Dear God, I can’t pray to you. It wouldn’t be right.  You listen to the prayers of your loyal people. Those whom you love. Those who listen to you. You want me to be good, you wanted me to act like your child, and I haven’t. You want me to honor you in thought words and deed, but my faith is not strong enough. You want me to love you above all things. I don’t. I don’t want to. And I’m not interested in making a change anytime soon. So I understand, there is no reason why you should listen to me now.

Every Sunday, she was distracted by that picture. Tried not to look for too long, because it made her uncomfortable, but she couldn’t get it out of her head. And there, just on a forgotten wall down the church hall. She thought maybe they should have covered up that picture years ago, like all the other ones. But for some reason, they forgot this one.

Quiet air.

Hangs there. Invisible to the eye who looks upon. Heavy upon the chest of those who breathe it. She tries not to inhale that quiet air that she cannot see. It stings the back of her tongue thickly swamping shallow into her lung. Drowning in the quiet air, gasping at the hidden tears bleeding down the back of her throat. Concentrate and no one sees. Metal air in, hope breathed out.

Songs that make me swell with pride, as my chest booms with every celebratory explosion in the sky. Passionate speeches and heart wrenching memories pour out of every red-blooded American. Love and brotherhood with our fellow citizen, that was by random chance born on this side of the globe. Admiration and appreciation for the soil and air we breathe on this particular continent. Defended, guarded, even pressed out beyond our borders, we join hands and voices to let our freedom ring around the world.

Day is over. Night sometimes comes quickly. Is the short quiet dusk that scares me the most. We know it must come, we watch the sun sinking minute by minute, second by second. Breathing in the cool air of the evening, enjoying the rest descending from the heavens, admiring the vibrant colors of the closing day.

The church library is unlike any place in at church. Grandmothers bring their well-worn novels that helped them make it through the tough times. Teachers bring their trusted curriculum in hopes that someone else will benefit like they did. Mothers bring their sentimental wholesome children’s books that their babies have now outgrown. Pastors bring their overflowing resources that have gone unused on the office shelf. The church library is quickly filled with the generous donations of the faithful in hopes that someone else will love this collection written words as much as they once did.

Dearest War,

Waking up this morning I felt that sick stone pressing on my lungs again. Breath a little short, metal spoon-like keeping me from inhaling the bright dawn. Throbbing pools held back just behind the shell of my face. Not enough power to let it down, to let them fall, to release.

Quiet and relaxed. Temperature was just right. Breathing slowly, purposely, focused on the black emptiness behind my eyelids. Listening to the hum of a fan that spun just a little too loudly above my head. No, don’t think about the fan. Blank it out. Open my heart, as I inhale. Breath rushes in through my nose, tickles my throat, and swells my lungs. Is my heart open?   Imagining each throb spreading wider and wider the little muscle that pulses in my chest. But no, that’s not right. Not my literal bloody heart behind my ribs. Open my spiritual heart, did I do it? Am I open? Ugh. Stop filling my thoughts with these stupid questions. Clear my mind so I can hear his voice.

It was only the second drink. Sloshing spinning slivers of silvery ice. Two pieces swimming just beneath the surface. Swirling around in synchrony glassed in an endless circle. A tiny shake from his fingers almighty kept them timelessly turning around each other. They crash into each other from time to time, bludgeon themselves against the invisible crystal wall to freedom, and then float lonely, smaller, melted a bit more than before. Drinking in their drift to nowhere, he watched them waste away. Water in the whiskey.

Red swirling tails overtaking the ripples of clear water. Ribbons of crimson twirling quietly, in this silent moment. A secret flood, a hushed wave, a hidden current rolling smoothly beneath the surface. All by herself, she watches the scarlet dance. Entranced by the simple beauty in the water. Hypnotized by the simple horror of the blood.