Having Heaven 1 – The Test

Some believed that existence itself was an ever-expanding canvas and human lives were merely tiny splashes of colors within a much larger, universal painting, while others saw it as a tapestry with human lives being bits of thread woven to make patterns undecipherable by mortal eyes with limited vision who were only allowed to view the tiniest of portions of the tapestry’s back side. Mayra Critchlow, however, thought of existence as a great tome and a person’s life merely an anthology of stories, not always sequential, that when bound together told a coherent narrative. And her life was about to embark on a new chapter that began with her period being late.

It wasn’t earth-shattering news or even that big a surprise since Mayra had always been what her mother called a natural born stresser. Even before she knew how to communicate effectively, she made a habit of sweating the small stuff and when she hit puberty stress carried in tow a condition known as secondary amenorrhea. Her reproductive system was affected by high levels of anxiety which caused her monthlies to temporarily stop. This time, though, it felt one hundred and fifty percent completely different and she suspected something wasn’t quite right after her friend (what a stupid term of endearment for menstruation) was two weeks late. The lead up remained the same, days before her mood soured, she turned grumpy, her chin broke out and her stomach ached constantly but Mayra became concerned when it stopped as quickly as it began. All the symptoms simply vanished. The next logical solution was pregnancy but she couldn’t have been pregnant because of the Nexplanon implant and her boyfriend Gavin wore condoms for extra protection every single time they had been together, which was less often in the past few months.

A Google search of Why is my period so late? inevitably led her to six other reasons her cycle might be a bit wonky. Among the options were major weight loss or excessive exercise—neither of which were the case, a thyroid irregularity, Polycystic ovary symptom, Chronic diseases like Celiac, low dose birth control, and premature menopause. Needless to say, she was not a fan of any of those choices.

Another website suggested waiting ten days after her cycle and taking a pregnancy test even if conception was used. So, Mayra tamped down the panic of possibly having a chronic disease, hormone imbalance, or failing ovaries and snuck out of work the following day before her lunch break and bought a pregnancy test. She decided not to grab one at home because Gavin was there and if she popped out to the store after they had just gone shopping, it would have raised a red flag. And then there would have been the sneaking of the test into the house and bald-faced lying to him if he inquired what she went to the store to pick up. It all seemed silly but she decided to go the easy route and not make a thing out of something that didn’t need to be a thing.

Mayra was tempted to take the test in the restroom at work but as she stepped into the stall she considered if that was the memory she wanted to keep if the result was somehow positive? Would it have been disrespectful to Gavin and even more so to the baby? Besides, if the test was positive, there was no way she could have concentrated on work and she would waste most of the afternoon on the phone with Bethany, doing the whole talking in code thing, which might have been fun but it would have been frustrating as well.

Exhausting just about every last drop of self-control she had, Mayra managed to wait until she arrived home and made a beeline to the bathroom, pecking Gavin on the cheek as she sped past. She never experienced a longer five minutes in her entire life and after the stick delivered its answer she paced the tiny bathroom space in a daze not quite able to handle it. There was a part of her that was tempted to go back to the pharmacy and buy one of each different test brand they had, as if she could get some cosmic do over.

She stuffed the pregnancy test and packaging in her purse—no sense in him spotting it in the trash before she had the chance to tell him—and opened the bathroom door. Gavin was right there in the doorway, rushing past her, undoing his belt buckle.

“What the hell were you doing in here so long” he asked, shoving his boxers and pants around his ankles before plopping down on the toilet. “I need to take a killer dump!”

She stared into his eyes, searching for what she did not know, but she knew she hadn’t found it and all of the courage suddenly drained from her.

“Uh… a little privacy here?” Gavin gestured for her to shut the door. “Unless you’ve developed a scat fetish?”

There was no way they would be having the pregnancy discussion today.

To Be Continued…

©2018-2020 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

The Wooden Cup

The last meal? Declined. Told that I might dine on whatever foodstuffs my heart desired, I found myself wanting nothing that would possibly remind me of the pleasures of this existence. Starvation would be the repast I took to my grave.

Prepared to meet my maker? Not by a long chalk. Religion was a thing that never quite managed to find purchase upon the coral reef of my soul. Mine was a spirit never moved by any diety, higher or lower, so the only salvation available for me once I came face to face with my final fate was to let oblivion enfold me within her inky embrace.

My jailors were informed that I would seek no holy counsel from a curate, as I hoped to spend my last hours in solitude but that request was ignored and a visitor was announced—a woman whose face was unfamiliar to me was escorted into my cell.

She said nothing, this woman, as she sat on the far corner on my bedding, cradling a cup hewn from wood in her delicate hands. Smiling, she offered the cup to me and made a motion suggesting that I drink.

For the life of me—a peculiar turn of phrase considering my position—I could not explain why I accepted the cup or why at her urging I touched its brim to my lips but in my grasp this simple cup was not unlike the holy grail.

It was filled with a liquid that after one sip I somehow knew to be her tears. Tears shed from happiness and from grief, yet when those collected salt drops greeted my lips the flavor was replete with the surprising splendor of the sweet serenity of a loving quiet purpose.

I drank and drank until there was no more and was momentarily reluctant to release the cup. When she left, still proffering that unnaturally kind smile, I realized what she had done. That simple and bizarre act of sharing her fluid with me sparked an ember of faith within I had no inkling existed and in that moment I knew sorrow and regret for what I had done and for the life that could have been and for the reward that existed beyond this life whose gates would never be opened for one such as I.

So it was to be oblivion after all.

©2019 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Free Will

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The column of light extended either way into infinity, so bright as to cut the mind’s eye to even contemplate. It was The Judgment of God, and Xaphan was trapped within it. Pinned in midair, wings spread to their fullest span, arms and legs akimbo like a celestial insect, the apostate angel watched helplessly as the Seven Angels Who Stand Before God hovered, circling him.

“What is my crime, then?” Xaphan asked. “Daring to ask if the design of these heavens we were made to build originated from God, or the vainglorious Viceroy of Heaven?”

Lucifer Morningstar’s countenance, normally bright and a thing of beauty, soured at Xaphan’s words, becoming a dark and heavily shadowed thing, despite the ever-present light.

“Tread careful, creature, for I know your name be jealousy,” Lucifer said through pursed lips. “Though you wear the guise of my brother, still will I smite you.”

“What right have you to question our brother?” said Gabri-el, Ruler of the Cherubim, and the Governor of Eden.

The corners of Xaphan’s mouth curled slightly. “Free will grants me that right. Is that not our entitlement? I have made no secret that I believe this to be Lucifer’s heaven and not God’s own, and I intended to prove my theory.”

“By attempting to set Heaven ablaze?” Lucifer said.

“Attempting? Did it not burn?” Xaphan replied.

“I cannot understand why he would harbor hatred toward the Celestial Choir,” said Micha-el, leader of the Celestial Armies, Angel of Destruction and Vengeance in the name of God.

“Hatred? Xaphan stated that he was only exercising his free will. Do we all not have that option?” said Rapha-el, Guardian of the Tree of Life in Eden, and Chief Ruling Prince of Second Heaven.

“Xaphan’s heart is filled with pride, not hatred,” said Uri-el, Angel Who Watches Over Thunder and Terror, and the Cherub who stands at the Gate of Eden with a fiery sword.

“Be that as it may, Uri-el, his free will was honored when he chose not to assist in the construction of the heavens,” said Ragu-el, Angel of Earth, and keeper of the Trumpet of Ice and Snow.

“Precisely,” said Remi-el, Angel of True Divine Visions. “He had no right to set asunder the fruits of our labor. Xaphan could have exercised his free will in any number of non-destructive forms, such as leaving the celebration, if it offended him so.”

“Perhaps, but did we do our brother a disservice by not opening his opinions to debate?” said Razi-el, Giver of Divine Mysteries.

“And what of God’s will, Razi-el? Lucifer was appointed viceroy by the Almighty! Should Xaphan’s will supercede Morningstar’s own?” Gabri-el looked from face to angelic face.

“Free will is a gift we should not accept lightly,” Micha-el nodded.

“Agreed. There must be rules set in place to govern the use of our free will.”

“And a punishment to be meted out should one of us fail to adhere to the guidelines? I do not agree,” Rapha-el said.

“If we do not make an example of Xaphan, then what keeps the rest of the Choir from repeating his mistake?” Ragu-el asked.

“Mistake?” said Uri-el. “Xaphan made a conscious choice and acted on it! He is our equal in all things! Who are we to judge him?”

“I must agree,” Remi-el added. “Who are we to judge? We are the Shadowside of God. Only God should hold judgment upon the Mal’akh.”

“A good point, which leads to an interesting question: Why has God remained silent and allowed these things to happen?” Razi-el asked.

“Enough!” Lucifer’s tone was a knife. “True, the voice of God has grown silent within me. That is why I have called you together. To decide the fate of Xaphan. The only vote not cast here will be mine. As God is hushed, so too shall I be. Your options are to either: Pardon Xaphan, Strip him of his celestial nature, Imprison him, or End his existence. Cast your ballots.”

Gabri-el was the first to break silence. “Our pardon, Lucifer. Not bearing the mantle of viceroy allows us to forget its burden. Since pardoning Xaphan is out of the question, and the other sentences are too ghastly to imagine, I vote for imprisonment.”

Rapha-el, Uri-el, Ragu-el, Remi-el and Razi-el concurred with the imprisonment vote.

Lucifer turned to Micha-el, “What say you, Micha?”

“I choose none of the options you present, brother. Though I agree an example must be set, I opt to wait until God has spoken,” Micha-el said as he flew away from the table. “Until such time, I will not be party to such gatherings.”

Gabri-el turned to follow. “Micha! Wait–!”

Lucifer, suddenly at Gabri-el’s side, placed a hand on her shoulder, stopping her. “Let him be. Our brother is exercising his free will.”

“Xaphan, you are sentenced to imprisonment on Raquia, the Second Heaven, until the Word of God dictates otherwise. As part of your sentence, you are commanded to construct your own prison by hand in the same manner by which the heaven you destroyed was built.”

Xaphan considered his punishment a long moment before he spoke “What is the definition of Free? Is it having no obligations? And the definition of Will? A disposition to act according to principles? Then does not Free Will mean the freedom to make choices without obligation or divine intervention?”

The Seven could not find fault in his logic.

The column of light melted off Xaphan.

“Thank you, but I decline.” he said politely and flew off.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Songs As Stories: Stars Go Blue

When Stars Go Blue

*Inspired by the song “When The Stars Go Blue” by Ryan Adams

It was a secret place, a quarter acre of Eden abandoned and erased from the mind of mankind the instant the original sin was committed, and I had stumbled upon it quite by accident.

No, that was a lie and I promised myself I would not defile the sanctity of the garden if it could be helped.

I was not proud of the actual reason of how I came to be in this place, simply because I was a stalker. In my defense, it was only the once, I hadn’t made a habit of following women around without their knowledge. Just one woman. The one I was currently spying on, crouched here in the bushes amongst the flower blossoms, berries and leaves.

Mari.

Coworkers called her Marionette behind her back and sometimes to her face, passing it off as good-natured teasing. There was nothing good-natured about it. She acquired the nickname because she was a gangly woman who moved about in a jerky fashion, as if the unseen wires that made her move were constantly in a tangle that the puppeteer hadn’t been able to sort.

Mari did as people of her ilk often do, she kept herself to herself, stared at her shoes rather than make eye contact, and accepted all the negativity heaped upon her shoulders with nary a complaint. But she couldn’t hide the fact that she was miserable, just as I couldn’t hide that I was somehow drawn to that misery.

Although I wanted to know her for a while, I was too shy to make an approach. Today, I told myself, would be the day. As I went through my daily grind, I slowly mustered all my courage and screwed it to the sticking place. Ten minutes to quitting time, I marched to Mari’s cubicle, prepared to make my intentions known…

But she wasn’t there.

I searched by the fax machine, in the kitchen near the coffee maker, I even bore the brunt of strange stares when I loitered outside the women’s restroom, but she wasn’t anywhere to be found. Completely and utterly defeated, I grabbed my coat and left for home.

Half a block before the entrance to the subway, something grabbed my attention out the corner of my eye. Across the street, Mari sat on a bench at a bus stop as the 5:17 pulled up. I wanted to run across the street, braving the crosstown traffic and hop on the bus to make my stand. Instead, I froze. All my former courage had long abandoned me.

For the second time today, my heart sank. And for the second time today it did so without merit. The bus pulled away to find Mari still seated. And she sat as bus after bus pulled up and away. She did not read a book. She did not listen to music. She simply sat patiently.

Then when sufficient time had passed, Mari stood and walked away. I couldn’t tell you what possessed me to follow her on the crooked path that weaved through narrow alleyways, towering overpasses, black as pitch underground tunnels. Eventually her journey came to a halt in front of a lot that appeared to have been vacant for centuries.

Mari stood at the perimeter of the lot and at the precise moment the evening woke and forced the daylight into hiding, a door appeared with seven locks. She stood absolutely still and waited. In the newborn evening sky, stars bloomed and seven of them twinkled blue in a sequence that repeated seven times. The locks tumbled one after the other and the door opened slowly.

Mari stepped through the door frame but hadn’t appeared in the lot on the other side. From my vantage point, she simply vanished.

I ran to the door and managed to squeeze through before it shut, but instead of finding myself in the overgrown and refuse-filled lot, I stepped into paradise. My clothes melted from my body and ashamed of my nakedness, I hid in a nearby bush.

In the very center of the garden stood a mammoth tree that bore unrecognizable fruit of various shapes and sizes, the roots of which branched out along the grass and touched two streams on either side, one that appeared to have been made of milk and the other honey.

Standing beside the tree was Mari, naked but no longer that gangly woman who was awkward in her skin and awkward in the world. Here, her jerky movements flowed gracefully, her normally dull and lifeless eyes were polished to a fine shine, and her crooked mouth straightened and nearly split her face in half when she unleashed that radiant smile.

Mari blew a kiss up to the tree and somehow that kiss became a breeze that rustled the leaves which made a sort of melody unlike any I had ever heard. A pure music played by nature itself.

She danced around the tree all night without tiring, in time with the tune, and sang in a voice that was different from her normal mousy tone, stronger now, more confident. And I watched all the sorrow and strife, all the hurt and anger, all that was wrong with her life evaporate from her body.

When she sensed it was time to leave, Mari reached up and plucked the smallest of the fruit from a low hanging branch and dipped it in the stream of honey before washing the meal down with a cupped hand from the stream of milk.

The door reappeared and her clothing was folded neatly in a pile beside it. With each layer she put on, the transformation to her old self, the Mari that people mocked, began.

I thought about following her, but how could I ever leave this place, this patch of perfection? I knew she would be back and the next time I would talk to her, for certain. Until then I was contented to wait until she returned to dance again. I would wait until the stars went blue.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Genaissance: A Parable Scribed By The Shadowside Of God

Genaissance

The time? One of innocence. The place? A land that no longer exists; the Earth Pre-Flood. It is here that a gentle soul named Enoch, on the 365th year of his life, is lifted up into the Seven Heavens and brought before the unbearable face of God. Elected to be the Scribe of God, Enoch encounters the Archangel Micha-el, who begins relating a fantastic parable. Through Enoch’s mindseye we witness the evolution of God, the creation of Earth, the formation of Heaven, the birth of Lucifer Morningstar, and much, much more.

©1999 – 2016 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys