"Rachel's Conversation with God"

"Rachel's Conversation with God"

A Story by bsparks77
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An adolescent boy reflects on death and love after his childhood best friend dies in a car accident the summer before college.

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“Rachel’s Conversation with God”

A Short Story

by

Ben Sparks

 

            “So you believe in God?”

            “You know I do.”

            “Why?”

            “Because He exists in my heart, and that is all the proof I need.”

            Kevin stood watching the TV. An acclaimed professor of philosophy and outspoken atheist, Richard Brown was debating an equally famous Bible studies professor, Luther Casio, a devout priest.

            “Just because you have convinced yourself He exists does not make it true. Like Big Brother, I could make you believe two plus two equals five and because you and everyone else believed it that would make it truth. But we both know that two and two will always equal four. Do you agree?”

            “I agree that two and two makes four. But I would claim that if a majority of people agree upon something and believe it to be true, that greatly helps its credibility. There have been more followers and worshipers of God in the history of man than there have been dissenters.”

            “They’ve been brainwashed! Faith means worshiping something without question. If you cannot question something, how can you explain it logically? You can’t. Only because a majority of humans have not been taught to question their faith does not make it real.”

            “Well then I guess it depends on what you define as real.”

            “As in I can see it with my eyes, hear it with my ears, and feel it with my hands. God has never appeared to me in any of these senses.”

             “And what if I told you that he appeared to me? I have seen, heard, and felt Him. His presence within my heart and mind is unquestionable.”

            “I would ask what proof you had.”

            “Naught but what I feel. Feelings are not sufficient evidence to a scientist or mathematician. They cannot seriously be taken into account in a lab or equation. But what of a poet? An artist? A lover? We are all lovers, yes? When a person feels love for another, that person knows it to be true. He may not be able to express exactly how or why he loves, but he knows it. That person gets a feeling in his heart that is deeper than what the dictionary defines as love. It is beyond words or thoughts; it is pure and perfect. And when you are equally loved in return, that bond you share is magnificent. It is beautiful. And you know you don’t need words and you don’t need proof, you need only your heart to know that it is true. That is how I know God is real, for my love for him is pure and I cannot fathom the slightest possibility that this love is not true.”

            Brown continued to argue against Casio but Kevin stopped listening. He reached for the remote and turned off the TV. What the preacher said had touched him, but not in a way that made him love God, in a way that made him love Rachel.

            Rachel passed away only two days ago and the reality of it had not quite set in. He could not accept she was gone forever. Kevin and Rachel had been best friends from Kindergarten until now, the summer before they would leave for college.

            “Kevin, come in here and help Mrs. Stevenson with the fruit. It’s all in jumbled together and she can’t cut it all herself,” Kevin’s mom called from the kitchen. Kevin was in the TV room by the piano, which had been decorated as a memorial to Rachel.

            He observed the display once more. All those pictures, all the memories of Rachel that were thankfully preserved in photographs. He couldn’t help but imagine all the ones that weren’t, all the memories he had of her that may fade because his mind would gradually erase them, as he grew older, as they were replaced.

            There were pictures Rachel had taken too, ones of birds and deer, plenty of the ocean and the sun setting. She loved photography. She said it allowed her to capture the beauty of the world and keep it in little containers. To her, all her pictures were just pieces of some giant jigsaw puzzle that when finished, she could see the universe in its entirety.  

            There was one picture in particular; it was Rachel and Kevin before Junior Prom. She wore a brilliantly dark red dress with flowers embroidered on the straps and a real one in her hair; his rose corsage on her chest. She looked stunningly elegant, wearing just the right amount of make-up to accentuate her natural beauty. He was so happy he was taking her, he wanted so desperately for her to fall in love with him that night, for her to cast friendship to the fire and finally desire him the way he desired her. But she didn’t. She couldn’t.

            He walked into the kitchen and stood by Rachel’s mom, who was preparing some cut fruit for the reception.

            “Thank you, Kevin but it’s alright. I can do it.”

            “Are you sure?”

            “Yes. Go sit. Here if you could put out some napkins.”

            “Sure,” he placed them around the tables and in the dining room. No expense was spared for the reception of Rachel’s funeral. Sandwiches, cheeses, crackers, and an assortment of fruit; was this a funeral or celebration?

            “Why aren’t you helping Mrs. Stevenson cut the fruit,” asked Kevin’s mom.

            “She said she didn’t need any.”

            “Well make yourself useful. I’m going out to have a quick smoke. The rest of the guests should be arriving soon, and so should your father. Make sure everything is perfect for Mrs. Stevenson so she doesn’t have to fret.”

            “Okay, mom.”

            She left and Kevin breathed a short sigh of relief. He sat in the kitchen and watched Mrs. Stevenson cut pineapple. “You sure you don’t need any help?”

            Mrs. Stevenson looked up from her cutting board and smiled at Kevin with such compassion. She knew exactly how he was feeling. “You know Kev, I get the impression your heart is just as broken as mine.”

            Kevin was stunned; he looked as if he just saw his own dog get hit by a car.

            “You knew her almost as long as I did, but she was closer with you than she ever was with me. I know that, she really loved you. And I’m not trying to sound jealous, I’m just…I’m just trying to tell you that, well… thank you.”

            Kevin held back everything, the rushing waterfall of tears that were barricaded by his pride were so close to breaking through. One escaped and he mustered a monotone, “No problem…”

            Mrs. Stevenson sniffled a little and resumed chopping. Kevin stared down at the floor. There were no thoughts in his mind, only Rachel’s smiling face and a glimmer of hope that he’ll see it one more time in the flesh.

            “You know,” Mrs. Stevenson swallowed loudly, “I know your mother wants you to help out, there is something you could do.”

            “Sure, anything,” Kevin would drive to the middle of the desert and dig up a brown bag of cocaine if she asked him to.

            “I know you probably don’t wanna be here when all the family gets here, and her friends and everyone. There’s a place she would always go, a secluded little shack that we inherited when we bought our lake property. I’m sure you’ve seen it a million times.”

            Kevin knew exactly what she was talking about. Rachel called it the “Crab Shack,” because she always saw a ton of baby crabs by the shore near the shed. He never went in though because he knew it was Rachel’s private room, where she could always go if ever she needed to escape the world. Her own private island: no trespassers.

            “It was kind of like her second room. If you wouldn’t mind driving to our lake property and looking for any relics of her there.  Anything: a necklace, old pictures, maybe a diary. I would really appreciate whatever you could find.”

            Kevin was thrilled at the idea of this. He would finally get to see inside this mysterious room, a room where only Rachel Stevenson ever existed. Perhaps she was still there, hiding from the world like she used to. He would find her there and everything would be okay, he would never have to imagine life without her again.

            “Of course, Mrs. Stevenson. But me and my mom came here with Mr. Stevenson and I won’t have a car until my dad gets here.”

            “You can take mine, I trust you.”

            “Really? Are you sure? I can wait.”

            “No, go now. You need to escape this torture. I’ll be here to grieve in front of all our guests like I’m suppose to. I’ll tell your mother you’re just running an errand for me. It’s hardly a lie.”

            Kevin nodded and smiled. Rachel’s mom paused her fruit slicing and fished her keys out of her purse. When Kevin took them he looked into her watery blue eyes and felt her pain.

            “Thank you. But Mrs. Stevenson, my heart could never be as shattered as yours. Rachel needed a mother as much you needed a daughter, but now only one of you needs anything. I can’t possibly imagine what you’re going through.”

            Mrs. Stevenson choked up and embraced Kevin in a terrible display of grief. They held together for what seemed like hours while Kevin gently patted her back, for whatever comfort that could provide.

            “I’ll be back soon, I promise.”

            She nodded and resumed chopping. Kevin left without looking back. He thought back to the priest and what he had said about his love for God. He imagine the priest getting a phone call one day saying, “We regret to inform you that the non-existence of God has just been proven. Sorry for the inconvenience. Compensation for all those dumb enough to believe will be sent through the mail, via $20 Chili’s Gift Certificates.”

            And Richard Brown would be there to laugh and say, “I told you so, buddy.”

 

~~~

            Rachel’s death had been as senseless as it was cliché. She was driving home late at night from a babysitting job and was struck by a speeding drunk driver who couldn’t tell red from green or life from death. He survived but Rachel was killed on impact. He wasn’t even going anywhere; he was on some self-deprecating, alcohol-induced road trip of personal discovery. He didn’t care about the consequences; he didn’t care who he hurt. He felt so small and insignificant that nothing in this world mattered.

            When the accident happened he sobbed and pleaded with the police officers. As if apologies could change what he did. He was locked up and lost his license. But he lives, sitting in a cell, not contributing anything to the world. His life means nothing and yet he lives. In a couple years, he’ll clean up, change his ways, find God and make amends.

            Kevin had been afraid of driving since the accident. He became paranoid and extremely cautious whenever he got inside a car. This was the first time he had to drive and he felt very uneasy. But he thought of Mrs. Stevenson and how she trusted him, he knew he must be brave. He started the engine of her hulking SUV and took a deep breath.

            “You can do this,” he told himself.

            Surely enough he backed out the driveway, shifted to drive and crawled very carefully onto the main road.

            The drive was only about fifteen minutes but Kevin took an extra ten. He drove very slowly, making sure to obey all laws of the road. On his way he drove by an accident on the side of the road with two cop cars and an ambulance flaring sirens. It didn’t look too bad but it didn’t help ease his nerves.

            ‘It’s so easy,’ he thought, ‘you never expect it, never imagine it happening to you but then one day- bam- no future for you.’

            He arrived at Starks Beach and parked the car. The sliver of the shore that belonged to the Stevenson’s was not much, but enough. There were some lawn chairs laid out, an old rusty grill, a hardly-used jet ski, and of course at the far end, Rachel’s private “Crab Shack.” It was shaped like a miniature house, with a triangle placed over a rectangle and a long, brown, wooden door right in the middle. There were no windows built in, and so it looked devoid of life from the outside, completely unnoticeable and remarkably disguised. Kevin knew Rachel would be inside waiting for him, and then they could take her mom’s car and drive off to some secluded paradise, and be happy and alone forever.

            He took off his shoes and socks and walked toward the shack. It must have been three or four in the afternoon as the sun was high and hot in the sky. The ocean looked especially blue and unforgiving today. Kevin watched as the waves crashed in and out, as if daring him to jump in and take a swim. If they could promise he would drown and reunite with Rachel in heaven, maybe he would.

            Finally at the door to the shack Kevin stood in awe. It felt wrong to him, invading Rachel’s privacy, even after her death. This room was never meant for another person’s eyes, only for hers.

            He reached for the knob and tried to turn it. It was locked.

‘Oh s**t!’ he thought, ‘Mrs. Stevenson didn’t give me a key. How am I suppose to get in?’

            He looked around for a possible hiding spot where Rachel may have stashed the key. He checked under nearby rocks, cracks in the wood, and even kicked the sand around in hopes that it was buried.

            No luck. He grew frustrated. He pounded his fists on the rough wood of the door. He yelled and thrust his whole body against that solid barrier. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair!

 

            He sat on the dock for a while staring at the water, his frustration coming in and out like waves, mixing with the pain of regret. He had never told Rachel how he really felt about her. He just told himself one day he would, even knowing she wouldn’t return the feeling, as long she knew, it would be enough. He hoped it would, at least. Now he would never know.

            He got up and walked to a shady spot behind the shack where there were still remnants of his frantic digging. He slumped down against the tree and stared at the back of the shack. Written on the back in dark red spray paint were the words, “The Sensorium- Knowing for Yourself.”

            He walked up to it and noticed a tiny metal ball where the “i” was in “Sensorium.” It was a knob! He then saw the faint outline of a square compartment and grew excited. He pulled the dot of the “i” and it was in fact a compartment. But inside was merely a camera, Rachel’s favorite modern device.

            Kevin laughed with sorrow as he took the camera from its wooden home. Shaking his head, he examined the camera. It was an old Canon, one that needed actual film. He opened the compartment that held the film to see if there was any in there, but what was inside was not film.

            “The key!” He shouted aloud. His face lit up instantly and he was overcome with joy and relief. Laughing and shouting, he quickly ran around to the front of the shack and gazed at in awe once more.

            ‘This is it,’ he thought, ‘the key to Rachel Stevenson, the very portal to her mind.’

            He inserted the key. It fit perfectly and he twisted it slowly and pushed the great door open.

 

            Rachel was not inside, not her body anyway. There was a pair of green sandals on the floor so he didn’t have to walk barefoot on the splintery wooden surface. Kevin put them on and did all he could to keep from breaking down.

            The sunlight was enough to illuminate the room so he could just make out the string to turn on the overhead light bulb. He pulled it and then shut the door.

            It was beautiful, a veritable museum to the personality and life of Rachel Stevenson. There were three distinct portions of the room: music, photography, and writing. In the back left corner, an old record player sat surrounded by hundreds of old vinyl records, as well as posters of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, and Freddie Mercury. Across the entire right wall were photographs that Rachel had taken, as well a dresser filled with assorted clothes and miscellaneous pictures. A large tarp hung from the wall to the floor, with a camera on a tripod pointing at it and one of those tall, light fixtures professional photographers use during photo shoots with models. There were pictures of Rachel in various outfits, as well as ones of her with her family, her friends, and her usual landscape scenery. A few of her and Kevin made it to the wall but most of those were scattered around the floor. There was a bunch of Kevin playing guitar with his band at various local venues; she would always go to his shows and photograph him and his band, pretending to be a professional photographer.

            But Kevin was drawn to her little writing table, with a simple wooden chair and a simple desk lamp. He was hardly able to contain his excitement. But it fused deeply with his sadness and was not sure how he was supposed to feel. His hands were shaking and his eyes were trying their best not to release the flood of tears that were building up behind them.

            The surface of the table was covered with drawings and pieces of paper with only singular words or phrases on them. Kevin picked one up, and elaborately drawn were the words, “A Ghost in my Arms.”

            He slid open one of the drawers in the desk and found a blue and white photo album with the words “To Love and To Be Loved,” written on the front. He decided to pull it out and look at it. The first page was Rachel wearing various outfits, apparently she liked to play dress up and photograph herself like she was a model. She was a good one. A smile crept on to Kevin’s lips as he turned the pages, until he was about half way through and then his jaw dropped.

            There, sitting in front of him, like in all of his dreams and fantasies, everything he ever desired or imagined, all he wanted from Rachel, perhaps the reason he loved her so obsessively. Her body lay bare for him, captured in rectangular prisons, posing in multiple positions, an endless array of horribly guilty pleasure.

            Kevin never felt worse in his life. He never felt more conflicted. He had found an album of naked pictures that Rachel never intended anyone to see, and so they lacked any essence of self-consciousness or reserve. They were simply Rachel, naked and pure as the day she was born.

Kevin wanted desperately to put the album back and never look at it again, and yet he couldn’t look away. She looked so beautiful, all these years of repressing his sexual desire for her, a desire he did not fully understand how sexual it was until this moment. Is this really why he loved her as he did? Because of an overwhelmingly painful attraction to her body? It couldn’t be, and yet something deep down told him it was.

It took every ounce of strength he had, but he forced himself to close the album and put it back in the drawer. He covered his face with his hands and hunched over the table.

“Oh God…Oh God…” he said aloud.

            He ruffled through more of the assortment of poetry and drawings until he discovered a slim leather-bound book with no words on the front or back. It looked worn from years of use.

            Kevin flipped through it and found it to be some kind of creative writing journal where Rachel wrote short stories or long poems. He wanted to read every word, to know every thought that passed through her head, but he was so disgusted with himself he did not feel he deserved to read them. He did not deserve to be there, he did not deserve to even be her friend.

            One story from the book caught his eye. It was called My Conversation with God. Kevin’s curiosity peaked as soon as he read the first line:

 If someone were to die too early in his or her life, and find that Heaven and Hell really existed, I would hope that person could be allowed just one conversation with God, to have all his or her questions answered. This would be mine:

God sits, looking exactly like every child imagines him as: a tall, white, muscular man, with a long white beard and a flowing white robe, sitting on a chair made of puffy white clouds and smelling like vanilla Febreze.

“Rachel Stevenson, what can I answer of you?”

I stand in amazement, “How can you be real?” I ask.

“You did not believe in me as a mortal did you?” asks God.

“No,” I answer, “I believed you could exist, you could be real. But even if you were, I still would not really believe in you.”

“Well, here I am. The All-Knowing, All-Seeing Creator of the Universe.”

“Why did you take my life? Why do you allow such senseless suffering to continue every day?”

“I did not take your life, a man driving drunk did. It is because humans have emotions and because they have emotions, they have free will. I have no control over what they do.”

“Bullshit!”

God is surprised, “Excuse me?”

“You sit here on your all-powerful a*s, thinking you’re so great. Well, you’re not! If this is how you choose to “rule the universe,” you’re doing an awful job. I was right. You may be real, but I’ll never believe in you. I’ll never have faith in you. Not as a god, and certainly not as a person.”

God stands up and walks slowly towards me.

“And who are you to tell me that? I created all those brilliant landscapes you loved to photograph. I made all those cute animals you see prancing around. I created the magnificent beauty of the universe! And you say I am not a superior ruler?”

“Yes. And I stand by it.”

“You think you could do a better job? You think you could be GOD?”

“Yes. I could do a better job than you anyway.”

God is flabbergasted. He becomes enraged. “I will send you to Hell for such insolence!”

“Go ahead. I don’t want to be a part of the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ anyway,” I say with disdainful sarcasm.

Two angels walk in to escort me out of the room. As they do I turn back at God and look him right the eyes. With all the hate I can muster,

“You disappoint me.”

 

Kevin’s heart was beating rapidly. As he read, it all made sense to him. He understood his feelings for Rachel and he understood hers. The flood came like a monsoon. His tears poured out and he was never happier to be completely alone. He sat there, in Rachel’s shoes, crying for her to come back. If she never died he would have never had to come here. If she had never died he would have never realized how truly in love with her he was.

He closed the book and stood up. This place was not meant for him, it was not fair for him to be there. He turned off the light, slipped off the sandals and stepped back outside, locking the door behind him.

He walked over to the dock and held the key in his hand. He knew what needed to be done and he knew Rachel and her mom would understand. That shrine to Rachel could never be entered again. It was too sacred for mortal eyes.

His vision was still blurred from the tears but he could see well enough. Those waters were beckoning him. “Do it,” they seemed to whisper. And so he did. With every bit of strength he had, he threw the key as hard he could into those cold, unforgiving waters.

 

 

 

 

           

           

 

           

© 2012 bsparks77


Author's Note

bsparks77
Was it believable and did it keep you interested? What parts could be taken out or modified? What do you feel is the overall message or point to the story?

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It was very well written! Very descriptive. I can't think of anything that needed to be modified. Except, I squirmed reading Rachel's conversation with God as I'm a believer, but really it well with Rachel's character. I enjoyed it.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

bsparks77

10 Years Ago

Thank you for reading I appreciate your comment! I think the main point is that it's not a stance on.. read more
Annette Lily

10 Years Ago

Thanks. I understand, that why I mentioned my own belief in my above comment. To show that I, as a b.. read more

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Added on July 3, 2012
Last Updated on July 3, 2012
Tags: death, love, college, adolescence, religion

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bsparks77
bsparks77

Mahopac, NY



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I hate talking about myself. Conversely, I love writing about myself through fictional characters and stories. more..

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A Story by bsparks77