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Tonight I lost god.

As a child, I was persuaded to believe. I was told that I must have faith. I never achieved faith, but I did believe -- in something. Not in the good and the love and the we are the world way, but instead in the sin, shame and punishment way.

Even with god dead and buried I remain fearful of him. I think twice before I spell his name in lowercase. I am afraid to evoke the wrath of the angry Old Testament grandfather of the clouds, his long scraggly beard chock full of plagues.

To be fearful suggests that I might want to believe again.

I say that I lost god. If only I were truly that brave.


She is not one to stop moving. Up and down, back and forth, her constant activity is dizzying. Now she's searching for songs on the jukebox. Now she's talking to strangers at the bar. Now she's dancing with her toothless neighbor. In the bathroom, a dirty and smoky closet, she kisses me hard, our front teeth bashing together. She laughs, "less teeth" she says, and kisses me again, and she's out the door leaving a trail of energy behind her. I am taken aback, slightly disturbed, and wanting more. This time, a quiet, thoughtful, slow and long kiss. She is now flirting with the racist boy who never looks her way.

She drinks. A lot. When she gets up from the bar stool to do whatever it is she's doing now, I drink from her glass, hoping that it might make a difference in what happens next. Her spirit is both intoxicating and frustrating. I want her to myself. I want her openness. Her passion. Her intensity. I have my own, but it is accompanied by an ugly darkness lurking just beneath the surface.

We were not planning on staying long. One free drink. I haven't known this girl long, but I already know that one is never enough. Nothing is enough.

She wants to take the racist boy home with us. The thought is both amusing and exciting. Maybe he deserves the exposure to this girl and her silent disease. It's a cruel thought and I'm glad when he leaves the bar alone.

I've had too much to drink and want to go home. It's that time of night when a sad and ugly glow is cast upon those of us remaining. We wait for someone to return with her five dollars' worth of cocaine. "I swear I haven't used since August," she says. "I don't normally do this." At ten o'clock the next morning she will be at the methadone clinic. I shake my head in disapproval and she gives me a look meant to manipulate me in her favor.

Back at her place I sit in her room and watch MTV. I'm desperately trying to sober up so I can go home, back to the normalcy of my own life. She is upstairs, at the toothless neighbor's, doing a few more lines. When she returns she is in the midst of a full-blown panic attack. "Do you know CPR?" she asks. "If I die, will you do CPR on me?" I roll my eyes and she gives me that look again.
My patient is a man named Albert. A pleasant man, he asks me how I'm doing today.

I work in the dark and don't notice the blood until I pull the white towel away from his groin. Even in the dark, the contrast between white and red is unmistakable. I pull back the sheet and see the long slit in his belly, lacing like a corset bringing the edges of the cut together. He is eviscerating, intestine bulging out this way and that. I look at his face for clues of pain, death. He remains pleasant.

He has been coughing and frothy phlegm has dribbled down his chin, across his double chin, and now collects in a pool on the neckline of his gown. It is pink-tinged. I wipe his chin with a washcloth, expecting the rusty metal smell of blood. Instead, it's something more familiar. Cotton candy. Sweet. Unmistakable. I laugh at myself.

I change the sheets, throw everything bloody and cotton-candied into the laundry and cover him with clean white brilliance. For a few minutes we sit together in silence.
We tell our stories.
We listen and empathize.
We don't omit details.
We don't tell lies.

And still, no one will ever really know.

There was this woman. The sweetest woman you'd ever want to meet. She was married, to a history professor I think, and had five children. One day, she stabbed her five children to death. They say she gave them something first, a sedative or something. They say the husband was having an affair. The woman jumped from ten floors up. They found her on the ground.

We tell our stories.


The familiar melancholy of your guitar reaches me and tears flow. I have no reason to cry. The familiarity, those sounds, open up a space in me that I did not know existed. Haunting melancholy and I could not feel better than I do right now. Strong. Capable. Real. Fine with it all. I will forever profess my love for you. I give you my soul. I give you my will. The familiar melancholy of your guitar, my twin. I am alright.