Tonight is a special occasion for me.
On this day eight years ago, I was forever freed from the tyranny of religious rule. I finally accepted the notion that the world around me was not of some predetermined construct, designed primarily to facilitate the needs of Homo sapiens that were supposedly only spawned according to the tenets of ancient folklore less than a few millennia ago. While lacking in the department of drama and grandeur, my epiphany is no less spectacular than any other who has discovered the joys of being liberated from all deities.
I sit at my desk, surveying the corners that have been gradually worn away by the constant grinding and moving of them throughout their years of use in the classroom. My public school was nothing special, but it managed to retain a comforting sense of security within its walls. The silence of the corridors, provided a sea of tranquility unmatched by anywhere else. I had some personal favorite spots as well, that when the world became too treacherous, and the noise of everyday life began to claw at my nerves, I could slip away to; it was a pocket of warmth where isolation was my only friend. This afternoon, I had to catch up on some reading for my English class, and I did not plan on being disturbed. In retrospect, the violation of my private haven this day is not met with regret.
As I climbed up the stairs in the second largest band hall, the stale air in the stairway reminded me of the poor ventilation shared with this section of the building. Undoubtedly, air for kids who were incessantly blowing out their lungs for the sake of musical perfection was not considered a legitimate reason to drag the budget for the arts wing of the school. I made my way across the upper balcony, peering over the side slightly to put a face to the sounds of the piano gently playing below. Not surprisingly, I was met by the backside of the same over-achiever who had made it their goal to never move from that piano stool. Pecking away at the ivories had become this lady’s prime directive, and since she played quite well, I never complained about the soundtrack for my study-time.
My safe haven, contrary to its elegant titling was actually an inconveniently tiny, soundproof practice room that had been all but abandoned at the far end of the mezzanine. Its walls were stripped of coloring, and the majority of the room was controlled by a large collection of broken music stands and cases, all of which had gone unused since the late 90’s, judging from the rental tags. I dropped my backpack to the floor and unzipped the largest compartment, allowing me to pry my required reading from the bottom of the bag (why does it always end up there?). As I scraped the tattered book from the bottom to the top, I leaned back against the fairly comfortable plastic school-chair, allowing my legs to use a second chair as a resting place. Turning to the page I had left off with, I began to slowly catch up on the thought-chain within. The book, ironically was Freud’s “The Future of an Illusion“. While I can understand what an amusing foreword this is to the events about to unfold, I had never before remarked upon how such an opportunistically tragic moment this turned out to be.
Before I was able to fully process what was approaching, the sound of an obnoxiously loud Medusa could be heard echoing outside my doorway. The knob on the heavy iron door turned, and in barged the form of one of the most intolerable females on the planet. Behind her, followed a girl that I had recently been trailing behind as a hopeless romantic. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that she was a trivial pursuit, and had since abandoned her and her insane family. The problem at hand however, was that they were both now standing in my doorway, looking absolutely annoyed with me.
“OH MY GOD! THERE YOU ARE! I’VE BEEN FLIPPIN’ LOOKIN’ FER’ YOU!”
The cringe I immediately displayed must’ve been less discreet than I intended, because the look on her face turned quickly from irked, to irate. This girl, who I will name simply “Melissa”, was known for being melodramatic in every situation. Regardless of subject or setting, she was always set to throw a tantrum, shed tears, or feign injury. This commonly made it easier for her to manipulate others, and coerce them into feeling guilty for things they really shouldn’t. As she glared at me from the frame of the door, her voice turned into a shrill, babbling system of high-pitched complaints that she conveyed in a single string of poorly-phrased persuasion.
“DUDE YOU ACT LIKE YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW ME HALF THE TIME AND ACT LIKE A EFFIN’ A-HOLE WHEN I COME TA’ TALK TO YOU- DON’TCHA EVEN WANNA KNOW WHY I CAME UP HERE IT’S BECAUSE I KNOW YOU LIKE HAVE NO FRIENDS BESIDES US AND I KNOW THAT YOU NEED SOMEONE TO HANG OUT WITH WHICH IS WHY I WAS GONNA INVITE YOU TO OUR EFFIN’ CHURCH DANCE TONIGHT, BUT I GUESS YOU’RE LIKE TOO GOOD FER’ US! LET ALONE GETTIN’ SAVED BY GOD SO I GUESS YOU CAN JUST SIT UP HERE AND READ YER’ STUPID EFFIN’ BOOK!!!”
My mind was blown. Not only had she managed to completely destroy the volume level of the amps at the DevilDriver concert I had been to that year, but she had somehow managed to speak quite possibly the world’s longest run-on sentence. As I shifted my focus back down towards the page I was reading, I gave a small, snide response that evidently had been the equivalent of kicking her in her throat.
“You have to pull hard on it,” I replied to her confused expression. “…On the door handle, I mean.”
“Otherwise, you’ll hear horrible sounds coming all the way up the stairwell. Thanks,” I finished, satisfied with the look of disbelief plastered on her face.
All at once, it seemed as if Mount Vesuvius had erupted and her anguish could not be disguised any longer.
“ARE YOU FUCKIN’ KIDDING ME?! YOU’RE GONNA ACT LIKE A LITTLE KID WHEN I’M TRYING TO SAVE YOU?! YOU’RE SUCH AN UNGRATEFUL ASSHOLE JAKE AND GOD HAS A PLACE FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU! IF YOU CAN’T EVEN SHOW PEOPLE THE FUCKIN’ RESPECT THAT THEY DESERVE THEN I GOT NO TIME FOR YOU! SEE YA JERK OFF!”
Her outward rage was so sweet I could taste it, and her jagged finger now pointing directly at me gave me the impression that she was doing all within her control to not lunge at me. Not wishing to let this moment slip past me, I extended a hand to show her to pause a moment, and I continued my verbal abuse.
‘That’s fair, Melissa. I tell you what. Let’s just wait a second. If God feels that I’ve wronged him, then I’m sure he’ll take care to punish me posthaste. Why don’t you stick around for a sec, and you can take some pride that you’re doing his work,’ I said, while checking the time on my phone. ‘Here, you want this chair so you can wait?’ I asked with a smirk.
Her face said it all. I had crossed the line, and she was ready to let me have it. Unable to combat such hostile, anti-theistic words, she turned to her next best, easily programmable response to try and seem as if the infinite was going to suddenly halt time to deal with the tiniest intricacies of the universe.
“WOW JAKE. WELL WHAT CRAP DO YOU BELIEVE?” she spouted without consideration for her volume level, once again. Her impatience obvious, and my need to finish my reading evident, I decided to sink once more; this fight was quickly turning into a spiteful dispute, and I would end it like that.
“I believe your imaginary friend is roughly thirty-five seconds late for showing me the insurmountable power of his omnipotent authority. Should I not expect his arrival?” I answered with phony disappointment.
As she stared open-mouthed at me, all of her gimmicks faded. Her usual self-righteous safety net had given way, and being faced with someone insensitive to the needs of a malicious parasite of bad faith, her final move of desperation lay in her power to cry on command. With a look of apathetic defeat, she allowed a few misguided tears to swell in her eyes, and voiced her Christian opinion of me on her way out the door.
“You’re *sniff* a *sniff-sniff* fuckin’ asshole, Jake.”
She turned immediately, shoving past her friend to go back down the balcony towards the stairs. As the other girl gave me a look of grim displeasure, she took off after her in an effort to play the same consolation role she always had to. However, I wasn’t quite finished. In order to make sure I wouldn’t see her anytime soon, I decided it required a more close-to-home touch, in order to deliver the full effect of adding insult to injury.
“Melissa,” I called down the hall, right before she got to the top of the staircase. She turned around, her face flustered and bleeding eye-liner. As she scowled at me with a look of distinct repulse, a soft facade of apologetic remorse crossed my face. For just a moment, she truly believed I had come to feel guilt, and she stopped to await my imminent acknowledgment of it.
“Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal,” I quoted while cheerfully shutting the door.
The hysterical expression in her eyes, unparalleled to date, sent me into a fit of laughter as I retook my seat in the corner of the room. But moments later, I realized the gravity of the conversation I had just engaged in. At once, I understood my viewpoint. Though vaguely agnostic prior to this, it had become clear to me that I did not believe any longer. I could no longer tolerate the superstitious nonsense spread by the blindly-devout, and their constant need to feel as if their lives held more relevance in the grand scheme of the cosmos than they truly did. It was a vain exercise of arrogant narcissism; a ploy to convert more people to a larger cause designed to control the socioeconomic trends of the population, and it has worked its magic successfully. Just as irritating, are the creatures much like Melissa, who spend their days attempting to brainwash others with a set of tenets that they claim to believe, and spend the majority of their lives contradicting. The hypocrisy of its followers, almost as silly and destructive to the world as the principles they practice, as they work day in and out to ensure that the civil liberties of those who are different from them are constantly in question; all the time failing to realize how there is no place in a progressive society for religion, nor is there any sense to follow the rules of archaic cultures inscribed in ancient books from an era that believed in so many ideas that we now know to be completely false.
After that day, I would never come to see the reasoning behind why some people dedicate their lives to such blind faith ever again. From that point forth, I learned to stop trying to believe people when they claimed they had the answers, and that my questions would only find the truth I was seeking if I continued to look for myself, outside of the circle of beliefs that most people smile and nod at.
I then promptly returned to the pages of my book. Despite my newfound intellectual revelation, it would not save me from the wrath of my English teacher if she found out I had not studied; unlike God, she was a credible threat.