Grading Papers

He picked up her expository essay with a spark of renewed interest in grading papers. As he fingered the edges of the stapled pages, he noticed blood. A paper cut. “Figures!”

She was always the one among his students to cause him problems. She was also the creator of curiosity in his class. He sometimes wished she’d never signed up for the course, that he’d never laid eyes on her, but at the same time he found her processing methods fascinating. Where did she come up with the stuff she poured onto paper and handed to him at the end of each semester? She had a dark mind, he knew, and an intriguing one, as well.

Had she been better at spinning tales, she might have been able to bring some elucidation to his mind through her writings, but he didn’t believe her. What she tried to sell as real–what some believed to be prophetic–he approached as fantasy. He bandaged the finger tip that had garnered his attention a moment before, and cautiously returned to the paper that he knew would hold his attention now for the better part of an hour.

“What if all we know about those creatures that roamed the earth so long ago is fantasy, and the reality is something much more bizarre? What if the truth is that two dynamos of creation, one grander than the other at the end but both as determined throughout the process, were the architects of those monsters that walked among us? What if all earthly knowledge proved insufficient for determining correct conclusions about such things? What if the myth of science was wrong, and there was something more sinister at play in the creation of our world?”

Okay, she had his interest, but only in a pulp fiction sort of way. He read on.

“What if, one designer looked upon the creations of the other with a hideous sense of jealousy?  What if, in a fit of rage, this second, lesser engineer set out to replicate the actions of the first, but failed? What if the dark nature of the lesser made it impossible for him to create anything of beauty, and what if his jealousy would not allow him to stop working out the plans he had to best his fellow?  Would it not make sense that in his endless attempts to create something dazzling, yet stifled by his dark nature, he might fashion the horrific? And being frustrated in every way, might he not refuse to give in, and instead continue on creating bent, misshapen, and  grotesque  facsimiles of those divinely inspired inhabitants of the garden?”

A trickle of cold sweat was forming on that area above the professor’s upper lip.  He was envisioning bodies broken by disease or mishapenned from the womb. He was remembering that treacherous tale authored by Mary Shelly.  He was imagining the evil that walked streets free every day, in every corner of the world he knew; a world that faine safety, but was revealed to be anything but safe on the nightly news.  He could not refute the supposition she made that evil existed.  He’d seen it operating in his own home, his own marriage, the life of his own drug-addled son.  Evil was real, and while her propositions about origins was not something he could believe, he did believe in its presence.

He returned to grading a paper he knew was going to keep him up tonight.

“What if the lesser, trying as he might to create beauty, could never reach beyond a foundation of pain,  ugliness, and dark, unreasoning flesh?  What if what came out of the magician’s hat was only wickedness, stupidity, and detraction?  What kind of menacing rage would be unleashed upon the earth then?”

 

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“The cautious faith that never saws off a limb on which it is sitting, never learns that unattached limbs may find strange unaccountable ways of not falling.”
                                                                                                               ― Dallas Willard

Recasting

It was widely accepted within their group that she was too much for him. Too much mouth. Too much drama. Too much to-the-point-with-no-backing-off bluntly honest for him to handle. It wasn’t that he was necessarily inept, or weak, or even unintelligent. It was just that he’d never been schooled in the art of manipulation. She was too good, and while he might miss that fact…not see it because of pride blocking his way, it was clear to everyone else. He could not handle her. It was therefore with a look of complete shock on his face that she called him out in the bar.

“You hate me, don’t you?”

Looking around him to be sure she was talking to him before answering, he said, “Are you talking to me?”

“Yes, I’m talking to you. Do you see anyone else sitting at this bar?”

“No.”

“Answer the question!” she demanded, much too loudly for him to feel comfortable with her demeanor or the environment in which he now found himself.”

“I wouldn’t say I hate you,” he replied. “I would say that I don’t like how you’re behaving right now.”

“Oh, no?” she said, “and why is that?”

Oh, how he wanted her to go away. He wanted, himself, to melt into the woodwork. He wanted to be left alone. He wanted to drink his drink, and more than anything he wanted to tell her what he thought of women who acted like she was acting, but this was not the place for emotional outbursts. He believed civility mattered and that people who let their crazy out in public places were defective. He would have no part of it.

He turned to walk away, but not before she caught the corner of his lapel and pulled his jacket from his shoulder. He jerked right quickly and she fell from the stool, twisting her ankle. All this he’d repeated ad infinitum to the security staff and administrators of the wax museum. The bill for her recasting totaled $3,215.86.

Unexpected

Pre-op appointment day.
Knee replacement surgery meant to alleviate her pain.
No mystery there.

Had she been tired lately?
Yes.
Had she felt “off” somehow?
Yes.
Any shortness of breath?
Yes.

How long had this been going on?
“A couple weeks.”
“You look pale.”

Leukemia.
Acute.
Shock!

One month of in-patient.
Now home.
My friend has changed.

Threes!

What we think.
What we know.
What is yet to be known.

God, her Sustainer.
Prayer, her discipline.
Pastor Husband, her constant companion.

What a strange life we live.

Give It a Rest!

old womn

“Options are important,” she said. “Without them we’d all feel like caged animals looking for a way out, but never finding one.”

Nan shrugged. “I guess so. I mean, I can see what you’re saying, but I’m not sure it’s relevant to my situation.”

“Not relevant?” she answered. “How so? He’s putting up fences, locking you in, with no choices at all. How is that not relevant?”

“I don’t see what Lloyd is doing as restrictive,” Nan countered. “I see it as loving. He knows that I have a problem with decision-making and that given enough time, I can make any mole hill into a mountain of complications. He’s being loving by narrowing my scope.”

“You see that as loving?” Vivian said. “I see that as being controlling and not helping you work your way through the maze that is your indecision. Why can’t he explore some options with you, look at all the alternative, and then help you figure out which of them is the right one for you? Why can’t he do that?”

“It’s pizza and wine, Viv,” she answered. “Pizza and wine, nothing more. Sheesh, can you please give it a rest!”