You are a statue of She of the Burning Clouds and you are being blasphemed against.
This declaration had come nearly every day since the wedding was announced. You had heard it all before, but today seemed to be one of the worst. Before you stood two women, brides draped in layers of white embroidered blue silks, facing one another with looks of pure, unfiltered love. They were unphased by the raucous chanting outside your gray brick edifice. The protestors had shown up the evening before and stood just outside the small parking lot, their large signs describing how the brides’ souls would be tortured in the abyss and screaming She of the Burning Clouds’ prayers as if they would repel the “sinners” from the temple.
All of this you listened to with growing annoyance. You had never seen a crowd like this in all your 136 years in this little temple on the south side. No one had ever cared when they saw your temple as an unattractive ruin in the heart of the ghetto. But now they were here by the hundreds in the name of a cause whose purpose was as flimsy as your home’s drywall.
The brides —one towering and light skinned, the other petite and dark skinned— were ones you’d known for a while. As they began their recitations in time with the high priestess, you couldn’t help but think back to that night. They had been small then, no more than thirteen years old when they’d snuck into the sanctuary past midnight and huddled against the cold beneath your altar. The girl’s clothes had been drenched in rain, shoes leaving small pools of water on the pale blue threadbare carpet.
You were far more callous back then and listened to the lighter girl’s hushed whispers with a distant sort of amusement. “We’re gonna get married here, I promise,” she had said, a hard look in her eye as she held the darker girl’s hands. As the sweet scent of sincerity wafted through your being, you listened closer. Entertainment had been hard to come by in those days.
The darker girl had argued back, listing all the reasons why their dream was futile. Her girlfriend hadn’t listened, only continuing to declare her love and the future they would build together in the years to come. After the rain ended, the girls left. It stuck with you. The way they’d walked out of your sanctuary hand in hand, the newly revealed sun lighting them as they’d turned their backs to you. Some part of you had felt a bit guilty. You knew the people who worshiped your goddess; they were stubborn and would never acquiesce.
Now though, you watched the older versions of those girls as they stood before you. Even amidst curses from those who thought a woman had no purpose outside of breeding, the brides stood unaffected.
After the recitations, the vows began. Uneasy anticipation bloomed. The taller bride started first, her tone firm as devotion fell from her lips like a prayer. Eyes focused, she gazed upon her beloved like a starved man would a feast. That adoration tasted like something beyond sweet, beyond warm, beyond any sort of mortal love. Emotions you hadn’t felt since your creation filled your hollow marble body. You wanted more.
And you got it as the shorter bride began. Her vows were spoken in a shaking voice, tears welling up in her wine-dark eyes. The reverence was overflowing, barely contained within that small, trembling body. It tasted like worship, like a thousand year old veneration screamed from the top of the highest mountain, deep and resounding. It too filled you. Caressing your hard surface and cuddling within, the fervent devotions gifted to you in place of your goddess were seam-breaking things. They penetrated every piece of you; you were bloated with it. You wanted to cry, to scream, to drop to your knees and laugh. Is this what humans felt, you wondered hysterically. You had never wanted to be mortal before. You were an idol for She of the Burning Clouds, what greater purpose was there? And yet.
The ceremony continued on like this, tender words filling you like rich incense until you hardly had room to think. When the women kissed and jumped the broom, something in you was at peace. As if this moment was one you had been waiting for for centuries. You never knew you were missing something until now. You felt whole. Then as it all came to a close, the lavender candles were lit. Pale purple smoke began to fill the sanctuary as the brides made to leave the altar together. Cheers rang out from the congregation and you too felt their happiness, affection like a warm home-cooked meal on a snowy day entered your Self.
Loud booms rang out. You were dragged down from your high. Angry chants began forcing their way within you, poisoning the love you had been bestowed. Panic set in. Protesters flooded into your home, bursting through the double doors like demons from the abyss and attacking anyone they could. It was a fight. One side dressed in jeans and T-shirts, the other in their Friday best. Through the chaos, three barrel-chested men stalked their way to your altar. Two of the men’s eyes were focused on the brides, while the last man was focused on you, a baseball bat ready in his hands.
Sharp alarm struck you like lightning. Your own.
How dare they, was what reverberated within you, how dare they, how dare they! You wouldn’t let that happen. The devotion within you was meant to go to your deity. It would disappear from your being at midnight, making room for the next day’s rituals. Stealing She of the Burning Clouds’ prayers was grounds for destruction. But you weren’t afraid. You took the prayers within you and coalesced them into your center, hate and love and fear and hope solidified into something heavy. It stayed there and suddenly you weren’t rigid anymore. You took a breath.
The tall bride stood in front of her beloved and glared down at the men as they rapidly climbed the steps. Her hazel eyes burned holes into them as she cursed. You felt her emotions. The dark skinned bride cowered behind her wife, tears flowing as she prayed. The intruders reached the top step, raising their weapons to strike and you moved. You danced. Through the screams, the blood, and the shredding fabrics, you danced and danced and ate more than you had ever thought you could.
You tore your way through the sanctuary, the hall, down the front steps, and into the parking lot. The cacophony of fear only fed you. You were in a frenzy. As you slaughtered and murdered and cut down, your thoughts never strayed from those women. One tall and light, one short and dark, utterly in love and unrepentant. That would last, you decided while tearing a red-haired woman’s arms from her shoulders, you would make sure of it.
You were once a statue of She of the Burning Clouds; you are a blasphemy, your church a blight, and your high priestess a heathen.
Still, you revel.
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It was an interesting experiment. I'm curious to see how this story would look like from the 1st or 3rd person perspective 🤔
Yeah, I wanted to see what writing in second person was like. I don't think I'll do it again until I practice with more private works. It was fun though!
Your story reads somewhat like a Greek tragedy in a way. I feel the frustration and anger in your words. I did like some of your Ethnic references such as jumping the broom. I am a big fan of the work of Zora Neale-Hurston. I see the angry mob outside of the temple. It is indicative of societies resistance to change. History is strewn with the corpses of those who rigidly refuse to accept change. The story is full of fire and passion. Good job.
Hiya James, your review means a lot! Zora Neale-Hurston and her peers are an inspiration to me. I'm so glad you caught my references to black culture, that's what I was (desperately hoping that I was) aiming for. It makes me happy that I succeeded. Thank you again for commenting!
This story was well written, but the words used were too strange for me in many parts. I would have liked a more simple and understandable language. Also, the theme was difficult to grasp.
Thanks for the feedback!