So You Think You Can Write: Shadows and Light
08 Mar 2012 · by Brennan Storr · Be the first to comment!
The focus of this assignment was dialogue - we had to write a conversation between two people where both were hiding something. The assignment scared the hell out of me at first - fiction had been hard enough but creating speaking characters? Eventually I had to force myself to sit down at the computer and wing it.
I couldn't stomach the idea of writing about some kind of domestic discord or tragic medical diagnosis so I reached into a different place. Being raised Catholic I've always been fascinated by the struggle between good & evil so for this assignment I decided the two should have a conversation. Four years later, I still cringe while reading it but it was a good way to learn my limits.
Except for a single light burning atop a worn desk the room was in darkness. Behind the desk sat an old man, his broad shoulders slightly stooped and his thick hands criss-crossed with the marks of age. His eyes were fixed on the desk, on an object at the fringes of the light. It was a globe — the world in miniature — the green land freshly charred, the blue seas newly boiled away.
God stared at the scale model of destruction and sighed. This had been his world, its inhabitants his children and his children had destroyed themselves. “Not for the first time,” spoke a voice inside him. The old man cradled his head in his hands as the unbidden emotions of a life long ago burst forth — the joy of creation, the wrath of wounded pride, and the ache of separation.
Shadows beyond the light began to shift, irregular shapes swirling in the dim until finally a lithe figure took form. Without looking up the old man said, “How did you get in?”
“The same way I used to,” said a soft voice from the shadows.
God regarded the darkness. “And you were not seen.”
The shadows smiled. “Of course not.”
The dark figure approached the desk, stopping before the light where, uninvited, he took a seat. His insolence made the old man rigid with fury and it was a moment before he calmed himself enough to say, “This is the first time since your banishment that you have dared to return. Why have you come, Lucifer? To gloat over your perversion of my world?”
“Not at all,” said the fallen angel. “I came to offer my condolences. The humans were petty, limited creatures but they held promise and in my way I loved them. Perhaps more than you did. Leading them to self-destruction gave me no joy, save for in the hurt it brought to you.”
The ruined planet hung between them as the old man said, “Your ego decided that this vendetta against me was worth inflicting misery and devastation on billions of lives? If these are the wages of your love then you have learned nothing in exile.”
The seraph sprang up: “Exile has taught me everything — to trust my own judgment again, to find joy in solitude. It has taught me that while I may be riven by pride and hypocrisy, you are no better.” He leaned into the light and for the first time since before the Fall, God saw Lucifer’s face.
God’s heart ached to see how the once-cherubic face had become hard and angular. The angel’s cheeks were sunken, his forehead deeply lined. His eyes were cold and reptilian beneath black razorblade brows. Once, the two of them had been inseparable, the Lord and his faithful Morning Star. Now the old man barely recognized the face that confronted him.
“You talk of humility and grace, but banish me when I challenge your judgment. You create a race who exists only to praise you and when they question their world as I questioned mine you inflict upon them such suffering as no one should be expected to bear. Look at me. Tell me these are not acts of cruelty. Of ego. Of hypocrisy.”
The angel leaned towards God, his eyes searching and the old man looked away. Lucifer withdrew, disgusted, into the darkness. God reached to him, “Please — try to understand that what I have done I have done with the best intentions.”
“With the best of intentions you promised life after death in exchange for their love when such a thing was not in your power to give? You must have known they would become drunk with the notion that their actions had no weight because another world awaited them.”
The old man protested weakly, “I wanted to give them hope.”
“You wanted to control them! If man knew that with his every act he teetered over oblivion he would have made better choices. If you had been honest with him, tried even for a moment to understand him this wouldn’t have happened. He’d still be here! Where he belongs! With you!”
His last words were a strangled cry and Lucifer swept the light from the old man’s desk where it burst — a brilliant supernova. When the brightness faded he was gone, leaving God alone in the darkness with his blackened globe.
At length he spoke to the empty room.