God died tonight, so Mama said I ain't gotta pray. Said that I don't gotta go to church neither, don't need to wear that suit again and I can play all I want. Mama cried. I guess it's sad God died and all, but I ain't never met him or anything.
She said he fell from heaven just today, it was even on the news. I might've even seen him, since I was playing outside when it happened. Or I might've heard the boom. I think I heard something, but it sure didn't sound like God.
Sam heard it he said, while we was out throwing rocks. Said it sounded like a dinosaur, but didn't want to tell me. I yelled at him for that, we'd had a deal since last year in the first grade. Any of us find a dragon or dinosaur, we share it.
Anyway, I watched the news as Mama went around the house. I thought she was just cleaning up, like she was expecting grandma or someone to come over. The news just kept showing the sky and then something falling, then a huge explosion. Right on the White House, like some big mushroom just grew right then and there. Mama said the thing on the TV wasn't God, no, it was a piece of heaven. "Just a piece of an angel's house, honey," she told me. "There's some very bad things happening up there, and the angels are angry."
"So are angel's houses made of bombs?" I asked her. She just looked at me, turned right around and froze up like I said a bad word. Then I saw she was crying again.
"Heaven's just really far up, honey. There are no bombs in heaven. It's just really far up." Then she just ran away and went to the kitchen.
The news showed a map, and there was a target on the White House. It just got bigger and bigger as mama ran around cleaning up, and the woman on the TV kept saying stuff like "blast radius" and "radiation." I ain't never been to the White House before, but I don't think I'll get to go there now. It's weird, even though he's dead and all, the news said, "May God save us all."
Mama came in then. I could tell she'd been crying even more, and just went and turned off the TV. Looked like she was taking out the garbage, only I saw a couple crosses in the bag, even a statue of Jesus and my Bible. I asked her why she was throwing them all out and she said, "Because we don't need them anymore. That's why, honey, we just don't need them anymore."
Only, she didn't throw them out. I watched her through the window, she up and lit them on fire right in the backyard. The Smiths next door and Sam's parents down the street were doing the same. I could tell because the fire was bright and the smoke smelled something fierce.
Then mama came back in and said I had to get dressed nicely because we were having company over. I said alright, but there was no way I would wear those church clothes. She said I didn't have to, she promised. Just some jeans and a t-shirt, and she laid them out on my bed. When she left, I could tell she started to cry again.
I put on my shirt last, even though I knew dad would tuck it in when he got home. He was always like that, making me tuck in my shirt and look nice, but he was funny. One time he made this joke right when we was eating dinner, and mama near choked on her chicken. I didn't understand it, but my mama and dad laughed so I figured I should too.
When I was dressed the sun was starting to set so I went back out. Now I expected to see grandma and grandpa there, and they were, but so was Sam, and his parents, and their parents, and the Smiths and Johnsons and even some people I only seen walking down the street. They were all sitting around in the living room watching TV.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith was crying and hugging each other, and shouting about their son. I think his name was Tom, and he left home a couple years ago. He wasn't there, they must have missed him a lot to be crying like that. In fact, a lot of the grown-ups was crying, some not like the Smiths but they all frowned, almost like they was scared.
"It's the Koreans, you know they never like us good Christians," Mr. Johnson shouted at the TV.
"Hon, if it's anyone it's the Middle East. Who knows what goes on there now-a-days, but they must have gotten their hands on one and just decided…" Mrs. Johnson stopped talking when she saw me, and all the rest did the same.
"Andrew," Grandma said. Then she got up and hugged me, kissed me on the forehead and everything. I hugged her back, but she held on for an awful long while. "I love you, Andrew," she said.
"I love you too Grandma," I said back to her. Grandpa didn't get up; he just looked at the TV.
"Why don't you go play with Sam? The rest of us grown-ups are just talking politics, bunch of boring stuff." Sam was sitting by his parents, and they pushed him off the couch and nodded their heads a lot. He just walked up real slow, head bowed and all.
When he was right next to me he said, "Sorry for trying to keep the dragon a secret," so quietly I had to put my ear closer to hear.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you," I said.
He looked back up and smiled. I smiled too. You can't stay mad at your best friend. "Wanna go play outside?" he asked. I nodded my head and we just ran to the door.
"Not outside!" Mama screamed before we even left the room. "Don't go outside, Andrew. Just go play video games, alright?"
"That's right Sam, just stay inside and play, alright?" Sam's mom said.
Mama never told me to go play video games; in fact she took away the controller a couple times. It was weird, but how could I say no? So me and Sam ran up to my room and played until we was both yawning and tired.
But right before I went to sleep, I realized that Dad wasn't downstairs. I hadn't seen him all day, not since he left to go to work in the morning. He would've called Mama if he'd been stuck in traffic, and mama would've cooked dinner and wrapped a plate up for him. That's another thing, Mama forgot to cook dinner.
So I asked Mama about him the next morning, seeing as how he didn't even come home when I was asleep. Everyone else just fell asleep on the couch, and the TV was still on only with a different man talking about the piece of Heaven falling. Mama wasn't sleeping though; she was right in the kitchen cooking some eggs and bacon for everyone.
"Mama, where's dad?" I asked her. She just took this real deep breath and flipped the bacon. "Mama?"
"He won't be coming back for a while, honey," she said. "Remember what I said about the bad things happening up in heaven? Well he's just gone to help out with those things; he's gone to help the angels." Then she knelt right by me and looked me in the eye. "That's why you can't go outside, because of what's happening." I could tell she was starting to cry again, but she didn't let me see and went back to the eggs.
Then a jet flew by overhead. Now usually they sound real loud, but this one was kind of quiet, like it didn't want to be heard. After that came a bunch of helicopters and they were loud. Went and woke everyone up, even shook the house. I saw them through a window with Mama, and it looked like they were flying in triangles, and they had huge guns on them. Sam ran right up next to me to watch. "They're so big," he said when the other grown-ups came in.
"Dad may be on one, Andrew," Mama whispered. I don't know why she whispered it, but then she put the eggs on a plate and said, "Who wants some breakfast?"
We ate real quietly, though sometimes Grandpa would mutter something about Russians or Koreans. Grandma would hush him up right away, and when we were done with our meals the grown-ups all went back to the TV and Sam and me went back to our games. That's all we did all day, Mama made sandwiches for lunch and we didn't even eat at the table. It didn't seem like anyone wanted to go home.
No one really got the chance that night though. The power went out. Me and Sam was watching TV when it just shut off, along with the lights. Blackouts were always fun with Sam, even though he always tried to scare me. But Mama's screaming was what was really scary. "Sam, Andrew, get down here!" Mama shouted louder than I'd heard before. "Andrew, Sam!"
Both of us went down the stairs fast as we could, but that was still slow since it was dark. Wasn't fast enough, because Mama just kept screaming and shouting and soon all the other grown-ups were doing the same. And when we did finally get to her, Sam's mama hugged him real close and mine didn't seem to want to let me go, and just kept kissing me.
"Mama, why's the power out?" I asked her.
"Because the angels are coming, baby. The angels are coming, and I need you to listen to them, alright. Just do what they say, no matter what." Her voice was starting to get croaky, and she was hugging me so tight I couldn't breathe. "They don't look like they do in church, honey."
All of us heard the tank. First it sounded like a real big car, but then got closer and louder until we all had to peek outside. It just rolled down the street, with a couple angels at its side. They didn't have wings or nothing, and didn't wear them white robes. Just some jeans and a t-shirt, some had a bandana on their mouths but they all carried guns. Behind them were these trucks, but not like on the highway. They had something like a tent over the back and were painted green.
A couple angels were knocking on doors and running in, and sometimes they'd come back out with people. They always seemed to be shouting, only I couldn't understand a thing they were saying.
"Where's the army?" Grandpa asked a couple times. "They said they'd come for us, they said it. Where's the army?" Grandma patted his back and rubbed his shoulder, and whispered something in his ear that just made him be quiet.
Then an angel knocked on the door. We heard all the way down here, and he yelled something I didn't understand in some other language. Mama looked confused or scared, like she couldn't make up her mind on something. But when the angel knocked a third time, Mama ran to the door and opened it for him.
"We're not religious," she told him. I guess we wasn't now that Mama burned all the crosses. The angel yelled at her. "We're not religious," she said again. I watched from down the hall as the angel grabbed her hair and tossed her outside. Then he came inside, pointing his gun at us.
He yelled something, but none of us could understand. We just knelt on the ground looking up at him. He didn't seem as heavenly as church said he'd be. He looked more like the people I saw on the street when mama drove me to school.
"I'm sorry," Grandma told him when he stopped yelling. "We can't understand, and you seem awful mad at us for it. Can you say it in English?" The angel eyed her for a second, and then moved his gun to point at her.
"Out," he said, and we all walked outside. There were a couple fires, and a lot more angels than I thought. The tank kept rolling down the street, and the trucks parked nearby. It was loud, a lot people were talking and the tank didn't do anything to help. Angels were loading people on the trucks, and they all had their hands raised.
"Down," the angel said from behind. He made us all get in a line first, and pulled Mama up by her hair to kneel like she was going to pray. Grandma was next to me, and she pushed my shoulder down until I was on my knees.
I looked at her, but she just smiled and mouthed, "It'll be okay."
Another angel came up, and pinned a little cross on my shirt and another on Sam. He eyed Sam's dad a little, then shrugged and put one on him too. He made the three of us get up, and forced us into a line. I got to be first, but didn't want to walk. I didn't want to leave Mama.
And so I ran to her, and hugged her. Mama wasn't crying now, and whispered "I love you" before an angel pulled me away. He was really strong, and held me even when I fought to get free.
Then an angel shot Mama. Then Grandpa. Then Grandma. Then Sam's mama. And then the Smiths. And the Johnsons. And everyone else.
Both Sam and me and his dad was crying. Only Sam's dad fought too, even when an angel held him back and put a gun in his side. They knocked him out, and left him lying down on the driveway.
They took Sam and me to the trucks, and even though we were in a line they split us up. Sam didn't say anything when we went away from each other, just kept crying. So was I when they sat me down on a bench underneath the tent-roof. The angel was laughing, and the truck started up.
Mama said I didn't have to pray now that God was dead. But you know what? I think I will.
Submission for 's prompt [link] (#31)in which the objective is to create a neat opening line and build a story off of it. Religion's a touchy topic, and most touchy topics gain interest, and thus are interesting. That's my justification for this abomination of a story.
The eyes of a child is a great focal point for this piece-- it lets the world expand and be explained in wonder and horror at what's going on. I love the opportunities for emotion this piece has. When the mother burns the religious paraphernalia and when they are shuffled into the basement lead up wonderfully to the moment the soldiers knock at the door.
I do think the voice needs a little clean up. The first line is "God died tonight, so Mama said I ain't gotta pray" is very distinctive, and not exactly replicated throughout. I think this is the stem of most of the other problems in the piece; once you're set and you know the narrative voice the rest usually falls into place. As it is, the voice wavers a bit and flips between a close and a distant first person. A close first person gives the impression of being in the moment. If narrator is surprised, that comes through to the readers. As the narrator feels and interprets the world around them, they record it in the past tense. A more distant first person gives the impression of time having elapsed before the narrator chooses to tell the story. They have room to meditate on their feelings and reflect on their actions as the reader encounters them. Both are distinctive and offer different things to a piece. This one would do well to sit strongly in either.
One other thing that would help this piece along would be to give a face to the antagonists. Choose who they are, know what they want, why they are doing what they're doing and how they plan to achieve it. Even if almost none of this makes it into the piece, their actions will be more directed and much sharper. The chance to make them terrifying or just an object of any emotion is much greater, because the narrator can have more to say about something that isn't generic. With an actual face they can be known by the reader, even if the narrator does not fully understand what is going on.
Overall this piece is really good, and I would be excited to see it in another incarnation! Good work and keep writing!
Wow, I was hooked. The tone is perfect, and the fact it is from the point of view of a child makes it so much worse (and better). Nothing is overt, but is left to the reader to figure out what is happening, yet it is still clear what has happened. I like the juxtaposition between the character being glad he doesn't have to wear his church clothes anymore, and the ending where he finally understands the meaning of God and why he's needed. I'm going to feature this in my journal next Sunday.
...agh. This just...right in the heart. I started out kind of confused and a little amused by the absurdity of the situation. Then it started getting dark. Then it got outright horrifying. By the end, I was basically in tears. This is really quite fantastic, and I love the fact that it's a child. That just makes it so much more horrifying and heartbreaking.
Thanks for reading and for the fave... and for the kudos.
I'm awfully curious, why did you think it was heartbreaking? Looking back, I agree that this whole thing is completely absurd, and that it just isn't realistic, but what apparently touched you so? I only ask because, well isn't the art to evoke emotion in the reader? I want to know what I did right.
I think the part that got me the most was the "angels" coming at the end and taking them away. Especially when they killed the adults right in front of the kids. That's what really gutpunched me, and it was done really well.
Wow this is awful, but in the best kind of way. You kept me reading until the very end, and it was beautifully haunting to have a child narrate such a horrid tale; I don't think it would have been as gut-wrenching had your narrator been an adult.
I love your last line and like how it contrasts so well with the beginning of the piece. It's a lovely little glimpse of hope, even though it seems pretty fruitless.
Thank you very much for reading, commenting and favoriting. It means a lot.
I'm glad I could keep your reading, first-person is foreign to me so it's hard to write. The last line was pretty much thrown in last-minute, and I think it's clumsy and cheesy. But hey, people seem to like it.
Guess what guys! I'm
reopening my stores
(Etsy and Storenvy)
and commissions, I
can finally announce
that I'm getting
married and I need
to save as much as
possible for the big
day, July 27th.
before anyone asks,
the wedding is not
been planning it for
a long time...
Sorry, I can't
believe it's been so
long since I've done
this "orzEdit: I
forgot, but my
friend here's having
it's about your
with your favourite
food. It can be your
own character or
away time is back
:D! This time I've
got 1500pts to give
away c:The last
giveaway was really
well received so I'm
doing another! After
the way the last one
panned out, one
thing I would like
to remind you guys
of is to PLEASE
PLEASE follow the
guidelines so you
can be properly...
FIRSTLY: thank you
so much for all your
kind birthday wishes
and little gifts!
:hug: you made me
:heart:I hope this
small feature can
bring a smile to
your faces, too
:)enjoy and make
sure to fave some of
this great pieces!
;)and now we move on
to the first part of
`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More