Maria This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , West Hartford, CT
“Do you hear the sound of the mellow choir bells?” No I don’t, not anymore and I found myself walking in the empty halls of the church. The statue of the black angel smiled at me as moonlight shined through the stained glass, painting my skin just a little bit bluer. For just that moment, I felt loved again, a peaceful quiet in my heart that puts my memories at rest, and then I listened. The silence made me feel small and insignificant, like it did when I first stepped inside, and I could hear the beating of my lonely heart. But it doesn’t matter, not tonight. I am alone, and for once in my life, my mind doesn’t have to think.

But then I remembered why I came. “Why don’t you believe in God?” a kid used to ask me, once upon a time. But I already know why. If I believe in him now, I would create more questions I don’t want to answer. You see, I hold a secret I don’t want anyone else to know. I fear that if I tell the truth, people wouldn’t believe me. They would think I was crazy, and maybe I was crazy, am crazy, for keeping this secret for so long. But I am ready to confess. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and fell into the silence of the darkness. And thus began my revelation.

I often find it ironic that I attend a Catholic college. I never went to church on Sundays and never believed that spiel about Christian ideals and principles. In fact, I am Atheist. I was raised that way. But a long time ago, I believed. At least, if visions really do exist, then I believed. It seems foolish now, but when I still lived in Vietnam and my family we didn’t have much to eat, I would sometimes feel a warm glow in my stomach at night. And whenever it filled my heart with joy, my mind would wander into the sky and I would dream the most wondrous dreams, my imaginary conversations with the painter, the man with blue eyes and white skin.

When my parents were asleep, I would sneak downstairs, sit on the floor, and closed my eyes. I would feel sudden warmth in my heart and I would see this man and I would smile as he hugged me. For many nights, the rainbow would descend from the dark canvas and he would walk down and greeted me, each time with a present in his hand, very much like how I imagined my own father would have greeted me if we were rich. Then, he would sit next to me and we would look at each other and I would open the box. And every time I opened it, I would learn something about my future, like how I would have a baby brother, how I would never be able to enjoy the simple things in life, and how I would always encounter one person who would beat me at math. And I would sit and allow my emotions to flow with his warm presence, and sometimes even inclined myself to talk about my life, about how my parents always complained about money, about how I wanted chicken drumsticks for our next New Year’s celebration, about how I wanted to be a father when I grew up. But then, before I knew it, he would hug me goodbye to me and would paint the bridge to the sky with his bare hands and suddenly I would find myself in bed with my parents, ready to begin another day.

I don’t remember much of our conversations anymore, but I still hold one memory close to my heart. On the night of the moon festival, he came in silver robes with a gold box in his hand. He spoke to me, in some strange but clear tongue, about his vision for my future, how I would attain success in a distant land on the other side of the sea, and how this would all be possible if I promised to understand and love everyone like he loved me. However, he also warned me to avoid the hate that clouded people from seeing the truth and destroyed their innocence. Being the kid that I was, I never understood the meaning of what he told me. But I said yes anyways and took the gold box from his hand. And like always, I opened it, but this time, I felt nothing. That familiar warmth wasn’t there like before, and I grew just a bit sadder. As I stood there and opened my eyes, I found myself staring out the window. The rainbow glimmered in the sunlight, and then gradually faded away into the sunrise. And my heart flew with its magical beauty, the painful freedom of dissatisfaction.

That was the last time I saw the painter. But that was in the past, and I don’t dream about trivial things anymore. To be honest, my mind hasn’t been able to dream since middle school. It bothered me a little back then, but not anymore. Still, sometimes when I felt a little lonely, I would wish for my dreams to come back, and sometimes I would even strain in my sleep, with the thought that if I tried hard enough, I would be able to see the painter again. But every time I would grow tired and would fall asleep with tears in my eyes and would find myself awake, just a little sadder, a little lonelier. And so I stopped trying and stopped crying. Eventually, I stopped caring altogether.

“Then why am I here?” but somewhere in my heart, I already know. It’s the same reason why I want to have meaningful conversations with people, and it’s the same reason why my words are still blue. Maybe, just maybe, I really want to believe, to have faith that the world could be perfect, or at least a little less hurtful, a little more loving. I would give anything, my knowledge, my experiences, my accomplishments, my humanity, just to see him one more time, to feel that warmth on my skin, in my heart, again. But I am human, and I fear the possibility that my dreams were real. If they were, and if I really did see God once upon a time, then I would forever suffer a guilt that I could never repay. And I would continue to question myself until I became self-satisfied with answers that don’t explain anything meaningful. But I have to stop being afraid and finish the promise that I made as a child.

But I don’t know how.

Even though I try to be good, I haven’t been kind or nice to people. I still hate people, I still hate myself, and that isn’t going to change. But if I continue to hate, then how can I love people who only look forward, who won’t even stop to look back or inside or to their side? To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t expect anyone else to know, either. But I still want to love people, even if they don’t love me in return. But how can I love everyone? Maybe I should look around and love everyone that I see, but that’s just dumb. How can I love strangers who I’ve never seen or met? How can I love people who have betrayed my trust? How can I love people who have suffered more than I have? How can I love people who don’t want to know me for myself? How can I love myself?

But then, something stopped me from questioning the unknown. I found myself sitting on the steps of the steeple, my eyes closed.

“Maria” and I clasped my hand and prayed, as softly as I could, for love itself.





Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

mudpuppy said...
Jul. 20, 2010 at 6:43 pm
Lack of faith, that's what would happen as you get older. I agree with the previous posters. This is a very emotional piece and the issue that the main character is going through is so realistic.
 
AvengedJasonFold said...
Jun. 27, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Simon Cowell feedback--you asked for it!

Wow! How can I find any fault in this piece. It's so fascinating--so natural--and I can relate to a lot of the emotion and especially the paragraph "Even though... myself?"

The first few paragraphs were very artistic and well done. The rest of the piece was also well done but in a slightly different tone--one that was more of a conversational natural-speaking voice which was also very good. Personally I think it all blends together fine b... (more »)

 
julian This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Wow, I love the emotion and heart in this story! You did a really good job on this. I got your link on facebook, and I'm glad I decided to check it out! You should check out some of my stuff too, you might like it.

Keep it up!

 
kysh15 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 15, 2010 at 11:34 pm
this is so good. the emotion is so raw I love it! check out some of my stuff?
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback