You pour out the pills and they clatter like rain on a tin roof. It leaks, you expect. For sure, you can’t keep the drugs out. You are a shanty dwelling in a street of middle-class townhouses. Water leaks from their grand Victorian plumbing whilst you are running out of buckets. You drink the rain. Keeps the floor dry.
The drugs are laid out randomly in front of you like a synthetic rainbow, each forced answer coated in a plastic sheen to mask the taste. But they’re not so sweet that you’d keep them in your mouth long enough to change your mind. You swallow. You forget. If these pills are the abstracted ideal of God’s surrendering bow, then you regret his promise not to flood us again. One more easy out, crossed off the list. One more orange answer broken through the promise of medical foil.
You wonder if that’s how he made it all. God, you mean. He dropped his pills in an empty space and watched them move. Shaking, shimmering; he founded something beautiful. Citalopram for Venus, Jupiter for Sertraline. Unable to fit into his own world he made a smaller one and told it he was perfect. A palace, he said.
So then, is God an addict? Sometimes he can leave things alone – you’ve survived this long – but stars die all the time. Planets less, but you suppose they pack less energy. Sometimes he takes us too. We’re so small to him that he sucks us up like dust, barely noticing that we keep him alive. Our hearts, our loved ones; they disappear as easily as breathing. He says he knows, but then, he only said he was a palace.
The universe expands, sure, but one day it’ll end. It’ll contract into a tiny space and cease to exist. Maybe he’ll be scared. His safety net pushed out to the edges of his fingertips, he takes his last chance and pulls it back into him. Terrified of life without it, he swallows his universe whole. It’s a love story, really. They die together. But in God’s reality, nothing changes.
Another addict takes too much.
And yet he is a mother. He waits until the outermost rocks brush the far ridges of his fingers before he does the deed. In his own world, he has nothing: no purpose, no reason. Maybe he wishes he was dead. But he sees happiness in us. He bears it. Maybe he starves himself, searching for the smallest stars at the edge of the galaxy where nothing grows. He eats with shame. He wastes away, watching the bright colours that invite him. He needs these drugs. Perhaps, he’s dying. But he holds back, mostly – God is a shanty dwelling, after all.
You look at the pills on the table, hating yourself. Outside are many who can survive without help but you trudge home with fistfuls of prescriptions. You know that if you stop, you’ll unravel; crumple at the feet of those you love. Bit by bit, you’ll lose yourself until you too grasp for the edges of your safety net. To stop is to cut them in two, to become God’s air. To stop is your mother’s soul ripped out, her love thrown back at her. To stop is everything you want – but it’s not, because what you want is to be normal again.
They’ve stopped spinning, now. Colours lie flat, a glass of water awaits. Is God an addict? Or more to the point, are you?