We were sitting on the roof of your car when you asked me if I still believed in God. It was sticky and bugs were biting my legs, but we shared slushies bought from that run-down gas station at the end of Carowinds Boulevard, the one we pass on your way home.
When you asked me if I believed in God, I told you about the first time I ever got punched in the face.
I know it was in third grade, on the trail behind the elementary school, the one we aren’t supposed to know about. The one that leads to a sewer, to the creek framed by Spanish moss and patches of sunlight that sneak their way in through the leaves. I know I did something stupid, the type of thing you always chide me for, and my friend landed her fist square on my nose, just on the bridge.
I cried at first, because that’s what I tend to do in these situations, and she pulled me in for a hug, whispering, “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry” in my ear like a prayer. I was caught in between her arms, her head stuck against my neck, and I just stood there and cried.
When she detached from me, and I wiped my tears off on a muddy sleeve, we kept moving through the woods silently, onwards, always.
It was only when she went home, and I got back to my house with a bruise on my nose, a small ache remaining, that I realized I couldn’t even be angry. As much as I tried, the feeling wouldn’t come. When she wrapped her arms around me, her own tears spilling onto my cotton t-shirt, I could only think, “How can I never stop feeling like this?”
This isn’t a feeling Man can create. It is entirely beyond. So, when you asked me if I still believed in God, I could only tell you about a far-off hope.