“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was…my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”
Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.
Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.
No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.
In the Narrow Pewter Space
Between the gray of consciousness
and the obsidian where dreams
ebb and flow, there is a wishbone
window. And trapped in its glass,
a single silver shard of enlightenment.
It is this mystics search for. The truth
of the Holy Grail. It is this believers
pray for. The spark, alpha and omega.
It is this the gilded claim to hold
in the cups of their hands. But what
of those who plunge into slumber,
who snap from sleep’s embrace?
What of those who measure their
tomorrows with finite numbers, cross
them off their calendars one by
one? Some say death is a doorway,
belief the key. Others claim you only
have to stumble across the threshold
to glimpse a hundred billion universes
in the blink of single silver shard.
That’s what people keep telling me.
Faith that things will get better. Faith
that bad things happen for a reason.
Implicit in that ridiculous statement
is the hand of some extraterrestrial
magician. Some all-powerful creator
which, if his faithful want to be totally
frank about it, would also make him/her/it
an omnipotent destroyer. Because if
some God carefully sows each seed
of life, he is also flint for the relentless
sun beating down upon his crops until
they wither into dust. Zygotes to ashes
or some other poignant phrase. And why
would any of that make someone feel
better about snuffing out? The end
result is the same. You get a few
years on this sad, devolving planet.br />
If you’re lucky, you experience love,
someone or two or three to gentle
your time, fill the hollow spaces.
If you’re really fortunate, the good
outweighs the bad. In my eighteen years
all I’ve seen is shit tipping the scales.
Case in Point
I’ve been abruptly summoned to
the front of the classroom, at the urgent
request of my English teacher, the oh-so-
Ms. Hannity, emphasis on the Mizz.
She pretends sympathy, for what,
I’ve no clue, and like she gives half
a damn about anything but clinging,
iron-fisted, to her job. Mr. Turnahhhh.
Fake “South” taints her voice, and
her eyes—no doubt she’d describe
them as “cornflower”—are wide
with mock concern. Would you
please come he-ah for a minute?
I think she thinks she’s whispering,
but twenty-seven pairs of eyes home
in on me. I straight-on laser every one
until they drop like dead fly duos.
“Yes, ma’am?” The feigned respect
isn’t lost on her, and she doesn’t bother
to lower her voice. Mistah Carpentah
wishes a word with you. Please see
him now. And the rest of y’all, get back
to work. This doesn’t concern you.
Did she make it exactly everyone’s
concern? The ends of my fingers tingle
and my jaw keeps working itself
forward. Backward. Forward. I force
it sideways and audibly, painfully, it pops.
For some messed-up reason, she smiles
at that. I really want to slap that stinking
grin off her face. But then I’d get expelled,
and that would humiliate my father,
everyone’s favorite science teacher, not to
mention the coach of the best basketball
team this school has seen in a dozen years.
Then Mom would bitch at him for not kicking
my ass and at me for turning him into such a wuss,
until I had no choice but to flee from our miserable
termite-ridden shack. And I’d have to live in
my fume-sucking truck, eating pilfered ramen,
drinking Mosby Creek water until I got the runs
so bad I’d wind up in the ER, hoping Dad
hadn’t had time to dump me from his insurance.
And, despite all that, Mizz nose-up-my-ass
Hannity would still be a rip-roaring bitch.
As I Wind Up
That extended interior monologue,
I notice everyone is once again staring at me,
waiting for some overt exterior reaction.
Expecting, I’m sure, one of my infamous
blow-ups. More fun to keep ‘em guessing.
“Can you tell me why he wants to see me?
Have I done something I’m not aware of?”
I’m pulling off A’s in every class. Maintaining
the pretense that all is well, despite everything
being completely messed up. It would be nice
to have some idea of what I’m walking into.
But Hannity gives nothing away. Just go.
Don’t flip her off. Don’t flip her off. Don’t . . .
I flip her off mentally, sharp turn on one heel,
head toward the door. Laser. Laser. Laser.
Pairs of dead flies drop as I pass, anger obviously
obvious in the death beam of my eyes. What now?
All I want is to be left alone. All I want
is to cruise in radar-free space. Scratch that.
What I really want is to disappear. Except,
if this in-your-face place is all I’ll ever