The Final Moment of Faith
He has to be--all the strangers do. He's another nameless face trying to hurt me, that's all, and I finally snap. I'm so sick of it that I'm screaming bumptious abuse at him before either of us knows what's happening.
Except this time, this stranger tells the truth, and it's hard. The proof is right next door, and even though I'm forbidden to see it, I'm well aware of its existence. I'm galvanized into silence, and the ringing quiet addles my brain more than the shouting ever could.
The stranger seems fine enough, like he deals with this sort of thing every day, and he probably does. It makes me hate him even more, how he's so impervious to people's agony. I envy him for it without prudence, glaring at him and his indifference maliciously.
He shifts under my heated gaze, and suddenly he’s no longer the stranger. Now he’s entirely faceless, completely formless, and he surrounds me. He’s the mendacious entity that I’ve prayed to far too many times--the Father that’s taken far too much than my punishment warrants.
I recant his presence, a deep dejection seeping into my bones as he steadily leaves, but I laugh. Maybe now I’ll be free. Free of the loss, of the pain and the misery and the contrite heart. I can do anything: care less, feel less--drown in my own narcissism.
I don’t care about that, though. All I care about is how much I hate the stranger and the lie that’s unthinkably true. The room next door calls out to me, screams for me. The room that holds the last thing he will ever take from me.
This short story is one moment in the evening of my best friend's death. I remember it specifically because it is also the moment that I finally lost faith in my religion. I was brought up in a family of Baptists, and was devoutly Christian up until I was 12 when my father died. After that, I didn't practice as enthusiastically, but I still held faith that my God knew what he was doing with my life up until this moment two years later. My life was forever changed in every aspect after this moment. It forced me to pick myself up on my own, because I could no longer accept the ethereal arms willing to steady me if I asked. I learned how to live by myself, and for myself, and no other moment in my life could have taught me that.