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Ode of the Damned, the Disillusioned, and the Moon

Malena Le

    After climbing those awful stairs for what seemed to be an eternity. I had finally come across the gates. Unlike the descriptions, it was neither white nor pearly, rather rusted and decrypted. In front of those gates stood a rather short figure, tapping his feet poking out of his stained robe, dark skin, long dark hair, narrowed eyes, and a halo shining behind his head. 


    Jesus fucking Christ. 


    As his gaze fell upon my figure, he starts gesturing frantically at the leather chair that appeared seemingly out of thin air. Wait. I know that chair. A cart appeared next to it with a pen, and dozens of inks flowing out of the plastic tubes. I feel compelled to walk closer, because to be honest I didn’t walk up all those goddamn stairs for nothing. He waits for me to step in front of him, stares at me, and simply says, 


    “You’re late” 


And that’s how I ended up tattooing Jesus Christ. 


    He wanted a cross on his forearm. Which was honestly kind of unoriginal, but who was I to question his will? To my credit, I warned him. I had only ever been on the receiving end of that needle. I had never held an instrument that would draw another’s blood. I had never wished to taint the divine. That it was going to hurt. But the man of Nazareth simply dismissed my shortcomings by turning his palms towards me. A large circular scar sat in the middle of them. Right. I suppose a tattoo needle would be nothing like being nailed to a cross.  


    His hands were large. Disproportionate to his body, his fingers long and spindly, his nails were bitten ragged. The scar, where the tissue healed looked almost transparent. Divinity showed through the mortal fabric. I sigh and feel the tattoo pen pulsating against my own unmarred skin, and I get to work.  


    The lines are shaky, there was no stencil. When I asked if he wanted a specific design he only replied, 

    “Whatever your heart desires, so long as it’s done by your hand.” 

    Fine then. It was a delicate process. If I pressed too hard the lines would be too bold. Too lightly and it wouldn’t show at all. I don’t know how long the process took. I could only record the number of winces and the slightest contortion of his face to know that time was moving. Every time he let out a strangled gasp, I stopped. Guilt flooded my eyes, and he would still and let out a small, desperate smile for me to go on. Finally, it’s over, and it’s as bad as one could imagine, but he looks at it with such a fondness that you’d be able to convince yourself for just a second that it had some worth. 


    He stands up, I do the same. We gazed at each other, his was contemplative, mine was uncomfortable. This standstill lasts for yet another eternity wasted, until he clears his throat and tilts his head towards those gates, 

“Would you like to come in?” 


Oh. Oh no. 

“Yeah, you know, I really think I ought to get going back-” 

The gates shuddered with a horrifying shriek before falling at our feet. My mouth goes dry as he stares at me. I realize I don’t have a choice.  


    I was forced to enter Eden.  


    It wasn’t really what I would have imagined. Ivory towers, glistening bells, rings of laughter. It was chilly and had rows of townhouses down an old cobblestone road. There was a distinct smell of flowers, but it would get so strong that it would singe my nostril. The people were happy, though. Smiling, waving excitedly to us as we passed by. Jesus would nod back with a customer service smile. The children would chase each other, as a stray dragonfly weaved through their outreached hands. There was only one person who looked unhappy in this complex. A young girl, with straggly tawny hair. She was crouched on a wooden swing. Small, awfully small for her age. Her arms were full of bruises, but it was her eyes that were so damning. On the precipice of tears, tired, resentful, numb. Joseph’s son must have noticed me staring as he reached into his robe’s arm, and a bronzed piece of bread appeared in his hand. He threw it at the ground beneath her, like she was a stray dog. In a way she was animalistic as she catapulted herself off the swing and her hollowed body barely made a sound. I felt dizzy, nauseated, afraid, and angry. Why was she acting this way for scraps? Her last morsel of self-respect gone, as she licked the crumbs off the dirty ground. 


    “Who is she?” 

    “Why it’s Eve.” 


We stopped at a purely white town house. As soon as my foot hit the front steps, I felt clean. Hell, this must be the closest feeling to holy. His face changes, it softened as he turned the door handle. With quiet steps, he walks past the entry way to the kitchen. He smiles, a real smile. For a minute I remember that before he was the son of God, he was the miracle of a mother. That’s where I saw her.  


    The Virgin. 


    She hugged me. It was awkward. She smelled like a vanilla cream pie, almost sickeningly sweet. She looked in her thirties, a tiny plump figure, the crinkles around her eyes being one of the things to reveal her age. She was comforting, she was a mother. I wanted to leave. 


    She beamed up at me,  

    “Would you like something to drink?” 


    Before I could even respond, Jesus set a chalice on the white tablecloth. Whipped out a dagger and tore it in his flesh. I jolted back as a silence overtook the room, the only sound being of his blood drops hitting the inside of the empty chalice. Then he extends his bloodied arm towards me, the cherry wine inside smelled of copper and pine.  


    We continued the walk in silence, the blood had dried to a deep brownish red against his skin. The path seemed never ending. I had finally mustered the courage to ask, 

    “Where is Mary?” 

    He raised his eyebrow, 

    “You just met her.” 

    I shake my head, 

    “No, not that Mary. Mary Magdalene.” 

His jaw clenched, and I saw his fist start to scrunch up his already soiled robe. Between heavy breaths, and a pointed glare he spit out, 

“She hasn’t been here for a very long time.” 



So, we kept walking. And the tension was getting dangerously still. So, I ask another question. An easy one. 

    “Where are we going?” 

Without even looking at me he replied, 

    “To see my Father.” 


God please no. 


    “You’ve got to be fucking with me, right?” 


    The Virgin’s miracle led me to a wooden confessional. Out on the outskirts of the town, the cobblestone path turned to dirt under our feet. It was ornate for its setting, with red, gold, green, reflections of stained glass created a kaleidoscope to gather around us. The door swung open, and once again I was forced into this paradise. 


    It’s cramped and dusty, but through the opaque glass in between I saw a shadow. The silhouette of something... God I suppose. It turns towards me, and but I’m not twelve anymore. I wouldn’t fall to my knees and repent. I wouldn’t beg for forgiveness. Not anymore. Not from Him.  

    “I don’t believe in you.” 

Silence. The figure is unperturbed. 

    “Why should I? You’ve never given me good reason.” 

Still nothing. 

    “The bruises I got from kneeling have hardened my skin. How many times did I cry to you? How many times did you ignore me? How could you forsake a child? How could you abandon me?” 

A heavy hush fills the air, and I can only scoff, 

    “The silent treatment huh? Yeah, you’re real fucking great at that. You know what fuck you. So much for a kind God. All I see is a coward. This is your great idea of Heaven? This is what people die for. People have killed for your indifference. I have suffered because of your lack. I mean, really who the fuck do you think you are. Why the hell should I have to worship you? A spinless fucking coward who damned his son to be cannibalized. What sick joke are you playing? Why the fuck am I here? “ 


    The silence is infuriating, like cotton wrapped over my ears, pressure acclimates squeezing my head. There is nothing. No response. That is until I watch the figure move closer to the glass, and an eerie humming fills the wooden box. For a moment I consider smashing through the panel that separated us. Just so I could catch a glimpse of the being that damned me with promises of his twisted benevolence. I find my hands clawing closer and closer to choke that cruel silhouette. 


    The walk back is also silent. The body and blood kept glancing at me since I came out of the confessional. He didn’t try to mention the crescent shaped imprints on my palm, nor the crusted blood under my nails. I was grateful for his blind eye. As we walked back, I took note of every person we passed. There was no one I knew here. I saw the shape of Eve cower and flee from a group of boys hurling stones at her. The ringleader of the group wrenched her hair from her scalp, and with the egging of the other boys, brutalized her.  


    That was His word. 


    We arrive back at the fallen gates. The make ship tattoo parlor still stands. Everything is the same as it was. My heavy-handed pen disfigured the Lamb’s skin. I step over the gates and prepare to start my descent. We face each other, and simultaneously, 


“I love you.”                                                                                    “Let’s never meet again.” 

Spring 2024

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