Sunday, August 7, 2016

Creative Writing #23 - Cain: An Alternative History

"What cannot be said will be wept" - Sappho

Cain: An Alternative History

His tunic, now dampened by the messy dew of the garden, clings to his chest as he stands in the dawn’s dingy light. The heavy, wet air rises in thick clouds, drowning the nighttime’s struggles in a layer of foggy solemnity.

Beat by beat, his burning heart returns to a steady pace and the primality of his tense body gives way to exhausted surrender—his skin glistening with sweat and sweet water, mixed with the crimson of his brother’s veins.

His head drops and his eyes meet the body at his feet: his brother’s face is finally stripped of helpless terror, its features shaped by that ironic peacefulness of death. As the man begins to drag the body through his garden, a sprouting of white lilies from the valley—Mary’s Tears—tumble from the murdered man’s limp hand and a gust of warm wind surges across the terrain.

The Earth begins to tremor—rocks splintering with screams. The heavens, moaning, fade into a penal darkness and the surrounding woodlands explode in hellish cacophony. Paralyzed by the Earth’s violent revolt, the man drops the body, his face turning as deathly white as his shepherd brother’s. A frigid fear overwhelming the heat of his murderous passion.

A foul stench saturates the air. The putrid smell of decay. His gardens—his life’s work, his offering. They are blackening, shriveling, rotting. A wailing rain passes over the valley and a large snake retreats from the scorched soil.

The Winds howl with holy anger, “Where is your brother?”

Shuddering, the man’s entire body collapses in prostrated repentance. Mute with sorrow, the killer weeps, his wordless sobs nonetheless crying: “I have sinned.”

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Father and No Sons, Creative Writing #22

A father and no sons. Our daddy’s name will not be passed on.

Since the birth of the Occident, the lineage of a family has been handed down and inherited by its men. Each son, sickly or strong, is a link in a chain that gives order and hopefully honor to generations. It is a potent and persuading concept: to have a person as a marking for each stop in the journey of man’s blood throughout the ages. As if to tell Time, “look, we were here!”

We fear endings—there is often a profound sadness and emptiness in them. The end of a “name” is, to our world, like the dried and hardened tip of a broken flower. It is the fleshy and discolored remaining lump from a lost limb. It is the severed trunk of a tree—with its long and steady life laid out in intricate rings, but no sprout or twig from which it may continue its existence. It has a life to it and as with all living things, it too can die.

A name fastens us to this earth. In the beginning, God tasked Adam with the naming of the animals and we have faithfully continued this, now naming everything in Creation itself. By a name, we are both individuals and parts of a collective whole. Consider what it would feel like to be nameless—by choice and by nature. Would you still feel human?

But, my father does not mourn the loss of his name. No, he is oddly delighted in this particular kind of “end.” For to him, the loss was a gain—love took the place of blood. Where the phantom of his name might have nestled into the initials of my children and their children, a sacred abundance of love—with its smiling stories—will be present. He believes in passing on blessings, not names. And so, in this way, his love for us has redefined the very instinct that guides
the visceral man.

In fact, through this act of sacrificial love, his name—his lineage—has been transformed into more than simply a label. It has been reborn as something that transcends Time and elevates the human: a legacy, born from a love that detaches itself from this earth and the bounds of humanity’s weaknesses.

ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ. For love is long-suffering. It “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.It is the one thing that remains standing when all else has fallen—even a name.

A father and two daughters and a legacy.