~the following is part of “Prompted Prose,” a series of posts from the prompts I’m working with during my Spring 2016 online writing course
Inspired by Jia Tolentino’s “Five from Kyrgyzstan,” here’s my attempt to work off of one piece I’d started and then add two others, for my version of “Three With the Divine.”
I’m trying to remember the exact verbiage the camp counselor gave us, when he encouraged us to step out into this night, be alone, and invite Jesus Christ into our hearts. I walk in the open field, the white of my Keds in the moonlight. There are millions of stars, a splay of crystals on black velvet. Is He there?
I stop wandering and wait. Sit down where I am and listen. Crickets sound in the blades. A cabin door shuts in the distance. I search my heart, a doorway, he said. I lace my fingers together, feel the wrinkles of my knuckles. I ask again, listen, wait. But there is nothing.
In the unseen area behind the pulpit, there is a changing room. It’s a church version of a back stage and today I’m a player in the production. Full submersion. I tell my boyfriend it’s not stage fright, when he slips into my changing cubicle. The one-size-fits-all, white gown they’ve given me hangs, twelve sizes too large. I can’t do this. Nothing feels right, as the hum of a congregation of a 1000 plus fills the pews just beyond the partition.
“You can’t turn back now,” he says, sorry, but certain.
I don’t. I get in the line-up to the pea-green, plastic tub, step down the stairs, and cross my hands in front of my heart. Am pulled back, quickly, into the swish of liquid. In and out.
I’m standing in the kitchen, warming refried beans and grating cheddar cheese. My bare feet stand on terra-cotta tile. Newspapers are stacked on top of the microwave near the small window. The sun angles in upon the countertop, casting gold as I dare.
I flip the flour tortilla, right on the stove top’s open flame, and let myself consider it. There may not be a God.
I may be damned, but so be it. I’ve got to start with nothing if I’m ever going to know anything.