(Content Warning: swearing)
"Are you there, God? It's me, Birdy. I guess I oughta start by sayin' thank you. Nana always says that we gotta say thanks and not go on askin' you to do things for us without showin' our respect first. I know I got lots of things to be grateful for, dozens of blessin's that not everybody has, like a family. Nana and my dad love me lots, and we're pretty lucky and happy to have a roof over our heads and food on the table. Nana's a great cook, but maybe you already know that."
"I'm thankful that I have Tiffy and that she's willin' to keep me company even though she always lickin' my toes and ends up munchin' on the shoes I wear to school. I hate walkin' her and pickin' up her poo, but Dad made me swear to you that I'd be responsible if he got me a dog. It can be hard work sometimes, you know, takin' care of her and all, but I love her very much."
"I'm callin' on you, God, cos I need your help. I need to be stronger, a lot stronger, even more than Dad. The kids at school are makin' fun of me and callin' me names. You've heard 'em, right, how they call me Bambi and princess? They also say Dad's sick in the head, that he's got a problem and that I should be worried cos if I'm not careful, I'll end up catchin' whatever he has? Is it true, God? Is Dad really sick? Cos if he is, maybe you could help him with that."
"Anyway, God, I don't want Dad to get all worried about me, so I'm askin' you for help. Nana's told me you're against violence, and I don't want to hurt anyone, but I just need the boys at school to think twice before messin' with me."
"I also wouldn't mind havin' some friends, God. People to talk to, who can play with me that aren't Dad, Nana, or Tiffy. Nana says that boys around my age should be playin' outdoors and gettin' fresh air, that stayin' inside won't do me any good, but it's tough for me. I'm not that great at sports, and my chest always feels shaky whenever I speak to anyone I don't know. Do you think you could help me with that too, you know, if it isn't too much to ask for?"
"I'm sorry, God, I really, really am. By now, you already know that I got in trouble today for punchin' a boy at school. I swear it was for a good reason, and I didn't want to do it, but he called dad a real ugly name, and before I knew it, my fist landed right between his legs."
"Dad and Nana are really upset with me. They said they didn't raise me to be some animal, someone who goes around pickin' fights with others. We're really disappointed in you, Birdy, they said. I told them that it was the other boy that started it, and it's true, God, you know he was the one laughin', callin' Dad a faggot, sayin' that the world would be better off if people like him were dead."
"How can I just let somethin' like that go, God? I know I shouldn't have hit him, but I couldn't help it."
"All throughout dinner, Dad didn't say a single word, and Nana just sat there across from him lookin' at the salad on her plate and swishin' her water around."
"What should I do, God? I really am sorry."
"Dad drove me to school today, but before we said goodbye, we stayed in the car and talked. I asked if he was still mad at me. Dad shook his head. It's not that I'm angry with you, specifically, Birdy, he said. It's more that I'm frustrated with the situation, why it happened and how you dealt with it."
"Honestly, I didn't really understand him. Dad has this habit of explainin' things in a way that only he understands like he's talkin' out loud but not really talkin' to anybody, just like when he's gardenin' or readin' the newspaper. Dad made me promise not to get into any more fights at school. You're better than that, Birdy, he said."
"I don't know if I'm better than anyone, God. I know I'm not the smartest kid in class, and I can't throw a basketball or run a lap around the school track to save my life, but I still nodded and said I know to Dad."
"Before I left the car, I asked him if he was feeling alright; if he was sick, and Dad guaranteed that there was nothing wrong with him, that he was feeling perfectly healthy."
"Nana said that you're always watchin' out for everybody, that you love us all equally. Is that even possible? I guess it is cos I love Nana and Dad just about the same, and I love Tiffy too, but can you really love everybody, even the bullies at school, even the people who do terrible things like stealing or getting into car accidents?"
"Nana says you can cos love is your gift to the world, that if it weren't for you, maybe none of us would be able to find love at all. She says you know all about the good and the bad. Nana also said somethin' about being here to learn, to leave this world better than how we got it."
"I told her that I was prayin' more, that I was talkin' to you. That's very good, Birdy, she said, smilin'. But she also said that I shouldn't only be speakin' but also listenin' cos you're everywhere and that if I pay enough attention, I'll be able to find you in even the darkest of places. Is that really true, God?"
"Are you there, God? I need to ask you somethin' important, is Dad going to Hell? What about me? The boys at school called him a sinner, but Dad's never done a wrong thing in all his life, so how could that be?"
"Things have gotten worse since we last talked, God. I'm not doin' too great. I asked to get stronger, but why am I feelin' so weak?"
"The boys at school said somethin' about Dad being a homo, how people like him rot in Hell and how you hate 'em because they're different. They said I had a one-way ticket to the furnace because I was being raised by a faggot. I told the boys to shut up and tried to face the entire pack of them. I punched one right in the nose, kicked another right in the knee, but there were too many."
"Couldn't you have helped? Why didn't you, God?"
"Dad said he's gonna talk to the boys' parents tomorrow, but I'm scared. I don't want him to. What if he also gets hurt just like me? What if he just ends up makin' everything worse?"
"Are you listenin', God? Can you hear me?"
"I hate you, God! Are you listenin'? I hate you! Dad's upstairs cryin', and Nana's outside cursin' at the wind."
"Are you okay, Birdy?"
"I'm fine, Dad."
"Are you sure?"
"Come on, Tiffy, let's go for a walk."
. . .
"Birdy, can you look at me, son?"
"What is it?"
"Listen, I think we need to have a talk."
"Why? About what?"
"I think I need to explain a couple of things."
"I'm goin' to be late for school."
"I don't care, Birdy. I need you to listen up."
. . .
"I know what the other boys are probably telling you at school. I'm not going to repeat the words, but I can imagine what they're saying or calling me.
"Birdy. Son, for the longest time, I've shielded you, kept you blind from certain parts of my life, things that I hoped you wouldn't have to know so young. It was wrong of me, I know, God, I know, and it's not that I've hidden things to hurt you, I just hoped that I'd be the one to tell you when I was good and ready, that maybe you'd be a bit older."
"What's wrong, Dad? Are you sick or something?"
"No, I'm fine, just a bit emotional."
"Well, then what is it?"
"Birdy, you've probably heard a few things about me, haven't you?"
. . .
"It's alright. You can say yes."
"It's not your fault, Dad. The boys at school are stupid, and they don't know anything about you. I hate 'em. I hope they all go to Hell."
"Don't say that, Birdy. You're better than that."
. . .
"Dad. . ."
. . .
"Dad, why do the other boys call you. . . why do they call you names."
"Because I'm not afraid to love, Birdy, because I can love whoever I choose."
"But what's the problem with that?"
"Love is complicated, Birdy. It's something people have yet to understand. It's because I love differently; it's because of who I love that people will always judge me."
"Nana said that we got our ability to love from God. Is that true?"
"Haha, I guess you could say that. For example, you're my son, but I never met your mother, yet for some reason, God, Fate, whatever you want to call him, or her, put you in my life, and I was able to love you. In a way, I guess you could say that our love came from somewhere special."
"I think I get it."
"Even if you don't get it right now, Birdy, I want you to know that I love you and that no one will ever be able to take that away."
"I love you too, Dad."
"Are you there, God? It's me, Birdy. Dad said you're up there somewhere, so I hope you're listening."
"I don't know what you look like, and I don't think I care. All that's important to me is that we have this talk. I don't know if I'm ready to forgive you just yet, but I do want to thank you, and I also want to ask you for something."
"It's been a few days, I'm sure you've noticed, so let me think of where to start. . ."