Finding God

Flash Fiction practice, the random wheel spin provided the following:

Type – Drama     Location – Skyscraper Rooftop   Object – Wallet

Freedom

God found Eric Church contemplating gravity from eighty-five stories up. Eric had completed 35 years of an expected 85 year run.  For all the world he seemed to be a highly successful, loving, giving human being.  Yet, here he was, seated on the balustrade, watching the empty streets below and praying.  God sat down beside him and waited for Eric to break the stretching silence.

“I didn’t really expect you to show up.”

“I know, this seemed to require something more concrete.”

“I’ve been talking to you since 3rd grade, why bother now?”

“You’ve been talking, I’ve been listening, but this was the first personal invitation.”

“That makes sense. It has been pretty cursory on my part.”

Eric pulled his wallet from his shirt pocket and flipped it open with a practiced grace.  Leigh’s smile gleamed from the photo pocket. Credit cards peeked out from their neat little rows. His newly renewed driver’s license was neatly framed by the leather.

God watched patiently as Eric fished a worn photo from the inner fold.  It was the Air Force photo of his mom. Silver wings and color bars lay in sharp contrast to her brightly shining eyes.  It was the last she’d sent him before she shipped out to Afghanistan for her second tour.  He had been an 16-year-old military brat when his dad left him a long letter and his mom divorce papers.  His mom never flinched. She hugged him long and hard, then moved on to the next steps in their lives.

His mom flew in Desert Storm. Eric flew through university. Mom flew in Afghanistan. Eric passed the bar and became a sought after corporate lawyer.  Mom flew home for his wedding.  He flew out to Tampa for her retirement ceremony. She caught the red-eye when Leigh was killed in an auto crash the next year.  Mom died just months after when her sightseeing flight in Sedona clipped the ruddy edge of a mesa. He flew home from her funeral with her precisely folded flag cradled in his lap.

Eric tucked the photo in his shirt pocket. He loosened his tie and closed his eyes. The updraft flowing over the rooftop was cool.

“I miss them.”

“I understand.”

“Do you? Really? Then at least tell me why.”

“Would it make a difference?”

“Yes… I don’t know… Maybe.”

“Would you hurt less? Would you be less angry?  Are you ready to carry the burden of why the decisions of humanity lead to tipping points? Ready to actually understand cosmic cause and effect?”

Below them a lone street sweeper hummed along the roadway gathering bits of trash and leaving a plume of dust and debris in its wake.  Eric watched it absently.

“No, it wouldn’t hurt less.  I don’t want to know the mysteries of the universe. I can barely deal with my own tiny life. I don’t know how you handle it all.”

“A broad cognition is one of the benefits of being God.”

Eric nodded numbly.  He fished a Starbucks receipt from his wallet. He crumpled it into a ball and flicked it out over the ledge. It winked in the lights as it fell but vanished from sight before it made landfall. He pulled the photo of Leigh from its shrine in his wallet.  He’d take the picture on their honeymoon in Grand Cayman. The sunset behind her, the waves a frothy white, her wide smile, a similar sparkle in her eyes as his mom had in her image.

“Are they ok?”

“What do you feel, Eric?”

“I think they are dead, gone, just memories.”

“Those are your thoughts, what do you feel? What does your heart tell you?”

“That they are there, out there, somewhere, much like they were when they were here. And that they miss me, too.”

“Trust your heart.”

Eric caressed the image of Leigh and tucked it in his pocket.  He picked up his neatly folded jacket and brushed a bit of dust off the sleeve.  He slipped his wallet into the inner pocket then laid it in his lap. The pocket was heavy and wasn’t deep enough for his 9mm pistol.  He slid it into his hand and smoothed the fabric flat.

“You know everything. You have the whole plan.”

“Yes. I have my plan, but you have free will to deviate from the course. Humans have been doing so since the Garden.”

“But you know the outcomes. You could change things but you don’t. You just let us all suffer.”

“If I just change things, there is no free will. You have that freedom. Every human has that freedom. This suffering is a choice, Eric. Your choice. Just as you chose to feel happy, or angry or any of the other complex emotions and combinations of feelings.  You chose to elevate some, suppress others through your behaviors. It’s all about choices. This moment, the next and the millions that follow.”

Eric stared up at the dark sky. There were no visible stars as there was too much light pollution. After a few minutes of silence, he stood and slipped on his jacket. He purposefully laced his finger onto the trigger and gripped the butt of the gun.

“Choices. All throughout history:  The garden, the journey out of Egypt, Gethsemane, the Crusades, the witch trials, the trail of tears, war after war, death after death.   There seems to be only death. That’s not much choice.”

Eric brought the pistol up and fired a single shot.

God shook his head and smiled softly at Eric.

“I still love you, my boy. Do you feel better now? Did this make a difference?”

Eric watched as the blood blossomed on God’s shirt and He tipped forward off the building.  He fell calmly, and Eric watched Him all the way to the ground. The impact had no sound, only a sudden cessation of motion.

Eric straightened his tie, slipped the gun into his coat pocket, and placed his hand over the photos in his shirt pocket.

“Maybe.”

Without hesitation, he stepped off the building.