War In Heaven

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Chapter 14


I’m late to class for the fourth time and it’s only the second week since classes began. I wasn’t going to come today and I spent most of the night contemplating dropping the class altogether but I woke despite not setting the alarm on my phone. I slept only a couple hours. The bench in the locker room at the fitness center isn’t the most comfortable. My back aches with each movement I make.

I collapse in a chair toward the back attempting to stay out of the eyes of my fellow classmates. They whisper anyway, leaning into each other as they glance and point in my general direction. I am wearing the same clothes as yesterday and I have refused to shave for the sixth day in a row so they probably think I’m homeless. I don’t care for their opinions. They come to class each afternoon with no other intention then being present, saying hi to friends and leaving for their next class. It is different for me. I am trying to find my place in this world. To figure out what purpose I was given. I was destined, a Priest said, not to be content with the world around me.

That’s a shitty destiny if you ask me. Never being satisfied only leaves me angry.

The professor has drawn a large red circle upon the white board with a‘s’ in its center, splitting it in half. “The yin and yang theory.” He shouts out to the class to reach the students in the back like me. “What are your thoughts?”

A hand rises. “Black and white?” He questions.

The professor smiles, pointing. “Good start.” He writes it down, the black on one side and white on the other. “It’s free, anyone anything.”

The shouts start. “God and the Devil.” He writes that as well.

“Angels and Demons.”

“Heaven and Hell.”

“Good and bad.”

“Straight and gay.” The group laughs at their comrades’ stupidity.

“Alright, that’s enough.” He puts the marker down. “For every good, there’s a bad. For every action there is a consequence. Now in this theory. God is equal to the devil.”

A hand goes up. “God is more powerful than the devil.”

“Then what or who is God’s equal?”

“Perhaps, evil in general?”

“What makes you believe God has no bad in him?”

“God is our savior?”

“God is our creator.” He begins to re-circle the red in a blue marker. “What if God is all? There is no equal.”

“Then the yin-yang theory can’t be right.”

“Or, God is outside the natural process. Everything within the circle has a place, has a specific order to it. That is the way God created us. He used this theory to create this planet, this universe, us ourselves. You are a part of His Divine Creation. Everything you do, is effecting someone, something, somewhere. And you’ll never even know it. Doesn’t that excite you? How amazing He is to make a world like this?”

“Bullshit.” I scoff mostly to myself. I forget that the back of the classroom is high and gives off a slight boast to my voice. I feel the whole class turn their dark gazes upon me. I straighten uneasily, scratching at my scruffy neck.

The professor places a hand down on his desk as if disappointment, “Of course, there’s something you wish to say, Sable. Let’s hear it.”

Hesitant and unsure I meet the eyes of random classmates. Their sharp hatred forces confidence into my voice. “The yin and yang theory is all relative. What is the opposite of AIDS? What is the good side to cancer?” I should stop but I don’t as I lean up on the small desk in front of me, “Then you state a theory and crush it by placing God outside of it. Why do we make God such a being that’s incapable of having any equal? Aren’t we supposed to be in his image? How is that possible when everyone is constantly boasting Him up to be something more than he probably is?”

He lifts the bible and holds it up high, “I learn from men that are smarter and better than I can ever be. Can you create a world in seven days? Can anyone?”

“No. I can’t. But I bet I could write a book and say I did.” Scoffs and curses are heard from my fellow classmates as they glare some even turning away sick of looking at me.

The professor adjusts the cuff of his sleeve before softly reply, “Everything you do, everything you say, effects someone, something, somewhere. Remember that. Let’s move on. The Chinese..”

I stay silent the rest of the class. A few times, they expect me to interrupt but I brood doodling nonsense on my paper instead of taking notes. When class is dismissed, I’m the first to grab my pack and make for the exit but I hear my name and stall in my steps. My classmates glower at me as they walk by out of the room, leaving me alone with my teacher. I saunter down and rest on the bottom one, looking up at him irritated, wondering what lecture he’s going to give me.

He cleans his desk of all its papers, shutting his books and stacking them neatly before finally lifting his gaze, “Maybe this class isn’t for you.”

I rest an elbow on my knee to fiddle with my eyebrow piercing, “Yeah, maybe it ain’t.” I murmur. “But I’d like to stay.”

He folds his arms over his chest, leaning against the backside of his desk. “This class is upsetting you. In a way, I don’t understand. Why sign for a religion class up if you don’t believe in the Bible or in God?”

I fasten my gaze on him, “I do believe in God.”

My professor studies me and nervously I scratch on my cheek, darting my eyes anywhere but to his. He steps over and roughly sits beside me with a loud sigh and I hang my head, knowing this is the part he’s going to kick me out. “I’m guessing that you had a tough life.” I shrug. I’m not about to share any of my past with a random stranger. “You blame Him for what happened--”

“No, no I don’t. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.” It was someone’s fault. The man that murdered them, my father for letting her walk out the door, my mother for leaving, my own for joining that stupid sports club. It was someone’s fault. But I don’t blame God because God wasn’t there.

“You have a deep hatred for this class--”

“I just want to understand. I want truth. I want to know who God truly is.”

His professor smiles warmly, gazing at me as one would a child. He believes he possesses wisdom and that I am only lost Soul seeking his words. It is degrading but I say nothing. “We all do. But we settle for faith. The truth may or may not be out there, Sable. And you won’t know it even if you land right on top of it. I’m sure you’ve heard me say, God works in mysterious ways. He’s keeping the truth from us for a certain reason. It’s a test of our faith. All of this.”

“To test us? Doesn’t that sound harsh to you?”

“You can’t learn without making mistakes. And you can‘t do better, if you don‘t know what‘s wrong. To have pain is to learn knowledge. Without it, how can we cherish anything in this life?”

I agree with that. The logic is simple and it is something that I connect to but it has nothing to do with the existence of God. “I get that, really I do. But I’m talking about bigger things than just myself. My own stupid life is trivial in the whole process of the world. I’m trying to find answers that I know are out there somewhere.”

Thankfully, he allows me to stay with the promise that I will no longer shout out in class. Apparently too many have complained about my disruptions. People are ridiculous. Someone questions their beliefs and they get all riled up.

Leaving the room, my day doesn’t get any better when Isabella accosts me right outside. She’s dressed up in her skin tight jeans and an Old Navy T-shirt that shows too much cleavage for a boyfriend that gets jealous easily. She does it on purpose because our relationship is shady at best and she constantly needs me to remind her how much I love her. She gets that by my anger when another guy hits on her. It happens repeatedly. No one actually believes a girl like her dates a guy like me.

Dressed as I am, in black ripped baggy jeans and a black Metallica t-shirt well-worn and faded, we look so wrong for each other it’s funny but she smiles so big when she sees me. It’s enough for me to forget about our differences. I’m sure she would love to jump in my arms though she knows I won’t catch her. She’s tried to do it before and I shoved her off me. I’m not one for emotional reunions. We haven’t seen each other in a week, all my fault of course.

We met at the beginning of last year, which started a new semester of classes. I was a junior and she a freshmen. College Algebra was a relative simple course and so I had saved it for last. When I first started college, I wanted to drown myself in every class and thus I attempted every harsh seminar I could find. I ended up failing a couple of them. Hence, the reason I am now taking summer courses after I should have graduated. I am only three credits behind. If I drop my religion’s class, I will have to stay for a whole other semester and graduate in the fall.

College Algebra was teeming with freshmen and sophomores. All of my friends had finished with the course already and so I was stuck alone but that didn’t stop me from sitting up front and being tentative. Math was a fun subject and I enjoyed it immensely.

Isabella sat behind me with three of her sorority girls. I would be lying if I said they didn’t annoy me on a constant basis and several times I asked them to be quiet. They would only giggle and whisper about me as if I was deaf and incapable of hearing them being not ten feet away. My accent appealed to their tastes. They were all from different places with little accents to distinguish them from the rest of humanity. I liked my accent but I could speak properly if I so chose. I wasn’t raised on the streets. It just so happened I lived there now and after so many years, it was ingrained into my tone.

Isabella tapped me on the shoulder during one of our teacher’s seminars. “Can you teach me to talk like that?”

“Talk like what?” I replied riddled with aggravation.

“Talk like what?” She attempted to copy with the air of northern enunciation on her tongue.

I found myself cackling at her manly manner and she laughed, her cheeks reddening in embarrassment. The teacher was quick to reprimand us.

Since then it has been all her at keeping this relationship together. I’ve been the one running away, shutting all the doors and turning all the corners and she’s been the one following every step of the way. I don’t know what she sees in me. I knew a long time ago I’m nothing special.

Isabella pulls my hand out of my pocket so she can entwine her fingers in mine as we walk. “You don’t look good.” She instantly begins. Honesty is one of her strong suits.

I laugh, “Thanks. You look like crap too.” It happens to be an equally keen quality of mine as well which causes us to have very fervent fights.

Isabella plays with her golden hair, a finger twirling in a strand, “No, I mean. I knew I should have looked for you last night. I keep thinking you just need time. But I should have come after you.”

I turn my head. “You don’t need to look after me. I ain’t a kid.” I’ve made it this far without anyone looking after me. I’ve put myself through college. I’m a senior now, all because I’ve put myself here. No one has helped me and no one has been there for me.

“Sable, you’ve been alone a long time. I respect you. You’re twenty-six and you know what you want. I don’t have a clue on what I’m going to do when I graduate.”

“You just turned twenty, Issie. You got time. And I’ve no idea what I want.”

“Least you’ve decided a degree. I can’t even do that much. But that’s not what I meant. What I mean is, you are so smart and so sure of yourself, I know you don’t need anyone, especially not me. If you can go through all that you have, and still be this wonderful man that you are, than how can I be worthy of that?”

My brows knit as I look at her. She’s confusing me. First, she says she should have come look for me and now she says I don’t need her. She continues to murmur, “But you’re in pain, Sable.” I throw my head. So typical of a female. They tell you that you’re tough and then kick you in the balls. She grips my hand to keep me from walking away. “When you’re not on this... crusade … whatever this religious quest you’re on, everyone that knows you, falls in love with you.” I squeeze out of her fingers and she quickly follows after. “All your friends at work want to hang out, all my girlfriends just rant every time I take you over there about what a gentlemen you are, even my parents love you, Sable. My parents, and they don’t even love me!”

I roll my eyes, “Your parents love you.” This show is getting ridiculous. Does she really have to do this out in the open where there are people that can hear her go on? I can’t even fight back. I tend to have a loud voice and if any ego driven bastard came between my girlfriend and me on campus, I probably would be expelled. I’m three credits away from graduating. It’s important that I finally finish what I’ve set out to do. “Can we do this later?

“Later means never with you.”

“Never’s fine with me.” I shove outside into the warm sunlight. Campus is scarcely littered with people. No one takes summer courses for obvious reasons. School is a big waste of the summer. But I am an exception. I would love for the hot weather to simply disappear. I sweat nearly instantly in these clothes.

Isabella’s footsteps are following quickly behind me and I know she’ll have more to say. I really wish she would just enjoy quiet serene moments with me instead of ruining it. “I want to talk about your parents’ anniversary.”

My body stiffens as I stop my pace so swiftly my bag swings off my shoulder. She has crossed the line. She knows better than that.

My silence only eggs her to continue. “You’re only acting like this because of it. Maybe you should go back to that therapist you use to see.”

My teeth grit and I spin around, meeting her gaze. With a calming voice I try to keep low, I manage to get out, “How dare you.”

She retreats unsurely, “Sable.”

“Shut up.” She sucks in a breath. She knows now she should not have done that. “You are not allowed to talk about that. You can bitch and moan all you want about me being a bad boyfriend. You can tell you friends how horrible I treat you, how I beat you, how I sleep around, I don’t give a fuck. But don’t you ever talk about that.”

Her face hardens. She hates it when I use the word ‘bitch’. It always tends to set her off. “You need to talk about it with someone. It’s been thirteen years. Last year you disappeared for the whole week. Are you going to do the same? Do you have any idea how fucking worried I was? Do you care? Are you going to put me through that again?”

I snatch my bag off the floor but I don’t walk away. I feel slightly guilty for my harsh words.

Isabella steps up closer, “You can be such an amazing man, Sable.” She gets in front of me but I refuse eye contact. She reaches out to touch my cheek and I lean away from it. Her hand drops heavily. “You remember when I was sick about six months ago. I had a cold and I was out of school for a few days. You stayed with me. Day and night. Waited on me as if I was a princess. Those were the best days I’ve ever had. And ever since then,” She laughs and a sniff draws my attention, watching the moment she wipes away a tear, “I keep trying to get sick.”

Dropping my bag I snatch her hand and twist her around, kissing her for the first time in a long time. She wraps her small arms around me and I hold on to her like she’s my anchor. I know it won’t last. She doesn’t understand me at all. My pain, my sorrow, my guilt; It is something she does not possess. I don’t want her to, true enough. But in that, we can never connect. How can two beings that do not know each other be right for one another?

Slowly and with regret that will last me a lifetime, I ease away from her. “I love you, Issie. But I can’t do this to you anymore. It’s not fair.” She shakes her head, she knows where I’m heading with this and she doesn’t want to hear it but I hold her face in my hands to keep her still. “You shouldn’t have to get sick for me to love you right. Don’t you see how messed up that is?” I swallow because as stupid as it sounds there are actual tears in my eyes and pain in my voice. Tears fall down her cheeks and my thumbs wipe them away. “I’m not a good guy, Issie. I have no clue on what I want. I keep thinking if I’m like everyone else, I’ll be okay, so I keep trying to be like everyone else. I go to school, I go to work, I go to church, I go home. But I feel a hole in my heart and I’ve been searching for it for years. Until I find it, I can’t be with you or with anyone.” I pull her into my arms and she grips me tighter than she ever has before. “Do you understand?”

When I feel her nod against me, I close my eyes and thank God.

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