In the last entry, I found myself writing in a narrative style, which is suitable in a couple ways. First of all, my memory is not photographic, nor is it film-like, it is hazy and full of holes, some of my memories are even watered down to general emotions only, and so a narrative allows me to fill in gaps where necessary. In addition, I’ve always wanted to write a novel, although not exactly a memoir. I wanted to write something that could teach children to think. Lily, of course, always told me there’s already a book for that, and she had been right. I ended up not just shadowing her during Bible study classes, but filling in on days she couldn’t attend. I found myself, too, being much stricter to the child in the three-piece suit, whose name was Joshua, although he preferred Josh. He wore that suit compulsorily, he attended class compulsorily. He possessed no will to learn about Catholicism, and I even caught him rolling his eyes on occasion, as if he was better than everyone in the room. Recently, my sins outweigh any roll of the eyes, but that’s because my eyes have been opened to a deep and troubling truth. Marianna is still without me, and I’m without her. This injustice is something little Joshua could never fathom. Regarding Joshua, Lily had explained to me, “Some are immune to the Holy Spirit. Those are the children we need to look out for the most. We must never let up on them. Otherwise, we might as well give them to the Devil ourselves. No matter what harsh punishments we inflict, we know it’s for their own good. It’s to protect them against the punishments of hell. Our souls are capable of untold suffering.” She nearly sounded like a brimstone preacher, but I knew she was being honest, as she had explained to me during our walk in the park. Father Joseph was not silent on the horrors of hell, either. Many of his sermons described what lay in wait for wayward souls. What parent would let their child have any chance of suffering in such a place? The first time I punished Joshua, my nerves were on end, admittedly, yet I felt exhilarated afterward. It felt righteous. I was a divine doctor administering the only reliable treatment for a sickly soul. I was doing the work of God.
I’ve been putting it off as long as I possibly can. But it must be written: Lily and I had vaguely thought our marriage ordained by God. And it was, it was. But we didn’t fully realize it, and that may have been the problem. The constant bickering, the butting of coiled horns. If only we knew that the horns had been false, things of the unreal, illusions of the Devil, then we could have shed that which wasn’t there and embraced, intersecting our bodies in love. And yet, that is what we did. We had decided to make a life together, in both meanings of the phrase. Lily’s stomach continued to expand until it was clear a tiny being waded within.
Marianna was nothing like what I head dreamt near the beginning of this month, the fetus-faced woman. The reality was different. More or less horrifying, I can’t say. To place any numerical value on this heartbreak would be impossible. But it was real, terribly real. I’ll recount the hospital scene: legs agape, Lily huffed and puffed as if she was trying to raze a brick building. Her face reddened to a blaze. Her fine wrinkles deepened. Like flower buds, her eyes held shut. For some reason, the doctor and nurses began to look concerned. They told me I needed to leave, that she needed the air, but I only walked backward, anticipating something, until my back bumped against the wall near the door. Lily released a scream, the first of many, and when her eyes blossomed she saw the doctor’s widened gaze and ovate mouth. Her irises withered into a dull gray, a gray that remained until she left me. In the end, I couldn’t provide what she had wanted, what I had wanted, whether it was my fault or not, she resented me and me alone, so she left. She wouldn’t try again, she couldn’t. She had been too traumatized by what occurred: Marianna emerged—or fell out, for her arms slung over her emaciated head like a body unconsciously does when falling from a great height—as a shrunken, pink and red and black mass, charred, with an organic rope around her neck. I can’t remember what happened next, but after Lily’s wailing lowered into silent whimpers and her tears slid with the viscosity of syrup, the rinsed baby was presented to us in a white bundle. She was the color of lead now, frozen by a storm we knew not of, and the blanket around her was the closest she would come to the winter coat she had so desperately needed. But it was too late. Lily’s pain, her sacrifice by labor, sowed only more pain, more sacrifice. That’s when I knew the punishments of hell were not limited to the hereafter, sometimes they existed in the before.
I haven’t written in this notebook for a while, although I’ve tried. The sober moments come and go, enveloped in a headache, stung by thoughts. My attempts to write while numbed and indifferent, though, are shown to be unintelligible, both the handwriting and the content. The lights force me to stare at the lines of my notebook and nowhere else, lest they blind me. They force me to focus. I’m sitting in an incensed fog. In an odd way, it’s slightly comforting. It’s just me here.
What a terrible feeling…for all I really know, what I’m writing now is equally unreadable, unable to be understood. I think Father Joseph is onto me. Who am I fooling? He knows all too well about my problems, which is why I have about a dozen or so unheard messages on the machine from him. At least, I think it’s him. Last I heard, he extended a helping hand to me. I’m not exactly avoiding him. I’m sparing him. But, if I can gather my wits, I might just visit him and confess my sins and doubts. But for what? To spare myself from hell when my own daughter is stuck between all worlds? It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair…I write the words but they don’t change anything. Nothing will. And sometimes I even feel my prayers fall on, not deaf ears, but nonexistent ones. I do need his help, Father Joseph’s. A part of me loathes admitting it. I just remembered, it’s Easter today, during this cruel month of April. The wall calendar in the kitchen confirms it. So this was the day our Lord was resurrected. Three days and three nights. After he sacrificed himself for our sins. Yet I seem to be increasing his burden, driving the nails and thorns deeper, twisting the tip of the spear. His tears are mine and mine are his. I concede my sins are mostly thoughts. Some are action. Gluttony with the bottle. And, in a recent rage, I cast my rosary against the wall and the beads scattered across the floor. The little cross lies there, inverted from my viewpoint. My most recent sin, some few minutes ago, was a thought in the form of a question: Why can’t my daughter be resurrected? I’ve read the Bible. Other than Jesus, there was Lazarus who coughed in his tomb. Then there were the myriad sleeping saints who rose from their graves and walked through the holy city. So it can be done. When was the last time? Why not now? Why not her? Is that what she’s doing then? Sleeping in a shoebox-sized coffin? Is that it? Then, God, wake her up. God!
I went and had a few drinks in the kitchen just now. I feel calmer. There are answers to these questions, so I’m told. Some are simply not yet known, others are being debated, and a few are set in stone, as it were, yet I find them unsatisfactory. The details are practically bureaucratic. I realize I need help. There is something wrong with me, a buildup of some black bile. A humor that would make Hippocrates squeamish. And I wouldn’t doubt its contagiousness. While in the kitchen, I listened to the messages from Father Joseph, as I had suspected. He cares for my wellbeing, he’s worried about me. We were never very close, not like we should have been, but I know he’s sincere. I need him. And it seems he has invited me to a church function held for He who has risen. I think I’ll go.