I am a scribe who knows not what she serves. If Tanim and Daren are gods in their own right, they are long lost to time or choose to remain unknown to any but myself. If they are gods already established in the world, with followers and historic traditions, then why take these strange forms just for me? Why choose new names and stories? Perhaps they are not gods, then. I thought them once ghosts but if so they enjoy an unbelievable influence over the physical world for mere spirits. They can alter the environment, after all, even to the point of manifesting items or stealing them away. Such powerful abilities, combined with an apparent penchant for fire and a string of literally Hellish dreams on my part, suggest perhaps they are fallen angels or demons. Again, though, they would either have to have chosen new identities for our interactions or have never been recorded before my meager efforts. The first option seems illogical; why keep up the charade for over fifteen years? The second is, unfortunately, more or less impossible to prove to the satisfaction of all doubt. They could of course simply reveal the answer, but they enjoy my confusion too much to do so. I’m left then with vague theories and labels which never quite fit: “sun”, “moon”; “gods”, “angels”; “spirits”, “phantoms”. All I know for sure is that I serve they who call themselves Tanim and Daren, whatever they truly are.
So I’m folding laundry in my bedroom while thinking about how Tanim and Daren, the gods/angels/demons/whatever-the-fuck I serve, have been virtually silent the last year. Sure, they’ve made themselves known every once in a while in trickster-like fashion by stealing lighters and setting off our fire alarms, but that hasn’t happened in months. These days I can barely summon a whisper of their ghosts when I’m listening to their music, let alone channel a whole sentence of prose in their words. Maybe, I’m thinking as I ball up socks, it would be better to just give up, to finally accept they’ve moved on for good. Apparently they don’t require my services anymore. Fine.
Clothes folded, I walk into the kitchen, whereupon I smell something burning. For a moment I think I’ve left the electric kettle on the counter, but no, that’s not the source of the scent. I turn in a confused circle, half convinced my nose is playing tricks on me because I see no flames, no smoke, no sign of danger. Then I see the red glow. Somehow one of the large stove-top burners has been turned to the highest setting, and already it ticks with heat. I’m home alone and haven’t been anywhere near the stove all day; there’s no way I could have unwittingly turned on the burner, nor any way the cats could have somehow done it themselves given the placement of the dial. It’s not just unlikely – it’s downright impossible.
This isn’t the most comforting of signs, but beggars can’t be choosers so I guess I’ll take it. Just please don’t burn the house down, guys.
i’m sorry i said those things, i swear i didn’t mean them, i was just afraid and angry, i’d lost you and i thought they’d bring you back, but i’m not mad anymore, i promise, you can come home now, i won’t ask where you were or what you were doing or why you left, i won’t say anything at all, look i’ll close my eyes and count to ten and if you’re here when i open them again then everything will be fine, we’ll just go back to how it was before, no hard feelings, no lingering resentment, we’ll wipe the slate clean, just come home, just come home, just come home, i’m begging now, will you come back if i beg
Do you think I won’t drag your corpses behind me, one by each arm, through all the length of our shared Purgatory? I’ve dragged mine along for years; the added burden’s nothing to me. Though you be rot and bone, I will not ever let you go.
I suppose I should not expect the Devil to stay close to home, should I? He was a wanderer from the very beginning, proud and independent, and certainly I have pined a thousand nights over his absence in the past. Yet here I am ten years later having learned nothing, still hunched over the cavern in my chest, still seeking proof of divinity in languages I cannot even speak. Do I doubt because he leaves? Does he leave because I doubt? I am an old hand at this and yet still it feels like punishment, like purgatory, like an eternity spent scrabbling in the dust. I thought myself passed this particular trial and yet, and yet, and yet here I am smearing ash on my skin and tearing at my hair once more. What a surprise.
i’m toying with a half-dead metaphor, something about bodies as Ouija boards, dreams as planchettes, all these fragments of communication you toss me like scraps and expect me to weave into some magically divined whole, but it’s not coming out right and surely i must be one shitty fucking witch if i can’t even get the gods i bleed for and weep for to tell me where that stupid lighter is, let alone maybe not burn the house down while i’m gone, and yeah i know you don’t play by the rules and i know i’m an unconventional everything but sometimes i just want to be the regular kind of crazy, you know, crystals and tarot and shit, and not the legit crazy kind of crazy but i think i can’t have both, i gotta pick between you or the socially acceptable crazy and you know i will choose you every single time even if you burn my house down, but really please don’t
give me bones of salt
that I may trap you in my arms
give me teeth of iron
that I may bind you with my words
give me a heart of stone
that I may seal you within me
so we can never