I met her vacuous eyes, pleased she always gave precedence to my words over others’.
“Forget her! Leave! She’s made her choices, now let her wallow in them!”
“Her children, my grandchildren. They’re still babies . . . .”
“Listen, dear, what’s she ever done to deserve your love?!” I asked, choking back my philosophical angst: can love be love if it’s only deserved?
Maybe she’d have abandoned them without my uttering a word.
But I did.
Now I walk as one divided, my head shorn, then healed, then shorn repeatedly by Hell’s demons.¹
1The judgment described is taken from Dante’s Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 28, in which the poet describes the ninth ring of the Malebolge where makers of discord are condemned.
“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” (James 3:5-9, bold italics mine)
Everyone had left for home. Vikram remained standing by the freshly turned earth until high above the stars lit one by one.
He could no more make his legs stir than make the stars fall with his tears.
“A wedding for a first miracle. Ever wonder why?”
Aanya’s voice. Vikram closed his eyes. “No.”
“That day! That wine! Imagine! Rich, savory, fiery with a love stronger than death. You believe that?”
“I do.” His voice shook. “But ….”
“I’m not where you’re standing. The God that turns water into wine, turns mourning into dancing. Vikram, our dance has barely begun.”
Psalm 30: 11-12 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Song of Songs 8:6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.
John 2:1-11 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
“It’s just a tire shop, Dad! This can’t be where we’re meeting the rainbow-smuggler!” Inside, a cheerful woman in a colorful sari stood out of the rain, waiting. “I’d like a rainbow,” Retnam said from her wheelchair. “Where are they?” “They’re hiding in plain sight, my dear!” the rainbow-smuggler said, shrugging. “Just reach into a tire.” Retnam did, pulling out a huge rainbow-colored taffy. She laughed, then frowned. “But it’s not REAL!” she cried. “Look up, Retnam!” the woman said, pointing to the rain-cleared sky. “There will always be a rainbow over your head, even when you can’t see it.”
Mommy plays Lego with me I’m four and she’s thirty-three But I make up the games we play And she does exactly what I say.
We share the firetruck and the fireman He’s my Daddy and he’s her husband I get Santa for a party favor on my birthday She gets a candy for baking a cake so gay.
I get a funny-shaped red Lego piece And save two for Daddy when he says, “Please.” The red truck is outside my diagram It’s for the children killed in Afghanistan By an unmanned drone, they’re in no one’s Venn.
The Pentagon confirmed on November 3, 2021, that after the disastrously chaotic withdrawal of American troops which resulted in billions of dollars of military weaponry, hardware, and aircraft left behind as well as the suicide bombing of thirteen young American soldiers, three days later, it carried out a deadly drone strike that mistakenly killed ten innocent civilians on August 29: three Afghan adults and seven children.
The violent shuddering of masonry and the collapse of the great cathedral had left a thick cloud of dust like a shroud over the city. It settled like particles of mist coating every moving creature, turning everything a sinister gray. Here, the dead had numbered 750,000.
We eyed them from the Adviser, the multi-dimensional-intergalactic space lab, Commander Fauci. His otherwise pristine white lab coat was covered with beagle hair as he emerged from his I-CNN studio. He looked unconcerned. The interview had gone well.
Had we made the right choices? Only time would tell. Meanwhile, we needed to cover our tracks.
Honey Humberg had waited for this day all her life.
She’d worked and saved to build the “Humberg Bus” from scratch, designing, commissioning and assembling it, part by part. She painted it in homage to the DIY hippies that were her inspiration, free thinkers and dreamers all. She would tour Europe showcasing her singing talent and the world would fall at her feet.
In the square, the crowd cheered when the Humberg Bus arrived.
They left when she began singing.
“How much you want for the bus?” a man asked.
“One billion pounds,” she said bitterly, turning away.