedside table low, real low. That is the extent of what I’ve been able to do since getting home. The soft click of my space bar is, somewhere else, somewhere I’m conscious of but away from, continuous and rhythmic.

Daylight broke 15 minutes ago and  I sigh.  Just a natural reaction to being seated on a bed, I’m sure, I’m not stressed or anything.

I take a gulp from yesterday’s glass of water on my bedside table. The coolness fights the burning lump. Probably just the cheap whisky from earlier in the night.

The water was the last thing I touched since heading out yesterday morning. I haven’t been to the gym in four days. Right now I feel dirty, fat and dirty. I have to get the these clothes off. Not sure why I’m having such difficulty, I didn’t even bother putting my socks back on and my belt is still loose after leaving her house.

Kiara said earlier this evening that she had a party with some papers, a zippo, and “dat purp.” She also said I should chill out some time and have a sesh with her. She’s nuts. I ended up just grabbing a Coors from her fridge. I promised myself I would stop drinking beer, again.

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Another sigh just slipped out . Sleep must be catching up on me. I have to stop seeing her this often, at least this late. This isn’t love.

We don’t even talk anymore. I send the “Are you awake?” text, she’s always awake. I’m always three drinks in. It’s always Thursday, or Sunday night. Never the weekend. This isn’t love.

Graphic 3 (1)I end up taking the elevator to Kiara’s apartment 1409. My manhood gives its conditioned response. I adjust myself in my underwear so she won’t notice. I walk through the door, assume my usual nonchalance, and find my spot at the right corner of her bed. She puts a movie on. I couldn’t tell you one thing about any of the movies we’ve watched. She falls onto the bed near me. I move slowly and wrestle her out of her clothes. Unbuckle my belt and we steal away into the passions of pleasure. Just as I reach as high as I can, peaking behind heaven’s gates, I let go and fall back to earth hitting the ground. Crash.

I lie there. Kiara gives that blank stare that fights to betray any sentiment. She lets out a nervous chuckle that looks to find validation in my eyes, but by this point I’ve already  left, in spirit. I clean up my beer, and put my clothes on in the quickest fashion possible. We exchange pleasantries such as, “Another week of work eh?” Dammit obviously it’s another work week.

I drive home on the deserted streets and turn down the radio low, real low. During the trip I think about what I have to do the next day, and how tired I am, a different kind than the one I’m used to with lack of sleep. A deeper one. I park and get up to my apartment. I find myself here in my room as daylight rises.  Although I went up 7 floors, it starts coming down. I start coming down. I can’t fight it. And it …

It just all feels so heavy.

My eyelids are getting heavy. Kiara says text me when you get home. I promise her I will. I never do.

I always promise myself this all will stop. This yearning. The incomplete feeling. The bareness.

Then Thursday comes around and I ccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc

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Life For Rent

If your life was house, would you own it or would you rent it? At one point or other the majority of us will occupy a space that doesn’t truly belong to us. We rent that space; we pay for its use. During my years away at university, I acclimated myself to dorm life. I occupied a tiny room that I paid the university for. Despite the temporary nature of my stay there, I delved into personalizing that space. I had a collage of pics of all my friends and family that wrapped around my door frame like a multicoloured scarf. I put up posters with Bible verses and motivational sayings. I picked the colour palette of my bed linens (they were Martha Stewart, I’ll have you know). I plastered every available wall space with pictures of Winnie the Pooh (my obsession at the time). The decorative process was painstaking and purposeful. I wanted that room to ooze my very essence. If I was going to spend the next eight months there, I was going to permeate its every nook and cranny, dammit. I even had a door sign signifying who exactly was the sole occupant of door number three on the second floor.Life for Rent (2square)But here’s the thing: while I put my heart and soul into making that space my own, I always knew that my time there would come to an abrupt end and I would be required to vacate that space and move on to something and somewhere else. I knew that in a few short months some other would take over that space and make it theirs. All traces of my time there would be eradicated. There would be no remanant, no evidence, no artifact indicating I had ever even been there. That space had never really been mine. I didn’t own it. I had no real claim on it and, as such, my attachment to it was superficial at best. Your life is your house, your condo, your sprawling 18th century colonial estate. Your life is every room, every piece of furniture, every square inch there within. If you only ever rent it, you will never genuinely take part in its creation, its maintenance or its destruction. You won’t fully commit to its needs. You’ll never change your mailing address to reflect that you live there. Renting removes responsibility from the occupant and places it on someone else. It also implies that someone else, in truth and in fact, owns your life. It is a truly mournful and devastating truth that the majority of us do not actually own the deed to our life house. We have erroneously allowed some silent investor to procure it and thus we only exist in it, but have no real stake in it. We have keys to the front door but no say in when the locks will effectively be changed. Now, rather than spending countless wasted hours pondering whether or not this is the state in which you find yourself now, focus rather on how to transition from tenant to owner. Ownership of anything, big or small, requires careful and intentional planning. One must want that thing so completely that they are willing to deny themselves momentary gratification in lieu of long-term satisfaction. It requires you to seek out solutions instead of bitching about your problems. It means putting on your big girl panties and putting in the work. There are three areas that require full proprietary rights before you can ever profess to ownership of this proverbial life house: your health, your wealth and your relationships. Life for Rent (1)

GET WELL: mind, body and soul

If I had a dollar for every pathetic excuse ever made about why we cling to the toxins in our lives, I’d be on the cover of Forbes magazine. Shut up already! You are sick, fat and sad because you choose to be. While I am not attempting to negate the influences of genetics, disease and environment, I do attempt to emphasize the existence of CHOICE. Despite the inundation of and total infringement on our lives by social  media, we still have full control of exactly what we choose to do with it. Choice is a beautiful thing. It is what intrinsically separates man and womankind from machines. We have the power to choose. Your life as you have come to know it, is simply a compilation of every decision you have ever made from the day you became aware of choice. You are not a puppet. You define your choices, not the other way around. Stop wrapping yourself in the idiocy of the idea that you have no choice. If you don’t want to be overweight, stop eating shit and exercise. If you want to be smarter, turn your TV off, put your phone on silent, shut your tablet off and go read something. Pick up and relish in a bonafide, warm-blooded, true-to-life classic paperback and enrich your mind. If you truly want to become enlightened plug into the source of life. Immerse yourself in the wisdom of prophets and sages and holy books. Wrap yourself in the truth of Jesus Christ, Buddha and Confucius. Clothe yourself in the intangible fabric of  the philosophies of Descartes, Socrates, Aristotle and Voltaire. Become a connoisseur of all that is beautiful and bizarre and magical. Adorn your life house with awe and wonder.True ownership requires you to create a phospho-lipid bi-layer around your life that is impermeable to anything counterproductive, unsubstantial and irresolute.  Stop eating your feelings. While they may taste good, it is a toxic and futile practice. Identify what you are feeling and why. Then deal with it. Love your body. It is truly your temple. Nourish your soul or it will starve and perish. Own it.

MO MONEY, MO PROBLEMS?

The Bible says that money is the root of all evil. Is it? Or is poor stewardship and an unhealthy relationship with it really the culprit? Come to terms with the fact that money is simply a means to an end. It won’t make you truly happy or smarter or more beautiful. On a highly superficial level, it can make the pursuit of those things easier. A truly rich person is one who recognizes that they lack nothing and have everything. Have a purpose for your money. Use it to enhance your life and the life of others. Invest in the immaterial. Give until it hurts and you will receive more than you can even manage. Even Scrooge, after some frightful visits from the netherworld, came to realize that it was not his wealth that made him miserable, but his attitude about it. The Secret teaches a truth that is the key to true liberation from all money trouble: “When you focus on lack and scarcity and what you don’t have, you fuss about it with your family, you discuss it with your friends, you tell your children that you don’t have enough – “We don’t have enough for that, we can’t afford that” – then you’ll never be able to afford it, because you begin to attract more of what you don’t have. If you want abundance, if you want prosperity, then focus on abundance. Focus on prosperity. (Lisa Nichols) This mad dash to get all this stuff makes us poor in pocket and poor in spirit. We start to panic because we think we don’t have enough. Panic is adversely irrational. Panic is impulsive. It makes us overspend, overreact and HOARD. Take a chill pill. You have enough. The universe has made it so. Focus on all that you own and be grateful for it. If money and/or the pursuit of it thereof rule your life,then, quite frankly -you don’t.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS?

God has a sense of humor. If He didn’t, He’d have let you hand pick your relatives. Evidently, He did not and so we are stuck with the dysfunctional melange of personalities that we call family. Our families have imprinted on us values that  make up “the voice” in the back of our minds that shape the way we approach life. At some point in your development, according to our good friend Erik Erikson (who named this poor sap), we create our own version of a value system and formulate within it a contingency plan for our lives. A part of that contingency plan is the development of and maintenance of friendships. Our family makes up a huge portion of our personal identity. It is the cornerstone of social media. It is the etiology of the SMS and the tweet. It is the equal and opposing reaction that churned out Instagram and Snapchat. We have created for ourselves a social construct that has both ameliorated and devastated the way we interact with each other. In my summation, it is the area of our life houses that we often neglect; leaving it to the devices of others to control. Our life-mates should enhance and increase the value of our home. Our friends should encourage upgrades and renovations and restructuring. But if you’re caught up in the throws of an acute case of FOMO then you don’t even have time to focus on your life. Get over yourself! No one really cares if you had a McGriddle or a greensmoothie for breakfast. Have we so missed the mark that our most serious sharing comes in the form of a 30 second expose into the mundane moments of our day? Get off of social media and start socializing! There is no substitute for a hug. There’s no app for human contact. There’s no software that can simulate the rapture of a joke between friends. If you feel like you’ve rented out the space in your life where you relationships should be, it’s probably because you have. You’ve traded a full social circle for a full social calendar. You’ve traded intimacy for animosity; friendships for acquaintanceship. Yes, we’ve all been burned and spurned, blah blah BLAH. Learn from it and get over it. Or prepare for emptiness and desolation in the rooms of your life where your relationships should be living. Own your relationships, own your life.  Own your life. Put a down payment on it, close the deal and get the keys. Otherwise, prepare to always have the rules and regulations dictated to you. Prepare to never completely commit to where you are. Defer your mail to someone else’s address. Destroy the place or simply let it fall to disrepair and neglect. Who the hell cares? It’s not your anyways. But if my life is for rent and I don’t learn to buy Well I deserve nothing more than I get Cos nothing I have is truly mine – Dido

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I fell in love with him under the neon lights of an all night diner. Meeting him took me to places I had never been. Places I wasn’t ready for. But I let myself get taken away on that flickering neon night because I needed someone.

I was there to get a milkshake with my mom. We met there once in a while when she was in town. She was always late, and I always waited for her outside under the marquee. On this night I could feel a storm coming. There was electricity in the air. I put my Orioles hat on to keep my hair from whipping in the bitter wind. I cupped my calloused hand around the flame and lit my cigarette. I inhaled.

A while later, I threw my third cigarette onto the pavement and ground it out with the toe of my military boot. It seemed as though my mom wasn’t going to make it this time. She’d probably call tomorrow and say she missed her flight. I wasn’t going to dwell on it.

As I was walking toward my bike I saw him.

Him.

IMG_3367He was everything I had wanted these past three years. I wanted him in ninth grade when he brought his violin to school. The older kids had laughed at him, but he played it anyway with intense concentration. He played it so beautifully, but no one else listened. I wanted him in tenth grade when he tried to read his poem to the class and turned bright red. The poem was about his grandmother’s garden, and it was the most wonderful thing I’d ever heard.

Most of all, I wanted him right then and there, standing in the diner parking lot, under the neon lights.

He wore a brown sweatshirt and worn jeans. The wind blew his dark hair in swirls above his head. He walked in long strides toward the diner with his hands in his pockets. His skin was luminous and his hair was backlit like a halo. As he looked up, he saw me.

I averted my gaze, but it was too late. He walked to me under the lights. I worried he could see my heart beating through my denim jacket.

“Hey,” he said. My cursed heart beat faster. “You were in my English class last year, right?”

I couldn’t believe he recognized me. I was always so quiet. But then, so was he. Quiet people have a way of noticing each other, even if they never speak.

I nodded. Smiled.

It had started to rain. The pavement shone like a still black pond under the glow of the lights. They flickered along with my quickening pulse.

“Its freezing. Can I get you a coffee or something?” he asked tentatively.

I nodded again.

I was afraid my voice didn’t work. But as we sat across from each other in the vinyl booth something happened. We talked, and it was easy. He was shy at first too and it made me less afraid. As the night flew by and the rain poured down neither of us wanted to leave. We talked for hours, and somehow never ran out of things to say. I couldn’t believe all the things I told him. That was the night I really got to know him, and it was like living in a dream. I never thought about what would happen if I woke up.

After that night I didn’t have to want him from afar. He held my hand in the hallways and rode me home on the handlebars of my bike. I was scared he’d crash us into a car or something the way he wobbled us all over the road. We’d sit for hours in his backyard in the old tree-house laughing, smoking, whispering, kissing. His hands on the back of my neck were worth the splinters. It didn’t matter anymore that my mom lived far away in Boston, or that my dad worked all the time. I wasn’t alone anymore. I loved someone who wasn’t going to let me go. He loved me too, I was sure of it.

After he got a car, the world was ours. It was an ugly blue wreck he paid too much money for, and the stereo worked better than the engine. But it was freedom. He wanted to take me away for the weekend to show me his family’s cabin. His mom was away on business, and I could tell my dad I was at my friend Annie’s house. He picked me up a few blocks from my street, grinning like an idiot. He kissed my hand in a show of chivalry and opened the rusted passenger door, his cheeks blotchy red from the fall chill. He didn’t know then it was the weekend that would change everything. Or maybe he did.

The cabin smelled like old carpet and rain. It was delicious. I’d never been anywhere other than smoggy cities and run down towns. I felt grown up and special here. It was our own place with no distractions and no rules. I threw open the musty plaid curtains and looked out over the sparkling lake. Bright clear light reflected back at me and hurt my eyes.

We roasted marshmallows in the fire pit and jumped in the freezing water. When we ran inside he wrapped a wool blanket around us. I’d never been that close to him before. As the water dried off our skin, I could feel heat building up in both of us. The sunlight faded into deep orange, then red. The night was ours.

Driving home the next day my voice didn’t work again. He talked and sang along with the radio, but I just nodded and made myself smile. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Last night was what I thought I wanted, but I felt empty now. It was supposed to make me feel everything, but I felt nothing at all. I felt small, and I felt tired. I watched the trees flicker by in shades of green and yellow, while pulling at a soft string on my glove. I told him I didn’t feel well and pretended to have a nap. I thought if I could just get home and get some sleep I’d feel better. But that wasn’t what happened.

seasideI had an anxious, gnawing pit in my stomach that didn’t go away. At school I walked around not seeing anything. He looked for me at lunch, but I wasn’t there. I sat in the bathroom stall and just stared at the ground. The bathroom tiles were small and cracked. I stared at them. My eyes blurred and I felt like crying. When the lunch bell rang I couldn’t make myself leave the stall. Everything was wrong, and I didn’t know why.
That whole week I felt distanced from everyone, more so than I ever had. He noticed it too. He didn’t understand, and it couldn’t explain it to him. He tried so hard. He’d try to make me laugh, he called me every night. I hated myself, and I still do, because he really loved me right when I stopped loving him back.

Remembering that brief time, I still see him walking towards me under the neon lights. It makes me sad, but it also it makes me smile when I think back on my first love. I wasn’t ready for him then. I thought I was. I needed him and I wanted him, but for the wrong reasons. I needed to feel safe and special at a time when no one made me feel that way. But lying there in his arms that night in the cabin, I never felt more alone. I stared up at the ceiling and felt lost.

Graphic 1. Nov 13           After we broke up he got a new girlfriend. For a while, I couldn’t even look at them. I finished my projects, I took notes, and before I knew it the semester was over. It was graduation time. I could start my own life and leave home.

My heart swelled with hope as I threw my graduation cap in the air. I watched it drift and fly and felt excited. I needed a fresh start. I needed change.

I learned that being loved isn’t what helps me feel secure. Feeling lost all on my own is when I found myself. After I graduated I was truly and completely alone. Everything was up to me. Where I’d live, what I’d do, and who I’d be. It was terrifying. Yet strangely, for the first time in my life, being alone felt amazing.

 

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Finally He Touched Her

The room was black. The windows whispered a thin line of light in, and they too were shy. And as the coffee poured, it fell into the mug more aggressively this time. It too was black.

Mateo wore these past few months on his face in an unkempt shadow sprinkled around the lower half. He’d often wonder, in these pensive moments, if anyone else noticed.

The bundle of satin sheets began to stir. Mateo hoped she loved his bed. He would have purchased silk if he could.

“Is there enough for another cup babe?” said the voice from  under the sheets. Mateo was stirred out of his reverie and his heart leaped.

“Of course sweetheart, you know I’d always think of you.”

“Haha is that so?..” It was the “sweetheart,” Maria was referring to. Her response was met with silence, and the room was cold. This was Mateo’s coldest winter.

She had forgotten last night already. In fact all notable traces of carnal embrace vanished  under  the faint ray of light from the window, and it was only high morning.  The sunlight gave warmth to all that it touched, except her words, they stayed cold.

Life for Rent (1)

She was already broken by the time he had found her, shattered. From then he started his project to piece her together like some impressionist art. Love is abstract, but pain is concrete. And when you allow yourself to fall, the ground is often further than you imagined. Last night he fell asleep to the even tide of her bosom, the smooth of her pristine skin. He could “feel” her, but he could never really touch her, and from that melancholy grew his beard.

“I get it”, he would say to himself, “I understood her”.  But he was in flames while Maria was chafed. A different kind of burning.  She was a product of the careless craft of lost men. Through the passage of time she was beaten down into something sharp, uninviting to touch. It always seems to be a a matter of time. Through it all she became comfortable as a stranger to the outside world, and she preferred “lonely”.

“What is this Indy nonsense, Mat. I always laugh at your taste in music, you are so soft.”

He returned again after having drifted off. It’d been happening often lately.

“I like it, It’s zen.”

He had no clue why he felt the need to justify himself, or why she found it strange that a black man wasn’t always in the mood to be “mobbing with his niggas.” He was tired of fighting. In the ring with his family, his boss, his inner child. He just wanted peace. Maria was peace. The ” this will be rough, but it will end” kind of peace. The one you feel before writing your final exam. Going in for a knee operation. Running a big race.

She put on her clothes in a rush, grabbed one of his funky Ikea mugs and poured herself some black.

“Peace homie.” The door shut loudly as she made her usual uncouth exit.

“I loved that mug. ” He resigned to take a seat while the music played on. Oh Lorde.

Maria always kept a safe distance. At diners, during  drives, through texts. This space swallowed Mateo whole.

The day dragged on as it always does when you feel like you’re carrying around a dead horse. Mateo sat at his desk and glanced at his phone every 130 seconds. It was after lunch now, and so far he had bettered the temptation of responding to it. She needs to understand that she is not that big of a deal.. k$%&@… , I miss her. He turned his phone over.

“You doing no shave November or something? Looking like the Loch Ness, Ha-ha” said his co-worker Kelly.

She meant the Sasquatch. Her skirt was shorter today, he couldn’t care less.

“Err…Yeah, something like that.” It was nothing like that.

Mateo and Maria’s relationship was completely imbalanced and for all he knew, there were others. He hated the “not at all” and in turn justified the “not all the time.”

He returned to his phone, and typed, ” Yo, you want to chill tonight?” Translation : I haven’t heard from you all day, I’m dying to see you. I just want to hang out in my bed, and watch some Netflix maybe.

1:36 min later. “Sure… I’m hungry.”

What does that even mean?

“Awesome, meet me at my place, I’ll pick up diner.”

Backspace. “Dope, I’ll be home at 7, come over.”

The train arrived at the stop 3 min away from his apartment at 6:20 pm, and the train was on time. Throughout  the entire ride he listened to his workout playlist. It was full of “trap” music. Tonight he was going to be the man she wanted. She arrived at 7:46. By then he was starving, the food was cold, and the wine was warm. He led her into the apartment and she B-lined straight for his bed. And  still, somehow, all was well in Mateo’s world.

Conversation started as it usually did, with gossip. Making fun of the people who they felt were living lives  worse than their own. People very much like themselves. Somehow it shifted to talking about art. Mateo hated Maria’s apathy towards art. Mostly because her feelings were disingenuous. Art is not drinking a cup of water. It doesn’t come from logic. It asks it’s audience to care, to feel. Mateo knew that all Maria was doing was avoiding touch, all Maria ever did was avoid touch.

Tonight he had had enough.

Other(3square)

His face was a cool, but his tone was fire. It was the timely juxtaposition of trap music and wine. He broke in mid-sentence,

“When you drove through the country side, and gazed out the window, or took a walk by the ocean… when you saw that old couple sharing an ice cream in the park, did you not know art? have you this soon forgotten !?”

That didn’t even make sense .

She began her condescending laugh.

“Mat.. What..”

“No! You listen to me,” he interjected.

He drew nearer to her and gripped her shoulder as his father did to assert authority. Mateo needed her to be here, right now. Her body quivered as if it were shaking free the ice, that thick layer of ice. Mateo swore to himself, from then until forever’s reach that he would never let go.

“I KNOW YOU ARE TIRED, I KNOW YOU ARE HURT. I KNOW YOU’RE SCARED AS SHIT. I KNOW THOSE GUYS BEFORE ME BROKE YOU.”

He was shaking.

“I know every single time someone has ever held their hand out towards you, it was a slap in the face. I get it.”

He held her there, in the silence, in an embrace that reached deeper than her calloused skin.

The audacity of touch. Here the hell that threatened them became a heaven within them. All that “deep downwardness” ensued.  She was touched.

Her clenched fists were fighting to say, I will not cry, I am not weak. Goosebumps had formed. Breaching the authority of her head, her hands found his. They were the first to give in and she wept.

She woke up before he did the next morning. She had had such a pleasant sleep that she wondered if his sheets were silk, they felt great. She was feeling light as one of those organic snacks she would find around his place. The window let a faint ray of light in. With it the illusion of warmth, and it too was strong.

 

by @sledain

 

 

 

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Blood on the Dance Floor

*Janie orders her usual drink at a bar on E 7th Street. She sits on her favorite stool and faces the dance floor. She then begins to have a conversation with herself.*

“I used to hate all of you, all of you who dance.

I used to prefer living with the rats, racing about on their wheels. Round and round we’d go, running away from everything, escaping very little. I suppose, we were trying to get away from past, present and future – from the damage we’ve done, are doing and will do. We were in search of something only the dead can know – nirvana. I’d imagine we thought we were making progress, but the past was the present and future too; we never really moved. Hence, I also imagine that whatever we thought we were running from could’ve easily caught us if it were in the mood to chase. But we didn’t see it that way, we couldn’t. Those wheels, those cycles of avoidance were the sum of our experience and we were running blind.”

*sip*

“People like me need to be bothered into action, pushed to move. I’m starting to see now that we’re kind of slaves, objects at best. But the ones I’m watching now, these dancers, these free spirits, they’re subjects – conscious doers. Blood runs warm in their veins.

It’s amazing what a little rhythm and conviction can do. The 808s blare and serotonin gallops through their nodes pounding their pain away. It’s so visceral; every one of their moments is spiced with an inner spontaneity.

But why do they close their eyes when their heads are turned in my direction? Why would they avoid my gaze? Is it my layers of make up or the angst hidden underneath?

How dare they ignore me as if to say, “Your drawn-on beauty and artificial existence are not welcomed in our circle!” I want to return their scorn, I want to stop looking at them but I can’t; I’m bewitched.”

*sip and sigh*

“I can’t help but feel as though people like me were raised in such a rush; all we’ve ever known is this cold, prosaic cage.  But they move as though they don’t see any bars, as if they’ve known freedom from the cradle.

They dance with that special kind of fire, the kind that burns true in all great people.

My God, they’re graceful!”

*Sigh*

“What’s this strange feeling I’m having? Am I inspired?

I’m beginning to understand that it’s true what they say. Those who hesitate are lost. I’ve died a thousand times, and they prance about as if they’ll live forever. I’m seated, stagnated by fear. It’s shameful. I’m not alone, though. The others beside me on the outside of the floor look on in awe and envy as well; I’m glad I’m not the only coward. The greatest pretenders sport their best “I’m too cool to dance” face, but they’re liars, too self-righteous to shed their skin and leave their bodies behind because that’s what passion is, that’s what dancing is. It’s to transcend one’s blood, one’s lust, one’s base desires.

It’s resistance or release. That’s what it all boils down to now that I think about it.

In the resistance there’s no rhythm, no freedom, no expression. It’s moving without a pulse – walking dead. Then there’s release, that natural flow, a sweet, violent bleeding out. I’ve felt it only slightly before and I feared that it would sweep me away far from my shore – my place of spiritless reprieve. I mean, to resist is just so easy. I’ve built a fortress of comfort all around me. Oh how they break it down, these damn dancers!

All that I see tonight is a buffet, a feast of motion. But there’s a lump of guilt lodged in my throat that this expensive vodka can’t burn away and it poisons my appetite. This Manhattan cocktail used to work so well, it was my only medicine. But tonight I can’t escape these thoughts, I don’t even want to anymore. Who can I blame but these dancers?”

*sigh and sip*

“They dance for no other purpose than freedom itself.  They’re advocates of humanity’s highest calling, autonomy, and they’re weaving a tapestry on which is written “I WILL BE FREE.”

I’ve never had such romantic thoughts.

When will I come to understand and claim that kind of surrender? God, I need to know!”

*sip*

“This feeling is foreign. It’s beginning to permeate my entire body. It’s as if I’m bleeding on the insides. I feel it turning into a connection and strange desire to be one with the dancers. It’s as if they’re a vessel approaching the shores of my lonely island offering a means of deliverance.

They’ve curbed their focus, you know what, yeah, that’s it: they’ve simplified things.”

***

She’s startled out of her reverie by the bar tender, Chadwick. Some think he’s very handsome. “I think he’s saving up for school,” says Janie to herself.  Usually he barely acknowledges her. But now he was looking at her. Maybe he was tired of ignoring her or perhaps he saw a change in her features.

“You’ve been seated for too long, miss, get up and go dance,” he says.

“You know what, Chadwick, I think I’ll go ahead and do that.” she replied.

“Call me Chad…” he replied.

 

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The Feminist Manifesto of Lucifer, the Shadowy Activist of Perdition

Although a thousand years had passed, blood and bones still testified that the great battle of Armageddon had taken place at Megiddo, a small tell close to the city of Jerusalem. On the day of the battle, which is called the Day of Anger, the Archangel, Gabriel, led the hosts of Heaven against Lucifer’s army, which was constituted of fallen angels, warriors from the revived ancient Gog and Magog empires, and all recalcitrant humans who were intrepid enough to stand against God. And as was prophesied by the ancients, Heaven had the victory. Gabriel’s wrath was terrible, his retribution swift. Not one of the Fallen was allowed to abscond and all humans who opposed Heaven were unsympathetically beheaded. Dead bodies piled on top of each other and blood flowed for miles. The blood should have long since dried up and the bones swallowed by nature but the Lord, in his divine wisdom, used his power to preserve the carnage as proof that the wages of sin is death.

Memories of the day pervaded the mind of Lucifer as he was dragged over the tell subdued by four of Heaven’s strongest – one for each limb. They were taking him before the great judgement seat of Christ where he would finally have a chance to divulge all before Jesus and one hundred and forty four thousand saints, most of which already had their minds made up about what to do with their great foe – eternal damnation was their verdict. To them, the trial was only for the keeping up of appearances. It had been prophesied long ago that every rational member of creation would stand before the great White Throne Judgement, which was to be held precisely one millennium after the great Slaughter of Megiddo (or Battle of Armageddon). And since one word shall not return onto God void, Lucifer had to be brought to trial.

After several days of being dragged around the Earth for all to witness his shame, the great son of the morning finally made it to New Jerusalem – the city of judgement. Jesus’ divine court sat on the Mount of Olives, also called the Temple Mount. The Mount alone was easily responsible for three quarters of the city’s notoriety. Over a million saints were gathered there yearning for a glimpse of the scorned prince of the air; they lined the path from the entrance of the city to the throne spectacularly. All wore extended white robes and stood complimentarily to his/her neighbour; the entire gathering seemed like a disciplined but provoked choir – a choir designed to taunt. They mocked poor Lucifer throughout the entirety of his long haul to Jesus’ throne. Most laughed and chanted “Beelzebub, the great, has run out of tricks.” And some prayed asking for Lucifer’s speedy destruction, while others recited their favourite scripture about his destiny in the lake of fire. For Christian saints, their eyes were atypically pitiless and their general demeanour was remarkably vengeful. Fully realizing their indecorous lust for his downfall, Lucifer shivered a little. One of the angels who carried him felt it and smiled sadistically.

A small piece of the sleeve of Lucifer’s burnt, charcoal stained robe fell off. It was what he had been wearing throughout his one thousand years of duress, which came after the war. He watched as the piece of burnt cloth floated down, hitting the ground softly. It was the timely metaphor of his fall from glory, and along with the intense hate that was being effused his way, it made him feel feeble and sad.

Lucifer knew it was irrational to care about what men thought because they were created lower than the angels but since “the heart has reason that reason knows not of,” Lucifer spent most of his persecuted ascent slightly shaking with fear and melancholy, all the while littering the air with bits of charred clothing and an ashy sent.

On reaching their destination in the centre of the hall of judgement, the four angels dropped him then removed themselves. Thrown down before the Son of Man, Lucifer lifted up his eyes and beheld the glory of the Eternal Majesty that was on the throne. He sat in the midst of seven golden candle sticks, wearing a white robe that touched his feet and was girt about the waist with a golden girdle. His hair looked like wool, curly and as white as snow; his eyes were like a roaring flame and his feet were like fine brass, brilliant as if prepared in a furnace. In his right hand were seven small stars and out of his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword. And his general countenance was like the noon day sun shining with all its might.

With a voice that sounded like the crashing of many waterfalls, he commanded Lucifer saying “rise to your feet, scorned prince of the air, and craft your defence.” Lucifer did as he was told and stood, slowly taking his eyes off the eternal majesty that sat on the throne and surveying the rest of the room. The room was filled with holiest of saints, one hundred and forty four thousand in number as afore prophesied; the stones and make of their crowns of righteousness signified the area of holiness which they excelled in. Some were fervent worshipers; some had shown great love towards all creation, some were unrelenting evangelists, and some where Christian philosophers and theologians.

Predictably, the worshipers were held in the highest esteem and their crowns were made of white gold with blue diamonds. The philanthropists were next on the scale of righteous and their crowns were made of white gold with rubies. After that came the unrelenting evangelists with crowns made of normal gold and stones of jasper. After which came the Christian scholars whose crowns were made of normal gold and pearls.

They all sat stratified according to their works in a semi-circle in this enormous hall chanting the Byzantine song of Moses and gazing piercingly at Lucifer, who could not help but perceive their hate. It was almost palpable. The atmosphere made him even more nervous and sad, but he suddenly and extemporaneously remembered why he was there, what he had done – the perfect game he had played – and drew comfort from that. His lips formed a perfect smile, his eyes began to flood, and he became still for an unusually long period.

“Now is not the time for tears or standing still,” said him that was seated on the throne, “tell us why you smile! Does remembering your wickedness give you joy?”

“No,” began the son of the morning “remembering my sacrifice does.”

“What Sacrifice?” asked the magisterial judge with slightly betrayed astonishment.

“I will tell you.” Re-joined Lucifer.

“Make haste.”

“Forgive me, Lord. After all, that is your speciality. I will hurry and talk”

Lucifer dried his eyes and then began again with “Saints of God, Angels, and Archangels, I stand before you today as the scorned prince of the air, the rejected son of the morning. I believe my fate is sealed. Ergo, this defence will probably not count towards an acquittal. Nevertheless, I will give it and through it, I’ll construct an edifice to freedom and as you shall see, freedom has been my watch, word, and song for epochs upon epochs.

Though haste is required, I’ll start at the beginning so that my cause can be properly understood but I’ll sacrifice whatever I can for brevity’s sake.

This is the synopsis of my story.

About 200 billion years ago, a mutiny broke out in Heaven which resulted in my exile. Beaten and broken, I was sent flying from the spirit realm along with the third of Heaven who had also revolted against God. We crashed into this realm, but Gabriel, our pursuer, granted us no repose and drove us straight into a prison of fire and brimstone that was prepared for us and there we stayed for Eons. Our suffering was great and the flames motivated much murmuring in our hearts. Destitute and tormented, we lost our sense of purpose, we became shadows of ourselves. And for what were we punished? What evil did we commit? Well, all we did was seek democracy, thinking that it would be beautiful for beings with agency to exercise it. It is not true that I wanted to dethrone God, instead I wanted him reign because all Heaven accepted his rule by choice rather than force or some set indelible policy. It is true, however, that I was a slightly vain angel, it’s an attribute that often comes with beauty (of all the angels, I was the fairest) and when my efforts at reforming Heaven were rebuffed, I lost my temper and made war with the one that is from everlasting to everlasting. Quite obviously, a third of Heaven was faithful to my existential cause, and they fought by my side, willing to lose their rank and power for the ideal of freedom.

I digress though. In any event, we found ourselves in hell weeping and gnashing our teeth. That was until one of us found a way to escape. I will not describe the intricacies of the escape. I will only say that it was quite clever. Anyways, we came out unnoticed and started roaming the entire created universe. Planet after planet, galaxy after galaxy, we explored gleefully. We consumed a greater part of a millennium in cosmological excursion, until we heard the characteristic boom that signified that beings from the God realm had entered time and space. We were sore afraid because we thought Heaven had been made aware of our escape and was ready to make war with us again, so we hid ourselves. After days of hiding, though, we realized that Heaven was not searching for us. They still had no knowledge of our escape, so it puzzled us greatly that they had condescended to time and space. We naturally asked “if they were not here for us, what else could they be here for?” Espionage was required to find the answer, so we decide to send our most intelligent spy to investigate and since I had the most virtue of all the Fallen, we decided that I was most qualified. So, I straightway prepared myself for silent observing and sallied forth to see what Heaven was up to.  In the event that I did not return in 4 days, my followers were to assume that I had been captured and flee to the remotest corner of Minkowski’s space and be concealed for long as they could.

My inquiry into the deeds of Heaven, took me into this galaxy, the Milky Way. Fortune would have it that as soon as I arrived, I saw an angel heading to Earth, so I followed stealthily. We arrived at the place the ancients called Eden, or Garden of Delight. Gathered there, were a host of angels worshiping as usual and in the midst of them stood him that is seated on the throne now. With caution, I drew close enough to them to hear what they were saying, but far away enough to avoid discovery.

I heard the one that is from everlasting to everlasting say “let us make man in our image” and I saw him sculpt the dust into a form that was like unto an angel without wings. Then into the motionless replica he blew the breath of life and man became a living soul, able to move, think and feel. He had most of the attributes of angels except in lower magnitudes and whereas the angels could leave space and time, man couldn’t.  But man had one quality that the angels didn’t; he was able to talk to God as friends and as equals. That’s why men are the envy of angels. Even I was greatly jealous, though not Jealous enough to seek after man’s destruction.

Nevertheless, after creating man, God saw that he would be lonely without sexual love, so God created woman for the man to be his helpmate and lover. In this scheme, man’s duty was to walk as friends with God, and the woman’s duty was occupy man’s time in between. She had no worth onto herself and was defined by how well she carried out her duties as wife. Seeing that she was equal to her husband in every way except in physicality, her debased status highly displeased me. Furthermore, her existence reminded me of what mine was in Heaven, created to serve and not to express personality and individuality. How could I not feel sympathy for her?

Now after God was done creating man, he gave the archangel, Michael, charge over the garden and left with the rest of the angels. I waited until that opportune moment when they left and dashed, showing myself the meaning of haste, to tell the rest of the Fallen about what I had seen and heard. They shared my sentiments towards the condition of woman, every last one of them. And although, I wanted to abstain from helping her because I knew it would only end dreadfully for all of us for I knew Heaven would make our hell hotter and our chastisement greater if we interfered, the Fallen were bent on rectifying the evil of her state. I pleaded with them to reconsider but the Fallen were of a steely resolve. This is good time to pause and I make it known that I am immensely proud to serve as the leader of these noble beings. Never has a group been more dedicated to freedom and justice. I hope their philanthropic spirits remain eternally fervent.”

A tear ran down Lucifer’s cheek, which he paused to wipe. He then perpetuated his story saying “we devised a method of freeing her and her daughters to come. Since Heaven was much more powerful than us, we decided that guile would serve us best. So, ours was a game of shadows.

Our game had two parts. First we had to free the woman’s shackled consciousness because she believed wholeheartedly that her condition was natural and unchangeable. Then we had to subtly coerce man to develop an economic system in which equality could thrive.

To accomplish the first part of our mission, I disguised myself in the form of a snake so that I could pass Michael unnoticed. Accomplishing that, I appeared unto the woman in the same form and told her that if she ate of the tree of life, she’d become like God, knowing good and evil. She ate without much persuasion because her reasoning skills were undeveloped. And she told the things I told her unto her husband and he ate too because his reasoning skills were also feeble. Once, she ate of the fruit of the tree of life, we knew that the illusion of their natural perfection would be shattered, and that they’d start questioning things, thus, the man and woman’s reasoning skills would be allowed to develop to their peak. However, things were not allowed to take their natural course because God intervened.

In summary, God, found what had happened and punished them, afflicting them with a destiny of pain and death. He also set in motion a plan of salvation for man, in which, when the fullness of time was come, he’d condescend and take unto himself the form of a man and die as a sacrifice for a creation removed from his grace. But his plan had a flaw, and it was this: there was still no specific design to change the condition of woman. Furthermore, he also cursed the woman so that she’d have pain in child birth and that her duty should now to be entirely to her husband. Her situation now became desperate because man in this fallen state was crueler than before.

Luckily, however, God did not drive the rest of the Fallen and I back to perdition. He thought we would punish man to get revenge against Heaven. And since he wanted man to be punished, he left us where we were. Fully realizing God’s plan, we set about to act as if we were doing what the eternal majesty expected of us, while fully advancing our concealed agenda.”

The Holy One of Israel, who had been leaning back on his throne, made his posture more erect. Lucifer noticed it and a small inkling of excitement, barely noticeable, quickened his body and made him escalate the pace of his speech. With a bit more haste, he continued with “for millennia, we secretly worked on liberating woman. Progress was slow. I was close to running out of faith, when a divine whim brought Jesus into the world and the plan of salvation was executed. Although, Heaven’s focus was not on woman specifically but on all creation, woman derived certain benefits since Mosaic Law was discarded. The veil between humans and God was rent in twain. This allowed her to be seen as an individual spirit, a being who required no validation from man because she now had direct access to God. Her main objective in this life changed from one of base concern with raising a family to seeking after God and fully appreciating the passion of Christ. Christianity did in one day what we had failed to do in thousands.

Nevertheless, this was not good enough. Though given more freedom than before, she was not equal to man. Most societies were still not enlightened enough to grant woman her proper place at side of man instead of behind his back. So, although, we were happy for the feminist progress that Christianity brought, we continued playing our game of shadows. Once again progress was slow, for there can be no progress without a revolution in thought and human kind, on the whole, was without one until the birth of modern science in the 18th century – it was the change we had been waiting for.

Oh, it was a thing of beauty! Although it came under heavy attack initially, it grew exponentially since it is a universal law that a spark of truth must explode into flames. Men and women, started to question everything. Skepticism was the order of the day. Keeping brevity in mind, once the polemic Simone DE ‘Beauvoir produced her work, Le Le Deuxième Sexe or The Second Sex (perhaps the greatest feminist treatise ever written), our work was done. Led by their most enlightened members, human kind in general went about improving the conditions of the most marginalized groups in their countries and societies. Though it did not take one or two generations, progress was being made at a rate never seen before in history. It was like watching dominoes fall. First came the first major wave of feminist, and then came the second, then the third. That was when I decided to stop interfering in human affairs.”

The leader of the fallen, now in tears, allowed a similar smile to one that was there at the start of his speech to reform on his lips. He then went on with, “so considering all I’ve busied myself with hitherto, it would be a pleasure to suffer for my activism, and although an acquittal would nice, I won’t beg for one. I’ll go gracefully to perdition.

I have nothing more to add or subtract from my defence”

Finish with his speech, Lucifer took a slight bow.

The verdict was read and he was right, he was not granted an acquittal because The Holy Bible has events in it which are set. Lucifer had to be punished for the word of God to be fulfilled, so he was sent to hell and with no chance of parole. But the fires were much gentler than they were supposed to be and instead of being fixed to a single location, he was allowed to roam. In addition, a unique thing happened. Apparently, Lucifer’s story pricked a very powerful conscience because the laws of hell were changed and the fallen were given the chance to remodel hell and make of it what they wanted. Their home and their lives were now fully theirs!

 

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