Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

mormoni

Christmas had come and gone, and the New Millennium had begun.  At Maxwell Manor, burgundies, navy blues, and hunter greens had been replaced with shades of cream, ecru, and chartreuse.  Modern art had been replaced with several of Greg Olsen’s paintings, and the place began to more resemble a Mormon temple than a museum.

“Though the husband is the head of the home,” the elders of the Church had often said, “the wife is the heart.”

It was my house, too, even though I was old enough to move out , but Mother was changing everything.  The house on Harrington Court was mine now, but I would always have a place at Maxwell Manor—a room in one of David’s many mansions, and the one room, besides David’s study, that Mother would not touch.  Did that make it a shrine unto myself?

I would keep the house at Harrington Court as one would a museum, for Mother had changed nothing in it since the Mormons had come, flooding our house with their holy water and setting fire to our lives as we had known them.

He told me that I’d become as she once was, even as he believed who Mother was now, she would always be. She would never change her mind about the Church, for the Church had changed her.  

Mother had put off the natural woman to put on the spiritual, for in her eyes, the two entities could not coexist, for one would always rule over the other.  It was perhaps the first time in my life I acknowledged with defeat that a Force greater than the influences of those who loved her, led my mother now. As she drew closer to God, she withdrew from us, even as David and I grew closer than ever.  A part of me still feared losing him, if he completely lost Mother.

David thanked God for my will that I would never allow the Church to change me.  I had never heard David thank God for anything before, save that night in the hospital, and I wondered, if, in his own way, he was changing, too.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

With any other youth group,
the idea of dating a lot of different people
seemed like cheating,
but in Mormonism,
until one felt ready to marry,
it was better not to get fixated on any one person,
for that might lead to falling in love
& that just might lead to sin.

Tony had been willing to give up his reputation for Kath
but not Elder Roberts.
Tony had sealed his fate with his beloved by impregnating her,
whereas Elder Roberts had denied himself
by denying me.

It was a jubilee of sorts—
the tinkling of our fluted stems
signaling the beginning of the New Year
& the best years of our lives to come.

A cool gust, a warm breeze,
stirred me from my slumber
like a ghostly lover beckoning me.
I just stood back and watched him,
enjoying him,
& when he spoke to the sky,
it was then that I realized that he was speaking to the God
I thought he didn’t believe in.

I would never know if David lied to himself,
so he could lie to Mother,
but they would have a year before the temple
for her to fall in love with him
without all the trappings of Mormonism,
before she would expect him to take her to the temple
& promise things that he would never do,
not even for her,
even if she were me.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

mormoni

Mother and David were like eloping teenagers, and I, their unmarried, childless friend, who was forced to witness a choice that I knew would end in doom.   

A baby grand sat in the corner of the room; on top, sat a picture of Jesus.  For some reason, it made me think of a picture of a woman’s late husband. “I guess He’s the witness,” Caitlin whispered, and I held back a laugh.

The preacher’s daughter sat on the witness chair, telling Mother, “I hope I can have more than one husband, too, but not at the same time, of course—not like the Mormons.”

“David, when I think of you, I think of the guardian angel who came to us all those years before, bearing good tidings of great joy.”  I did not see Pastor Taylor’s right eyebrow almost fly off his forehead, nor the shock on Mrs. Taylor’s face, nor the curiosity on Carolyn’s.

My vow was simple.  “You’ve not only been my father but my educator, edifier, and friend.” I refrained from saying savior.

I had reached back inside myself, back to that girl I used to be, whose dream it had been to see the two people she loved most in the world married.  Through her eyes, I could see this as she would have—as an occasion for celebration. How happy I would have been a year ago, before I ever knew the Church, yet it was because of the Church that we were here at all.  

That night, David told Mother he would love her for eternity, but only I knew that he meant that his love for hernot their marriagewould abide forever.  I could not portend what had been in his heart at that exact moment, but I knew who David was at his core.  That was how I knew their marriage would last for time only, and a fleeting time at that. 

Pastor Taylor spoke a few words, Mrs. Taylor stone-faced, Carolyn starry-eyed, and I, pledging my allegiance to David Dalton under the banner of heaven.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

He had been there to see him leave the earth
but not to see him put into it,
& I was angry at the world
that had not magically changed
because someone was no longer in it.

In burying my father,
she had buried, it seemed,
the last facet of her old self.
She had gone from a grieving widow
to a blushing bride-to-be
in the matter of an hour,
& no one from the LDS Church knew
of the quickening of Patrick Nolan’s soul
to the Spirit World.

The first ceremony would be a civil one,
followed by a spiritual one.
Just like everything else,
the marriages of other churches
were the preparatory marriages,
& Mormon marriages,
the sealant.

Because my father had died,
my mother would live as she pleased,
but hadn’t she always?
For if one had already enjoyed the intimacy of marriage
without taking the vows,
then how special could making it legal be?
For what was marriage but a representation
of monotheism—
of being subject to one entity
till the death of oneself or the death
of the other.

I was a hollow vessel
where Mother’s empty words echoed,
taking no delight in what I had dreamt of
for as long as my eyes had beheld
the glory of David Dalton.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

mormoni

According to Mother, “The terrestrial kingdom will be everything he always believed Heaven would be.”

I looked up to my mother then, finally understanding the depth of her suffering.  She had bled from every pore, for I knew she’d believed that to let Patrick die after a suicide attempt would send his soul straight down to Hell—an unpardonable sin in the Catholic Church—and she would feel responsible, but how could any mortal be responsible for the destination of an individual’s soul, for wouldn’t that put them on par with God?

Mother would be married to David for time and all eternity; I would be sealed to them, but I found myself wishing there was a degree of lightness, a degree of separation, that would separate Mother from David.   For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I looked back only to see Caitlin weeping by Patrick’s bedside, Mother standing there, stoic.  I knew it was just his shell in there now, and yet, it still haunted me that Mother had chosen to end his life out of convenience—just so she could marry David in the temple.  Her belief in the Catholic Church had kept him alive as surely as her belief in the Mormon Church had ended his life. The temple was tainted to me now, for my father’s blood flowed from its doors.

The end of my father’s life was the beginning of my mother’s.  I had loved her & loathed him, but now I was beginning to love him & loathe her.  Could I love someone who was dead, or did I love only his memory?  Or was it even less than that, considering I had little to no memory of him?  The man in the bed had been a stranger.  I had smelt him & remembered nothing.  I pined not for him so much but for the potential that had once been him.  He had loved me, and that was enough for me to love him back.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Now I understood why David had stayed away all those Sundays—he hadn’t wanted to participate in the farce that was visiting Patrick’s grave.

I was grieving for my mother—the mother who was a stranger to me now—not for the father who had been dead to me all these years.

One lie had sent my father to the hospital; what Mother considered the truth had sent him to his death.

We sat there, at an impasse, & in that moment of silence, we were acknowledging that this was now the way it would always be between us.

Madame Novacek had told my mother before I had even been conceived that Mother’s first-born daughter would steal her first love and become her enemy.

The steely glint in Mother’s eyes dared me to take David from her, even as they warned me what might happen if I tried.

I was not Mother’s enemy, but I was at enmity with her.

“Don’t you know how much you mean to me?” Mother asked, but I did not answer, for I did not know.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Mother & David had once been young lovers.
They had walked at twilight on the beach,
went to plays & the symphony,
& then it became a convenience,
but that must have been when they didn’t know
if Patrick would live or die.
They had floated in a Purgatory of sorts—
his life, her life, their lives,
incongruously equal.

The glory of God was intelligence,
& such shone in David,
I’d thought him my own personal god—
a father without a daughter,
a son, raised by humble ones,
& a heavenly spirit who edified all
he came in contact with.

Mother would surely go to the celestial kingdom,
where she would be exalted & placed
on the path to eternal progression.
David would remain in the terrestrial kingdom—
in the presence of the Man
whose torn flesh & spilt blood
had saved us.
God had been the fundraiser,
but Jesus had ponied up the ransom.

Caitlin wept,
yet she had never known him.
Mother, who had known him intimately,
was stoic & had,
in her own way,
given birth to his grief.

I was like a ghost whisperer,
asking my father to accept the gospel in the next life
so that Mother would have to be sealed to him,
thus unsealing her from David.